24
Mar

Neymar and Gisele combine their powers for upcoming edition of Vogue

Vogue Brasil is putting together a special edition featuring supermodel Gisele Bundchen and soccer star Neymar that will hit stands in June — we’re guessing the big tournament happening that month might have something to do with it.

Coincidentally, Gisele was also featured on the cover of Vogue Brasil last June. This year’s version will probably be just as popular. Probably.

image

24
Mar

Four years after Waka Waka, Shakira releases Brazil World Cup song

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you had to see this one coming.

Between the popularity of her 2010 World Cup anthem, "Waka Waka," her love of the sport and her devotion to footballer Gerard Pique, Shakira was bound to become musically involved in the upcoming tournament in Brazil. Even if FIFA already selected Pitbull for this year’s “official” World Cup song.

Behold: “La La La,” the Colombian singer’s unofficial song for the World Cup.

To come up with this upbeat jam, Shakira re-worked her new song “Dare,” adding in soccer-specific lyrics like, “Hear the whistle, kick the ball.” 

Alright, so it’s not particularly clever. But it’s rather catchy, so it’s almost a certainty that we’ll all be sick of it by the end of the World Cup.

19
Nov

Mexico’s pursuit of happiness close to fruition

image

Mexico accomplished the hard work in its 5-1 thrashing of New Zealand at the Azteca a week ago. The comprehensive display on home soil rendered this return leg in Wellington academic. After a long, hard slog through qualifying, El Tri will finally book its World Cup place in the wee hours on Wednesday morning.

New Zealand will huff and puff to somehow close the chasm between the two sides at the Westpac Stadium, but the outcome of this two-legged affair is essentially certain. The imminent triumph does not mean this second leg is entirely worthless for Mexico, though.

Interim boss Miguel Herrera faces a difficult task over the next few months to transition El Tri from a side capable of defeating the All Whites over two legs to a squad capable of marching through the rigors in Brazil next summer. Here are five points to monitor from this second leg with that objective in mind:

1. Application matters first and foremost: This trek halfway across the world isn’t a vacation. Mexico cannot simply afford to turn up and collect its World Cup berth in defeat. El Tri wasted far too much time during the Hexagonal to squander this opportunity. Herrera must goad his players into performing on the day and stating their claims for inclusion as this group evolves over the next few months.

2. Watch the weak spots: Herrera omitted his European-based players for this exercise. He cannot afford to keep them stranded in the cold given the questions in his starting XI. Potential problems exist in seemingly every department in this team. Several candidates stepped forward with their displays in Mexico City, but those first steps will not erase the concerns about the defensive solidity and the inherent dearth of creativity within this group.

3. Thank the All Whites for their help … : New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert announced he would include Marco Rojas and Shane Smeltz in his starting XI for this impossible rescue mission on Monday. His decision to field an unexpectedly aggressive 4-4-2 setup (these are the All Whites, after all) should place the rickety Mexican defense under some pressure. New Zealand won’t present a rigorous examination by any means, but this fixture does provide Herrera with an opportunity to gather more evidence about whether this unit – and particularly the central defensive trio of Rafa Márquez, Maza Rodríguez and Juan Carlos Valenzuela – is suited to more difficult assignments.

4. … and keep an eye on the counter: The implementation of Herrera’s 5-3-2 formation provides Mexico with the directness necessary to trouble teams on the break next summer. New Zealand isn’t a go for broke sort of side, but the All Whites will push the fullbacks and the wingers higher in a desperate bid to turn around the tie. El Tri must find a way to exploit that space – preferably through wingbacks Paul Aguilar and Miguel Layún – to punish the All Whites and show the necessary tools to pull apart better sides.

image

5. Examine Raúl Jiménez’s contributions carefully: The promising striker faces considerable competition for his place with Aldo de Nigris in the squad and Javier Hernández looming as a potential replacement down the line. His skills at this stage – mostly predicated on darting behind the line and stretching the field vertically – offer him a chance to thrive in this situation if selected again. He must take his opening to bolster his own chances moving forward.

Images provided by Getty

11
Oct

USA supporters steal the show at Sporting Park

image

Sporting Park began to fill up an hour before the match started. Just before kickoff, hundreds of American flags were held up, waving magnificently in the breeze as the supporters chanted their admiration for the USA.

