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Thursday kickaround

blattermascot.jpg

Zakumi, left, wonders what he has gotten himself into. (AFP photo)

*FC Barcelona adds to its attacking arsenal with the addition of Spanish international David Villa on a $50 million transfer from debt-ridden Valencia.

*French midfielder Robert Pires has apparently turned down the Philadelphia Union's contract offer. A crude, computer-generated translation of L'Equipe's story indicates that the destination did not suit him. "If it means to take along my family far, I prefer that it is in a beautiful city." Ouch. Perhaps some Flyers fans should pay him a visit.

*A South African team trainer is quoted as saying Bafana Bafana veteran Benni McCarthy's "percentage body fat is high. And his physical state is inferior to the rest of his team."

*Read my story about Bob Bradley's U.S. World Cup roster timetable.

For MLS and USA women's news, plus TV listings.....

*Wednesday's MLS friendlies: Javier Saviola and Portuguese champion Benfica smashed the New England Revolution, 4-0, in front of 12,735 at Foxborough and Paris Saint-Germain defeated the Chicago Fire, 1-0, before 9,254 at Toyota Park.

*MLS tonight: The unbeaten Los Angeles Galaxy plays its first match without U.S. national teamers Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, visiting FC Dallas.

Missing a chunk of their roster to injury, the New York Red Bulls host the unbeaten Columbus Crew (8 p.m., ESPN2), which is without suspended star Guillermo Barros Schelotto. It is the first midweek league match at Red Bull Arena.

*The U.S. women's national team has added a second friendly with Sweden, July 13 in Omaha. The other meeting is four days later in East Hartford, Conn.

*Soccer on TV:
England playoff, Morecambe-Dagnham 2:40 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus
Libertadores, Estudiantes-Internacional 6:30 p.m. Fox Sports Espanol
MLS, New York-Columbus 8 p.m. ESPN2
MLS, Dallas-Los Angeles 8:30 p.m. Direct Kick
Colombia, Junior-Medellin 8:30 p.m. GolTV
Mexican finals, Santos Laguna-Toluca 9 p.m. Telefutura
Libertadores, Universidad Chile-Flamengo 9 p.m. FSE

By Steve Goff  |  May 20, 2010; 7:29 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , Barcelona , FIFA , France , MLS , South Africa , Spain , TV , U.S. men's national team , Women  | Tags: Benni McCarthy, Bob Bradley, David Villa, MLS, Robert Pires, Sepp Blatter, World Cup, Zakumi  
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Next: Bonus World Cup kickaround

Comments

There's no way Pires has actually visited Philly. I'm betting he only wanted LA, NY, and maybe DC.

As people thought, though, this will be a problem at some point for the Columbuses of the league.

Posted by: Reignking | May 20, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

continued thread:

Even Fenty must realize by now that he screwed up big time with his disastrous Poplar Point decisions. Why doesn't he just cowboy up, admit his boneheaded backstab has been a complete disaster, and give DCU the green light to continue what he should never have stopped. It's not like his handpicked developers are lighting it up at Poplar Point. It works for both sides.

Posted by: croftonpost | May 20, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Ha! That's great from Pires! His actual quote should have been, "I don't wish to move to a city that smells like pee and farts. Plus, I'm worried about some fat animal barfing on my daughter in public"

Posted by: Kev29 | May 20, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh and not too much to play for in that Morecambe-Dagenham match, the Daggers are up 6-nil from the first leg!

Posted by: Kev29 | May 20, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

"I don't wish to move to a city that smells like pee and farts. Plus, I'm worried about some fat animal barfing on my daughter in public" Posted by: Kev29
**********************************
LOL. I'm sure Pires would enjoy the charming Cheverly section of DC as well.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | May 20, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

The attendance numbers for those friendlies are just sad, especially the Chicago one. I guess folks only want to come out for Man U or Barca or similar? And wasn't the Chicago game part of their Sister City tournament? Seems like a cool event - wish we could have something like that here, though not sure who our sister cities are! ...just looked it up - uh, nevermind! ;-)

Posted by: nairbsod | May 20, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

There's no way Pires has actually visited Philly. I'm betting he only wanted LA, NY, and maybe DC.

