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Tag:World Cup
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: October 11, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 5:26 pm
 

VIDEO: Nightmare own goal dooms Armenia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The national soccer team from Armenia has never qualified for a major tournament--not the World Cup, not the European Championships, nothing. In fact, they've never even come that close.

Until this year's qualification for Euro 2012, that is. The Armenians went to Dublin for Tuesday's final qualifier against Ireland knowing that a win would vault them past the Irish into one of four two-leg playoffs that would determine the last four slots for next year's Euros. It's not an exaggeration, at all, to say this was the biggest soccer match in the country's history.

So yes, Armenia defender Valeri Aleksanyan picked a really, really, really bad time to do this:



Already down a man thanks to a controversial red card, that own goal created a mountain for the Armenians to climb, and they would go on to lose 2-1. The Irish advanced to the play-offs, and the Armenians were eliminated.

Which is why we're sincere in hoping a young Armenia team rebounds to at least challenge for a spot in World Cup 2014 or Euro 2016. Because otherwise, the video you're watching above is one of a moment that's going to haunt poor Aleksanyan -- now his country's answer to Bill Buckner -- for the rest of his life.

HT: Dirty Tackle.
Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 1:00 pm
 

U.S. Soccer names Klinsmann new USMNT coach

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's not an exaggeration: the dreams of thousands of U.S. Soccer fans have finally come true.

After years of flirtation on both sides, the U.S. Soccer Federation has named Jurgen Klinsmann head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team. Klinsmann replaces the largely-unpopular Bob Bradley, fired yesterday after five up-and-down years at the helm.

Ask most fans of the USMNT and they'll tell you going from Bradley to "Klinsi" represents the biggest coaching upgrade since Lou Holtz replaced Gerry Faust at Notre Dame. That might seem like an overreaction for a coach with only two meaningful stints on his resume, one as the manager of his native Germany's national team for the 2006 World Cup cycle and another at the helm of Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. 

But Klinsmann's relative inexperience does nothing to outweigh the perfect combination of credibility and familiarity his hire represents for the USA. Many internationally-recognized managers might have listened to the USSF's offers, but thanks to Klinsmann having moved with his family to the Los Angeles area more than a decade ago, none of them have anything resembling his knowledge of the U.S. player pool and American mindset. 

The prospect of hiring any coach with the immediate credibility that comes with being a national hero for one of the globe's great soccer nations -- not to mention guiding that nation to a stirring, surprising World Cup semifinal berth in 2006 -- would be enough to get U.S. fans salivating. Combine that with Klinsmann's understanding of the position and the U.S. roster, and it's not possible to draw up a more appealing candidate.

Which is why USSF head honcho Sunil Gulati and Klinsmann have had on-and-off back-table discussions regarding the USMNT job for years. Klinsmann has reportedly had serious reservations in the past about his level of control regarding U.S. player development and roster construction, with Gulati allegedly balking about some of Klinsmann's demands.

But with Bradley looking more and more unfit to coach another four-year World Cup cycle following the recent 4-2 capitulation to Mexico in the Gold Cup final (not to mention the inexplicabe 2-1 defeat to Panama in the tournament's group stage), Gulati and the USSF may have felt the time had come to meet Klinsmann's conditions.

Given Bradley's documented flaws and the rarity of national team coaches anywhere lasting through two World Cups, it's worth asking what took the USSF so long. But it's also worth applauding them for making the neccessary move now. For U.S. Soccer, it's hard to imagine that Klinnsmann's arrival won't be the very definition of "better late than never."

Posted on: July 28, 2011 3:15 pm
 

Bob Bradley out as U.S. Men's National Team coach

Posted by Tom Fornelli

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Galati made a rather unexpected announcement on Thursday that Bob Bradley has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the United States Men's National team.

“We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years,” said Gulati in a statement. “During his time as the head coach of our Men’s National Team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change. It is always hard to make these decisions, especially when it involves someone we respect as much as Bob. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.” 

Bradley took the job after the United States' poor showing in the 2006 World Cup, and while he had some success with the team, his tenure was most memorable for the near-misses and for coming up just short. While Bradley was able to lead the men's team out of group play in the 2010 World Cup, a 2-1 loss to Ghana in the elimination round. Which served as a harsh reminder of when the U.S. team lost 2-1 to Ghana in the 2006 World Cup, a loss that kept the team from advancing to the knockout stage.

A loss that led to Bradley getting the job in the first place.

Bradley's latest teams struggled to advance in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which included a 1-0 loss to Panama, the first time the U.S. had lost in group play in the Gold Cup. The team would make it to the finals, but lose to Mexico 4-2 after taking a 2-0 lead.

No replacement has been named, but U.S. Soccer does have another announcement set for Friday, in which an interim manager may be announced. 
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? 
Posted on: July 10, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 3:00 pm
 

VIDEO: Abby Wambach saves the USWNT

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

So, folks, just your average Sunday morning contender for the most thrilling sports moment of the year:

From 2-1 down and out of the tournament to clinching a penalty kick shootout the USWNT were always favored in in the 122nd minute ... it doesn't get much more exciting than that. Between this and the famous Landon Donovan goal from a year ago, the one thing no one will say about U.S. Soccer's World Cup efforts are that they lack drama. (The other thing is that if ESPN needs any extra cash to continue floating announcer Ian Darke's salary, the U.S. Soccer Federation should feel obliged to chip in at any time.)

Thanks to Abby Wambach, the USWNT did edge Brazil on penalty kicks (due in large part to a phenomenal save from the brilliant Hope Solo) and face France in a Women's World Cup seminifal on July 13. U-S-A! U-S-A!

(We'd tell you to take one moment to express some sympathy for the Brazilians -- still without a major women's championship in their history -- and we do feel for the amazing Marta, who played the game almost 1-on-11 and nearly pulled it off. But that Wambach's goal came in time added on by the referee for the Brazilians' disgraceful injury-faking and time-wasting was the most poetic justice possible. )

Posted on: June 28, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 9:58 pm
 

North Korean players struck by lightning, lose



Posted by Ryan Wilson

The United States Women's National Team opened its 2011 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over North Korea. That in itself is newsworthy, but sometimes its what happens before or after a match that turns out to be the real story. And according to North Korean coach Kim Kwang Min, that appears to be the case here. During the post-match presser Kim blamed his team's performance on … several players being struck by lightning earlier this month.

Guardian sportswriter John Ashdown tweets that Kim claimed the incident took place during a training match on June 8. As for what this means for the rest of the tournament, Kim said (through a translator) "They will play with high spirits and strong will, a strong will you cannot expect from human kind."

The official FIFA translation identified the "goalkeeper, four defenders and some midfielders" as those who were injured. Which explains … well, a lot. "The strength of our players not sufficient so our strategy could not be implemented," Kim said.

Kim's statements haven't yet been verified by FIFA but Ashdown tweets: "Obv can't say whether Kim was making it up or not, but makes sense in a way. Fitness levels not right because of disruption to preparation."

Generally speaking, fitness levels are the least of your worries if you've been exposed to a billion volts and 200 amperes of current.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com