Considering everything that happened in 2013 in domestic soccer, can there be any question that the year was the most newsworthy, eventful year yet for the sport in our country?
The national team’s dramatic fall and rise in perception bracketed the year in soccer news. According to whom you did or didn’t believe, Jurgen Klinsmann’s program was in tatters. Then it wasn’t.
In fact, “it wasn’t” became a huge understatement. But year’s end, Klinsmann’s improvements initiatives having apparently taken hold, the national team had enjoyed previously unseen highs.
Along the way, as memory makers go it’s nearly impossible to top the “Snow Clasico,” not only for the surreal and amazing aesthetics, but also for the way it helped turn around the entire World Cup qualification campaign.
Take a gander at the other elements that made 2013 the most eventful, newsy year in U.S. soccer history:
- Robbie Rogers coming out as a gay man and retiring. Then un-retiring and returning to Major League Soccer. That became an important story in sports generally, one that transcended soccer.
- Landon Donovan’s sabbatical, a news story that sprung all kinds of tentacles (for club and country). Foremost was his estrangement from the national team, which then evolved into one of the summer’s big news makers: his glorious return to national team grace.
- Not coincidentally, Donovan’s reemergence drove the U.S. Gold Cup conquest, as the playmaker’s sensational form led a dominant United States tournament performance.
- Later, back in his club jersey, Landon Donovan equaled Major League Soccer’s career scoring record.
- Jozy Altidore’s record-setting year abroad, the best year ever for a U.S. scorer in Europe.
- Altidore’s amazing summer of scoring for the national team, highlighted by his U.S.record of scoring in five consecutive matches.
- Clint Dempsey, still on top of his game, traded in Premier League status for a second run in Major League Soccer, a huge development for a league where the best talent typically migrates out rather than in.
- Huge MLS expansion news, as New York City FC came on-line as the league’s 20th franchise. A few months later, Orlando was announced as No. 21. And all along, news continued to filter out (strategically so, it’s probably worth saying) of David Beckham’s ongoing efforts to plan an MLS expansion flag in Miami.
- The United States qualified for another World Cup, about to appear its seventh consecutive tournament. (Dos a cero. Again!) Later, and certainly related, Klinsmann was signed to another four-year deal.
- The unbelievable drama of the final night of CONCACAF qualifying, a made-for-TV moment if there ever was one.
- And, finally, a World Cup draw for forget for the United States.
All that, plus the usual newsiness of the MLS Cup final, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, notable transfers, trades, retirements, coaching coming and goings, etc.
Victor Guzman used Pachuca’s first shot on target of the game to score the deciding goal in stoppage time, and Tuzos are champions of Liga MX after a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s second leg of the Liga MX Liguilla final versus Monterrey.
[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed by police ]
Pachuca entered the game with a 1-0 lead, but found things level early before going down a man. But Guzman out-jumped USMNT left back Edgar Castillo for the title-winning goal, giving fellow U.S. back Omar Gonzalez his first Liga MX crown.
Here’s the goal:
Gonzalez was left out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Friday against Colombia. Castillo was, too, but was called into replace injured Timmy Chandler.
We doubt Gonzalez is thinking about that much right now. He’s more likely thinking about dancing some more:
There’s been a quick resolution to the kidnapping of Olympiacos and Mexico striker Alan Pulido, who has been freed by police after a “rescue operation”.
Pulido was kidnapped early Sunday while leaving a party with his girlfriend. Their car was blocked from advancing by the kidnappers, and his girlfriend was let go.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s El Tri coverage ]
The kidnapping lasted for several hours, as police organized quickly to find the 25-year-old striker.
From the BBC:
Pulido, 25, appeared with a bandaged hand and told reporters he was “very well”.
Officials said the rescue operation was carried out on Sunday night, without giving more details.
The high profile case clearly took priority, and tracking down this kidnapping victim was apparently fairly simple. Good to see.
PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier has been arrested following an argument with police after a night out in a Paris, a police official told The Associated Press on Monday.
The official said Aurier was arrested at 5:50 a.m. local time after he spent the night at a club with friends near the Champs-Elysees. The official said Aurier was put in a holding cell for “using violence on a police officer.”
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly of the case.
[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed after police operation]
PSG officials said the club will wait until receiving further information before making any comment on the incident, “which did not take place during a competition period.”
Aurier was suspended for six weeks in February after a video emerged on social media showing him making derogatory comments about PSG coach Laurent Blanc, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and other players.
The Ivory Coast defender is widely regarded as one of the best right backs in Europe.
Kasper Schmeichel is a Premier League-winning goalkeeper, just like his even-more-famous father, Peter, and no one can ever take that away from him.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
What can always be taken from the big Danish shot-stopper, though, is his starting job at Leicester City. That’s where Ron-Robert Zieler, a six-times-capped goalkeeper and 2014 World Cup winner with Germany, comes into play.
27 years old and out of contract after the expiration of his deal with Hannover, Zieler is set to become the Foxes’ first signing of the summer as Claudio Ranieri and Co. prepare to defend their PL title next season. (It’s still weird to say that, in case you were wondering.)
[ MORE: Rashford to be handsomely rewarded for breakout season ]
Zieler arrived in Leicester on Sunday, according to Hannover’s official website, and was set to undergo a medical examination before signing a long-term contract. An established Bundesliga starter since the age of 22 (started all 34 league games each of the last five seasons), Zieler will arrive at the King Power Stadium with expectations far loftier than those of the man he’ll battle for the starting job next season, if not comparable name recognition.
With neither ‘keeper north of 30 years old as of yet (Schmeichel will turn 30 in November), it would seem that Ranieri can do no wrong in choosing either one of the combatants his no. 1 ahead of the 2016-17 season.