GlobalFootballToday.com special podcast with Letty (@LettyAS), Brian (@SportingKCGFT), and Kat (@myrla_cat)
(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2011)
One of the great things about/problems with Twitter is that just a tiny, innocuous, 140-character tweet can have a snowball effect.
For example, during the 2011 Carling Cup Final I was quite impressed with Stephen Carr and just said “Carr would probably make a Bald XI on this performance. Cambiasso as captain.”
Brent Atema, or @GFT_Brent as you may know him, then came up with some brilliant suggestions for the Bald XI of all time. I knew at that moment, with his passion for the job, he was the right coach for the Bald XI. But the competitive part of me wanted something to try and beat his team. So please step forward = The All-Time Mullet XI. It is time for the All-time Mullet XI to take on the All-time Bald XI.
ALL-TIME WORLD MULLET XI (by Hayden Shaw)
The Mullet is defined as a haircut where the hair is short at the top and long at the back. But the mullet is so much more than that. It’s iconic. It tells people – “I’m a winne….”
You know what, I can’t do this, I was born in 1985 and although there have been some horrific examples in my lifetime, I’ve never had a mullet and hopefully never will. However, some of the best footballers ever to play the game have had one, and for that, I salute them, because it means I’ve got plenty of options for my team.
Now, I’m not the manager of this team, I don’t have crazy enough hair to command the respect of the dressing room, my current haircut of clippers all over is never going to inspire a team of international, mulleted superstars to glory. Consider me the Florentino Perez to this, the Galacticos of the hair style/football world. Luckily, like Perez, I don’t just get to pick the players, I’m even going to dictate the tactics (seriously, with a system this good how did Real Madrid NOT win more trophies during that era?). Now I couldn’t find a formation that looked like a mullet and didn’t leave me horrifically exposed, so I went away from novelty and instead decided to cram in as much creative and attacking talent as possible with the minimum amount of fringe. These boys might look pretty with their perms, and long, redneck mullets, but they go for the kill. So, without further ado I present to you – The All-Time Mullet XI.
Manager: Martin Riggs
Martin Riggs has never been a professional football player. Well neither has Jose Mourinho. It’s a well-quoted fact that great players are rarely great managers, and often somebody who has achieved less in the game will be better equipped for management. Well, those are good defences of what is clearly an insane plan, but basically I have Riggs in there because everyone loves a crazy manager — and there’s nobody crazier than Martin Riggs. He’ll help to keep the trouble makers in line with his Jujitsu skills, he’s got plenty of jokes to keep morale up, and if the worst comes to the worst he can be deployed as a substitute midfield enforcer – he used to be a government assassin so he should be able to put in a tackle.
Assistant Manager: Pat Sharpe
The good cop to Riggs’ bad cop, Sharpe will be the one to keep up morale in the dressing room. After all, if the presenter of Fun House can’t make people happy, then what’s the point in having him there?
Goalkeeper: Dave Beasant
The first goalkeeper to save a penalty in an FA Cup final, the first goalkeeper to captain his team in an FA Cup final and part of one of the greatest upsets in the history of the FA Cup, Dave Beasant was a great distributor of the ball way before it became fashionable for goalkeepers to be great distributors of the ball. He could kick it a hell of a long way, and that helped Wimbledon’s style of play back then, but he could also make the smart choices and his intelligent play from the back will help to counter attack at lightning pace.
Right Centre Back: Barry Venison
I was going to simply put “He had an awesome mullet. Needless to say he will be captaining the side,” but that would be doing my skipper a massive disservice. Barry Venison’s career was cut tragically short before he could truly demonstrate everything that he had to offer the game, but I have no doubts that with his talent, had it not been for said injury, people would barely even bother to mention Franco Baresi. Pele, Maradona, Puskas, Platini, Cruyff, Van Basten, Ronaldo, Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and even Leon Best have never scored against Barry Venison, which, for me says it all. Plus if he gets injured and we’ve used all our subs we just sneak Pat Sharpe on in a Barry Venison shirt.
Left Centre Back: Trifon Ivanov
Every team needs a player who sounds and looks like he could be in Rocky 4, and boy does Trifon Ivanov fit that bill. Not exactly the most gifted of players, but he had a hell of a shot on him, leading to some fine memories of attempts at 40-yard free kicks and ridiculously ambitious attempts that flew just wide. A nearly man is not exactly what we’re after for taking on the best follicly challenged players the world has ever seen, but Trifon looks like a hard bastard so we’ll let him be the one to wind Zidane up.
