Oh, how the mighty fall.
According to the father of Queens Park Rangers midfielder Ji-Sung Park, the 32 year old is poised to retire from football at the end of next season. Sung-jong Park said: “Nobody knows the future; maybe he could play one more year with a new team after next season. But I think [Ji-Sung] has made his mind up to retire. He thinks he’s played enough.
“He’s never had times like this with PSV Eindhoven or Manchester United. My son has had difficult times at QPR this season; it was a new experience to him. Ji-sung said it’s difficult to keep his feel for the game as his playing time is inconsistent, but he doesn’t have any hard feelings.”
To say the South Korean has struggled since signing from Manchester United in a £2m deal last summer would be an understatement. Last year at Old Trafford he scored four goals in 30 appearances in all competitions for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. This season he’s stepped on the pitch 22 times for QPR but has yet to register a single goal. Perhaps even more shocking than the numbers is Park’s uninspiring performances for a club devoid of midfield quality.
Once a work-horse of the highest order, Park earned the moniker “Three Lung Park” from the Old Trafford faithful for his ridiculous displays of energy and stamina at United. The midfielder’s tenacity prompted Ferguson to once famously admit that it was not Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney who gave him the most selection headaches, but rather Park.
Under the United boss’ tenure, Park made a name for himself as a big-time Champions League player. Notable performances included a man-of-the-match performance in the second leg win over Barcelona in 2008, an awe-inspiring man marking shutdown of Andrea Pirlo during the quarter finals in 2010, and a brilliant goal against Chelsea to knock the Blues out of the 2011 quarter finals.
Park will reportedly see out his two-year contract at Loftus Road, although it’s hard to foresee him regaining the fitness that made him a cult hero at Old Trafford. If QPR are relegated – and at the bottom of the barrel with 8 matches to go that looks like it will be the case – it will be sad to see Park forced to finish his career in the Championship.
What are your thoughts on Park’s retirement? Do you see him regaining the form he had at United? Is Harry Redknapp to blame for Park’s decline?
Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.
Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.
Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.
[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]
Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.
The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.
The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.
Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.
With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.
[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]
Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.
He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.
Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.
A horror tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor snapped Seamus Coleman‘s leg in gruesome fashion on Friday.
Taylor was given a red card, and Coleman was stretched off the pitch in the 0-0 draw.
[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed what was apparent from the match replay: the Everton man has a broken ankle.
“It’s a bad break. He’s a fantastic player and character. It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.
“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good. He was holding is leg up and it didn’t look good.
This is not only awful for the player, but causes stress as Everton mounts its assault on the Top Six. The right back has also manned right mid for Ronald Koeman this season, and has four goals and four assists in 26 Premier League matches.
Mason Holgate, Muhamed Besic, and Phil Jagielka have played some right back for Everton, while Ramiro Funes Mori has deputized at left back.
After wearing the No. 5 to honor of his recently deceased teammate, James McClean met with the media following Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.
McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.
Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.
[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]
McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).
“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.
“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”