Posts Tagged ‘ World Cup 2014 ’

MatchDay Memory: Luis Suarez Then and Now Part II (Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz)

Imagine a time in the distant future when a player named Luis Enrique joins FC Barcelona or a new Hughes is signed by Manchester United.  That player will inevitably be compared to their predecessor, with the shadow of former glory always hovering around the player.  For Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, who joined FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014, not only was he not the first Luis Suarez to have played for the Blaugrana, but he will probably not be as successful in terms of trophies as his predecessor.  On top of this, he also comes with his own unique baggage.

Part I  Luis Suarez Miramontes

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Moving forward fifty years, the talent of El Pistolero or Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz is undeniable.  From the streets of Salto and Montevideo in Uruguay, Luis Suarez used the beautiful game to escape poverty, eventually securing a spot with Nacional in Uruguay.  After growing as a player and making a name for himself at Nacional, where he helped the club win the 2005–06 Uruguayan League, he was discovered by Dutch club FC Groningen.  As Michiel Jongsma tells the story for Benefoot.net, club representatives were visiting Nacional to look at Elías Figueroa.  They left trying to figure out how to sign Luis Suarez, with the player also looking for a move, as his girlfriend, Sofia Balbi, had moved to Barcelona to study.  So at 19, Suarez headed to Holland, played for Groningen, and averaged nearly a goal every three games.

Ajax came calling and Suarez forced his move to the Dutch giants, scoring over 100 goals in three and a half seasons.  Suarez never won the league in a full season with de Godenzonen, but he did help the club to the 2010 Dutch Cup.  It was during the 2009/10 season that Suarez scored 49 goals in all competitions and won the Dutch Player of the Year award. European success eluded both the club and player during his time there, with their best finish coming in the 2008/09 Europa League in which the squad got to the Round of 16.

Luis-Suarez-ajax

During the winter transfer window of 2011, the Uruguayan player moved to Liverpool with Fernando Torres going to Chelsea.  His arrival was part of a rebuilding project for the storied club, along with Andy Carroll from Newcastle, which finally paid dividends during the 2013/14 season as Suarez’s partnership with Daniel Sturridge saw the Reds finish second and return to the Champions League after a four year absence.  His only silverware with the Merseyside club came in the 2012 League Cup Final.

Luis-Suarez-liverpool

Suarez made his International debut in 2007 and is currently Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer with 41 goals in 79 appearances as of the 2014 World Cup.  He was part of a wonderful cycle that saw Uruguay finish fourth at the 2010 World Cup, losing to the Holland in the Semi Finals.  The following year, La Celeste claimed the Copa America, with Suarez scoring four goals and being named the player of the tournament.  With that success, Uruguay qualified for the 2013 Confederations Cup, making it to the Semis before falling at the hands of the hosts Brazil.

Luis_Suarez uruguay

Heading into the 2014 World Cup, El Pistolero only played two matches after undergoing surgery after the 2013/14 season but knocked out England with two well taken goals, which set up a high pressure game against Italy in the third group game.  He did not score and was involved in an incident with Chiellini, but Uruguay progressed 1-0.  Suarez was suspended for the match against Colombia, who won to move on to the Quarter Finals.

Top Ten Posts of 2014

top 10

2014 was a great year for the SoccerNomad blog.  Visitors from all over the world read about kits, memories and more.  Here are the ten most read posts from 2014. Thanks to everyone for visiting, sharing and commenting on the blog and it’s on to 2015.

10   1988/89 English First Division

9     Trip to FC Dallas Game

8     From my Year in Soccer 1974 Series, Johan Cruyff’s impact at FC Barcelona

7     Memorial Day Weekend in Detroit

6     Lansing Kit Nerd (September 2014)

5     World Cup 2014 Kit Preview Part 1

4     Germany Euro 2000 Away shirt

3     2014/15 Kit Preview

2     World Cup 2014 Kit Preview Part 2

1     Going Hollywood (Soccer Player Look-a-likes)

Thanks to everyone for visiting, sharing and commenting on the blog and it’s on to 2015.  Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974 and don’t forget to visit my podcast or subscribe via iTunes.

