BOSTON- Roma and Liverpool will play at Fenway Park for a pre-season match on Wednesday, July 23, Fenway Sports Group announced on Wednesday.
Both clubs have owners that are based in Boston. Roma's president is James Pallotta, a shareholder in the Boston Celtics. Liverpool is owned by John Henry, also the owner of the Boston Red Sox.
The two clubs squared off two summers ago in the same venue, with Roma winning the tilt by a 2-1 scoreline. The match served as the introduction to several new European talents, including Alessandro Florenzi and Raheem Sterling.
That game had a sold out crowd of 37,000.
The New England Revolution showed flashes of brilliance in their season opener away at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night, but allowed three goals in the first 23 minutes and ultimately fell 4-0 at Robertson Stadium.
It was the first time the Revolution lost by four since July 2, 2010.
Houston's Will Bruin, who opened the scoring in just the second minute, had two goals and one assist to lead the Dynamo. Additional goals from Boniek Garcia and Omar Cummings solidified the result for the hosts, who only out-shot the Revolution 20-18.
Bruin's first goal came just 69 seconds into the game. He latched onto a cross from Kofi Sarkodie at the top of the box, faked out Jose Goncalves, then spun to his left and volleyed the ball past the outstretched reach of Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Houston's second goal came off a giveaway by Scott Caldwell in the 14th minute, Cory Ashe taking control of possession on the left side of the field and crossing the ball into the box. Bruin slid onto Ashe's feed and doubled Houston's lead easily.
The Revolution struggled to respond and couldn't connect passes in midfield. They were already without starters Lee Nguyen and Andrew Farrell and had to substitute Kevin Alston for Darrius Barnes in the 20th minute for a hamstring strain. That switch only forced the Revolution to adjust more, which took its toll.
In the 23rd minute, Bruin drew three Revolution defenders toward him as he played with possession on the edge of the penalty area. He then faked a run and fed Garcia, who ran onto the pass and sent a blazer into the upper corner of the net past a helpless Shuttleworth.
The Revolution regained some of their usual attacking form after giving up three goals, though nothing came of their more positive play. Barnes had a throw-in that nearly squirted into the goal in the 40th minute, but was ultimately played away for a corner kick. On the ensuing play, AJ Soares flicked a Chris Tierney cross off the right post.
Teal Bunbury, playing as a lone, interchangeable forward with Diego Fagundez and Patrick MUllins, collected a loose ball in the penalty area in the 44th minute and shot a low drive at goal, but had his effort saved from nearly point-blank range by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
New England switched Mullins for Jerry Bengston at halftime, a move that gave the Revolution more space and helped continue the offensive momentum they generated in the late stages of the first half. But no player would be able to capitalize on the offensive tactics.
The Revolution saw a slew of chances go wide. Kelyn Rowe volleyed an over-the-top pass by Fagundez first (56th), Bengston missed an open shot from two yards over the crossbar (68th) and Fagundez clipped the crossbar with a curling shot (82nd).
Shuttleworth, who faced a firing squad of chances by Houston, was hung out to dry by either poor passing or bad defensive positioning. He made five saves, including stops on two breakaways.
Houston was fortunate to get their fourth goal in second half stoppage time, as Cummings shot at goal took a deflection and corkscrewed away from Shuttleworth, who was going in the opposite direction.
The Revolution play at Philadelphia next weekend.
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BOSTON- He knows it and his coach knows it.
Dimitry Imbongo, 23, the tall and hulking six-foot forward from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, needs to be smarter with his physical play and keep his strength in check.
He has a knack for scoring timely goals but has also emerged as the club's biggest liability on the field. He was last year's league leader in red cards (3) and was ejected in last week's final preseason game against the Colorado Rapids for a late-game altercation with Marvin Chavez.
"When you get a red card when you're trying to make a team play, you can understand it," said Revolution coach Jay Heaps at Media Day on Tuesday night. "Or you're backing someone up or your defending the group."
"But when you get a personal red card, I have a problem with that. I count that as retaliation or a play that hurts the team."
"Unfortunately, I think Dimitry has a ways to go in understanding how strong and physical he is and what it's going to take for him not to retaliate. I don't think he initiates any of the red cards he receives. Unfortunately it's been red cards that the referee sees as the second retaliation. For me, that's not good enough for the group."
Imbongo wants to lead the Revolution to an MLS Cup and score at least ten goals this season. Heaps has showed good faith in the young striker too, giving him 11 starts in 21 appearances last year. But the red cards are mitigating Imbongo's contributions and giving him a reputation as a reckless player.
"The red cards from last year, some red cards I got you can't say were fair," said Imbongo. "[It's different in Europe]. And I'm the striker, I need to use my elbow on the defender behind me. It's not easy. But the red card I got in preseason...was really stupid from me. I'm really sorry about that."
MLS has a reputation as a fast and physical league. It is true, however, that the nature of fouling is different around the world. The English Premier League and German Bundesliga are both very physical leagues where the attacking player is almost always given leeway on 50-50 plays. Prior to joining the Revolution in July of 2012, Imbongo played four years in Germany; first with 1860 Munich, then with third-tier team SV Darmstadt 98.
But all referees crack the whip on high elbows. Two of Imbongo's three red cards last year involved his elbow. The other was produced following an altercation with Houston's Bobby Boswell, a situation similar to the preseason tussle with Chavez.
"Some players in the league know me now, how I play." said Imbongo. "They want to push me to get the red card. But I really need to be smart."
That doesn't mean Imbongo can't use his size and strength to his advantage. When he has, he's been a deadly target and holder of the ball in and out of the penalty area. His physicality helped him score each of his three goals last year, including a crisp side volley he netted in last year's playoff with Sporting Kansas City.
"We want him to be even more physical," added Heaps. "Physical does not mean retaliation or dirty. It means establishing yourself in the rhythm of the game and using your strengths physically. When he holds the ball there's no one who can take it from him. We love that about him."
"But it's the other things, the elbows up that we as a staff continue to work with him on. He's a young player. He's been on the receiving end of a lot of mistreatment. He has a little bit of a reputation and he has to go about cleaning that up by playing the right way."
All strikers in MLS have to contend with a core of tall and strong defenders. It helps that Imbongo has the likes of Jose Goncalves and Stephen McCarthy to practice with in Foxboro. There is a way by these hulking players, though it's definitely not with his elbow. Imbongo knows he has an advantage as an uncommonly strong physical player and he's embracing it.
"It's very important to be a strong striker," said Imbongo. "A couple of teams have very strong defenders, like Kansas City, New York, LA...they all have strong defenders. It's important to have big strong guys in the front to hold the ball, to keep play with the defender behind."
Tactically, getting by those defenders won't be easy. But for a player like Imbongo, who has the tools and is looking forward to scoring multiple times this season, it's adapt to survive.
"I just want to [have more of a focus] in front of goal," he said. "I want to score more goals because now my teammates know me, how I play, how I move in the field. This season is going to be good."
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Note: the word "efficacious" was changed to "more of a focus" and an earlier version of the article reported that Imbongo had been suspended.
BOSTON- Revolution Captain and reigning league Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves was central to last year's playoff run, though it's still unclear how much he wants to be part of the group in 2014.
