By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Soccer 2004 From A-Z
Adu-Was any player more hyped in 2004 than the young phenom in MD by way of Ghana? The “Freddy Effect” was felt all over American Soccer world, with increase in attendance for DC United Road games, commericals, apperances and discussion on ESPN’s P.T.I. He showed well for a 15 year old and helped win a Championship with DC United. Look for him to be a much better player next season
Brazil-How good are the 5 time World Champions? They sent a 2nd string side to the Copa America, made a star out of Adriano and beat arch-rivals Argentina in the final to add yet another trophy to the CBF trophy case. Ridiculous.
Chelsea has made the English Premiereship more than a two car races between Manchester United and Arsenal. Since the establishment of the Premiere League in 1992, only one team, Blackburn in 1995, have kept United or Arsenal from raising the trophy in May. With the emergence of Chelsea and players like Arjen Robben, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, William Gallas and John Terry the Blues, currently atop the English standings, look more than ready to crash the party.
DC United-After a Boyz II Men like drop from MLS’ Elite, they endured the distration of the Freddy Adu hype & a slow start under first year head coach Peter Novak to fly below the radar for much of the season before running through the playoffs like a hot knife through butter to capture its 4th MLS Cup in 9 years. It’ll be atough act to follow with Ryan Nelsen probably leaving and baseball threatening to screw up their home field but make no mistake, the Black and Red are back.
Enyimba-In 2003 Enyimba became the first Nigerian side to win the African Champions League. For an encore, they became the first side to repeat the feat in 36 years, outlasting Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, a country that usually dominates African club competitions. For their victory, Enyimba players were granted plots of land.
Frank Rijkaard-The highest profile Black coach on the planet right now has helped bring one of Europe’s most storied franchises, FC Barcelona of Spain, back to one of Europe’s top sides. Having good players always helps but Rijkard has been able to integrate his stars like Etoo, Alonso and Ronaldinho into an effective, confident unit. With their sights firmly set on the Champions League and the Spanish title, the former Dutch legend will have a stern test on his hands come spring.
Greece-Unfancied, improbable winners of Euro2004, Greece beat Russia, Portugal (twice, including in the final), France and the Czech Republic to overcome ridiculous odds to become European Champions. Angelos Charisteas and a stellar defense helped the Greeks capture their first international title.
Henry (Thierry) In leading Arsenal to the first unbeaten season in English football for over 100 yars, established himself as one of classiest forwards in the game. Elegance, speed and deadly finishing ability, how this guy finished 4th in European Player of the Year voting needs to investigated by Scully and Mulder.
Internet site of Golnoir- www.GolNoir.net (shameless plug HA)
Johnson, Eddie-A Break out year for one of America’s young talents. All eyes will be on him as he starts a new season with FC Dallas and continues his assault on the International penalty areas.
Kris Kross-What ever happened to them? But I digress…
Labor woes. In the latest sign that soccer really is a sport in the United States, players of the National Team have declined to show up for a training camp ahead of the 2006 WC Qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago. They are looking for bigger bonuses for National Team appearances in light of the fact that they are ones who are earning the money for the USSF. For their part, the USSF, who maintains that the American players are already among the most compensated of all National Team players, will lock the players out on February 1 if no agreement is reached.
Madrid, a city in the news for all the wrong reasons. It’s biggest football club, Real Madrid faded badly down the stetch and finished the 2003-04 season with a trophy for the first time in many years while its stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu was the scene for the ugliest scene of racism of the year when Black players of England’s National Team were subjected to monkey noises and racist chances whenever they got the ball. So much for their 2012 Olympic Bid.
Nicholas Anelka- I have to ask. He is overrated? He’s a tremendous talent and is already sought by big clubs. But since when has he TRULY delivered the goods? It seems that after he left Arsenal in 1999 he’s produced one headache after another. Though he did help Real Madrid to the 2000 Champions League title, that was after a long injury layoff and sniping at teammates through the press. He hasn’t endeared himself at subsequent stops at PSG, Liverpool and Man. City and the reputation has begun to tarnish. Too much talent to underproduce as he is.
