Houston Dynamo practices this week? No place for the timid

Leave a comment

So, you want to be a professional soccer player?

You’ve got a little skill. You know how to strike a ball. You’ve worked that speed ladder and showed the doggone thing who is boss, right?

Now you think you can run with the big dogs, with the lads who play for pay?

Here’s what I suggest: start with Houston Dynamo practices this week. Because those bad boys are going to be super intense, somewhere between soccer practice and cage fighting. As they say, if you can make it there …

Here’s what the Houston Chronicle said about the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s 3-1 loss at already eliminated Philadelphia.

Kinnear tore into his team afterward, delivering an expletive-laced tirade that could be heard down the hall at PPL Park. No doubt he was incensed by the Dynamo’s listless play and lack of fire, which was unacceptable in the critical match.

From there, Kinnear offered some on-the-record quotes that are as close as he ever comes to criticizing his team. “It wasn’t good enough. That’s how I’ll leave it. I’m just disappointed.”

(MORE: Brad Davis says you can’t miss that “desire”)

I’ve said this plenty of times before: There is nothing fancy or secret or groundbreaking about the way the Dynamo do things. Kinnear is still fairly young (45) but is far and away the longest serving MLS coach at his current position for one simple reason: he demands accountability on the field.

That’s it. It’s all the little things. Getting into the right places. Making the correct decisions. Tracking back faithfully. Marking on set pieces. Fighting for second balls with Jack Bauer intensity. Being a good locker room presence.

Every manager wants these things; Kinnear demands it. And for those who can’t quite make the grade in any one area, Kinnear thanks them and moves them along.

Right now, too many players aren’t getting it done. Rookie Kofi Sarkodie gets caught with the ball too often, and then goes down too easily when it happens. Ricardo Clark may cover a lot of ground, but his passing looks a bit slow and overly contemplative right now. There’s more, those are just the first things that come to mind.

And for Kinnear’s part, that 4-3-3 (or whatever it was in Philadelphia) may need a re-think, perhaps back to the well-rehearsed roles everyone had in the 4-4-2.

Because 1-3-3 over their last seven (6 of a possible 21 points) is not going to get it done, especially not when the club is healthy, with pretty much everyone available for selection.

So, yes … go ask about joining up in the Dynamo practices this week. It is not going to be pretty, technical, tika-taka stuff.

CONCACAF: USMNT, Trinidad & Tobago seek first points of Hexagonal

Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]

Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.

For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.

Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.

Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.


Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET

Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET

USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)


1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.

Spurs allowed to play all home matches at Wembley next season

Michael Steele/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham was granted the right to play all of its home matches at Wembley Stadium for the 2017/18 season, but the club must now make a decision whether or not to remain at White Hart Lane for another year.

[ MORE: Man City weighing massive offer for Milan’s Donnarumma ]

The club’s application was granted on Thursday by Brent Council’s planning committee, giving Spurs the option to move into Wembley next season for all 27 home Premier League fixtures.

Spurs must decide if it will go ahead with that move though by March 31.

Tottenham continues to play at White Hart Lane while its new stadium, located next door to its current venue, is being constructed. The current plan is that the new venue will be open ahead of the 2019/2020 campaign, but the club is said to be weighing all of its options in the event that it could be ready for the 2018/19 season.

Prosecutors question Beckenbauer in World Cup fraud case

Boris Streubel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BERN, Switzerland (AP) Swiss authorities say prosecutors have questioned Germany soccer great Franz Beckenbauer in their ongoing World Cup fraud case.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”

Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.

Report: Man City launching massive bid for AC Milan’s Donnarumma

Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images
1 Comment

Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.

[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.

The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.

Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.

Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.