There will not be mailbag for this week's edition because I haven't received any questions! Remember, if you'd like to submit a question for the mailbag, drop me an email or leave a note on my bulletin board. Make sure to get those questions in! Questions related to American football, or football elsewhere in the world are definitely welcome.
This week's newsletter includes notes from the latest round of World Cup Qualifying. Everybody had their eyes glued to their televisions this week as exciting international matches in CONCACAF and the rest of the world took center stage in the footballing universe.
Before we get to the World Cup Qualifying news, there is an important but not unexpected item out of Los Angeles. Star US midfielder Landon Donovan will be loaned to Bundesliga club Bayern Munich, starting on January 1st. The loan deal will run at least until mid-march, and possibly until the end of the Bundesliga season.
Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been very impressed with Donovan, who has been training with the club for the last week and a half, "The goal will be to see if we can get him long term, at least until the end of the season," Klinsmann told Bayern Munich's website.
Donovan, who had a failed stint with Bayer Leverkusen a few years back, feels like he has a better chance to succeed in the Bundesliga this time around.
"As a person and a player, I am completely different now to how I was then, I have matured. I am ready. I believe I can keep up with all the other players, even if I am not the best player here...I recognise Leverkusen wasn't the problem, I was," he said to ESPNsoccernet.com "I just wasn't ready for it."
If Donovan truly feels like he has pushed himself to the next level mentally, then he can succeed. He has always had the physical tools necessary to perform at a high level in Europe but seemed to be plagued by issues of mental toughness earlier in his career. It's no surprise that Donovan is going somewhere during the January transfer period, and we at Total 90 are excited to see him getting another chance in Europe, this time with a major club.
Using a lineup mostly comprised of youngsters and players based in MLS, Bob Bradley and the US Men's National Team ended Guatemala's slim qualifying hopes with a 2-0 shutout. How good has the US been in this early round of World Cup Qualifying? Six shutouts in eight games and only three goals allowed compared to 24 goals scored. That's eight goals scored for every one allowed.
There was plenty to observe in the match against Guatemala.
*Freddy Adu looked especially assertive in this match. When lining up to take a free kick in the 69th minute, it was the young Adu directing all of the US traffic around the box. After a dummy run by Sacha Kljestan, Adu stepped up and curled a beautiful shot just under the crossbar for his first ever senior-level international goal. What a way to open the account, Freddy.
*Kenny Cooper was also given the start, and responded by looking very dangerous throughout the match. He hit the crossbar with an early effort (which would have been called back for offsides had he scored, but it was very close) and finally scored in the 54th minute on a beautiful through-ball from Jozy Altidore. The Guatemalan goalkeeper was frozen to his line while Cooper coolly slotted home from close range. This goes to prove what we here at Total 90 have been saying for a long time: Cooper needs to be playing regularly.
*Against a Guatemala team that needed to win in order to have a chance at South Africa 2010, many of the same youngsters that looked so poor in the 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago stepped up in a big way tonight. It was nice to see Bradley give these boys more than a single match to prove themselves.
St. Louis' bid to capture one of the MLS expansion franchises in 2011 has just gained some serious momentum. National League MVP Albert Pujols has joined the St. Louis investors' group. Pujols is expected to strengthen St. Louis' bid considerably, as the only reason they were denied a franchise for 2009 or 2010 is their investors didn't have enough cash. The baseball superstar should be able to attract a lot of business.
"I am very proud and excited to join the effort to bring Major League Soccer to the St. Louis area," said Pujols in a statement released by the group today. "This means a lot to me and my family, as we all love soccer and we believe in the MLS."
Speaking of new franchises, the city of Philadelphia is set to break ground on their new stadium on December 1st. Having a stadium deal in place is has become necessity for all potential expansion franchises. Teams currently playing in soccer-specific stadiums have gotten very close to turning a profit in the last couple of seasons and will likely find themselves in the black by 2010.
MLS has announced its MVP for the 2008 season...(drum roll please)...Guillermo Barros Schelotto! Schelotto had seven goals and 19 assists for the Columbus Crew, and will take the field in the MLS Cup final on Sunday. Schelotto beat out Donovan and Chicago's Cuauhtemoc Blanco to win the award, despite having missed significant time due to a hamstring injury.
Who knows, without the injury he might have made a run at Carlos Valderrama's league record of 26 assists in a single season. Injury or not, Schelotto was by far the most deserving candidate. Columbus rode his talent all the way to the best record during the regular season and a spot in the MLS Cup Final.
The other award winners from the MLS season are Landon Donovan (LA, Golden Boot), Jon Busch (Chicago, Goalkeeper of the Year), Michael Parkhurst (New England, Fair Play), Chad Marshall (Columbus, Defender of the Year), Darren Huckerby (San Jose, Newcomer of the Year), Sigi Schmid (Columbus, Coach of the Year), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles, Rookie of the Year), Jose Burciaga, Jr. (Colorado, Humanitarian of the Year) and Will Johnson (Salt Lake, Goal of the Year.)
That does it for this edition of Total 90. Tune in Sunday night for a minute-by-minute account of the MLS Cup Final and remember, get those mailbag questions in!