Strip Club–World Cup 2014 Kit Preview (Part 2)

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup I have been working on several projects, one of which is reviewing all of the kits from each country for the tournament.  For Euro 2012, I did an extensive series of posts, running a virtual kit tournament.  Alas time and scope do not allow me to do this sort of thing for the World Cup, so instead I went through all of the shirts and narrowed it down to the my top 20.  There are some excellent resources for this:

From there I ranked them and put together a couple of posts.  Hope you enjoy and comments are welcome.

#10  Belgium  Home       

I love the red color of the jersey with the image of the crown from the crest in the torso.  I am not familiar with the manufacturer Burrda but the company did well with all three kits.  All three use the flag colors in the ring collar and the horizontal accent is muted and adds a nice touch.

#9  Brazil  Home

Brazil 2014 World Cup Home Kit (6)               

Brazil has such an iconic yet simple jersey and it’s hard to screw up, but Nike and Umbro have both done so in the past.  The understated trim on the sleeves (as opposed to the #StoptheSleeve versions of recent years) and the new collar design really put this towards the top.

#8  Iran  Away   

I didn’t even know that uhlsport still existed but the company created a dynamic jersey for Iran’s appearance at the 2014 World Cup.  The sublimated cheetah on the away kit is pretty cool and although this could be seen as a Portugal rip off, I think is distinctive enough to stand on its own.  In my research, I came across this on wikipedia:

On 1 February 2014, Iran announced the addition of the endangered Asiatic cheetah on their 2014 FIFA World Cup kits in order to bring attention to its conservation efforts.

#7  Japan  Home

Japan 2014 World Cup Home Kit (1)

Adidas got this spot on for the Blue Samurai.  The blue is very rich and is trimmed with a peach color which you don’t see very often.  The lines that radiate out from the national badge are not only an appealing accent but, according to Football Fashion, serve a purpose:

According to adidas: . . . the uniform is an expression of the strong determination as the players and the supporters realise that now is the time to unite as one and go into a huddle (“ENJIN”) to get ready for the battle ahead, to go all in for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and capture victory.  On the left side of the chest, there are 11 lines spreading out from the emblem, expressing the way those players depart from the “ENJIN” to their respective positions on the pitch for the battle.

#6  Cote d’Ivoire  Home

Ivory Coast 2014 World Cup Home Kit 2

Simply love this jersey.  Love the orange, and the shirt has such a great looking crest.  The African accents on the shoulders and armpits are unique and dynamic, creating a striking jersey for the team.  Here’s hoping that Didier Drogba and company get out of the group stage this time around.

#5  Holland  Home 

holland-home-wc-14

Another orange jersey and another classic.  As with Brazil, the Dutch kit is very identifiable and Nike has kept things very simple here.  In the end, a slightly redesigned crest really pushes this shirt up the list.

#4  Ghana  Home 

Ghana 2014 World Cup Home Kit 2

Love the contrast of the white shirt with the accents on the cuffs and shoulders.  Sometimes the simplest shirts are the best.

#3  England  Away   

England 2014 World Cup Home Kit (1)

Nike got this absolutely right for England.  The pinstriped red shirt with a ring collar cleverly hides a St. Cross design, and the crest pops against the red background.  Combined with the white shorts and red socks, this is one of best strips at the World Cup.

#2  Croatia  Away

Croatia 2014 Nike World Cup Away Jersey Image

I’m a big fan of Croatian kits, and this jersey uses the standard royal blue of their away kit and accents it with the red and white checks across the shoulders.  Speaking of the red and white checks, I found an interesting post on Wikipedia about the Croatian Coat of Arms, which gives insight into the colors used in the jersey.  It also appears that there is a two tone blue in the Football Federation crest but I haven’t been able to find anything that confirms that.

#1  Portugal  Away     

Nike Portugal 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

Wow.  When I first saw this shirt, I was reminded of previous Portuguese away kits.  Turns out that the 1998. 2000 and 2002 away kits were white with navy blue trim and accents, although for the life of me I couldn’t remember them ever wearing those at a competitive event.  This jersey has so much going for it: a white base with minimal blue trim around the collar and sleeves; a collar that combines modern design with the Nike button phase; and a crest that pops while referencing history (Portuguese Football Federation’s centenary).  Combined with the blue shirts and white socks, I hope Portugal wears this every game instead of their historic maroon kit.  This has definitely gone on the wish list and hope to pick it up in the coming months.

