Respond Ilicic Relaxed Competition at Fiorentina

Firenze – Josip Ilicic never hesitated to join Fiorentina. For business playing position and guarantee so starter, he was not too bothered.

25 years old attacking midfielder was recruited with the official nine million euros and coupled with a performance bonus clauses. Italian club Fiorentina a second after the last three seasons defending Palermo.

He was pretty sharp last season, scoring 11 goals from 31 games in all competitions. However, he was unable to save Rosanero from the relegation zone.

“When my agent called to tell Fiorentina offer, I did not hesitate at all,” said Ilicic to Firenze Viola and told Football Italia.

“Fiorentina have proved last year that they are the strongest team in Italy. They play beautiful football and there are many champions here, led by a coach who is very ready. Fiorentina is a team built to win.”

Stevan Jovetic’s departure to Manchester City left a hole in attack Vincenzo Montella. Ilicic have a chance to fill it, even though he personally claimed ready to be placed anywhere.

Owner of 22 caps with the national team that Slovenia still has to compete with other players such as Adem Ljajic and Joaquin Sanchez. Problem is, he did not want to bother.

“Too early to talk about tactics, but I was a flexible player so we just have to wait and see into the future.”

“I will talk with the coach, but it will not be difficult to play with so many attacking players who have character. Personally I am not too concerned about competition in the team.”

Vincenzo Montella’s side to be one of Serie A’s most active shopping in the transfer market after bringing Mario Gomez, Joaquin Sanchez, Marcos Alonso, Massimo Ambrosini, and Oleksandr Iakovenko.

Revisiting the Chris Wondolowski argument, now in a bigger and better context

The book on Chris Wondolowski has usually read like this: sensational striker in league play who may be stretched to make an impact internationally.

It’s really not an awful thing to pin on someone; nobody is accusing the man of drowning kittens here. Taylor Twellman and Jason Kries were other examples of terrific strikers in Major League Soccer who probably reached their top level in league soccer.

Only, with Wondolowski, a few fans and a selected bunch from the chattering class got caught up in the moment and lost some larger context recently. The Earthquakes’ forward did hit six goals in three matches – but the quality of competition was league level. Given international caliber service and backed by international level teammates, Wondolowski is certainly capable of doing the business against overmatched regional small fries.

But it always looked like typical sports overreaction, this flawed tendency to make big, sweeping judgments from every match. (Or, in this case, the false bottom of a short series of them.)

So a week ago, some people were already handing him a ticket to Brazil. Very prematurely so. I wrote as much six days ago.

Now here we are today with two more samples to study. Wondolowski went 77 minutes last week against Costa Rica and then 60 on Sunday against El Salvador. Total goals: zero.

(MORE: What we learned about the United States vs. El Salvador)

He wasn’t awful, not by any stretch. “Wondo” is just not the difference maker that Landon Donovan is. He’s not the athlete that Eddie Johnson is. He doesn’t have the ability to create on his own the way some others in the U.S. player pool can. Wondolowski’s game gets somewhat limited at international level.

Here’s what MLSSoccer.com’s player ratings had to say: “One simple assist pass aside, Wondo was often either stranding himself from the offense or slowing it down. It didn’t help his cause that Eddie Johnson replaced him with such a strong display.”

The New York Times was more harsh still in its ratings. “Never seemed to find a place in the quick-moving U.S. attack.”  Jeff Carlisle at ESPN FC did like the striker’s link-up play, offering that is “was miles better than it was against Costa Rica, as he set up Corona’s goal and sprung Donovan with a telling through ball.” But he also noted the struggle “with some of El Salvador’s physical antics.”

It’s not over; two matches remain. The problem is Johnson, the Seattle Sounders’ striker scored immediately upon coming on Sunday. He seems certain to start in Wednesday’s semifinal, which means the San Jose man’s minutes will dwindle fast.

As I also wrote last week, roster spots are always a zero-sum game; for every roster winner there is a roster loser, in other words. Wondolowski may or may not make the final 23 for Brazil, but you have to circle the man you want knocked aside.

Jurgen Klinsmann pattern of player selection says that Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson are all ahead of Wondolowski in the forward depth  pool. (Depending on how you want to count Dempsey, that is.) Landon Donovan is, too; we can probably all agree on that.

