Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Argentina 1 Iran 0

Reports of the demise of Lionel Messi have been greatly exaggerated…so says Lionel Messi.

Alejandro Sabella went with the second-half lineup of Argentina’s win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, that meant the quadruple of Higuain, Messi, Di Maria, and Aguero all started.  Regardless, 70% possession for the South Americans only gave them five shots on target — just two more than Iran’s three.

Indeed, the Iranians have much to be proud about, even in defeat.  They kept the South American powerhouse off the board for a full 90 minutes, had a penalty claim turned down, and were denied by a tremendous Sergio Romero save.  Yet, all it took was Messi screaming “get off me” and curling a shot around Alireza Haghighi at the last minute to leave Iran without a share of the spoils.

Group F has been one of the ugliest in the tournament so far, without a truly sparkling team performance of which to speak just yet.  It means Argentina have advanced thanks to Messi (really, thanks to Messi not carrying Diego Maradona’s insanely heavy baggage like in 2010), but still need to show more if it harbors dreams of a deep run.  Meanwhile, even should Nigeria beat Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran will still be alive in its own match against the Europeans in the group’s closing fixture.  Carlos Queiroz has an organized side, but one that seems to lack the necessary attacking thrust at this level.

No Short Corners Man of the Match: #10.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Russia 1 South Korea 1

Certain Aleksandr Kerzhakov bashers over in mother Russia are thanking their lucky stars for him about now. Somebody had to cover for the gaffe (ohhh, Igor... ) and until yet another sub hero enforced his quan, it looked as though nobody would. Though they pulled the result, Russia still seem to be finding themselves. South Korea, meanwhile, are surely kicking themselves. Hard.

NSC Man of the Match: Ki Sung-Where Was This Guy At Sunderland?

- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ivory Coast 2 Japan 1

The Blue Samurai were largely on control for over an hour and then Drogba appeared. And then, the Ivorians hit twice in three minutes to flip the game. The result made it three rally wins from the first eight games of the tourney. Watch your backs down there! No lead is safe!

NSC Man of the Match: Serge Aurier

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, June 6, 2014

It must be asked: What are we going to do?

I say, the time has come to stand up to FIFA. I am not sure what that could entail or how it should manifest itself, but this cannot be how the game operates. Not now, not ever.

- Greg Seltzer

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oooh, it looks soooo goood.

I love a good documentary, especially ones that take us even further into stories we already know well. Tomorrow night at 8 pm ET, Fox Sports 1 will kick off a series of six World Cup documentaries to get your spirit revving. The first edition covers the 2011 Japan WNT, on a general topic that may be rather bittersweet for the US ladies and their fans. Here is the overall trailer for the six subjects to be covered.

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

If I was king of this crazy world...

Or is it crazy king of this world? Either way, my feeling is that false claims on the application and... erm... not actually having set dates eight years from kickoff would be grounds for losing your job if your job was to throw a World Cup. 

Am I being harsh? You could argue that. But remove the emotion and think like, ya know, it is an operating business. I am right next to the point where, in that light, I'd argue it is not harsh.

I will never understand why certain ancient men are such fiends for money. How much does a distasteful legacy cost these days? At least one winter World Cup, that's for sure.

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The anger wells...

I don't even know what to say about it at this point. On top of already installed concerns about things like human trafficking, forced labor and various rights issues, we've been over selection BS that now seems trivial if remembered at all, the bait-and-switch on summer realities, winter fantasies and now news like this on the road to World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Upon learning something like this, I tend to try my damnedest to understand how it could possibly be... which is to say that I fail miserably to understand. You see, stuff like this does not only makes me 99.999999% sure I would refuse an assignment at any Qatar World Cup in the foreseeable future. No, it also makes me ponder the notion of voluntarily walking away from a job I love just to keep FIFA's stink off my personal sense of humanity. As the years go by, tangentially working under Sepp Blatter's filthy umbrella, it eats at me. I always wanted to see the world, but now I think there is yet another place that isn't worth the human cost of seeing it. Then, of course, I eventually remember that the whole reason I do this job is so all of you don't need to spend the day massaging your temples over all the depressing nonsense that goes on in the world.

I don't have every answer, but there needs to come a day when the sport's global organization is either turned proper to some appreciable extent or usurped by a breakaway conglomeration. To be perfectly frank, I should call for it more even if it's not really "my area of the pitch" in this game. It is simply unacceptable that FIFA can't be bothered to know shit about shit when there's money to be grubbed - which, in today's soccer calendar, translates to ummm always.

