Hello all, welcome to the Monday Morning Kick-Off. A couple bits of business to tend to first before we dive into some hopefully interesting football tidbits.
For starters, One Game, One World will go all World Cup starting in mid-May. We are planning previews of the teams, along with news, interviews, and stories ahead of the 2010 World Cup which begins on June 11th. This is a historic tournament, the first in Africa, and it means that here at OGOW we are excited to bring you coverage of the competition before, during, and after the competition.
Of course, there will be a million media outlets to receive coverage from, but we hope you will check out our mix of traditional and non-traditional coverage for perhaps something a bit different ahead of the world’s greatest sporting event.
Ok, well off we go for today’s Kick-Off.
Yes, we have reached what is commonly known as the business end of the season in many leagues, mostly Europe. In most leagues it is a two-horse race as Barcelona and Real Madrid contest La Liga, while Chelsea is attempting to hold of Manchester United in the English Premier League.
In Italy, Inter Milan have retaken the Serie A lead ahead of Roma, while in Germany Bayern Munich and Schalke are tied with 64 points apiece with two matches left. With four matches left in Ligue 1, Marseille look set to win the title with a five-point lead over Auxerre. Rangers have already clinched the Scottish Premier League title, while Panathinaikos did the Greek double this weekend by defeating Aris 1-0 in the Greek Cup final.
Four teams are still in contention for the Clausura championship in Argentina, while play-offs are about to begin in Mexico. Surely its a busy time everywhere and the Champions’ League can’t be forgotten on any continent. The focus of most football fans however is undoubtedly on Europe where this week Lyon and Barcelona play at home hoping to overturn first leg defecits.
Football is truly a year round phenomenon now days and this being a World Cup year, fans around the globe will get a nice fix in 2010.
Footy fans in the United States will be wondering who will be grabbing the goals for the U.S. in this summer’s World Cup. In recent weeks there has been talk of two strikers long-forgotten getting a recall to the side ahead of the World Cup thanks to their superb club form. The Los Angeles Galaxy’s Edson Buddle has been scoring left and right, bagging seven goals already this season.
The other player in question is a former Galaxy player himself, Herculez Gomez. Gomez became the first American player to lead the Mexican League in scoring, sharing the league’s top scorer award with Javier Hernandez and Johan Fano, all on 10 goals.
Buddle and Gomez have only three caps between them, which is truly an amazing stat. Both have experienced various injuries and inconsistency throughout their respective careers, however their combined three caps deserves some scrutiny. Buddle has scored 80 MLS goals in his career, while Gomez’s recent exploits show he has what it takes to score consistently at a high level.
It will be of great interest whether Bob Bradley calls these two players up for pre-World Cup training. On this form, both players seem to deserve at least a call-up to camp thanks to their club form.
South Africa Fuming
South Africa football officals are irate at their Chinese counterparts for cancelling a friendly set for Wednesday in Frankfurt. The Chinese Football Association called off the match due to the Icelandic volcanic ash saying travels conditions were too difficult. Either way, not playing the friendly will put a damper on South Africa’s ongoing preparations ahead of their match against Mexico on June 11th that opens up the World Cup.
There is more question of whether South Africa can perform well in this competition than perhaps of any other host country in recent memory. I think that you’d have to go back to the 1994 World Cup when most observers were not sure of how the United States would perform. Home advantage can be a great thing, but South Africa will count on it heavily as the lowest ranked country to ever host the World Cup. Their group is a tough one with Mexico, France, and Uruguay, all perennial World Cup participants. South Africa could advance, but they could also become the first host not to make the knockout rounds. It will be fascinating viewing for sure.