Mexico’s moment of truth almost here; the massive World Cup qualifying series with New Zealand begins Wednesday

3 Comments

It isn’t often that World Cup qualifying in our region can kick up such a U.S. interest when it does not involve the United States.

Then again, it isn’t often that Mexico is this awful.

So here it is, El Tri’s last stand. The chances for getting this wayward, mess of a World Cup qualifying campaign together are pretty much up. They get things right over the next few days against New Zealand, or mighty Mexico – well, you know, “mighty” in our region – misses the quadrennial world soccer mega-party for the first time since 1990.

Heck, as World Cup qualifying opened, some pundits were suggesting Mexico could be a dark horse favorite to accomplish something truly special next summer in Brazil. Now, they are running out of chances to even get there.

We’ll have more about it at ProSoccerTalk over the next week and a half. It starts Wednesday when the teams meet at Azteca.

Mexico finished fourth among six teams in final round World Cup qualifying in our region. (The United States finished first, claiming an automatic berth along with Costa Rica and Honduras.)

(MORE: Why U.S. fans might WANT Mexico in the World Cup)

What former Club America manager Miguel Herrera told FIFA.com: “The first thing we said was that we shouldn’t think about what happened in the past because that’s something we can’t resolve. … We are going to win in Mexico and we will also seek to win over there [in New Zealand].”

Ordinarily, a home game against a team like New Zealand (No.  79 in FIFA’s latest world rankings) would hardly be worth a Tri-Colored sweat. But Mexico won just once in five final round World Cup qualifiers inside Azteca, so the All Whites can like their chances of a draw or a close loss before heading back home for the second leg.

(MORE: Price for Mexico missing World Cup seems to be rising)

Herrera certainly made a statement by choosing an All-Mexico-based roster for the do-or-die set; that means no Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, an unthinkable exclusion just a few months ago.

New Zealand is missing a big start, too, although for completely different reasons. West Ham defender Winston Reid, the All Whites’ captain, was recently ruled out with a serious ankle injury.

The second leg is Nov. 20 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

Peter Byrne/PA via AP
Leave a comment

NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Leave a comment

If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images
Leave a comment

Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
1 Comment

Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.