Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jurgen Klinmsmann takes over

         The US national team has been lifeless since the end of the World Cup in South Africa. They have been one of the power nations with in CONCACAF however this status has been shaken. In 2011 the played 3 South American teams all on home soil and did not record a victory. US 1-1 Chile, US 1-1 Argentina, US 0-1 Paraguay. Then they were undressed by Spain 0-4 right before the Gold Cup. Sam’s Army had nothing to build on. Confidence was not built up. They then lost their first group game to Panama on home soil. This was with a veteran team. They did manage to make the final against their arch rival Mexico. This started out great. The US had a 2-0 lead and the US would soon tie Mexico with 5 Gold Cup titles and confidence would be restored. However the US gave up 4 unanswered goals. This was the final straw that something had to be done.

Sunil Gulati pulled the trigger and fired Bob Bradley last week. No, Bradley is not a bad coach but it was time for a change. The stagnancy had to be removed from US soccer. Sunil Gulati hired a Europena to take over the American camp. The European is ex-player and ex-German coach J. Klisman. I think this is a great move by Gulati. Stefan Brody has a nice article explaining how Germany was once a methodical defensive unit. Klinsman turned this unit into a smooth attacking one. The big question about this hire will be how much influence Klinsman will have over the US soccer program. There are millions of dollars invested in the youth development. The youth development is enormous that stretches through the country. How much influence will Klinsman have to change the development process.

Well, personally I just wish the US would play with the ball at their feet more. I love how Barcelona, Spain, Brazil and Mexico for that matter play the game. The players play a tight passing, tic- tack-toe, pass and run game. They control the ball and control the game. This builds confidence and demoralized your opponent. The US is almost the opposite. Their best offense is the long ball to a talented, athletic forward and can make one more and over power a defender. This is nice to get a goal but the rest of the game is not as much fun to watch.

This is a significant step in the US camp and I say it was good timing.
“No longer will the success and failures of U.S. Soccer get pinned on the rigid American style of play. By announcing the hiring of Jürgen Klinsmann yesterday, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati not only nabbed the team’s first foreign coach since 1995, he has given the keys to an offensive-minded showman unafraid to reinvent the system”

Saturday, July 30, 2011


A quick look at Round 2

Group A  El Salvador's Group
( El Salvador, Suriname, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic.)

          This is the group of 3's. El Salvador, Suriname and Dominican Republic were all #3 ranked teams in their Pots. Cayman Isl were 5th. El Salvador plays great at Cuscatalan Stadium. They will difficult to beat there. Mexico and Costa Rica both lost in Cuscatalan Stadium. They are my clear favorites in this group. Suriname is the South American nation that could surprise us with the South American flair and attitude. They will be new to World Cup qualifying since they do not have much history here. I do not know much about Cayman Islands. Dominican Republic has been a favorite of mine to follow. They did play in the preliminary round and have not been scored on yet. Their hopes rely on Jonathan Fana (PR Islanders). I am hopeing they can keep things interesting for their fans and the group.
Prediction El Salvador easily win the group. followed by Suriname is a close fight with the Dominican Republic.

Group B     The Rivals Group 
(Trinidan & Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Bermuda)

        T&T is not the Caribbean power that dominated for a decade. T&T does not have the influence of Jack Warner overlooking the team and the games. The favorable calls for T&T will not be there this qualifying cycle. With that said I still like T&T as the favorite of this group. They have better players overall and experience. This island nation keeps going deep in the Caribbean Cups, playing many times in the Gold Cup and playing in the World Cup. They have the best domestic league in the Caribbean.
     There is a good rivaly brewing between Guyana and T&T. Many players on the Guyana’s national team play in the T&T league. This will be interesting how they play and interact when they play each other. Guyana recently lost to T&T in the Caribbean Cup 2010 but the game was in T&T. The score was 2-1. Guyana will be quite excited to play T&T in Guyana finally. Barbados did not advance in the Caribbean Cup 2010 but they did tie St Kitts and St Vincent all with 5 points. They could not advance because of GD. Barbados will keep thing tight. Bermuda is the mystery team. Not only did they not play in the preliminary round of this World Cup qualifying, they did not enter in the Caribbean Cup 2010. They are a great unknown and they may be biding their time for this WC Cycle. There will not be a huge gap in points when this group is done.
Prediction...T&T first followed closely bu Guyana

Group C      Panama and the rest
 (Panama, Nicaragua, Bahamas, Dominica)