Centre Back: Carles Puyol
If Puyol was an animal, he’d be a lion. You can tell by the mane. Fans of Barcelona call him “The Wall,” and rightly so, he’s an absolute unit. His performances for Barcelona and Spain don’t just defy his age and injuries, they make a mockery of them. Puyol has already won four league titles with Barcelona, as well as two Champions League winners medals and World and European Championship titles with Spain to go with numerous other trophies and awards. He is nearing 100 caps for Spain and is quite frankly one of the most dominant defenders in world football. When he tackles, things stay tackled. He’s only 5’10” but his personality adds an extra foot, and it’s that personality and will to win that we will be looking to use to our advantage.
Defensive Centre Midfield: Ruud Gullit
Seven League titles, two European Cups, 11 assorted Cup competitions and the only Dutchman to captain his team to winning a major tournament – ladies and gentleman, please welcome Mr. Sexy Football. Not only does Gullit sound like mullet, this guy was one of the original exponents of total football. He could play everywhere. Fantastic athleticism mixed with incredible technique meant that Gullit was an absolute beast to play against and means our midfield contains a player capable of mixing it with the best of them as well as getting the ball down and passing it with such style that you’d think he was Glenn Hoddle.
Centre Midfield: Glenn Hoddle
I wasn’t going to pick Hoddle because you can’t really trust those fancy pants players who don’t know how to tackle, don’t run enough and seem a bit, you know, good at passing. But, then I thought, I’m probably not going to get the England job anyway so I might as well ignore conventional wisdom and have the finest English player of his era, and one of the few to perform with real distinction overseas, as the fulcrum of my team. Hoddle might not thunder around the pitch killing people, but what he will give the team is some incredible vision, passing, touch, technique, a little bit of class and invention, and be part of the best karaoke double act the footballing world has ever seen. Glenn Hoddle is undoubtedly my vice captain for the first 30 minutes before he limps off injured.
Trequartista: Roberto Baggio
La triglia divino – The Divine Mullet. Where to begin? Baggio is somebody who I’m not articulate enough to describe, who it would be unfair to even attempt to sum up in a short parragraph outlining his accolades, stats and trophies. I guess one reason I’m reluctant to try listing honours and trophies is that Baggio’s list is painfully short for such a genius – 2 Scudettos (the first player to win it with different teams in consecutive seasons), 1 Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup. It’s more than most players ever win, but you could argue Djimi Traore has a more impressive medal cabinet, and that really shouldn’t be the case. Baggio has played for a host of clubs, in the latter stages of his career it was often to get enough football to prove to the Azzurri manager that he warranted a place in the team to do what he does best – score goals for Italy, for whom his record is outstanding. Baggio is a heart on his sleeve, creative genius, and if I hadn’t already built my team around Venison then I’d build it around Baggio. Oh and I know he missed THAT penalty, but he has scored 106 out of 122 penalties and I’d quite like him to have a “Pyscho” moment after blasting one in for us. Because scoring for the Mullet XI will be as important as the World Cup final. Obvsiouly.
Right Forward: Kevin Keegan
I’d love it if Keegan scores for us. Before Keegan became known as the guy who blew it, he was European Player of the Year twice in a row, an absolutely incredible achievement and something that I still don’t think he gets enough credit for. Between Liverpool and Hamburg he won 4 domestic league titles and a European Cup along with two UEFA Cups and an FA Cup. But that’s not why I’m putting Keegan in my team. It’s the way he picked himself up after falling off his bike in Superstars and re-raced – earning second place in that event and winning overall. Going deep, deep into added time and needing a goal is something I’d hope to avoid, but if it happens then I’ll be counting on the Superstar spirit of Keegan to drag the team over the finish line victorious. Keegan has also reached 31 in the UK music charts and the top 10 in German music charts with “Head over heels in love” – meaning that I am seriously looking forward to a night of Karaoke with this lot.
Left Wing: Chris Waddle
One of the first things that I’m going to do is insert a clause in the contract of Chris Waddle that states he has to pass to everyone, not just Glenn Hoddle. As long as he agrees to that then he’s an automatic pick because, quite frankly, Waddle has an awesome Mullet, Diamond Lights was….ummm….and he was actually a really good footballer with spells at Newcastle, Marseille and Spurs during his peak. Waddle is four times a losing finalist, in the FA Cup for both Spurs and Sheffield Wednesday, again with Wednesday in the League Cup final and also with Marseille in the 1991 European Cup final. Despite that he did win three titles with Marseille and is still considered a bit of a legend there.
