Every now and again soccer players talk like soccer fans. It doesn't happen very often -- years in the game see to that, familiarity too -- but sometimes their eyes widen and enthusiasm flows; sometimes, they too look at another player and can't help smiling. There are moments in which even those inside the game offer the simplest of descriptions: "wow, what a player he is."
It's the final of the Champions league in the Rosaleda and Málaga are playing. A man dashes into the stadium, looking for somewhere to sit but the place is absolutely jam-packed. Suddenly, he sees a solitary empty seat out of the corner of his eye. As he approaches, the woman next it says: "you can sit here if you want." The man is grateful, but confused. After all, how did the seat come to be empty? "It's OK," the woman says, "it was my husband's."
Last year, reaction to Real Madrid's decision to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars, described by some as club president Florentino Perez's Galacticos 2.0 project, was mixed. There was no doubting the quality -- at least on paper -- of the new signings, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Xabi Alonso, from Kaka to Karim Benzema, without forgetting valuable "foot soldiers" like Raul Albiol, Alvaro Arbeloa and Esteban Granero. At the same time, the moralizers had a field day over the sheer amount of money spent while others weren't sure whether Manuel Pellegrini could meld all the big egos into a cohesive unit.
Surely by the time he returns to Spain, Jozy Altidore will be a must-use for his club Xerez, seeing as how he drilled four goals in two hours of action for the U.S. against El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup qualifying matches.