Tom Marshall – The World Cup Excitement Is Building For Everyone

In this week’s spotlight, Tom Marshall joins Glenn to discuss all the hot topics dealing with the World Cup.

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Tom Marshall

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GD:
What’s the countries mood concerning Mexico going into the World Cup?

TM:
I think everyone in Mexico, generally like everyone else in the world, is very excited and ready. There are some optimism with the last two friendly matches. The first thing they want is to get out of the group. This will be very difficult with the group Mexico is in. It’s exiting to see everyone gearing up for the World Cup really.

GD:
How much stock can you put into these warm up games prior to the World Cup?

TM:
I think from the Mexican point of view I really think they were vital. Miguel Herrera just started to coach the national team in November. I believe he just had four games with his complete squad, including the European players and having everyone fit. To see the results with what he had was quite promising.

To hear the rest of the interview with Tom Marshall you can find it here:

http://espn975.com/page.php?page_id=211

Remember to tune in next week on Monday as we go live after the United States and Ghana match. Let’s hear your voice, opinions, and go U S A!

Weekend Watch List: August 9-11th

I sure do love August! While the summer comes to a close, it means the opening of European domestic leagues, starting this weekend with the German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1! Let’s get after it!

Must Watch Matches:
*Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Monchengladbach

**Friday, August 9th at 1:30 pm CST on GOL TV
***True to the letter, Bayern Munich looks to start right where they left off at the end of the season by taking on Borussia Monchengladbach to kick off the 2013-14 Bundesliga season. In their final fixture of 2012-13, Bayern sent off manager Jupp Heynckes with an entertaining 4-3 victory over Gladbach, with a Franck Ribery brace and Javi Martinez and Arjen Robben each getting on the score sheet. However, under new manager Pep Guardiola, we will expect to see a slightly different Bayern side than last season, with the additions of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara looking to make Bayern’s attack even more dangerous. Meanwhile Gladbach’s squad is relatively unchanged since last season, maintaining almost all of their main players and just adding three new signings in Max Kruse who had a brilliant first season in the Bundesliga last year with SC Freiburg, Christoph Kramer from Bayer Leverkusen, and Raffael from Dynamo Kyiv.

*Montpellier vs. Paris Saint-Germain
**Friday, August 9th at 1:30 pm CST on BeIN Sport and Univision Deportes
***Ligue 1 action kicks off this weekend as well with the league title holders Paris Saint-Germain making a visit to Montpellier. This year’s PSG squad is looking even more dangerous than before with the addition of Edinson Cavani from Napoli in the summer transfer window. After claiming the Trophée des Champions following a late comeback in a 2-1 win over Bordeaux last weekend, PSG now set their sights on repeating the Ligue 1 title under the new management of Laurent Blanc. Fun Fact: PSG boss Laurent Blanc is the all-time leading scorer for Montpellier.

*Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo
**Saturday, August 10th at 8:30 pm CST on Comcast Sports Net
***Fresh off their 3-1 win over Columbus on the weekend, the Dynamo are on the road to take on Real Salt Lake in my MLS game to watch this weekend. All eyes were on the Dynamo attack, which is finally getting goals from strikers Cam Weaver and Will Bruin, and the spectacular form that Oscar Boniek Garcia has been in of late. However, this attack is having to go up against arguably the best shot-stopper in the league in Nick Rimando. While Rimando, Tony Beltran, and Kyle Beckerman were out with the Gold Cup squad, Salt Lake struggled but still remained atop the standings. With them back, Real is once again one of the strongest MLS sides. This weekend’s match will be a midfield battle with the Dynamo’s creative attackers such as Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis going head to head with Beckerman and Javier Morales.

*León vs. Morelia
**Saturday, August 10th at 8:06 pm CST on Telemundo
***While not the headline clubs in Mexico, these two squads have gotten off to hot starts in Apertura 2013 already. León is unbeaten so far in 4 games with two solid wins over Atlas and Atalante, led by Mexican internationals Carlos Peña and Luis Montes as well as new signing Mauro Boselli. Morelia has been on a goal scoring tear so far this season with 10 goals in 4 games led by the lethal Jefferson Montero with 5 goals and Hector Mancilla with 4. If you want a high scoring match, this game is for you!

*UANL Tigres vs. Monterrey
**Saturday, August 10th at 7:00 pm CST on UniMas
***You’ve got to love a good Mexican league rivalry, and this match is one of the biggest. Despite slow starts for both in Apertura 2013, Tigres and Monterrey have the two best all-around squads in the league and are expected to turn it on in this edition of Clásico Regiomontano. Tigres finally got their first positive result of the season with a 2-0 win over Pumas with Danilinho and Damiám Alvarez getting on the score sheet. Meanwhile, Monterrey have had three draws so far with Dorlan Pabon netting 3 times for los Rayados and Humberto Suazo picking up his slick form right where he left off last season.

Honorable Mention:
*Bordeaux vs. AS Monaco

**Saturday, August 10th at 2:00 pm CST on BeIN Sport
***Not very often does one recommend watching a team that was just promoted to the first league, however with all the cash AS Monaco has splashed out this summer it is definitely a club to watch in the French first division this season. New signings include Radamel Falcao from Atlético Madrid, James Rodríguez and João Moutinho from Porto, Jérémy Toulalan from Málaga, Ricardo Carvalho from Real Madrid, and Eric Abidal from Barcelona, just to name a few. It will be interesting to see what manager Claudio Ranieri can get from this hodge podge of new and old players.

*Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic
**Sunday, August 1tth at 8:00 am CST on Fox Soccer
***David Moyes looks to kick off his reign as Manchester United manager with some silverware as the Red Devils take on relegated FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield on Sunday. Despite a lukewarm showing in their pre-season tour, United is confident they will not suffer a similar fate as their “noisy neighbors” Manchester City did when they were upset by Wigan in the FA Cup Final last May. Also under new management, Wigan has been steadily rebuilding their squad with 10 new signings under manager Owen Coyle as they prepare to fight for promotion from the Championship league.

*Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders
**Saturday, August 10th at 6:00 pm CST on FirstRowSport.eu
***Not sure if you’ve heard but a certain someone caused massive waves in the soccer world this week with his transfer from the English Premier league to the MLS. No, not another old European, it’s the American, Clint Dempsey who completed a move from Tottenham Hotspur to the Seattle Sounders in a deal worth $33 million (Dempsey’s salary is now a whopping $24 million). No word yet on whether or not Dempsey will make his first appearance for the Sounders this weekend (he has reportedly been sick this week) but rest assured, Seattle is now even more so a threat and title contender in the MLS this season.

Make sure to check out my final Weekend Watch List next week!

Questions, Comments, Concerns, Recommendations?
@CariGelal

An Interview with Oscar Boniek Garcia

Earlier this week Glenn had the opportunity to catch up with the Houston Dynamo’s midfield maestro Oscar Boniek Garcia to chat about the Dynamo, Honduras, and his life in soccer. Oscar is translated by Lester Gretsch.

GD: Do you feel like you are getting back into a better rhythm now, based off of injury and national team call-ups?
OBG: Over the last 3 or 4 games that I’ve played I’ve felt definitely more dynamic, I felt, a lot more desire to play. Definitely being involved with the team and being consistently playing has helped me get back into the groove of things so I’m definitely feeling a lot better than I did a few weeks ago.