Centre Forward: Fernando Torres
El Nino might be going through a bit of a weird spell, having transferred from Liverpool to Chelsea in slightly acrimonious circumstances, but he’s widely considered to be one of the best finishers in the World today and when he’s on form he’s borderline unplayable. For Spain he has won the European Championship at Under 16 and Under 19 levels as well as the real thing and a World Cup in back to back tournaments – something that should make up for his lack of club honours for the time being. Deep down, I think all Chelsea fans are hoping that Torres grows back his Mullet and that his confidence grows with his hair, because a Torres with confidence is a lethal, lethal goalscorer with searing pace and a great first touch.
Centre Forward: Rudi Voller
Voller is a goal machine. Over the course of his career he’s worth a goal just over every two games – for Germany he scored 47 goals in 90 games. He knows what it is to experience both success and failure, well losing in the final of the World Cup, European Championships and the Champions League isn’t exactly failure, but you know what I mean. Voller’s Mullet sounds like the name of a band, but it was also famously spat at by Frank Rijkaard in an incident that saw both of them sent off, when he returned from suspension Voller won the penalty that resulted in Germany winning the World Cup. Oh and Voller was also the manager who somehow managed to lose 1-5 at home to England and then take his team to a World Cup final. Bonkers.
ALL-TIME WORLD BALD XI (by Brent Atema)
Some men are born with beautiful, flowing hair that lasts them more than 60 years. Women flock to them, men are jealous of them, and football clubs want to see those exquisite locks covering the top of the their jersey.
However, other men must overcome a crippling condition to claw their way to the top and succeed despite their hideous disease. They are incapable of showing that they are business in the front and party in the back. If they go party in the back, then they have nothing in the front. What kind of message does that send? While I am not bald, I have always chosen to go with short hair — and I have always vowed to defeat the long hair, rock-n-roll prima donnas. That is why I have accepted Hayden’s challenge of creating at team of stars who overcame their male pattern baldness to succeed in life. So here is my All-time World Bald XI (playing a 4-2-3-1).
Manager: Dr. Evil
It doesn’t matter if they have a mullet or not, how is someone supposed to break through a central defender pair wearing frickin’ laser beams on their heads? Dr. Evil’s superior, undisciplined intellect is capable of implementing new tactical creations that will likely fail a majority of the time, but will certainly strike fear into the hearts of opponents. However, his insistence on paying $1 million for every player could be a bit of an issue.
Assistant Manager: Luciano Spalletti
Goalkeeper: Fabian Barthez
Keepers that are celebrities are rare. Bald men that are celebrities are rare. Bald keepers that are celebrities are almost unheard of, but that is what Fabian Barthez will tell you he is — no matter how much you disagree with him. Barthez is the first of many World Cup winners to earn a place in the squad. However, my American bias means that I have Brad Friedel’s number on speed dial for when Barthez just becomes too annoying.
Right Back: Lillian Thuram
The most-capped player in French football and one of the 30 most-capped players of all time certainly deserves a spot in the team. His gorgeous bald dome graced the pitches at Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona and won the 1998 World Cup with France.
Right Center Back: Jaap Stam
Whether it was while playing FIFA in the late 1990s or watching the Dutch and Manchester United, Jaap Stam’s shiny melon could be seen from all corners of the pitch as he steamrolled opposing attackers. Alex Ferguson said his decision to sell Stam to Lazio in 2001 was the worst decision of his managerial career.
Left Center Back: Fabio Cannavaro
Any man who can lead a team full of Italians with endless manes of dark, wavy locks to a World Cup victory despite his newly developing baldness can certainly captain the All-time World Bald XI. Not only did he captain the Italian side to victory, he did it in the shadow of one of the greatest heads of hair to ever grace a pitch, Italy’s most-capped player who retired after the 2002 World Cup, Paolo Maldini.
