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Morning Ticker: Paraguay rolls, Zola set for Hammers and New Zealand cruises


Paraguay just keeps on rolling.

Led by two first-half goals, including one from Nelson Valdez, the Paraguayans extended their lead atop the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying table by recording a 2-0 victory against Venezuela on Tuesday night.

The victory pushed Paraguay five points clear of traditional powers Brazil and Argentina, which both play qualifiers tonight.

Columbus Crew striker Alejandro Moreno started and played 90 minutes for Venezuela while New York Red Bulls midfielder Jorge Rojas dressed, but did not play.

Here are some other news stories from this morning and last night:

Zola set to become West Ham manager

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola is set to become West Ham United’s new manager after reportedly accepting the position on Wednesday.

Currently the Italian Under-21 national team (assistant) manager, Zola would replace former Hammers manager Alan Curbishly, who resigned a week ago. One of the best and most popular players in Chelsea history, the 42-year-old Zola beat out the likes of Roberto Donadoni and Michael Laudrup for the position. Croatian national team manager and former West Ham standout Slaven Bilic was also linked to the job.

Kiwis top New Caledonia

New Zealand posted a 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory over New Caledonia in Oceania group play on Wednesday.

Striker Shane Smeltz netted two goals while Jeremy Christie headed home a cross from former New England Revolution defender Tony Lochhead to make the final 3-0.

MLS was well-represented on the New Zealand roster, with three current and three former MLS players on the squad. Toronto FC striker Jarrod Smith started and played 90 minutes, Columbus Crew midfielder Duncan Oughton started and played 65 minutes, and New York Red Bulls defender Andrew Boyens came off the bench and played 25 minutes for the Kiwis. Former D.C. United defender Ryan Nelsen, former Columbus midfielder Simon Elliot and Lochhead were all in the starting lineup for New Zealand.

New Zealand has already won the Oceania group after beating New Caledonia on Saturday, and will play a home-and-home series against the fifth-place team in the Asian qualifying group in the fall of 2009 for a place in the 2010 World Cup.


That’s all for now. I will be back with some more posts later this morning. What do you think of the above stories? Will Paraguay finish on top of CONMEBOL? Is Zola the right man for the West Ham job? Do you think New Zealand can actually reach the World Cup?

Share your thoughts on these, and any other soccer stories from the morning or last night, in the comments section below.


  1. jacob- the MLS was opposed to it during the summer, but come Jan, i believe his contract is up anyhow (???)…. he had a no trade clause in his contrat thus no trade could have been made…. the MLS cannot oppose him of his own free will come Jan…

  2. golfstrom- “Pure delusion to compare Paraguay to the US. Paraguay starts Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn) and Nelson Haedo Valdez (Borussia Dortmnud) up front. Number of forwards who start in a top-tier European league available to BB? Zero. And no, Kenny Cooper is not in the neighborhood (or zipcode) of these guys.”

    hmmmm, that is breaking news… this statement could very well explain the lack of goal scoring from the US…. good work Golfstrom, now what is the best way to break this to the masses??

  3. GO New Zealand!!!!

    Love to see MLS represented around the world. That is the true sign that our league is making progress.

    I have to admit, when not playing against the USNT, I like to see all MLS players do well, be it Bolivia, Guatemala, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada, Jamaica, etc. Just not against the USA.

  4. Christian, Steve Goff mentioned it in his morning kickaround this morning, too. Apparently MLS could be opposed to the idea because it would hurt noe of the MLS’s big names too much.

  5. Golfstrom, I don’t think anybody was dismissing what you wrote. You’re right that Paraguay has better strikers than the US. I think the responses were simply noting that there are Americans that can score if the team puts them in good positions (or at least plays them).



    ESPN Deportes Radio is reporting that two individual sources have confirmed that Landon Donovan is in talks with Bayern Munich.

    Ives, can you confirm this?

  7. @Tim: Oh, I know that N. Korea was driving the problem…just not their atheletes or coaches. I feel bad for them, not the plague on civilization that is their government.

    @jacob: I can watch these Russians play for hours. Interesting though that Wales is playing their guts out and look better than I expected. Russia is always just a bit suspect at the back, probably due to the fact that it looks like the Red Army coming forward when they get the ball. Good times though.

  8. Brett & Joe K,

    You guys may be right about Twellman, but our attack seems so anemic that I’m trying to think of viable alternatives to Ching and Eddie Johnson. He has had some bright spots.

    However, having said that, I think at this point giving Kenny Cooper at least a look would be fair. I’m a little baffled as to why he continues to not get a call.

  9. I’m with ya mig. The Russians play the game wonderfully. All the quick feet, quick passing, quick runs, attack attack attack, it’s fun to watch, and man do they look goooooood right now…

  10. Tim, i agree that twellman is better than ching, but for the national team, we’re arguing against results. twellman just has trouble playing well on the usmnt.

  11. New Zealand should just be absorbed into the Asian group, and do away with Oceana. However, I’m sure there are WAY more politics involved in that with FIFA than I really care to research. New Zealand will have a tough time beating the 5th place Asian team anyway.

