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Chicharito is really a Targaryen

Little Pea Hernandez has the skill to score with most any part of his body. But as this weekend’s contest proved, his new nickname should be Targaryen Hernandez — Targaryen-andez! What???! Shut up! I just crushed it with that!

In the final game of Confederations group stage, Mexico and Japan played for pride. Both went into the third game with zero points and zero chance of advancing. Thanks to great skills and ball movement from the rest of the team (I’m looking at you, Gio!), Chicharito was able to score twice for Mexico. (We’ll just ignore how he failed to convert a penalty and its rebound.) Both those goals were genius headers.

confederations2013-mexjap-hernandezgoal1

confederations2013-mexjap-hernandezgoal2

Chicharito’s head is pure gold. You know who else has a golden head?

Viserys'_crowning

Yep, that jackass. But we all know that he doesn’t make it, and Dani tells us why. Chicharito has survived the molten gold and proved himself a true dragon. Make room. There’s a Targaryen-andez lurking on this world.

For those who want to relive a great Game of Thrones scene from Season 1

PHOTOS: Javier/Chicharito/Targaryen-andez Hernandez scores in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Japan. And Viserys Targaryen gets crowned.

Hexagonal resource: Mexico trading cards

Today is the official start to the CONCACAF Hexagonal — the Road to Brazil 2014. The six regional teams are all facing each other over the course of the year in their qualifying run toward the World Cup.

February 6 Matches

Honduras – United States
Panama – Costa Rica
Mexico – Jamaica

Unless you’ve been following every single move the Mexican teams have been making these last few months, today’s game will offer some familiar and newbie faces. Well-known players include CHICHARITO, Giovani DOS SANTOS, Andrés GUARDADO, Maza RODRIGUEZ, Aldo DE NIGRIS, and Carlos SALCIDO. Of course, my boy Chuy CORONA will also be keeping riff raff out of Azteca’s nets.

But the squad that’s playing Jamaica also includes a ton of young blood that has been called up to the main team. There are handful of U23 players who debuted during 2011 Copa America (and some who were suspended during the prostitution robbery mess). Plus, some members were part of the winning squad during the 2011 Pan American Games, and 2012 Toulon Tournament. And, by my count, there are nine Olympic gold medalists. I’m surprised they found room on this roster for Chicharito. What am I saying? There’s always room for Chicharito.

So here are my trading cards for four players. A few I know you’ve seen before and will likely see play today. Some may be brand new information. I’d do more, but who has that kind of time. Perhaps over the course of the games …

♦♦♦


Age: 22
Plays for Villareal CF, Spain’s Segunda Division
Mexico: 2012 London Olympics, 2011 Pan American Games, 2011 Copa America

♦♦♦

Age: 23
Plays for CF Monterrey, Liga MX
Mexico: 2012 London Olympics, 2011 Pan American Games, 2011 Copa America

♦♦♦

mfabian_tc

Age: 23
Plays for Guadalajara, Liga MX
Mexico: 2012 London Olympics, 2012 Toulon Tournament, 2011 Copa America*

♦♦♦

csaucedo_tc

Age: 31
Plays for Tijuana Xoloitzcuincles de Caliente, Liga MX, Apertura champions
Mexico: Played 45 minutes during Jan. 30 friendly against Denmark

Chicharito transfer rumors: Good for me


By now the whole world knows that Chicharito is the odd man out in Manchester United. That team is stacked with talent and striking power and Chicharito hasn’t seen as many minutes (translate: scored as much) as he has in the past. Now with the acquisition of Golanda’s Robin van Persie, the transfer rumors heat up all over again.

It’s hard to hear transfer rumors circling one your favorites, especially after being with the club for so few years. I feel unappreciated. I feel overlooked. I feel like I’m wasting my best years keeping the bench seats warm. That’s how I feel. Who knows how Chicharito feels? Apparently, when he’s hanging with his Mexican friends, he could care less about Manchester United. Good for you, Javi!

