South American Soccer

Wednesday Kickoff: Marquez says Mexico are rock bottom; Barcelona renew interest in Hummels; and more

RafaMarquezMexico1-Panama (Mexsport)


For a seven-minute stretch on Tuesday night, the Mexico National Team and its fans looked fated to crash out of World Cup qualification with a loss to Costa Rica and a Panama victory.

Of course, as we all know now, two U.S. goals in stoppage time helped give the USA a 3-2 victory in Panama, keeping El Tri alive in qualification, but it didn’t improve the mood within in the Mexico squad after a disastrous Hexagonal campaign.

“It’s a shame,” veteran defender Rafa Marquez told La Aficion after Mexico’s 2-1 defeat to Costa Rica, “and it’s a shame to have to play another two games to go (to Brazil). Today we hit the bottom, we are very aware of that. We must try to go for it (the classification), we can’t let it get away. It’s our last chance for the World Cup.”

By virtue of finishing fourth in the Hexagonal, Mexico faces New Zealand next month in a two-legged playoff series, with the winner moving on to the World Cup. Mexico will host the first match on Nov. 13 or 14, with the return leg played in New Zealand on Nov. 20.

Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:


Barcelona’s goal over the summer had been to sign a central defender, a goal that was left unfulfilled.

While Marc Bartra has played much better this season than expected for the Catalan side, the club are still looking for a more experienced yet younger replacement for Carles Puyol, who has missed the last six months due to a major knee injury. The name that has jumped to the top of Barcelona’s wish list is Borussia Dortmund defender Mats HummelsThe German defender is reportedly available for €35 million ($47.4 million) and the Dortmund executives would let Hummels negotiate a contract with Barcelona if he did want to move.

German publication BILD has already named a potential successor for Hummels, tipping 21-year-old FC Basel centerback Fabian Schär who is available for €5 million ($6.8 million).

The 24-year-old Hummels is not yet in his prime and yet is a regular for both Borussia and the German National Team, having overcome his injury problems from late last season and playing 16 times for club and country in all competitions since August.


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may have a difficult decision or two to make when he selects his team for their next match on Saturday against Norwich.

While on international duty with Germany, Mesut Özil scored a goal in their 5-3 victory at Sweden but later limped off the field with a knee injury in the 80th minute, throwing his status for this weekend up in the air. The 25-year-old midfielder is currently back in London and undergoing tests from the Arsenal medical staff to see the extent of the knee injury.

Initial reports in Sweden said that the injury was just a bruise, but it could keep him out of the Premier League tie. Luckily for Wenger, he should be boosted by the return of Santi Cazorla as well as Theo Walcott, though if the English winger is still not fit, he’ll be prepared to play in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday against Borussia Dortmund.

Since making his Arsenal debut on September 14, Özil has played in every one of the Gunners’ games except for a League Cup tie with West Bromwich Albion.


Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has clarified his reported comments on Diego Costa, saying that he wouldn’t necessarily call up the Brazilian-born forward but that he is on a provisional list of 45 players that are being considered for the World Cup. (REPORT)

Everton midfielder Darren Gibson has torn ligaments in his knee on international duty and will miss “several months.” (REPORT)

Former Croatia National Team captain Niko Kovac has been appointed as the newest manager of the side. (REPORT)

Dick Advocaat has been appointed the latest manager at AZ Alkmaar, taking over for the sacked Pim Verbeek. (REPORT)

Ravel Morrison and Wilfried Zaha nearly came to blows during England U-21s 5-0 defeat of their Lithuanian counterparts. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you agree with Marquez’s comments? Do you see Barcelona spending that much for a defender? Do you believe Arsenal can win without Özil?

Share your thoughts below.

  • TheFrenchOne

    Glad that NZ gets to host the return game, if anything just to watch mexico sweat a little more…


  • AzTeXan

    I’d say rock bottom is resorting to calling up a geezer who can’t even hack it in MLS.


    • The Imperative Voice

      They did back in — they lost and we saved them — but what kind of attitude is that for a team still alive?


