Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The International Newb

The Newb’s back at it… International-style.

With so much soccer to be had out there, it sure can be tough on a Newb to realize who’s playing who, when, and in which tournament. While the Premier League’s in full swing, there are Carling Cups, Champions Leagues, Europas, not to mention the 2012 Euro coming up, World Cup qualifiers, friendlies – the list goes on and on.

So, that list of tournaments – tackled briefly in a previous column – presents a bit of a challenge, it also gives your faithful Newb a great chance to connect players from the BPL to their “home” teams and different styles of play. Throughout the Premier League’s season, I’ve been watching, gathering info on players like David Silva, Petr Cech, Clint Dempsey, Ashley Cole, Nigel de Jong, and others. For their BPL squads, they play with fellow countrymen, but also rivals, when it comes to international play. This facet of international sports has always fascinated me – so many different alliances are constantly in play; one week Ashley Young and Joe Hart can be lining up for England, the next: a ferociously competitive Manchester Derby…that’s a lot to digest, I would think.

But I digress a little. That happens. My point is: I can’t wait to see more international play, now that I’ve familiarized myself with some of that talent through the BPL. What happens when de Jong, Kuyt, and van Persie come together on the same team? I suspect I know the answer there… But it’s still intriguing to someone who’s never really paid attention like this before. What’s England going to do in the wake of Fabio Capello’s departure, and importantly – how does it affect the coming-together of many players and styles of play, in such a short time? (Or does it?) Can Spain band its uniquely talented players together to bring some much-needed optimism to a country in the economic doldrums? (I never underestimate the power of sport to heal these kinds of things…)

What’s also fascinating for the American Newb, is the dynamic of US players heading overseas. Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, and most recently, Landon Donovan are all fairly important parts to their BPL clubs. Will we see more Americans abroad? I suspect that it would only be good news for the state of American soccer, but it seems that it would also hurt the MLS, no? (I’d love to see some comments on this part of the blog – what’s best for American soccer??? Or email newb@scoringthird.com. Maybe that’s another blog post to come.)

To sum this all up: what a great time to be getting into soccer across the globe – in England, in the USA, and internationally. Consider my seat belt buckled for 2012.

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