Wednesday, April 4

Stories Of the Day: International Issues

No matter how much you may want to forget about it, the topic of Olympic Soccer is not going away…

Injury Concerns: The United States Women have played seven friendlies since wrapping up their Olympic qualifying campaign, and fellow qualifier Canada has also played some recent exhibitions. Both were fortunate not to lose any significant players to injury. The same can’t be said, however, for England. The Brits may have lost star striker Kelly Smith for the Olympic tournament not from playing a friendly, but from a promotional video shoot.

Smith is expected to be out for two months, making fitness and availability a major concern for the July 25 Olympic break start date.  The injury was an aggravation of a stress fracture that remained from a broken leg she previously suffered. It was worsened while not wearing a protective boot when she kicked a ball during a video shoot.

Keeping Caleb Porter?: US Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann held a media conference call today, and among the topics was the U23 team  led by Caleb Porter. Klinsmann: "We had a long meeting with Caleb and discussed the whole experience. Obviously it's a huge disappointment for all of us not having our Olympic team going to London this summer. The goal is to keep Caleb connected to us, because we really think that he has a lot of upside. I think he learned a tremendous amount during the last four months."  

The idea of keeping Porter will anger many, but if Klinsmann likes the style Porter is instilling in the players for transition to the senior team, then this makes sense. As I noted in a previous post about the Olympic failure, I think we have moved past a point where we need to live and die on the performance of our youth national teams. They should be used for development and not be relied upon to be our standard bearer on the international stage – that is what the senior team does.

Klinsmann: "How mature are they really for the senior team level? You look at these players and say, 'OK, they couldn't get the job done, so where are they in the bigger picture going into our May/June camp?”

Toronto Trounced in Mexico: The fact Toronto FC led on two occasions in the first half gave many some false hope as they eventually fell 6-2 in Torreon, 7-3 on aggregate. It is a familiar result with Seattle being bounced by the same club, 7-3 on aggregate, in the last round due to a 6-1 loss in Torreon.

It is nothing new either as many clubs from all over the confederation run into the same problem in Mexico. The heartbreak goes back to the tournament’s debut when the Montreal Impact, then second division, saw a 2-0 first leg lead vanish against the very same club in a 5-2 second leg loss in the quarterfinals and the Puerto Rico Islanders saw their 2-0 home win countered with a 3-1 road loss to Cruz Azul in the semifinals.

Maybe Seattle and Toronto can take solace in the fact that it just seems to be the year for Santos Laguna and defending champion Monterrey. Monterrey drubbed fellow Mexican side Morelia, 7-2 on aggregate, in the quarterfinals and is dominating the other semifinal series, up 4-0 aggregate at halftime as I write, against another Mexican foe, Pumas.

Back on Track: It has been a week since the last edition of SOD; and for good reason. I have been working on creating a new site to cover my home region – Inland Northwest Soccer News. It is off to humble beginnings with plenty of room and plans to grow. We may not have any pro clubs in the region, but it is not exactly void of the game; so I want to share it with everyone. As for the The Soccer Barn, I am also planning to add more coverage of lower division soccer to the mix, also a topic lightly covered on a national scope.

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