The Best of 2009
Without a doubt, 2009 was a great year for soccer! England got a new (old) shirt, Cristiano Ronaldo got a new team; and the USA made the World Cup 2010 in resounding fashion!
England – Tailored to Win
Early this year, England launched their new shirt by Umbro, which brought together the traditional values of classic tailoring with modern fabric technology and a revolutionary design philosophy: Style meets performance. Consequently, Fabio Capello’s Lions cruised through to qualifying for South Africa 2010.
Speaking of England
Man United – Kings of England
The juggernaut that is Manchester United Football Club effectively took over as the top team In England - winning their 3rd consecutive Premier League (record 11th) title, (and 18th overall First Division title, tying Liverpool).
They also cruised through to the UEFA Champions League finals, where they clashed with another Superclub clad in Nike gear; and Nike had a great year, as the US sports giants came up with a revolutionary shoe technology, bridging the gap between old heavy slow and new super light speed!
The Superfly – The Lightest Thing on 2 feet
As the biggest soccer star in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo’s boots could not be ordinary, thus Nike went out of their way to create a boot that would be worthy of their mystical ‘airness’. What they created was the Mercurial Superfly: 6.8 ounces built for speed, that pretty much says it all. This slick boot has innovative Flywire technology, carbon fiber outsole, vented insole, and cored-out studs for the lightest boot to ever hit the field.
Ronaldo & the Red Devils were runners up in Europe to
Barça – the Treble (and More)
When FC Barcelona hired rookie coach, the young former player Pep Guardiola, no one really expected immediate success. What the Camp Nou faithful got was much more than they could’ve dreamed of. The Catalans went on a tear, conquering everything in site, starting with La Liga, the Copa del Rey, Super Copa de España, UEFA Super Cup, and the UEFA Champions League, and recently, their first FIFA Club World Cup—making it an unheard of 6th trophy in 2009!
Nevertheless, that was not the only big happening in Spain in ‘09
Real Madrid – Return of the Galácticos
Since the 2010 UEFA Champions League final was destined to be played in Madrid, everyone in the galaxy knew Real Madrid was going to take steps to bolster the team that finished second in La Liga. What no one expected was that the Merengues would land not one, but two of the top players in World Soccer: Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo. Then they added top talents like Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso: thereby doing everything $ could buy to secure a place at home in the European final.
One of Real’s top signings – Kaká - was busy playing for his country in the
Confederations Cup 2009 – Brazil Shines Again
In the precursor to the World Cup, everything pointed to a battle of heavyweights, as Spain and Brazil started strong. After two big losses by a combined 6-1, Team USA looked headed for an early exit. Nevertheless, the Yanks beat Egypt 3-0 and got some help in order advance. Facing the Euro 2008 champions, no one gave them much of a shot, but Clint Dempsey and the US shocked the world by beating Spain, thus ending the Spaniards’ streak of 15 straight victories, and making its first final in any FIFA competition. In the finale, USA got an early 2-0 lead in the first half, but the final 45 were all Brazil as they scored 3 goals to win their 3rd Confederations Cup.
That was not, however, the only soccer history the US made in 2009.
Summer of Soccer in the USA
Some of the biggest clubs in World Soccer toured the United States in the Summer of ’09. It all got started with the first ever World Football Challenge, where England’s Chelsea, Italy’s Milanese duo of AC & Inter, and Mexican giants Club América squared off in a mini exhibition tournament that went from coast to coast and drew huge crowds at each venue. Real Madrid, FC Barcelona & Chivas followed suit with massive crowds of their own. Showing the world that the US is passionate about soccer, hoping FIFA would take notice as we bid for an upcoming World Cup.
All the great teams touring the US just made fans hungry for more great soccer, for which our own domestic league was ready
MLS ’09 – Beckham (and the Galaxy) Finally Shines
The 2009 Major League Soccer season was unforgettable. It marked the first season of the Seattle Sounders FC, a team that got off to a great start and made the playoffs! Yet the biggest news in MLS was Beckham and the Galaxy. Becks & Donovan teamed up well and took the Galaxy to their first MLS Cup in four years. Yet they came up just short, as Real Salt Lake took home their first Cup after a grueling penalty shootout.
While Beckham’s home team cruised to World Cup qualification, some of World Soccer’s biggest stars (some of whom had been here in the summer): Messi, Henry & Ronaldo, were on national teams struggling for
World Cup Qualifying – The Hand of Henry
Heavyweights Portugal, Argentina & France struggled throughout qualifying. Portugal could not even count on their star as he was injured for their two playoff matches, which they eeked out 1-0 in versus Bosnia-Herzegovina. Argentina barely snuck through on the last matchday with a 1-0 at Uruguay. Then there came arguably the biggest (at least most controversial) moment of 2009. France vs. Ireland. Everyone in the world saw that Henry’s extra time game-winner was a handball, except the refs! Consequently, the ’98 champions advanced to South Africa, and despite massive appeals, Ireland was left out.
One team that did not need a playoff was the USA
World Cup Qualifying – Team USA Finishes Strong
Despite coming up short in the Confed Cup, the Yanks were ready to make a splash in
CONCACAF WCQ 2010.
On October 10, 2009, the the United States wrapped up a spot in the World Cup with a 2–3 win over Honduras. Four days later, the U.S. locked up first place in the group with a dramatic 2–2 draw against Costa Rica.
The Draw - Jabulani
In December the much-anticipated World Cup 2010 draw finally arrived. Bob Bradley’s team got a favorable yet interesting draw in Group C, as they will battle Algeria, Slovenia, and none other than England! The Group of Death was determined, as Group has Netherlands, Denmark, Japan and Cameroon, all very strong coming in.
During the draw, the adidas World Cup 2010 Jabulani Official Soccer Match Ball was also revealed:
Jabulani means to celebrate in Zulu, one of the 11 languages of South Africa, and the design of the Jabulani has 11 colors to honor those 11 languages, in addition to the 11 communities of South Africa and and the 11 players on a team. The 11 colors also honor the fact that this is adidas' 11th FIFA World Cup ball.
As we look back at the awesome year that was – 2009 – we can see how much more amazing 2010 will be. Not only will it be a new decade, but it will be a World Cup year, which, for us soccer fans, is true nirvana.
WE CAN’T WAIT!
Monday, January 4, 2010
The Best of 2009