martedì 27 marzo 2012

History of a failure

A dramatic 3-3 draw between the U.S. Under-23 national team and El Salvador and the young Americans failed to capture the the Olympics. The creativity of Freddy Adu wasn't enough. It’s a painful moment, it's a missed opportunity. The idea to don't see the Under-23s in London  was unimaginable. But it happened and raised some questions. For the United States, Olympic soccer is important because, unlike European and South American players, it's a great chance to improve the experience of its players. The Olympics offer a rare chance for younger players to improve. The U-23s wast this chance. About the coaching job, U-23 head-coach Caleb Porter will return to his job at the University of Akron. How good is to have a part-time head coach in a such important place? How good are the young men from this generation? The result exposed the lack of defensive depth. Ike Opara was a mess throughout the tournament; Perry Kitchen faced rough days against Canada and El Salvador; Kofi Sarkodie was poor; Jorge Villafaña showed to have to grow to succeed at this level. Individual errors on defense aren't Porter's fault.

venerdì 9 marzo 2012

Desert struggles

Caio Junior replaced Franky Vercautern as Al Jazira coach. Vercauteren has been replaced after just seven months on the job. The dismissal of Vercautern is the 58th managerial change since 2008. Vercauteren paid the price for the bad relations with his players and for the tactics he employed. Players criticized coach’s favourite 4-2-2-2 system, preferring the 4-2-3-1 they saw under Brazilian Abel Braga. Vercauteren's fire is just latest example about how hard is the life for foreign managers in UAE. Jorvan Vieira, David O'Leary,  Ioan Andone, Henk ten Cate all struggled. Pro League's owners are the kind of men who should win every competition. So the expectetions are highs. There is just one secret to avoid the sack as a coach in the UAE : win every single game. The policy of hiring and firing managers is usual here. Boards of directors put pressure on the coaches. Every manager in the country has to understand this culture. But the problems are also on the field. Some coaches, like Laszlo Boloni did in the past at Wahda, had trouble interacting with their players, adjusting their methods to the players' culture. Some coaches trained players too hard. Coaches are particularly vulnerable in the Pro-League because owners are often on the players' side and players are far from the professionalism. Coaches have not enough time and resources to success.

J League 2012 Preview

The 20th J.League season is underway. Last season newly promoted Kashiwa Reysol shocked everyone by claiming their first ever J1 Championship. Can a newly promoted team repeat it? Hard to image. The newly promoted trio includes FC Tokyo, Sagan Tosu and Consadole Sapporo. Big things are expected in Tokyo where the team recovered from their relegation in 2010. It will be a key season for 6”4 striker Sota Hirayama, who struggled to show the potential he had. Hirayama, Kazuma Watanabe and Kentaro Shigematsu will have to show to be able to become the real goalscorer that the team needs. It will be exciting to see how the new manager Ranko Popović will build his team. Sagan Tosu's chances to avoid relegation rely on Yohei Toyoda, 23 goals last season. Consadole Sapporo team hopes to avoid Montedio Yamagata's fate.  Nobuhiro Ishizaki's team counts on young players to reach the goal. Urawa had a very bad season last year. The answer were an obviously technical and tactical change. Mihailo Petrovic is an experienced manager and veteran internationals Tomoaki Makino and Yuki Abe also added experience to the Serb's 3-4-2-1 system. The departure of Petrovic left a void to fill in Hiroshima, where Sanfrecce also lost Tadanari Lee to Southampton. We will see how manager Hajime Moriyasu will lead the new era. Albirex Niigata lost Gotoku Sakai and ChoYoung Cheol and could get in troubles. Consadole Sapporo is a yo-yo club that will need of Australian international Jade North and Brazilian striker Thiago Quirino to stay out from the bottom three. Shimizu S-Pulse is a promising team under under Afshin Ghotbi regime. Freddie Ljungberg has gone, but veterans Shinji Ono and Naohiro Takahara will lead a good core of young players. Midfielders Junichi Inamoto and Kengo Nakamura, with Yu Kobayashi and Rui Komatsu, are the key for the success of Kawasaki Frontale. One of the most exciting teams to watch, Cerezo have seen a lot of youngsters like Shinji Kagawa and Takashi Inui flew to Europe latest seasons. Manager Sergio Soares needs to retain Hiroshi Kiyotake if he wants to enjoy success this year. On the other side of Osaka, Gamba lost Korean forward Lee Keun-Ho but still has Lee Keun-Ho. 61-years-old manager Jose Carlos Serrao's appointment is the surprise...we will see. Vegalta Sendai hopes to repeat last season and it needs of Shingo Akamine's goals to do it. One to watch is North Korean midfielder Ryang Yong-Gi. Jubilo Iwata has a nice potential but needs to Ryoichi Maeda to find the net. Kashiwa has a exciting duo in Brazilians Leandro Domingues and Jorge Wagner and remains a strong side. Antlers lost head coach Oswaldo Oliveira and will have to adjust to new manager Jorginho's system. Veteran Juninho up front could help. Yokohama F. Marions seems ready to challenge this year with the pair of veteran Shunsuke Nakamura and young winger Yuji Ono.