In summary, I feel quite aggravated. Maybe I'm a dreaming idiot, but I hope you'll join me.

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Party List

Last night, the number of teams holding invites to World Cup 2014 doubled to 10, and now includes our own USMNT. Let's take a quick look at the field so far, in order of ticket punch:

Brazil (host)
South Korea
The Netherlands
United States
Costa Rica

Do note there is a fair chance one of those Asian teams ends up in the USMNT's group next summer.

And while we're tracking the invites, let's also note that Bob Bradley has now steered Egypt to the final round of CAF qualifying. The Pharaohs were the only African side to run through the second run a perfect 6-for-6 for wins. They will learn their two-leg playoff match-up in Monday's draw. Here's the recap of Tuesday's victory.

- Greg Seltzer

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Video Tuesday

It's a busy week, plus I'm getting prepared for my trip to Turkey next week - and by "getting prepared" I mean hoping I leave there in one piece. As such, you all get thrown in front of the tube while I nap ahead of tonight's World Cup qualifier...

The ESPN Press Pass crew discuss tonight's tilt with Panama.

The Worldwide Leader also featured Jozy Altidore on Outside The Lines this weekend.

You know what I love most about the USMNT these days? The extra effort now made to connect with their rabid fans. Europeans always talk to me about how soccer "isn't so big" in America, but I guess that all depends on who you ask.

One of the 34 movies currently in production about Bob Bradley coaching in Egypt has a new monster trailer.

In case you missed it last week, Jimmy Conrad and KICK TV caught up with good ol' Gooch.

Also from the 'in case you missed it this weekend" file, we have our first qualified team for World Cup 2014 just over one year from the tourney kickoff.

- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Okay... that's just f***ed up.

We all know that, in some places around the world, players very much risk their own safety to play the game. Let's all think a moment about how lucky Adel Kolahkaj of Iranian champs Sepahan Isfahan is to still have his hand today (because he clearly had no clue what he was clearing away) and hope they found the scumbag with the mental problem advanced enough to throw a live explosive on the field.

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Video Wednesday

Seriously, who doesn't start Wednesday at the office with some soccer tube?

You may have already heard Real Salt Lake's badass new anthem. In this clip, Rancid drummer Branden Steineckert talks about his love for the club and how the new club song came together. How awesome is that?

In case you weren't at the White House yesterday, here is video of the L.A. Galaxy's official visit as MLS Cup champs.

How was the Manchester City title win regarded back in the UAE, from whence the owners came? World Sport has the answer.

Press Pass is along to start us on the path to Munich for the Champions League final between Bayern and Chelsea. We already know who Sacha Kljestan is pulling for.

Finally, let's not confine our season video tribute treatment to Deuce. Though it does not contain his Europa League goals, here is Jozy Altidore's Eredivisie haul set to tunes.

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, January 6, 2012

Video Friday

Thank God it's blow off work in the afternoon day...

Let's start with Earnie Stewart, who talks Jozy with ESPN's Leander Schaerlaeckens.

Everton keeper Tim Howard talks about his goal and the loss against Bolton.

What's that you say, Timmy? Had it happen to you before? Oh dear, you should not have said that to my ears... set the Doc's DeLorean to Manchester United reserve action, 2005.

Who out there needs to talk EPL and Serie A title races? Press Pass has your back.

Finally, you all know NSC generally refrains from dipping into U.S. politics by policy, but after seeing this recent Jeremy Schaap masterwork, I must admit to being befuddled and dismayed that we can't be more selective in the areas of allies and business partners after all these hard lessons over the decades. We declare all the time how we stand for stuff; it's high time we did less talking and more standing.

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You've never seen an own goal like this before.

The sheer volume of combined calamities needed for Al-Hilal to concede this goal boggles the mind. It's like a Keystone Cops greatest hits clip.

- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What? You want some too?

Remember back when Greg called that keen four for four during the 2008 Olympics? Well, the NSC intern just doubled the feat in the Under-20 World Cup round of 16. That's just how we roll, yo...

The word of the round: swagger. Whether it was coming, going, or never showing up, swagger more than any other intrinsic quality turned the tides of this Under-20 World Cup's Round of 16.

As the tournament progresses, it seems as though the favorites are playing not just to defeat their opposition, but to do their fellow contenders one better. In Tuesday night's scintillating late games, the players seemed almost conscious of the other match as Pedro Franco's goal for hosts Colombia was followed mere moments later by a strike from Cameroon's Franck Ohandza in vuvuzela-less Pereira. Before the crowd finished celebrating back in Bogota - they never stopped - Mexico had equalized.

