What to look for in Omar Gonzalez’s first game as a DP? Something better, perhaps

Leave a comment

Omar Gonzalez has two versions: the absolutely dominant one, the commanding, physically imposing presence we witnessed last year in MLS Cup 2012, when he was the best player on the field.

And then there is the version of Gonzalez that is merely pretty good.

And if we’re being honest, we’ve seen a bit too much of that one lately.

In fairness, it has been a busy, busy summer for the defender out of Dallas. He was front and center in those World Cup qualifiers in June that turned out so successfully, positioning the United States to officially clinch a World Cup berth next month. Then Gonzalez provided U.S. support in the Gold Cup elimination matches of July.

Plus, all this contract rigmarole was surely something of a weight, balancing the delicate choices of remaining an MLS man after 2013 or going abroad, pushing out of his comfort zone.

Wither way, he hasn’t been exactly tip-top. Not in MLS nor on the national team, where Kansas City’s Matt Besler seems to have passed Gonzalez as Jurgen Klinsmann’s primary building block along the back line. (And we all saw how well Anthony Brooks played in his U.S. debut Wednesday, right?)

So Gonzalez has some work ahead, for club and country. Again, he hasn’t been poor. And playing in front of rickety goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who has been far less than the Galaxy expected after arriving in January from Tottenham, surely comes with its own set of problem.

But Gonzalez earns the big bucks now. (And good on MLS, and the Galaxy, for finally pushing further into territory where it’s not just strikers and creative midfielders who are getting handed the Designated Player contracts.)

It’s time for Gonzalez to rise, to be consistently great rather than good, a little closer to the version we saw in 2012, where he and Robbie Keane drove the Galaxy into and through the MLS playoffs.

By the way, a match tonight against Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake would be a wonderful place to start.

Messi could face CONMEBOL suspension for verbal abusing official

AP Photo/Eugenio Savio
Leave a comment

Already facing some uncertainty with a depleted roster, Argentina could face a significantly greater challenge.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina starting XI vs. Bolivia ]

Barcelona star Lionel Messi could face suspension after reportedly verbally abusing linesman Marcelo Van Gasse during the second half of Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

Messi was reported to CONMEBOL for yelling, “F*** off, your mother’s c***” at Van Gasse and refused to shake the official’s hand at the end of the match.

The officiating crew from the match didn’t initially include Messi’s rant in the post-match report, however, it was added on Monday and submitted to CONMEBOL.

The South American federation must now decide if and when it will punish Messi for his reported actions, and there is the potential that the world-class attacker could be suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Bolivia if the federation acts quickly.

There are several other scenarios though for CONMEBOL to action, including disregarding Messi’s verbal assault.

La Albiceleste currently sit third in World Cup qualifying on 22 points.

Arena speaks about USMNT turnaround, says “no secret formulas”

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Leave a comment

It’s only been one competitive match since Bruce Arena regained control of the U.S. Men’s National Team and there’s already been a noticeable difference in form.

[ MORE: Three keys for the USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

The former LA Galaxy manager wouldn’t have you believe that though following Friday night’s convincing 6-0 victory over Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

“It’s nothing I can write a book on,” Arena said about his team’s turnaround in form against Honduras. “You have a sense of your group, and you go about doing your business. There’s no secret formulas to this stuff. Work together, take ownership in what you’re doing, treat them like responsible professional athletes, and you get on with your business.

He added, “They want to be successful. They want to play in a World Cup. Is that a recipe for success? I don’t know. I’m sure Honduras wants to play in a World Cup too.”

Arena, who took over for Jurgen Klinsmann following the U.S.’ collapse during the first two matches of the Hexagonal, is unbeaten in his first three games in charge since getting his job back with the Stars and Stripes.

Although there has been a considerable turnaround in the way the USMNT has performed in the first three matches of 2017, Arena wouldn’t stoop to comparing his style to that of Klinsmann.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” he said. “I’m not taking a survey [of the players]. I know it’s different. We lose tomorrow, there will be articles written that, ‘This a—— is letting these guys run loose.'”

“I have spent no time on the past. There’s nothing I can do about it. I kind of have a sense about things, but there’s no point in me spending time investigating what went on in the past. The idea was to get it going the right way from the start.”

Arena’s next test with the U.S. will be on Tuesday when the Yanks travel to Panama City to take on Panama.

Report: American teenager linked with Manchester United

Twitter/@PeterVint
Leave a comment

The U.S. Men’s National Team is always looking for more Christian Pulisic-like players, and another star-in-the-making could be on his way to Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Three keys for USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

American teenager Will Vint is reportedly being pursued by Premier League giants Manchester United after previously having trialed with Fulham and Everton.

Vint, the 15-year-old son Everton academy director Peter Vint, has reportedly impressed the Red Devils while on trial as of late. Additionally, the teen’s Instagram page describes him as a “Footballer at Manchester United.”

The number of Americans in England’s top flight have dwindled down over recent years, however, USMNT mainstays like Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan (moving to Atlanta United) still reside in the PL.

Chapecoense announces match against Colombia’s Nacional

Clive Rose/Getty Image
Leave a comment

SAO PAULO (AP) Brazilian club Chapecoense will play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on April 4 in what will be an emotional home match.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina XI to face Bolivia ]

In November, 19 members of the Brazilian team died in an air crash outside Medellin as they travelled to play Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. Out of 77 passengers, 71 died in the incident, including players, journalists, and club officials.

Chapecoense says they will play at 22,000-seat Arena Conda in southern Brazil in the first leg of the Recopa Sudamericana.

The tragedy made Atletico Nacional pronounce Chapecoense as champions, and the South American confederation agreed.

The Recopa Sudamericana is between the champions of the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores.