Monday Kickoff: Barca trio vie for award, Friedel eyes MLS return and more

BarcaTrio (ISIPhotos.com) 

When discussing the best players in the world, the conversation tends to drift toward Barcelona's star-studded squad. When selecting the best player in the world for 2010, the decision will also come down to one of the Spanish champion's many maestros.

Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta are the three finalists for the Ballon d'Or, the newly-revamped award which is a combination of the long-standing Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award.

Messi, Xavi and Iniesta edged out several other quality candidates, including Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Iniesta is being reported as the winner by some media outlets in Europe.

FIFA has also named the three finalists for Manager of the Year, with Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque, Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho on that list.

Here are some other stories from Monday morning and the weekend to get your day and week going:

FRIEDEL CONSIDERING MLS RETURN

Former U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel has spent more than a dozen years plying his trade in Europe, but he may be ready to return to Major League Soccer.

Friedel is reportedly pondering an offer to be a player-coach for the Columbus Crew as talks with current club Aston Villa over a new contract have come to a halt. The 39-year-old standout could still remain in England, but a return to the Crew could make for an interesting proposition.

Columbus currently boasts Wil Hesmer in goal and while he is one of the better young goalkeepers in the league the Crew would be hard-pressed to pass on the chance to bring back Friedel, who played for Columbus in 1996 and 1997.

NOTRE DAME WOMEN WIN NCAA TITLE

The Notre Dame women's team earned its third NCAA championship on Sunday with a 1-0 win against Stanford.

Adriana Leon scored the lone goal of the match to help snap Stanford's 22-match unbeaten streak and make the Fighting Irish only the second women's team to win three or more NCAA titles (North Carolina being the other).

MONTERREY WINS MEXICAN APERTURA CROWN

Monterrey rode a pair of goals from Humberto Suazo to defeat Santos Laguna, 3-0, to clinch the Mexican Apertura championship on Sunday. The three-goal victory erased the 3-2 deficit from the first leg.

RICHARDS, CUMMINGS LEAD JAMAICA TO DIGICEL TITLE

Powered by an Omar Cummings goal and a Golden Boot performance from Dane Richards, the Jamaican national team captured the Digicel Caribbean Cup on Sunday, beating Guadeloupe in penalty kicks to take the Caribbean title.

Cummings scored the lone goal in regulation for the 'Reggae Boyz', and after overtime could not produce a winner, Jamaica finished off Guadeloupe with a perfect round of penalties.

NEWCASTLE FIRES HUGHTON

Newcastle has fired Chris Hughton as manager just a day after the Magpies dropped a 3-1 decision to West Brom.

The firing came amid speculation that the club could be ready to make a move, but the firing is coming under heavy criticism because of Hughton's efforts to bring Newcastle back up after being relegated. There is no word on a replacement yet.

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What do you think of these developments? Who gets your Ballon d'Or vote? Like the idea of Friedel returning to MLS? Stunned at Newcastle's move to fire Hughton?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, Major League Soccer, MLS- Columbus Crew, Women's Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Monday Kickoff: Barca trio vie for award, Friedel eyes MLS return and more

  1. maka says:

    should be jose, but i think del bosque will win it?

  2. Steve C says:

    Newcastle United with the biggest “wtf?!” move of the year.

  3. Jake Oliver says:

    Newcastle sacking Hughton is a joke, unless they have someone lined up and ready to take charge right now. Unless that person is named Martin O’Neil, I can see the fans being pretty pissed off.

    The Friedel story worries me in that Villa have made no secret of their desire to bring in another keeper when Friedel leaves. It looks like their target is Allan McGregor of Rangers. I’m concerned that after sitting on the bench for over two years, Brad Guzan is never going to get the opportunity to start for Villa. If they do bring in another ‘keeper, I think it’s time Guzan finds another club.

  4. Ryan says:

    I was reading that Aston Villa is lining up Allan McGregor or Tomas Kzuscak (sp?) as replacements. Does Houllier not know that Brad Guzan is still there? Maybe Friedel shouldn’t be the only American to leave.

  5. catfish says:

    I think Crew has been hinting of some big name signings. This one is interesting. Maybe Crew would merge their academy with Friedel’s in Cleveland. Friedel’s is more like residency. Andrew Souders (US U17) grew up in Friedel Academy and played on Crew Academy before joing US residency program in FL.