On Jan. 19, Less than three months after completing a permanent move to New England following a season on loan from Switzerland's FC Sion, Goncalves, 28, let slip to the blog A Minute in Sports! that he felt undervalued and was looking at moving on in the near future.
When preseason began later that month, Goncalves was naturally asked by reporters to comment on whether he wanted to stay or leave. He said the Revolution didn't honor certain "promises" and that he was looking forward to discussing this further with the club.
Fast forward to Tuesday night, the club's Media Day and Jersey Unveiling at Royale Night Club in Boston, where, during opening remarks, Head Coach Jay Heaps said that all 28 members of his team are excited to kick-off the new season, which begins this Saturday at Houston.
But when Heaps was later asked to clarify that statement-- about whether or not discussions with Goncalves had occurred and if the player was also looking forward to a new season with the Revolution-- he gave a calculated answer that didn't delve into the current relationship between the player and the club.
"There's a lot of different things that occur in the life of a professional athlete," said Heaps. "When we talk about the 2014 season, we're talking about the team expectations and the team goals. Everyone is excited for those."
Goncalves was at Tuesday night's event, but did not comment on the situation.
Earlier this week, former Revolution forward and ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman commented on the situation in a league preview video. He alluded to rumors that surfaced from Revolution training camp regarding Goncalves. That Goncalves, "wears headphones, doesn't talk to the press, [and] warms-up by himself."
That rumor could be true, though it wouldn't mean Goncalves in necessarily distancing himself from the team because he's unhappy or dissatisfied. Goncalves is a fierce competitor who likes to remain distraction free. Warming-up alone could be a routine.
But while the interpretation of Goncalves' behavior in recent weeks is conjecture, his importance to the club is easily quantified. Losing Goncalves in the near future would take away a key defensive piece in central defense; a moving brick wall in front of net that is hard to find in MLS. Seeing Goncalves go would also take away a significant chunk of the club's leadership. The team's average age is about 25 years old. Players benefit not only from the focus and discipline that Goncalves models, but also by his 11 years of experience playing in five different European leagues.
Goncalves saw significant playing time during preseason, but was sidelined for the last game against Colorado as precaution for a quadriceps injury. On paper, he is expected to be a starter on Saturday night if he's healthy and fit. But questions about how long he will be wearing a Revolution jersey continue to linger.
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BOSTON- The New England Revolution unveiled their 2014 primary kit at Royale Night Club on Tremont St. before a crowd that included fans, media members, and players.
Here is a photo of the new jersey:
1. Heir to Agudelo- The biggest Revolution's biggest off-season loss was Juan Agudelo, who opted not to re-sign with MLS and try his luck in Europe. Agudelo, being one of the US' best offensive players, is hard to replace. But Teal Bunbury may be a suitable person to fill Agudelo's shoes. Since arriving, Bunbury, 24, has embraced the change of scenery. He has already featured prominently in Jay Heaps' lineup, logging 141 minutes in preseason play. Bunbury made the most of his time on the field, too, tallying two strikes that were indicative of a goal-hungry player. The first was a slick finish off an easy on the eyes feed from Diego Fagundez; the second, a bullet from long distance that flew into the back of the net. It's still early in Bunbury's Revolution career but the verdict from preseason is that he's able to contribute significantly in the attacking third.
2. The story with Goncalves- The reigning MLS Defender of the Year is, reportedly, unhappy. The source of his unhappiness seems to be the salary he is garnering. Both the Revolution and Goncalves said earlier this winter that the two parties would sit down and discuss the situation, though there has been no confirmation from either side that those talks have taken place. These are former Revolution striker and ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman's words: "Have you heard the rumors in preseason? He wears head phones, he doesn't talk to press, he warms-up by himself." Is there still cause for concern? Have the disputes been resolved? Will Goncalves be in New England for the foreseeable future? Without Goncalves, last year's captain and a defensive brick wall, there is no doubt that the Revolution will be weaker. Much of the team's success in 2014 will hinge on what happens with their leader in central defense. The playoffs will be excruciatingly hard to reach without him.
3. Brave New World- The 2014 New England Revolution is a good team. But is being a good team enough to take them into the playoffs a second consecutive time? This off-season wasn't just about the Revolution retaining and replacing talent. It also saw a huge growth in the quality of players MLS brings in, particularly in the Eastern Conference. Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls, and Toronto FC are hard to look past as shoo-ins to make the playoffs, even if the season has yet to start. On par with the Revolution is essentially every other team in the conference. Success in 2014 will come down to three things: consistency, limiting errors, and attacking the schedule. Teams may still catch fire (sort of like the 2013 Revs did after a 5-0 win over Los Angeles) but constant good play will be needed to enhance those runs and make a playoff push. Every team will allow some ugly goals. But the playoff caliber teams will be the ones who either overcome those deficits or limit the untimeliness of the goals they allow. Lastly, road wins and ties will be extremely valuable; losing twice in a row at home could be devastating.
Third-year midfielder Kelyn Rowe poked a feed from Diego Fagundez into the back of the net in second half stoppage time to give the Revolution a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire in preseason action.
Fagundez headed the ball down in the penalty area for Rowe, who took one touch before slotting into the net.
Chicago's Quincy Amarikwa hit the crossbar seconds later, but the ball stayed out to preserve a shutout for Brad Knighton.
This was the Revolution's first win against an MLS team this preseason. They improved to 2-1-3.
Here's Rowe's goal:
BOSTON- The New England Revolution added depth on Wednesday by signing midfielder Daigo Kobayashi and defender Jossimar Sanchez.
Kobayashi, 31, is was acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2016 Superdraft. Meanwhile Sanchez was added as an un-signed pick out of the University of Connecticut.
The terms of both deals were not disclosed, though Kobayashi did sign a new MLS contract.
Kobayashi is a midfielder from Japan who has experience playing in his homeland, Norway, Greece, and most recently the US. He joined the Revolution on trial last week and played one half of a 0-0 preseason tie against Real Salt Lake. He also has one appearance with the Japanese national team.
“Daigo is a technically-gifted player who fits into our system well,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a statement. “He assimilated well with our club when he was in Tucson with us, and we are looking forward to his return to the club soon.
Sanchez, 22, was the fourth overall pick in last year's Supplemental Draft. He was unable to train with the Revolution for most of last year because of a leg injury, but did practice with the club toward the end of the season. He so far has 207 minutes in preseason, all of which have been played at outside back.
“Jossimar is a young player who will provide depth for us,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said. “He worked hard to return to full fitness after his injury in college, so we’re pleased he’s earned a spot on our roster this year."
The newest member of the Revolution's forward line is Teal Bunbury. The Revolution signed the Canada-born, US-international on Wednesday from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for a first-round pick in next year's draft and an undisclosed sum of allocation money.
The acquisition gives the Revolution a proven, dynamic forward in Bunbury, 23. The move could also serve as a replacement for Juan Agudelo, who departed New England in the early winter for Europe.
Bunbury was one of Kansas City's best players, but was really not part of the core group that helped the team win the MLS Cup last year. He was sidelined in Aug. 2012 with a torn ACL and only returned to the starting lineup last June. After coming back from the injury, Bunbury was mostly a bench player and made just three starts.
On a Kansas City team that was chock full of classy, attacking players, Bunbury was forgotten. The injury, being longterm, gave other talents the opportunity to rise to the occasion and establish themselves as legitimate starters. That happened and Bunbury found himself, to his misfortune, out of a starting position.
Enter the Revolution, who have been on the lookout for new forwards. On paper, Bunbury is a reliable player. Prior to his injury, he earned four appearances with the US national team, scoring in a 1-1 tie against Chile in a friendly match in Jan. 2011. During that time, Bunbury was a regular fixture at the club level, too.
He found his way to Kansas City as the fourth overall selection in the 2010 draft. He scored five goals in 25 games his rookie year, upped his contributions to 11 goals in 32 games in 2011, but then had his output truncated to just five goals in 2012 because of his injury.
There is always the chance that a torn ACL permanently changes a player's quality. But this doesn't appear to be the case with Bunbury. For one, he was still used as a depth piece and off the bench last season. Kansas City was also only willing to part with him for a high price (a first round pick isn't something to give away). Meanwhile the Revolution, who have been aware and committed to adding a capable attacking piece, will have vetted and evaluated Bunbury's form.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps has always valued intra-league acquisitions. Players such as Agudelo, Clyde Simms, Paolo DelPiccolo, and Brad Knighton are some of the pieces Heaps has added from elsewhere in MLS. For Agudelo and Simms, changing scenery to New England was a good move. Both contributed positively for the team and improved their stock.
Bunbury could be in for a similar track now that he's looking to re-establish himself with a team that's hungry for his talents. He's a speedy, dynamic player that can run at opposing defenses and be a target on set pieces.
Heaps said at the beginning of preseason that he and staff never stop looking for ways to improve the team. The attack was the biggest area of focus for the team this offseason in the wake of losing Agudelo. Signing Bunbury won't necessarily solves all the problems, though it's a start.
This is the team's first transaction since signing Charlie Davies on Jan. 9 (not including the draft picks). The club will probably continue to look at other players to strengthen the attack, including a slew of trialists who have been in and out of preseason camp.
BOSTON- The Revolution's primary kit for the 2014 season will be unveiled on March 4 at the Royale Night Club on Tremont Street as part of Major League Soccer's "Jersey Week."
The kit will be unveiled during a fashion show at the club, along with some Revolution team members.
“We’re very excited to finally show our fans the new 2014 kits,” Revolution president Brian Bilello said. “The event at Royale on March 4 will be the culmination of an 18-month process to re-design our uniform. We’ve incorporated some important and representative design elements, and we know our fans will appreciate the number of changes this kit has from our last primary kit.”
Bilello tweeted a photo of the new jersey's sleeve in January. The tweeted photo didn't reveal much, other than navy and red being the home jersey's primary colors.
But the Revolution have been practicing with a new training top that has an updated United Healthcare logo for the club's shirt sponsor. United Healthcare has been abbreviated to UHC, which could be stamped on the 2014 kits, too.
The Revolution kick-off their season on March 8 at Houston.
The Revolution are looking to fill the void left by Juan Agudelo's off-season departure to Europe. They are using preseason as a chance to trial and vet possible replacements.
The latest striker to earn a glance from head coach Jay Heaps and the Revolution coaching staff is Marvin Ogunjimi, 26, a Belgian national team player who is on contract with Spain's Mallorca but has spent the last three years on loan.
Ogunjimi hasn't played for his national team, which is a favorite to do well in this summer's World Cup, since the qualification stages of Euro 2012. But he has bounced around with a few known clubs in central Europe.
He began is career with Genk, notching 30 goals in 84 games. Next came a loan spell in the Netherlands before transferring to Mallorca on a permanent basis. He's only made seven appearances for the Spain Isle-based club, going on loan three separate times to Standard Liege, Beerschot, and Oud-Heverlee Leuven.
Consistent play has eluded Ogunjimi, who might find a home in MLS with New England.
Last season, the Revolution signed Jose Goncalves, who bounced around Europe throughout his twenties, playing for nine clubs over a 10-year period.
Goncalves went on to do well in MLS, being named the league Defender of the Year and the Revolution's club captain. A similar trajectory won't be out of the question for Ogunjimi if he makes a good impression during camp.
Agudelo's skills, which include hold-up play, creativity, and good positioning, are in demand as the Revolution continue their preseason preparations in Tucson, Ariz. The club has already looked at forwards Evan Melo, Marko Perovic, plus unsigned college draft pick Pierre Omanga.
General Manager Mike Burns told soccerly.com that he won't rush signing a player despite the need to fill voids.
“Part of the reason why he haven’t made any signings yet is that we’re being really specific in the areas of the field where we’re trying to acquire new players,” Burns said. “I don’t want to say we’re being overly selective, but we’re looking for attackers. We’re looking for forwards.”
“We have plenty of time during the primary window to get a player signed,” Burns said, “and we’re going to use it.”
That window lasts until May 6. After that, the Revolution will have to wait for the summer transfer window.
Roma triple submerges Sampdoria
It's fitting that a guy whose last name is Destro, meaning right hand or foot in Italian, scores with his right foot.
Mattia Destro scored twice to put Roma past Sampdoria 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on Sunday. His first goal was a looping header off a corner kick. His second was a right-footed "destrino" drive from the six-yard box off a feed from Gervinho.
Bosnia-Herzegovina roadrunner Miralem Pjanic had a goal sandwiched in between Destro's brace, a line-drive freekick that flew into the lower left corner of the net.
Destro's second goal of the game, his sixth of the season, made him Roma's leading scorer on the year. That's surprising, considering he's only started six games. He started today in place of injured captain Francesco Totti (muscle strain).
Juventus also won on Saturday, which means Roma are nine points behind first place. Roma, who are owned by Boston Celtics shareholder James Pallotta, have one game in hand on the Serie A leaders.
Portugal and Mexico will play at Gillette Stadium in a pre-World Cup friendly on June 6, according to a release.
Both teams are in the World Cup, which kicks off on June 12 in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Portugal, who are currently ranked fourth in the world, are in a group with the US, Germany, and Ghana. They lost to Brazil 3-1 in an international friendly at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 10, 2013.
Mexico scraped their way into the World Cup, earning the last qualifying place from CONCACAF in an inter-continental playoff victory against New Zealand. The Mexicans kick-off their World Cup odyssey on June 13 against Cameroon. They will also play Brazil and Croatia in the group stage.
Both teams are expected to bring their full squads to Foxborough since the World Cup will be just one week away. That means the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, and other world stars available to play.
The Revolution opened preseason with a 1-1 result against Swedish champions Malmo FF at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Kelyn Rowe opened the scoring in the fifth minute, putting the Revolution up after intercepting an errant back pass and firing a drive into the back of the net.
Malmo's Emil Forsberg leveled the match in the 36th minute. He had a shot hit the post, but was perfectly positioned to put the rebound in the back of the net past Bobby Shuttleworth.
Malmo's Pawel Cibicki shot off the woodwork again in the 70th minute, but nothing came from the rebound.
