Archivo de la etiqueta: MLS

De Estudiantes-Deportistas a Estrellas de la MLS

Este pasado domingo se definió al campeón de la 20va temporada de la Major League Soccer. Una liga que ha ido creciendo a pasos agigantados y que es de las que más oportunidades le da a los jóvenes para convertirse en profesionales. Mientras que Columbus Crew buscaba su segundo campeonato, Portland Timbers fue quien agregó su nombre a la lista de campeones de visita en MAPFRE Stadium.

Cerca de la mitad de las plantillas de ambas escuadras tienen a jugadores que han sido estudiantes-deportistas.En una liga que no permite la compra excesiva de jugadores foráneos, el poder desarrollar talentos desde las universidades es cada vez más importante y rinde frutos a corto, mediano y largo plazo. Aquí les presento a algunos de ellos.

Portland Timbers

Nick Besler – Este jugador pasó por la Universidad de Notre Dame vive su primera temporada como profesional. Su mejor momento como estudiante-deportista lo vivió cuando se coronó campeón nacional en el 2013 junto con los “Fighting Irish” y fue capitán de su equipo el siguiente año. Fue la quinta elección en la primera ronda del Draft 2015 de la MLS.

Jack Jewsbery – Un defensa de 34 años de edad que vivió sus días como estudiante-deportista en la Saint Louis University donde anotó 38 goles y dió 25 asistencias. Nombrado dos veces como  All-American y jugador del año de Conference USA en el 2000. En sus cuatro años como atleta universitario, llegó al NCAA Championship cada año. En el 2009 fue nombrado uno de los mejores 11 jugadores en los primeros 50 años del programa.

Anthony Manning – Otro egresado de St. Louis University, dos veces nombrado Atlantic Conference Player of the Year. En el 2014 ayudó a que su equipo no recibiera gol en 11 partidos. Ese mismo año, su equipo llegó a la segunda ronda del torneo nacional de la NCAA. Fue nominado al ‘First Team All Conference” en sus últimos dos años. Los Timbers lo seleccionaron en la tercera ronda del draft de el 2015.

Darlington Nagbe – Una de las estrellas de la liga este año fue estudiante-deportista con la University of Akron en Florida. Este habilidoso mediocampista jugó tres temporadas con con su universidad, anotando 19 goles y dando 19 asistencias en 73 partidos. El mismo ayudó a que su equipo universitario hiciera su primera aparición en un torneo nacional de la NCAA en el 2010 en el cual se coronaron como campeones nacionales. En su momento, fue nombrado el mejor jugador colegial en la NCAA D1. Fue la segunda selección en la primera ronda del draft en el 2011.

Andy Thoma – Otro de los novatos en el equipo de Portland Timbers tiene apenas 23 años de edad y en enero del 2015 fue seleccionado en la segunda ronda del draft por el equipo que ahora es campeón de la Conferencia Oeste de la MLS. Jugó 80 partidos para la Universidad de Washington con el cual recibió varios reconocimientos y anotó un gol junto con siete asistencias.

Columbus Crew

 

Chad Barson – Otro jugador egresado de la Universidad de Akron se encuentra en su tercera temporada de la MLS con el Columbus Crew. Mientras estudiaba, jugó en 93 de los 95 partidos disputados por su universidad en cuatro años. También fue parte fundamental del equipo que se coronó campeón nacional en el 2010, y gracias a él, Louisville no los pudo empatar en el último partido. Se hizo acreedor a varias distinciones debido a su talento como defensa desde su primer año hasta el 2010, cuando se graduó. Antes de la universidad estuvo en IMG Academy y al graduarse se fue a formar con la academia de Columbus Crew.

Steve Clark – El portero titular de Columbus Crew ha tenido que pasar muchos obstáculos para llegar a donde esta. Egresado de la University of Oakland donde jugó del 2005 al 2008. En su último año, fue considerado el 11vo mejor portero del país, permitiendo un promedio de 0.54 goles por partido. Al terminar su carrera universitaria, pasó a ser parte de los Michigan Bucks de la USL Premier Development League. Después de eso, se fue a jugar un tiempo a Noruega para regresar a Estados Unidos y ser firmado en el Draft por Columbus en el 2014 y desde entonces no se ha perdido un solo juego de temporada regular.