  6. matt in detroit says:

    Wow, fired a guy for bringing them back up in one year despite selling off most of the roster and while he’s in the middle of the Premier League standings.

    Does Newcastle actually believe they should be contending for a title with their talent?

  7. kpugs says:

    Hesmer is young relative to Friedel, but I don’t think a 29 year old is young in the term meant here. In other words, if the Crew land Friedel Hesmer is not young enough to hang around and back him up for a while and then take his chance. This guy is a veteran and a very good pro. If he were truly young you could see him hanging around to back up (and to be coached by) a legend. He’s damn near 30…no way he settles for being a back up.

  8. vik says:

    I didn’t know about that, but if it’s true Guzan should definitely leave. Villa would be stuck with a lower class keeper too, just silly.

  9. matt in detroit says:

    I don’t think Columbus should alienate one of the finest young keepers in the game in Hesmer to take a 39 year old keeper. It wasn’t Hesmer who dropped the ball in the playoffs the last couple of years.

  10. john.q says:

    wow wouldnt it be funny if the new newcastle manager ends up bombing and the last half of this season is spent fighting off relegation.
    sucks for guzan. what other EPL teams need a keeper this transfer season? he needs to get out ASAP.

  11. Hokie_Futbol says:

    Rumors are Liverpool planning 10 million pound bid for Dempsey…

  12. Trent says:

    I agree. Hesmer has flat out said in the past that he will not be a backup (he said this when coming back from injury two years ago). Ideal would be to get Hesmer on a long term deal. The only drawback on Hesmer is he is in constant backpain. Right now the Crew do not have an MLS caliber backup GK which we saw in the playoffs against Colorado. Two years ago it was tall and lanky Brunner who couldn’t keep up with Finlay. I’m so glad the Crew are rid of him.

  13. sciroccer says:

    ditto

  14. Adrian says:

    As a Spaniard and a Barca fan, I could not be more pleased. Has there ever been a time when all 3 of the finalists are from the same team?

    Newcastle just dropped the “wtf” bomb on the world.

    At Aston Villa, you have a backup who is arguably better than the starter, who is one of the top keepers in the world. So, you decide to ditch the starter and bring in another keeper from a different team.

    Newcastle and AV fans have got to be going nuts.

  15. Lost in Space says:

    Arsenal has always had a week Goal Keeper. I believe they tried to deal with Fulham for Schwarzer at the start of the year. But that may be beyond him. I’m sure there are others who could use a Young talented Keeper but most of the other teams have too many holes in other positions in my opinion.

  16. Aristophanes says:

    where’d you hear that?

  17. Aristophanes says:

    hmm…I’m seeing it too. Sounds unlikely, though.

  18. beckster says:

    Villa is actively pursuing goalkeepers – apparently they figure Freidel is going and Guzan is not good enough to replace him. Both of them need to get out of there.

  19. Kevin_Amold says:

    Goalscorers naturally receive a lot of attention when their teams succeed. I don’t disagree with this tendency, but it would be nice to see the Architect of the Espan-elona juggernaut get some plaudits.

    Xavi.

  20. K-Town says:

    It is stuff like this that makes me love to laugh at Newcastle’s failures. The fans and the FO/Ownership have had their heads up their rear ends for WAY TOO LONG!

    They have this sense of entitlement that they should be a big four team and win cups every year, but they aren’t. Why? Because the fans or the owners always get impatient and try to fiddle with things even though the team isn’t all that bad. It’s like they expect/demand instant results or else. The fans and FO are their own worst enemy up there.

    It is tragic, yet hilarious.

  21. CSD says:

    Everyone is talking about it. Where you been? It’s common knowledge on the street.

  22. Fred Garvin says:

    I think Freidel is great but to rank him with “the best” in today’s market is naive.

  23. froboy says:

    Hard to see Fulham willing to sell, they need him to stay up, staying up is worth far more than 10 million pounds

  24. Aristophanes says:

    I guess I need more sources. Didn’t hear it on Twitter, here on SBI, TSG, or the dailymail. I had to google it to find anything. Where’d you hear it first?