    Mig, the N. Korea/S. Korea match had to be played in China because N. Korea refused to play S. Korea’s national anthem if the match was played in N. Korea; so, I don’t feel sorry for them, and they should accept whatever result they get knowing their government is a bunch of despots out on the “lunatic fringe.”

    Golfstrom, the U.S. has plenty of talent that could score. However, I simply think the ongoing problem is the way we line up our midfields and forwards. We’re always making guys play out of position. We have Beasley and Edu (Rangers), Bradley (Borussia Mochengladbach), and Dempsey (Fulham) that are all capable scorers playing in Europe, and as much as everyone HATES to acknowledge it, Donovan is our most potent threat, but Bradley insists on positioning him improperly. BTW, Blackburn currently sits 10th in the EPL, hardly “top tier.”

    I’d love to see Twellman and Spector getting more PT, however, they’ve been plaqued by injury. Twellman I think is more of a threat than Ching, and just seems to have that knack for finding the goal. Spector would tighten up our back line some. Pearce has not blown me away back there, and really got exposed for his lack of pace versus Guatemala.

  12. Anybody watching this Russia-Wales game? It is absolutely mesmerizing watching the Russians. Then Wales gets a penalty and they don’t convert! All in the first 15 minutes.

  13. The comparison was merely made because both teams are defensive by nature and they employ similar tactics. The difference being that Paraguay’s forwards are actually able to score from the run of play.

  14. Pure delusion to compare Paraguay to the US. Paraguay starts Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn) and Nelson Haedo Valdez (Borussia Dortmnud) up front. Number of forwards who start in a top-tier European league available to BB? Zero. And no, Kenny Cooper is not in the neighborhood (or zipcode) of these guys.

  15. John,

    By the look of things, the 5th place AFC team will be Iran, Saudi Arabia, or maybe North Korea. I suspect that beating the 5th place team will still be beyond the Kiwis’ abilities. If anything, not getting the chance to play Australia in qualifiers anymore will weaken New Zealand.

    wjmooner, considering that AFC is already full of minnows, surely adding OFC to their qualifying would be fairly easy. I suspect that the increase in challenging play would be good for all of the OFC teams. Of course, the difficulty is that Asia is huge and for many of these countries travel costs are prohibitive.

    Perhaps the minnows could attend qualifying tournaments in neutral host countries to weed out the weakest before starting any stages with the bigger countries.

    Of course, the problem is one of politics within FIFA–where would OFC and its votes be?

    Anyone interested in this type of topic should check out If you click on the columnists section and scroll down to Peter Goldstein’s columns there’s lots of interesting posts about qualifying, statistics, and why the current (and past) schema are bad.

  16. The battle of the Koreas was passingly entertaining. I kept one eye on it while working in the home office. Some skill there but while I’m no fan of N. Korea (the nation), they kind of got jobbed by having to play the home leg in China. Nothing to be done about it, I suppose.

  17. Wow, Paraguay playing awesome in the most grueling & most difficult World Cup qualifying tourney on the planet, congrats to them. Now, if only Ecua can come up with a win today vs Uruguay… 🙂

  18. Wow, I didn’t even know Oceania still existed. You’d think since Australia is in Asian WC qualifying that FIFA could make New Zealand and the island minnows go through that qualifying process as well. Oceania right now isn’t as strong as the Caribbean alone, without Central America and the big 3 in North America.

  19. John, don’t you recognize FIFA PC efforts? This way you are guaranteed a more diversity at the Finals. Rather than try to have the BEST 32 teams possible, that is. More reasonably, the 5th team from Asia should playoff vs. the 5th team from CONMEBOL and the Oceania winner should playoff vs. the 4th team from CONCACAF.

  20. Welcome Zola!

    If Chelsea want you back its because you’ve done a great job with my Hammers, so you have my full backing my good man!


  21. Oceania qualifying is the biggest joke ever! All they have to do is beat a bunch of Polynesian minnows and the 5th placed team from Asia?? That’s it!?!?!?!?!? Geez!

  22. christian- “I think Bob Bradley should study the Paraguayan national team if he’s going to stick to his guns of playing that dreadful empty bucket formation.”

    that, or the US could produce some players who like to score???

  23. Paraguay is on a roll, huh?

    It’s funny that they use a similar formation and system to that of the US, yet they’ve been able to get results against some good teams in South America.

    Paraguay has always been known for being an excellent defensive team but the past couple of years they’ve added a great attacking punch to their style of play with players like Santa Cruz, Cabanas, and Nelson Haedo.

    There are at least 5 Paraguayan national teamers (most are starters apparently) currently playing in Mexico. Cabanas being the most recognizable since he plays for Club America and along with Memo Ochoa, carried that team to the finals of Copa Sudamericana and the semis of Copa Libertadores last year.

    I think Bob Bradley should study the Paraguayan national team if he’s going to stick to his guns of playing that dreadful empty bucket formation.


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