There’s an all-Spanish UEFA Champions League final to be played in Lisbon this weekend, the Women’s Champions League final was played just a few days ago, with a significant Chicago connection, and bus-loads of Fire faithful will make the trek to Columbus in the first edition of Fire House East Invasion of 2014. Shocking news dropped yesterday of Jurgen Klinnsman’s final 23 man roster for Brazil, and there were a few names included that gave us head scratch, and there were a few names left off that almost made the internet in America implode.
UEFA Champions League Final
Saturday will mark just the second time there will be an All-Spanish European Final since the European Cup was founded in 1955. The last time this happened Real Madrid defeated La Liga counterparts Valencia CF 3-0 in Stade de France. Real Madrid are nine time champions of the tournament, and will be going for their tenth in team history, which their pre-match campaign has been accompanied on social media with the #APorLaDecima hashtag. Atletico will make their second appearance in the tournament, their first since their 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich at Heysel Stadium in Brussels in 1974. Both Atlético and Real will be fighting for their own respective doubles this season, Real won the Copa Del Rey earlier in the season, and Atlético secured La Liga title on the last day of the season v. Barcelona. This is sure to be an exciting final, and I’ll be on a bus to Columbus trying to watch the match on someone’s laptop. I’m hoping Real get their tenth title, but I wouldn’t be heartbroken to see Atlético hoist their first European Cup. It’ll be a tough task for Atletico without Diego Costa, who was injured in the match v. Barcelona. Costa is unlikely to start, and with his World Cup hopes on the line, sitting this one out may be a necessary evil in order to book his flight to Brazil.
UEFA Women’s Champions League Final
A Champions League final was already played in Lisbon this week. This one between German club Wolfsburg and the Swedish Tyreso. This was a thrilling back and forth match that forced Wolfsburg to make a comeback - twice – in order to secure a 4-3 victory over American Christian Press and Brasilian Marta’s Tyreso. Marta tallied a goal and Press registered an assist in the match, but it wasn’t enough to knockout defending champions, Wolfsburg. Now that Christian Press’ season is over with Tyreso, she’ll soon be headed to Chicago to begin training with the Red Stars. Red Stars are currently second in the league, and have promising talent on the squad, despite losing fan favorite Ella Masar to the Houston Dash before the season started. Press may be able to contribute immediately to the club and put the Red Stars in position to claim first place in the NWSL.
Fire House East Invasion: Chicago v. Columbus
The Fire are well into the toughest part of their schedule so far in 2014, and this weekend they’ll have to travel to Columbus to take on the Crew at home. Columbus started the season scorching hot winning their first three matches of the season. They haven’t collected full points from a match since then, and with some missing pieces in their back line, the Chicago Fire may be able to capitalize on that as they look to continue their winning ways, hoping to leave Crew Stadium with their third straight win. Michael Parkhurst was away at US World Cup camp, but should be available for selection this Saturday, as he failed to make the final cut in the USMNT 23 man roster. Bakary Soumare and Patrick Nyarko are nursing injuries sustained from previous matches, so we may see a change to the midfield for Nyarko, and Gonzalo Segares is working his way back to full fitness, but it remains to be seen if and when he’ll get back into the starting eleven. With Cochrane’s difficulty against Sporting Kansas City, we may see the veteran Segares sooner rather than later.
USMNT 23 Man Roster Announced
The announcement of the final 23 Americans who will be making the flight to Brazil next month dropped yesterday evening with some surprises. When the news hit social media, there was almost a tangible tension in the air. Ten MLS players will be representing the US in Brazil, including young Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin. Chicago Fire veteran and current Puebla defender in Liga MX Demarcus Beasley also made the list of defenders making the trip. Julian Green, who plays in the Bayern Munich system in Germany’s third division, and has only made one appearance for the US Men’s National Team in a friendly with Mexico where he saw only 30 minutes of field time, and failed to make any sort of impact on the match made the list, while Joe Corona did not. But perhaps the biggest exclusion on this World Cup roster is Landon Donovan. The Twitterverse nearly imploded when the news broke, and many feel Klinsmann made the wrong decision.
I had my doubts of Donovan making the final 23 when Klinsman brought in Green as a midfielder and listed Donovan as a forward. Wondolowski, Johannsson, Altidore, and Dempsey undoubtedly deserved to make the squad. Which is why I believe Landon should still be in the final 23, in place of Julian Green. Fans and the press have been critical of Klinnsmann’s decision, and his lack of clear explanation of it. Granted that Donovan’s best years are probably behind him, there’s no mistaking the kind of experience and leadership he brings to the squad. Many have wondered if Klinsmann is playing favorites, preferring an untested German dual national in Julian Green who has yet to play top-flight football in any league, over Donovan in hopes to send a message to other dual nationals who are perhaps mulling over allegiance to the United States. If Klinsmann is using this roster and Brazil 2014 and a rebuilding stage for 2018, than USMNT fans have legitimate reasons to be upset.
You only get one chance every four years to make a name for yourself on the global stage. Is it fair to say that Klinsmann is squandering it?