Some interesting soccer news in the last few days:
1. The Confederations Cup kicked off in South Africa on Sunday. The Confederations Cup is a tournament that pits the winners of the various regional soccer confederations against each other in what's regarded as a "dress rehearsal" for next year's World Cup (also in South Africa.) The US, as the winner of the Gold Cup, is representing CONCACAF this time around. Unfortunately the US got stomped by Italy and the traitorous Giussepi Rossi, an American born Italian citizen who happens to be very, very, good and also, uninterested in playing for the United States. Such are the pleasures of dual citizenship. The US plays Brazil tomorrow morning and though Brazil struggled somewhat with Egypt on Monday, that game is likely a loss as well. Still, some new faces played well against Italy and getting solid players playing time against giants like Italy is always a plus.
2. Iraq also joins in the US in the Confederations Cup, courtesy of their win in the 2007 Asian Cup. The faced off bravely against Spain today, and lost by the respectable score of 1-0. This is especially noteworthy given that Spain had obliterated New Zealand 5-0 only three days before.
3. Speaking of dual citizenship, Jermaine Jones, a high quality mid-fielder for the Bundesliga's Schalke 04, has indicated that he'd like to suit up for the United States thanks to a recent FIFA rule change. He makes no effort to disguise the fact that he's doing so because he can't get on the German national team (Jones is a German and American citizen courtesy of his German mother, and was born in America before moving to Germany at a young age.) He isn't Rossi, but he's quite a good player and shouldn't have much trouble getting on the national team later this summer and in time for plenty of practice before next year's World Cup.
4. Iran's national soccer team wore green armbands in their World Cup qualifcation match against South Korea today, to signal their support for the dissident supporters of Moussavi. Unfortunately they were only able to manage a tie on the road against South Korea, and will miss next year's World Cup in favor of...North Korea, who drew against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh today. The win leaves Saudi Arabia in a playoff Bahrain in a playoff for the chance to play New Zealand for a slot in the World Cup, and it leaves Iran on the outside looking in.