Strip Club–World Cup 2014 Kit Preview (Part 1)

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup I have been working on several projects, one of which is reviewing all of the kits from each country for the tournament.  For Euro 2012, I did an extensive series of posts, running a virtual kit tournament.  Alas time and scope do not allow me to do this sort of thing for the World Cup, so instead I went through all of the shirts and narrowed it down to the my top 20.  There are some excellent resources for this:

From there I ranked them and put together a couple of posts.  Hope you enjoy and comments are welcome.

#20  Chile  Away

Chile 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

This simple white shirt with just hints of the flag colors does a nice job but Puma’s funky collar (ie trachea patch) pushes it down the list.

#19  Russia  Home

Russia 2014 Home Kit 1

I really like the color of this shirt, which is reminiscent of their pre World Cup 2010 release (they failed to win the playoff, OOPS!!), and again I enjoyed the flag accents on sleeves.

#18  Argentina   Home

Argentina 2014 Home Kit 1

This shirt is a classic and adidas does well here by adding just a hint of modernization (ie the diagonally stripe things).

#17 France  Home

France 2014 Home kit 1

For the most part, Nike has done well since taking over the French line.  The blue color used is very attractive, nicely accented by a white collar and a monochromatic badge.

#16  Colombia  Away

Colombia 2014 World Cup Away Kit (5)

This would have been a Top 10 selection without the accents on the sleeves, which cause the shirt to look very MLS-ish, and that’s not a good thing.

#15  Australia  Away

Austrlia 2014 World Cup Away Kit-1

What a color combination, very unique, which according to Football Fashion is “dark obsidian blue, and has been inspired by the design worn by Australia when they qualified for their first ever final 40 years ago.”

#14  Korea Republic  Away

I love the white shirt with just a hint of the flag colors (a theme for me), and the collar is quite unique and serves as a nice touch.

#13  Ghana  Away

Ghana 2014 World Cup Away Kit 1

I would have loved to put this in the Top 10 but the shirt is just a little too busy for me.

#12  England  Home

England 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

Nike does a nice job keeping the shirt clean and simple, but the V neck collar keeps it out of the Top 10.

#11  Cote d’Ivoire  Away

Ivory Coast 2014 World Cup Away Kit

To be honest, I think my bias against green shirts kept this lower but Puma did a great job with the African jerseys for this tournament.

MatchDay Memory–Summer 2013 Part Two: International Competitions

As for televised games, Mid-Michigan United had great turnouts for the USMNT qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.  The Americans secured all nine points and are all but assured of a spot at World Cup 2014.  Jozy Altidore reclaimed his spot as the top forward and the defense held firm, only giving up one goal in 270 minutes.

Next up was the Confederations Cup, and my interaction with the competition was spotty at best.  Tried to check in on matches and watch highlights when I could.  The Final was the Spain versus Brazil game that the world had been anticipating for four years.  And it wasn’t even close.  Spain got thrashed.  Bayern, Chelsea, Italy and now Brazil have shown the way to defeating the Spanish/Barca system—an athletic team with fitness and organization.  Of course there were huge momentum swings—David Luiz saving Pedro’s goal in the first half, an early goal from Fred in the second half and Ramos’ missed penalty.  All those world class forwards and you let a center back take the kick?  By the way Ramos needs to go back to right back.  He’s not awesome in the middle and Arbeloa is lost and truly the weakest link.

Just before the European club season kicked off, the Gold Cup wrapped up.  I admit at the outset I was not interested at all.  The US sent a B team to a second rate competition in substandard region.  I got together with a couple of MMU guys and watched the last group game against Costa Rica.  Brek Shea scored his first international goal as the Stars and Stripes finished the group stage with maximum points.  The next game I took in was the semi-final against Honduras.  A solid performance took the Klinsmannschaft to the final against surprise package Panama, who dispatched a struggling Mexico.  I was only to catch the first half of Final, due to an over 30 game.  That was awful 45 minutes.  In the end the US won and now have at least half a chance of playing in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

The National Team got a lot out of the competition.  They were able develop the player pool, reintegrate Donovan into the team and get Jurgen a piece of silverware.  With the squad all but in the World Cup and with Mexico struggling, the US is back on top in the region.  Everything now should be developing a balanced team that can progress from the group and have a legitimate shot to do damage in the knockout.  Again it will be down to the draw.