Ethan Finlay – Este jugador de apenas 25 años de edad ya lleva cuatro temporadas con el Columbus Crew y cada vez su rol en el equipo es más importante. Sus años como estudiante universitario los pasó en Creighton University en el estado de Nebraska. Titular indiscutible en su equipo, arrancó lo 79 partidos que jugó con el equipo. En el 2012 fue nombrado el mejor atleta colegial en el estado de Nebraska con el Fred Ware Award. Ese mismo año, Columbus lo seleccionó en la primera ronda del draft y ha dividido su tiempo con el equipo de reservas y el titular.

Justin Meram – Una de las estrellas de Columbus también fue estudiante-deportista. Meram empezó en Yavapai College y terminó los últimos dos años jugando para Michigan. En sus últimos 41 partidos, Meram metió 24 goles y dió 14 asistencias. Sus actuaciones con Yavapai College fueron sobresalientes y en el 2012 fue nombrado como miembro del salón de la fama de la NJCAA. Ya como jugador profesional, en el 2014 debutó con la Selección Nacional de Iraq.

Tyson Wahl – Un jugador que ha pasado por varios equipos como profesional pero le dedicó sus cuatro años como estudiante-deportista a la University of California. Su ética de trabajo y talento le permitieron ser titular en todos los partidos. Con su ayuda, su equipo llegó a los cuartos de final en el torneo de la NCAA en el 2005 y fue nombrado como miembro del All-Pac-10 Second Team tanto como del Pac-10 All Academic Second Team. Fue Kansas City el equipo que le permitió debutar como profesional en el 2006 tras el MLS Draft.

Last Week in Sports (11/24 – 11/30)

NFL

Football got off to an early start for week 13 with three games on a Thursday. The Lions beat Chicago, the Seahawks on a Super Bowl rematch took control over the 49’ers and Mark Sanchez and the Eagles took care of business at Jerry World when they defeated the Cowboys. Both teams came into the annual Thanksgiving Day game with an 8-3 record and tied for the top spot of the NFC East. That same offensive line that provided great protection for Romo on the game against the Giants was no where to be seen in Week 13. Romo did not have a single TD pass, he struggled finding his targets and did not even reach the 200 yard passing mark. The difference was mostly made in the running game where DeMarco Murray just ran 73 yards while the Eagles running back LeSean McCoy got up to 159. The final score was 33-10 and there will be a rematch on week 15.

CENTRAL AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN GAMES

It was pretty much a complete domination by Mexico, the country which hosted the 2014 games in Veracruz, up until the last 70 hours of the competition. After being behind by over 20 gold medals in the medal count, the domination of Cuba in the Track and Field events including a win in the male marathon by Richer Pérez. The cubans got a total of 23 gold medals in these type of events while Mexico only managed to get eight. Two more in beach volleyball really sealed the deal for this delegation. While some may consider this result a failure for the host nation they can be proud of as it (Mexico) was awarded the most medals out of all the competition with 332. That way Cuba finished in first with 123 gold medals, Mexico second with 115 and Colombia was far back in third with 70.

SOCCER

The playoffs in the “Liga Bancomer MX”, got off to a weak start. Most of the games were decided by mistakes of the opponent than by good calls by the team that would end up winning. To make the story short between Pumas and America, the latter one advanced because of having finished at a higher spot during the regular season. Then Tigres and Pachuca was decided with the same argument benefiting Tigres. Toluca was no longer the team distinguished by its great playoff games and was lucky enough to eliminate Chiapas due to the same reasoning the last two games were decided with. Finally Monterrey was the only team to advance due to a positive goal differential after two games after losing the first by one but winning the second one by two. Now they will play America and Toluca will face Tigres.

In MLS action the final is set. Landon Donovan could not have a bigger stage to say farewell to his team and to the league that has seen him develop for many years. After a 2-2 tie in the aggregate with the Seattle Sounders, Galaxy advanced to the final due to the goal that L.A. scored as a visitor. They will play New England Revolution which eliminated the New York Red Bulls. Take into consideration that this was the last season New York only has one team, next year the New York Football Club will start competing and they have already signed international star David Villa to play for them. But the show must go on for now and both finalists will face each other on December 7th at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

NCAA Football

It is hard to recap what happened in a league that has over 50 games every weekend but here are some of the highlights. Texas Christian University took care of business on the road and defeated Texas at Austin on Thanksgiving Day 48-10. The Oregon Ducks defeated Oregon State by 47-19. Baylor and Texas Tech battled it out at AT&T Stadium in what turned out to be a great game. At the end even though the Red Raiders outscored the Bears by 19-3 in the fourth quarter, the team from Waco, Texas got the win by 48-46. Number one ranked Alabama also played a high-scoring game against number 15 Auburn. This time a second half comeback by Alabama was good enough to take the “W” 55 to 44.

