Ali Gerba scores v. El Salvador
Team Canada had it’s Glengarry Glen Ross moment today against El Salvador. In striking first, once again off the foot of Ali Gerba, Canada had to hold its 1-0 lead against a really quite good Salvadoran side. It must be noted that the El Salvador side that showed up tonight was clearly not the side that gave the United States a run for its money only a couple of months ago. That said, Canada played very well and, after taking the lead, shut El Salvador down with very good ball possession and very good defense.
I was really impressed with Gerba. He was a constant threat against the Salvadoran defenders. I was also impressed by Will Johnson, except when he made an exceptionally poor decision to shoot rather than pass to a streaking Julian de Guzman. In reality, the final score should have been 3-0 or 4-0 but for Canada having the inability to finish effectively. Although the Canadian back four were solid, the team will still rue those missed opportunities.
I like that Canada didn’t let up; they kept attacking the Salvadoran goal, resulting in 6 (usually poorly taken) corner kicks. I really like what Stephen Hart is doing with the team: they’re hustling and playing very disciplined soccer. I don’t recall any Canadian player being caught out of position, which is a sign of a well-coached team.
El Salvador, for its part, looked very average. There was no urgency, even after they went down 1-0. It was as if they felt they could score any time. I really hope El Salvador isn’t going down Mexico’s path: trying only against the “good” teams.
For the time being, Canada is the first team through to the quarter-finals with 6 points. And that’s a good thing if you’re a Canadian soccer fan.
Team Canada deserves it coffee tonight.
Julian De Guzman (ISI Photos)
The original blog post is a day old, but that’s not a problem. The news is potentially explosive: Julian De Guzman, defensive midfielder for La Liga side Deportivo La Coruña, has been offered a “big money” deal from Toronto FC. Now that’s what I call ambition.
The fan part of me is tremendously excited. The thought of De Guzman patrolling the middle of BMO Field more than a few times a year makes me very, very happy. The fact that it’s a short-term deal – perhaps, as outlined by Duane Rollins, as much as $4 million for a half season, which would allow him to go back to Europe in January – is not that much of a problem, though I wouldn’t want to see Mo Johnston blow things up for just a half season. Now, if it’s a 3- or 4-year contract, that’s different. Break the bank. Trade away some of the midfield depth for money and draft picks. And let’s see TFC march into the latter stages of the CONCACAF Champion’s League.
The rational part of me thinks this is a bluff. He’s entertaining the idea of going home but only as a last resort. A big money offer would be used a leverage to get himself a new deal somewhere in Europe, perhaps Holland or even Spain again. He’s a very good player with a good (from what I’ve read) reputation. I hope he’s not toying with TFC; I hope he’s seriously considering the offer and I hope he signs, even if it’s only for half a season.
Oguchi Onyewu (Getty Images)
Now that’s a step up. Maybe.
US defender Oguchi Onyewu signed with AC Milan on a free today just when their fans were questioning their transfer policy. Not surprisingly, some fans are still upset that the team sold Kaká to Real Madrid. Go figure.
Milan has been linked to prominent forwards – including Luis Fabiano, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Emmanuel Adebayor – but given that they have Alexandre Pato and he’s apparently not going anywhere, I think they need to shore up their back line. A quick look at their roster indicates to me that they have three or four quality defenders and that all of them are getting rather old. Onyewu is a good start but, really, they need to add more depth and quality there. Re-patriating Andrea Barzagli would be a good first step. As would looking for other young Italian talent. Perhaps, if they’re bent on adding an attacking player, Giuseppe Rossi should be a target since he would provide speed in midfield.
Although they haven’t really made any mis-steps in the transfer market yet, the team did hire an unproven manager: Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo, better known simply as Leonardo. While I understand the name has a certain appeal to Italians and that Barcelona hired unproven Pep Guardiola last year, it seems to me that Leonardo, who had worked at the Technical Director, is more cut out to be a backroom man than the guy up front. Then again, he might prove me wrong. Though I doubt players are lining up to transfer for him like they would be for Carlo Ancelotti.
Cristiano Ronaldo presented
In front of 80,000 fans. Holy crap.
He said all the right things when he was presented, too. How it was his childhood dream to play for Real and how appreciative he was of Sir Alex and Manchester United fans. Even though he probably doesn’t mean it, it’s still good that he said it.
I’m not entirely sure how Kaká and Ronaldo are going to work together, but it’s going to be fun watching them. I may have to take time out and actually watch some Real Madrid games other than the Clásico next season.