116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quick Hits

Raise your hand if you are enjoying SuperLiga as much as I am. There is some real passion on display in these matches, not to mention a nice bit of skill from the much-maligned MLS players. Christian Gomez was magnificent for D.C. against Club America yesterday, and I think my newest favorite MLS player might be Joseph Ngwenya (who Houston subbed off too early last night, in my opinion). Mexican League teams might have expected a series of glorified friendlies, but this tourney looks as if it will be a dogfight to the end. Over time, this could shape up to be the tournament MLS fans have been waiting for, and let's hope that future editions feature a true "home-away" format for added drama!

Freddy Adu is going to Benfica, which is a great move on his part. In Lisbon he will be able to participate in a big club, but under less of a microscope than he would find among the pundits in England and Spain. He also moves directly under the wing of one of the game's most venerable playmakers, the distinguished Manuel Rui Costa, who teamed with Gabriel Batistuta years ago to make Fiorentina one of the most enjoyable Serie A teams of recent memory, before helping mentor the great Kaka at AC Milan. He was also defeated by the USA in the '02 World Cup, as a member of a Portugal squad that will forever be near and dear to the hearts of Gringos everywhere; Freddy should learn much from him! Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), Freddy will be in a side with an annual shot at Champions League action, which is more than you can say about Tottenham. Playing in such a high-pressure environment against the world's best will certainly help Adu's game; now all he has to do is earn that playing time. Best of luck, Freddy.

Robin van Persie is going to be a very big star this season (I know I said that about Luis Garcia last year, but I'm certain of this). He was absolutely phenomenal against Inter in the Emirates Cup yesterday. The scariest part of his dominant play on Sunday was the seeming discovery of his right foot, which he used to score a stunner:

Perhaps those rumors of the demise of Arsenal are a bit exaggerated (then again, they might be pleading for Henry to come back by January)!

Can't wait for Becks to make his SuperLiga debut, here's to hoping the Galaxy go through, just in case he can't play against FC Dallas on Tuesday. A little star power goes a long way, after all, and it's a shame Chicago wasn't included in this tournament as well; while walking home on 116th Street (a stronghold for Chivas and Club America supporters) yesterday, I saw a group of Mexican teens in Fire jerseys. That was certainly a first! David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco have been marketing coups for MLS thus far, and their impact has the potential to stretch far beyond the U.S. market. For proof, check out this MLS-themed show from the UK, "David Beckham's Soccer USA" (shown below in five parts):

Finally, congratulations to Iraq for their Asian Cup victory. Although many players will not be able to return home in the near future for safety reasons, hopefully their sense of unity and sacrifice will provide some inspiration to a nation in desperate need of it. Soccer may be a small thing, but it incites passion like few other things in the world; let's hope Iraq gets to experience similar joy in the years ahead.


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