Revolution rookie forward Patrick Mullins had an effort parried away by Malmo goalkeeper Robin Olsen in the 86th minute.
All of the Revolution trialists saw playing time...Shuttleworth played the entire game and made three saves...Chris Tierney (foot), Saer Sene (ankle), Steve Neumann (ankle), and Charlie Davies (calf) did not play...Also not playing were Stephen McCarthy and Jose Goncalves due to " precautionary reasons after the heavy first week of training," according to the club.
“I think this is a good first step for our team… some positives, some negatives; we’re still only in the first week of training here – I think we showed good fight,” said New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
“I had a couple of saves in the first half, but tonight I think the back line did a great job of staying organized in the first preseason game, and I thought we did a pretty good job of staying in our lines and getting good pressure on the ball and made it difficult for them.”
BOSTON- Fourteen-year-old Revolution Academy product Amos Shapiro-Thompson took a big step forward in his young soccer career on Wednesday when he earned his first call-up to the U-14 U.S. national team.
He will join 35 of the nation's top U-14 players for a week-long training camp in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. The camp consists of two friendlies against local club teams, a scrimmage against a U.S. Residency Program team, and two practice sessions per day.
"We weren't surprised that he was called up," said Bryan Scales, the Director of Youth Development for the Revolution Academy, in a phone interview. "Amos has a ton of talent, we've seen that over the Fall season. They've been tracking him over the last year."
"He'll really enjoy it," continued Scales, who served as an assistant coach for the U.S. U-15 team and coached at Cornell University. "He'll be there with the best players in the country. Amos is the youngest, but it's good for him to get in, get measured, and see how he gets in with other top players."
This is Shapiro-Thompson's first season with the Revolution Academy. In the Fall, he made eight appearances, tallied one goal, and added three assists.
Scales said Shapiro-Thompson still has more developing to do before he can be considered for the first team. But the Revolution Academy has a proven record in helping raw talent flourish, evident by the success that Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell, both Academy alumni, have had. Revolution personnel, including General Manager Mike Burns and Head Coach Jay Heaps, have seen Shapiro-Thompson play, according to Scales.
Time will tell if they'll one day be watching him as a regular contributor at the professional level.
"He has a ways to go," said Scales. "He has the talent...our job is to find players and find kids who can play for the first team. Our job is to create an environment for them to develop."
Revolution President Brian Bilello has said repeatedly that a club goal isn't to lead the league in number of homegrown players, but to lead it in homegrown player minutes played.
This off-season alone, 12 players have signed homegrown contracts.
Fagundez and Caldwell are the only homegrown players on the Revolution (Juan Agudelo was a homegrown player, but out of the New York system).
Together, they accounted for 4,601 total minutes last season. The Revolution had the second-highest homegrown player minutes in 2013, behind Columbus (5,106). But Columbus had four homegrown players while the Revolution had two (not counting Agudelo).
FC Dallas has nine homegrown players, but they combined for just 1,394 minutes last year.
Those figures show that the Revolution cares about having homegrown players that are able and ready to contribute to the first team. Fagundez is one of the league's best attacking players, while Caldwell is easily one of its top 10 holding midfielders.
Shapiro-Thompson will remain homegrown eligible unless he decides to participate in the MLS drafts. But even that could be predicated on whether or not he goes to college. Scales says there's still a long way to go before those types of decisions need to be made. The good news, for the Revolution, is that quality has come both from players who came out of the college system or skipped college entirely.
Caldwell played at Akron for four years, winning the national title in 2010. Meanwhile Fagundez didn't attend college, signing a professional contract in Nov. 2010 when he was still 15.
The Revolution have re-signed midfielder Lee Nguyen.
Nguyen, 27, appeared in 63 matches during the last two seasons and has played as a playmaker, on the wings, and in a holding position. Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps saw Nguyen's talent and versatility and didn't hesitate to pass it up when Nguyen was surprisingly available in the 2012 Waiver Draft after being released by the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Nguyen has nine goals and nine assists through two seasons with New England.
He has additional playing experience in the U.S. youth and senior systems, plus at the club level with PSV Eindhoven (Holland), Randers (Denmark), Hoang Anh Gia, and Becamex Binh Duong (Vietnam).
“We’re pleased we were able to reach a new agreement with Lee,” General Manager Michael Burns said in a statement. “He's been an important player for us the past two seasons on and off the field, and we believe he'll continue being a key contributor moving forward.”
Nguyen's base salary last year was $73,600, according to the MLS Players Union. Terms of this new deal were not disclosed.
FOXBORO, Mass.- When the Revolution take-off from Boston to travel to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. on Monday, there will be snow on the ground. When they land in the Sunshine State, there won't be a trace of winter weather.
"It's gonna make us warm, which is going to be awesome," said Kelyn Rowe on Sunday at the Revolution's practice inside the Dana Farber Field House during which some players wore hats and mittens.
"We can't wait to get out of this cold."
It's fitting the Revolution are leaving Boston's chill since this trip to Florida, the first of two preseason stops, is supposed to serve as a warm-up for the 2014 season, which kicks off on March 8 at Houston.
On Sunday, both experienced MLS players and rookies underscored the importance of regaining match fitness and practicing tactics. But they also touched upon the need to acquaint and re-acquaint both on and off the field.
"We need to get that bond together," said Rowe. "It's weird to say but it's a bond of brothers where we're playing together every day and living together. That chemistry on the field is going to help us immensely."
The Revolution will practice at the IMG Academy, which has helped develop a slew of talent since 1999. Some of its alumni include Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, and current Revolution defender Kevin Alston. Such a setting is ideal for training and further sharpening of skills.
The Revolution will play at least one preseason scrimmage in Florida. They will take on reigning Swedish champions Malmo FF this Friday.
"Through preseason it's just getting back into the rhythm of playing my game, playing with the team," said Rowe. "Obviously we're going to have a lot of guys back that were here last year and the year before. We know each other well enough, it's just finding that bond again, that strength we had in numbers, and being able to play with each other."
Rowe's dynamic play in midfield was a key component that helped send the Revolution to the playoffs last year. He contributed seven goals and eight assists and was able to find the consistency as a second-year player that eluded him as a rookie.
"I'm still one of the youngest guys on the team but I'm a little more confident, a little more experienced. Obviously not to the point of any kind of true authority or veteran at all," said Rowe.
"I wouldn't put myself in that category. But it's nice to know that I know how to get through two preseasons, I know how to get through two full seasons and I'm preparing myself for it."
While Rowe is excited for Florida's warm weather, there is another relevant location that's warmer. The U.S. national team has been training in 90 degree Sao Paolo, Brazil, 27 degrees warmer than Bradenton, for a camp. U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called a slew of MLS players to make their case for inclusion on the national team's roster for this summer's World Cup.
On Saturday, the day after the Revolution square off against Malmo, the U.S. will take on South Korea in a friendly in Los Angeles.
Rowe was regarded as a national team snub by many soccer pundits after his strong finish to the 2013 season. Rowe said he would have loved the opportunity to train in Brazil with the senior team even though he's excited to be back with the Revolution.