If Mexico had allowed anybody enough time to process a thought before scoring, one would have found the plot far too familiar: Mexico dominates possession and vast portions of the game but cannot break down a more physically gifted team, only to be foiled late on by an opportunistic goal, grow frustrated, and lose. Until recently that was the American game plan, and it worked. Where Mexican teams of bygone days would have panicked, however, this generation of Mexican youngsters kept their collective cool. Through their unflappable self-belief, the Mexicans were able to stick to their game and get the goal they thoroughly deserved.

Mexico's edge in possession started to show as Cameroon looked listless in extra time. Once PKs came around, the swagger gap was evident once more as this shootout replaced USA Women vs. Japan as the worst my young eyes have had the displeasure of seeing.

Where Mexico were confident enough to remain true to their possession-oriented style, fan favorites Egypt were not nearly as prudent against Argentina . By resorting to the long ball far too early and often - about 15 minutes from full time - what seemed to be Colombia's adopted team lost their edge over a vulnerable looking team that did little more than counterattack in the run of play. In fact, Egypt looked completely the better side in the second half, but by launching long balls into a crowded box they played right into the hands of the Albiceleste . Consequently, Argentina had several chances to put the game to bed in the last ten minutes. While Egpyt may feel they were hard done by penalty decisions, they came off their game when it counted most. And for that they can only blame themselves.

Back in Bogota, extras seemed inevitable as regulation was running out on what was the game of the tournament thus far. In all fairness to Costa Rica, it would have been deserved as they were worthy opponents that were ruthless with the chances they were given. Yet Colombia were buoyed by the crowd at El Campin and oozing as much self-belief as ever when this cheeky chip at 3:59 sealed their fate:

In Wednesday's decidedly less violent set of matches - there were 23 yellow cards issued Tuesday - Ehhhngland were disappointed in their 1-0 at the hands of a Nigeria team that was just plain better in all aspects of the game. For all of England's defensive exploits, they were kidding themselves if they thought they could carry on with their recent dearth of goals. It only took one, but it was never going to come from England's flat lack of an attack.

In humid Manizales, Spain had 67% of possession against a game South Korea squad that should have been seen off much sooner. The South Koreans hung in there, and for that credit is due. That said, the Spanish outpossessing their opponents is as shocking as the sun rising in the east, just as their nervelessness under pressure is hardly a surprise. Ultimately, it was Oriol Romeu who put the Spanish ahead for good before Kyung Jung Kim missed from the spot. Let's face it though, these Spanish kids are bred to win games like this. Their relentless confidence seems to be genetic at this point in history and with it, comes trophies.

At the end of the night though, Brazil's young stars shined brightest. Sadly their brilliance will overshadow a Saudi Arabia squad that played honest and entertaining technical soccer - but Brazil looked most likely to break the tie throughout. Brazil's free-flowing samba has always embodied the concept of swagger and without fail, once Henrique broke the deadlock at the start of the second half, all the attacking gusto one could ask for was released. Another and another were added as the Brazilian starlets went forward with gobs of confidence. When it was all said and done, Brazil's last 45 was the best half this tourney has seen so far.

Their titanic clash against Spain will see scores of the world's most coveted young talent take the field. Yet talent goes for naught without the confidence to back it up as all of our quarterfinalists have come across teams of comparable ability. More than basic confidence, the dare-devil element that makes the good players great and the rest merely decent is their swagger. The raw "try and stop me" of a Luis Muriel that pervades through the entire Colombian team, the steadily demoralizing tiki-taka of Spain, and the un-ignorable forward flow of Brazil has set the stage for what promises to be some equally nervy quarterfinal clashes.

If you can only watch one it has to be Brazil-Spain, but if this last round is any indication, you should watch them all.

My semifinalists: Brazil, Colombia, Nigeria, and Argentina.

- Jacob Klinger

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Party to the people

The group stage of any major tournament - let alone the Under-20 World Cup - is not too different from a high school prom. It's the culmination of an arduous journey that is a cause for celebration. Everybody gets to hang around, dance a little, try to impress the ladies and generally have a good time. The knockout round is the after party and everybody knows that's where the real action is. To get in, however, you have to schmooze smoothly with the cool kids and show you that you might be worth keeping around for later. Invitation only.