GD: I got the sense against Chicago that he seems to be continuing to platform forward, is that the way you feel?
OBG: Yeah that obviously the case. Obviously depending on how the game is going and what Dom wants me to do on the field I may be getting a little bit further than you’re used to seeing me on the field but yeah, that’s something I’m trying to do more and more of as the season progresses.

GD: Does your role change by the game and by the opponent for the Dynamo? For instance are there certain games where he’s asked to attack more or certain games where he’s asked to play wide more or certain games where he’s asked to come into the interior of the midfield. Does your role change a lot based on opponents?
OBG: I don’t think so. I think it’s more of a case of the amount of space that I am given by the opposing club and also how the club is going. I always try to do the same level of work, try to be consistent in the way I perform on the field, but it just depends on how, like I said, how the game is going and whether I have those opportunities to get a little bit more forward than usual.

GD: We all know you’re great in tight areas, you’re great taking people on, you’re a breakdown type of player, how is that sort of nurtured, going back to your youth?
OBG: In Honduras I always used to play a lot of 5v5 soccer and on small fields and that definitely helped me develop my game and helped me develop the way I like to handle those situations and once I came over here, you know just acquiring the technique and the knowledge of soccer and the philosophy that they like to implement among players here has certainly taken my game to a whole new level in that regard.

GD: Is it the happiest you are, when you’re playing soccer?
OBG: I think so. I think that whenever I’m on the field and whenever I have a ball at my feet I’m at my happiest.

GD: How about Honduras in the Gold Cup. Was it difficult watching and not being able to play for them?
OBG: Yeah unfortunately it was frustrating and also sad just knowing that I couldn’t be there to help my country and my national team, help fulfill a goal that has eluded us for many years which is reaching a final. But definitely it’s just one of those things that happen. I knew that I wasn’t going to be playing the Gold Cup well in advanced so I wasn’t surprised but I was prepared for it. But definitely it’s just one of those things that happen, sometimes you just gotta grin and bear it and watch from the outside looking in.

GD: Let’s talk about Honduras in World Cup Qualifying. How do you feel about where the team is positioned in the ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?
OBG: I definitely feel good about our chances. I know that we have four very difficult games coming up, especially the first one against Mexico in Mexico, but given the current state of affairs with the Mexican National Team I think that can actually be a game changer for us and for them as well, but particularly speaking for Honduras it could be one of these game that can actually give us the confidence we need to be able to get over that hurdle and qualify for the World Cup.

GD: How about the manager, Luis Suarez, for Honduras. What type of manager is he and do you like his coaching style?
OBG: As a person, he’s a very good person. He’s one that always likes for players to have an open dialogue with him to always bring up his problems or their problems and vice versa. He doesn’t like his players to keep things bottled up inside. As a coach he’s very demanding. He always expects the most out of his players, he always pushes them to the max. But of course, obviously, just like with any other coach when the results don’t go the team’s way, obviously the first one to blame would be him. But obviously he’s definitely a person who can take us where we need to go.

GD: How about a quick word on your trial over at Paris Saint-Germain. What was that like when you went over there? I know you played some friendly games for them so what was your European experience like?
OBG: It helped me learn a lot, not only as a person, on a personal level, but on a soccer level, on a professional level. It was a very intense period of 10 days where I just learned a lot and was able to develop a better understanding of how things are done in Europe and also how things would be done here in the United States, because there is also a great level of skill and a great level of professionalism in the league here in this country.

GD: We know you are a symbol to the Honduran fans and obviously there are a lot of Honduran fans here in Houston, how do we get more of those fans out to the games? I know some of them come but there are so many more! Any ideas?
OBG: Yeah I’m really proud of Central American people, particularly Honduran fans, that come out and support their teams, particularly during the Gold Cup. As we saw recently, whenever we played international games here that they really come out in great numbers but I really don’t have a clear idea as to what needs to be done in order to bring these people out in a more regular fashion to Dynamo games and to watch MLS. It’s probably just going to take some time and it will be a matter of just continuing to plug away and promote to those communities.

GD: Is there something specific the Honduran fan looks for when it comes to watching soccer live in a stadium?

OBG: Yeah, in my view I think just seeing an Honduran player not only playing here locally but also playing with the Dynamo, I think that should be motivation enough to get a lot of these people to come out and support the national team players.

Weekend Watch List: August 2-4th

I do love a good preseason! Especially when we get to see top clubs that wouldn’t normally get the chance to play each other face off in “friendlies”. This weekend, we’ve got some of these friendlies coming your way with the Guinness International Champions Cup and, of course, some good ‘ole MLS and Liga MX league matches.

Must Watch Games:
*Juventus vs. L.A. Galaxy

**Saturday, August 3rd at 7:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***Okay, so my bracket may have already been busted and in my opinion, it is all Andrea Pirlo’s fault. He decided to miss his penalty (which would have won the match for Juventus) to prove to the world that he is, in fact, human. Just kidding. Sort of. Not Really. Despite making a comeback in the second half (including a stunner from Asamoah outside the box), Juventus couldn’t make that final push to get past Tim Howard and Everton, losing 5-6 on penalties. Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Coach Bruce Arena decided to give the young guys a shot against one of the strongest squads in Europe. For perspective, Real Madrid’s starting frontline: Angel di Maria, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo. L. A.’s: Jack McBean(18 years old) and Jose Villarreal(19 years old). Even without the likes of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, L.A. held their own and only lost 3-1 with the highlight of the game centering on Jose Villarreal’s sweet control and stinging shot in the 63rd minute.

*Everton vs. Real Madrid
**Saturday, August 3rd at 9:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***Well, Everton, aka the bracketbusters, impressed on Wednesday night with Roberto Martinez’s young squad seeming calm, composed, and dangerous, even with the immense pressure applied by Juventus in the second half (and when I say calm and composed, check out 19 year old John Stones cheekily chip the keeper in a must score situation in the penalty shootout). Everton’s marquee signing this summer, the highly touted U-19 Spanish international Gerard Deulofeu (on loan from Barcelona) did not feature in the game against Juventus but will hopefully see the pitch in the game against Real Madrid. Meanwhile, in Real Madrid’s opener, people came to see Cristiano Ronaldo but it was Isco, the 21-year-old new signing from Malaga who stole the show (and hearts of all the ladies in the stadium). The Spanish U-21 international playmaker lit up Lucas Oil Stadium, taking part in both goals via beautiful long balls over the top of the defense.

*Valencia vs. Inter Milan
**Sunday, August 4th at 3:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***It’s been a tough to 2013-2014 campaign for Valencia, and the season hasn’t even started yet. Los Che have yet to get a win so far in preseason (4 losses and a 0-0 draw) and have just lost their top goal scoring talisman Roberto Soldado to Tottenham Hotspur. Inter have had a slightly better start to their preseason (3 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss) under new manager Walter Mazzarri but have yet to form a distinct identity as a group. Inter lost their opener 2-0 to Chelsea while Valencia lost their opener 2-1 to A.C. Milan in their home stadium Estadio de Mestalla last weekend.

*A.C. Milan vs. Chelsea
**Sunday, August 4th at 5:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***Despite logging approximately 15000 miles traveling from their tour of Asia to the United States, Chelsea looked fresh and smooth, cruising out to a 2-0 lead in the first 30 minutes of the game against Inter Milan. Now the Blues face another team from the Italian city: A.C. Milan who were able to dispatch a lackluster Valencia squad 2-1 in Estadio de Mestalla last weekend before traveling to Munich to compete in the 2013 Audi Cup against Manchester City and Sao Paulo.

*Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls
**Saturday, August 3rd at 5:30 pm CST on NBC Sports Network
***This week’s most mouth-watering match up is an Eastern Conference top-of-the-table showdown between Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls. So far, Kansas City has gotten the better of New York this season with a 1-0 win at Red Bull Arena. As always, Thierry Henry is putting together another fantastic season heading the Red Bulls frontline, while Graham Zusi is always worth watching pull the strings in the midfield.

Honorable Mention:
*Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew

**Saturday, August 3rd at 8:00 pm CST on Comcast Sports Net
***The Houston Dynamo are coming off a 1-1 draw last weekend against the Chicago Fire in which, despite earning Houston’s first goal from a striker since May 8th, saw Houston create a decent amount of chances but fail to capitalize on them. Meanwhile, Columbus has been struggling the past month with only 1 win in their last 4 matches and are looking to start off this new month and new era in ownership (Precourt Sports Ventures announced they have acquired the club from Hunts Sports Group on Tuesday) by getting a result off the Dynamo.

*Veracruz vs. Cruz Azul
**Saturday, August 3rd at 5:00 pm CST on Univision Deportes
***If you would have told me that Veracruz would be leading the table 3 weeks ago I would have laughed in your face, however, I love being proved wrong! Veracruz has come flying out of the gates in Apertura 2013, scoring 8 goals in 3 matches and led brilliantly by Angel Reyna’s 5 goals and 1 assist. The 28-year-old new signing has already matched his tally of 5 goals from his 16 appearances on loan at Pachuca in the 2013 Clausura from Monterrey and is looking like he is getting back some of the brilliance we saw from him at Monterrey and Club America. Cruz Azul has yet to get back the form they saw in Clausura 2013 and have been struggling to find cohesion in the attack.

*Portland Thorns FC vs. Kansas City FC
**Sunday, August 4th at 7:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***Miss U.S. Women’s National team action? Well we have what is gearing up to be the biggest match in the new NWSL between second placed Portland Thorns and league leaders Kansas City FC. Alex Morgan, Rachel Buehler, Christine Sinclair, and Tobin Heath will all be featuring for the Portland Thorns as they face off against Lauren Cheney, Nicole Barnhart, and Becky Sauerbrunn for Kansas City FC, just to name a few names. To continue name dropping, Glenn Davis will be calling the match!

Written by Cari Gelal
@CariGelal

Weekend Watch List: July 26-28th

Keeping it short and sweet this week but sometimes you just have to go with quality over quantity!

*USA vs. Panama
**Sunday, July 28th at 3:00 pm CST on FOX (Coverage starts at 2:30 pm CST)
***It’s final time, and for this year’s Gold Cup final, we have ourselves a matchup that wasn’t the most highly favored, but is not surprising. While many Americans were hoping to get another clasico final in which the U.S. could exact revenge from their 4-2 loss in the last Gold Cup final, Mexico bowed out in the semis on Wednesday after falling for a second time to Panama 2-1 in this tournament. The United States have been the strongest team in the tournament by far, undefeated in 9 games and scoring 19 goals in the tournament so far. Even though this is considered the U.S.’s “B-team”, it is still one of the strongest U.S. squads we have seen in awhile, their only achilles’ heel being defending set pieces. The U.S. defense is going to have to firing on all cylinders when they face Panama on Sunday, whom are in possession of their own red-hot offense, balanced through the pairings of gritty veterans like Blas Perez and fiery young star Gabriel Torres. This is going to be a shootout of epic proportions!

*Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich
**Saturday, July 27th at 1:30 pm CST on Gol TV
***Nostalgic for first class European football? Well, fear not, we have rematch of the last season’s UEFA Champions League final in this year’s German Supercup match to whet your appetite for the upcoming season. Bayern Munich have shown no signs of slipping up on their fantastic form coming off last year’s Treble winning season, despite a managerial change and all the tweaks to the squad. So far they have been dominating their opponents in the preseason by enormous margins, most recently a 2-0 win over new manager Pep Guardiola’s former club Barcelona on Wednesday. Now Guardiola and Bayern will look to snub Jurgen Klopp and Dortmund of yet another trophy. Dortmund is going through yet another summer of swinging doors, with players transferring in like Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shaktar Donetsk and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Saint-Etienne and those transferring out of the club, most notably Moritz Leitner to Stuttgart and, of course, what is likely to be the biggest topic of conversation going into this game, Mario Goetze to Bayern Munich.

*Valencia vs. AC Milan
**Saturday, July 27th at 1:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***The Guinness International Champions Cup tournament kicks off this weekend with the first matchup going between Valencia of Spain and Italian side AC Milan. After finishing off last season on a high, Valencia hasn’t done much to shake things up in the transfer market, the only notable additions being Javi Fuego from Rayo Vallecano, Michel from Levante, and Oriol Romeu on loan from Chelsea. However, with the seemingly imminent departure of Spanish international striker Roberto Soldado to Tottenham Hotspur, Valencia have a lot of work to do to shore up their squad. AC Milan is looking to get their feet under them after a lackluster start to the preseason, beating Juventus 7-6 in penalties following a 0-0 draw and then falling to newly-promoted side Sassuolo 2-1. With their headliners all expected to be present, this AC Milan squad is looking promising.

*New York Red Bulls vs. Real Salt Lake
**Saturday, July 27th at 6:00 pm CST on FirstRowSports.eu
***In the MLS game to watch this week we have two teams that are flying high right now in great form. While Real Salt Lake finally had their 8 game undefeated streak snapped by a 97th minute goal from a strong and resilient Kansas City side, Real is still the most consistently dominant team in the league so far this season. New York, on the other hand, has put together one of the most inconsistent streaks in the league, with brilliant results being followed by baffling ones every week. It is uncertain which New York side we will see show up, but when the Red Bulls are clicking, they could prove to be extremely tough for Real Salt Lake to handle.

*Santos Laguna vs. Cruz Azul
**Friday, July 26th at 9:30 pm CST on Univision Deportes
***After a disappointing end to last season, losing to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final and getting bumped out in the semifinals in the 2013 Clausura playoffs by Cruz Azul, Santos is looking to get their Apertura 2013 campaign off to a flying start with a win over Cruz Azul. The club is going through a sort of remodeling period, getting rid of players such as Daniel Luduena and Herculez Gomez and bringing in younger players in Eduardo Herrera from Pumas as well as two Cruz Azul stars in Javier “Chuleta” Orozco and Nestor Araujo, yet the squad will still be very well organized and coached under Portuguese manager Pedro Caixinha. Cruz Azul have already shown that they are a team to be reckoned with, winning the Copa MX and making it to the Clausura 2013 finals last season and starting their Apertura season off last weekend with a big 1-0 win over a strong Monterrey side.

Written by Cari Gelal
@CariGelal

Coaches’ Corner: Stoke City’s Mark Hughes

Ahead of the Dynamo’s clash with Stoke City in the Dynamo Charities Cup, Glenn had the chance to chat with new manager Mark Hughes about being named manager of Stoke City, how the team is shaping up this preseason, and more!

