Friday, February 29, 2008

Rapids Say Adios to Nico, Buy Crew Defender

Maybe I was dreaming it all but the Brazilian rumor has been replaced by cold fact. The Rapids finally offloaded Nico Hernandez and bought a defender from Columbus Crew, Tim Ward. I'm not really sure what happened to Hernandez. He seemed a good prospect earlier in the season last year but abruptly fell out of favor. It didn't look to me as if his form had radically dipped even though, like everyone else, he wasn't exactly ripping the nets apart. It does kind of lead to speculation that there was some kind of falling out either with teammates or with the coach. Who knows? Anyway, he is off to Ohio so we'll just have to wave the Argentinian flag for Erpen instead. Now, we have another defender. Not sure how he is going to fit in with the current depth we already have at defense. Am I the only one who sees it as odd we have sold an attacking player for another defender when we could barely score last year? Despite the ambitious purchase of Christian Gomez, which will undoubtedly add flair to our attacking play, I'm still having difficulty in seeing just who is going to be the main goalscorer. Maybe the Rapids will persuade Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor to come over to Colorado while they are training with him this week and next? Just kidding. As much chance of that as Eduardo trotting out for the Gunners this weekend.
What a segue. Quick note on Eduardo's injury and fallout because enough has been written on it already. Martin Taylor made a poor tackle in the early minutes of a Premiership game before he was really focused on the game in hand. Eduardo is a supremely gifted player and Taylor was too late with the tackle. What has impressed me about Taylor, who has scarily received death threats from some of the nutters out there, is his trips to the hospital to see Eduardo. This guy is obviously distraught at what happened to a fellow professional. It may have been a bad tackle but it was not a malicious one and he deserves support to get him through it just as we all wish Eduardo back on the field as soon as possible. The Croatian star has been absolutely outstanding for Arsenal this season and he is sorely missed by all true soccer lovers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rapids Go All Brazilian?

Dick's Sporting Goods Park may be getting a touch of samba for the upcoming season, according to speculation on tonight's From The Pitch radio show. Host and former US player, Marcelo Balboa, said the Rapids may be signing a couple of Brazilians. I wasn't able to listen to the interview later in the show where Rapids coach, Fernando Clavijo, was talking but it certainly adds to the genuine excitement and anticipation around DSG Park these days. One of the players discussed is Reinaldo, currently with Queensland Roar in the Australian league. Here's a rather tasty goal we would all like to see replicated for the Rapids.

The other is Rafael Dos Santos but nobody seemed to be able to say what position this player would play. Again, maybe Clavijo clarified. We'll wait and see if there are any developments from the Rapids over the next few days. The Rapids fly off to my homeland Thursday to train with the mighty Arsenal. People may scoff at the marketing partnership with the Gunners but the players can only learn more from the experience of playing with some of the best players in Europe and beyond.
UPDATE: (March 3 2008)
Reinaldo apparently decided to further his Korea by going to career instead.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Barca Masterclass as Men Beat Boys

It's all too easy to rhapsodize about stylish European teams but the elite of Barcelona strutted their stuff at Celtic Park yesterday in the Champions' League and the little I saw of it was spectacular. Admittedly, they fell behind twice to the Scottish giants but, turning on for the last 2o minutes or so, their class going forward was unmistakeable. Celtic, apart from one pseudo attack towards the end of the game, could barely touch the ball in those last 20 minutes. Eto'o, who had come on for Ronaldhino, Henri and Messi, especially Messi, combined with the likes of veteran Puyol to rip Celtic apart. It was a pleasure to watch as a neutral. Messi truly is a phenomenon. You expect great things every time he touches the ball. The only person I can think of who had such skill and presence in recent years (Kaka, Ronaldo maybe) and on whom such great expectations were set was Zidane. Not bad for a kid who is still a teenager. Barcelona won 3-2, making the Nou Camp trip for Celtic a mighty mountain to climb.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blatter Needs to Calm Down - Nobody's Dying

The Premier League puts forward a proposal to play a few extra games around the globe and you would think that they had suggested murdering Sepp Blatter's Mum. Blatter himself comes out and says "not over my dead body," hot on the heels of the Asian FA chief equally ridiculing the idea. So, the only conclusion is that the feigned outrage has nothing to do with the proposal but much more to do with who is in charge of the global game. Blatter cannot stand anybody challenging his fiefdom and his ridiculous outbursts reflect that. It's just an idea, that's all, and it's not a bad one. Let's at least look at it and think what can be done. I'd personally love it if Arsenal played whomever at DSG Park. If they do, I'm sure they will give Mr. Blatter an invite and I think he might just show up.

Dublin Gets All Italian - Che Bello!

Strange bedfellows indeed. Not only is Giovanni Trapattoni taking over as the new Republic of Ireland coach, he's getting World Cup hero Marco Tardelli to be his number two. OK, so it's just an excuse to link to what is without doubt the best ever celebration of a goal in the history of soccer (see below). I don't think the video link really does the celebration justice but it really remains a thing of beauty for its pure naturalness.
First England with Capello, now Ireland with Traps and Tardelli. I note few real doubts on the Irish side insisting on an Irish manager. Ireland against England in the final of World Cup 2010? Probably not but they'll all be eating better and listening to Puccini.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Little Corner of Africa; Gomez Signs

Spent this morning watching the final of the Africa Cup of Nations together with a passionate crowd from all over the continent at Le Baobab restaurant in Denver. As you all know, Egypt ran out winners 1-0 after a defensive error from veteran Rigobert Song. To be honest, it was a fair result. For all their physicality and frightening speed, the Cameroonians failed to make many chances and the Egyptians were very tough in counter attack and defense. It was an exciting game, made more so by the restaurant crowd who not only came from Cameroon and Egypt but also Burkina Faso, Gabon, Senegal and other lands. Many thanks to the fabulous owners who made everybody so welcome. Could be a good place to watch the World Cup in two years time. One other local angle was Cameroon midfielder and former Rapid Alain Nkong. His performances in this tournament have apparently attracted the interest of Tottenham Hotspur. Makes you wonder why the Rapids got rid of him. He really was the best player for Cameroon.

One quick note on the signing this week by the Rapids of Christian Gomez. This is a good signing and it seems the Rapids really pushed the boat out to get their man. My only concern is that we may be putting too much faith in him. What will happen if he gets injured? And we still have not solved the problem of a striker who will net 20 goals a season. Undoubtedly, if he stays fit, Gomez will score and create goals and will add further to the performances of Herculez Gomez and Connor Casey once they are fit. I just worry that we may have too many funds and emotions wrapped up in the Argentinian when we still need a consistent guy up front. Hats off to the Rapids, though, for securing such a big name. We welcome him to DSG Park and I can't personally wait to see him weave his magic.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Premier League Game at DSG Park? Rapids Announcing a Lot

It's all happening. Just like London buses, nothing for ages and then three (at least) come all at once. Truth is, there's always something happening in the only global game but pre-season news is finally kicking in at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have not only announced their preseason schedule and full season schedule (Toronto road trip anyone in August?), they are apparently about to make some major announcements tomorrow (Friday) regarding a "major" player acquisition and a new technical director. Most sites appear pretty confident the player will be Christian Gomez of DC United, a former MLS MVP.
As I am way behind the news on that one, I won't say anything else and await tomorrow's announcement. The news that caught my eye today was the plan by the Premier League to stage some games overseas in future seasons. Arsenal v Man United at DSG Park? Doubt it somewhat but you might get Reading against Bolton. Here's the link to the BBC story.