Today, Joe Corona looks more likely to make the roster than Wondolowski, even if he is  playing a slightly different position. Either way, it’s a roster spot, and that’s one more obstacle in a very good forward’s path to Brazil.

Moyes Believe Kagawa Quality

Manchester United’s new coach, David Moyes excited by the skills possessed Shinji Kagawa. Moyes heard many positive things about the Japanese midfielder was straight out of Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Sir Alex said many positive things about Shinji and its high quality. I had just met her, so we are still trying to know each other, “said Moyes as reported by Goal International.
“Last season was his first season playing in the Premie League. He’s still young, so we hope to continue to grow. I’m looking forward to be working with him and I hope he has a good season, “said Moyes.
Kagawa appeared last season as much as 26 times for United and scored 6 goals. 24-year-old player is also hoping to establish good cooperation with the new manager.
“We’re still new to each other, but I intend to build mutual understanding between us,” said Kagawa. [bnt]

McCarthy’s Musings: Directness and precision prompt U.S. dominance over Honduras

Klinsmann has shown the dexterity to alter his formation and use different players to extract the best performances out of his squad in this tournament. His decision to stick with the successful 4-4-2 setup – complete with the often criticized and quietly influentialKyle Beckerman in central midfield – and start Eddie Johnson up top reaped significant dividends against a Honduras outfit ill-equipped to cope with the problems presented by those selections.

Johnson made particular sense in this match because he offered the Americans a chance to stretch the field vertically. He offers decent hold up work as a nominal target player, but his true strength remains pushing behind the opposing line and relying on his pace to unsettle opposing defenses. His immediate contribution against El Salvador on Sunday mandated his inclusion tonight. And his work on the evening – combined with the willingness to play narrowly on the shoddy and tight temporary surface at Cowboys Stadium – ultimately exposed the weakness within the Honduras ranks.

Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suárez left out most of his regulars for this tournament and shunted a few of his remaining pieces into unfamiliar areas to form his 4-2-3-1 formation. The absences ofVictor Bernárdez, Roger Espinoza and Wilson Palacios proved particularly harmful on this night as the Hondurans prepared to deal with Johnson and the robust American approach. That particular trio adds the resolve and the steel necessary to deal with the combined threat of an in-form Landon Donovan buzzing around and Johnson trying to push through the defense.

In their stead, the Hondurans completely collapsed when confronted with direct play from back to front. Donovan dropped off at will to pull the rearguard apart. Johnson operated as a target man from time to time and surged through the line frequently against a back four ill-equipped to cope with the movement and the power presented by the Americans on the night.

Johnson registered the opener through a streamlined move through the middle of the park. Clarence Goodson played the ball into Donovan’s checking run back into midfield. Donovan flicked through to catch out the stagnant Honduran rearguard. Johnson then raced behind the line and slotted home to open the scoring after just 11 minutes.

At that point in the affair, Honduras should have adjusted to the threat created by the American willingness to bypass the midfield at times and pile pressure on the back four with vertical balls. Most of the fault lays with the center defenders – Osman Chávez endured a torrid night when his experience should have helped to guide him through – for failing to communicate properly and rectifying at least a portion of those concerns with better positioning.

The second goal reinforced the themes introduced by the first. Johnson flicked a direct ball out of the back toward the back line. Alejandro Bedoya – perhaps in his most influential match in a U.S. shirt – beat his marker to the pass and shuffled it toward Donovan in the middle. And Donovan produced a goal of sublime quality – a cushioned trap off the chest and an instinctual flick with the outside of his foot – to cap off the move.

Honduras somehow managed to survive the remainder of the half without conceding and then switched its personnel at halftime. Suarez sent Marvin Chávez and Jerry Palacios into the fray to give his side more menace going forward, but the American dominance in possession – keeping the ball when required and then using it effectively to create chance after chance – blunted their influence.

Chavez did impact the game from a set piece to arrange the last meaningful sequence of the match. The San Jose winger exploited the Americans’ continued weakness on set pieces with a teasing service from the right. The unmarked Nery Medina headed home to inject some modest doubt into the proceedings. It lasted for less than a minute as another Goodson longball over the top, another pass from Bedoya and another finish from Donovan restored the two-goal lead in short order and scuttled any lingering thoughts about a Honduras revival.