      Panama is the strongest nation in Pot 1 and they got the easiest draw. They got the last seed in Pot 2 Dominica. They then got the last seed in Pot 3 (Nicaragua). They followed this up with Bahamas a #5 seed. Panama should dominate from start to finish. Their fans are already looking at their seed in the next round. (Panama if they win would be placed with Honduras, Cuba and the winner of Group Group D..Canada possibly). Dominica is a weak Caribbean nation and I do no see them advancing here. Nicaragua fans are very glum with drawing Panama. I think they would have liked anyone but Panama in this draw.           Nicaragua has slowely been building Nicaragua soccer, from the national team, the new national stadium, their youth programs and the Nicaragua national league. This building process is being undertaken by Enrique Quique Llena Leon, who is from Spain. If he can implement anything like the Spanish U-19 youth teams then Nicaragua will be great fun to watch progress. This qualifying cycle was suppose to jump start the country away from baseball and into soccer. I think they end up the #2 team after all games are played. Bahamas have not been scored on yet however they drew 2 Central American teams. The party is over here. Prediction Panama then my upset for #2 ..Nicaragua

Group D            Canada vs the Caribbean
 (Canada, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and St Lucia)

It will be fun to listen to the Canadian media critique their team as this group progresses. The Canucks expect to win and I expect them to win also. St Kitts was a # 4 seed on Pot 2 but Puerto Rico was a #1 seed from Pot 3. Canada can practice their ball control philosophy against the weaker Caribbean opponents in this round. The Canuck fans are estatice with their semi-final grouping also. The winner of this group will not have to face Us nor Mexico in the semi finals. Puerto Rico could challenge for the 2nd spot. Puerto Rico could even challenge for the top spot but not win it. They have a few players who play for the Puerto Rico Islanders so they will be use to the travel, international games and the professionalism. St Lucia will not make this group easy. They may make it miserable for the group with their tough play.
Prediction Canada followed by another upset...Puerto Rico

Group E           Central America vs Caribbean
(Guatemala, Belize, Grenada, St Vincent).

    This will be interesting how the Central American nations stakc up against the Caribbean nations. Grenada is ranked above Guatemala and St Vincent is ranked above Belize. I think Guatemala will get more points than Grenada and Belize with win with more points than St Vincents.                                                     The top seed Grenada does not look like the favorite here. Guatemala, the Central American nation will be to hard to beat at home. Guatemala also just demolished Grenada 4-0 in the Gold Cup 2011. Guatemala in my mind is the clear favorite. I am very glad they were not grouped with Panama nor El Salvador. However they did draw fellow Central American foe Belize.  All of Guatemala is celebrating with this draw. Grenada has played well over the last few year, qualifying for the Gold Cup 2 times in a row. This is a great accomplishment. This group will not be as hard as the Gold Cup groups however they will have to prove themselves here. Belize, I feel sorry for. The governement is interfering to much and the federation FBB is not that good. They do however finally have a home pitch to play on. St Vincent has earned the nick name the "giant killer". This small group of islands can put togather a good team. They will not win the group but could come up with intersting results.
Prediction Guatemala then Grenada however Belize and St vinny will not be far behind Grenada

Group F               The Caribbean Group
(Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, US Virgin Islands)

This group has all Caribbean nations playing. The favorites Haiti are in disarray after their earthquake. FIFA is restoring their playing pitch and stadium for the qualifying rounds but the team will be hard pressed to overcome the dismay that still exists in the country. I believe this group has the weakest teams overall. Antigua and Barbuda was the #1 seed in Pot 2 and Haiti was the #6 seed in Pot 1. So these two nations should battle for top spot.  I am going to go for the upset here and believe A&B can win this group. Curacao will take over the previous records of the Netherland Antilles and will keep pace with Haiti and A&B. They will keep pace because I see them getting 2 wins against the USVI. The USVI will be cannon foder in this group. They will be lucky to win even at home.
Prediction A&B is my upset of this round. followed by Haiti. Ouch

Semi Finals
      No one wanted Cost Rica in their group since they were the best nation in their pot. Mexico was saddled with this team, thus making it unpleasant for both nations. If my prediction are correct here are the semi finals, (I will add teams that could win).
Group A
Haiti / Antigua and Barbuda

Group B
Costa Rica
El Salvador

Group C

The Hexagonal "Hex"
    6 nations from the Semi-finals will advance to the Hex. The top 2 nations of each semi-final group will advance to the Hex. These nations will play a home/away series. The 3 top nations will qualify for the World Cup. The 4th place team will enter into a playoff with the Ocianic Confederation. More than likely New Zealand.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Second Round CONCACAF


Round 2

This will be the most anticipated and comprehensive for World Cup Qualifying for CONCACAF. Never before have there been so many teams eager to qualify. Most nations believe they can win their group. The last qualifying round had 24 nations in a home/away series to get to the Semi-finals (Final 12 teams). Some of these smaller teams were slaughtered in this round against the powers of CONCACAF. USA beat Barbados 9-0 aggregate, Mexico belted Belize 9-0 aggregate and Jamaica blasted Bahamas 13-0. These were not competitive games. Most nations waited 4 years for these 2 games and were bounced early. They had to wait another 4 years to qualify again. This format did not promote the sport at all.

