Jürgen Klinsmann

US vs Azerbaijan preview: All eyes on Donovan-less 23 as prep rolls on


Tuesday night’s World Cup preparation match is going to get loads of attention, especially as United States 23-man roster snubs continue to complain about Jurgen Klinsmann’s decisions.

Unhappy Landon Donovan, Clarence Goodson and others won’t be on hand for the States, which will test out Klinsmann’s final unit for the first time since last week’s roster announcement.

As an aside, I understand the frustration and anger from anyone omitted from the roster, but these guys aren’t exactly bathing themselves in glory, are they? Unless this is a symptom of a sick locker room, part of me wishes Donovan could’ve left his vocal response in line with his classy Facebook post.

And so all eyes will be on any youngster that hits the pitch on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET against Azerbaijan, a sneaky and stingy squad that’s performing as well as it ever has in national history.

Led by Berti Vogts — you’ll remember him from March’s hullaballoo when he was added to Klinsmann’s US staff — the Milli are ranked No. 85 in the world and should be a win for the States (especially on the road halfway across the planet).

But Vogts led the nation to a 1W-6D-3L record in a relatively-weak UEFA World Cup qualifying group, including home draws with Russia and Israel and a win over Northern Ireland. The road wasn’t kind to the Azerbaijan side, but the only time it lost in qualifying by more than one goal were 2-0 and 3-0 losses to Portugal.

Unless you follow Topaz Premyer Liqası — the Azerbaijan’s top flight — you won’t recognize too many names on Tuesday, but keep in mind that this is a stingy team.

That’s good for the States, who needs to find a way to break through on goal and also won’t be challenged too much on a back line that has many US supporters concerned. The Yanks have allowed two goals in back-to-back matches, and have a 1W-2D-2L record in their last five matches (all friendlies).

Still the firepower will be in full — sorry, Landon Donovan fans — on Tuesday for the first time in a while. The States truly should pop up a multiple-goal win and fans will certainly be monitoring, and overanalyzing, how Klinsmann’s arranges his Starting XI. Yes, the World Cup excitement is going to plow ahead toward fever pitch, and Tuesday should get pretty loud in San Francisco.

For more on the match, and Azerbaijan, check out Soccerly’s preview here.

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)
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
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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.