Reinaldo Rueda

Getty Images

Chile feeling rejuvenated in search for third straight Copa America crown

1 Comment

With all eyes on Tuesday’s heavyweight bout between Brazil and Argentina, Chile is pumping its chest as two-time defending Copa America champions, but there’s an unexpected feeling of rebirth around the aging squad as well.

Alexis Sanchez, who struggled through last season at Manchester United, has suddenly returned to form at the competition with a pair of goals and an assist. According to Chile head coach Reinaldo Rueda, there’s one secret ingredient Sanchez is missing at Manchester United which has seen him back to his best this summer.

“Love,” Rueda tabbed as the special sauce in his pre-match press conference. “In the national team and because of the attention they receive, the players don’t want to leave. Despite not playing for their clubs, they come here with commitment and forge a strong group.”

Rueda pointed to others in the South American competition who struggled at their clubs this season and are experiencing a rebirth at the Copa America. “That’s why players like [Barcelona’s Philippe] Coutinho, [Real Madrid’s] James [Rodriguez], or Alexis, who didn’t have a great season, become themselves again with the national team.”

Midfielder Arturo Vidal is on board with that mentality, motivated not only by the camaraderie among the players and adoration fromt he fans, but the goal in front of them: a historic third straight Copa America.

“We want to leave our legacy as triple champions, that’s our dream,” Vidal said. “That’s why we want to play our best match of the Copa against Peru. It would be something historic for us to get to the final and that’s our aim.”

Argentina is the only country to ever win three straight Copa America titles, securing it between 1945-47. Even as Uruguay and Argentina dominated South America in the 1910’s, 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s and the competition was held on a more regular basis, it was still difficult to sustain repeated success.

As Chile meets a Peru side that held Uruguay off the scoresheet before winning on penalties, the old guard in Sanchez, Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Mauricio Isla and captain Gary Medel – all over the 30-year-old mark – has to continue tapping into its youthful edge to attain a period of domination unmatched in over 70 years.

Chile hires Flamengo coach Rueda in wake of World Cup miss

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Brazilian Serie A season begins in six weeks, but Flamengo is now looking for a new head coach after the club announced Reinaldo Rueda has resigned to take the head coach position with the Chilean national team.

Chile shockingly missed qualification for the 2018 World Cup, leading to the resignation of Juan Antonio Pizzi after just 18 months in charge. They were third in the CONMEBOL qualification table heading into the last matchday, but fell 3-0 to Brazil and dropped out of the qualification spots.

Rueda has plenty of experience in CONMEBOL play. The 60-year-old Colombian has previously taken charge of Colombia, Honduras, and Ecuador between 2004 and 2014 all before moving to the club side with Colombian club Atletico Nacional and then Flamengo. He won the 2016 Copa Libertadores with Atletico before moving to Flamengo in August where he reached (and lost) a pair of finals in the Brazilian domestic cup and the Copa Sudamericana.

The Colombian has plenty of work to do. Not only did the Chilean senior team flop after reaching such incredible heights the last few years, but the youth side has also performed below standards in recent years, missing both the 2015 and 2017 U-20 World Cups.

Flamengo confirmed the move, while nothing official has come from the Chilean national team yet. The announcement came on the first day of Flamengo’s pre-season. The club has not won a Serie A title since 2009, and while they finished third two seasons ago, they have not finished higher than 6th in any other campaign since 2011.

What happened to Ecuador? German reserves cruise in friendly

3 Comments

Ecuador’s probably going to be at Brazil 2014. They currently sit second in CONMEBOL qualifying, four points back to region-leading Argentina but seven head of Uruguay, whose sixth place standing leaves them one spot short of South America’s playoff spot. Now up to 10th in the (admittedly deceiving) FIFA rankings, Ecuador’s a team on the rise, even if their goal difference hints their  results may regress.

Regardless, Reinaldo Rueda’s team should have been expected to a challenge for a German national team that was without all of its stars. Neither Bayern Munich nor Borussia Dortmund players took part, while Real Madrid midfielders Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira are still with the Merengues (the Spanish season ending June 1). Joachim Löw’s team was a collection of second and third-teamers, one that should have been at a disadvantage against Antonio Valencia, Christian Benítez, and Felipe Caicedo.

But when the teams kicked off this afternoon in Boca Raton, Germany held all the advantages. Lukas Podolski scored in the first minute and added another at the 17-minute mark. In between Lars Bender had doubled Germany’s lead, and when the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder completed his own double in the 24th, Löw’s side had an early four-goal lead.

Antonio Valencia scored before halftime, and Walter Ayovi added a very late second, leaving the final a slightly more explicable 4-2, but for an Ecuador side that resumes World Cup qualifying June 7 in Peru, the performance was a worrying way to transition into an important summer. Giving up four goals in 24 minutes against anybody should send a coach through the roof, but against a team that chose reserves at every position? It was embarrassing.

As for the Germans, next up is … well, look at this: the United States, Sunday, at RFK Stadium. So much for a weakened Germany.