As people thought, though, this will be a problem at some point for the Columbuses of the league.

Posted by: Reignking | May 20, 2010 7:40 AM

What people Reignking? Snobs like you? I doubt you've vistied Columbus or other MLS cities you would consider non-cosmopolitan (i.e., those disdained by washed-up Eurotrash players). You might notice they are different from DC...they have nice new stadiums constructed for soccer.

Thanks for geting my adrenaline going this morning. You're better than a double-shot Starbucks.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | May 20, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I'VE been to Columbus. They whitewash the underpasses. I met the mayor. Nice, small town feel. HOWEVER, I would not play soccer there if I was Eurotrash, because I've never seen a real city more obsessed with a college football team (Ohio St). Other sports don't have a chance.

Posted by: daandre3 | May 20, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

@BillBob4:

Whoah, Bro. Why are you getting so amped up?

The way that I read it, it just seemed like RK1 was saying that due to some foreign players' impressions of "non-major" US cities or their lack of knowledge of them that clubs in a town like Columbus would be at a disadvantadge in trying to sign some players who they are interested in.

I don't get what got you so riled up?

Columbus, San Jose, Kansas City have a different reality when trying to get certain types of foriegn players because they aren't as recognized as LA, DC, NY.

It is a fact. Not a putdown. It is something that those markets have to deal with.

Columbus got GBS because of the guy who brokered the deal. Otherwise, he wasn't going there. he didn't know anything about Columbus and was reluctant to do so. I got that, directly from the guy who made it happen and a friend of mine who asked his brother (who played one season with Puerto Rico).

Nice dig about our boys not having a stadium. I wish that I could use that statement to get amped up but for some reason, it just doesn't.

I wish that someone would get my adrenaline going. I'm kinda dragging this morning.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 20, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Philly doesn't need Pires. As much as Philly fans get on my nerves (with the exception of the Phillies and maybe the Indepence--jury is still out on the Sons of Ben), Philly is a fantastic city.

Heck, I know a broke Brutha that posts on soccer blogs who actually had his honeymoon there and celebrated his 5th wedding anniversary there.

As a city, Philly has a lot of character. It's just some of the "characters" that get on my nerves, there.

The Union will survive. This will give the SOB's something to use for a chant or a song.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 20, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't know what Pires is complaining about. He can easily commute to Philly from Camden, NJ.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 20, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

continued thread:

Posted by: croftonpost | May 20, 2010 7:43 AM

You can say that again. And, I'm sure you will....

Posted by: fischy | May 20, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I'd much rather see DP's who want to continue their careers and help build a fledgling league than those who just want a flashy city to retire in.

Posted by: -rke- | May 20, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

@BillyBob4: I've never been to Columbus either, but in the DC area (especially Bethesda) we have a whole lotta Euro people who will make Pires feel at home by running over him with their shopping carts, letting their dogs crap on his lawn, and generally being discourteous. Our polite French-speaking residents are usually from Africa.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 20, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I thought it was Frenchmen that were dirty and smelled funny. I keed, I keed.

I actually don't think MLS is missing out on much by Pires (aged 36) not agreeing to terms with Philly.

Posted by: tab5g1 | May 20, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

You're an idiot, BillyBob4.

Posted by: Reignking | May 20, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

@-rke-: That's what I'm talking about. if you want an Amercian vacation then just pay for one and bring your family with you. After playing in big European, you should been able to bank some of your coin.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 20, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

If he said this after visiting Philly, Fine. But he just went off perception. I'm a DC guy by way of NY, but Philly's not bad.

It ain't the french riviera but damn... Maybe he'll play for Miami FC.