"I wanted to go to the camps," he said. "Every American player does and everyone wants to go to their national team. I thought I had a decent year, it was a good year for me. But it's a World Cup year and we have a bunch of guys that are great players in that World Cup squad. Obviously it's oil in the fire and it's going to make me go harder and harder. I have to have another good year to be called in, I know it's not given to me. I have to earn it."
Here's to warming up.
FOXBORO, Mass.- Second-year right back Andrew Farrell is excited that the 2014 MLS season is fast-approaching.
"I'm glad to be back," he said on Sunday morning at the Revolution's second preseason practice in the Dana Farber Field House.
"It's like the first day of school, without school."
And Farrell is one of the teachers. In addition to getting himself back into shape ahead of the regular season kick-off on March 8, Farrell has been looking out for the Revolution's fresh rookie talent.
"Farrell definitely was one to come up to me pretty quickly," said forward Patrick Mullins, who the Revolution drafted with the 11th overall pick out of Maryland.
"[He's told me] to go out and enjoy and work hard every day. As a pro you just want to come out and get better every day...that's something that gains respect from coaches and your teammates is just coming out and putting in your best effort every day."
Farrell is a suitable role model. After getting drafted first in 2013, he went on to play in all but two regular season games and contribute to one of the league's best defenses. What's more, Farrell is one of 13 players under 25 on the Revolution's roster. That he and others have had such success as young players in MLS is proof to the rookie class that they can make an impact, too.
"When you walk in you feel an excitement to it," continued Mullins. "It's a youthfulness in the air. It makes it really easy to come in and feel like your one of the guys from the start. Me and the other rookies, we've come in, and they've accepted us pretty quickly."
Off to Bradenton
The Revolution will train in Bradenton, Fla. next week until Feb. 7. On Jan. 31, they will take on reigning Swedish champions Malmo FF in a preseason friendly.
Preseason is a time to regain fitness and acclimate to new teammates and tactics. It's also a chance for the Revolution to experiment with both signed and un-signed players.
"It's very important for us to accomplish things tactically and physically so we're matching those two things together along with the development of our younger players into what we're trying to do," said Head Coach Jay Heaps.
The Revolution have rotated different players into different formations in past preseasons. When asked about the Revolution's formation in 2014, Heaps said that while the on-field structure is subject to change, the style of play will stay the same.
Examining the Camp Invitees
Only two of the Revolution's draft picks are unsigned trialists: Alec Sundley and Pierre Omanga. Sundley is a midfielder while Omanga is a power forward.
The two othe trialists are Marko Perovic and Evan Melo. Perovic, 30, is a Serbian player who can play as either a midfielder or forward. He played for the Revolution from 2010 to 2011 and has additional experience with Red Star Belgrade, FC Basel, and Persepolis.
He is a sharp-shooting striker and can deliver dangerous set pieces.
Melo, 20, is a striker from Congo who last played for FC Sion. He joined the Revolution on trial last summer, but the opportunity to sign him never arose.
Heaps said the Revolution will continue to look for other players to strengthen the team as preseason progresses.
"We're always trying to get better," said Heaps. "We have a list of players we're in conversations with. There's dialogue further along but at this point it's still dialogue. And until those things start to further matriculate, we don't want to talk about them too much."
This summer's World Cup in Brazil will most likely be played without one of the planet's biggest stars.
Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, who had seven goals in World Cup qualification, could miss out on the tournament due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament he sustained against Chasselay Monts d'Or Azergues in a French Cup game on Thursday.
Falcao, 27, was a finalist for the FIFA Ballon D'Or last year and was a member of last year's World XI. He signed for Monaco this past summer on a €60 million, five-year deal from Atletico Madrid.
Colombia, who are the top seed in Group C with Greece, Cote D'Ivoire, and Japan, finished second in preliminaries. Though they were helped by Brazil not taking part in the qualifiers as World Cup hosts, the Colombians were still emphatic as they ran through the nearly three-year marathon that is South American qualification.
Much of that success was due to Falcao. He's not a one-man wrecking ball, with some of his Colombian teammates playing in Ligue 1 and Serie A. But he's very much like Cristiano Ronaldo, who almost single-handedly drove Portugal through World Cup qualification.
Players who are at the same level as Falcao and Ronaldo-- like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Mario Balotelli-- have a team of highly well-rounded and tactically superb players around them to enhance their game.
Colombia, who kick-off the World Cup against Greece at Belo Horizonte on June 14, would have to change their dynamic without Falcao.
His injury is an enormous loss. And without Falcao, getting through the group stage won't be as easy; Colombia is less of a favorite to finish the group in first place. That means their odds of going deep into the knockout round could drop too.
This is Colombia's first World Cup since 1998. Their best result at a World Cup is a round of 16 finish at Italy 1990.
Falcao is tied for Colombia's second-best scoring record (20). The record is 25 goals, held by Arnoldo Iguaran. Falcao will need surgery for his injury but is expected to break the record once he returns.
BOSTON- Pierre Omanga isn't your typical college draft pick.
First off, he's 25 years old. And he's one of the few Division II players to enter the MLS Combine and get selected in the Superdraft. But age and collegiate competition can be subjective measures for a new player.
"He's very mature," said Southern New Hampshire University Head Coach Marc Hubbard of Omanga, who was last year's Division II player of the year. "He's a very experienced player. He's not going to be nervous or scared."
On Tuesday, the Revolution drafted Omanga 50th overall in the third round of the Superdraft. He was their only pick of the day.
Omanga is expected to join the Revolution for training camp, which begins on Jan. 25. And he's expected to bring with him all of his prowess as a goalscorer, hold-up player, and sharp-shooter as he fights for a professional contract and a spot on one MLS' most offensively creative teams.
His record as a collegiate player shows that he may have a bright future ahead. Omanga helped lead the Penmen to a National Championship last year, scoring 21 goals and adding three assists. He's a right-footed player, but is capable with his left and can play out wide even though his preferred position is striker.
That repertoire should suit Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps just fine if he chooses to stick with the hybrid 4-1-4-1 formation in 2014. And even if he doesn't, the Revolution still need a deep group of forwards that knows how to score goals.
"He's a very opportunistic goal scorer," said Hubbard via a phone interview on Wednesday morning. "He can score with both feet, his head, he's comfortable and composed in the box. He times his runs correctly. He's dangerous in the final third. Dangerous."
"He's a poacher," Hubbard continued. "He has the vision and the ability to find another guy, but if he sees a window he'll take it himself from any angle."
Most of Omanga's characteristics are in demand by the Revolution, particularly after the official loss of Juan Agudelo to Stoke City. Whether Omanga's hold-up play and shooting translate to the MLS level remains to be seen. Nevertheless, his college coach says Omanga's confident and ready for the challenge.
"He'll have a chance to prove himself. He'll be seen every day. I'm not surprised [the Revolution] selected him. He got himself into the Combine and did relatively well."
Omanga is originally from Paris but moved to the United States for college. He originally attended the University of Montevallo in Alabama, but transferred to Southern New Hampshire in 2013 for academic reasons. The fact that Hubbard and the Penmen were looking to win a National Championship was a bonus.