Old Futbol Buffet–Jozy Who?

Heading into Antigua match the US was without Fabian Johnson (flu) Edgar Castillo (foot), Landon Donovan (knee), Brek Shea (abdominal strain) and Jose Torres (foot).  Plus Klinsmann did not pick Jozy Altidore.  The SI Soccer Roundtable panel on 10/11 discussed these issues, with Grant Wahl feeling that now is not the time to be sending messages to players, rather now is the time to qualify for the next round.

Jeff Carlisle looked at Altidore’s omission for ESPN FC, with Klinsmann being clear to the media that he has not been happy with Jozy’s performances during his tenure.  I agree.  I’ve been saying since his introduction to the team that his first touch is poor and his link up play with his teammates is very spotty, all aspects that Carlisle, Klinsmann, Altidore and others identify.  Carlisle also mentions that despite his poor play for the National Team, he should still be in the squad, stating “That’s not to say Altidore should be starting, but omitting him entirely seems a step too far.”

Due to a poker party at my house (read poor planning) I missed the game against Antigua and Barbuda.  I was planning to stay away from the score and watch the replay Saturday night, but finally said screw it.  Eddie Johnson made his mark on his return to the team, validating Klinsmann’s decision to not call in Jozy.  The US secured three points with a 2-1 win on the road in less than perfect conditions and now just require a draw on Tuesday against Guatemala.

Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America did player ratings after the match, with rough scores for Gomez and the center back paring of Goodson and Cameron.  Grant Wahl also shared his thoughts on the game for SI.com.  Johnson saved the proverbial bacon but Grant stated that the US should do better against CONCACAF opposition and that there may be possible regression under Klinsmann.  He did make mention of the impact made by MLS players on the match, including Johnson, Gordon and Zusi.

Looking to South America, I watched highlights from Argentina/Uruguay and Colombia/Paraguay.

Argentina won 3-0 with goals of exceptional quality.  The second was the result of incisive interplay which left Aguero wide open to tap in.  The third was just wrong.  After several blistering free kicks against Real Madrid in the opening weeks of the season, Messi hit a grass cutter that put the game beyond reach.

Colombia kicked Paraguay to the curb 2-0 as Falcao broke a defender’s ankle for the first and schooled a stretched defense for the second.  The result keeps Colombians third but gives them some breathing room above Uruguay

Tim Vickery recapped Friday’s matches for the BBC while looking ahead to Tuesday.  Venezuela could take a big step towards qualifying for their first World Cup if they can get a result in Ecuador.  Meanwhile, early leaders Chile and Uruguay are in free fall.

Circling back to Europe, Andy Brassell saw Capello’s men strike early and frustrate Portugal for ESPN FC, citing that control did not equal creation and Nani did not do enough with his time on the ball.  Plus there is problem up top as Postiga is probably not the player to lead the line.  For the hosts, they were well organized and look to make strides under their Italian coach after a disappointing Euros.

Graham Hunter examined the absence of Mata from the Spanish squad ahead of the two qualifiers.  Like Altidore for the US, it seems strange that the player is not even in the squad.  Mata has been sparkling for Chelsea and surely should be included as an impact sub if things got tricky.  I will be interesting to see his status next spring.  If he remains out in the cold, the situation may become very tense. (Then Spain go out and spank Belarus 4-0.)

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Articles and Podcasts

A fellow soccer player in my area, Peter Alegi, wrote a post about the rise of the bookzine for the blog Football is Coming Home.  Examples would be the Blizzard, XI Quarterly and Howler.  When Jonathan Wilson started promoting the Blizzard on World Football Phone In and the Guardian and other outlets, I was like, Of course.  This medium provides depth and substance to subjects without the pressure of deadlines or the demands of writing an entire book.  Peter’s quote from Matthew Taylor noting the “literaturization of soccer” is spot on.  Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid is perfect example of this, as Wilson examined tactics and how that aspect of soccer influence culture and vice versa in a way that goes beyond the typical soccer magazine or blog.