GD: When you first looked at the Stoke City job, talk to me a little bit about the appeal of taking the job?
MK: Well, when the decision to make the change at Stoke was made, obviously the attraction was that it was a very stable club, it was a club that obviously wanted to make a change and wanted to go in a different direction and thankfully they picked me to work that change. I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve found at the club. It’s very stable in it’s ownership and in the group of players that we’re working with now, which includes obviously your compatriots. They’ve really impressed in terms of their technical ability as well, so I’m really happy that I’m working with them and I’m looking ahead to the future now because I think the future is going to be very good for us.

GD: Mark, you came in and made it very clear that the playing style is going to change, is going to be less direct football in many ways. You’ve made some changes obviously that reflect that with new signings. How difficult is it to come into a situation like this and really change the purpose of play?
MH: Well, yeah I think it’s evolution rather than revolution. I’m not just going to come in and turn out the template that’s worked very well for Stoke, they’ve stayed in the Premier League for 5-6 years or so and that’s no mere feat. But certainly I think given the way I’ve always tried to set up my teams before and there’s obviously going to be a change in the way we approach games, but fundamentals never change and in terms of defensive work, we’re very good at that aspect of the game and those fundamentals won’t change, I’ll have a good base to work from. But certainly going in an attacking frame of mind is something I want to instill in the minds of my players and make us more expansive if we can and possibly dictate to the opposition better than we have been able to do in the past possibly. So, there’s a lot of work to be done before we can get to that level so, as I said, it’s got to be evolutionally, we’ve got to do it step by step and at the right pace but given the technical ability in the group I think we’ll get there quite quickly.

GD: Will the signings of Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa sort of symbolize this move to that type of football?
MH: Well, possibly. I think that people have picked up on the fact that we’re maybe working in different markets than the club has done in the past and we’ve been able to attract two very, very accomplished young players here as well which is something I want to do. I think it’s important that we’re viewed as a club that is progressive in terms of bringing players in and developing the and making them better and that’s something I’ve always tried to do wherever I’ve been. Bringing in Marc and Erik who are very accomplished and they actually fill certainly a void on that left-hand side because we were very short in numbers in terms of players that were naturally left-sided players, so we’ve brought two naturally gifted players on that left-hand side and have been able to obviously address a weakness in the bounds of the playing group and I’m happy with that and certainly delighted with the quality that we’ve been able to use to do that.

GD: Mark, just to comment a little bit on preseason so far, I think you were in France and if I’m correct, I think you’re about 10 days into it maybe?
MH: Yeah, we had a short break and we’re in our second week now. We had a great break in Evian overlooking Lake Geneva, if you ever get the opportunity to go I’d recommend it! It was perfect, the hotel was in a good situation, we had excellent training facilities within 200 yards of the hotel so everything about the training camp was first class and [it did a lot for me], in terms of getting the guys away together as a group and being with them 24/7, letting them understand a little bit more about how I operate and obviously allowing myself to have a real understanding on what they’re like on an individual basis as well as on a playing level so it helped on many levels, the trip. So we’re back at the training ground now, about to get a week’s work, and looking forward to the trip now.

GD: How about a quick comment on Geoff Cameron and, obviously, Brek Shea is not in camp with you, he’s with the U.S. National Team but he did score last night, how about those two young American players and what you see out of them?
MH: Yeah I’m looking forward to working with them. Geoff’s not yet with us, I gave him an extra week because he’s been playing non-stop football for about 2 years now so he was due a little bit of extra time off so I thought I’d give him an extra week. So he didn’t actually come on the break away to Evian but he’s back touring with the group now, he started Monday, and he’s showed a lot of ability which obviously I was aware of before I got the position here. He’s a good character, seems like a guy with a good personality, got a smile on his face and I’ve enjoyed his company in the short time I’ve been with him. Obviously in terms of Brek it’s been a bit more difficult because I haven’t really been able to get close to him on any level at this point but I’ve been talking with Jurgen Klinsmann for a couple of weeks now in terms of what his plans for Brek were and my plans obviously so we’ve been trying to get the best solution for everybody. We’re pleased, obviously, that he did well last night and scored a goal and at some point in the future I’ll get the opportunity to work with him but it hasn’t happened yet but it will in the future.

GD: Mark, I know you’ve made a number of changes, obviously the two we mentioned in Pieters and Muniesa, is there still some moves to be made by you guys and are you still pretty active in the transfer market ahead of everything?
MH: Yeah I think so. It’s difficult to bring the right quality in to the club. It’s a process that sometimes works very well and very quickly but other times if you’re pursuing a player and it takes forever and in the end you sometimes miss out. It’s not an exact science, you just have to take every deal on it’s own merits and hope that if you can bring the right quality in then you’re able to do it. We’ll look at what’s in the market and see what we think is appropriate for ourselves and we’ll try, obviously, to bring good quality players to the group we already have. But at the moment and in the next few weeks basically from my point of view it’s about really assessing the group that I have because it’s still early days in terms of my understanding of what I’ve got in the building. So, the next few weeks I’ll get a better understanding and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the group I am working with.

GD: Quickly just talk about the intensity of the pressure of being a manager in the EPL and how do you handle that personally, since you’re under the microscope 24/7 as a manager?
MH: Yeah, it’s tough. It can be unrelenting. There’s this huge interest in the Premier League now as you can imagine and it’s worldwide. When I started playing football, certainly it wasn’t the focus on managers and players as there is now. So it’s a step up in terms of that level but it’s something you have to deal with, it’s part of the parcel of your job description, the fact that you have to deal with the media and all the platforms people have to voice opinions and if you don’t win football matches, that never changes, then you come under pressure, so you have to deal with it. You have to have a strong mentality, you have to be, at times, conscious of what people are saying, but be strong enough in your own mentality to be strong in knowing that your football philosophy is the right one to follow. It tests you, and you have to be able to withstand scrutiny at all levels but in terms of a way to earn a living, it’s unbeaten. It’s a wonderful life. I’ve been very fortunate, I had a very good playing career and managerial career and to continue. I work exceptionally hard, you have to, to keep yourself current and the next few years will hopefully bring more success for me and for Stoke I hope.

GD: When you were a player at Manchester United, you had a very effective career there, scored a ton of goals for United, and then you moved to Chelsea. How difficult was that, just from the reaction of fans in making that move?
MH: Well, it was probably more difficult for myself because up until that point I had never played for a different club in the English League prior to Man United. I’d been playing in Europe for Barcelona and Bayern Munich but I came back to United, so I’d never actually played for another English team so the change for myself was difficult initially but I had had a wonderful career at Man United and then I got the opportunity to go to Chelsea, we’re talking late nineties when they weren’t certainly in the situation financially that they are now and I went there, probably, at the beginning of the cycle of success that they’ve had. I think I signed on the same day as the great Dutch international Ruud Gullit who went on to be the manager of Chelsea and we won trophies and I had a great time there. I had three good years and the fans were great with me, I think initially it was a shock to them that a Manchester United player was signing because obviously there was a big rivalry, and still is as you can imagine, between the two clubs but I think that once they understood that I was there to do my best for the club then they embraced me and I had three fantastic years.