Omanga netted the game-winner in the title game against Carson-Newman, sealing up a 2-1 victory by converting from the penalty spot. Though the goal didn't come from the run of play, Omanga was satisfied with his performance and that he scored-- especially since he was disappointed in his play during the semifinal leg against Rockhurst.
"He's his own harshest critic," added Hubbard. "He's very focused. He's a very likeable person and gets along with everyone. He'll pick his moments to laugh and joke but he's very serious. He'll stick to himself and focus on what he does best. He lets his playing do the talking."
Revenge can be sweet.
Roma defeated Juventus 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia on Tuesday off a goal by Gervinho in the 79th minute. The positive result was the ideal response for Roma after getting ousted by Juventus 3-0 in a league match on Jan. 5.
That loss was Roma's first of the season and snapped a 17-game unbeaten streak. The giallorossi followed up well to the poor result, winning their next three matches. But knocking Juventus out of the Coppa Italia, Italy's premier domestic elimination tournament, was a plus.
"It was a win that we wanted at all costs," said Roma captain Francesco Totti. "We had to get our own back for the horrible defeat we suffered in Turin. Today we showed ourselves to be at the same level as a very good Juve side."
The team was plagued by poor marking when it met Juventus two weeks ago. Plays set up by Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, and Carlos Tevez unraveled Roma's back line for the team's worst defeat since last March. But on Tuesday, Roma's defense stayed strong and resolute for its fourth straight shutout.
Meanwhile, Gervinho, who has been scrutinized by the Italian press in recent weeks for poor finishing, capped a late-game counter attack by pummeling a cross from Kevin Strootman into the back of the net. Miralem Pjanic started the sequence by making a 15-yard run and playing the ball wide to Strootman at left edge of the penalty area. Strootman's cross found Gervinho, who one-timed the ball via a back-heel past Marco Storari.
Roma are still 8 points behind first place Juventus in the league standings. But they are on track to win their tenth Coppa Italia title and will rejoice in the fact that they eliminated their rivals from the tournament.
"For me there isn't a big gap between us, even if it's the league table that counts. Eight points is a lot, we're having a brilliant season, but they're doing even better," added Totti.
"If we carry on the way we played in the first half of the season we'll be close to Juve, but if they stay at the same level, it will be difficult."
It should not be overlooked that Roma's home-field advantage probably played a role. Roma's away record with Juventus is 8-51-21 and they have been outscored in Torino 159-58. Tuesday marked Roma's second straight win against Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico, improving their home record against La Vecchia Signora to 32-27-27.
Roma will play either Napoli or Lazio in the two-leg semifinals.
Roma's recent moves
Roma's one and only loss of the January transfer window is Michael Bradley, who completed a record transaction by moving to MLS and signing for Toronto FC...Roma added Radja Nainggolan, a Belgian center midfielder, on loan from Cagliari. He started on Tuesday against Juventus and is expected to add some much needed depth to their central midfield...Roma added another player on loan in the way of Leandro Paredes, who joined the giallorossi from Boca Juniors. Roma then loaned him out to Sampdoria...Roma's most recent acquisition is Michel Bastos, a Brazilian winger who played at the 2010 World Cup. He has joined Roma on loan from Al Ain, a team in the United Arab Emirates...earlier this month Roma announced that Pjanic came to terms with a new contract.
Revolution draft one more
Pierre Omanga, a 6'2" forward from Southern New Hampshire University, will join the Revolution in preseason and fight for an MLS contract. The Revolution drafted him in the 3rd round (50th overall). He was Division II player of the year in 2013 for his 21-goal, three assist season.
Last season, the Revolution developed the identity of a young, creative team that was fun to watch in the attack. On Thursday at the 2014 MLS Superdraft in Philadelphia, Head Coach Jay Heaps built upon his team’s new identity by snapping up three of the best offensive and midfield college products in Steve Neumann, Patrick Mullins, and Alec Sundly.
“Every team prepares their draft boards and when we looked at ours, I don’t think we envisioned both [Neumann] and [Mullins] being available to us when we just held the number 12 pick,” said Revolution General Manager Mike Burns. “But when they ended up being available, we thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up and drafted them,” Burns said.
The Revolution drafted Steve Neumann, who can play at either midfield or forward, with the fourth overall pick out of Georgetown University. Neumann, 22, was the most creative offensive players available at the draft. He is expected to pair well with one of the youngest, but most exceptionally talented attacking cores in the country.
“With guys like Kelyn Rowe and [Diego] Fagundez, I know they like to play soccer,” Neumann told reporters via conference call. “I think it’s going to be a joy to join them.”
The draft began with Philadelphia trading DC United for the number one pick.
Philadelphia selected Andre Blake, the best goalkeeper available, out of the University of Connecticut. DC followed up by selecting defender Steve Birnbaum (California) followed by Vancouver, who selected Christian Dean (California) with the third pick.
Next came Neumann, who immediately remembered his positive interview with Heaps and the Revolution coaching staff when his name was called. When scouting new players, Heaps places a great deal of consideration on their behavior and character. He wants to get to know their skill on the field as well as their tendencies off the field in order to judge whether or not they will have a good impact on team chemistry.
Neumann appears to fit the bill for the Revolution. With Juan Agudelo and Chad Barrett gone and a midfield that needs deepening, Neumann’s skills as a playmaker make him a potential perfect fit with the Revolution. Though the New Hope, Penn. native told numerous outlets in Philadelphia that he would love to be drafted by his hometown Union, he has no qualms about moving to New England.
“I know the Revs had a lot of young guys producing on the field this past year and that’s something that I’m aspiring to, to come in and make an impact right away and I think it’s going to be fun to play alongside (Diego) Fagundez and (Kelyn) Rowe and all those guys and I think the attack will definitely get better with me and Pat (Mullins) joining the front line,” Neumann said via conference call.
“I’m just excited to get going and work as hard as I possibly can to make the lineups and then start producing for the Revs.”
Though the Revolution drafted a capable player in Neumann with their first pick, it was a move few expected. Almost all the soccer pundits were expecting Patrick Mullins to be a top-five pick; most of them thought he would go to the Revolution with the fourth overall pick.
The Revolution had to trade their natural 12th overall pick and their 19th overall pick to Colorado for their 11th overall pick to draft Mullins. By that point in the draft, it was unexpected that Mullins would still be available.
"I think my motivation going into camp is to just be the best player I can be for the Revolution," said Mullins when asked whether or not he'd have a chip on his shoulder from not being drafted earlier.
"Crazy things happen on draft day and you can’t control what happens. You just want to land in the best fit possible and I think I really did that by coming to New England and I’m just excited to get to work like Steve is."
That’s because Mullins seems to be one of the few collegiate players that looks MLS-ready. He is a two-time Hermann Trophy winner out of the University of Maryland (the same alma mater of Revolution all-time leading scorer Taylor Twellman). Needless to say, the Revolution are aware that quality players can come out of Maryland. And Mullins looks quality. In 2013, he notched 19 goals and eight assists.
While those numbers probably won’t translate to MLS, the fact that the Revolution have signed a pure goal scorer is key. He is a sniper in the penalty area and with the right service and midfield play, which the Revolution ought to have down pat once the season begins on March 8, he’ll be another weapon in Heaps’ arsenal.