I have read snippets for XI Quarterly and Howler and have been impressed.  As soon as I get through my current pile of books (Barca, La Roja, and Bloody Confused), I plan to order the issues and get caught up. By the way, the books Peter mentions are fantastic reads and I would highly recommend those and (shameless plug) those listed on my Recommend Reading page.

In the same vein, Aaron Stollar had Howler Magazine’s Mark Kirby and XI Quarterly’s David Keyes on The Big Question podcast to chat about their genesis of each project, influences on their publications and the future of soccer coverage in this country.  Great listen as this country develops its own way of looking at the game.

Rediscovered the site True Colours Football Kits in my travels around the web this week.  John Devlin posted his Football Kit Five Point Plan, which is filled with common sense, meaning that there is no way it will be instituted.  His suggestions including making the life of the jersey at least two years and wearing the home kit as much as possible.  Good read.

Another article I came across was teams sticking to a one dimensional tactic.  James Sanderson spent some time for Football Speak exploring whether a team should devote itself to one style of playing whether that be long ball/route one or the tika taka of FC Barcelona and Spain.  He used the example of Barca in the last two Champions League semis in which they were defeated—Inter in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012.  Desperately needing a goal, the Blaugrana were met by organized buses that thwarted their progression.  Surely they should have a plan B, but they didn’t and still don’t.  James does mention the quandary, If you try to integrate a plan B, you may seriously weaken the fantastic play A.  He also spends some time playing pretend manager—would you rather play against a flexible team, using both current Manchester teams as examples, or an one trick pony?  Does make you think.

Finally, legendary soccer writer Brian Glanville was on the United We Stand pod to talk about Manchester United past, present and future.  Great stories about the Busby Babes were shared as well as comments on Sir Alex, the Glazer’s and the fan experience at Old Trafford.

Old Futbol Buffet–Serbians Be-Deviled

Serbia 0 Belgium 3

I made time for this game to see Belgium’s supposed “Golden Generation”.  Once I saw the team sheet, I was impressed—Hazard, Witsel, Dembele, and a defense featuring Courtois, Vermaelen, Kompany, and Vertonghen.  But the visitors were put under immediate pressure.  Unfortunately, Serbia did not make the breakthrough, which would be their downfall.  The Belgians came into the match, and eventually Benteke scored to put the hosts behind at halftime.  A fantastic cross from De Bruyne (who had a very good match) created the easiest of chances for a striker I wasn’t that impressed with on the whole.

Serbia, despite all their industry and desire, left the pitch with no points because of poor service, not framing the goal properly, and defensive lapses.  Ivanovic was a force the entire match, driving forward on the right hand side but his efforts went unrewarded. Tosic was active on the wing but spurned two solid chances.  Maybe that’s why Sir Alex got rid of him. Brkic did all he could in goal, making a fantastic save on Hazard to keep the score at 1-0.  Fatigue and desperation undid Serbia at the back.  A Serbian cross was served too deep, and from the resulting throw in Benteke shielded the ball before De Bruyne was released.  He sprinted into space and coolly slotted past Brkic.

A third goal was added in stoppage time, and the result flattered the visitors slightly.  Yes they were organized and took the chances, but the hosts could have done so much more. A couple of things I noticed during the match:

  • Lots of loose passes from Dembele.  Against more clinical opposition, he will be punished.
  • Witsel sat in with Chadli and Dembele and shielded the defense.  Width for the Serbians, as in the earlier game I watched (Russia v Portugal) did not pay dividends.
  • Hazard was subbed after 55’ which struck me as strange.  Injured?  Fatigued? Rested for Scotland?

Serbia fell to third but has Macedonia next so they should rebound.  Belgium is tied on top with Croatia, so next spring should be quite interesting.

As for the kits . . .

Loved the Serbia home jersey.  Wasn’t sure about the shorts, but it turns out it was a flag thing.

For the Belgians, their kit is unique.  It is made by a manufacturer that I am unfamiliar with: Burrda Sport.  The jersey is busy but not annoying.  The sublimated crest is a nice touch.