(Everybody loves free t-shirts)
Before I begin my usual update, let me just congratulate ourselves for qualifying to the World Cup last week! It was an arduous 294 days, wasn’t it? We could have gone through qualifying undefeated or through that exact same stressful process which we endured, but the results would have stayed the same. I highly doubt we would have been seeded in the first pot of the World Cup draw if we were undefeated and I’m guessing we will just be thrown into the same pot as our CONCACAF brothers on December 6th for the final draw. Once the lists are released, you better believe I will do some redundant and worthless analyzing of our chances against our group rivals next summer. I promise to post any of my dispensable findings.
Also, just before I get into the match updates, I should quickly talk about El Tri’s first game in 2014. Mexico have announced their first friendly for next year against South Korea on January 29th, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Blargh. I do hope that if we want to take this World Cup seriously we will set up friendlies against decent opposition that isn’t another home game for us. Of the 25 games that we had this year, 17 were played either in the United States or Mexico, that isn’t good preparation for us. On a recent episode of the Mexican Soccer Show, Tom Marshall made a great point stating that our team will remain stagnant if we continue with our friendlies only being utilized for financial gain as opposed to the betterment of the national squad. We can’t afford to squander our friendlies through another game in Los Angeles against a weak European side just to sell another Chicharito jersey. I hate to admit it, but Piojo is right when he said that we are no longer a giant in the CONCACAF. Now all we need is a soccer version of Gordon Ramsay to come in and give us a wake-up call.
-Chicharito was given the start for Manchester United after an injured Robin Van Persie was unavailable. Chich provided an excellent assist to Wayne Rooney in the 15th minute to give the Red Devils their first goal in the game. Actually, to me, it somewhat looked like Chich mishandled the pass he received while he was turning but was fortunate enough to have Rooney right behind him. If the pass was intentional, that was a magnificent piece of play from the little pea. A player like Chicharito who receives the amount of playing time that he does always has rumors surrounding transfers. Yet, with Peralta becoming the new hot striker commodity for Mexico, the idea of Hernandez moving on to another squad during the winter becomes more and more likely. Perhaps it isn’t a bad idea at this point in his career. Come over to Northern California so I can watch you play every game with the San Jose Earthquakes, actually, please don’t. Manchester United 2-2 Cardiff.
-I think Carlos Vela was just “powering up” during the past two months. The striker/national team-tease knocked in an astonishing four goals against Celta Vigo over the weekend. The worst part about it all (I’ll be honest), I slept through the game on Saturday. He must have known, just to spite me. The Mexican international had yet to score a goal in his last eight games before the weekend and completely compensated for that drought. You don’t need to watch the game to know that this was his best performance of the season so far. Real Sociedad 4-3 Celta Vigo.
-Andres Guardado returned for Valencia after being out for a little under a month due to an injury. He was surprisingly enough one of the more active players for Valencia for both the defense and offense. The guy even made the occasional accurate long pass which I personally haven’t seen from him in a long time. I still think we can make an argument for him as on option for a defensive winger on the national team. You heard me right Paul Aguilar. Valencia 1-2 Elche.
-Jonathan dos Santos is still out due to his leg injury. Reports continue to state that he will be back at some point next summer. Barcelona 4-0 Granada.
-Hector Moreno had a bright start against Rayo Vallecano over the weekend. The defender almost scored early in the game, but his header flew a little too high and over the crossbar. He would have ended the game with a positive performance but unfortunately was at fault for Espanyol’s only crucial mistake. Rayo’s Saul Niguez easily jumped over Moreno for a cross and headed in their only goal of the game. On a side note, rumor has it that Swansea are still very keen on Moreno and are apparently going to make a big push for him during the winter transfer. With Moreno already stating in the past that he dreams of playing in England, a trade in the next couple of months may be possible. Espanyol 4-1 Rayo Vallecano.
-Speaking of Rayo Vallecano, Nery Castillo has resumed team practices with his side but was still left out of the game against Espanyol. The striker was out for over a month due to a muscle tear in his thigh.