Posted by: sire1 | May 20, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

@billybob4
I have been to Cowlumbus a few times and it is a crap town! Sorry, but it is. I was eating lunch in a nice resturant downtown with a group of freinds and a homeless guy was wandering around the resturant dining room begging for leftovers and change...no joke! Also...for a town that is home to one of the biggest colleges in the country there is ZERO nightlife around campus. Oh and the strip clubs suck too. All that town is good for is hosting world cup qualifiers against mexico in the winter.

Posted by: jjfooty | May 20, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Why isn't Zakumi holdoing a Jabulani? And just what the hell is Sepp doing with his right hand on Zakumi and his left hand in his pocket?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 20, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I've never been to Columbus but I am QUITE SURE it smells like gas station toilet in Cheverly.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | May 20, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Pires does make a point -- not a new one, but one that does sum up how Euros will see MLS cities.

Beautiful city -- what does that mean?

Cosmopolitan region, with charming neighborhoods and great physical attractions? That means LA, NY, Montreal, the Bay area (not SJ, but maybe it's close enough), maybe DC, Chicago, possibly Miami, if MLS ever goes back there, as well as Seattle, and, if they could get the Eurostars to visit, Portland and Vancouver. Sorry, KC, Denver, Dallas, Houston, and Goodbye Columbus. Goodbye Foxborough, too -- hello, Boston?

Great food? NY, Montreal, LA, and the Bay area (DC could make a decent argument based on variety, while Philly could based on the 3 or 4 truly great restaurants). Sorry, everybody else.

Great culture? NY, LA, the Bay area, and to lesser extents -- Montreal and DC.

Beautiful people? NY, LA and the Bay area. Sorry -- The rest of the Uber Sized America...

Latin players might be attracted by money and the general lure of the USA. Middle American teams need to focus on top USA players and Latin American stars. Wiih a few notable exceptions of course, most Euros-tars will look only at a handful of cities.

As for Pires -- he's French, but plays for a team that's near beautiful seaside towns (see the recent profile on Giuseppe Rossi). He's likely to to be impressed by LA, NY and possibly SJ. However, because he's French, he might really dig DC. United should make a big pitch, as he could be a big part of the solution to the team's offensive woes.

Posted by: fischy | May 20, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I don't even know that Washington is on the Euro footy pensioner list. Our reputation is based on politics, not night-life or shopping. Even thought we have some damned fine (and free) museums here, I'm not sure if that registers with the Euro crowd. I pity them, because all the fine art in France is being stolen as we speak.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 20, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I don't want Pires for DC.
But for anyone else who wants to grovel or recruit (depends on your prespective) him.

Just build a minature Eiffel Tower.
Coz ya know what they say:

Build it and they will come.

Oui. Oui.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 20, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

So Benni McCarthy's old, fat, and decrepit. If he were from Argentina or Brazil he'd already be playing for DCU.

Posted by: benonthehill | May 20, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

@I-270 -- DC offers fine art, grand boulevards, parks, a reasonable underground system, great diversity in restaurants, including a few really good ones, a few boutiques (G'town and Chevy Chase), great natural attractions, a really good theater community and a rare number of multilingual, multicultural entertainment options (thanks to the embassies). If it doesn't register with the Eurocrowd, it should.

Posted by: fischy | May 20, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

This just in.

Henry won't be signing with Salt Lake.

Posted by: Reignking | May 20, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

@I-270 -- DC offers fine art, grand boulevards, parks, a reasonable underground system, great diversity in restaurants, including a few really good ones, a few boutiques (G'town and Chevy Chase), great natural attractions, a really good theater community and a rare number of multilingual, multicultural entertainment options (thanks to the embassies). If it doesn't register with the Eurocrowd, it should.

Posted by: fischy | May 20, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

-------------------

Yawn....I could care less bout that stuff, but you're right. That is probably more what Pires is looking for. He does know that if he plays in MLS that he can't live in Europe at the same time right? His comments were hilarious though.

