Written by Will Parchman

The Champions League enjoyed its most prolific single day of scoring in history on Wednesday. That’s pretty neat. What’s even neater was this ridiculous finish from Marco Reus, whose belter helped Borussia Dortmund smash woeful Galatasaray 4-0.

Hey, remember when Reus got injured just before the World Cup and Germany dashed and blasted its way to the championship anyway? I remember that too. That was pretty weird.

Tags:  , , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

trapp_concacafDL

The U.S.’s 2013 U20 World Cup team stands apart for some positive reasons and a few that, well, aren’t quite so rosy.

The good primarily involves the successful CONCACAF qualification campaign itself and simply getting to the Big Show. That particular U20 side is the only U.S. YNT to play in its global competition since 2011. The U23 team missed the 2012 Olympics and the U17 MNT whiffed on the 2013 World Cup. And, much as there is no spoon, there is no U19 competition in this part of the world.

The bad involves the style of play in small measure, but really the draw more than anything. There may have been tougher group draws in U20 World Cup history, but you’ll have to find them for me. Spain, Ghana and eventual champion France were positively loaded. Spain featured No. 9 Paco Alcacer (who’s scored three goals in three games for the full Spanish national team in Euro qualifying), Jese and Gerard Deulofeu, and that’s not to mention names like Suso, Oliver Torres and Juan Bernat. In the midfield France had Paul Pogba, who was probably the best player at the entire tournament (Florian Thauvin, Lucas Digne and Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo also had very good tournaments).

Ghana, the “weakest” of these three of Khaleesi’s hell-spawn brood, boasted Anderlecht’s Frank Acheampong (who many Ghanians were disappointed to see miss Brazil), prized Chelsea youth Daniel Pappoe and left back Baba Rahman, who’s impressing in consistent first-team starts in the Bundesliga this season with Augsburg.

No. Big. Deal.

Unsurprisingly, a sturdy if unspectacular U.S. side was hardly up for this kind of test. I dare say a majority of the planet’s U20 teams would fall in that same category, so we shouldn’t be so hasty to let the hammer drop on coach Tab Ramos on results alone (though points of criticism are not out of the universe of the acceptable here, of course, as we’ll see shortly). And while the Americans were obliterated by Spain and roundly beaten by Ghana, a 1-1 draw against a France team that just three weeks later won the entire tournament means the U.S. at least got something out of the bargain.

But the point of U-whatever teams isn’t results, necessarily, but the pattern that emerges from plucking out the players who produce them and making them productive first team professionals. And in that sense, the recent past is always an interesting if wholly necessary lens through which to view where we are now. In essence, we need to look back to go forward.

This is a glimpse at all 21 players Ramos called into last year’s World Cup team and the progress they’ve made over the last 16 months.

Tags:  , | 1 Comment
Written by Will Parchman

najemjpg

Adam Najem is undoubtedly one of the most exciting attacking prospects in the country. After starring for the Red Bulls in the Development Academy, Najem took his talents to Akron, where he’s been skillfully ripping through college soccer as a tricky attacker over the past year-plus.

On Friday, in a 3-2 win over West Virginia, Najem one-upped himself.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

In the off chance you missed it, Tobin Heath redirected Carli Lloyd’s cross with a pretty insane left heel for the third of five goals in a 5-0 win over Guatemala in Women’s World Cup qualifying over the weekend. Won’t see many back-to-the-net finishes better than this, at any level.

Heath’s had her detractors as possessionally wanton, but it’s hard to argue against her scoring production. This was her second of the night.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

That there is one hell of a strike from West Brom’s Stephane Sessegnon, who one-timed a whale of a cross for a 1-0 lead over visiting Manchester United. Note trailing fullback Luke Shaw, who’d presumably just rolled out of the pub moments prior to the start of the match.

The game ended 2-2, but West Brom led twice, and United often looked out of sorts and out of ideas until late. If you’re Louis van Gaal, briefly turning the Baggies into Barcelona isn’t the best way to go about endearing your fan base to your tactical ideals.

But West Brom did manage to tweet this just moments before the aforementioned Fellaini, who came on just after halftime, went top shelf to beat Boaz Myhill and tie the game at 1-all. Comedic justice knows no boundaries.

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

raul

Raul, all of 37 years old, is reportedly on his way to the NASL’s New York Cosmos, per ESPN’s breaking news guru Jeff Carlisle. The more things change, the more they don’t change at all. The Elderly Spending Era of Beckenbauer and Pele and Chinaglia isn’t so far gone after all.

Raul, he of Real Madrid and highest-goalscorer-in-Champions-League-history fame, is the latest in a long line of aged past-their-prime superstars to join the club of declining fortunes. But in true salesman fashion, that’s not all folks. He’s also heading up the team’s developmental apparatus via the team’s youth academy, which is supposedly starting up next year.

In case you were pondering on my take on all this, the latter morsel of news is far more significant than the former.

Tags:  , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

Ideological golazo battles are the best, and we’ve got a doozy for you today. Akron, once the home of Caleb Porter’s ‘Death by 1,000 Passes,’ comes up with a lovely bit of build-up typical of the possession-based side. And in the other corner, Michigan State’s beast of an effort from range pits man versus team in this week’s TDS College Goal of the Week.

Tags:  | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

LD3

We will miss Landon Donovan. Probably more than we know.

As we eulogize Donovan’s professional playing career in videos and words and deeds and Tweets and posters and laurels and wreaths, we do so in the midst of sporadic moments of emotion that bubble up quickly and recede in quiet.

Donovan did this to us.

“The face of a soccer generation.” He was the first and likely last of his ilk. No one before or since has presided over the game in America during such exponential rise in popularity, and it doesn’t particularly matter if a more gifted player comes along down the line, as he most assuredly will. He wasn’t Donovan. He wasn’t there. For the committed souls who pushed into the dawn in 2002, for The Beckham Experiment, for the best U17 World Cup the U.S. has ever seen and Algeria and the Chastain bra and all of it.

Tags:  , , | 1 Comment
Written by Will Parchman

Think MLS refereeing is bad? You have that right. It’s certainly not perfect, as Juan Guzman can assuredly tell you by his actions.

But it’s not this bad.

Tags:  , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

Claudio Vargas is a midfielder for Club Libertad in the Paraguayan First Division. On Friday, he thumped this ridiculous strike that knuckles and curves like it has sentient thoughts. Libertad eventually lost the game 3-1 to River Plate in the first leg of their Copa Sudamericana series, but in the end, don’t we all win after seeing this beast?

Plus. That reaction. I’m a little scared, to be honest.

Tags:  | Leave a comment