Monthly Archives: September 2008

World Cup Qualifier: Mexico v. Canada

It was a rare treat last night for me. I got to watch my native land (Canada) battle my adopted land (Mexico). Muchas gracias, Telemundo! Te voy a comprar una cerveza en octubre. So, of course, I had to watch.

I tuned in to the standard definition broadcast. I wasn’t amused at that but at least it was in Chiapas rather than Estadio Azteca. I’m pretty sure La selección mexicana hasn’t lost there since about 1810. So that gave me hope, especially since Canada was coming off a terrible, terrible loss to Honduras in Montreal. It was tragic and probably killed its hopes of advancing. But, of course, I held out hope: Sven-Göran Eriksson is the new Mexico manager. Perhaps he’ll screw things up.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Mexico won 2-1 in heavy rain.

Mexico looked the best it has in a good long while. I attribute this to Eriksson embracing a youth movement. Andrés Guardado looked very good. He ran the Canadian midfielders and defenders ragged with his pace. He had several good touches. Giovanni dos Santos, though, looked rather ordinary. But Omar Bravo once again came through for this country, scoring at 55 minutes. Rafa Márquez added Mexico’s second goal in the 72nd minute. Márquez even handed the captain’s armband to Cuauhtémoc Blanco when the latter entered the match in the 88th minute. It was to be his final match; after the game he retired. (Perhaps a blog in appreciation of Blanco is in the offing… perhaps not, though.)

Canada, as usual, played inspired soccer for about 35 minutes. They only kicked it into overdrive in the second half when they fell behind. And by then it was too late. Granted, Canada hung with the second best team in North America until Bravo scored. The goal seemed deflating at first; Dwayne de Rosario, though, impressed on his mates the urgency of the situation. Canada pushed forward and were eventually rewarded with an Ali Gerba goal in the 77th minute. The situation looks downright bleak for Canada now; qualifying for the next round requires a series of fortuitous events after the series of unfortunate events of the last five days.

I still don’t think Eriksson is the manager Mexico needed. Although they looked good last night, I attribute that to the young pups finally set loose. Tactically, Mexico looked average. I’m sure Eriksson was none too impressed with Jonny Magallón’s frequent runs, which left him out of position (to be fair, he played well on his line, too). Eriksson is not the manager I would’ve picked; he simply doesn’t have the tactical imagination. Though it’s working so far, the true test is when Mexico plays the US. I’ll be looking forward to that.

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Filed under CONCACAF, Mexico, World Cup

How to take Manchester City seriously

That sound you’re hearing? It’s Arsène Wenger and Rafa Benítez hyper-ventilating into the nearest paper bag, wondering which of them will be left out of the top 4 in the Premiership next May and, as a result, out of the 2009-10 Champion’s League. Honestly, I don’t know if Arsenal’s team of infants can put up the points. Of course, Liverpool are pretty consistent chokers of late so there’s that, too.

But that’s not the point. The point is that Manchester City is now the richest club in the world because its brand new owner, Dr. Sulaiman Al-Fahim (who’s not only a doctor but royalty), has far, far more money than even Roman Abramovich rolls around in at night. There has been wild speculation about bids for Cesc Fàbregas, Fernando Torres, and Cristiano Ronaldo (who might be the subject of a 135 million pound bid [that’s $237,117,148.26 USD, kids]) in January. But, for a myriad of reasons, none of those are going to happen, the first of which is that they’re all cup-tied now and there is no way even the Arse and Pool will be steamrolled by City, let alone United selling to a bitter rival. So feel free to ignore the blustery new owner.

No, the reason people have to take Manchester City seriously is Mark Hughes. Sparky is, actually, a really good manager. He knows exactly what he’s doing. No, he doesn’t have a reputation for managing mercenaries, like José Mourinho (who is also a really good, if somewhat boring, manager – I’ll say that now that he’s not in charge of Chelski). But what Hughes does is fit people in. And, boy, does he have some good pieces: Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards on the back line; SWP and Nery Castillo (if he’s ever found) in the midfield; and two mercurial Brazilians up top – Jo and Robinho. With Sparky at the helm of the good ship City and those fine gents manning the oars, I daresay City is destined for the top 4.

Predictions, then:

  1. Manchester United (even though Peanut Head is still there)
  2. Chelski (even though they have 2 of the biggest d-bags in the world – Anelka and Ballack)
  3. Manchester City
  4. Arsenal (and the deep in debt board breathes a massive sigh of relief)
  5. Liverpool (chokers!)

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Filed under Premiership