soccer world cup

No ‘what are they smoking moments’ today in the build up to Brazil, but lately there has been some venting, truth-telling and self-rhapsodizing…

The Professional Footballer’s Association is set to announce their 40th annual awards for (English) Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year next Sunday. The Uruguayan Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is considered to be a shoo-in for 2013-2014 Player of the Year, due to his impressive goal total and leadership as Liverpool surges toward their first English Premier League title since the establishment of the elite tier in 1992. This likely would have been Suarez’ second consecutive PFA Award, if not for his suspensions in the 2012-2013 season for first uttering a racial slur to French Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, and later biting Serbian Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

Manchester City star midfielder and Ivorian international Yaya Touré, also on the PFA Award shortlist, commented on his reportedly poor chances of winning the Award by saying African footballers in general do not get the same recognition in Europe as Europeans and South Americans. The currently injured Touré has won the African Footballer of the Year Award for three years consecutively, and is nominated for the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards’ ‘Personality of the Year’. The former Barcelona player is widely considered to have been the key to Manchester City winning the Premier League title for the 2011-2012 season. As of yet there has been recognition, but not much response, from the English press to this statement.

The in-form and charmed Liverpool also received PFA nominations for long-serving midfielder Steven Gerrard and Young PFA nominations for forwards Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, and all three figure to appear in the English shirt this summer. Chelsea forward and Belgium international Eden Hazard was also nominated. Although he is currently dealing with a niggling injury, Hazard can also take solace in his Belgian compatriot Kevin Mirallas’ world-class goal to seal the EPL win for Everton today against Manchester United. Former Young PFA winner (2010-2011) and tattooed rogue Jack Wilshere is also battling injury, but his Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger stated he should be ‘polished’ in time for Brazil.

Meanwhile, current Golden Baller Cristiano Ronaldo has gushed to So Foot Junior magazine that winning the World Cup with Portugal would “crown a great career,” and that becoming a father has made him more “cold-blooded” and “patient.” One guesses he means on the pitch with Real Madrid, from where he too is currently absent with an injury, although his appearance in Brazil (where he will face the US in Manaus) does not appear to be threatened.

On the home front, two thirds of US residents are not interested in following the World Cup, according to a Reuters poll. The optimistic among the soccer media point out that this means that approximately 100 million US residents WILL be interested, and among the Hispanic population the percentage is significantly higher.

Striker Chris Wondolowski was frustrated in the Mile High City yesterday as his San Jose Earthquakes drew with the Colorado Avalanche, but he can take hope from the news that US Coach Jürgen Kilnsmann plans to train the team’s preliminary 30-man roster virtually next door to the Quakes at Stanford starting May 14 in preparation for their initial pre-Cup international friendly with Azerbaijan on May 27th. If included on that roster, which must be submitted on May 13th, ‘Wondo’ would likely have a few excellent opportunities to prove himself before the final paring to a squad of 23 takes place on June 2nd.

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