Chelsea keeping Kevin de Bruyne waiting and waiting and waiting …

1 Comment

When you’re an up-and-coming 20 year old who finally gets that ‘big club’ contract, you’re juiced. It’s the break you’ve been waiting for, the time when you’re finally on the verge of stepping into the limelight and becoming a household commodity in world football. Fourteen months after signing with Chelsea, midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is still waiting for that to happen.

The Belgian international came to Stamford Bridge in January 2012 when Chelsea purchased him from Genk – a surging feeder club that has produced the likes of Christian Benteke, Thibaut Courtois and Anthony Vanden Borre. Yet after a year in the fold, few football lovers would recognize de Bruyne if he was standing next to them at a bar sipping a shandy while wearing his Belgian kit. That’s because – surprise, surprise – immediately after signing with the Blues he was loaned back to Genk for the remainder of the spring before spending the entire 2012-13 campaign at German side Werder Bremen.

Credit to the winger, he hasn’t let the demotion effect him on the pitch. In 26 Bundesliga appearances, de Bruyne has banged home six goals and served as provider on eight occasions. Despite the heroics Bremen has struggled and sits 14th in the table, a mere 6 points from the drop zone.

de Bruyne’s football has been equally tasty on the international level where he’s scored twice and assisted twice in five World Cup Qualifying appearances. The fact that he’s accomplished this for the new darling of every footie bro (‘dude, Belgian’s roster is sooo sick, definitely a dark horse to win World Cup 2014‘), only adds to the player’s intrigue.

On Friday, it was de Bruyne who opened the scoring for the Diables Rouges in their 2-0 win over Macedonia. The blonde ambition was played the ball on the right side of the pitch, cut inside and skinned defender Alexander Lazevski before slamming a near post rip past the utterly confused Macedonia netminder, Tome Pacovski. Determined, technically precise, and full of guile, the goal was a feat to behold.

So with his stock rising on both club and international stages, de Bruyne was asked whether he still had aspirations to play at Stamford Bridge. “That’s the reason that I signed there last year,” he said with a pained look of obviousness and desperation.

“I want to show everyone at Chelsea that I can play there. But at the moment I don’t know what Chelsea want to do with me, so it’s difficult to say what’s going to happen with me in the next year, or years. I have to just wait.”

What Chelsea want to do with you, my dear Kevin, is keep you on ice. Maintain you as part of the inventory at the Stamford Bridge warehouse. Keep working hard and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be recalled this summer for the pre-season firecracker against the mighty Singha Thailand All-Star XI. Now wouldn’t that be fun?

If it sounds harsh, sorry kiddo, but this is life at Chelsea, where attacking midfielders are all the rage. The typical front three of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Haaaaathaarrrrrrr clearly have the starting roles on lockdown. After the tiny trio, guys like Victor Moses and Marko Marin sit quietly on Rafa Benitez’ bench, frothing at the mouth to enter a match in the final three minutes and somehow impress. Making matters worse, the do-it-all Ramires is always happy to oblige in any position throughout the midfield.

It’s a dirty game, but not one without lessons, mainly, know the ‘big club’ club you’re signing for before you go searching for that limelight.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
Leave a comment

Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

Leave a comment

France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]

Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?

Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina in World Cup qualifying

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
Leave a comment

Argentina took steps backward Tuesday in its pursuit of a 2018 World Cup berth, on and off the field.

It started as Lionel Messi was suspended four matches for verbally abusing a referee in Argentina’s Friday win over Chile.

Then La Albiceleste made another move in reverse with a shocking 2-0 loss to Bolivia in La Paz. Argentina started Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, and Ezequiel Lavezzi on the bench in what many presumed to be an easy win.

[ MORE: Three keys for USA v Panama ] 

Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins scored as ninth-place La Verde picked up its third win of qualifying with a win over powerful Argentina.

The bad news kept coming for Argentina (and Everton), as Ramiro Funes Mori left the match in the 36th minute with injury.

Bolivia will finish the international break at least 10 points back of the playoff spot, while Argentina could finish as low as that fifth-place spot.

STREAM: CONCACAF tripleheader concludes with USMNT

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
Leave a comment

CONCACAF’s bottom three sides in the Hex standings look to make the table incredibly tight as World Cup qualifying finds three-straight matches on the docket beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.

Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Los Catrachos were creamed 6-0 by the U.S. on Friday, and return home hoping a wounded Costa Rica remains vulnerable. Honduras is dead last on goal differential, but three points would be huge and put them level with Los Ticos. Costa Rica won its first two matches before falling to Mexico on Friday.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico

El Tri has two wins and a draw from their first three Hex matches, and will be without Rafa Marquez on Tuesday. A win guarantees Mexico the top spot heading into the next round of matches in June. The Soca Warriors surprised some with their 1-0 win over visiting Panama on Tuesday. Mexico is a different class.

Panama vs. USMNT

Despite its miserable start, the U.S. can find itself as high as second with a win and help from Honduras. The injuries remain plenty for the Yanks, who are without Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, Sebastian Lletget, and John Brooks. Panama has allowed just a single goal through three Hex matches, but also has only managed one.