GD: Last question. Your perception of Major League Soccer from the outside and what you think is going on at the professional level of football here in the United States?
MH: I think what strikes everybody from outside the U.S. is the quality that is going to America now and the quality of the league is obviously improving year after year and I think now they’re at a stage in their development as a league and, given the profile of the players that are coming over, it’s as healthy as it’s ever been. There’s a huge interest in soccer obviously at the lower levels and it’s about making sure that there’s a pathway from playing games of soccer at school level and college level, there needs to be a pathway right into the professional league and I think that’s what’s happening now and I think the league will be more healthy because of that.

Transcribed by Cari Gelal
@CariGelal

Weekend Watch List: July 19-21st

Can you smell it? It’s the start of a new season, as Liga MX action resumes this weekend after a climactic battle which saw Club América stun Cruz Azul with two late goals and a 4-2 penalty shootout win in the 2013 Clausura final. This weekend I will preview what to watch on the opening weekend of the Apertura 2013 as well as some great Gold Cup quarterfinal matchups and MLS action.

Must Watch Games:
*USA vs. El Salvador

**Sunday, July 21st at 3:00 pm CST on FOX (Coverage starts at 2:30 pm CST)
***Let’s start off with the good ol’ US of A! After spanking both Belize and Cuba by a combined 10-2 goals, the U.S. we just barely able to breach Costa Rica’s stubborn defense through a Brek Shea goal off a corner kick counterattack in the 82nd minute which hoisted the U.S. 1-0 over the Central American side. Now with the new CONCACAF regulation, Klinsmann has revamped his squad going into the knockout round, bringing in Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Eddie Johnson, and Alan Gordon to replace Oguchi Onyewu, Jack McInerney, Herculez Gomez, and Corey Ashe. Klinsmann was the only coach to use all four of his allotted changes, while his counterpart in the game Sunday, El Salvador manager Agustín Castillo, made no changes to his squad that finished third in Group B. El Salvador had a decent performance in the group stage with their only loss coming in a great game 1-0 against group winners Honduras. Normally used as a second striker, Rodolfo Zelaya has been in terrific form this tournament and has all of El Salvador’s goals so far, meanwhile, the U.S. have been getting significant goal scoring contributions from many of its squad but San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski has been in pristine form, finding himself in the right place in the right time to put away 5 goals in the group stage alone.

*México vs. Trinidad and Tobago
**Saturday, July 20th at 5:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer (Coverage starts at 5:00 pm CST)
***Starting off the Group A opener with a very disappointing loss to Panama, México was able to pull itself together and get two important wins over Canada and Martinique to progress to the knockout phase. However, El Trí must continue this winning form if they are to repeat their title. Their first obstacle: Trinidad and Tobago. The small Central American country has had a whirlwind of a Gold Cup so far, showing they can bring it when they face a team of higher quality (beating Honduras 2-0) and yet sputtering against other teams (losing 2-0 to Haiti). Both teams have made changes to their roster, with Trinidad and Tobago bringing on the Columbus Crew’s Kevan George in place of Khaleem Hyland and México swapping defender Darvin Chavez with midfielder Jose Maria Cardenas.

*Cruz Azul vs. Monterrey
**Saturday, July 20th at 5:00 pm CST on Univision Deportes
***Talk about a juicy season opener. Let’s pit the Clausura 2013 Copa MX champions against the 3-time CONCACAF Champions League winners! Monterrey has without a doubt one of the strongest teams in Liga MX. Although they lost a major player in Aldo de Nigris to Chivas, the future of the attack looks to be safe with the signing of 25-year-old Colombian Dorlan Pabon who has been a goal-scoring terror in his homeland over the past few years. With a mix of accomplished experienced players like Humberto Suazo, Jonathan Orozco, Hiram Mier, and Jesus Zavala along with some fiery youth like Jesus “El Tecatito” Corona, Monterrey will be looking to challenge for that elusive Liga MX championship title to go along with their Champions League ones. After losing the final of the Clausura 2013 championship in heartbreaking fashion, Cruz Azul are looking to use the Apertura 2013 as a way to break their 16 year Liga MX title drought. So far, Cruz Azul has done little to alter their strong squad anchored in the back by Mexico international goalkeeper Jesús Corona.

*Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City
**Saturday, July 20th at 9:00 pm CST on FirstRowSports.eu
***It’s the Kings of the East versus the Kings of the West as Eastern conference leaders Kansas City travel to the fortress that is Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Western conference leaders Real Salt Lake. Real are unbeaten in 8 games, most recently beating down on the already slumping FC Dallas 3-0 last weekend while Kansas City dished out an identical beating to Toronto FC on Saturday and are unbeaten in their last 5 matches.

*Honduras vs. Costa Rica
**Sunday, July 21st at 6:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer (Coverage starts at 5:30 pm CST)
***Honduras will take on Costa Rica in what is probably the most even matchup of the quarter finals. Honduras may have slipped up in their final match, losing 2-0 to Trinidad and Tobago, but they were still able to finish atop Group B following their wins over Haiti and El Salvador. While this Honduras squad is weaker than we have expected it to be (Oscar Boniek Garcia being the most notable absentee owing to his role in World Cup Qualifying), the Hondurans has made one change to their squad following the end of group play, exchanging Johnny Palacios with fellow defender Erick Norales. Costa Rica has not made any changes to their squad that has easily been one of the best teams in the tournament, crushing Cuba 3-0 and holding the U.S.’s fluid offense for 82 minutes before losing 1-0. Their only stumble in the tournament has been against Belize where they won 1-0 despite needing an own-goal from Belize to put them on the board.

Honorable Mention:
*Panama vs. Cuba

**Saturday, July 20th at 2:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer (Coverage starts at 2:00 pm CST)
***Panama has had an excellent tournament so far, opening Group A action with an impressive 2-1 win over group favorites México and going on to defeat Martinique 1-0 before suffering a disappointing 0-0 draw with Canada. Gabriel Torres has accounted for all of Panama’s goals so far, however, only one of them has come from open play. Cuba were destined to have yet another miserable Gold Cup, losing 3-0 to Costa Rica and 4-1 to the U.S. however they pulled off a miracle on Tuesday when they needed 4+ goals to advance to the knockout phase and they did, winning 4-0 over Belize with a last minute goal from Yénier Márquez.

*U.A.N.L Tigres vs. Club América
**Saturday, July 20th at 7:00 pm CST on FirstRowSports.eu
***Another mouthwatering Apertura 2013 season opener! Tigres has one of the deepest and most talented squads in the Mexican league, yet despite finishing at the top of the regular season table, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Clausura 2013 by Monterrey, their bitter rivals, who also managed to knock them out of the CONCACAF Champions League on their way to claim their third consecutive title. This squad has continued to get better, especially with the addition of highly touted 23-year-old versatile midfielder Guido Pizarro from the Argentine club Lanus. América, on the other hand, is definitely in a rebuilding phase. After winning the Clausura 2013 title in spectacular fashion, Las Aguilas have lost some big players in young Mexican international center back Diego Reyes to Porto and the league’s top goalscorer Ecuadorian Christian Benitez to El Jaish in Qatar (strangely enough). To replace Benitez, América have brought in Colombian goal scorer Luis Gabriel Rey who will look to partner Raúl Jiménez up top once the latter rejoins the club from Gold Cup duty with México.

Written by Cari Gelal
@CariGelal

Ask Abby: Glenn’s interview with Abby Wambach of the U.S. Women’s National Team

Fresh off breaking the goal scoring record held by Mia Hamm, U.S. Women’s National team forward and current FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Abby Wambach talks to Glenn Davis about her legendary feat, the NWSL, the USWNT, and more.

