(News on USMNT lower in the post)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've written I'm not going to post and pontificate about each and every transfer in Europe this season.
Thierry Henry's $32-million move to Barcelona is, in the words of Mike Francessa a different set of encyclopedias.
This is a nuclear bomb of a transfer, who's impact will reverberate across the world of soccer.
I'm sure many Gooners are thinking, "Is this a wind up mate, am I being punked?" as Henry himself told HBO's 'Real Sports' in a feature on racism in soccer. Henry, did after all, pledge his loyalties to the Gunners not too long ago. He also still had three years left on his Arsenal deal.
Granted, much has changed at the club with the proposed takeover by American tycoon Stank Kroenke looming.
Before postulating on what this all means, here's some consolation for all the weeping Gooners out there. TH14 served the club beyond compare in his seven seasons at Highbury and one at the Emirates.
Here are a few notables beyond his goal rate of 226 tallies in 364 appearances.
* Two EPL winner's medals
* Three FA Cup wins
* European Golden Boot 2004, 2005
* Leading EPL score four times.
Personally, though not an Aresnal-man, Henry's play has always been wonderful to watch. His blistering runs, classy finishes and overall outstanding play was a joy to behold.
The man was a one-man wrecking crew. At his best, nary a single dowdy English defender could stop the maurading Frenchman. What always stood out was his poise around the goal. That, and the fear he immediately stuck in every opposing player went he had the ball at his feet.
And I'll never forget the classic finish from earlier in this year for his header vs. Manchester United, "It had to be, Thierrrrry Heeenry."
Enjoy this vid and remember the good times...
Now, the nitty-grity, what does this all mean?
** God, the prospect of Henry pairing with Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi makes the brain spin. It could truly be video-game soccer at the Nou Camp come August. It's likely only be a 'Holy Trinity' on the field at any one time, but still.
Still, part of this feels like a panic move for Barca, after they finished 2006-07 without a major trophy. Barca did lead La Liga in goals scored with 78 so is adding Henry anything other than a moral booster in Catalonia?
Some English team ought to make a quick offer on Eidur Gudjohnsen. Mark Hughes, are you listening?
** Part II -- Does this mean Eto'o is off to AC Milan, Inter, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, etc? The Cameroonian is slightly expendable now, but it was clear Barca wasn't the same team without him in the lineup up front. People might say he won't be able to co-exist with Henry. Not a chance. Great + Great = sublime. (Well, most of the time.)
** Where does this leave Arsenal? The Gunners were so-so without Henry throughout last season -- simply, Jeremy Aliadiere couldn't hack it and he's already been shipped to Middlesborough. The Gunners plays some attractive footie, but lacked a distinct killer instinct.
They'll clearly be unable to replace Henry's talismanic qualities. But can they replace his goals?
Emmanuel Adebayor might drop a little without Henry's inspiring presence around. Robin van Persie was on his way to making the leap last year before getting hurt. Hard to say if he can carry the load alone. Expecting youngster Nicklas Bendtner to make impact is asking a lot. Theo Walcott? He can make an impact, but not as a scorer.
Can Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Alexsandr Hleb pick up the slack from the midfield?
It's clear if Arsenal wants to remain among the 'Big Four' they'll have to ink a striker?
Fernando Torres seems like an obvious move since Athletico Madrid is finally going to sell him. Michael Owen would be a gamble. Signing someone like a Alfonso Alves, who scored 34 in 31 games in the rock 'em - sock 'em Eredivise is a sizeable gamble too.
From my perch, unless they can swing a deal for Eto'o there isn't any single player that can come close to Henry.
Plus with all the uncertainty floating above Ashburton Grove is Arsene Wenger next out the door, possibly to Real Madrid? Or Fabregas? Losing Wenger would truly cripple Arsenal and the club would have to start from scratch. That's the bigger fear for Hirshey and you other Gooners, that Henry is the first to bail on a sinking ship.
** EPL Impact -- As said before, there might not be a better chance for a team to shove its way into the top four now that Arsenal is deeply wounded. The other day I caught some of that 'Planet Earth' on the Discovery and it showed a hungry pack of lions swarming an elephant on the African savanna. It was amazing, to say the least.
Right now, Arsenal is that unlucky elephant and Tottenham, Everton, Blackburn, Aston Villa, Portsmouth and maybe even Newcastle United are licking their collective chops.
In any event, this is the first domino to fall as the silly season kicks into high gear.
In less earth-shattering news Friday, the US released it's Copa America roster. Very, very interesting to say the least. No Landon Donovan, no DaMarcus Beasley, no Clint Dempsey, etc.
Take a gander.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany)
Defenders: Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Bobby Boswell (D.C.), Dan Califf (Aalborg BK, Denmark), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Drew Moor (Dallas), Heath Pearce (Nordsjaelland, Denmark), Marvell Wynne (Toronto)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Colorado), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg SV, Germany), Eddie Gaven (Columbus), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Justin Mapp (Chicago), Lee Nguyen (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Ben Olsen (D.C.)
Forwards: Charlie Davies (Hammarby, Sweden), Herculez Gomez (Colorado), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City), Taylor Twellman (New England)
Naturally, the biggest eye opener is the inclusion of in-form Colorado striker Herculez Gomez and the re-addition of everyone's favorite bearded midfielder -- Ben Olsen. Ex-Metros Eddie Gaven and Marvel Wynne are mild surprises, too.
Otherwise, it's not a terrible team, just extremely green.
We'll get into this more next week after the Gold Cup wraps up.
Basically, with seasoned European pros like Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Spector, Frankie Simek, etc. you can't burn these guys out for a tournament that if anything is a bonus for the USMNT. The nearly 10-month club season is a big enough grind as is, it made sense for Bob Bradley to give these guys AND his son Michael a couple weeks of R & R.
If you're going to test young players and see what you've got, might as well do it here in a pressurized tournament on hostile foreign soil. If only for the dressing room stuff, Bradley will get a better sense of what he's got in the pipeline over the fortnight in Venezuela than a couple one-offs in Europe later this season.
The Nats might take a beating from Argentina next Thursday, but Paraguay and Columbia aren't exactly the bee-knees.
Strengthes clearly lie in defense with a pairing between Jimmy Conrad and Jay DeMerit a good place to start. Despite his shaky play vs. Canada Thursday night, Keller provides a solid presence between the sticks.
Weaknesses are obviously offense. Counting on the quartet of Gomez, Johnson, Davies and Twellman to score is a dicey proposition. Guess we'll see how much the National Team really does rely on Lando, huh?
Also, seems like Beasley is definitely making the move to Rangers.
Why, DaMarcus, why?