In Canada

Despite an inaugural season ended with a league-worst 18 losses, the hype is high for the second season of Canada's second franchise. The Caps had a busy offseason with new players and a new head coach --  Martin Rennie from the NASL's Carolina Railhawks -- coming on. The most exciting signing was Korean veteran left back Lee Young-Pyo. After a stint in Europe with PSV, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund and two seasons in Saudi Arabia, the 34-year-old Lee joined a weak defense reinforced with the experienced Jay DeMerit and Alain Rochat. The team released Lee Nguyen but has a lot of weapons up front to work in Rennie's offensive 4-2-3-1, starting with  goal scorer Sebastien Le Toux and skillful Davide Chiumiento. They also drafted Darrenn Mattocks to pair with last season's No. 1 pick Omar Salgado to add depth. Rennie will have the goal to stabilize the team after coach Teitur Thordarson's tenure. Montreal Impact, the Major League Soccer's fifth new team in four seasons, picked up various players just to trade them. Going for experience, the Impact acquired veteran goalkeepers Donovan Ricketts and Greg Sutton, defender Nelson Rivas and holding midfielder Davy Arnaud. Impact head coach Jesse Marsch built a solid back line adding Bobby Burling, Zarek Valentin, and Tyson Wahl. Andrew Wenger, the MLS top pick in the SuperDraft, has lined up as a midfielder and forward in preseason. All the roster is technically gifted.

MLS Preview

Next March 10, Major League Soccer will kick off its 17th season. It means MLS lived more than North American Soccer League, which faded after just 16 seasons. This is a Don Garber's success. The commissioner has seen a lot of good news latest seasons. Despite the schedule's differences, last year MLS' average attendance of 17,872 surpassed NBA's 17,323 and NHL's 17,132. The league has grown to 19 teams and has three overboarder teams right now. On the field, we will see if the tendence to decrease the percentage of minutes of American and Canadian players will continue. Some American young players, such as Juan Agudelo, struggled to get playing time last season. This offseason, MLS teams have seen a big make up. On the pape, MLS champions of LA Galaxy improved their roster. The champs retained David Beckham and managed to re-sign Juninho back out of Sao Paulo for another season. The signing of Marcelo Sarvas and the return of  Edson Buddle upgrades the offense. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are still there. The Red Bulls, the other powerhouse, added former Germany star Michael Ballack as its third DP.  As for the rest of the league, there is parity? Or there is a gap between rich and poor? RSL is set to challenge Galaxy. Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Nat Borchers, Jámison Olave, Nick Rimando and Álvaro Saborío are the core of a good team. With Robbie Russlle now in D.C., Tony Beltran will be the fulltime right back  starter. Last season, United was a young team. This year, head coach Ben Olsen wanted more depth and experience. To set the goals, United left Santino Quaranta and Devon McTavish and acquired defender Robbie Russell from Real Salt Lake to add experience to the back line. The improve the team, United went also on to sign strikers Hamdi Salihi and Maicon Santos. Salihi, an Albanian international, had an impressive scoring record in the Albanian and Austrian leagues and is one of the newcomers to watch. A young team on the rise is Kansas City.  Peter Vermes' 4-3-3 system will have a news in Bobby Convey moving up top to play as a real winger. The starting fullbacks Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic are a good couple of backs. Vermes has talent and depth and with Graham Zusi still leading the midfield, this is a team to keep an eye on. After Freddy Adu, another big come back was Eddie Johnson. Seattle added former U.S. international to a new team featuring Austrian Michael Gspurning as new goalkeeper and with Steve Zakuani back. A Johnson-Fredy Montero up top couple sounds good. Frank Yallop is on hot seat. His second tenure with San Jose didn't work until now. Yallop assembled the best Earthquakes roster since 2008 but he needs of a playoff appearance to retain the job. A healthy Ike Opara could help. Timbers coach John Spencer has Darlington Nagbe competing with Jorge Perlaza and Bright Dike to partner Kris Boyd up front. Courted by the Houston Dynamo, Boyd decided to sign with Portland. The all-time top goalscorer in the Scottish Premier League, 164 goals in 296 appearances, should fit the Spencer's 4-4-2. The team has an identity and good personnel in Eric Alexander, Kalif Alhassan, and Sal Zizzo. Colombian defender Hayner Mosquera should improve the defense.