Landon Donovan

Saturday’s U.S.-South Korea friendly is sold out


Saturday’s national team friendly outside Los Angeles is officially sold out, according to U.S. Soccer. That means a crowd of 27,000 will see Jurgen Klinsmann’s team open its huge 2014 calendar year; the United States meets fellow World Cup qualifier South Korea.

The sellout likely reflects a little amped up interest in a World Cup year, because these early friendlies aren’t always big sellers. The last time the United States closed the January camp with a game at the StubHub Center (then the Home Depot Center, of course) a crowd of 18,580 showed up to see the U.S. meet Chile.

A year before that, there were 18,626 in the house as the United States met Honduras.

Then again, there are just a few more men in camp this time who are probably bound for the World Cup, so maybe that’s part of the brisk sales. Landon Donovan (pictured) and Clint Dempsey, neither of whom were around during the previous January camp, add significant “marquee value” to this one.

What might we get from the game? If you remember, a few of these same players opened up last year against Canada, and the team was pretty dull around the edges. Perhaps this being a World Cup year and all, a few more players will be inspired to take some chances and carpe the doggone diem and such.

Courtesy of the latest U.S. Soccer generated Q&A, here is what Klinsmann says he wants to see Saturday against Korea (a team that took it to Costa Rica recently, but then fell meekly on Wednesday to Mexico, 4-0, down in San Antonio.)

It’s a game at the end of January camp where you want to see the players implement the things we worked on in these three-and-a-half weeks. You want to see the progress they made throughout the camp to get an idea of where they are individually. It helps to finish [the camp] off with a game or maybe two because it’s something they are looking forward to. Otherwise, they train, train, train but can’t prove it in a game.”

Ferguson still being asked about Moyes: “We chose a good football man”

David Moyes Alex Ferguson
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In some ways absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it seems Sir Alex Ferguson‘s life after Manchester United has been filled with second guessing.

Whether the sales of Paul Pogba and Gerard Pique or the appointment of David Moyes, “Fergie” apparently can’t rest on his title-winning laurels.

[ MORE: Tax evasion charges dropped against Messi, but not his father ]

One thing that seems to bug him more than anything, though, is the idea that he hand-picked David Moyes to be his successor, and should be responsible for his failings.

In a new documentary, Ferguson both defends the appointment of Moyes and explains the process behind his choice.

From the BBC:

“I don’t think we made a mistake at all. I think we chose a good football man,” Ferguson says. “Unfortunately it didn’t work for David.

“Jose Mourinho was going back to Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti was going to Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp had signed a contract with Dortmund, Louis Van Gaal was staying with Holland for the World Cup.”

The article also makes another key point, according to Ferguson: the manager claims he only gave United a few months notice that he’d be stepping down. That certainly didn’t provide a lot of lead time to secure a big boss.

What do you make it of it? If your answer is, “When can we stop talking about Moyes and United?” I tend to be with you, but it’s a talking point.

Tax evasion charges against Messi dropped; Case vs father continues

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2013 file photo, Barcelona F.C. star Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court to answer questions in a tax fraud case in Gava, near Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona prosecutors are calling for the arrest of Messi's father in a tax fraud case. Prosecutors have cleared Messi of wrongdoing but are seeking an 18-month prison sentence for his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, for allegedly defrauding Spain's tax office of 4 million euros ($4.5 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)
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Lionel Messi will not face charges that he and his father defrauded the government in millions of unpaid taxes, though his father is not so lucky.

Messi’s father, Jorge, could face 18 months in jail and an approximate $2.25 million fine despite a voluntary payment of $5.5 million in 2013 to “correct” the missed taxes.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

The Barcleona star had plead ignorance to the charges, something that failed to impress prosecutors. But, it apparently worked out in his favor on Tuesday.

From the BBC:

Prosecutors allege that Jorge avoiding paying tax on his son’s earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009.

Messi’s lawyers argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts, El Pais newspaper reported.