All World Cups have at least one team that fails to live up to its billing and worse still, its collective talent. These teams are strikingly disappointing in the way they flame out. Either by arrogantly underestimating the opposition (Portugal and France '02), collapsing with the aging legs of bygone stars (Czech Republic '06 and Italy '10) or declaring public mutiny on their coach (France '10), every tourney has its underachiever(s). Think good hair, but bad BO.

Naturally, youths are not immune as Croatia has been more than willing to play the part this time around. Considering this team made it to the semis of last year's European Under-19 Championships one would think they could manage better than fourth in their World Cup group, score more than two goals, or at least beat Guatemala. Having accomplished none of these feats, they will go home without a win, without a point, and in the unenviable position of being this competition's most disappointing team.

In the very same group as Croatia was Saudi Arabia - this tourney's most pleasant surprise. Despite having succumbed to Nigeria in the de facto Group D Final, the Saudis impressed with a degree of skill and dynamism that put Croatia and Guatemala on the end of three and five-goal defeats, respectively. The Nigerians possess the requisite degree of explosiveness that did the Saudis in, but this is not your older brother's Saudi Arabia.

Because this team is quick on and off the ball and has the option of pressuring high or sitting deep to absorb pressure and set up the counter, they are more than capable of a deep run of continued upsets. Unfortunately, their unexpected success has earned them a date with the steadily improving samba princes of Brazil in the Round of 16 and nobody parties harder than the Brazilians.

For a tournament that has averaged two and a half goals per game thus far, there has been a reasonable amount of parity. True blowouts have been few and far between. This begs the question: Where have all the minnows gone?

Answer: The Round of 16.

Guatemala has progressed thanks to this goal kick assist at 1:25 (I apologize for the choppiness in advance):

Surely New Zealand is wondering if the eleven goals Guatemala shipped in could somehow result in the deduction of a point. While life is not so fair for the Kiwis, Guatemala's fifteen minutes of worse-than-reality TV fame should be long forgotten after their encounter with Portugal on Tuesday. Fish Bowl, here we come!

On the bright side, Nigeria have been playing some downright sexy soccer to the point where if I keep watching them my girlfriend will get jealous. The Super Eagles have pushed the throttle wide open and taken all nine points from their Group D opposition and boast two of the leading contenders for goal of the tournament have come out of the Nigerian camp. Ahmed Musa and company have earned their spot on the short list. When it's all said and done, nobody should be surprised to see them lifting the cup.

Standing in the way however, is England, who has channeled New Zealand's men's team of last year in drawing all of their group stage games – without scoring a goal. Aside from their wilted display against Mexico in Cartagena, this makeshift England team has shown why the Premiership is the most popular league on Earth. Brian Eastick's team is always on the prowl, has yet to meet a tackle it does not embrace and promises to equal the entertainment value of Nigeria Wednesday. If you can only watch one game this round, this is it.

My quarterfinalists? Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, France, Nigeria, Portugal and Argentina.

- Jacob Klinger

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three WC points in the bag

I told ya it wouldn't be easy, but the USWNT patiently posted a 2-0 win over North Korea to open their World Cup campaign successfully.

- Greg Seltzer

On Like A Jambon - Lady Nats Style

Our USWNT gals are set to kick off World Cup play against North Korea in about 35 minutes. Here is your game one line-up:

Solo; Krieger, Buehler, Rampone, LePeilbet, Boxx, Cheney, O'Reilly, Lloyd, Rodriguez, Wambach

I'll be back later with highlights, reactions and perhaps a few thoughts. Enjoy the game, everybody, should be a tough one. If you need a quick group primer, The Shin Guardian has you covered like Christie Rampone on like a jambon.

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fifty Seven Flavors - Parts Deux

Get it?

It's another catch-up.

(jazz hands)

Yes, it's time for a little goodie tray/other output linkery.

Let's start with the freshness:

  • Who is up for an AS Roma wishlist update? Gosh where to start?

    First, despite the oddly grumpy reaction out of L.A. at the news of their interest, the Giallorossi do not seem to have lost their Landon Donovan crush any.

    Thoroughly unrelated interlude side note: Messenger... don't kill him.

    Back to the Guillermo Wonka list recap, Roma remain equally as smitten with Michael Bradley (for those not able to keep track of all the madness, there has been some contact there). Timothy Chandler and then Eric Lichaj remain behind those two in the "maybe" column, largely because they would fill a positional need for fresh blood with an EU Passport. Brad Guzan and Jermaine Jones are still in frame, as well, but I've kinda lost the read on those two for now.

