When the NCAA men's basketball tournament takes center stage in about a month, we'll hear plenty usage of the term "blind résumé." It is a comparison method for decision-makers to look at the body of work for teams on the tournament-field bubble without being clouded by predetermined bias linked to a school's name or conference affiliation.
It would be easy for Zak Whitbread to look back at the last nine months and think about what could have been.With better-timed good health, the 27-year-old Norwich City center back may already be on his way to the international career that has yet to materialize.
The "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" quips about Brad Guzan's European career can head to the back burner. At long last, Guzan is Aston Villa's No. 1 goalkeeper. With Monday's word that regular starter Shay Given will be out for the next month after tearing his hamstring in the first half of Aston Villa's 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday, the Villans will turn to the 27-year-old Illinois native between the pipes. Guzan looked at ease upon entering against the Red Devils and didn't concede a goal, though he was hardly put to the test in 52 minutes.
The upset bug made its way around Europe over the weekend, with Mainz beating German power Bayern Munich and Getafe taming the all-mighty Barcelona, but for a few U.S. national team starters, their teams couldn't quite come up with the efforts necessary to stake claims to landmark Thanksgiving weekend victories against top competition.
With the 2011 Major League Soccer season completed and months of inactivity, regeneration and rest on the horizon, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann's message that MLS-based players need to be maintaining their match and training fitness almost year-round to stay in the mix for national-team consideration has certainly been heard.
With a new era of U.S. Soccer under way, all Americans playing their club soccer either overseas or in Mexico have a clean slate with which to work in order to make an impression on new national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
With the dust continuing to settle after the United States Under-20 national team's failure to qualify for this summer's World Cup, one silver lining still holds true after the mammoth collective disappointment.
The 4-3-3 formation that England twice turned out in this past week wasn't quite as groundbreaking as Fabio Capello appeared to think, but his choice of personnel (particularly for Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Ghana) was change enough to tickle the nostrils with the scent of progress. It's already becoming difficult to imagine England without Jack Wilshere, Gary Cahill's first start was an assured one, and Liverpool striker Andy Carroll looked at home winning his second cap. But it was the Aston Villa trio of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Darren Bent that really got tongues wagging.
Clint Dempsey was seemingly on the path to deliver again when Fulham was on the cusp of a landmark victory. He put in the dirty work, got himself into position to make a game-winning play and then did the unthinkable.
With the cancellation of Wednesday's friendly between the U.S. and Egypt in Cairo, it's an unplanned slow day in the world of American soccer. So let's open the mailbag and answer some of your questions:
The fourth round of the FA Cup interrupted the Premier League calendar over the weekend, which meant the handful of eliminated top-flight clubs were not in action. Here are a few thoughts on some that were:
With the opening of the European transfer window less than two months away, the United States' friendly against South Africa on Wednesday will be an excellent time for a few Americans stationed abroad to receive some much-needed exposure.
In what was a rather quiet week for American soccer players abroad, aside from Sacha Kljestan's second goal for RSC Anderlecht and Clint Dempsey's returning to the starting lineup for Fulham, one up-and-comer managed to make some serious career headway.
There is always something to enjoy about a World Cup, and South Africa was no exception. But the verdict this summer was that we'd all seen better. So much of the soccer was mind-numbingly defensive and the final was so teeth-grindingly short of the occasion. We emerged from the tournament nursing something like a hangover, squinting and groggy, with a bit of a thirst on.
After all the hype and speculation surrounding a major transfer for Michael Bradley in the aftermath of the World Cup, the 23-year-old New Jersey native stayed put at Borussia Monchengladbach, and the Bundesliga club couldn't be happier to have him.
It was the oldest outfield player on the pitch who caught the eye in Sunday's Community Shield meeting between Manchester United and Chelsea, with soon-to-be 36-year-old Paul Scholes pulling the strings in midfield to help create the first two United goals. Scholes made his team debut almost 16 years ago, a few months after scoring in an FA Youth Cup final that also featured future United regulars Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham and Nicky Butt.
Hats off to Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, who surprised everyone -- perhaps even Didier Drogba himself -- by leaving his leading goal scorer on the bench against Manchester United and fielding the same starting 11 that had demolished Aston Villa the week before.
It was a dejected Team Limey that curled up with its warm milks last Saturday night. The closest thing to a shock that day from the 23 FA Cup third-round knockout matches was third-tier Millwall holding second-tier Derby to a 1-1 draw at home. We were as bored as a monk's todger.