Friday, January 8, 2010

The Week in Football Videos

The first full week of 2010 is in the books, and to celebrate, here's some videos from the week that was in football:

Landon Donovan's Commercial for the Mexican Lottery

The U.S. Men's National Team Holds Camp in L.A.

Freddy Adu Arrives in Greece to Play at Aris

Landon Donovan Arrives at Everton

Highlights: Milan 5 - 2 Genoa

Highlights: Cagliari 2 - 2 Roma

Highlights: Club America 3 - 0 Atlante

Highlights: Manchester United 0 - 1 Leeds United

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Decision Time for Freddy Adu - Hull or Aris?

Last month it was reported that the new coaching regime at Belenenses was cutting loose young American footballer Freddy Adu. Adu was on loan at Belenenses from Benfica, which owns Adu's rights.

Adu made the move from MLS to Europe in 2007, but has only mad 11 appearances since signing with Benfica, which had loaned Adu to Monaco last season, scoring only 2 goals in that time. With the news that Belenenses was cutting Adu loose, and the apparent attitude that Benfica currently has no use for him on their squad, speculation arose that Adu might be returning to MLS, where he could finally see some increased playing time; however, a return to MLS appears unlikely at this point.

This morning, on his Twitter account, Adu indicated that he has offers on the table from Hull City in the EPL and Aris Thessaloniki in the Greek Super League. While it is good to see that European teams still have an interest in Adu, I'm not sure which of these clubs would be the best fit for Adu. Fellow American, Jozy Altidore, is currently at Hull, on loan from Villarreal, where he has made 15 appearances, but has yet to score. Altidore has had some bumps in the road in fitting in at Hull, but seems to be on the right course for more playing time. The presence of Altidore at Hull might help Adu to fit in quicker and learn the right route to earning playing time. That being said, Hull is only in its second season in the EPL and is currently in the relegation zone. While I'm not a fan of young Americans playing for relegation zone EPL teams, Hull's desperation to stay in EPL might make them gamble more on playing Adu. That being said, Adu's lack of playing time with the U.S. National Team means he probably will not be able to get a work permit to play in England.

Aris, on the other hand, is one of the biggest clubs in Greece. I admit I'm not very familiar with the Greek Super League or the style of play there, so I'm not sure how well of a fit Adu might be at Aris. Aris is currently in 5th place on the Super League table, so while they lack the desperation that Hull currently feels, Aris is in a position to make smart, calculated moves when bringing in players. If Aris is really interested in Adu, that is a sign that they want him on the pitch. Meanwhile, rumor surfaced last month that American Eddie Johnson may be headed to Aris on a loan from Fulham. So again, Adu would be teammates with any other young American, this time one that is in the same boat as Adu when it comes to getting back in the good graces of USMNT Coach Bob Bradley.

While I wish Adu was in a situation where he could take as much time as possible to study the styles of play employed by Aris and Hull, and feel out the attitude of the coaching staffs before making a decision, I don't think he really has much of a decision before him. As mentioned above, Adu's lack of USMNT playing time means he has little, if any, shot at qualifying for a work permit in England. Since staying at Benfica means not even suiting up, it looks like Adu will be in Greece by the end of January.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Stuart Holden on GMA = Lost Opportunity

I can admit when I have been overly optimistic and wrong, and I was both of those things in last night's column about Stuart Holden. Stuart Holden was indeed on ABC's Good Morning America this morning, unfortunately, his appearance had nothing to do about his future in MLS. Instead, Holden appeared in one of those little bumpers between commercials and news to quickly discuss the upcoming World Cup finals in South Africa and to support GMA's coat drive.

Not long after posting my column last night, news that Holden was going to go on trial with Burnley of the EPL started trickling out. I continued to suspect that such a trial would be part of the package of him re-upping with MLS. But, as we learned this morning that is not the case.

MLS and Holden both missed a great opportunity in branding and marketing MLS in a World Cup year, but, with the issues concerning the collective bargaining agreement still unresolved, I can't blame Holden, who is now very secure in a USMNT senior team spot, for testing the waters in Europe. While Holden's appearance helped promote ABC's impending World Cup broadcasts and the USMNT in general, it did nothing for MLS or professional soccer in the United States.

Unfortunately for the Houston Dynamo, they are left in limbo as they prepare for the 2010 MLS season. Holden did a good job of stepping up and filling the void that was created when Dwayne De Rosario was traded to Toronto before the 2009 season, unfortunately, the Dynamo do not currently have a player that could clearly step up into the void created if Holden leaves. The Dynamo don't have much time to wait on Holden, they can't let themselves get trapped in the situation the Houston Astros found themselves in several years ago when the focused on re-signing Carlos Beltran. No, with a new year upon us, the Dynamo have to focus on their midfield, finding replacements for both Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark.