Tag Archives: Javier Gonzalez

Venezuelans Abroad in Chile – Recap of the Past Week

Chile

As neither of these players are likely to be called up to the Venezuelan national side and one rarely plays for his club side, coverage of their progress will most likely be diminished from now on, but if anyone has any questions regarding them, feel free to get in contact.

Friday 29 August 2014

Primera División

San Marcos de Arica 1-0 Palestino

Emilio Rentería‘s San Marcos de Arica won for the second time this season with a goal at the death, this time from Kevin Harbottle in the fifth minute of stoppage time with what was virtually the last kick of the game. His side had been attempting to force a way through against ten men for over 35 minutes following Germán Lanaro’s dismissal and when Harbottle’s left-footed strike finally broke the deadlock, he put San Marcos 7th with 11 points. Rentería has received considerable praise for his performance in this match as well as in the season so far and was the subject of a lengthy interview in Chilean publication, La Tercera, which you can here if you speak Spanish. 

Sunday 31 August 2014

Primera División

Audax Italiano 0-1 Ñublense

Javier González again did not play as his side won the game with a 33rd-minute header by the Uruguayan Mathías Riquero, leaving them comfortably in mid-table with 11 points from 7 games. 

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Copa Chile

Ñublense 1-0 Iberia

Despite it being a cup game, González did not play as his side confirmed their progression to the Second Round against their second-tier opponents with a last-minute goal from another Uruguayan, this time Gonzalo Godoy. Ñublense are level on 10 points with Curicó Unido but have a chance to win the group outright if they at least get a draw in their final match away to Iberia, with Curicó having already played their six games. 

 

Venezuelans Abroad – 26 Aug 2014 Weekend Round-up (Rest of the World)

This is the second part of the weekend update of Venezuelans Abroad, focusing on everywhere major Venezuelan players ply the Great Trade except Europe, which was covered in the first article that you can find on this website. Minimal messing about now, let’s crack on:

South America

Colombia

Luis Manuel Seijas played all of Santa Fe’s 0-0 disappointing home draw against Alianza Petrolera, a game in which his side had to play all of the second half with ten men due to Dairon Mosquera’s dismissal. Despite having a mere 8 points after 5 games, they are only 4 points off the leaders Deportes Tolima with a game in hand.

Elsewhere in the same league, fellow midfielder Alejandro Guerra was not named in the squad for Atlético Nacional’s 1-0 home defeat to Envigado, possibly due to having played in Venezuela in the Copa Sudamericana just two days prior. Losing to Envigado would traditionally not be tolerated, but this season the away side have been flying high and are now 3rd in the league, just one point behind Tolima, whereas Nacional are 11th, with no games in hand. 

Chile

Ñublense were on-message with this weekend’s recurring theme of squads featuring Venezuelans having to struggle on with ten men for long periods of time, as at the beginning of the second half Sebastian Montesinos was dismissed for blocking a shot on the line, which led to a penalty that O’Higgins’ Octavio Rivero converted. This equalled up the score as Juan Lorca had given Ñublense the early lead but the home side did at least manage to keep the score even for the remaining 45 minutes that followed the penalty. However, perhaps unsurprisingly to regular readers of this column, Javier González was left on the bench throughout this match, as indeed he has been for most of the league games this season. 

Emilio Rentería certainly started for his side San Marcos in their 0-0 away draw against Cobresal. It was a match of few clear chances that leaves his side drifting around mid-table in 10th with Ñublense 11th; both sides have 8 points but San Marcos have the superior goal difference. 

North America

Mexico

Juan Arango played all of Xolos de Tijuana’s 1-1 draw against Pumas, traditionally one of the stronger and more popular teams in the league but who currently find themselves third from bottom on 4 points, though Arango will not be feeling much more content as his side are a mere two points ahead in 13th. Xolos went a goal down in the 40th minute but responded a few minutes later with a goal that Arango had a small role in as he played Dario Benedetto into some space on the left and he did well to put in a loss cross that Richard Ruíz got onto the end of and did well to take the ball away from the defenders with his first touch before firing high into the net.

