Guzan’s time to shine, as Villa face huge relegation clash

Leave a comment

Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa are struggling. The USMNT ‘keeper isn’t.

Despite letting in more goals (55) than any other EPL goalkeeper this season, Guzan has received rave reviews from across the league.

But all that is on the line this afternoon, as Villa host fellow relegation scrappers Sunderland in a massive clash at the bottom of the table.

Without Guzan, many argue that Aston Villa’s fate would already be sealed.

QPR and Reading were both relegated to the Championship on Sunday after a dour 0-0 tie and Villa’s defending in front of Guzan — which for the vast majority of the season can be described as “amateurish” at best —  has left Paul Lambert’s side perilously close to the drop, just two points ahead of Wigan in 18th.

But today’s task is made even harder, (3pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel) as Villa face an in-form Sunderland side that are looking for their third-straight win under new boss Paolo Di Canio. Guzan will have his work cut out but the American ‘keeper should remember that he is putting himself in the shop window no matter what.

If Villa do go down, Guzan may remain in the EPL. His stock has risen dramatically and many EPL teams may see him as a cheaper alternative, if they’re looking for a new ‘keeper, than any other options at their disposal. Arsenal and Fulham have been muted as possible destinations, with Guzan’s heroic displays catching scouts eyes across Europe.

All eyes from the US will be fixed on Guzan’s performances this afternoon, as he aims to produce another fine collection of sprawling saves and commanding catches to spur Villa on to a crucial three points.

His humble nature and likeable character conceal a steely determination to succeed. Many had written him off during his first few seasons at Villa, even his own fans, but with Shay Given way down the pecking order, Guzan has the chance to establish himself as a Premier League regular for years to come. With that comes the chance to seriously challenge Tim Howard for the USMNT goalkeepers spot, too.

No pressure, Brad. Actually, there’s quite a lot. Go get ‘em!

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

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.

Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

AP Photo/LM Otero
Leave a comment

Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

[ MORE: Everton wins Europa opener ]

Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

https://www.transfermarkt.com/paul-arriola/leistungsdaten/spieler/189876

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).