USA’s Zardes Ready for WCQ Journey

Zardes

MIAMI SHORES, Florida – Although it still says 2015 on the calendar, it’s a new year – or should we say a “new beginning” – for the United States.

The first six months were dazzlingly highlighted by victories in international friendlies over
Mexico, the Netherlands and World Cup champion Germany.

Then, participation in a pair of competitions did not yield the desired results.  A fourth-place finish in the CONCACAF Gold Cup was followed by a loss to the Mexicans in October’s CONCACAF Cup.

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Episode 7: Los Cachirules podcast – Juan Carlos Osorio and El Tri talk

Los_Cachirules_PodcastIn this episode we discussed the latest news surrounding El Tri and the first practice and press conference with Juan Carlos Osorio. We discussed the omission of Gio, also Paul and Layun competing for the right back spot and other unique items from this latest Coaching regime.

We have a new addition on the panel, SoCal Dan, who joined in the pachanga and provided some good insight.

We also discussed a bit of what has been going on in Liga MX, such as Chivas failing in their game with Dorados, and more.

Enjoy, and feel free to join the live chat during the show or interact on twitter.

Navas sets UEFA Champions League mark

MADRID – Costa Rica international Keylor Navas established a new record Tuesday, becoming the first goalkeeper in UEFA Champions League history to register shutouts in each of his first six appearances in the competition.

The 28-year-old custodian set the mark by making three saves in Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over visiting Paris Saint-Germain, a result that ensured the Spanish giant a place in the Round of 16.

“We have acquired three points very well at home in order to be in first place in our Champions League group,” Navas said after the game. “We managed to score and did a good job defensively to keep a clean sheet.”

Navas, who missed Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Las Palmas on Saturday with a muscle strain, has not conceded a goal in 540 minutes of Champions League play, breaking the mark set last year by Miguel Angel Moya of rival Atletico Madrid.

“Teamwork is always most important,” commented the 2014 CONCACAF Player of the Year. “When we don’t allow goals, we all win. The same when we score them.”

 

Pumas Secures Top Seed, Libertadores Berth

It is not that they came out of nowhere, or that they weren’t on anyone’s radar. Frankly, anyone who tries to make pre-season predictions on the outcome of Liga MX should probably have their head examined. The only sure thing in Luga MX is that there are no sure things.

But, there they are, the team no one saw coming, taking the top spot in Liga MX with a game in hand. Pumas will be the top seed in the Liga MX playoffs. A curse more than a blessing really, as Alberto “Chiquis” Campa noted earlier.  The bigger prize, though, is a ticket to Copa Libertadores. A tournament where Pumas has not distinguished themselves at all. And now they get another shot.

How did Pumas, a club that had spent 4 years in the wilderness, manage to turn it around? It is simple really. Continuity. Pumas only dabbles in the transfer market, and the players they do cherry pick tend to stick around. This is not a team that reshuffles its roster every six months. The one time the did try it recently, under Alberto Garcia Aspe (another prodigal son), it failed miserably and is the main reason Pumas nearly slipped into the abyss.  It also didn’t hurt that they brought back two lifetime Pumas to run the squad: Memo Vazquez, former Pumas player and last title-winning coach, was brought back after his inexplicable exit. Antonio Sancho is in the front office.

This year, they only collected 3 new players before the season. Two of them have had a major impact. Fidel Martinez, el Neymar Ecuatoriano has solidified an attack that has scored the most goals since C2011, which conincidentally, was the last time Pumas won a title. The other is Alekandro Castro. The former Cruz Azul holding midfielder has had an exceptional campaign which even warranted a call-up for the upcoming qualifiers.

The Mexico City side started slow, which was a problem: a few more losses and they would have slipped into the relegation fight. Instead, a 6-game winning streak catapulted them away from the drop zone and to the top of the table. They haven’t looked back. No team has scored more and only one team has given up fewer — Tigres (coached by another Pumas disciple, Tuca Ferretti).

But there is that whole top seed curse thing. It is very real. In the last 10 years, more top seeds have fallen in the first round than have won the title by a 2.5:1 ratio. Only 4 have won the title outright. If Pumas crash out early, so be it. But they have only partiacpted in the Copa Libertadores twice, and only got as far as the round of 16 in 2003. That should be the focus in 2016. Do they have a roster that can compete in the two tournaments? Tough to say. They play well together and have decent depth, but they need some youth players to step up. Which should never be a problem at Pumas.

So for the first time in 24 years, Pumas will enter the post-season as the top seed. What happened the last time they were the #1 seed?  Funny you should ask…

Is the curse of Super Lider, legit or rubbish?

