Mexico Blanco’s PK seals the victory over France

blanco_mexico

France has never lost to a CONCACAF (North American, Central American and Caribbean) soccer team and Mexico is 0-11-5 against countries that have won the World Cup…until now.

Mexico showed the world that they have the talent to play with anyone, beating France 2-0. In the meantime, the curse of Zinedine Zidane continues to haunt France, as they have failed to score a goal in the World Cup since the 2006 Final.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group H Preview: Should Spain be the favorite to win it all?

spain

Group H is the group of similarities. For starters, three of the four teams (Spain, Honduras and Chile) are Spanish-speaking countries. This means that both teams will be able to comprehend “yo mama” jokes, which may lead to more Zinedine Zidane-like headbutts.

Another similarity is the fact that some of the most accomplished coaches are in this group. Spain is coached by Vicente del Bosque, who has won two Champions League titles, two La Liga titles and one Intercontinental Cup. Switzerland’s coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, also has two Champions League titles along with two Intercontinental Cups and seven Bundesliga championships. Chile’s coach, Marcelo Bielsa, won the Olympic Gold in 2004 and is the only coach in this group with World Cup experience.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group F Preview: Can Italy defend their title?

italy soccer

For those who want to see fast-paced, high-flying action, look elsewhere, because Group F is made up of grind-it-out teams. Italy, the defending World Cup champs, have always been known for their defense and counter-attacking. Paraguay only scored 11 goals in their past 11 World Cup games. Slovakia is a team who looks to get an early lead and sit on it. That leaves us with New Zealand, who’s only other World Cup appearance was in 1982, where they only scored two goals.

Some are thinking, “great, as if soccer wasn’t boring enough, we have to watch a group that doesn’t even score goals.” Not so fast (literally for this group). Though it won’t be high-scoring, there may be more drama in this group than all the other groups combined.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group G Preview: Who will survive the “Group of Death”?

group of death

Every year there is a “group of death”. This year’s “group of death” is hands down Group G. Three of the four teams are some of the world’s best (Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast). Unfortunately, only two can advance. Not only are there great teams in this group, there are world-class players as well. In this group, are the 2007 and 2008 FIFA World Players of the Year, Kaka (Brazil) and Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal) respectively.

Though there are great players in this group, there are also some stars that have been left out. Most notably left out is the aging Ronaldinho of Brazil, who has been the face of Brazilian soccer for years. Brazil’s Alexandre Pato, a man who left his family at age 11 to play soccer, was a surprise cut from the roster. He was not only expected to make the team, he was thought to have a large role. Also, Questionable to play in this year’s World Cup, because of a broken arm is Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba. He is one of the most potent scorers in the world and would be sorely missed for Ivory Coast.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group E Preview: Is this the year Holland makes a run?

van persie

Group E is made up of the offensive-minded Netherlands, the physical Cameroon, attacking Denmark and Japan.

The Netherlands (also refereed to as Holland) have dominated in qualifying and friendlies leading up to the World Cup, but none of that matters until they can win on the big stage. They have a history of under-performing against quality opponents. The talent is always there, but they just never live up to expectations. As a matter of fact, they just may be the most talented nation to have never won the World Cup.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group D Preview: Same old, same old from the Germans?

germany soccer

Germany

Overview: Germany is to soccer as Michigan State is to college basketball. They are the kings of consistency. It seems like every World Cup there are question marks with Germany, but they do nothing but prove people wrong. They made it to the final in the ’02 World Cup and lost to eventual champions, Italy, in ’06. More recently, they finished runner-up to Spain at Euro 2008. Germany has won four out of five friendlies, their only loss to a strong Argentina squad.

By Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group B Preview

diego maradona

If I could pick between: seeing the Chicago Cubs win the World Series before I die or never seeing Argentina’s coach Diego Maradona naked, I would choose the latter. I think I would rather go to a Justin Bieber concert by myself than see that.

Earlier this month, Maradona claimed that he would go streaking through the streets of Buenos Aries if Argentina won the World Cup. Either the man is a free spirit or he is THAT convinced Argentina won’t win.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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2010 World Cup Preview: Group A

World Cup

Aside from Group G (the “group of death”), Group A may prove to be the toughest all-around group from top to bottom. France is favored to win the group but will have their hands full with the host country South Africa and two battle-tested squads in Mexico and Uruguay. In this article, we make our World Cup Odds, World Cup Futures Odds, and make our World Cup Soccer Picks

Game to watch: Watch all of them! But, if you had to pick one game to watch, it would have to be the first game between South Africa and Mexico. Mexico got the short end of the stick having to play the host country first. The annoying horns will be blowing and the crowd will look like the stage of the Lion King musical with everyone decked out in yellow and green. Mexico will be favored in this match, but with the fans on their side South Africa may be able to start off the World Cup with a bang.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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7 Reasons to watch the 2010 World Cup

world-cup-fans

The NBA playoffs aren’t going to last forever, though at times it may seem like it. When they end, we will   officially be entering the dog days of summer in the sports world. How will you know? Just turn on Sportscenter.  There will be highlights of hotdog eating contests and breaking news regarding Brett Favre’s latest bathing techniques. Oh and let’s not forget there is always base…..Zzzzzzzzzzzz……… Oh sorry, as I was saying, there is always baseball to watch.

By Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Mexican National Team soccer match at Soldier Field sells out

team mexico

Chicago’s Soldier Field has sold out for the international soccer match featuring the World Cup-bound Mexican national team and the African nation of Senegal, scheduled for this upcoming Monday, May 10 (9 p.m. ET), organizers announced today. The second consecutive sell-out in “El Tri’s” May tour matches prior to traveling to South Africa, over 60,000 fans are expected to attend the game in the Windy City.

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Empire State of Mind for Theirry Henry

Henry & Nash

By Alex Simon

The Thierry Henry to MLS rumor resurfaced over the weekend. According to the Daily Mail, Henry will look for a new challenge after the World Cup with the 32-year old excited at the prospect of playing football in one of the world’s biggest cities in New York.

For some time now, Henry has stated he would eventually like to play in the states. However, this report is the first to put a timeline on when Henry would come to Major League Soccer. Henry has stated numerous times that he loves New York and would not be willing to play for any other MLS club but the Red Bulls. Given this and the many subsequent reports, the Thierry Henry Watch is now in full effect.Red Bull?

There has only been one other player close to Henry’s worldwide popularity to play in MLS, David Beckham. There has been much debate whether Beckham coming to America has been a success. While Beckham has sold out jerseys and stadiums, the Galaxy have not been competitive until this year. I believe it is still too early to decide if Beckham’s influence was a positive one for MLS and soccer in America.

Beckham may be a heartthrob and a fashion mogul, but Henry has something to offer that Beckham can never, scoring goals. The few well-informed soccer fans in the U.S. understand that you do not have to score a goal to have a good game. However, this would be a non-issue regarding the Frenchman. Henry is a forward, and scoring goals is what he does best. If Juan Pablo Angel can put up impressive numbers in MLS, there is no telling the damage Henry could do to opposing defenders. My guess is to expect video game-like numbers if Henry were to come play here.

We learned that one guy can’t change the way Americans look at soccer, but Henry’s goal scoring would bring more awareness to the game than Beckham’s occasional free kick strike. Whether you like soccer or not, most people are fans of scoring. SportsCenter is not going to put a nice Beckham cross in their highlight-reel, but Henry putting one in the back of the net, now that is something to work with.

Shorthanded Fire take on Donovan, Becks on ESPN2

Beckhams

By Alex Simon

Tonight the Fire visit the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  With the win and a D.C. loss or tie, the Fire will clinch a playoff spot for the 11th time out of 12 years.  The Fire will be without many of their regulars, most notably Cuauhtémoc Blanco.

The Galaxy received good news yesterday regarding their DP (Designated Player), David Beckham.  Beckham missed last week’s game against Columbus due to inflammation in his ankle, but is expected to start against the Fire.  The Galaxy has a chance at something they have not been able to accomplish since Beckham signed with the team in 2007. Just like the Fire, a win would clinch a spot in the playoffs for L.A. pending the result of the D.C.-Chivas match.

Prediction:

Blanco did not even make the trip to L.A.  This is the second consecutive match Blanco will miss because of his strained hamstring.  Without him, Segares, Thorrington, and possibly Rolfe, it will be tough for the Fire to create offensive opportunities.  The Galaxy had the most goals allowed in MLS last year, 62.  This year they have been scored on only half that number, 31.  A big reason for that is rookie defender Omar DonovanGonzalez.  The 6ft. 5in. Gonzalez has been superb each time I have tuned in for a Galaxy match this year.  Fire will have to worry about Beckham’s free kicks and service, but most of all Landon Donovan.  Donovan burned the Fire defense last time the two teams met.  The Fire lost that August game to the Galaxy 2 nil, and I do not expect Friday night to be much different.  Unfortunately, I favor an inspired Galaxy squad 2-0 against the banged up Fire.

Note: the only thing worse than a Fire defeat tonight, would be a Fire defeat plus Donovan getting hurt.  (Knock on (Kerry) Wood)  The U.S. visit Honduras October 10 for a crucial World Cup qualifier, and need a healthy Donovan.