CRICKET

Last week in a game of cricket in Australia fans and players witnessed a horrific scene. A hit to the bottom of the neck of the 25 year old player left him unconscious. James Sutherland “CEO of Cricket Australia”, considered him a hero for kids around the nation and a role-model player. Two days after suffering the hit, Hughes lost his battle and died. His number 64 shirt is now retired and a match he was supposed to play with his national team against India has now been postponed.

Ronaldinho’s Joga Bonito

Media and soccer fans around the world have set their eyes on the city of Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico because a two-time “FIFA Player of the Year” has signed a two-year contract to play with Queretaro F.C. which is currently sitting in eighth place almost halfway through the season. Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, better known as “Ronaldinho”could be presented at the “Estadio La Corregidora” at any moment.

Ronaldinho comes to change many things about the poor conditions the mexican soccer league faces. The same league club owners pride themselves about managing are often facing payment problems. Just last season players from Ronaldinho’s new club were playing for free as the people who owned the team could not pay them. After the end of last season, “Grupo Imagen”, one of the leading media businesses in Mexico bought the team and now they even have the money to add one of the world’s greatest soccer players to its roster.

A team that struggled to get 20,000 people to watch its games can now almost guarantee they will have sold out crowds awaiting every two weeks when they play at home. Not only that, the impact of Ronaldinho will also benefit other teams that host Queretaro for the reminder of the season and the next three that are stipulated in his contract. This is where the LIGA MX will be grateful the most. Experts predict that the superstar has enough power to sell-out every stadium he steps on no matter how bad the teams are doing even if the prices go up.

It is almost a given that “Dinho” is not at the same level he was when Paris Saint Germain and Barcelona had him, but his ability to amaze fans did not die while he was in Brazil. Since then he has been mostly know for being a wild party animal. That was a costly mistake for him as it is said to be the main reason Luiz Felipe Scolari did not call him to be part of the Brazil 2014 World Cup Team.

As weird as it may sound, what the mexican soccer league is doing with the brazilian is something the Major League Soccer has been doing for a long time. Long time ago Pele played in the MLS for the New York Cosmos, Hugo Sanchez with Dallas Burn, David Beckham with the L.A. Galaxy, Thierry Henry is currently playing with the New York Red Bulls while David Villa is about to come stateside to play with the new team called New York Football Club just to name a few.

Even though the economic impact at stadiums has not been as high as many people expected it has raised the level of a league that years ago was nowhere to be found on a soccer map. The league has made huge leaps by either exporting many players to europe or building a strong base for its national team now coached by Jurgen Klinsmann who can threat the most powerful teams either at home or even on the road.

The only “limit” mexican teams have when signing a new player is that they can only have five of them who do not have a mexican passport. Queretaro wanted the brazilian so badly they sold uruguayan Diego Guastavino on the last day the transfer window was open for LIGA MX teams. He has just signed with Boston River from his home country.

United States professional teams operate under a set budget established by the league. They are not free to spend all their money the way they please, which I believe keeps a certain level of competition between the teams in the league. The salary cap for the 2014 MLS Season is $3.1million USD but bringing in players like David Villa does not comply with this cap, as they are brought in like designated players who can get a more flexible salary.

With that being said, mexican players usually receive a better pay than north american soccer players which makes them (mexicans) less interested on playing abroad as they could be sacrificing their own salary.

There are no discipline restrictions for the seventh brazilian world cup champion to play in Mexico, and his actual contract is not that expensive ($1.95 million USD), far far away from the close to $100 million he was worth while playing for the catalan club where he experienced most of his glory. Whatever it is, his style of play will for sure break the monotony of the mexican soccer league like only the 34 year-old player can.

If nothing goes wrong, the new number 49 player of Queretaro F.C. will make his debut this friday (September 12) against Puebla in his new home or against Chivas next weekend.

Queretaro le da la bienvenida al nuevo galllo (pulsolp.com.mx)
Queretaro le da la bienvenida al nuevo galllo       (pulsolp.com.mx)