It’s particularly painful for me because of how Hollywood-perfect his story of ascension was. Many years ago, pre South Africa, scouts had seen Chicharito play for the Chivas of Guadalajara. He impressed them much. Obvio. But they wanted to wait to make a move on him because he was still chavito. And then the epiphany landed. Dude, what if this guy goes to the World Cup and has a break-out performance? (He did.) The deal was so secretive and so fast that no one really knew what had happened until Chicharito was filling out work waiver forms. He became the first Mexican at ManU and scored 20 goals that first year.

As much as I feel that Fergie is ungrateful. I actually welcome these rumors… anything that’ll put Chicharito on Real Madrid. It’ll make my life easier tracking him if he’s playing on my beloved team. It gets difficult keeping tabs on all your players, especially when they play in different leagues, different countries, different continents. To me, Chicharito and La Liga makes perfect sense. (Just not at Camp Nou!)

He can continue to impress the European clubs tonight as Mexico closes out its first stage of WCQ2014 with a game against El Salvador tonight, 6 p.m. PST

The heavy punches of Mexican soccer


This is a jab – jab – uppercut of Mexican national soccer news. Mainly because I’ve been lazy and continuing my MIA phoning-it-in session.

FIFA is starting to make amends with me. In September, they had the gall to place Mexico out of the top 20. For October, after two World Cup qualifying wins against Costa Rica, they have reinstated the tricolores in the top 20. We’re now, according to FIFA, #19. *shouldershrug* I still think the big European bureaucracy is operating from a deficit model. If it’s not European (or to a larger extent, South American), it’s not good football.

How else to explain England at no. 5, Greece at #10 (who played against 110th ranked Lithuania)??

Because of Mexico’s wins against Costa Rica, they’re assured advancing to the next round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualification. And so we were more than accommodating when Guyana wanted to change their “home” game to a “neutral” site — Texas. I don’t know/care for the rationale that led Guyana to choose Texas as a neutral site when the USMNT struggles to find home-field advantage at times against Mexico.

That’s beside the point. I’m sure the drubbing that occurred Friday night would have happened in any location.

Mexico delivered a late-round TKO. After a frustrating 77 minutes of attack-after-scoreless-attack, the ball finally found the back of the net, thanks to Andres Guardado. What followed was a flurry of five goals in eight minutes. Once again, because that bears repeating, that’s FIVE goals in EIGHT minutes. That’s an average of a goal every minute and 36 seconds.

Of course, one of them was an own goal by Guyana. But that shit’s bound to happen when the action is perpetually parked in front of your goal.

Next up, Mexico enters the ring with El Salvador on Tuesday. Will it be another 10 rounds? Will Mexico land some punches early on? Will it get caught on the ropes? Will I stop making boxing references? I think so.

PHOTO: Guyana knocked out! skadoosh

Pre-game pep talk: Borrowing from a Lannister

Don’t be scared, boys. It’s only Brazil… and Neymar’s hair.

I’ll give it to you straight. This is not really a “friendly.” It’s  a big effing “frenemy-ly.” Brazil is a great team on a wicked winning streak. But, come on! You’re no bunch of slouches either!!! And listen to that crowd… they scream PUUUUTO for you, not at you. Sure, this isn’t our field, but who’s kidding whom? Dallas?! This is no neutral field?? The people are on your side. Hear them. Feed off them.

So… Man up, uncover yourselves and let Chicharito lead the attack.

Those are brave men knocking on our door. Let’s go kill them!!!

Mexico v. Brazil
Sunday, June 3
3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT

“Top” that!

What’s up with Chicharito? Have you heard?

I’ve been caught up in my own world of Champions League and La Liga play as of late. Manchester United has been out of the UEFA tournament for a few months and, well, they don’t play in the Spanish league. Obvi

…which is why I was surprised when the first news of Chicharito I heard was this mierda:
Should Chicharito still be considered the top Mexican player?

umm… Yeah!

The whole point of the article is that he hasn’t been performing as much this year as he did in his hot-out-the-gate season last year. Meanwhile, over at Real Sociedad, Carlos Vela (pictured above), on loan from Arsenal, has been spectacularly racking up goals. His latest was an overhead goal against Villareal. And if people weren’t paying attention to him before, this will surely put him on someone’s radar.

Vela has scored 11 goals this season, including five in the last five games. Chicharito has 12 goals*. *Caveat: counting all goals with team, not just league play.

