Projecting an ideal 23-man U.S. World Cup roster (cont.)
Rossi a doubt for Italy's World Cup squad
The man that some U.S. fans have loved to hate the past few years, Italy's American-born Giuseppe Rossi, was left off Italy's 29-man preliminary roster Sunday by coach Marcello Lippi. However, Rossi explained the omission on his Twitter account Monday.
"Wasnt called up w/ the national team cuz we play tuesday, therefore, Villarreal didnt let me go. May 18th is when the roster is announced." In similar vein, players from Inter and Roma were also not selected.
That said, a glance at the roster shows that Rossi is still in danger of not making the final cut. Assuming Italy takes the standard four forwards, you have to think Lippi will opt for either Marco Borriello or Luca Toni as his target man, and the in-form Alberto Gilardino and Antonio Di Natale are near certainties. The final spot therefore is likely to be a toss-up between Lippi favorite Vincenzo Iaquinta and others on the fringe, such as Rossi. While I admittedly find it stunning that Lippi holds Iaquinta in such high regard, I do think he'll choose him and leave Rossi out in the cold.
Barrios finally gets his due
One man who definitely isn't going to the World Cup is Paraguay's Salvador Cabanas, who's still recovering (miraculously) from a gunshot wound to the head, but won't be ready for South Africa. As his replacement, Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino named Argentine Lucas Barrios to the roster (Barrios qualifies for Paraguay nationality through his mother who was born in Paraguay).
With luminous talents such as Ezequiel Lavezzi and Mauro Zarate already struggling on the fringes of selection for Argentina, is it any wonder Barrios -- who has 18 goals for Dortmund in the Bundesliga this year -- opted to represent Paraguay recently instead? The real question is why it took so long for European teams to notice him. He was a veritable goal-scoring machine for Chile's Colo-Colo between 2008-09, with 49 goals in 53 games and scored in every fashion possible -- with either foot, with his head, and often placing his finishes with a calm demeanor. Dortmund snapped him up last summer for the ridiculously low fee of $5.4 million, which when you consider the vast amount typically thrown around at incompetent strikers ($13 million for Johan Elmander anyone?), it makes you wonder exactly just what criteria the scouts are measuring them on.
Pot, meet kettle
The Times reported Wednesday that Spurs manager Harry Redknapp has offered on-loan striker Robbie Keane to Everton in exchange for midfielder Steven Pienaar. This, of course, follows on the heel of a turbulent season for Keane, where he'd been played out of position on the left wing occasionally, consistently subbed off, consigned to the bench oft times and then shipped out on loan to Celtic in January. Considering that Keane was/is the Spurs captain (at least up until the loan), you could argue that it's downright hypocritical that the British media hasn't seen fit to question Redknapp's treatment of Keane. After all, when Redknapp 'rescued' Keane from Liverpool in January 2009, he said "[Keane] is a terrific player who can make all the difference."
It's even more curious when you consider Redknapp was among the many critics and media pundits who castigated Rafa Benitez for months on end for Benitez's similar handling of Keane during Keane's failed stay at Anfield. Benitez was ripped for playing Keane out of position on the left occasionally, consistently subbing him off and consigning him to the bench -- sound familiar?
"I don't think he got a great crack of the whip there but that's up to Rafa Benitez," said Redknapp to the BBC in February 2009. "He picks the team and he obviously didn't see Robbie as a player who fitted into his system or a player that he particularly wanted."
Don't just take my word for it, look at the stats. For Tottenham in the 2009/10 season, he played in 20 Premiership games between August and January in which he scored six goals (four coming in one game), was substituted 12 times and brought on four times as a sub. For Liverpool in the 2008/09 season, he played in 19 Premiership games between August and January, in which he scored five goals, was substituted 12 times and brought on three times a sub. The reality is that Keane was as equally ineffective for Tottenham as he was at Liverpool, and yet only one manager bore the brunt of the criticism for realizing it.