Veracruz Super LiderIf you are familiar with the Mexican League and the Liguilla/Playoff, then you know of the “Super Lider curse”. Being at the top of the General Table usually is a good thing. In La Liga, it means you are the champion. Not in the Mexican League. It just means now you have to go into the playoff and win the Championship in a series of home/away games.

The curse is that throughout history it is percieved that the team at the top of the table (aka #1 seed) always fails to win the Cup via playoff and bows out early in quarterfinals or Semis.

So I went back 10 years to get a look at how legit this is. I know as far as my memory goes, the teams that I recall being Super Lider always would fail in the playoffs. My first memories were back when Cuautemoc led lowly Veracruz to an excellent season, only to bow out early in playoffs. This year, Pumas is at the top and being a fan of UNAM I want them to do great. However, I have seen this curse take effect and bring teams down. Or have I?

Going to the cold hard stats, lets look at the past 10 years. In 21 seasons (Apertura/Clausura) the Super Lider has won the Cup 4 times. That is a 19% success rate, not very good, but surprising. I was thinking it would be more like 0%. Maybe some exageration on my part regarding this so called curse? Not even very far back, America beat Tigres to win the Championship in Apertura 2014. Further back in Clausura 2012, Santos did it vs Monterrey. Then we have a gap until we get to Clausura 2007 where Pachuca beats America to win it all. Then just a year passes and we have Pachuca beating San Luis in Clausura 2006.

So as you can see, it can be done, and it has been done. Pumas is now the determined Super Lider in this Apertura 2015 playoffs, so we will see if it can be done again. Can a #1 seeded team take on playoffs and win the Tournament?

On a side note, should the playoffs even exist? Should Mexico go the way of La Liga and crown the team that ends season at the top of the table? We’ll save that topic for another post.  😀

 

Here are the stats I looked up on the Super Lider from each season:

Clausura 2015 – Tigres lose to Santos in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2014 – America beats Tigres, is Champion.
Clausura 2014 – Cruz Azul loses to Leon in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2013 – Amercia, loses to Leon in Final.
Clausura 2013 – Tigres lose to Monterrey in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2012 – Toluca loses to Tijuana in Final.
Clausura 2012 – Santos beat Monterrey in Final.
Apertura 2011 – Chivas lose to Queretaro in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2011 – Tigres lose to Chivas in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2010 – Cruz Azul lose to Pumas in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2010 – Monterrey lose to Pachuca in Quarterfinals.
Apertura 2009 – Toluca lose to Monterrey in Semis.
Clausura 2009 – Pachuca lose to Pumas in Final.
Apertura 2008 – San Luis lose to Santos in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2008 – Chivas lose to Monterrey.
Apertura 2007 – Santos lose to Pumas in Semis.
Clausura 2007 – Pachuca beats America in Final.
Apertura 2006 – Cruz Azul lose to Chivas in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2006 – Pachuca beat San Lus in Final.
Apertura 2005 – America lose to Tigres in Quarterfinals.
Clausura 2005 – Morelia loses to Estudiantes in Semis.

Vieira appointed as New York City FC Head Coach

New York City Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Patrick Vieira as the new head coach. Vieira has signed a three-year contract with the Club and takes up his role on 1 January 2016 in advance of pre-season for its second MLS campaign.

Patrick joins New York City FC from his role as head coach of the Elite Development Squad at Manchester City Football Club, a position he took up following retirement from an unrivalled playing career that saw him compete at the highest level in Italy, the UK and his native France. He captained the French National team and was part of their World Cup winning side in 1998. Alongside a World Cup winners’ medal, his playing honors include a UEFA European Championship with France and at Club level, three English Premier League titles, five FA Cup titles and three Serie A titles.

Neymar’s Cheeky Goal

 

“I thought about the move in advance and it came off,” Neymar Jr told reporters after scoring a stunner in Barcelona’s 3-0 La Liga win over Villarreal. The Brazilian superstar received a pass from Luis Suarez and beat defender Jaume Costa with a cheeky lob before volleying his shot past goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 85th minute. Barcelona’s win pushed the Catalan giants three points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga standings.

Mexico finishes 4th in U17 tournament

Arteaga greets Belgium's Browaeys.

Mexico and Belgium meet for 3rd place

Vina del Mar, Chile — Mexico earned 4th place in the FIFA U17 World Cup Chile 2015 as they fall to Belgium 2-3. Ending what had been a promising run in the tournament.

El Tri Coach Mario Arteaga expressed his disappointment at not achieving his tournament objectives. “Our goal in Chile was to win the championship and of course we’re not happy with the fourth place but that is football. After the semi-final the disappointment was big but today we wanted to win the medal.”

Belgian U17 coach Bob Browaeys stated “And now it is for the first time a bronze medal. Thanks to Chile and the organisers. It is an amazing moment for us”

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