    And as Obi-Wan once said... there is another. I'll let you in on that name soon over at MLSS. I can hardly wait to spill.
  • I give the UK rags a ton of stick around here, but I've got to hand it to them on Brad Friedel's journey to Spurs. In the end, they nearly had it blow by blow.

    Galatasaray interest was fleeting, Schalke took a peek in mere passing, he was close to signing with Liverpool as a back-up when they said so, but did go for Spurs and a starting shot when they upped their offer to two years. I can now confirm all of that. I cannot confirm the supposed interest from the Middle East, but clearly they were never major players.

    Truly, the broken clock is looking over its shoulder this time.
  • Taking a quick stroll on Clint Dempsey suitor patrol, I have learned that PSG remain in the picture, but missing out on the Champions League seems to have made them iffy for now.

    I can also now finally confirm that German champs Borussia Dortmund have at the very least called to say hello.

    Whew! I'd been holding onto that nugget for a time now. Feels good to let it out. There have been a few other big clubs ring up lately, but I'm still tracking those for certainty.

    It bears repeating that it's still unclear whether 1) Deuce would wants to move & 2) Fulham would part with him for anything but an obscene mark-up. With the Cottagers occupied with trying to find Mark Hughes' boss replacement, both of those issues are up in the air.

    This could still end up as either another story of spurned Dempsey interest or big fun. Stay tuned...
  • A few readers have emailed to ask if Jonathan Bornstein might leave Tigres after having trouble cracking the line-up. I'll let his agent field this one:

    "Johnny really loves being at Tigres, but we're just evaluating his situation," Lyle Yorks told NSC. "Obviously, he'd like to play more, but he wants to fight for the opportunity."

    And there ya go.

  • A birdie has told me that we can add a Belgian topper to the race for winter freebie Alejandro Bedoya.

    I have not confirmed which one it is yet, but I have a fair hunch we're talking about Anderlecht and/or maybe a little more likely fellow Europa league entrant Club Brugge. It can be hard to tell because these two do that Mersey-style derby dance - when one gets interested, the other often follows.

    Birmingham City and Rangers remain interested, but each seem to be having a confidence issue with the inevitable UK work permit appeal.

Now to the "in case you missed it" file...

- A check on Jozy Altidore's Villarreal situation
- Triple update on a recovering Lee Nguyen
- Djurgårdens to audition Louisville ace Colin Rolfe
- Postcard From Europe: Seven headline transfer cases

And please note, I've hit one of those predictions to date (the easiest one). I'm shooting for five. I could live with four. The Freddy and Jozy hunch picks are admittedly shots in the pitch dark at this point.

Okay, that all for now. Scram.

- Greg Seltzer

Monday, May 2, 2011

Who likes goals?

Still busy busy, but we can't forget to take a cracker break once in a while...

I'm sorry, but Al-Gharafa's Juninho has to be mentioned in any discussion of the free kick greats. He's not just accurate, his stuff is always nasty. It's like trying to read a breaking pitch... that runs 92MPH. Listen to the announcer, it hardly woke him up. What ever he says sounds like "Of cooourse, duh, what else?"

So... which MLS team was paying mind when Sheva did this for Dinamo Kyiv?

Frankly, I'm not quite sure who to single out from the Fiorentina-Udinese barnburner. So I won't bother trying.

From the "Enough of this crap" file, we have PSG's Nenê.

Last but certainly not least, it's your MLS Goal of the Week contestants. Despite Castillo's brilliance and whatever the hell Mr. Marcos was doing, it has to go to the cruelness of Shea, doesn't it?

- Greg Seltzer

Monday, April 11, 2011

Who likes goals?

I know what you're thinking: "He's ahead of schedule this Monday" - yeah, too far ahead. I'll add the MLS Goal of the Week nominees in a fresh post when it surfaces...

With you-know-who gone, is Mickey Sulejmani finally ready to justify his price tag at Ajax? Set-up man Gregory van der Wiel sure seems to think so.

Here's the thing about free kicks: a truly great one is great no matter the level of the league. With that idea fresh in mind, I present to you sick, sick, nasty, nasty, shameless evil bastard Juninho of Al-Gharafa.

We do not normally go to Costa Rica for Monday inspiration, but this goal by Herediano's Ticos striker Victor Nunez is so pretty it's like a damn Broadway show. Bravo, Victor!

I think we need to have Everton's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (say that one time fast) checked after this swerving cannonball. He may be spring-loaded in there.

szólj hozzá: ---

Check out how little time, space and pass reception ease is needed by Lazio's Hernanes. Then remember who told you he was gonna be Euro-money.

- Greg Seltzer