  25. Hokie_Futbol says:

    I knew Hodgson liked Dempsey, but I thought there was an agreement that there wouldn’t be any poaching by Hodgson. Now there is an actual bid being prepared (supposedly). If that’s old news, then I am apparently not in the right areas to get the info. I doubt they ever sell though. He’s one of the few players between them and the almighty (relegation).

  26. Adrian says:

    Guzan has been superb in all of his starts.

    EPL clubs are running themselves into the ground. This is an alarming trend of terrible coach personnel decisions, poor line ups, bad signings, and overall poor management.

    1. Fulham
    2. Everton
    3. Aston Villa
    4. Liverpool
    5. West Ham

  27. Mhat says:

    Those are three class players but how did Sneijder not make the top 3? That just seems ridiculous to me…

  28. kev says:

    Sad for Guzan. I bet he could start for Wigan or West Brom. He just needs the chance. Hopefully he gets a few starts at AV to show off.

  29. kev says:

    Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Sneidjer, Ronaldo

    that should be the top 5.

    Xavi and Iniesta played their roles in helping Barca and Spain win their trophies. Messi had killer stats same as Ronaldo except Messi won trophies with them. Sneidjer won the treble in his 1st season in Italy plus practically hauled Holland to the finals.

    that is how the top5 should be. Top 10 would also include Villa, Casillas, Drogba, Lahm, Higuain.

  30. kev says:

    10million pounds for Dempsey? Unbelievable. Just rumors of course but surely this will flatter him. I think he could start for AV or Sunderland or Everton not L-pool even with their troubles.

  31. PetedeLA says:

    Part of me thinks this smacks of racism (Hughton).

    Part of me thinks Chris is at least able to leave the team with a decent position in the table.

    I sincerely hope he can get another top flight gig soon.

    When you think of all the inexperienced player managers that have made an impact in the league with much less experience it leaves you scratching your head, doesn’t it?

  32. TBE says:

    I’m not so sure, Kev. Dempsey is a better player than Maxi, who is currently first-choice left mid, and far more useful than N’Gog, who I don’t mind but can’t seem to play well with Torres when Liverpool play 2 up front. I would love to see a Dempsey-Torres partnership.

  33. CILII_blog says:

    I have a feeling that somehow Qatar will the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award.

  34. M0gar says:

    I think i’d like to see Friedel come back. Aston Villa doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, might as well come back to Columbus where he might be able to actually win something.

  35. Adrian says:

    This response is class. +1

  36. Aristophanes says:

    Right, because Liverpool has another versatile midfielder/forward that’s got 5 goals and a couple assists in the Prem. Actually, no they don’t.

  37. john.q says:

    the Ballon d’Or is going to this guy:
    link to youtube.com

  38. Eric says:

    88, 89, and 04. Milan, Milan, and your Barca, respectively.

  39. Eric says:

    Correction, not 04. Just 88 and 89.

  40. Adrian says:

    The 3 best players in the world on one team, and I am lucky enough to be a supporter of that club.

    :)

    The scary thing about Barcelona is that on top of having Xavi, Messi, and Iniesta, they have the top international striker in the world, Villa, and arguably the best center back in the world, Pique.

    Puyol isn’t half bad either.

  41. Adrian says:

    Ah, the days of Milan greatness.

  42. Brian says:

    Go to google, type in Dempsey, liverpool.

  43. kev says:

    If Dempsey goes to Liverpool, I think the whole soccer world might explode.

  44. orga says:

    If Friedel comes back he might desire DP money. He’s surely worth a million bucks. Dude is the best American who has ever played abroad.

    Howard, McBride, Dempsey, Harkes all come close though.

  45. Aristophanes says:

    go to post directly above to which you just replied:

    “I had to google it to find anything.”

    idiot

  46. jh says:

    idiot? for that?

    wow, overreact much???

  47. Brian says:

    What about Cherundolo? Or are you just talking about in the EPL?

  48. Brian says:

    My bad. Chill. Not having a good work day?

  49. ManicMessiah says:

    Couldn’t believe they fired Hughton when I saw it this morning. The manager had managed to calm down a lot of the craziness that has gone on around the team, and I have to imagine that will have flown out the window. Same old Newcastle, unfortunately.

  50. Aristophanes says:

    Nope, thanks for asking.

    sorry