Coming Back -> etc

After a prolonged absence from posting, here is an attempt at a return post.

If you weren't able to tell, September of the year before a World Cup is a crazy time in the world of soccer. From all the continental leagues starting, to World Cup qualifying breaks, to CL Group stages kicking off, to the U20 World Cup beginning; it's a monster month for the sport and impossible to keep up with unless you have the luxury of doing this for a living. It is with that in mind that I am making a bit of a change to this blog.

The focus of I Fischi from here on out will be the US Men's National Team; it is the team that I am most passionate about/which I feel I am most knowledgeable about and can therefore contribute the most. As they do not play that often, there will be bits and pieces about any other Soccer I feel like writing about. That's it.

US WCQ Update
Moving on, the US resumes qualifying a week from tomorrow in San Pedro Sula, Honduras against...naturally...Honduras. The full 22 man roster was released yesterday and can be found here, this also applies to the final qualifying match against Costa Rica on 10/14 in DC.

It seems that Stuart Holden has taken over Freddy Adu's bench spot. An interesting turn of events for one of America's all time overhyped athletes, although the kid does a great job of keeping his head on straight and working hard....at least his Twitter makes it seem like that. Ha.

No major surprise inclusions although it should be noted that Jay Demerit was left out due to a recent eye injury which has developed into an infection. He has been replaced by the 6'4'' Clarence Goodson.

There is still no sign of Frankie Hejduk since his 87' game saving goal in El Salvador. A little unfortunate considering the energy and veteran leadership he brings to this team. Not to mention the shaky situation in the back.

I am also dissapointed that BB didn't choose this opportunity to at least bring the recently defected Edgar Castillo into camp.

A quick note....Edgar Castillo is a 22 y/o Mexican left back who has taken advantage of a recently changed FIFA ruling that loosens the restrictions on switching Nat'l Team affiliations. Since he never been capped for the Mexican Sr side, he was allowed to file paper work and become a member of the American squad regardless of his age. Previously the cutoff to declare was 21 y/o. Having been born in Las Cruces, NM to Mexican parental units, he is a natural American. Jermaine Jones is in a similar situation but in the midst of an extended injury absence.

Castillo provides another possible solution at Left Back for the US and you can naturally see why BB wouldn't at least include him in camp to see how he would mesh with the rest of the squad. Come on BB, Edgar could be the best LB on the roster by next summer and with meaningful competition nearing its end, he should have at least been brought to camp.

Now that most of the American's are well into their European campaigns, it will be interesting to see how they all come together for this key matchup. As we have seen, these Central American countries are very difficult places to play on the road. Adding to that, Honduras is currently in the 3rd and final guaranteed spot in CONCACAF having 13 pts from 8 matches, only 1 ahead of Costa Rica. Being the 4th place team means a home and home with the 5th place team from South America, a spot which could very well be an Argentinian squad which no one wants to face, no matter how badly they are struggling. Of the top 4 teams, in order, US, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica....none are in danger of missing out entirely but one of them will be forced to play for that final spot. With a W, the US rule that out...with an L, they are very much in the mix going into the final game against Costa Rica.

Every road trip the US has taken in this qualifying campaign has seen them put forth a poor performance. Whether it was a 1 goal victory against lowly T&T, a terrible performance at that Saprissa in CR, or a luckily salvaged tie in El Salvador this team has consistently failed to be at their best on the road. Whether its a lack of a vocal veteran presence or the pack the back and kick it forward coaching tactics which BB and co seem to resort to on the road, they need to put in a better performance next week. A tie would be acceptable, albeit not ideal, but a loss would put way too much pressure on themselves.

Some more commentary on the match itself coming later next week.

On another note, apparently this match will only be on closed circuit TV in the US. SeriouslY?! WTF? SUM? ESPN? GOLTV? FSC? Whoever dropped the ball clearly shit the bed here. Are we in 1983? this is absurd. For a list of locations (read: bars) showing the US v Honduras World Cup Qualifier on 10/10/09, click here. Apparently there is also a viewing party at the Play by Play bar inside MSG here in NYC, tickets are $20 (prior to stupid TicketMaster surchage) and are currently onsale. Details.

US U20
A few brief notes on the US Men's U20 World Cup campaign in Egypt. I didn't watch much besides the South Korea match today but the results are very schizo. Apparently they were totally outclassed by the Germans in the opener which was followed up by an excellent 4-1 win against Cameron and then today's 3-0 defeat to S Korea. All is not lost as apparently a few of the top 3rd place group teams make the knockout round but they will have to wait till group play wraps up tomorrow to find out for sure.

In years past, players like Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore have impressed the world and shown that at this level at least the US can compete with the world. No one in this class seems to have stepped up yet, although you never know what might happen. + I hear some good things about this kid Dilly Duka out of Montville, NJ.

Overall I think there are some issues with the talent development model in this country but that can be saved for another post.

This Weekend & Randoms
Not a great weekend in the EPL but Sunday morning brings us a delicious Liverpool v Chelsea matchup at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea started on fire but lost at Wigan last week while Liverpool took some time to get on track but have been firing away in the EPL the last few weeks. Both are coming off subpar midweek CL results, a L/absolute drubbing in Florence for the Reds and a measley 1-0 win in Romania (i think) for the Blues. Liverpool is the team which ended Chelsea's 80-something home match unbeaten streak last season and has the confidence to know they can win. Can the recover from their poor midweek showing against a Chelsea team eager to get back to winning league games? 11 AM, Sunday AM, FSC. Watch.

A sickkkkkkk goal scored by a HS kid from Westport, CT. Credit to his coach, my friend and burgeoning mentor, Dan Woog.

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