Friday, February 13, 2009

Pardew's Guardian news and notes ...

There's a bit of a format change going on with this post, considering we don't fashion ourselves a news-based Web site as such. Due to my full-time job commitments, I am only able to update this blog occasionally. But while I usually post (ill-informed???) opinions, there are a few things hanging out there that should be addressed in a timely manner: 1) The super soccer Web site Soccer By Ives enjoyed a moment in the sun during ESPN2's broadcast of the U.S. Men's National Team's comprehensive 2-nil World Cup qualifying win over Mexico in Ohio on Wednesday night. The cameras lingered on the "winning" banner (pictured above, top) from a contest on his site he ended up having printed in Columbus the day before the match. My goodness, how we as a soccer community in the United States have come a long way. We are inter-connected via the Internet, cell phones, etc. It's nice to know you have brothers (and, increasingly, sisters) of like mind out there. 2) The U.S. Men's National Team's next World Cup qualifier -- at El Salvador on March 28th -- will be televised live on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. Eastern time. There was some uncertainty regarding a broadcast, but ESPN's Mac Nwulu confirmed to PardsGuard on Friday (after a media e-mail contained an erroneous date for the match) that the game is, indeed, scheduled to air. That match may go down in the annals as the 'Brad Guzan' game (pictured above, middle). Guze, the backup keeper behind fellow American Brad Friedel at English Premier League side Aston Villa, must step in to deputize for the suspended (and, we must add, world-class) Tim Howard. Will that make the difference between a win and a draw -- or, God forbid -- a loss?? We shall see. 3) Back to my earlier report about Inter Milan (and 'Special One' manager Jose Mourinho (pictured above, bottom) playing in New Jersey this summer -- According to well-placed sources, one of whom is in Milan as we speak for the AC-Inter derby on Sunday, a press conference will be held within a month that commits Inter to a Los Angeles-East Rutherford, N.J.-Canada itinerary for preseason. Where there's smoke, there's fire, so we will have to wait and see on this one.

Monday, February 09, 2009

No Freddy Adu? Bob Bradley's Got This One Wrong ...

Fans of the United States Men's National Team have been counting down the days to February 11th (7 p.m., ESPN2), when the CONCACAF Hexagonal gets underway to see which three teams (and possibly a fourth) from North and Central America and the Caribbean get to make the journey to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The luck of the draw would have it that we open the round against our archrival Mexico, with the game set for wintry Ohio. Mexico is reeling under the guidance of ex-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, but beware the wounded animal. I find U.S. coach Bob Bradley's omission of Monaco midfielder/striker Freddy Adu (pictured above, top) when the roster was announced this weekend to be more than a bit worrying. Granted, Adu is rooted to the bench for the Ligue 1 side, but a player with his special abilities MUST be on the roster at this point. No offense, but you're not going to beat the best teams in the world once we get to the Confederations Cup in South Africa this summer -- where dates with Italy and Brazil await -- with the likes of Ricardo Clark on the field. The roster should be shaped now to hit the ground running with for those big matches this summer, with further tweaking ahead of the Big Show in South Africa in 2010. Yes, Sacha Kljestan is in fine form at the moment and you don't need Adu to beat Mexico, but against Italy or Spain or Argentina, that extra bit of guile he brings to the table cannot be underestimated. And if Bradley is punishing Adu for his lack of playing time in the French league, why name striker Jozy Altidore (pictured above, bottom)? Keep in mind I would never once in a million years ask so daft a question, but it's just for argument's sake. Altidore has just been shipped off on loan from Villarreal to a team in Spain's second division, yet he grabs a spot. Maybe there's something here that's not clearly evident at this time. Could it be that Bradley has doubts about Adu's work ethic? This one merits some close monitoring.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hate To Play Like That And Come Away With Nothing ...

I had done a lot of"gum flapping during the week leading up to Sunday's Hammers v. Manchester United match at Upton Park in what turned out to be a rainy-but raucous East London, based on the television sights and sounds. Although the Hammers were unbeaten in 8 matches, I wasn't promising a win against the defending champions. However, I thought the in-form Carlton Cole, the clever David Di Michele or even our bumper new signing Savio Nsereko could be the one to dent Man United keeper Edwin van der Sar's clean-sheet record. If not a strike from one of our front men, then maybe a well-placed header from one of our sterling central defenders, Matty Upson or James "Ginger" Collins. If nothing else, the odds were in our favor. Van der Sar couldn't keep this up forever, plus Hammers' midfield of Valon Behrami, Scotty Parker, Mark Noble and Jack Collison has a great balance of guile and grit at the moment. Throw in the tactical nous shown in recent weeks by Gianfranco Zola and No. 2 Steve Clarke, and the pieces were in place for a memorable afternoon in the East End. And damned if the home side didn't almost get it done! We had stretches of skillful possession, a chance or two off of corners and by newly-called-up England striker Cole and, in general, matched Man United's tenacity and pace all over the field. Leave it to the old warhorse, Ryan Giggs, to be the difference-maker. Our Aussie right back and captain, Lucas Neill, played another blinder on Sunday, but his one moment of hesitation in closing Giggs down in the box gave keeper Robert Green -- another England player for the Hammers, alomg with Upson -- no chance on the right-footed shot. That proved to be the only goal of the game in a 1-nil win for the visitors/Premiership leaders. Kudos to Zola for staying positive and throwing on Nsereko and Diego Tristan in search of an equalizer. Nsereko got about 15 minutes, but anyone can see that this Uganda-born German is the real deal. He oozes skill and talent, and my guess is he'll be plying his trade at Arsenal or Old Trafford within three years' time. That's just the sad reality of supporting Hammers, but, all in all, we put up a noble fight in the East End on Sunday. We didn't do enough to win it, but nil-nil would have been a result no one could have quibbled with.

Friday, February 06, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Hot Rumors Regarding Inter Milan v. Chelsea at Giants Stadium ...

Sources tell Pardew's Guardian that a huge announcement about summer soccer in New Jersey could be made this weekend. The Clark, New Jersey-based Inter Club Giacinto Facchetti of New Jersey holds its annual dinner in Newark this weekend. This is an organization committed to spreading the Inter gospel throughout the United States. As a Lazio supporter, I have not been sucked in (and, like any good sons trying to upset their dad, Alex and Ben support Roma; the three of us traveled to Bordighera, Italy, with Victoria a few years ago) but I respect the passion and commitment shown by the Facchetti members. We even have a few locals -- Ocean City Barons principals Neil Holloway and John Granese, both of Ocean City by way of England and Italy, respectively -- making the journey to Milan soon for the big derby at the San Siro. Lucky lads!! The account given to me this week is that a television crew from Italy will be present at the Facchetti dinner to film proceedings and get New Jersey-based reaction to the announcement regarding the Inter v. Chelsea match at Giants Stadium. If this happens, timing will be everything, of course. If it's an early-summer match, the rosters will most likely be weakened, but if the game bumps up against the start of the Premiership and Serie A, expect the likes of Inter's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka (both pictured above) to grace the turf of our beloved "stadium in the swamplands." Stay tuned on this one.