The national anthem was a thing to behold. More than 18,000 fans in the stands belted it out at the top of their lungs, holding their scarves in the air, setting a stunning scene for their boys in red, white and blue.

image

USA fans before the match. (Image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)

While the United States had already qualified for the 2014 World Cup, and their final two qualifiers are essentially meaningless, it didn’t feel that way on Friday night at Sporting Park when they took on Jamaica.

The atmosphere was electric from the get-go. Even before the match began, the American Outlaws and many other fans filled the stadium, chanting and getting hyped.

image

Despite a pretty dull game for the first 80 minutes or so, the fans kept bringing the noise despite a lack of any interesting action on the pitch.

When hometown hero Graham Zusi finally broke the deadlock, the crowd at Sporting Park went absolutely bonkers. Not long after, Jozy Altidore kept the party going to score the USA’s second. The USA would go on to win 2-0, clinching first place in the Hex.

image

Fans at Sporting Park. (Image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)

After the match, most of the crowd stuck around as Jurgen Klinsmann and the team thanked them for making them feel at home. His players gave Klinsmann a nice cold Gatorade bath, following by the German pumping his fists in the air to Macklemore. It was a moment of pure joy that these fans shared with their team.

The thunderous roars, the chants, jumping up and down, and the sea of stars and stripes in Kansas City won’t soon be forgotten.

9
Oct

Special Inside Look: Spain’s Ciudad del Futbol

image

Image provided by Dermot Corrigan / FOX Soccer

MADRID, SPAIN

Wednesday evening in Madrid — and hundreds of kids are training at the Spanish football federation’s Ciudad del Futbol campus. Their sessions over, they grab a quick drink of water, then quickly gather in the small stand beside the suburban facility’s biggest pitch, to watch national coach Vicente del Bosque run his World Cup holders through their paces ahead of their crucial upcoming qualifiers for the 2014 finals.

The young spectators cheered and squealed as their heroes completed a light warm-up, then a series of ‘rondos’ — piggy-in-the-middle-style exercises where good technique is key and a sense of humor helps. Being a public session, no tactical secrets were displayed, but Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta had recovered from minor knocks to take part. Spain looks ready for the clashes with Belarus in Mallorca on Friday, and then Georgia in Albacete next Tuesday, when four points will seal qualification for Brazil next summer.

 If, as expected, Spain win on Friday, del Bosque may use the Georgia game for experimentation and give Swansea city attacker Michu a first cap. The Swansea attacker told reporters at the Cuidad de Futbol on Wednesday morning that he’d been a little awestruck at first when training alongside so many world champions — but was now ready to stake his claim for a regular squad spot.

Image provided by Getty

“When you step out on the grass, with the [World Cup winner] star on your chest, the sensation is indescribable,” Michu said. “I was a little nervous to be playing with the best players in the world, but you settle down quickly. I am here to make the most of the opportunity — and to help Spain qualify for the World Cup.”

The gap between Michu’s press conference and training left time to visit the impressive campus’ excellent museum — which shows visitors just what soccer means in Spain. The exhibits begin with a search for the sport’s origins in ancient China, Egypt, Greece, Mexico and Scotland, then fast forward to the early 20th century as young king Alfonso XIII oversees its introduction here.

Xavi Hernandez, Iker Casillas and Fernando Torres — dressed in period gear — guide you through a time tunnel to a 1930s pre-Civil War dressing room. Among the other life-sized dioramas is a 1950s film-set from when General Franco’s regime “persuaded” Real Madrid’s Alfredo Di Stefano and Barcelona’s Ladislao Kubala to star in feature length propaganda pictures.

Big sections cover the 1964 European Championships, which Spain won; and the 1982 World Cup, which Spain hosted but flopped at. The tour ends on a high — with the Henri Delaunay [European Championship] and Jules Rimet [World Cup] trophies on display, alongside jerseys and footballs from their victories in the last three major international tournaments. There’s also the actual 2010 final locker-room flipchart, with del Bosque’s detailed handwritten instructions for defending Holland’s set pieces.

image

Image provided by Dermot Corrigan / FOX Soccer

Once qualification is assured for next year’s tournament, del Bosque can ponder how to best retain the trophy. Selection decisions must be made on players including Michu, Casillas, Torres, David Villa, Carles Puyol, Juan Mata, Koke, Isco and – most controversially – Brazilian-born Diego Costa.

But all that can wait for now. Wednesday’s session ended with a friendly mini-game, before the sun set behind the nearby Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, and the players, children and journalists headed home for their suppers.

