June 29, 2010 |
He is a fraud, an impostor, a sheep in wolf's clothing. We are talking about the player who wore the No. 7 shirt for Portugal on Tuesday night. The man who is the most expensive soccer player ever. We are talking about Cristiano Ronaldo. We are talking about why the Portuguese are not going to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, whereas the Spanish are. We are talking about why a man who earns tens of millions of dollars to run around a field and kick a ball couldn't be bothered to do either in the most important game his country has played in years.
August 30, 2009 |
In the end, it always comes down to money. But before we go down that route, take a glimpse back to Friday night and a game played in a locale where the dollars are piled higher than in most places on the planet -- the Stade Louis II in the casino-fueled principality of Monaco. Up in the stands, Michel Platini, the French president of UEFA, was hobnobbing with royalty, in this case Monaco's Prince Albert II, who had wandered down from his palace just to the north of the stadium.
November 15, 2009 |
Having been beaten, 1-0, by Slovakia in Bratislava on Saturday, the players on the World Cup-bound U.S. national team might not have been in a mood for a history lesson. But here it is anyway. Slovakia's coach, Vladimir Weiss, was a second-half substitute on the Czechoslovakian team that rolled over the U.S., 5-1, in Florence, Italy, in both teams' opening game at the Italia '90 World Cup. And it was Weiss' son, 19-year-old Manchester City winger Vladimir, who was fouled by Jonathan Bornstein on Saturday on the play that led to Slovakia's game-winning penalty kick goal by Marek Hamsik.
January 1, 2006 |
For better or worse, the soccer year is over, the triumphs and failures having been shared in their usual unequal measure. Looking back, the view changes depending on the prism used. In the United States, 2005 was the year that Bruce Arena became the first coach to twice qualify the national team for the World Cup, having also done so in 2001. It was the year that the Galaxy, under Coach Steve Sampson, also "did the double," winning the Major League Soccer championship and the U.S. Open Cup.
June 7, 2009 |
Ready or not, South Africa, here they come. On Thursday, it will be exactly one year until the first ball is kicked in anger at the 2010 World Cup, the first to take place on the African continent and the first to be played in winter since Argentina '78. Reams could be written about how unprepared South Africa still is, but there will be enough of that later. For the moment, it is sufficient to note that the first four countries have qualified for the monthlong, 32-nation tournament.
December 27, 2009 |
As far as gambles go, it was Florentino Perez who rolled the dice the hardest. What the 62-year-old Spanish businessman did last summer was to splash out more than $355 million to bring the likes of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo ($132 million), Brazil's Kaka ($90 million), Spain's Xabi Alonso ($48 million) and France's Karim Benzema ($48 million) to Real Madrid. The gamble was that a new infusion of "galacticos" would surely be enough to see Real overtake Barcelona as Spanish and, it was hoped, European champion.
July 8, 2011 |
Ohio State's 2010 Big Ten Conference championship, its 12-1 season, its victories against rival Michigan and in the Sugar Bowl — all gone. Coach Jim Tressel is out and so is star quarterback Terrelle Pryor . Left behind: two years of self-imposed probation. The question now is whether it will be enough to save Ohio State football from more severe penalties in an upcoming trip to see the NCAA committee on infractions. In response to NCAA violations committed by football players who traded autographs and memorabilia for cash and tattoos — and by a coach who covered it up — Ohio State issued its official response Friday.
August 9, 2009 |
We begin with a fistful of dollars. Well, actually, it's a wad of Chinese 100 yuan notes, but the idea is much the same. They were brandished the other day by a fellow named Arie Haan , best remembered as an attack-minded midfielder on the great Ajax Amsterdam and Dutch national teams of the 1970s. These days, Haan, 60, is coaching Chongqing in the Chinese Super League. Displeased with the officiating during a recent game, Haan pulled the cash out of his pocket and flashed it toward an assistant referee after a dubious penalty kick was awarded against his team.
July 11, 2010 |
Spain defeats the Netherlands to win the 2010 World Cup. 2:02 p.m. Spain takes its final gamble, and it's a fascinating one. Leading goal scorer David Villa is removed from the match and coming on in his place is Fernando Torres, the player who scored the winning goal when Spain defeated Germany. 1-0, to win Euro 2008. But the question is this: If the game goes to penalty kicks, will Villa not be sorely missed? But first, this: A red card for John Heitinga, the Dutch defender who has committed one foul too many in referee Howard Webb's eyes.
June 21, 2009 |
Listen, for a moment, to a neutral observer from Britain, one with no ax to grind, writing about the 3-0 defeat suffered by the United States against Brazil in the Confederations Cup in South Africa on Thursday. "On this evidence, the usually effective Americans will not be troubling the main contenders [at the World Cup] next summer. . . . Brazil pulled them apart with ease." In Pretoria to cover the game for the Telegraph, the writer described the U.S.