As the American Soccer landscape takes a bit of a breather after Confederations Cup and before the CONCACAF Gold Cup, there is plenty to discuss. Here are some news items, topics and tidbits to go over as we get through Monday.
So who is the first American to complete a move to Europe this summer? No, not any of the Confederations Cup players. Try goalkeeper Dominic Cervi, who finally received his Italian passport and is finalizing his long-awaited move to Scottish powerhouse Celtic FC. The former Chicago Fire draft pick had been waiting for a year to have this deal completed, and now he will be added to the list of Americans plying their trade at top European clubs.
If this story sounds familiar, it should.
It appears that he was APPROVED for his Italian passport back in May, but had to have the actual document before he could finalize his contract with Celtic. His agent, Ron Waxman, confirmed the deal today. Now all we need is a photo of Cervi in a Celtic uniform (whatever can keep us from running the above photo for the hundredth time).
Jon Conway's departure from New York is very likely the first step toward him joining the Philadelphia Union in 2010. I have heard rumblings in the past that the club was interested in trying to add Conway, a native of Chester, Pa., site of the Union's stadium. Even if Conway catches on with another MLS team this season I find it hard to imagine that he will make any team's protected roster heading into the MLS expansion draft. Does that mean he will be Philly's starter in 2010? I won't go that far, but it is a safe bet he will be on the roster.
Count me among those who would have liked to see Jose Francisco Torres play at some point in Confederations Cup. Torres has been M.I.A. since being pulled at halftime of the U.S. team's loss to Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying and I can't help but wonder if he is carrying an injury of some sort. There was a theory going around that Torres suffered a concussion vs. Costa Rica. If that is so it might help make sense of not using a player who in the last seven months had played in the Club World Cup, Copa Libertadores and a Mexican Championship final.
Speaking of the Confederations Cup, I've heard some "Carlos Bocanegra isn't the answer at left back" talk following the loss to Brazil. Yes, Bocanegra got beat repeatedly by Maicon, but it's MAICON. You know how many left backs would be out of work in Serie A if getting beaten by Maicon was the prerequisite for unemployment? Maicon is the best right back in the world for a reason. No, Bocanegra isn't blazing fast, but he's smart, reads the game well and is athletic enough to hold his own. He plays left back very well in France, where the attacking soccer isn't exactly slow. He was made to look slow at times by Fernando Torres and Maicon during the Confederations Cup. That's hardly something to be ashamed of.
So who are my picks in the CONCACAF Gold Cup? I won't make full picks until later in the week but you have to like Costa Rica and Canada as the teams who could knock off the favorites (and B-team fielders) Mexico and USA. Costa Rica is bringing a strong squad and Canada has Julian DeGuzman and Atiba Hutchinson (though not Dwayne DeRosario). Look for some extensive Gold Cup previewing on SBI this week.
So why should you care about the Gold Cup? Lots of young talent from throughout the region will be on display and if you care about knowing your opponents, it's a good tournament to get familiar with the next generation of CONCACAF stars. Oh, and then there are the Americans working their way into the first-team mix. Get ready to read a million "This is Freddy Adu's time to shine" stories this week (and yes, at least one on SBI).
One more week of voting for the MLS All-Star Game. I think I have to put Freddy Montero on for Colin Clark now based on Montero's recent form (and Casey's national team absence). No, it's not fair, but let's face it, Montero is more exciting and better suited for an all-star game.
Speaking of MLS, if you've been missing SBI's Best XI, Worst XI and Team of the Week, fear not. It will be back next week. And if it doesn't I will welcome the criticism.
I will be adding some more notes to this through the rest of the afternoon so feel free to check back in.
For now, share your thoughts on any of the subjects above in the comments section below.