-Gio dos Santos has just returned to team practices as well after his injury, but staff are keen on not taking any chances and kept him out of the roster against Levante. Yet, even without Gio, Villarreal seem to be doing just fine. The team had an easy 3-0 win over Levante with the help of Javier Aquino. Aquino missed a hufe opportunity in the second half with a terrible cross but more than made up for it by helping create the excellent third goal. Villarreal 3-0 Levante.
-Things are looking good for both Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes, playing time-wise…respectively. Both were called up against Nacional over the weekend and both will be on the roster against Austria Wien in the Champions League today. Although Reyes did not see any time on the pitch, the call up to the bench is still progress for the defender who has spent most of his time with FC Porto B. Herrera on the other hand, played for 88 minutes and picked up a yellow. That was his third booking in his last four games for Porto. FC Porto 1-1 Nacional.
-While Anibal Zurdo was left out of the starting lineup for Sabadell, Ulises Davila played all 90 minutes for Cordoba over the weekend. He provided some nice crosses for his side but it was apparently not enough to support a win. By the way, don’t forget about Davila, the kid still looks like he has plenty of potential. In case you missed it, he scored a hat-trick for Cordoba just two weeks ago. That third goal was all Davila and truly showcased the signs of a potentially deadly attacker.
-It was a rough day in the office for Guillermo Ochoa (When is it not? Ajaccio have lost 8 of their last 11 games.). It’s especially rough when you’ve got Marseille players taking shots on goal like this. Yeesh, I highly doubt the weird hybrid son of Jorge Campos and Fabian Barthez would have even stopped that. AC Ajaccio 1-3 Marseille.
-Gabriel Piccolo sat on the bench during Partick Thistle’s 4-1 loss to Dundee United.
-Jesus “Tecatito” Corona only saw four minutes of playing time over the weekend as a last minute sub for FC Twente. FC Twente 5-2 NAC Breda.
International player of the week: No doubts here, Carlos Vela.
Games! (pacific standard time)
Today, November 26th, 2013
11:45 a.m. - Austria Vienna @ FC Porto (Reyes & Herrera) - Champions League
11:45 a.m. - Barcelona (w/out Jona) @ Ajax - Champions League
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
11:45 a.m. - Manchester United (Chich) @ Bayer Leverkusen - Champions League
Thursday, November 28th, 2013
Noon - Valencia (Guardado) @ Swansea City - Europa League
Friday, November 29th, 2013
11:00 a.m. - FC Twente (Tecatito) @ Roda JC Kerkrade - Eredivisie
11:30 a.m. - Malaga @ Villarreal (Aquino & Gio) - La Liga
Saturday, November 30th, 2013
12:15 p.m. - FC Porto (Reyes & Herrera) @ Academica de Coimbra - Portuguese Liga
1:00 p.m. - Real Sociedad (Vela) @ Espanyol (Moreno) - La Liga
Sunday, December 1st, 2013: AKA Unrealistic game times for California
3:00 a.m. - Rayo Vallecano (Nery) @ Real Betis - La Liga
4:00 a.m. (might sleep through this one, wait now I’m talking about a potential “soccer all-nighter” with my girlfriend) - Manchester United (Chich) @ Tottenham Hotspurs - EPL
4:45 a.m. - Aberdeen @ Partick Thistle (Piccolo) - Scottish Cup
5:00 a.m. - AC Ajaccio (Ochoa) @ Bordeaux - Ligue 1
9:00 a.m. - Mirandes @ Sabadell (Zurdo) - Spanish Second Division
9:00 a.m. - Barcelona B @ Cordoba (Davila) - Spanish Second Division
10:00 a.m. - Osasuna @ Valencia (Guardado) - La Liga
Noon - Barcelona (w/out Jona) @ Athletic Bilbao - La Liga
Alright, I believe that’s it. I guess this is where I plug-in my twitter and instagram, although my instagram is much more cat-related than soccer-related so that may be irrelevant. Have a good week!