Meat pies and orange slices

Meat pies for the soccer soul; Photo by Sandy Austin

Meat pies for the soccer soul; Photo by Sandy Austin

A round-up of stories and ideas from around the world of soccer that are interesting but don’t merit a full post of their own.

Gooch says he’ll be back for the World Cup. Three weeks since successful surgery to repair a ruptured patella tendon, U.S. national team and AC Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu is in a confident mood. He tells Kristian Dyer of ESPN.com that he could be “back in four months, realistically.” That’s two months ahead of schedule, and while his injury was a simple tear which, according to U.S. national team physician Bert Mandelbaum, “allowed for the best possible scenario to repair the injury and provide for a good prognosis for recovery,” that should still take six months. We have speculated before about how difficult it will be for Gooch to get into playing shape and sharp enough to start during the World Cup if he only takes the field again in April. But Gooch says he’ll be ready, “I know my body and I know how hard I work to recover and how my body heals.” Let’s hope he’s right.

MatchFitUSA: Time to panic about Jermaine Jones?. The guys at Match Fit pick up on the news that Jermaine Jones, newly available for selection by the U.S. national team, will rest his troublesome shins through the German winter break. Jones, a powerful central midfielder who can pass and tackle, has suffered numerous setbacks in his bid to return to action for Schalke. Jason Davis is worried that, despite his talent, we are rapidly approaching the date when Jones wont have enough time to work his way into the starting lineup before the World Cup. I think if he comes back and is fit when play resumes in Germany in February, he will have time to get into the March international friendlies and then be in the US camp as soon as the German league season ends. Any more injury problems, though, and we can add another potential star to the growing list of US players who may miss out on the World Cup through injury.

USL split could benefit MLS. So says Brian Straus at Soccer Fanhouse. Without getting into too much detail about the schism in the United Soccer Leagues – the second and third division of soccer in the US – Straus believes that the breakaway wing of the USL, which includes the soon to be MLS Vancouver Whitecaps and the Montreal Impact who would love to follow them, could become the genuine feeder league that MLS has always lacked but is prevalent in other countries. Call me skeptical that such a huge rift in the minor leagues in American soccer is good for the sport. If the breakaway group can get its act together, I will be pleasantly surprised.

Costa Rica or Uruguay? Who the US should root for in the Costa Rica v Uruguay World Cup playoff is a little more complex than Grant Wahl makes out. Wahl says US fans should want Uruguay to win because that would limit Concacaf to only three teams. That would increase the chances of being placed in the same pot as the five unseeded African teams for the World Cup draw. But its not that simple. A Uruguay win would mean that Conmebol would also have three unseeded teams, meaning that the South Americans could just as likely end up in the pot with the African nations. Everyone wants to be in that pot because the host nation, South Africa, is guaranteed a seed even though it is currently ranked 77th in the world. Since FIFA rules prohibit teams from the same confederation being drawn in the same first round group (except Europe), that means one of the three teams in the African pot will get South Africa. A Costa Rican win coupled with Bahrain advancing over New Zealand would throw everything into chaos, because it would mean that there are five African, five Asia, four North American, and two South American teams to divide into two pots. We’ll definitely have more on this as the draw approaches.

Fergie gets four game touchline ban. Shocking news out of the Premier League, serial whiner Alex Ferguson has been banished to the stands during matches for four games, although two have been suspended. The Football Association Regulatory Commission grew a pair and at least made Ferguson pay some penalty for his usual antics. I seriously doubt, however, that this punishment will change Ferguson’s disgraceful behavior in any way.

Cudicini career in jeopardy after accident. Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini injured his wrist and pelvis in a motorcycle accident in East London today. Early reports are that the 36-year-old Italian’s career might be over. Our thoughts are will Cudicini and his family.

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