It might be a tad early to proclaim 2013 as “The Year of Sacha Kljestan.” But the man sure is finishing 2012 with a mighty Belgian bang!
Anderlecht won again yesterday and now finds itself a full eight points in the lead of the 16-team Jupiler League. Kljestan went all 90 minutes in a 4-1 win over visiting Lierse. That’s 10 wins in a row for Anderlecht, which is also unbeaten in 15 consecutive league matches at home.
It may have seemed like U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann had little use for the California native previously; it has always been a little hard to define Kljestan’s best role, going all the way back to his Chivas USA days under Preki, and that has probably hurt the versatile midfielder along the way.
But he kept a good attitude about it all, and a glance at recent months doesn’t look so bad when considering Kljestan’s place in the international game. Kljestan appeared in each of the Americans’ last three matches, including two critical World Cup qualifiers and the fashionable 2-2 draw with Russia for finish out 2012, Klinsmann’s first full year in charge.
He may already be moving in front of Maurice Edu in the order of U.S. central midfielder (considering Edu’s alarming lack of status at Stoke City, where he has become a forgotten man.) And Kljestan may have lapped Jose Torres in the field, even if the two are fairly different players.
Landon Donovan’s status has something to say about where Kljestan lands in the order, as well. (On the other hand, he’ll need to peak over his shoulder occasionally to monitor the progress of Mix Diskerud, who appears to be coming up fast.)
Either way, being a starter for the runaway leaders of a mid-tier European league (Belgium) isn’t a bad place to launch for 2013.
The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.
While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.
[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]
The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.
The aesthetics are terrific.
Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.
The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.
Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.
[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]
Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.
Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.
Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).
Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).
Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.
Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.
[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]
While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.
Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:
The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.
“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”
Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.
We may see him on the field in August 2018.
ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.
FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.
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The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.
FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.