This past week was one of FIFA’s international dates, periods when players leave their clubs to practice and play with their respective national teams. This period lasted from September 3 to September 7. There is another international date lasting from October 8 to October 12 and from November 12 to November 16. You can argue the greater merits and faults of the FIFA calendar, but my problem is that it made the weekend very boring. There were a few highlights in Euro Qualifying, Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers and international friendlies.
Tottenham Hotspur players who were involved with their national teams in friendlies, African Cup of Nations qualifying or Euro qualifying were: Gio dos Santos for Mexico, Emmanuel Adebayor for Togo, Bongani Khuamlo for South Africa, Luka Modric for Croatia, Gareth Bale for Wales, Roman Pavlyuchenko for Russia, and Scott Parker for England.
Out of all the Spurs who were in action during the international break, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale produced the best highlights. No shockers there.
Majstor! = Maestro, Master; and that’s exactly what Modric is. Forget the new wave “accepted wisdom” of the Soccernomics generation; keeping Modric was our best bit of business over the summer.
Gareth Bale absolutely terrorized Ashley Cole. He is exactly the type of player England don’t have. As a fan of the English Premier League, I have no qualms about saying that I hope England lose every single competition they’re in.
The New York Red Bulls saw Rafa Marquez, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Bouna Coundoul, and the young American duo of Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo called into camp for their national teams.
Bouna Coundoul earned a shut-out against Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday as Senegal won 2-0 and clinched qualification for African Cup of Nations.
Dane Richards did not look that great for Jamaica against Ecuador and Colombia as the Reggae Boyz (greatest team nickanme?) lost both matches. Roy Miller fared little better in his time for Costa Rica against the US and Ecuador.
Rafa Marquez didn’t face Poland on Friday, but took the field against Chile in Catalonia. Marquez enjoyed a fair degree of praise from the fans in the Estadi Cornella-El Prat, just a few miles down the road from the Camp Nou where he plied his trade for Barcelona. His same defects failed to be game changers through. In New York we are painfully accustomed to his lack of pace and mediocre positioning. When Marquez walks on the field for El Tri, usually as captain, he has something to play for and exhibits a fierceness (or just a pulse) that is absent for the Red Bulls.
Tim Ream did not play against either Costa Rica or Belgium. I don’t have much of an argument with Klinsmann’s decision in Belgium because Tim Ream has struggled to adjust to the pace of the international game. That said, how is going to bridge that gap without getting looks during friendlies?
Juan Agudelo looked quick and nimble during his playing time against Costa Rica and Belgium. He exchanged quick passes and used his soft touch to control the ball in tight spaces. However, he is not built as a textbook center forward and failed to make a physical impact either of the games.
United States vs Costa Rica, from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Belgium vs United States, from the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.