The immediate news on the home front is the audition for the audition. All eyes will be on the MLS games this weekend, as US World Cup hopefuls will be playing for their clubs and trying to get that call-up to the ‘friendly’ with Mexico next Wednesday in Glendale, AZ. 2010 WC stars Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu will be in action, having recently returned from playing in Europe.
Others MLS performers on the WC bubble will be defenders Michael Parkhurst and Clarence Goodson, forwards Eddie Johnson and Chris Wondolowski, dreadlocked midfielder Kyle Beckerman and keeper Nick Rimando. One player that is a lock for the match with Mexico is US Coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s ‘wunderkind,’ 18-year-old Julian Green.
The Bayern Munich squad player managed to switch his team allegiance from Germany to the United States this week. As any game with Mexico is hotly contested (and it appears that all but one or two of El Tri’s World Cup-lock starters will be playing), this will be about as close to throwing Green right into the deep end without actually doing so, although one would think having won the Champions League trophy with Bayern last year might be deep enough.
In other news, Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes, who was hoping to win La Liga title, then beat Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas to lead Spain to its World Cup title defence in Brazil before leaving the team to which he had belonged since the age of 10 to head to new and more lucrative pastures, has seen it all go wrong after damaging his ACL in a game against Celta Vigo Wed night, likely ending his season and Barcelona career. Manchester United keeper David de Gea will likely benefit with a Spanish call-up.
The Portuguese Ronaldo (‘CR7’) is playing up Portugal’s underdog angle (they are drawn in a group of death along with Germany, the US and Ghana – who btw, are being advised by their team psychologist to bring along their WAG’s, as England is), the retired Brazilian Ronaldo is playing the overdog (home crowd pressure) card, and France as usual are preening all over themselves. Everton’s Ross Barkley strengthened his and Everton coach Roberto Martinez’ arguments for his inclusion in England’s starting 11 with a jaw-dropping 69-yard run and score against Newcastle last weekend. More droning about lax Brazilian stadium preparations from FIFA, as well as UEFA president Michel Platini, as expected, vociferously dismissed any notion of a 2018 Russian World Cup boycott.
Finally, one new thing Platini revealed was plans for a UEFA ‘Nations League’ to replace random negotiated friendlies in Europe’s preparations for tournaments. This more competitive fixture arrangement will even have some bearing on qualification for the UEFA European Championship after 2020. Already the Germans have complained, sounding like Daniel Brühl’s Niki Lauda character in Rush, stating that this impinges on their right to book the best preparatory competition in the world for themselves. Well, let’s see if there even IS any European competition by 2020.
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