I’m not betting grandma’s house on a one-goal differential. I’m just interested in figuring out what makes a “top” player. And why must there be just one? “The top Mexican player”? It really depends on what skills you value the most — goal-scoring capacity, speed, agility, acumen, confidence, sportsmanship, aerial acrobatics.

Look how high he jumps. He's only 5'8"

And how he scores with the back of his head, and still just 5'8"

On the homefront, I’ve finally upgraded my cable to a sports package that’s chock-full of soccer channels I longed for, but wasn’t subscribed to, and others I didn’t even know existed (yippee!). Armed with this, I’m going to conduct my own one-person survey, polled after watching both men’s next games. First up, Vela. Real Sociedad plays again Saturday. Then, on Monday, Manchester United goes against Manchester City. I’ll see who plays, who scores, who assists, who’s an overall playmaker.

Bias Disclosure Time: I like Chicharito. He might not do more than cheerlead from the seats and I’ll still give it to him. The point then? Oh yeah, watch good soccer. Obvi.

Set your DVRs: It’s the return of Chicharito

Boy Wonder Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will be back with the Mexican national team this evening in its second friendly of the year. It’s been too long!

But wait, there’s more. Memo Ochoa is back. Rafa is back. Gio and his brother Jonathan are back. Personal favorite Chuy Corona is back.

Even with so much strong Mexican talent coming together, El Tri aren’t favored to win. Colombia has a lot of talent too and a new coach (meaning players are going to be showing off their talents).

For those of us on the West Coast, the game starts at 5 p.m., which means I’ll be stuck in traffic and missing the first half. But that’s alright… I’ve taken precautionary measures. Here’s the info you’ll need to set those DVRs:

5 p.m. PST, UNIVISION

Team Rosters

I went through and highlighted the players I was excited to see for personal and professional reasons. Of course, there’s more on the Mex team, mainly because I’m more aware of them.

COLOMBIA

Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Niza/FRA); Luis Martínez (Once Caldas/COL).

Defenders: Mario Alberto Yepes (Milán/ITA); Pablo Armero (Udinese/ITA); Camilo Zúñiga (Nápoli/ITA); Luis Amaranto Perea (Atlético de Madrid/SPA); Cristian Zapata (Villareal/SPA); Bernardo Espinosa (Racing de Santander/SPA); Aquivaldo Mosquera (América/MEX)

Midfielders: Carlos Sánchez (Valenciennes/FRA); Abel Aguilar (Hércules/SPA); James Rodríguez (FC Porto/POR); Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Lecce /ITA); Elkin Soto (Mainz 05/GER); Giovanni Moreno (Racing de Avellaneda/ARG); Aldo Leao Ramírez (Morelia/MEX); Gustavo Bolívar (Deportes Tolima/COL)

Forwards: Radamel Falcao García (Atlético de Madrid/SPA); Jakson Martínez (Jaguares/MEX); Teófilo Gutiérrez (Racing de Avellaneda/ARG); Dayro Moreno (Once Caldas/COL); Dorlan Pabón (Atlético Nacional/COL)

MEXICO

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (AC Ajaccio/FRA); Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul/MEX)

Defenders: Rafa Márquez (New York Red Bulls/USA), Héctor Moreno (RCD Espanyol de Barcelona/SPA), Francisco Javier Rodríguez (Club VfB Stuttgart/GER), Enrique Pérez (Morelia/MEX), Efraín Juárez (Celtic/ESC), Hugo Ayala (Tigres/MEX), Carlos Salcido (Tigres/MEX)

Midfielders: Andrés Guardado (Deportivo La Coruña/SPA), Jonathan Dos Santos (FC Barcelona/SPA); Pablo Barrera (Real Zaragoza/SPA), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres/MEX), Jesús Zavala (Monterrey/MEX), Gerardo Lugo (Morelia/MEX), Damián Álvarez (Tigres/MEX)

Forwards: Javier “Chicharito” Hernández (Manchester United/ENG), Giovani dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur FC/ENG), Oribe Peralta (Santos/MEX), Miguel Sabah (Morelia/MEX)

PHOTO: Players I’m most excited to see include Chicharito, Rafa, Gio, Jonathan, Chuy y Memo.