  • kelly

    NZ are masters of “parking the bus” and Mexico’s offense is sputtering. Will be interesting if NZ can hold them to a 1-0 Mexico win or a 0-0 draw, the latter of which will be the goal I assume.


    • bottlcaps

      Wasn’t New Zealand undefeated in the last WC? Tyeing all three games and exiting after the first round, they nonetheless comported themselves very well and had the honor of playing the only real amateur player in that year’s WC.


      • GW

        They were captained by the criminally underrated Ryan Nelsen, DC United’s last great centerback and truly a great captain.

        Unfortunately he has retired.


  • Ian

    Dayyum, that was an entertaining diatribe by Martinoli. I haven’t studied Spanish for 10 years, but I clearly understood, “Se ponga las pantalones y se ponga renuncio hoy!” Basically, “Put on your big boy pants and resign.” Brilliant.


    • bryan

      “GOOOOAAAAAAL The US of A PUTS us in the playoffs!!!!!” USA!

      “It is because of the USA that we are being placed in the playoff …BECAUSE OF THEM , NOT DUE TO YOU..NOT ANY OF YOU in the green shirts ….IT WAS THEM!!.NOT YOU!..THEY DID IT!!!!!NOT YOU! remember this forever….. KEEP THIS CLEARLY IN MIND FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES! You do NOTHING for the shirt, you do NOT put the effort, you have NOTplaced us in the playoffs , you HAVE NOT placed us in the WORLD CUP ..YOU WOULD NOT HAVE KEPT US ALIVE….IT WAS ESTADOS UNIDOS, NOT YOU.! .NOT YOU AND YOUR ARROGANCE/CONCEIT…..NOT YOU AND YOUR INFAMY….NOT YOU AND YOUR MORONS/PUNKS….
      “IT IS A FAILURE…..and UNDESERVED -to go through to the playoff- WE HAD NO ARGUMENTS to earn the playoffs, THE USA, WITH SUBS , WITH MANY SUBS as the visiting team shows us once again what the USA is all about ….how to play the game with dignity, how to approach the sport..MExico is a horror, just terrible….A FAILURE….
      THE USA HAS SURPASSED US ..They are better than Mexico in SOCCER ….THEY EVEN HAVE THE LUXURY OF PLAYING THEIR SUBS and KEEPING US LIVE…. I hope our coach wears the pants and resigns..He has failed as coach….”


    • bottlcaps

      Advocat has a great tenure at Rangers and it was during the Claudio Reyna Years that were some of the best. That being said, many attribute Advocat’s demand for spending to get better players that started the team down the slope to bankruptcy and downfall of the Rangers, although the Ranger;s President and BOD that had more to do with that than Advocat did.


    • Lost in Space

      During a match….I don’t think so….but after/before I think Harks & Winalda may have.


  • Sly

    As long as barca stop casting longing glances at Danny Agger I’ll be happy. Pay the 35 for hummels then another 45 for Luiz. Vermaelen is available also for 20 maybe 15 since injury prone. Weaken our competition this would be appreciated.


  • Mike R

    Rafa is a POS the worst thing about the US winning is that it lets his atrocious play off the hook. He sucked salty nuts.
    I think Rafa would have rather been eliminated than have the US save them

    Kaiser my a$$!!! Maybe kaiser roll


  • Joamiq

    Advocaat is a solid choice. This is kind of a big deal for US fans. I’m always surprised at the stuff that gets shunted to the “Quick Kicks” section in favor of items less relevant to US fans…


  • Ann

    Executive director Aki Watzke, director of sport Michael Zorc of Borussia Dortmund and Hummels’ father denied on the Mats Hummels transfer rumors.
    Watzke on Lanz’ talk show (public station ZDF), yesterday: “That’s nonsense, there’s not a jot of truth in it, that’s a non-story.”
    Zorc to Sky: “We didn’t pledge to anyone (of the players) for switching at the end of the season. Mats has a contract until 2017 without a release clause.”


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