Another day at one of world soccer’s most important nerve centers — with Brazil 2014 on the horizon.

6
Oct

Klinsmann names roster for USA World Cup qualifiers

United States men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann dropped his long-awaited roster for the two final World Cup qualifiers at home against Jamaica on Oct. 11 and away to Panama Oct. 15 on Sunday afternoon. The games are more or less meaningless, since the USA secured qualification with a 2-0 home win against Mexico on Sept. 10.

Which is just as well, because this roster is more notable for the names not on it, or those that barely made it on there, than those players who are fit and playing regularly.

Clint Dempsey continues to battle a persistent hamstring injury that has kept him from getting into a regular rhythm since joining the Seattle Sounders this summer. Michael Bradley still hasn’t recovered from the ankle sprain he suffered in pregame warmups before the loss to Costa Rica on Sept. 6.

image

Image courtesy of Getty

That means the U.S.’s two most important players, the men dictating the pace and rhythm, are absent.

Overall, the goalkeepers constitute the only line that’s complete, with Brad Guzan, Tim Howard and Nick Rimando all fit and thriving for their clubs. In defense, however, Steve Cherundolo still isn’t over his surgery, Timmy Chandler either remains in the doghouse for refusing call-ups or is still refusing them, and sometime-back Fabian Johnson isn’t 100 percent either and wasn’t called in.

In midfield, the aforementioned Johnson isn’t available on the left. Fellow winger Alejandro Bedoya did make the squad, but missed his last FC Nantes game because of sickness, so his status is questionable. Also unclear is the situation surrounding Jermaine Jones, who may or may not need meniscus surgery and was suspended for his club Schalke recently.

Up front, the group is in pretty decent shape. But Landon Donovan has also had fitness concerns of late. Herculez Gomez, recently back from a niggling knee injury, is back playing for Xolos in Mexico but didn’t get called in – Terrence Boyd got the call instead.

It is, in short, a roster littered with question marks.

Read More

26
Mar

Earthquake rattles Mexico City, World Cup qualifier still on

image

Image from @NickRimando

By Leander Schaerlaeckens

Mexico City, Mexico

On the morning of the most tempestuous soccer game in the region between archrivals Mexico and the United States, an earthquake shook the country. The US Geological Survey measured its magnitude at 5.5 while Mexico’s Seismology Service registered it at 5.9.

Buildings reportedly swayed here in the capital city, 227 miles northwest of the quake’s epicenter, while earthquake alarms sent people fleeing into the streets in some parts of the country. No damage was reported anywhere across town, however. In the southern section of Mexico City, where the US is staying a few miles away from the Estadio Azteca, where the game will be played, the earthquake was barely even felt.

It hit at 7.04am local time, followed by a slightly milder aftershock eight minutes later, and most people slept through it. A US Soccer spokesman said only a few team-members even noticed the tremble. Defender Omar Gonzalez took to Twitter and joked about the earthquake to his followers, saying “first a snow storm… Now an earthquake? We’re not messin’ around!”

image

As such, the early-morning rumble isn’t expected to have any effect on Tuesday night’s game whatsoever. The US is primed for a tough contest in difficult conditions – altitude, smog, more than 100,000 raucous Mexican fans with a habit of hurling objects and liquids at the Americans – and this blip will barely register.

The US team goes into Tuesday night’s game full of confidence – “110,000? Yes, please,” US forward Herculez Gomez tweeted Monday night. “If this doesn’t get you going then you don’t have a pulse.” – having taken its first ever win at the Azteca in 25 tries last August. And a minor incident like a shudder in their beds will hardly dull their focus and desire.

As Gomez told journalists on the eve of the game, “Anything can happen.” That includes earthquakes, and its impact on the US team will be same as it was on local infrastructure – non-existent.

image

5
Mar

When in doubt, talk about soccer, right?

That’s what this young man did when faced with a scary interview with actress Mila Kunis about her new movie — his first time interviewing ever. Talk about a daunting task!

When faced with the terrifying situation, Chris Stark reverted to talking about the one thing he knows best: His local soccer club, Watford. He invites Mila to come to a game with him, including a pre-game stop at Nando’s and getting her a jersey. Brilliant.

Oh, and even though Mila has never been to a soccer game, she mentions that she is planning on going to Brazil in 2014! Sounds like the star is a soccer fan in the making.