"They’re both players that we followed and we’ve had an eye on for not just one year but a couple years," said Heaps. "I’ve seen them play live a lot and I think they’re very different players. I think Patrick has shown he’s someone that can score a lot of goals and plays a little higher up the field. I think Steve is more of an underneath guy and a little more versatile as to where we can play him in our midfield."
The Revolution’s third and final pick on Thursday came in the second round (31st overall) which they used to snatch Alec Sundly, a defensive midfielder, from the University of California-Berkeley. If Sundly sticks to his position in MLS, he will contend for starting minutes with Scott Caldwell and Andy Dorman. But unlike Dorman and Caldwell, Sundly seems confident when joining the attack. He posted nine goals and two assists last season with Cal.
“In second round with [Sundly], we feel like we had a little bit of a steal there,” Burns said. “He wasn’t at the MLS Combine, which probably hurt him a little bit, but we’ve seen him play and heard a lot of good things about him, so we’re looking forward to getting him into camp, too.”
Other players who got drafted out of New England colleges include Damien Lowe (Hartford) and Mamadou Diouf (Connecticut).
The Revolution will have one pick in round three (50th overall). Round three will take place next Tuesday.
The New England Revolution announced today that Charlie Davies will return for the 2014 season. Davies, 27, mutually terminated his contract with Denmark's Randers to return to MLS and the Revolution, with which he spent the latter part of last season on loan.
Davies has been enthusiastic about joining the Revolution on a permanent basis and could be a starter come opening day if he asserts himself in preseason, which begins on Jan. 25. Davies made just four appearances, all off the bench, last year. But his talent is much better than his past playing time suggests.
He was a key player in the U.S. national team's runs in 2010 World Cup qualifying, the 2009 Confederations Cup, and the 2008 Olympics. A car accident in Oct. 2009 would derail the former Boston College star's success and set him back significantly. But Davies could be in for a renaissance in 2014.
Davies' former U.S. national teammate Michael Bradley is poised to make his return to MLS, too. Bradley, who currently plays for Roma, is in the process of agreeing to a deal with MLS and Toronto FC.
“It’s a shame Bradley is leaving, but he wanted to go and we cannot keep hold of a player who doesn’t want to be here," said Roma manager Rudi Garcia. "It’s a pity and I understand he wanted more playing time, as it’s difficult to get space in our midfield. We wish him all the best in his new adventure."
Bradley sat on the bench for Roma's 1-0 win over Sampdoria today. His replacement, freshly signed Belgian midfielder Radja Naiggolan, got the start. Roma look like a shoo-in for Champions League next year and Bradley will be giving up the opportunity to play in the tournament, a sacrifice Bradley's agent said he didn't overlook.
Reports from Rome say Bradley will make over $4 million per year with this new deal. Reports also say Roma and Toronto are negotiating a $10 million transfer fee, plus the arrangement of potential friendly matches as part of the deal.
This transaction will mark the end of Bradley's eight-year European odyssey. He considered his move to Roma in the summer of 2012 to be the biggest of his career; Bradley got his start in 2004 as a teenager with the New York Metrostars and went on to play at Heerenveen, Borussia Mochengladbach, Aston Villa, and Chievo Verona.
Bradley's move to MLS, which almost perfectly parallels the blockbuster move Clint Dempsey made last summer by moving from the English Premier League to Seattle Sounders FC, is expected to encourage more American players competing abroad to look at MLS as a serious option. Rumors have said U.S. internationals Jermaine Jones, Michael Parkhurst, and Oguchi Onyewu could be looking to come play in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Toronto's splurge will almost certainly up the competition of the Eastern Conference as well as the entire league. Toronto also recently signed MLS journeyman Dwayne DeRosario and Brazilian virtuoso Gilberto to new deals. Reports also say that Toronto will sign Jermaine Defoe from Tottenham on Monday.
When Eusébio set foot on the Gillette Stadium field during the pregame ceremonies for last September's Brazil-Portugal friendly, the capacity crowd roared in applause. Even 35 years after his last professional game, fans had no trouble recognizing him.
He was, after all, one of the best footballers to play the beautiful game, arguably the best player Portugal has ever produced.
Eusébio will be remembered as this and more. On Sunday, he died of cardiopulmonary arrest in his Lisbon home. He was 71.
While Eusébio was an international star who won the 1965 Ballon D'Or and helped Portugal to a third place finish in the 1966 World Cup by scoring a tournament-high nine goals, he had roots in New England, too.
He played in the old North American Soccer League, which predates Major League Soccer, for the Boston Minutemen in 1975. At Boston University's Nickerson Field, he captained the Minutemen and scored two goals in seven games. His times in NASL concluded with year-long stints with teams in Toronto and Las Vegas.
But Eusébio's U.S. tour is a mere sidebar compared to his contributions to Os Navegadores (aka the Portuguese national team) and his long-time club, Benfica.
Though born in Mozambique to an Angolan father, Eusébio was able to play for Portugal because the nation was, at the time, a Portuguese colony. And though Eusébio went on to break scoring and appearance records for the Portuguese, he is still touted as Africa's first international soccer superstar.
The 1966 World Cup was where Eusébio, who was 24 at the time, made his mark. Portugal won its opening game against Hungary and then beat Bulgaria with the help of a goal from Eusébio. Their third and final group game was against the defending champions Brazil, who were without Pelé. Eusébio scored twice in the game, knocking the Brazilians out of the tournament and sending Portugal into the knockout round.
"I told my teammates' we're going to win because we're a good side. We're better than good, we're better than Brazil," said Eusébio in 2005. 'They're one of the worst national teams I've ever seen.'"
Portugal were gifted into drawing North Korea in the Quarterfinals. The North Koreans had staged a shot heard around the world 1-0 upset of Italy, and made their way into the knockout round as underdogs. And though North Korea fought Portugal tooth and nail in an eight-goal thriller, it was Eusébio who stole the show with a four-goal performance.
"They were 3-0 down," said Sir Bobby Charlton, who played against Eusébio at the 1966 World Cup. "The Koreans couldn't believe it. And suddenly Eusébio gave them one goal and he wanted the ball all the time. He just ran over them, really. It's one of the best individual performances you'll ever see.
"I said 'if we can pull back just one or two goals in the first half we'll win the game,'" said Eusébio. "And we managed it, I scored to goals. Seven minutes into the first half I made it 3-3. On the hour mark, I made it 4-3. It was one of my best-ever games in a Portugal shirt."
Eusébio and Portugal were defeated by England, the hosts and eventual champions, in the semifinals but won the third place match against the Soviet Union. Eusébio scored off one penalty in both games. That result remains Portugal's highest finish at a World Cup.
Eusébio moved to Portugal to sign for Benfica when he was 18 on a $150,000 transfer fee. He left his Mozambique club, Sporting Clube de Lourenço Marques, on the recommendation of Jose Carlos Bauer, a Brazilian player who discussed Eusébio with coaches from Benfica.
"I said 'I don't care if they're European Champions or not I'm going to get on that team. I'm going to play on that side,'" said Eusébio in 2005.