Posted by: FAkeemail9875 | May 20, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I know what DC offers. I don't know that the Euros know.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 20, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Actually, I kind of respect Pires for being honest about his own snobbery. It far and away exceeds the lies spouted by many European targets. Who else was kind of disgusted by Veron pulling out at the last minute as if he was about to sell his soul to Satan?

Posted by: UnitedDemon | May 20, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

UnitedDemon:

That's a very odd reading of what happened with Veron. Things set up right with his childhood club (and the club his father starred for). Estudiantes went on to win the Copa Libertadores. Sucks for us, but I recall absolutely nothing to point towards your interpretation of events.

Then again, all of this was hearsay, since nothing official ever came out (save the fact that Veron did sign for Estudiantes and did not sign for us, or anyone else).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | May 20, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

@billybob4
I have been to Cowlumbus a few times and it is a crap town! Sorry, but it is. I was eating lunch in a nice resturant downtown with a group of freinds and a homeless guy was wandering around the resturant dining room begging for leftovers and change...no joke!

Posted by: jjfooty

You'd never see that in NYC.

Incidentally, can you really call New York City "beautiful"? Awesome, for sure, but beautiful?

Posted by: wjones2 | May 20, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

reignking, Pires may have meant LA but I think the beautiful city infers San Fran and Seattle and was a prodding to the owners of Quakes & Flounders

Posted by: alespar415 | May 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Pires is so coming to our beautiful little city on the Potomac. Maybe we can promise him a state dinner or two. No invite necessary.

Posted by: tcbannon | May 20, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Pires does make a point -- not a new one, but one that does sum up how Euros will see MLS cities.

Beautiful city -- what does that mean?

Cosmopolitan region, with charming neighborhoods and great physical attractions? That means LA, NY, Montreal, the Bay area (not SJ, but maybe it's close enough), maybe DC, Chicago, possibly Miami, if MLS ever goes back there, as well as Seattle, and, if they could get the Eurostars to visit, Portland and Vancouver. Sorry, KC, Denver, Dallas, Houston, and Goodbye Columbus. Goodbye Foxborough, too -- hello, Boston?

Great food? NY, Montreal, LA, and the Bay area (DC could make a decent argument based on variety, while Philly could based on the 3 or 4 truly great restaurants). Sorry, everybody else.


Latin players might be attracted by money and the general lure of the USA. Middle American teams need to focus on top USA players and Latin American stars.

Posted by: fischy

If you're REALLY not going to include Chicago as one of the top 3 or 4 cities for quality and variety of food and top restaurants, you really don't have any clue about this.

DC has some good restaurants, too. But there simply isn't a comparison between DC and Chicago, in terms of the food scene.

In fact, I'd put NY definitely as the best city in the States for food/restaurants.

Then, just below that, in any order are a group of great food cities, including Chicago, The Bay area, and LA.

Montreal and DC REALLY are just below the Chicago/Bay Area/LA grouping, based on my experiences in all of these cities.


In any case, who gives a rip about where Pires will/won't go? I have no interest in him being in MLS, to tell you the truth.

Posted by: khan1 | May 20, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I swear those Pires comments have to be made up the Euro press. Those guys just make stuff up daily.

If I was a Son of a Ben I would be glad the guy isn't coming, assuming he really isn't. The Union is a long way from being good at this point. If you have a great nucleus then adding one big name makes sense. GBS is successful in C-bus because of Rogers and Gavin and Padula and Hejduk and Marshall, etc., etc.
Putting Pires in Philly is not going to get that team in the playoffs.

And you D.C. guys can't really want Pires there, can you? What good would it do to couple an ancient Euro guy with your ancient South Americans Jamie and Emilio? You need better talent top to bottom, not an infusion of age and attitude.

Posted by: scott47a | May 20, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

For all those who say all mls clubs have a equal shot at the big foreign players: please note that Thierry Henry isn't moving because he's always wanted to play for Red Bull.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | May 20, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Did Zakuni have to get his left shoulder sterilized after that photo-op?

Posted by: JosephDHippolito | May 20, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

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