This new revised qualification will have 24 nations play in 6 groups of 4 teams. In these groups each nation will play a home and away series against the other 3 nations. This will give each team a minimum of 6 games. Most of these nations will be hosting 3 World Cup Qualification games for the first time. This is great for the host country to promote the sport and get the country behind the national team.

Another aspect I like is that the power nations (top 6 nations like USA, Mexico, Costa Rica) are not involved in Round 2. This will make the Round much more competitive and interesting. The favorite nations (pot 4) are not “shoe ins” to qualify for the next round. This will make the groups so much more interesting to watch.

A few notes.

Pot 4

          I see Panama as the top team here. The only way they lose is they become over confident and choke. Canada will want to prove themselves after a disasterous Gold Cup. El Salvador should  not lose at Cuscatalan. Grenada is the newcomer so surprises are expected, Trinidad and Tobago wants to regain their past dominance over the Caribbean and Haiti is very happy to have their national stadium remodeled by FIFA after the earthquake.

Pot 5

Guatemala should be in Pot 4 so no one in Pot 4 will want them in their group. They are extremely good at home. I personally do not want them group with Panama or El Salvador. Hoping they get a Caribbean nation. The South American Nations of Suriname and Guyana will not play each other in this group. This will be great to see how they compete at home against most Caribbean teams. so we can see how they fair against other CONCACAF nations. Dominica is the weakest and I am not expection much from them.

Pot 6

We have been waiting for the Puerto Rico national team to compete as well as the Puerto Rico Islanders. I hope it is this fall in this qualifying round. I want their fans to pack their stadium. They could surprise will a favorable draw and get a Caribbean teams from Pot 4 and Pot 5. Barbados and Curacao will also make noise in a favorable draw but I do not expect either to win their group. Nicaragua is also hoping they avoid their Central American foes in this upcoming draw. They play competatively in the Central American Cup but could lack confidence against Panama, El Salvador and guatemala. They will make it difficult for any Caribbean nations to play at Estadio Cacique Diriangén. We may even see Nicaragua play in their new national stadium in Managua. Nicaragua has been slowely building thier youth program so we can see how they have progressed. They will be fun to monitor.

Pot 7

I do no see anyone from this group to advance to the next stage. We have not see Bermuda play yet but they could surprise. Dominican Republic and the Bahamas have not been scored on yet so we will have to keep an eye on them. USVI  hope they are not slaughtered and embarassed every game. Saint Lucia has played the most competative series against Aruba so far. Hopefully they can gain confidence from this win to the next round and stay focused. I have lost any faith that Belize can compete near the top in this next round. There is to much turmoil in their camp.The government and the BFF are quarrelling and this is not good for the sport in Belize. It was a shame they Belize could not host games in Belize because of this disagreement. I thought they could win a few games but this look bleak in this camp.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bahamas surprises in Round 1 of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

So far I am 4 for 4 in predicting the winners in Round 1 of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. I attest this to luck more than anything. I never viewed any of these teams play. I only guessed at their progress by looking at past performances, the domestic league and the commitment of their federation.

Bahamas v Turks and Caicos Islands

The only surprise I see is the lopsided victory the Bahamas enjoyed over the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Bahamas won the first game 4-0. Then the next game they won comfortably 6-0. Both of these games were played in the Bahamas. 22 year old St. Fleur scored 5 times in the second game, thus becoming CONCACAF’s leading scorer in World Cup qualifying. He is off to a great start and will have 10 more games to impress us all. I think the Bahamas look so good was because The Turks was so bad. Hopefully they can stay competitive and the nation of the Bahamas backs the national team. I am hopeful the Bahamas stay competitive.
**Correction. The first game was played in Turks and Caicos Island of Providenciales. FIFA does not have attendance listed. Credit to Lorric for my mis information. Sorry about that.

Belize v Monseratt

This has been a huge disappointment for me. I thought Belize would beat the worst team in CONCACAF (all of FIFA for that matter). Belize only won 5-2. The other aspect of this competition is happening off the field. The Belize government is interfering so much with the Belize Football Federation (BFF), that FIFA suspended the BFF for competition. This band was recently lifted but FIFA has warned the government and BFF to “get along" if they don’t , FIFA will suspend Belize from further participation. Monseratt will advance. This is the only competition still up for grabs and the final will be played in Estadio Olimpico, San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The game will not be played in Belize since the governemtns said it would not provide security for the games. FIFA moved the game........Since the first game was played in Trinidad and Tobago.. attendance was pitiful. Montsertatt will be an automatic win for everyone in round 2 if they advance. Belize just won the second game 3-1 today in Honduras.