Some of Eusébio's teammates mistook his competitive drive for arrogance, but his play and his performances on the field backed it up.
No matter where he played, Eusébio's defining assets as a player were his speed and athleticism. When he was first scouted by Benfica and Sao Paolo, he could run 100 meters in 11 seconds. Highlights of his goals on YouTube show him at work, running onto passes at top speed before pummeling the ball into the back of the net.
His career with Benfica would last from 1960 to 1975, accruing 301 goals in 317 appearances. His contributions helped Benfica win 11 league titles and one European Cup. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics named Eusébio the ninth best player of the 20th century and he won Golden Boots (2), Portuguese Footballer of the Year (2) European Footballer of the Y,ear (1), as well as other awards.
Lisbon's Estadio da Luz put up a statue of Eusébio for his contributions to Benfica.
"When God decides that my days are up I hope that my funeral procession will stop at my statue, go around the stadium, before going into the stadium because I know a lot of people will come on that day."
The Revolution are the only playoff team to make the Conference Semifinals that do not have a player in Jurgen Klinsmann's 26-man roster for this month's preliminary World Cup camp. Twenty-five of the 26 call-ups are MLS players, meaning that Klinsmann just about called up the league's best American players (Clint Dempsey was not called, but is currently on loan to Fulham in England).
No Revolution player has been called to the U.S. national team since Benny Feilhaber in Jan. 2012. That begs the question: is there no New England player that deserves a look from the U.S. national team?
From a standpoint of hot streaks, the no-brainer for inclusion is Kelyn Rowe, whose 2013 season merited the fact that the Revolution drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2012 Superdraft.
Rowe was inconsistent in his rookie year but flipped a switch last May when the U.S. Open Cup started. He tallied four goals in the tournament and then proceeded to play in all 21 regular season games, plus the two playoff games, that followed. His eight assists in 2013 made him the Revolution's leader in that category (tied for sixth in the league), while his seven goals tied him for the team's second best scoring record.
That's an eye-catching improvement from his rookie season, not only because Rowe practically doubled his on-field contributions, but also because he garnered more playing time in Jay Heaps' highly competitive midfield. In fact, Rowe logged 630 more minutes this year even though he played in just three more games.
Transitioning from his college playing days with UCLA to a professional league has had its challenges. But Rowe has begun to establish himself as a reliable league player with the tools to go further.
A key asset? His shot.
Few players have a trademark goal-- the kind of strike that they're famous for converting over and over again. But Rowe does. It's his long range cannon that dips, swerves, and flies above opposing defender's cleats and heads before landing gracefully in the back of the net.
"That's something that I had a lot of in college and in high school," said Rowe in an interview with Corner Kicks last summer. "I didn't really have it last year. But I've been able to rediscover it and it's gotten better because of the great teammates I have around me."
All 26 of Klinsmann's January call-ups-- not to mention players like Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Fabian Johnson-- have the ability to enhance Rowe's game. While he has tremendous individual talent, Rowe is the prototypical team player.
For one, he is one of the most humble interviewees. He will thank and talk up his teammates' skills and contributions before talking about himself.
What's more, his trademark goals may be long range, but he's not running into loose balls and pummeling them into the goal. Instead, he works with his teammates that gift-wrap him the ball with a fluid and creative passing sequence.
Enter Klinsmann's arsenal. With time, Rowe could be one of its benefactors, too. Then again, maybe he should have been on the list of 26 players that was released on Friday.
To the uninitiated, some of Klinsmann's other call-ups may be surprising. The likes of DeAndre Yedlin, Chris Klute, and Shane O'Neill are all relatively young players who have a combined zero international appearances. They are talented, sure, but aren't exactly shoo-ins for the eventual 23-man roster for this summer's tournament in Brazil.
But Klinsmann highly values young players, especially those that have been vetted by U.S. youth coaches Tab Ramos and Thomas Dooley. Rowe has been involved in the U.S. system before, as part of qualifying rosters for the 2012 London Olympics and as a member of the U-18 and U-20 national teams.
Rowe's résumé is just as an impressive, if not better, than those of players from his generation that received their January calls. Maybe he'll be brought aboard after Klinsmann has a phone conversation with some more U.S. youth coaches. Or maybe Rowe will just have to do some more row, row, Roweing in 2014.
BOSTON- The New England Revolution could start the New Year with a pair of offensive signings. Both Charlie Davies and Esmaël Goncalves will have their contracts terminated with Randers and APOEL, respectively, and are expected to sign with the Revolution, according to numerous reports.
Davies, 27, is from Manchester, N.H. and joined the Revolution on loan from Randers last August. However, Davies made just four appearances off the bench, spending most of his time getting into competitive shape. Davies has been open about his desire to stay with New England, too. After the Revolution exited the playoffs in November, Davies told the media he was looking forward to spending the off-season training in preparation for the 2014 preseason, which starts on Jan. 25.
"We have over the last few months had a very good dialogue with Charlie and [we've come to an agreement that he can continue in MLS]," said Randers manager Peter Christiansen, adding that Davies and his family want him to stay in the U.S. and that Randers is strong enough offensively to allow the transfer.
Goncalves (nicknamed Isma), 22, plays both striker and winger. On Wednesday, a report surfaced from the player's native Portugal that Rio Ave and Goncalves agreed to a mutual contract termination.
Goncalves was born in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau but is a naturalized Portuguese citizen. As a youngster, he played for both Boavista and Nice, attracting interest from the likes of Liverpool at age 18. Nice eventually signed Goncalves to a senior contract, but let him go in 2012 to Rio Ave.
The young journeyman spent last year on loan. His first spell was in Scotland to St. Mirren where he played in 12 games and scored three goals. He then moved to APOEL in July where he helped his team win the Cypriot championship by netting three goals in ten games.
Goncalves has no international experience save for a brief stint with the Portugal U-17 team from 2007 to 2008. His biggest opportunity with Os Navegadores came when he was called to a training camp for the 2011 U-17 World Cup. However, Goncalves showed up to the camp out of shape and was cut from the team.
Juan Agudelo won't be back
Even though Juan Agudelo left the Revolution at the end of last season, there was hope during the early part of the off-season that he would return when his work permit appeal to play for Stoke City was declined.
The Revolution still own the rights to Agudelo should he ever opt to return to MLS, though he looks poised to move to Spanish La Liga's Valencia some time this month. Agudelo has been removed from the Revolution's roster on the club's website and a report surfaced last week that he would not return in 2014.
Agudelo was a leading factor in the Revolution's 2013 playoff run. His seven goals, plus his hold up play, helped bolster the Revolution's offense and strengthened Jay Heaps' offensive, possession-based style.
Signing Davies on a permanent deal and then bringing in Goncalves will give the Revolution more depth, if not someone to be the new standard bearer in place of Agudelo.
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To our readers,
We've added a translation feature to the Corner Kicks blog to assist readers who may be more comfortable reading another language.
Google Translate is not perfect -- we're aware of that -- but it is quite good at getting the main points of the story across. We've successfully used it on The Big Picture, Boston.com's extremely popular world photography site. I'd be eager to hear your feedback on its use in Corner Kicks, in whatever language.
David Beard, Editor, Boston.com