It never looked likely anyway, given the cohesiveness and the menace conjured by the Americans on the night. Klinsmann correctly identified the Honduran weakness with his team selection and watched his players feast on that soft core time and time again. The entire display oozed confidence and reinforced the now pervasive notion that the United States will enter the final as the favorite. Klinsmann will have one or two concerns to address – including his own availability for the match after his late dismissal – before the encounter, but he can take ample encouragement from this display as the preparations for Sunday’s final in Chicago commence.

Inter Sell 75 Percent Stake to Erto?

Inter Milan reportedly has officially sold its shares to Indonesian businessman, Erick Thohir, as much as 75 percent.
As reported by the Italian media Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday (9/7) this morning, Inter sold the shares are worth 300 million euro (Rp 3.9 trillion).
Thohir want to acquire Inter news that had been blowing since early May. Initially, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA club owners and club soccer MLS DC United was negotiating with club president Massimo Moratti to buy a 51 percent stake in Inter.
However, further news said Thohir offers up to 75 percent. However, the deal never actually come after Moratti has repeatedly denied that there was a deal with the boss Mahaka Group.

Football: AirAsia signs three-year sponsorship deal with FAS

SINGAPORE: Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

The sponsorship, worth S $ 1.8 million, will include flights of for the under-21, under-23 and senior national teams, as well as the National Football Academy’s age-group teams and women’s teams.

The partnership with FAS is set to provide the Necessary support to the association to further gamers footballing success and raise standards for all levels. The Singapore national football team are the recent Victors of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup campaign.

AirAsia will also offer “attractive travel packages” for football fans traveling to away matches, it said in a release.

“I never looked at the commercial aspirations … but to aim high and do something meaningful for Singapore football,” said AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes.

“Having AirAsia on the Singapore jersey is important, we want to put forward the message that we want to do better, that we want to dream. We hope to be part of that success; to help some of those young kids Realise their aspirations. ”

Mr Fernandes added that the sponsorship does not have “a fixed set of rules”.

“Whatever comes up with the FAS and requires our assistance, we are ready to help,” he said.

AirAsia has a track record of sports sponsorship, having backed the English Premiership football team Queens Park Rangers, Lotus Formula 1 outfit, the ASEAN Basketball League and MotoGP.

FAS President Zainudin Nordin said he is “absolutely thrilled to have concluded an agreement with an organization of AirAsia’s caliber and reputation”.

“We are really thankful to Tony Fernandes and AirAsia for their staunch support for football and we are looking forward to working closely with them to further promote the sport in the coming years,” he said.

He added: “It is a positive thing for us, Because Mr Fernandes and AirAsia are supporting youth, and sports in particular.”

Robben: Guardiola keeps Bayern fresh

Arjen Robben is confident Pep Guardiola is the right man to keepBayern Munich fresh and ensure its astounding success in 2012-13 does not breed complacency.

Guardiola replaced Jupp Heynckes at the helm after the veteran coach guided the Bavarians to a historic treble last term andRobben believes things will only get better under the former Barcelona coach.

“Guardiola has made a good impression on me. A few things will change as he has his own ideas and philosophy. That’s only normal and it will make us even stronger,” Robben was quoted as saying by Kicker. “I believe it’s a good thing that changes are happening. Guardiola keeps things fresh.

“If he followed the exact same path we were on before, complacency could kick in. People start to think that everything went well last season, so it will be alright to continue on the same path. Guardiola makes sure that we remain alert and on our toes. We keep learning and that’s always a good thing.”

Pique: Fabregas Pursue, MU just a waste of time

Barcelona – Manchester United’s efforts to bring Cesc Fabregas called Barcelona defender Gerard Pique will only be in vain. Besides Barca did not want to sell it, Fabregas also want to survive in Catalan.

After the initial bid worth £ 25 million rejected stronghold Barca, MU back to bite the fingers after the second offering which totaled 30 million pounds, also again rejected Los Cules.

26-year-old midfielder became the main prey MU in the transfer market after losing another target such as Thiago Alcantara who choose to Bayern Munich, or Kevin Strootman who join AS Roma.

“United just wasting their time,” said Pique was quoted as saying by The Sun.

“It took a long time for Cesc to realize his dream of returning to the house and he will not give up so easily. This is home, this is the place where his family was, and he was playing with friends nearby.

“He has said to us that he’s happy and he wants to survive,” he added.

Fabregas did previously have committed themselves to survive. While Barcelona has repeatedly expressed no intention to sell it, especially after they lost Thiago.