Aruba v Saint Lucia

This was the most competitive competition of Round 1. Aruba won on their home field 4-2. Then they traveled to Saint Lucia only to lose by the same score. This competition had to be decided on penalty kicks and Saint Lucia prevailed 5-4. This was a thrill of a competition. Saint Lucia will move on to Round 2. Past performances indicate Saint Lucia will be quite a pest in Round 2.

Dominican Republic v Anguilla

Dominican Republic scoreing on Angilla
 I have been hoping the Dominican Republic would finally “take off” and be as good as their bordering neighbor Haiti. I was expecting a dominating performance here in round 1. The Dominican Republic only won the first game 2-0 against tiny Anguilla nad the game was a home game. The game was in San Cristobal, DR. The second game was at the same stadium. Dominican Republic enjoyed 2 home games in Round 1. The second game they won comfortably 4-0. That being said...they have not conseded a goal yet.
   I was also disappointed in the attendance of these games. I all I would say so far so good for Round 1. The biggest disappointment is lack of media attention for these games. Wiki has attendance of a few hundred however there is no reference for these figures. This is pathetic.

These 5 winners will advance to Round 2. These teams will be drawn into six groups of four teams at the main group draw in Brazil on 30 July 2011. The matches are foreseen to be played from 2 September to 15 November 2011.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Belize will play a World Cup qualifier

Belize national team in Trinidad & Tobago

   The good news is that Belize will be playing the second leg of their World Cup qualifier. The bad news for their fans is, they will not be playing at home. Since the Belize government will not guarantee security for the game. There is also a growing riff between the BFF and the government going back to the last World Cup Qualifier for years ago.
        FIFA wants the game to be played outside of Belize because of security measures. FIFA also has BFF and warning about it's governemtns interference with the BFF. This means that neither game between Belize and Monserrat will be played on home soil. So much for FIFA's  goal program to these nations......

   I am glad the Belize national team will be able to play. They will be much better competition in the next round than Monserrat.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Only post about Monserrat

Monserrat national team picture
    This poor team does not even know how to take a picture. Here they are getting ready to play Belize. The game was played in Trinidad and Tobago. The stadium was Ato Boldon Stadium. As you can tell there were no fans at this game. Belize did beat them 5-2...however it could be this pathetic group that advances if Belize remains suspended by Fifa.....this could get interesting.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

WCQ First round update

The Bahamas vs Turks
       The Bahamas beat the Turks and Cacaos Island 4-0. The game was an away game for the Bahamas. The Bahamas have a commanding lead and they are hoping for many supporeters at home for their next game. the game will be played July 9th 2011. They will play at the Roscow a. l. Davis Soccer field. The Bahamas should advance here, especially now playing at home.

The Battle of the virgins:
        US Virgin Island beat the British Virgin Islands 2-0. this was the first ever win in World Cup qualifying for this virgin. Neither of the virgins will go far in the next round so this is as good as it gets for them.....The next game will be played in the  British Virgin Islands, Tortola. Sunday July 10th.

Belize vs Monseratt
    This battle has take a bad turn. the Central American Country has been suspended by FIFA because the governement of Belize is interfering to much. Belize has already taken a commanding lead winning the first game 5-2. This game was an away game for Belize. The second round of World Cup Qualifiers start in if the Belize governemnt does not satisfy FIFA then Belize will not make the next round.
......latest update is that Belize will play their "home" game in Honduras July 17th. The reason is that "
in order to avoid the risk that the Belizean authorities do not provide security guarantees" but I did not realize local governments had to provide security for national team games. This is strange however hopefully the Belize governemnt can keep thie noses out of the BFF business.
Dominican Republic vs Anguilla
  The Dominican Republic is one of my favorite nations to watch progress. However after waiting for 6 years no real progress have been made. The Dominican Republic will play today July 8th at home against Anguilla. The second game will again be played in San Cristobal, Dominican republic. This give a huge advantage to the dominican. I think the Dominican Republic will easily win this home/home series and hopegully their fans will support them. The second game will be sunday the July 10th.

St Lucia vs Aruba
   St Lucia names squad for World Cup qualifier. They have a young team. The first game will be today July 8th on Oranjestad, Aruba. The return leg will be tuesday July 12th in Castries, St Lucia. My guess is St Lucia will prevail.