Good morning all. Today is a busy day on the international soccer calendar as a full slate of matches are set to kick off, including USA-Poland, England-France, Spain-Italy and Argentina-Egypt.
Before we get to those games this afternoon, here are some soccer stories from today and Tuesday to tide you over this morning:
Rossi brace lifts Italy
American-born and raised forward Giuseppe Rossi scored a pair of goals to lift Italy to a 2-0 win against Azerbaijan in qualifying for the Under-21 European Championships on Wednesday. Rossi tapped home an easy set-up from Sebastian Giovinco in the 18th minute for his first and converted a penalty kick in the 63rd minute for his second goal.
Schwarzer saves Aussies
Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer made an 89th minute penalty kick save to help the Australian national team salvage a 0-0 tie against China in World Cup Qualifying in Beijing on Wednesday. Schwarzer had caused the penalty after fouling Qu Bo in the penalty area.
Heerenveen names next coach
Norwegian manager Trond Sollied has been named Heerenveen’s next head coach, the club announced on Tuesday. Sollied will replace Gert Jan Verbeek, who is leaving Heerenveen at the end of the current season and is being rumored as a candidate to take over Feyenoord.
What does this mean for Michael Bradley? Not much. The chances of Bradley being back with Heerenveen next season are zero. He has one year left on his current contract and the club is sure to sell him this summer in order to avoid losing him for nothing after the 2008/2009 season.
Boruc ready to leave Celtic
From the "thanks for telling us what we already knew" department comes word from Polish national team goalkeeper Artur Boruc that he is ready to leave Scottish champions Celtic for a bigger club. Boruc has been linked to such clubs as AC Milan and Bayern Munich and appears a safe bet to transfer in the summer despite having recently signed a new contract with Celtic.
You can’t help but wonder if U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan is regretting his decision not to sign with Celtic during the winter transfer period (he wound up trying to move to Aston Villa only to be denied a work permit). Sources believe Guzan would have been able to secure a work permit with Celtic.
Atletico Madrid land Heitinga
Ajax defender John Heitinga has agreed to a contract with Atletico Madrid, though no transfer fee has been agreed to yet. According to Heitinga, his contract states that Ajax cannot ask for a transfer fee of more than $15.5 million, a fee Atletico Madrid is ready to pay.The 24-year-old Dutchman is regarded as one of the most versatile and skilled defenders in Europe.
Porto Prez faces bribery charge
Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa faces a trial on charges of attemping to bribe a match official. Pinto da Costa is accused of paying off referee Augusto Duarte before a 2004 match with an envelop containing 2500 Euros.