Saturday, June 12, 2010

The World Cup (updated!)

I really wish I was able to fill this space with pictures I took at this year's World Cup - but that's not really possible. Travel to South Africa is well beyond my means, and my passport has expired anyways. I've been a soccer (sorry football) fan for many years now - the first professional soccer game I attended was way back in March of 2000 (Dallas Burn vs. Chicago Fire).

The World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world, like the Super Bowl and Olympics combined and then multiplied. I probably won't be able to attend a World Cup game until the USA gets a chance to host them again (and we're trying, with bids for either 2018 or 2022).

The US National Team had its first game of the 2010 World Cup today, drawing England 1-1. We were lucky to get the draw, thanks to a huge gaffe by the English goal keeper. It wasn't perfect, but we'll take it.

But since I can't show any pictures from this year's World Cup, I thought I might post some pictures of the American players that are over in South Africa. Most of the 23-men squad play in Europe, so I haven't had the luxury of seeing them play. But a few play in MLS, and over the course of the past several years, I managed to catch them during a few matches. Here's a quick look at six of your American National Team players:

Landon Donovan
Beckham & Donovan
Donovan is perhaps the best US player. He currently plays for MLS' L.A. Galaxy. This was taken during a game last year between L.A. and the Kansas City Wizards. Donovan has scored the most goals by an American in international competitions, with 42 goals. He has been part of three MLS Cup winning teams, and played with L.A. in last year's MLS Cup, when they lost to Salt Lake. Also in this shot is David Beckham, who at the time was trying to get back onto the England World Cup squad. A bad injury kept him out of the Cup, but he was spotted sitting next to England's coach in today's game.

Brad Guzan
Cooper trying to score
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, during a game in 2008 between FC Dallas and Chivas USA. Guzan was the Chivas USA keeper, but moved to play keeper for English club Aston Villa, also in 2008. Guzan is good, but probably won't see much playing time in this World Cup unless there is a serious injury to starting US keeper Tim Howard.

Jonathan Bornstein
Seen in the far right of this shot (in blue), during the game in 2008 between FC Dallas and Chivas USA. Bornstein is a defender, but he has scored two goals in international competitions of the US National Team. One of those goals came last year, in the final World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. His goal, in the final few minutes of the game, would prevent Costa Rica from making an appearance in the World Cup. When Costa Rica drew against the United States, it meant that Honduras automatically qualified for the World Cup. There are reports of people in Honduras chanting Bornstein's name during their nationwide celebrations.

Herculez Gomez
MLS Cup 2005
This is a shot of Herculez Gomez, back during the 2005 MLS Cup. Gomez then played for the L.A. Galaxy, but ended up getting traded to the Colorado Rapids in 2007, and the Kansas City Wizards in 2008. Earlier this year he ended up going to the Mexican team Pachuca. There he scored ten goals, which tied him as the top goal scorer in the Mexican first division. That is the first time ever an American has been the top goal scorer in a foreign league. Based on that performance, he was called up to the national team, where he scored two goals in games against the Czech Republic and Australia.

Clint Dempsey
On the left, when he played for New England at the 2006 MLS Cup. Dempsey played in MLS for three years, before heading over to Fulham, in the English Premier League. Dempsey has 19 goals in international competitions for the US National Team, which includes his goal earlier today against England.

Clarence Goodson
Goodson, here on the right in the red and white hooped FC Dallas jersey. After being selected as a first-round draft pick in 2004, Goodson played several years for my club team, FC Dallas (and scored 3 goals). He left in 2008 to play defense for IK Start in Norway, where he has scored 7 goals. Goodson has played 14 games for the US National Team, and has scored 2 goals (so far).

Ramon Nunez
Ramon Nunez
Ramon Nunez was born in Honduras but grew up in Dallas. He was drafted in 2004 by the Dallas Burn (later FC Dallas) during the MLS SuperDraft. He played for Dallas from 2004 to 2007, where he scored 14 goals. He would end up being traded to another MLS team in 2007, and then ended up going to play in Honduras in 2008. He is part of the Honduras National Team, where he scored three goals during their qualifications for the 2010 World Cup.

I have some photos of other MLS players who were considered for the final World Cup squad, but didn't make the cut. I won't bother you with those, even if they include some of my favorite FC Dallas players like Jeff Cunningham, Dax McCarty and Heath Pearce.

But the USA will continue on, playing Slovenia on June 18 and Algeria on June 23.

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