Mexit?!? Is Messi really retiring? Iceland beat England? Brexit, Part II

By Michelle Kaufman

Sitting here on a Monday afternoon, wondering: Is Iceland REALLY beating England 2-1 in a Euro 2016 knockout game? Whaaaaaat? Iceland? A nation of 330,000 (would rank 58th among US Cities) is beating a nation of 51 million? WOW! Some clever Iceland fans were shown carrying a banner that read: "Brexit, Volume 2!"

Speaking of exits....

Was I hearing things, or did Lionel Messi say late last night that he is retiring from the Argentine national team? Apparently, that is what he was contemplating as he sat all alone on the bench, staring ahead, after Chile's dramatic penalty shootout win in the Copa America Centenario final. Messi, who rarely misses in penalty kick shootouts, missed Argentina's first attempt against Chile, and hid his face inside his world-famous No. 10 jersey. Three major finals in a row -- 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copa America, 2016 Copa America Centenario -- and no trophy for La Albiceleste.

The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, 29, has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with Spanish club Barcelona. But his only major title in an Argentina shirt is Olympic gold at the 2008 Games.

This is what he told reporters after the loss to Chile:

"For me, the national team is over. I've done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion.

"It's been four finals, I tried.

"It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over.

"I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, then for everyone.

"I think there's a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.

"It's very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back."

Do you think he's serious? You think he's played his last game in an Argentina shirt? VOTE HERE...

 

 

Time will tell if it was just emotions talking, or if he'll follow through.

If he does, it would be a crying shame. Despite criticism from dissatisfied Argentine fans, Messi is, quite simply, the best player in the world right now. He scored five goals in this Copa America Centenario, including a brilliant free kick in the 4-0 semifinal win over the United States. That goal was No. 55 for him, giving him the all-time record over Gabriel Batistuta.

The debate about Who is Argentina's Best Player of All Time will continue. Many say Diego Maradona because he was able to win a World Cup. Messi, despite all his individual and club accolades, has not been able to bring home trophies for his country. And, for that, he clearly feels awful. He feels far worse than any of the fans who have been vilifying him, that's for sure.

Maybe his threat of retirement will make Argentine fans appreciate him more. Some newspaper covers indicated as much Monday:

MessiCover

Meanwhile, other players said they hope he reconsiders.

Argentina and Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero said: "I think he spoke while he was heated, because a beautiful opportunity escaped us," said Romero. "I can't imagine a national team without Messi."

Sergio Aguero hinted others may follow Messi's lead.

"There are several players who are evaluating not continuing with the national team. It is the worst defeat ever, worse than the two other finals. So the thinking is it might be time to make room for other players."

Argentine newspaper La Nacion wrote that Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuaín also may retire.

If anybody should be criticized for Argentina's losses in recent big games, it should be Higuaín, who blew a 1v1 chance against Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo Sunday night, and also missed a chance against Germany at the 2014 World Cup final and a penalty kick against Chile last summer.

But for now, all the talk is about Messi and his possible "Mexit"

 


  

 

 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Miami was tuned in to Copa America!

By Michelle Kaufman

Univision just released its ratings for recent Copa America matches, and one thing is for sure: Miami was watching!!

The Copa final between Argentina and Chile Sunday night was the No. 1 broadcast program of the day among viewers in Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, and Houston. That match had higher viewership than the ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX stations combined during the 8-11 p.m time slot among viewers in Miami and Los Angeles.

The Copa third-place game between the USA and Colombia Saturday night was the No. 1 watched program of the day among viewers in Miami and Los Angeles. It also had higher viewership than the ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX stations combined during the 8-22 time slot among viewers in Miami.

The final drew 6.8 million viewers, making it the most-viewed soccer match on Univision since the 2014 World Cup Final, and outdrew all NHL matches, including playoffs, as well as all MLB matches across all networks thus far in the 2016 season. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Friday, June 03, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Will James play for Colombia vs. Haiti Sunday at Marlins Park?

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

It's possible James Rodriguez will be at Marlins Park Sunday for Colombia's friendly vs. Haiti, but he is not expected to play, as the Real Madrid playmaker will be flying to Miami from Milan, Italy, where Real Madrid plays Atletico Madrid Saturday in the Champions League final.

According to organizers of Sunday's match, Rodriguez -- the Golden Boot winner at the 2014 World Cup -- said he plans to attend and watch from the bench. Even without James, Colombian fans will see plenty of stars up close. Among the players on the "Cafeteros'' roster: Carlos Bacca (AC Milan), David Ospina (Arsenal), Jeison Murilla (Inter), Christian Zapata (AC Milan), and Juan Cuadrado (Juventus).

The Colombians and Haitians are using the friendly as a warmup for the Copa America Centenario, which begins June 3 in Santa Clara, Calif., with the opener between the USA and Colombia. 

Here is the full Colombian roster for Copa America...

GOALKEEPERS: David Ospina (Arsenal), Robinson Zapata (Santa Fe), Cristian Bonilla (Atletico Nacional)

DEFENDERS: Felipe Aguilar (Atletico Nacional), Santiago Arias (PSV), Farid Diaz (Atletico Nacional), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Jeison Murillo (Inter Milan), Stefan Medina (Pachuca)

MIDFIELDERS: James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa), Guillermo Celis (Junior FC), Daniel Torres (Independiente Medellin), Andres Roa (Deportivo Cali), Sebastian Perez (Atletico Nacional), Edwin Cardona (Monterrey)

FORWARDS: Carlos Bacca (AC Milan), Dayro Moreno (Tijuana), Roger Martinez (Racing Club), Marlos Moreno (Atletico Nacional)

And here is Haiti's roster, which includes one MLS player and five from NASL.