Left Back: Roberto Carlos
When God created Roberto Carlos he put so much talent into his left leg that there was nothing left to give Roberto Carlos a lovely head of hair. Even though the long, flowing locks are not as much a part of Brazilian culture as Italian culture, Roberto Carlos still had to walk on to the pitch insecure about the sun reflecting off his head and blinding people in the crowd. Luckily he was able to release all the bald-related tension and anger that had built up through a left leg similar to a Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber (http://www.barrett.net/firearms/model82a1).
Right Center Midfielder: Juan Sebastian Veron
This Argentine milk dud played for some of the biggest clubs in South America and Europe, including Estudiantes, Boca Juniors, Manchester United, Chelsea and Internazionale. Veron made a risky decision to grow the goatee to go with his naked dome. Despite looking like a villain from a marginally successful 1990s Hollywood movie, he put together an exceptional career and is a welcome addition to the squad.
Left Center Midfielder: Esteban Cambiasso
In 2006 Esteban Cambiasso overcame his baldness to put in amazing displays for the Argentina National Team. However, he was part of the 2010 World Cup squad because baldist, and occasionally mulletted, Diego Maradona did not call him up. Maradona’s obvious prejudice against chrome-domed players clearly led to Argentina’s quicker-than-expected exit from the tournament.
Central Attacking Midfielder: Zinedine Zidane
Like many members of the All-time World Bald XI, Zidane started his career with hair. He also, like many other members of the squad, was at his best when he accepted his baldness and focused on his game. However, Zidane’s hairy demons never left. In the 2006 World Cup Final he was given a red card for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest after the Italian called Zidane a “cue ball.” Every member of this squad has dealt with baldist players and fans before, so they will be able to help Zidane until FIFA can finally “Kick Baldism Out” of the game.
Right Wing: Attilio Lombardo
Lombardo’s career took off when he played with fellow balding Italian, Gianluca Vialli, at Sampdoria. Luckily the two bald men had each other to rely on because the prospect of facing the beautiful Italian mane of Roberto Mancini on a daily basis must have been daunting. After an unsuccessful, injury-plagued stint with Juventus, Lombardo eventually turned up in South London with Crystal Palace. His cue-ball-with-ear-muffs look is the epitome of proper male pattern baldness, and during his time at Crystal Palace it earned him the nickname “The Bald Eagle.”
Left Wing: Arjen Robben
This talented Dutchman has been bald most of his career. No, he did not become bald from diving so much and rolling around on the ground that friction with the grass pulled his hair out. His baldness is a natural condition. In recent years he has accepted his baldness by shaving almost all of his head — and his game for the Netherlands and Bayern Munich has improved.
I’m sure many people will say, “Ronaldo isn’t bald!” Well those people are actually correct. However, Ronaldo made a conscious decision to go bald. The Ronaldo of 1998 was bald, and the Ronaldo of 2002 was mostly bald. He was certainly at his best when he was freshly shorn. The bald brotherhood is always welcoming new members, and Ronaldo just chose to join the club early.
Referee: Pierluigi Collina
Since the initial idea for this match between Novelty XIs came from Hayden’s warped mind, the All-time Mullet XI is the home team, which means I get to choose the match official. Who better to choose than a man who suffers from alopecia and is arguably the greatest official of all time?
So there it is: The All-time World Mullet XI v. the All-time World Bald XI. What are your thoughts? Who has the better side? Who got left out? What other Novelty XIs should we create?
There is quality in all of the teams who made it through to the knockout stage. Starting off in Group B was the two expected stronger teams proceeding through in South Korea and Mexico. Mexico was a slow starter as is their habit in tournaments. A boring 0-0 draw in their first game against South Korea told us merely that there was much to be seen from both sides, which did come through. The dose of reality that was dealt them in the first game prompted a better showing in a 2-0 victory over Gabon thanks to a Giovani Dos Santos brace. To cap the winning of the group Switzerland fell to a Oribe Peralta goal helped in part by Dos Santos. With Senegal in the quarterfinals the duo of Peralta and Dos Santos looks formidable and Marco Fabian is already saying that the squad is ready to win a medal. All things point to that, as of yet.
South Korea took use of the 0-0 draw with Mexico differently while they strolled to a decisive 2-1 win over Switzerland but were not up to the
task of defeating Gabon. They have talent, possibly the best of Asia, they just need to get their ducks in line as they now are facing the hosts.
In Group D was the biggest surprise with Spain being dumped out of the tournament after their first two group games. It was anticipated that the other members of the group would be battling it out for the other spot but feisty Honduras from CONCACAF and Asian side Japan go to the knockout stage.