GD: Let’s first talk about, simply, breaking the women’s goal scoring record. No woman has scored more goals for the U.S. Women’s National Team than you. What were the sort of feelings and emotions after it happened?
AW: That’s a great question because it’s kind of hard to explain, it was such a crazy night. You don’t expect to have it, not only be done but to do it in that fashion. You can just see with my teammates they were really trying to get me the ball as much as they possibly could and you know, when they’re pumping the ball into the box I’m going to try to do the best I can to get on the end of it! It was a special night, my family was there and I couldn’t have asked for better participation and more help from my teammates and I think it was fitting that I had a couple with my head, and a couple with my feet. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain the exact emotions, relief too, I’m glad that it’s over with so I can move on and move forward with the dreams and the goals you can expect from the national team. So moving forward is what I’m into now.

GD: Yeah, I’ve got to think that it’s hard to process some of these things sometimes. Did you think back to your first goal in San Jose when you came on, I think it was against Finland?
AW: Yeah, it’s been a long career. People ask me, “What is it like to score that many goals?” and I’m like “It just means that I have had a really long career”. You know, I’ve really had a lot of help, I’m not scoring any of those goals myself. I started off with the national team getting balls pumped into me from Mia [Hamm] and Kristine [Lilly], you know, people who are going down in the history books as legends and now, I’ve got some young players who are making a name for themselves, of course, I think Alex Morgan has a lot to do with kind of my resurgence in the way that I have played over the last few years. She’s a great partner to have up top and a great friend to have off the field to deal with all of the pressure that comes along with being the face of the team. I think Alex is poised to be that next face and she’s doing a fantastic job at it.

GD: You know, that’s a pretty big statement. When you were describing to me the fact that you have all these teammates, it’s almost like they were invested in you as well, and I know that they are, but there’s something pretty special about that in life to have that many people pulling for you and trying to help you accomplish it.
AW: Well, you know what, I’m a team-first mentality kind of person no matter what and I think that it was fitting that it kind of happened the way that it did that night and yeah, my teammates. You know the reason why I play this sport, I’m not playing an individual sport, I need my teammates as much as they need me. I think that’s why team sports are so special and I think that’s why it is way more difficult to win championships because everybody has to be firing on all cylinders in order to accomplish whatever goals you set as a team. I’m just lucky to have really amazing players that have surrounded me throughout my career to give me the opportunity to score these goals.

GD: It’s also a fascinating career because you’ve been in two phases of this women’s team. You mentioned the Kristine Lilly’s and the Julie Foudy’s and now you’re phasing into this new generation of players like the Alex Morgan’s of the world, the Sydney Leroux’s and it’s a fascinating career because there are not that many who bridge that gap.
AW: Well, and that’s the challenge of all the older players now. You know, we want to have people enjoy watching our team play and we’ve wanted that all along and as Americans go, they enjoy winning teams and championship teams. I think, I’ve had the kind of career that has felt the impact on both sides of that. After Mia and them retired, it was hard for us to kind of gain any popularity without winning. We found that out in 2008 when the team went to China and won and then of course in 2012 this last year in London. It was a special event, not only because, we work hard every single day whether we win or lose but the recent reward of the hard work put in is something super special. We hope that, as an older players-leadership group we instill that winning mentality into those younger players so that when we do retire, we’re leaving the team in good hands and we hope that they can keep on winning for as long as they can.

GD: Abby, do you think that the subtle points of the game, you know I hear you saying ‘winning’ and obviously that’s a big piece of it to Americans, but do you think the subtleties of the game in the future will become more revered by the fan? Good play in tight areas, just the simplicity to turn quickly on a defender and face them, the accuracy of clipping a ball over 25 yards, beating someone off the dribble, do you think that kind of stuff will become more important to people in the future?
AW: Yeah and I think that it is becoming more important. The game has evolved, even in the time that I’ve played it and I think that in 10 years it’s going to evolve even more. Especially with the women’s game, it’s evolving. The game is getting faster, it’s getting more physical, and the technique and the ability to pull off certain moves in important moments is what changes games. We’ve got players in those positions that can do that and who do it in practice on a daily basis and you have to be able to transfer that practice phase to doing it in a game and into doing it in a World Cup final. You know, those are the moments that create championship teams and I think our team has done a great job of that. Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, these are women who do things that not many women can do with a ball and that’s a testament to the kind of practice and belief that they have in the game and it’s not easy, you know, your coach wants you to play the game in one way and yeah, it’s just not an easy thing. So yeah, the movement of the game is moving forward and I’m in a position to be able to feel good about what I’ve done personally but what this team has done to bring soccer back and the women’s game over the last couple of years is something I’m very proud of.

GD: The National Women’s Soccer League, your impressions so far? You play for the Western New York Flash. Obviously there have been some real big moments for this league in it’s first year.
AW: It’s been awesome! A great summer so far. I’m not gonna say that it hasn’t been without it’s challenges, you know, going from the national team to club level team. You definitely see a difference, not only in the styles of play but in the abilities of the team. We are still just trying to get to know each other and I’m proud to be apart of this league. It’s not easy, for a lot of different reasons, you know, because I don’t have Megan Rapinoe pumping balls into me on a consistent basis, but it’s a challenge and it’s something that we all have to learn how to understand and deal with and try to make it as great as we have it in the national team, we want to make this league great.

GD: Yeah, has that tested your patience and maybe has that made you look at yourself as a player, now ‘Here I am, Abby, and I’m on the Western New York Flash and things have to change with the way I interact with my teammates, the way I play’ I don’t know.
AW: Yeah well it’s a challenge, you know, every team has it’s different challenges, whether it be a coach, different teammates, even just the way you travel, you know, it’s just a club level team, it’s not nearly as high class as the national team and the things that we are accustomed to having with the national team. So there are excessive frustrations but we also know that we are starting something and in order to start any small business you need to start from a place where you can grow from and I think that we’ve done that. U.S. Soccer has kind of ensured that we have started at a more economical basis so that we can grow instead of having to take things away after years one and two.

GD: Despite the World Cup, but the Olympic wins and all of these high-profile and amazing results and stories ending in success, do you consider yourselves pioneers then?
AW: Pioneer? I don’t know, I think that the words people use, legend and pioneer and hero, you know, those are all things that are great for retirement, you know, maybe something that will make myself feel cool in front of my kids one day. I just play soccer and I enjoy what I do, I know I’m a role-model and I know that’s important to me. There are many women who came before me that I call the true pioneers so I’m going to stick to that. Hopefully I can keep playing as long as I can to bring home a World Cup championship for the U.S.

GD: Alright, let’s speak of that one pioneer, Mia Hamm, what was the sort of interaction between you two after you broke her record?
AW: She texted me congratulations and we have such respect for each other that I think it was just a matter of time in her eyes, you know, I don’t want to speak for her but I am proud to have had the chance to be her teammate and now I’m proud to have had the chance to have her mentor me in life, you know, what is it gonna feel like to get closer to retirement, what does it feel like to break a record, how do you handle this or that in lieu of any of the success I’ve had. She’s been a great friend, somebody that I look up to and, now that she has kids, hopefully one day I’ll be able to call her up and ask about some of the parenting advice she would give me.

