FIFA World Player of the Year Finalists:
FIFA has announced the three finalists for its annual World Player of the Year and, once again, it has come down to the usual suspects. Three-time FIFA World Player of the Year honoree Lionel Messi, UEFA Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament Andres Iniesta, and 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo make up the three candidates.
Despite not winning La Liga last season, Lionel Messi is the favorite to take home the coveted prize. It would be an unprecedented fourth consecutive award for the 25-year-old diminutive Argentine. Messi’s 2011/2012 season goal-scoring streak has eclipsed his previous highs. He sits at 84 goals in the 2012 calendar year, one shy of Gerd Muller’s all-time record.
The much glamorized Cristiano Ronaldo may have been overshadowed in recent years by Lionel Messi as a byproduct of an incessant media campaign. This hasn’t stopped Ronaldo from hoisting the La Liga trophy; Real Madrid’s first since the 2007/2008 season. Ronaldo bagged 60 goals this past season including an astonishing 46 league goals in 38 games played.
Another FC Barcelona star and product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy, Andres Iniesta enters the fold without the goal-scoring knack that his counterparts possess. Yet the midfield maestro has once again orchestrated the tempo of a rhythmic Barcelona side. Deservedly named the UEFA Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament, Iniesta is seeking his first FIFA World Player of the Year honor.
View The New York Times article on the FIFA World Player of the Year finalists by clicking here:
Alex Morgan named U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year
Alex Morgan’s 2012 could not be any smoother. After leading the USWNT to Olympic Gold in London, the 23-year-old former Cal star has been named U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Morgan has recorded 38 goals in 55 games played for the U.S. Women’s National Team, many of which have been timely finishes. Included in this was her 123rd minute game-winning goal against Canada in the Olympics semifinals.
View more on Morgan’s banner 2012 year here.
New USL Team in Sacramento
Warren Smith and an unnamed partnership group have successfully secured the rights to bring in a USL team to Sacramento. The team aims to begin play in 2014 and will use Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium as their home facility.
Smith is no stranger to Sacramento-area professional sports as he was integral in bringing in the Triple-A Sacramento RiverCats from Vancouver, Canada.
With the addition of another Northern California professional soccer team, will a budding rivalry develop between the two sides? Although they are on different tiers of the American soccer pyramid, the greater San Jose and Sacramento areas will be at the fore to develop the sport’s passion in Northern California.
Read more on this development here.
NASL names new Commissioner
Bill Peterson, a former executive with Anschutz Entertainment Group and NFL Europe, has been named the commissioner of the NASL. Entering its third season in 2013, the NASL looks for new guidance under the experienced Peterson.
Peterson will lead the nine-team league out of their Florida office. The current Chairman of USA Cycling Board of Directors, Peterson will oversee expansion efforts by the NASL that will include the New York Cosmos in 2013 as well as targeted areas of Virginia and Ottowa in the years ahead.
Read more on Peterson here.
Success has been nothing new for Bay Area sports fans of late. The Giants have won two World Series championships in the past three years, the A’s Bob Melvin and Billy Beane won AL Manager and GM of the Year, the 49ers are dividing and conquering opponents while paying homage to the late Bill Walsh, and your Earthquakes have won their second Supporters’ Shield all in 2012.
Like the iconic Rafael’s, Da Vinci’s and Titian’s of the 14th and 15th Century, Bay Area fans are fortunate to follow the Willis’, Posey’s, and Wondolowski’s of the 21st century sporting renaissance. While fans are out in record numbers to show their support, their teams are seeking to reciprocate the appreciation. New stadium plans are in the works for the 49ers, Warriors, and the Quakes with Santa Clara, San Francisco, and San Jose being targeted locations respectively.
The 49ers and Quakes both plan to inaugurate the 2014 year with new stadiums while the Warriors project a 2017 opening on San Francisco’s Embarcadero.
Andy Dolich of the San Jose Mercury-News writes of these nascent to developed stadium projects. With continued winning ways and new stadiums on the horizon, Bay Area sports fans can only bask in the Mediterranean-reminiscent climate.
View Andy Dolich’s article here.
It is no wonder that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a black belt in taekwondo. The Swede's wonder bicycle kick, a fourth strike that overshadowed Steven Gerrard's 100th cap for England, demonstrated a full acrobatic exertion from an acute angle. It has left many clicking "replay" on YouTube. Sure enough, it has spread like wildfire through social media.
Analysts and players alike have argued that Ibrahimovic's goal may be the greatest ever - up there with Diego Maradona's 1986 World Cup goal (also against England) and Marco van Basten's volley in the 1988 Euro Final against the USSR.
Yet, a Northern Irishman by the name of George Best challenges the Swede's effort. The former Manchester United talisman starred for the Quakes in the NASL from 1980 to 1982. It was his natural individual brilliance that continues to captivate fans and places him among the elites of the game.
Andrew Keh's, "The New York Times Soccer Blog" shows a handful of Ibrahimovic's rivals; a selection of the top goals of all time. Included in this list was George Best's individual "virtuoso performance" - a slaloming run that was the only nomination from the NASL.
Best's goal can be found by clicking here.