For the runners-up Honduras they made their grade with a 1-0 victory over Spain which dumped the favorite out. The overage players of Roger Espinoza, Maynor Figueroa, and Jerry Bengston are immense in helping this Honduras side progress. While Andy Nejar is getting big club attention and Bengston is scoring all the goals(3 so far), it’s the collective that is allowing this side to progress from the ‘Football Backwater’ that
European based journalists think of CONCACAF teams. Watch out Brazil, the Bicolor is coming.
Japan came away as winners of the group and why not? Out the gate they beat Spain and were using the tactics of the Spaniards against themselves as they were able to take the ball away and make many quick counters, sometimes pulling back to wait for support sometime going for
it. This is a cool and collected side that was able to take control of their opening game then doing much the same in the second against Morocco which allowed them the freedom to take it easy against Honduras in a 0-0 draw. Here it is the tactics that are being used by Takashi Sekizuka who knows how to best utilize his resources. Now they take on Egypt in the quarterfinals. ?????
The 39 year old Brazilian fullback has now retired from club play. He had already been retired from the national team for several years.
Borja Valero/Alberto Aquilani
Fiorentina were busy last week as they signed two midfielders who had two very different reasons for wanting to leave their respective clubs. Aquilani was constantly on loan while with Liverpool while Valero made it clear he did not want to remain with Villareal after the Yellow Submarine were relegated from La Liga last season. Valero’s move was worth €7 million ($8.6 million).
The Serbian winger put pen to paper on a four year, €7 million ($8.6 million) move from Juventus to Fenerbahce.
After much speculation about his future with Blackburn Rovers, Hoilett has signed a four year deal with Queens Park Rangers.
The Dutch striker has returned to his homeland after completing a €6 million ($7.4 million) move from Inter to FC Twente. Castaignos failed to fit in with the Italian giants and consequently signed a four year deal to return to the Eredivisie.
The Swedish midfielder has left AZ Alkmaar and signed a three year deal with CSKA Moscow.
The Italian U-21 striker will join Roma from Genoa on loan this season for €11.5 million ($14.2 million) with an option to buy for an additional €4.5 million ($5.6 million) next summer.
The veteran French midfielder will return to Ligue 1 next season after signing a one year deal with Lorient. Guily had been playing with recently relegated AS Monaco.
The Spanish center back completed a €5.5 million ($6.8 million) move from Mallorca to Wigan Athletic. Ramis was reportedly a high priority for newly promoted West Ham United, but Roberto Martinez’s side ultimately came out on top.
The Hammers will instead have to settle for former Aston Villa center back James Collins. He signed a four year deal with West Ham last week.
And the dominoes continue to fall as Aston Villa signed Dutch defender Ron Vlaar from Feyenoord in response to Collins’ departure.
The 22 year old Argentine winger really made a good impression on Portugese powerhouse Benfica. The Eagles paid a club record €13.5 million ($16.7 million) fee to bring in Salvio.
The journeyman forward from Ukraine will go out on loan this season from Moscow Dinamo to Fortuna Dusseldorf in Germany.
The Italian defender completed a three year, €4.5 million ($5.6 million) move from Palermo to Roma. Balzaretti, who spent his formative years with Juventus, spurned the advances of Napoli to move to the Italian capital.
Kevin de Bruyne
The 21 year old Belgian international will spend the upcoming season on loan at Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. Chelsea paid €6.7 million ($8.3 million) to bring the youngster in during the January transfer window.
The Nigerian international has left Fulham and signed a four year deal with Blackburn Rovers.
The Danish keeper has signed a four year extension with Manchester United. Lindegaard is expected to challenge David de Gea for the starting spot this season.
The Slovakian winger has left Manchester City and will play for Pescara in Italy.
The news is a great achievement not only
for the player, but also the Houston-based club whose youth development setup
programme is aimed at exactly this type of player advancement.
The Lions scouted the player from Zwaluwen
in Rotterdam. He played one season for the Houston side, playing 14 matches and scoring six goals to go along with three assists.
The player was spotted by Club RKC
Waalwijk’s second team coach who was on a working visit with the Texas club
during the summer and asked the player to return to the Netherlands in order
for his club to take another look at him back in his homeland.
In a trial match, Furghill Zeldenrust
played as a left sided attacker against the 1st division Club FC Den Bosch and
his strong skills and active gameplay were noticed almost instantly. After
only one week of training with the RKC Waalwijk, it resulted in the
unique opportunity to sign a contract with the team for one year.