GD: Yeah, you’ve got a valuable resource there that’s for sure! Tom Sermanni, your new coach [of the U.S. Women’s National Team], what more can he do with this team? Are their subtle Tom Sermanni changes going on that everybody’s got to get used to?
AW: Yeah, you know, I think Tom has his way of coaching and I’ve really appreciated him coming in and kind of going against the grain from what other national team coaches have brought to the table. For me, that’s an exciting thing, the challenge of being able to take a different philosophy, coaching style, and learn how to thrive in those circumstances. He’s a quiet coach, he kind of let’s the play set itself and I think as we get closer to the World Cup there’s going to be a lot more interaction with him on the field and the players. He’s also dealing with the challenge of having this league up and running and U.S. Soccer is invested in it and they really want to give the league the chance to thrive and so I think he’s kind of dialed it back with the national team camps this year but as we get closer to the World Cup I think he will start ramping up and get really excited. I think he’s got all the tools that will give us the opportunity of winning a World Cup and that’s why he’s here. I know Sunil [Gulati, President of U.S. Soccer Federation] would never have hired him unless he could bring a championship back home to the United States. I’m excited to see where things can go with Tom. What a great guy! I’ve really enjoyed spending the little amount of time we’ve spent together and I can’t wait to keep growing that relationship!

GD: You said “going against the grain.” What are some of the subtleties that he’s adding that’s getting you excited about playing under him?
AW: Well, I think one, definitely, is that he’s been switching up. The one thing people don’t realize, because we’ve had a similar starting lineup over the last few years, is that our player pool is super deep. I think that’s actually one of the biggest strengths, the biggest strength of our national team. Our second team that doesn’t get a start in the World Cup 2015, they would probably start for many other national teams. They could be U.S.A. “B-team”, if you will, and probably make the final four. That’s how good this team is. The depth of us is so great that he’s really trying to observe and see players, see players play and he believes that you can’t just give a player 20 minutes and tell them that’s the experience he wants them to have. He wants them to have 90 minute games, multiple 90 minute games so that he can really see how players interact with each other and that’s definitely very different than any other coach who has come in and taken over the team. As a starter over the last 10 years, I know that there can be a level of frustration at that then, because you know, we want to earn and win our spots but we also have to appreciate his expertise and his ability to want this team to win a World Cup and he’s the coach, and I want to follow him all the way to the top podium in Canada.

Transcribed by Cari Gelal
@CariGelal

Weekend Watch List: July 12-14th

In this week’s preview, it’s an ode to Gold Cup, MLS, and FIFA U-20 World Cup. Cheers!

Must Watch Games:
*USA vs. Cuba

**Saturday, July 13th at 2:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer (Coverage starts at 2:00 pm)
***After blasting 6 goals past Guatemala in a friendly on last Friday and burning Belize for another 6 in their Gold Cup opener Tuesday, the U.S. look to continue their hot, high scoring run against Cuba on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tuesday night’s match saw Chris Wondolowski pick up a new superstition after scoring a first-half hat trick with his last name spelled wrong on his jersey as well as Landon Donovan reach yet another landmark, becoming the first U.S. player to score over 50 goals and 50 assists all-time. Puebla’s Michael Orozco Fiscal and former Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden also got on the score sheet, a fine achievement for Holden who has capped off his return to the national team in excellent fashion, coming on as a sub in the last 2 matches and making a big impact each time. After holding their own in the first half, Cuba spent the second half of their opener subbing in as a punching bag for Costa Rica, losing 3-0.

*Martinique vs. Mexico
**Sunday, July 14th at 5:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer (Coverage starts at 4:30 pm)
***Mexico finally broke their losing streak Thursday night after a Raúl Jiménez header just before half and a second half penalty by Marco Fabián hoisted El Tri 2-0 over Canada. The young Canadian side seemed to stick with Mexico for the first 40 minutes of the game until the goal by Jiménez opened up the game and allowed Mexico to hold up the ball more and create more chances. The introduction of Miguel Layún at right back proved to be a great move from the start, as Layún was a terror up and down the right side all night. “Chepo” de la Torre will most likely stick with the same line up from Thursday night going into Sunday’s final group game show down with Martinique who sit tied with Mexico on 3 points. While Mexico was shocked by Panama in their opener, Martinique was the side doing the shocking in their opener, with a late 93’ goal from Fabrice Reuperne lifting them over Canada. However, their Cinderella story was short lived as Panama dispatched Martinique 1-0 on Thursday, putting the Panamanians through to the knockout round while setting up the showdown match up between the always favored Mexico and the underdog Martinique.

*Honduras vs. El Salvador
**Friday, July 12th at 6:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer (Coverage starts at 5:30 pm)
***In what is going to be one of the most intriguing matchups of Group B, favorites Honduras will battle a very feisty El Salvador who are coming off an entertaining 2-2 draw with Trinidad & Tobago on Monday. Rodolfo Zelaya had a brilliant game with his brace keeping the El Salvadorans in the match. Meanwhile Honduras kicked off their group play beating Haiti 2-0 off of goals from Rony Martínez and Marvin Chavez. While the possession remained steadily even for both teams throughout the match, Honduras came out with the majority of the shots, failing to capitalize on several great chances. El Salvador will definitely look to put a lot of pressure on the Hondurans so their failure to finish in the final third may come back and haunt them this game.

*France U-20 vs. Uruguay U-20
**Saturday, July 13th at 1:00 pm CST on ESPN (Coverage starts at 12:45 pm)
***Well, as always, this FIFA U-20 World Cup has been an exciting one! After defeating Ghana 2-1 in the semifinals, France has advanced to face Uruguay, who shattered our Cinderella team Iraq’s dreams after a 1-1 draw saw the South American team advance 7-6 via penalties. Now this final is yet another stage to showcase some of the most exciting up-and-coming world football talents. Players to watch include Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and Arsenal’s new recruit Yaya Sanogo for France, while AS Roma’s Nicolas Lopez and newly signed Manchester United full back Guillermo Varela are players to keep an eye on for Uruguay.

*New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo
**Saturday, July 13th at 6:30 pm CST on KPRC Local 2
***Houston fans finally were able to breathe out a sigh of relief after the Dynamo’s dreadful winless streak was snapped last Saturday with a 1-0 win over Philadelphia at BBVA Compass Stadium. Now the Dynamo travel to New England who, after a streaky start to the season, have begun to gain momentum. The Revs beat the Dynamo at home in May 2-0 thanks to goals from 18-year-old Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo following a double ejection of the Dynamo’s Bobby Boswell and New England’s Dimitry Imbongo Boele for fighting in the first half.

Honorable Mention:
*FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake

**Saturday, July 13th at 8:00 pm CST on TWC Sports
***The two top teams in the Western Conference are facing off on Saturday as the top of the table Real Salt Lake host a struggling FC Dallas side who, despite jumping out to a fast start, are winless since May. Even though they are missing 4 players out on international duty in the Gold Cup, Real Salt Lake have been on cruise control, unbeaten in their last 7 league games.

*Ghana U-20 vs. Iraq U-20
**Saturday, July 13th at 10:00 am CST on ESPN2 (Coverage starts at 9:45 am)
***After brilliant runs to the semifinals respectively, both Ghana and Iraq must settle for fighting for a third place medal in Istanbul on Saturday. While they may not be battling for the World championship title, both teams have provided some of the most entertaining football of the tournament and are certainly worth watching over breakfast Saturday.