A win for the Napoleon Complex

This weekend was Mexico’s last game of the year. All in all, clenbuterol scandal aside, 2011 was a very good year for El Tri. They won the Gold Cup and briefly broke into FIFA’s Top 10. Even the chamacos exhilarated with the performance of the summer, taking the U-17 World Cup trophy and sweeping boot honors.

The capstone of the year — thank god — was a 2-0 win against Serbia. Who cares about rankings or closing it our good years: It was more important to win for self-esteem issues: That game looked like some serious mofos (Serbs) versus a bunch of pipsqueaks pretending at professional play (Mexicans). I mean, just look at the photo above.

Serbia TOWERED over Mexican players. They threw farther than Mex kicked. They toyed with the little players and shoved them around the field. Need proof:  Just look for Chicharito’s grass stains. When Mexicans jumped, they barely reached Serb shoulder height.

Tallest Mexican at 6'2" still works for height advantage

I did a little research (off Soccernet and Wikipedia). After crunching the numbers, here are the highlights:

  • The tallest guy on the Mexican squad was captain Maza Rodriguez at 6’2″ (Maybe that’s why they made him captain, eh???)
  • The shortest guy for Mexico, who was a second-half substitute, was Sinha at 5’4″ (A long lost Little, maybe???)
  • Key players Guardado is 5’7″, Chicharito is 5’8″, Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Salcido are 5’9″
  • Mexican height average: 5’10” (I rounded up)
  • The SHORTEST guy on Serbian squad was TALLER than the Mexican average. (Milos Ninkovic is 5’11”. He’s also the only 5-footer in the opening lineup.)
  • Their tallest player should be in another sport. (Nikola Zigic is 6’7½” and should play basketball.)
  • Serbian height average: 6’2″ (I rounded down)

This win wasn’t just for Mexico, it was for all us who wish we were taller than we are and who tend to round up all the time (so yeah, I guess it was for Mexico). To festering Napoleon Complexes!!!

PHOTOS: AP

Mexico wins World Cup. Why the hell not?

Chícharito! You’ve just won your first Cup victory with El Tri, taken the MVP award and the golden boot to boot. What are you going to do now?

Maybe he won’t go to Disneyland… but he was in Southern California this weekend. It’s not a far detour.

Though he didn’t score any goals in the final match against the USA, he did score seven of Mexico’s 22 goals throughout the tournament.

Like he said in an Univision video (at 58 seconds): “Aquí lo que importa es que ganamos, aquí no importa quien meta los goles… al contrario, [importa] quien está ahí para poder apoyar ya sea dentro o fuera de la cancha.”

Translation: What matters here is that we won, not who scored the goals. On the contrary, what matters is who is there to be able to support either on or off the field.

Gold Cup is now in the rear view. On the horizon, Sub-17 World Cup, Women’s World Cup, Copa America and Brazil 2014. Yo Chícharito, do you think México will take that Big Cup?

¿y por qué no?

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The view from the bottom of American sports hierarchy

Yesterday, I traveled to visit a friend. I told him we could go wherever he wanted, but my one condition was that I needed to watch the Mexico/Costa Rica game.

We ended up at an “interesting” joint called Tilted Kilt, a place with dozens of televisions and two large screen projectors on both ends of the pub. A total of five t.v.s weren’t dedicated to the NBA Finals. I had to ask to get the game on one of them.

This photo completely captures the sporting hierarchy. HUGE basketball game and TINY little Gio Dos Santos. Nobody really cared that Mexico clobbered their former coach, embarrassed Costa Rica 4-1 and were the definitive winners in Group stage amassing a total 14 goals in three games.

Plus, the tv was so far away, I had to squint most of the time to see what was going on. Damn near-sightedness!! I missed half the goals too splitting my attention.Thank god for instant replays!

And then some idiots sat down at that empty table in front of the screen and changed my tiny t.v. Really?!! Dozens of televisions devoted to the playoffs and you needed that one too. Ridiculous.

We ended up getting a different tv changed back to the game. But, still… no respect.

Now that Dallas won, it might be a little easier to get pubs to give up a screen or two.

Another shot of our viewing selection:


PHOTOS: captured by my phone. Apologies for their crappy state.