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Tag:England
Posted on: February 8, 2012 3:23 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 3:24 pm
 

Fabio Capello resigns as England manager

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

An already volatile situation with the England national team exploded Wednesday with the resignation of manager Fabio Capello barely five months before the country's opening match at Euro 2012.

According to a statement issued by the English FA, Capello met with top FA officials "for over an hour" Wednesday to discuss Capello's comments to an Italian TV station regarding the FA's decision to strip defender John Terry of his England captaincy. Terry is accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand in a 2011 Premier League match, with the case set to be heard by the English court system following Terry's appearance at Euro 2012. 

Capello (pictured departing FA headquarters Wednesday) told Italian TV he was "absolutely not in agreement" with the FA's decision and confirmed he had told FA chairman David Bernstein as much.

"It is going to be civil justice, not sports justice, to decide if John Terry committed that crime," Capello said.

The rift created between Capello and Bernstein could apparently not be smoothed over in the Wednesday meeting, and the two sides agreed to part ways.

“I would like to stress that during today’s meeting and throughout his time as England Manager, Fabio has conducted himself in an extremely professional manner," Bernstein said in the statement. "We have accepted Fabio’s resignation, agreeing this is the right decision. We would like to thank Fabio for his work with the England team and wish him every success in the future.”

Capello leaves England with a 28-6-8 record and comfortable qualifications for the two major finals during his tenure with the "Three Lions," World Cup 2010 and now Euro 2012, a not-insignificant achievement following the team's disastrous failure to qualify for Euro 2008. But Capello's tenure was also marked by a prickly relationship with the British press, the 2010 controversial stripping of Terry's captaincy (this time, on Capello's orders) for a tabloid scandal, and a  deeply disappointing showing at the World Cup featuring draws vs. the U.S. and Algeria before a 4-1 elimination defeat to Germany.

Many England fans will likely welcome a change if it means the hire of current Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, the consensus favorite for the post after being cleared of tax evasion charges earlier Wednesday. Redknapp's Spurs sit a surprising third in the Premier League standings and are known for their attractive, attacking style of play--a substantial shift from Capello's frequent tactical caution.

But even if Redknapp accepts an FA offer (which is not a given on either side), the bottom line for England is that with mere weeks to go before they board their flight for the Ukraine, the team has no manager, no captain, and no direction. If England are going to finally shed their long-held label of major tournament underachievers at the Euros, they're clearly going to have to do it the hard way.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 12:21 pm
 

U.S. women at the World Cup: What now?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



It took the U.S. Women's National Team 12 long years. But Brandi Chastain finally has some company.

No, we're not already putting yesterday's fightback-for-the-ages against Brazil on the same pedestal as Chastain's legendary Cup-clinching penalty kick and (just as legendary) jersey-optional celebration. That moment remains the single most iconic moment in U.S. soccer history, men's or women's, and until Abby Wambach winds up on the cover of Time, it's no contest. 

But it is a conversation. Wambach's 122nd-minute goal* and the U.S.'s subsequent victory on penalties sent Twitter into a frenzy, led every highlight package edited in this country between then and now, and drew congratulations from everyone from Ochocinco to Li'l Wayne. Not one not two but three different senior CBSSports.com writers were moved to sing the praises of their epic in Dresden. Yes, the USWNT have had their moments since 1999 (a pair of Olympic gold medals among them), but at no time have they firmly, decisively re-entered the national sports consciousness the way they did yesterday. 

So they've got our attention. Which is why we ask: What now?

It was just a year ago the country was experiencing the same brand of summer soccer euphoria, thanks to Landon Donovan's equally-thrilling goal against Algeria to send the U.S. men into the final 16 of their World Cup. Wambach's goal drew immediate comparisons to Donovan's for many reasons -- their improbable lateness, their shared do-or-die drama, the impeccable call of ESPN's Ian Darke on each -- but one overlooked similarity is the golden opportunity each created for their respective teams. For the USMNT, it meant a path to an unprecedented Cup semifinal berth free of any of the world's traditional powers; only Ghana and Uruguay stood in their way.

After a carnage-filled quarterfinal round, the U.S. women likewise find themselves the sudden favorite among the four remaining teams. Highly-touted England went out on penalties to upstart European rivals France; hosts Germany were stunned by Japan 1-0 in what many observers have called the biggest upset in Women's World Cup history; and of course Brazil is going home trophyless once again, having run into their American archrivals a round (or two) earlier than they'd have liked. Both the French and likely finalist Sweden (3-1 quarterfinal victors over a solid Australian team) have strong, sound programs that only the U.S.'s best efforts will overcome, but neither can boast the USWNT's overall depth or tournament-honed pedigree. 

In short, the door is open. And with the team still riding the wave of interest generated by yesterday's impossible finish, walking through it means the names of stars like Wambach, Hope Solo, and Megan Rapinoe (provider of that pinpoint cross to Wambach) could reach the same kind of household status held by previous USWNT stars like Chastain, Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy. Win these two matches -- winnable matches, at the minimum -- and the U.S. women come home with even more than a championship.

More Women's World Cup
But we said the same things before the U.S. men faced Ghana, before they came out flat and looked even flatter by the end of the Ghanaians' 2-1 extra-time victory. Similarly, as defining a moment as yesterday's match was, it might have been the worst possible way for the U.S. women to advance. As they proved against Brazil, the USWNT's greatest strength isn't technical skill or tactical acumen so much as its athleticism, physicality, determination and absolutely peerless workrate. But after riding yesterday's emotional roller-coaster for 120 minutes and playing 10-on-11 for nearly 60, do the Americans still have enough energy in reserve -- mentally or physically -- to still press that advantage?

That's not the team's only problem, either. For all of Wambach's aerial brilliance and fellow striker Amy Rodriguez's speed, the U.S. has often lacked creativity in attack, preferring a direct route approach that defenders at this level (unless they've been on the field for 122 minutes already) are usually prepared to deal with. Coach Pia Sundhage has seemed unwilling or unable to call on her bench, exacerbating the fitness issue. And most worryingly, the U.S. back line -- led by intelligent-but-aging centerback Christie Rampone -- has looked wobbly throughout the tournament (most notably in the 2-1 group stage loss to Sweden that doomed the Americans to the Brazil quarterfinal in the first place). Now they face France without red-carded starter Rachel Buehler, and the relatively green Becky Sauerbrunn making her tournament debut in Buehler's place.

But for all of that, the Americans still have plenty going for them. They have Solo, by nearly all accounts the world's best goalkeeper. They have the indomitable Wambach. In Rapinoe, Lauren Cheney, and Heather O'Reilly, they have a wealth of outside attacking talent that few teams can match. More than anything, they have the same never-say-die fighting spirit that has always been the hallmark of American soccer, men's or women's.

That spirit is why they now also have the the greatest opportunity of their soccer careers. What now? Now the USWNT either takes advantage of that opportunity, or Wambach's goal -- like Donovan's before it -- is remembered as the brilliant high point of a World Cup campaign that wound up less brilliant than it might have been.

*Do you realize how few soccer matches even have 122nd minutes? 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com