Once Caldas-Not even considered one of the top sides in Colombia, the provincal outsiders overcame Santos and defending champions Boca Juniors to capture the Copa Libertadores and held their own in the Toyota Cup before losing on penalties to European Champions…
Porto-Another win for the little guy as the solid but usually unaccomplished in Europe Portuguese side won out over the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid to capture the UEFA Champions League over fellow underdogs AS Monaco of France. Coach Jose Mourinho rode the playmaking of Deco, the scoring of South African Benni McCarthy and a rugged defense to win the biggest club competition in the world (and a big money move to Chelsea).
Qualifiers-Nations will kick it into high gear as they make their final push for the 2006 World Cup. 2005 will be a busy year internationally as all 5 Confederations make their representatives known for the World’s Biggest Sporting Stage
Ronaldinho-For my money the best player on the planet right now, the self proclaimed ugly but charming player has been another reason for FC Barcelona’s return to top of the Spanish league. FIFA’s World Player of the Year will be looking to help ease Brazil to another World Cup appearance.
Suspension. 8 months worth. That’s what Rio Ferdindand received for missing a drug test that he passed the next day. Not for failing it. For missing it. His long suspension, only one month less than a player who acutally FAILED his test a year earlier, cost Manchester United their best defender and led to their nose dive in the 2nd half of the season. Rio also missed out on England’s Euro2004 campaign, the start of the 2004-05 season and suffered a huge dent to his reputation.
Tim Howard was named GK of the year in the English Premiereship after signing for Manchester United shortly before the 2003-04 season. After starring for the NY/NJ Metrostars he immediately impressed between the sticks at Old Trafford. Fatigue and maybe the pressure caught up to him during the 2nd half of the season but he recovered to become the first American to win the FA Cup.
Undefeated-This is what Arsenal was for 49 games, going the entire 2003-04 season without losing a single match in England and smashing an unbeaten record that had stood for 100 years. Led by the likes of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira they are top to bottom the best side in England despite their current 2nd place standing.
Vieira, Patrick. Arsenal’s inspirational captain helped control the midfield during Arsenal’s ridiculous 49 match unbeaten streak. Now he sets his sights on bringing it for France as new captain. France have had an indifferent start to the WCQ campaign and need to get in gear to start to erase the bitter memories of the 2002 World Cup. “When will people in certain European Countries enter the 21st century?” Just one of the articles from The Black Athlete Sports Network I wrote over the past few months. Thanks again to BASN for allowing me to spread the gospel about the beautiful game
Xpectations arose for Tunisia (Ok that was a stretch) as they captured their first international titled by winning the 2004 African Cup of Nations on home soil. Always one of the most consistent sides in Africa they took it up a notch behind the play of Zied Jaziri, Slim Benachour and naturalized Brazillian Dos Santos Silva.
Yorke, Dwight. About 5 years ago, this cat was on top of the world. He was a main reason for Manchester United’s treble, scoring goals like whoa, recognized as a top player in Europe and was almost revered in his native Trinidad and Tobago. One big fake breasted white model, several late arrivals to practice, one drop in the forward rotation to 5th out of 4 strikers, the indignity of not getting a squad number, a protracted move to Blackburn where he almost got his leg broken by his manager and a move to another club where he was racially abused later, Dwight Yorke can’t seem to get it right. Will a return to the TnT set up help him get his groove back?
Zinedine Zidane hung his international boots after Euro2004 but the man who led France to World and European titles in 1998 and 2000 respectively showed a last glimpse of his brilliance with 2 injury time goals to defeat England in their opening match of Euro2004. A supreme talent that France is already missing.
Merry Christmas everyone and may the New Year bring lots of beautiful through balls, few studs high tackles from behind and lots and lots of golazos! Enjoy the Beautiful Game!!