GOALKEEPERS: Johnny Placide (Reims), Steward Ceus (Minnesota United), Luis Valendi Odelus (Aigle Noir)

DEFENDERS: Jean Sony Alcenat (Voluntari), Judelin Aveska (Atletico Uruguay), Reginal Goreaux (Standard Liege), Kim Jaggy (Aarau), Alex Junior Christian (Vila Real), Mechak Jerome (Jacksonville Armada), Romain Genevois (Nice), Stephane Lambese (PSG)

MIDFIELDERS: Jean Alexandre (Fort Lauderdale Strikers), Max Hilaire (Cholet), Soni Mustivar (Sporting Kansas City), James Marcelin (Carlona Railhawks), Pascal Millien (Jacksonville Armada), Sony Norde (Mohun Bagan), Kevin Lafrance (Chrobry Glogow)

FORWARDS: Kervens Belfort (1461 Trabzon), Duckens Nazon (Laval), Jeff Louis (Caen), Jean-Eudes Maurice (Sai Gon), Wilde-Donald Guerrier (Wisla Krakow)

 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Klinsmann named 22-man roster for Miami camp, Puerto Rico friendly

By Michelle Kaufman

U.S. national coach Jurgen Klinsmann invited 22 players to Miami this week for a training camp as the team begins to prepare for the Copa America Centenario in June. The players chosen for this camp are based in Europe and Mexico, and just completed their club seasons. Major League Soccer players will join the group at a later date.

At the end of the week, the team will fly to Puerto Rico for a May 22 friendly in Bayamon, the first-ever between the two teams. The match will be at noon, and shown on FS1 and UniMas.

After Puerto Rico, the U.S. team plays Ecuador on May 25 in Frisco, Texas (7 p.m. CT; ESPN2 and UniMas) and Bolivia on May 28 in Kansas City, Kansas (7 p.m. CT; FS1 and Univision).

Fifteen of the players in camp -- including Weston's Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes) -- are eligible for the Copa America 23-man roster, as they were included in a 40-man provisional roster that was due at the end of April. The final roster for Copa America must be submitted by May 20. MLS players who make the final roster will be released by their clubs on May 23 and join the team that day in Dallas.

Among the players invited were veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard, who is headed to the Colorado Rapids after a 10-year career at Everton in England, and Bobby Wood, who just set a scoring record for American players in Germany with 17 goals for Union Berlin of the 2 Bundesliga. Wood was so impressive that on Sunday he was transferred to Hamburg of the Bundesliga.

The Mexican club most represented is Club Tijuana, with Michael Orozco and national-team rookies Paul Arriola and Amando Moreno.

"We are doing this week in Miami and finishing off the week with a game in Puerto Rico because it's really important in terms of transitioning our players coming in from Europe and some who are already done in Mexico to keep them in a flow, to keep them in a rhythm," said Klinsmann. "One of our lessons from last year's Gold Cup was because the tournament was pushed into July, we couldn't transition our European-based players and some of the Mexican players perfectly."

"We added some players coming from the younger side to look at them and to get a roster together, but the main purpose of this camp is to keep the rhythm, keep going and to transition perfectly into the preparation for the Copa America Centenario."

All the U.S. practices are closed to the public.

The Miami camp roster....

GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Zach Steffen (SC Freiburg)

DEFENDERS (7) : John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham)

MIDFIELDERS (7) : Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg), Danny Williams (Reading)

FORWARDS (5) : Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Fabrice Picault (FC St. Pauli), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)

Monday, May 02, 2016

Leicester City! EPL Champions! Fairy tales DO come true!

They did it. They really did it.

Leicester City, a team that a year ago languished in last place in the English Premier League, a team that faced 5,000-to-1 odds at the start of this season, a team whose payroll ranks 17th of the 20 EPL clubs, just clinched its first EPL title in the club's 132 year history.

From near-relegation to complete euphoria. Worst to First.

It is, arguably, the most improbable championship run in any team sport anywhere in the world.

And, it was a victory for underdogs everywhere. If Leicester can win the English Premier League, ANYTHING is truly possible.

They had to wait a day to clinch the title after settling for a 1-1 tie with Manchester United on Sunday. And they did it with the help of Chelsea, which rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie Tottenham 2-2 on Monday afternoon. Fans all over the world (including my 16-year-old soccer-playing daughter and her friends) watched the end of that Chelsea-Tottenham game and then Tweeted about Leicester's miracle championship.

Famous athletes sent Tweets of congratulations, including Dirk Nowitzki and Rory McIlroy.

And fans the world over rejoiced, as Leicester had become -- at worst -- everyone's second-favorite team. The biggest celebrations, of course, were in the East Midlands, in Leicester, where fans spilled onto the streets, roared and popped open champagne and beer bottles. And nobody was happier than the Foxes themselves. Check out this video from defender Christian Fuchs' phone, shot the moment they realized their fairy tale had come true.