Zeldenrust’s last game in the United States
before returning home was on July 14th, 2012 against the West Texas Sockers. Less than two weeks
later he made the move to the Dutch Eredivisie; a quite
Texas Dutch Lions coach Marco Pruis told
us: “The Texas Dutch Lions FC want to thank Furghill Zeldenrust for his
contribution on the field in this last PDL season, as well as lots of play
time, and all the best in the Eredivisie at RKC Waalwijk!”
If inspiration was needed for any young
players looking to further their career, this story should be keep close to
Well done to the Lions on helping to
further the youngsters career and also for spotting the player in the first
place and developing him into a position that this sort of advancement can take
The Belgian center back signed a much deserved six year extension with Manchester City this week.
The Australian international has ended an eight year run with Everton and signed with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. Per league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Scottish wide player signed a three year deal with Norwich coming over from Leeds United.
The now former Norwich center back signed a two year deal with Leicester City. The American defender had an injury plagued 2011-12 campaign.
Yes, Chelsea have signed the brother of their prized summer capture Eden Hazard as well.
The Fulham defender signed a two year extension to remain at Craven Cottage.
The Dutch-born Moroccan striker has completed an €8 million ($9.8 million) move from Kayserispor to Galatasaray in Turkey.
The Swiss U-20 goalkeeper signed a three year deal with West Ham United this week from Swiss side Grasshoppers.
The French U-19 midfielder has completed a five year move from Lens to Sevilla in Spain.
The Italian midfielder has left Roma and signed a three year deal with Greece’s Olympiakos.
The Udinese midfielder joins Fiorentina on loan for the 2012-13 season with a view to a permanent move next summer.
The Argentinian forward who scored 17 goals in 40 matches for Instituto last season has completed a move to Palermo in Italy.
Another Argentinian international is on the move. Yacob has agreed to a deal with West Bromwich Albion.
The Portugese international completed a free move from his native Hercules to Blackpool in England.
Que the fanfare because the soccer tournament that occurs once every four years is finally upon us.
No not the World Cup but the original world championship the Olympic Games.
Now relegated to a U-23 tournament it still displays considerable talent and it a competition that is taken exceedingly seriously everywhere, but in Britain.
Group B has a mixture of typical qualifiers and competitive newcomers. From Asia and North America South Korea and Mexico are making their ninth and tenth appearance respectively in this competition while Switzerland, silver medalists in 1924, is in their third Olympics and Gabon is making their debut.
Debutants Gabon have a squad that takes a fair few from France though only their two over-age players and one other have made any marks on the international stage for the senior squad, most recently in this winter’s African Cup of Nations.
Mexico was the best from North America through qualifying with a side dripping with talent which in terms of judging Mexico in youth tournaments historically they are poor. Typically Mexican squads don’t have their players develop until later but this team is reversing the trend. With players like Miguel Ponce, Marco Fabian, and still of an age to not take an over age spot Giovani Dos Santos Mexico will look to not only progress out of the group but look to take home a medal.
South Korea has made a habit of qualifying for tournaments at all levels and this has helped the national team become strong on the international scene as one of the supreme powers of the Asian continent. The of age player to watch is the midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung, already a constant member of the senior squad he will be key, along with over age player Park Chu-Young in getting the Taegeuk Warriors into the quarterfinals.
Switzerland is in their first Olympics since 1928. The squad qualified by way of their 2011 UEFA U-21 success. This squad is primarily made up of players plying their trade in Switzerland in comparison to the senior squad which has players everywhere. If they can beat Gabon in the first game it would put them in good position to take on South Korea who they look to compete with for second place in the group.
Group D is a group that most will say has one favorite and everyone else vying for the other spot for the quarterfinal with the likes of Honduras, Japan, Morocco, and Spain drawn together. Spain has a good history of winning medals, gold in 1992 and silver in 1920 and 2000. Morocco is in their seventh Olympics. Honduras has had a good recent record of qualifying with this being their third of the last four. Japan, bronze medalists in 1968, is in their ninth.
Honduras was a surprise coming out of North America when the United States didn’t make the CONCACAF semifinals. Their recent success in their senior side can be attributed to participating in recent Olympics. Andy Najar is the best of age talent on the squad and the additions of over-age players in Jerry Bingston up top, Roger Espinoza in the midfield, and Majnor Figueroa in back is the skewer in the shish kebob which will decide if they do themselves justice or not.