*D.C. United vs. Chivas del Guadalajara
**Friday, July 12th at 7:00 pm CST on ESPN2
***While D.C. United have struggled through the first half of the 2013 MLS season, they will face Liga MX side Chivas del Guadalajara on Friday night in a friendly as Chivas look to prepare for their upcoming 2013 Apertura season. Anytime we you can get a Liga MX-MLS matchup, it is definitely something to keep an eye on! Also, another incentive to watch, the game will be called by our very own Glenn Davis alongside Taylor Twellman.

Also, check out the other Gold Cup games coming up:
*Friday, July 12th
**Trinidad and Tobago vs. Haiti at 6:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer

*Saturday, July 13th
**Costa Rica vs. Belize at 5:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer

*Sunday, July 14th
**Panama vs. Canada at 2:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer

*Monday, July 15th
**El Salvador vs. Haiti at 6:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston
**Honduras vs. Trinidad and Tobago at 8:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston

*Tuesday, July 16th
**Cuba vs. Belize at 4:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer
**United States vs. Costa Rica at 7:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer

Written by Cari Gelal
@CariGelal

Weekend Watch List: July 5-7th

Sad the Confederations Cup is over? Well, get over it because the CONCACAF Gold Cup is back and it kicks off this weekend! Here I will preview a few of the opening matches to watch along with MLS and other leagues to check out.

Must Watch Games:
*Mexico vs. Panama

**Sunday, July 7th at 7:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer (Coverage starts at 7:00 pm CST)
***Kicking off Group A action is one of the most intriguing matchups of the tournament: Mexico vs. Panama. The last time the two teams met last month in World Cup Qualifying, they played to a 0-0 draw in Panama. However, this game is certain to produce a different outcome, as Mexico is planning to field an entirely different team (their “B” team) since they sent their “A” team to the Confederations Cup. Only one exception has been made, as Club America’s Raul Jimenez has been approved by FIFA to be added to Mexico’s Gold Cup roster although he wasn’t on the preliminary 35-man roster due to his inclusion in Mexico’s Confederations Cup squad. Jimenez saw limited playing time during Mexico’s World Cup Qualifying and Confederations Cup campaigns however, during his brief appearances, the 22-year-old striker showed great poise and promise and will most likely start in the game on Sunday. Panama on the other hand, will be featuring their “A” team which had a very strong showing in their recent World Cup Qualifying campaign, despite their last 2-0 loss to the United States. As Panama proved they could play with the Mexican premiere team, trust them to give Mexico’s “B” team all they can handle in a very physical match.

*United States vs. Guatemala
**Friday, July 5th at 10:00 pm CST on NBC Sports Net
***The U.S. will finish out their preparation for the 2013 Gold Cup by facing Guatemala in a friendly match on Friday. Expect Klinsmann to be experimental in the squad as he looks to tune up the team for their Group C opener against Belize July 9th. The U.S. has dominated the Central American side in head-to-head action, with the US winning 4 and drawing 1 in their last five meetings. Guatemala did not qualify for the Gold Cup. [**Random Side-note fun fact: The US have never won in San Diego, with a 0-5-2 record all-time]

*Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union
**Saturday, July 6th at 8:00 pm CST on Comcast Sports Net
***Our Houston Dynamo are looking to break their lengthy and lackluster winless streak on Saturday by getting 3 points at home over the impressive Philadelphia Union. After a 2-0 dredging up in New York last weekend, the Dynamo had a lot of work to do, primarily with the defense whose lack of communication and poor positioning left Tally Hall completely exposed to the Red Bulls’ potent offense threats of Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Fabian Espindola, and Jonny Steele. Another issue is the offense of the Dynamo, which has been lacking creativity, precision, and finishing in the box, scoring a total of only 2 goals in their last 7 league games. The Union have been experiencing a very strong campaign so far but will be missing two players due to Gold Cup duty: Jack McInerney and Keon Daniel. McInerney has been Philadelphia’s golden boy so far this season. At 20-years-old, he has been leading the MLS goal scoring table and has been the x-factor in the Union’s offense, combining beautifully with the older and more experienced Connor Casey. As of yet, McInerney’s presence has yet to be missed as the Union drew 2-2 away at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, however, the absence may catch up with Philadelphia this weekend at insanely difficult to play at BBVA Compass Stadium.

*Botafogo vs. Fluminense
**Sunday, July 7th at 4:30 pm CST on Gol TV
***If you were disappointed that the Confederations Cup is over, fear not, for the brilliant Brazilians have given us yet another great game to focus our attention on Brazilian football. This weeks Brasileiro action features Classico Vovô (Grandpa derby), one of the oldest derbies in the entire world (dating back to 1906) between two of the biggest clubs in Rio de Janeiro: Botafogo and Fluminense. Both teams are stacked with some of Brazil’s brightest talents, with Fluminense featuring 3 Confederations Cup winners including Silver Boot winner Fred. Both of these teams have kicked off the 2013 Brasileiro relatively strongly and are expected to be fighting for the title in the end, so this is definitely a match up all of Brazil will be keeping an eye on.

*Messi & Friends vs. The Rest of the World
**Saturday, July 6th at 6:00 pm CST on ESPN
***Lionel Messi along with around 20 of his closest friends are coming to Chicago to play a friendly match. Did I mention some of his friends include Edinson Cavani, David Luiz, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Michael Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra, Robert Lewandowski, and Thierry Henry just to name a few? A must watch all-star showdown.

Honorable Mention:
*Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders

**Saturday, July 6th at 10:00 pm CST on NBC Sports Net
***Ding, ding, ding! Round two of the Cascadia Cup match up between Vancouver and Seattle is in play! Seattle took the first tie between the two sides 3-2 at CenturyLink Field and now Vancouver are looking to get some payback on their own turf. Vancouver have not lost since their defeat to Seattle in early June and are looking to see the streak continue while Seattle, coming off a 2-0 win over D.C. United, are strong enough to challenge the Whitecaps on their home ground.

*Canada vs. Martinique
*Sunday, July 7th at 4:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***In the second Group A match we see the two teams least likely to advance out of the group, Canada and Martinique. Canada has had a decent run in World Cup Qualifying and have a chance to steal a point or so from Mexico or Panama while Martinique are shaping up to the the Tahiti of this tournament: they will be lucky if they even get a shot on goal.

*São Paulo vs. Santos FC
*Sunday, July 7th at 2:00 pm CST on FirstRowSports.eu
***Another Brazilian derby to keep an eye out for is the “San-São” classico between São Paulo sides Santos and São Paulo. São Paulo has produced players like Kaká, Luis Fabiano, and Lucas Moura while Santos is the former playground of Pele, Robinho, and Neymar, so both of these clubs are revered in Brazil, though so far neither team has gotten off to a bright start in the 2013 season.

Stoppage Time:
While only Group A plays this weekend, the rest of the Gold Cup groups spring into action this week:
*Group B:
**Monday, July 8th:
***El Salvador vs. Trinidad & Tobago at 6:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***Haiti vs. Honduras at 8:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer

*Group C:
**Tuesday, July 9th:
***Costa Rica vs. Cuba at 7:30 pm CST on Fox Soccer
***Belize vs. United States at 10:00 pm CST on Fox Soccer