Japan is another Asian nation that via their constant qualification to tournaments like the Olympics they have been able to nurture the youth into the senior squad. Currently, like with the senior side, the German Bundesliga is the home of the best Japanese players on this squad.
Having the Olympic qualifying tournament in your own backyard always helps as it did for Morocco. The senior side has been down in the dumps for some time. Perhaps some of the talent on this squad can come through. Morocco has the most appearances for an African country without any medal to show for their efforts.
Spain seems to be doing well at every level. To keep the high level of success with the senior side qualification to competitions such as this are key. The fact that they are here shows the true depth of what Spain has and why they may be reigning as the best in the world from top to bottom for some time to come. Look for Spain to run away with this group easily.
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kan.
Weather: Sunny and 102 degrees
Sporting Kansas City
Montpellier Herault SC
Sporting Kansas City: Eric Kronberg; Kevin Ellis, Konrad Warzycha, Lawrence Olum © (Michael Harrington 59), Neven Markovic; Julio Cesar (Paulo Nagamura 76), Peterson Joseph, Michael Thomas; Dom Dwyer (Bobby Convey 55, Kyle Miller 81), Soony Saad, Korede Aiyegbusi (C.J. Sapong 67)
Subs not used: Scott Angevine
Montpellier Herault SC: Geoffrey Jourdren (Laurent Pionnier 46); Henri Bedimo (Teddy Mezague 46), Benjamin Stambouli (Cyril Jeunechamp 46), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Mathieu Deplagne 46), Daniel Congre (Vitorino Hilton 46); Marco Estrada (Romain Pitau 46), Younes Belhanda (Remy Cabella 58), Jamel Saihi (Joris Marveaux 46); John Utaka (Souleymane Camara 48), Gaetan Charbonnier (Emanuel Herrera 46), Karim Ait Fana (Anthony Mounier 58)
Subs not used: Jonathan Ligali, Bryan Dabo, Jonathan Tinhan, Fode Koita
Shots on Goal
MHSC – Benjamin Stambouli (caution; tactical foul) 44
MHSC – Gaetan Charbonnier (Marco Estrada) 39
MHSC – Emanuel Herrera (Anthony Mounier) 72
MHSC – Emanuel Herrera (unassisted) 92+
(July 24, 2012) – Sporting Kansas City fell 3-0 to reigning French Ligue 1 champions Montpellier Herault SC on Tuesday in an international friendly at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. MHSC off-season signings Gaetan Charbonnier and Emanuel Herrera powered the visitors in the victory,while goalkeepers Geoffrey Jourdren and Laurent Pionnier combined for the clean sheet.
Possession was split evenly between the two sides for the first 25 minutes, with action onboth sides of the field.
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, making his first appearance of 2012, made two excellent saves from the rapid-firing French side beginning in the 28thminute when Marco Estrada dribbled through midfield and shot from 25 yards out. Just three minutes later, Estrada was active again and played a ball over the top to Charbonnier. He did well to settle it off his chest, but was denied by Kronberg from close range.
Monpellier Herault SC nabbed their first goal of the night in the 39th minute when Estrada curled in a cross from the left to Charbonnier, who made no mistake this time in pushing his header past Kronberg.
Making nine changes to start the second half, MHSC would continue to show the skill that propelled them to the top of Ligue 1 and into the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League.
The team notched their second goal of the night in the 72nd minute when Anthony Mounier made a low pass to Herrera, stationed deep inside the penalty area. With Kronberg off his line, Herrera took an angled shot and slotted the ball in.
Ten minutes later, Peterson Joseph came close for Sporting KC with a bending shot from the corner of the 18-yard box that went wide of the right post. One of six Sporting KC players with a shot attempted on the night, Joseph was also one of six Sporting KC players to go the full 90 minutes in the friendly.
Defenders Neven Markovic and Kyle Miller, the team’s newest two signings, each made their Sporting KC debuts on Tuesday, while Kevin Ellis, Korede Aiyegbusi and Eric Kronberg each appeared in their first games of 2012 with the Sporting KC first team.
MHSC struck for their final goal on what would be the final play of the match in the secondminute of second-half stoppage time. Kronberg did well to make his seventh save of the match to turn away an attempt from Mounier, but Herrera was there tocollect the rebound and calmly convert the opportunity from a difficult angle near the endline.
Sporting Kansas City will resume play in the 2012 MLS regular season at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday with a match against Eastern Conference foe Columbus Crew at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The match, sponsored by Roma Bakery and Johnsonville, will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV and tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or at the LSP Box Offices.
- Sporting Kansas City defender Neven Markovic was in the gameday roster for the first time since signing with the club earlier this month. He started and played 90 minutes in the friendly.
- Sporting Kansas City defender Kevin Ellis appeared in his first match of 2012 with the first team, starting and playing 90 minutes on Tuesday. He dressed in the team’s 3-1 win at Montreal on July 4.
- Sporting Kansas City forward Korede Aiyegbusi appeared in his first match of 2012 with the first team, starting and playing 67 minutes. He dressed in four previous MLS matches.
- Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg appeared in his first match of 2012 in all competition, starting and playing 90 minutes. He recorded seven saves in the friendly and has now faced Manchester United, Newcastle United, CD Guadalajara and Montpellier Herault SC in the last two years.
- Sporting Kansas City midfielder Kyle Miller made his first appearance of 2012 for the firstteam on Tuesday, replacing Bobby Convey in the 81st minute. He dressed in the team’s 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
- Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer appeared in his second match of 2012 with the first team, starting and playing 55 minutes on Tuesday. He also started in Sporting Kansas City’s 3-2 win over Orlando City SC on May 29 in the U.S. Open Cup.
- Sporting Kansas City defender Konrad Warzycha appeared in his fourth match of 2012 for the first team, starting and playing 90 minutes. He played in one MLS match and two U.S. Open Cup games prior to Tuesday.
- Tuesday’s friendly was played with unlimited substitutions per an agreement between the two clubs.
- Sporting Kansas City assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin managed the game on Tuesday, while Manager Peter Vermes was in Philadelphia for the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
- In conjunction with the friendly, Montpellier Herault SC held a coaches clinic at the Sporting Club Training Center in Swope Park on Sunday. The team also held an open training and autograph session at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Monday.
- Gaetan Charbonnier scored the game-winner in Tuesday’s match in the 39th minute. Charbonnier flicked in a header on a service from Marco Estrada.
- Emanuel Herrera scored the final two goals in Tuesday’s match, scoring in the 72nd and 91st minutes.
- Both Herrera and Charbonnier were recently signed by Montpellier during the team’s offseason.
- Tuesday’s friendly against Montpellier marks Sporting Kansas City’s third international friendly to be played at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, following last year’s matches against Newcastle United FC (EPL) and CD Guadalajara (Mexico).
- Sporting Kansas City suffered their first loss in an international exhibition since 2007, when the team fell 2-0 to CA Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Sporting Kansas City lost at home for the first time against an international opponent since 2009, when the team fell 3-1 to Club Santos Laguna (Mexico) in SuperLiga at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
- Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza is with the Honduras Olympic team and missed Tuesday’s friendly.
- Teal Bunbury missed Tuesday’s match after having oral surgery on Monday.
- Sporting Kansas City was also without their three 2012 MLS All-Stars. Graham Zusi, Aurelien Collin and Jimmy Nielsen are in Chester, Penn. preparing to take on Chelsea FC on Wednesday at PPL Park, live on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. CT.
- Major League Soccer will announce the inactive MLS All-Stars on Wednesday.
- Montpellier Herault SC will next travel to Red Bull Arena to take on Lyon on Saturday in the Trophee des Champions.
- Sporting Kansas City will host their second international friendly of 2012 on Wednesday, August 1 when they face Stoke City of the English Premier League.
- The Columbus Crew defeated Stoke City 2-1 in a come-from-behind victory at Columbus Crew Stadium on Tuesday.
- Sporting Kansas City will resume MLS competition on Saturday when they play host to the Columbus Crew at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
- Tuesday’s LIVESTRONG guest was Nancy Kincaid, who sat in the Victory Suite’s yellow chair.
Post-game reaction from tonight’s match between Sporting Kansas City and Montpellier Herault Sport Club will be available on SportingKC.com, including comments from players and managers.
Please note: When discussing our team, please refer to us as Sporting Kansas City or Sporting KC. Tickets are currently on sale for 2012 home matches at state-of-the-art LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Visit www.SportingKC.com or call to reserve seats.