Down one level to the Ascenso MX, Giancarlo Maldonado‘s Atlante had an opportunity to go top in the game against leaders Deportivo Tepic and nearly took it, with the well-travelled Venezuelan putting them a goal to the good with a confident first-half penalty. However, Tepic got back into the game and turned things around thanks to two goals midway through the second half, leaving them top of the league with 16 points, 5 points ahead of their nearest rivals and 6 in front of Atlante. 

United States of America 

Bernardo Añor is still recovering from his injury and so did not feature in Columbus Crew’s 3-0 victory over Houston Dynamo. His side are now third in the Eastern Conference, albeit having played a game or two more than some of their rivals. 

Asia

Thailand

Having recently beaten Muang Thong United and maintained a 3-point lead at the top of the table over Chonburi, it seemed as if Buriram United could well see out their remaining games comfortably, but this weekend they were held at home by Army United, who are now 8th and who cut Buriram’s lead to just a point. The Army got off to a great start within two minutes, with an exceptional shot that looped over the goalkeeper from outside the area (check it out). Buriram got back on level terms after 15 minutes but for the rest of the game both teams certainly had chances without getting a winner; a Buriram header from a cross going against the bar and Andres Túñez himself heading just wide after the break were amongst the highlights for the home side.

Qatar

The Qatar Stars League got underway last Friday, though not for Miku (Nicolas Fedor to his parents) as he was left on the bench for Al-Gharafa’s narrow opening-day win over Umm Salal, a team who also finished last season in mid-table. To give an idea of the quality that resides in this league, Australian veteran Marc Bresciano who featured in this summer’s World Cup, lined up for Miku’s team and it was former Lyon and Argentine forward Lisandro López who scored the game’s winning goal. 

That concludes the round-up of the weekend’s action from outside Europe involving Venezuelans but if you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been neglected, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!

Venezuelans Abroad – 22 Aug 2014 Weekend and Midweek Round-up

Apologies for the delay with the delivery of this dispatch – life’s not always reassuringly straightforward, is it? With more and more leagues kicking off, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there are too many Venezuelans playing abroad for one person to adequately cover in a single article every few days. Consequently, some of you will be relieved to read that this may be the last caffeine-charged update of undergraduate essay length to be posted in this column. Instead from the next article onwards, though time-constraints may complicate matters from time to time, there should be a higher number of shorter articles that summarise the highlights no more than a day or two after they have occurred so that they still appear relatively fresh when published on this site. With the future emphasis being more on the leading players of La Vinotinto, there can be no promises that every last footballer who could legally qualify for the national side will receive the coverage here that their play merits, but if anyone feels certain players are being neglected please either contact the site by leaving a comment or follow the Twitter account (Hispanospherical), which will always feature additional and fresher news and highlights. Whether they receive a mention or not, you can be sure that their progress is being tracked.

Lastly, before the intercontinental Venezuelan rampage gets breathlessly underway, a large thank you is in order to all of you who have taken an interest in this site so far. As you all no doubt have multiple sources to aid seeking out information on these disparate players, it is hoped that by now you will be well-acquainted enough with their whereabouts (if you were not already) to know which overseas-based Venezuelans are currently in contention to earn call-ups and thus, given the availability of alternative sources, not be too disappointed should they be omitted from any future updates.

No doubt some readers will be grateful for the diminished and snappier lengths of future articles but before we get to that stage, feel free to allow one more dissertation to be inflicted upon you:

 Europe

Russia

Four wins out of four for Russian table-toppers Zenit St Petersburg who, again in a near-empty ground, defeated new-boys FC Ufa at the weekend by the slender margin of 1-0 with a penalty from Hulk after half an hour. André Villas-Boas’s men may have had a sly eye on their midweek Champions League qualifier away to Belgium’s Standard Liège, as leading target man Salomón Rondón was largely rested though did make a brief appearance with five minutes remaining to unintentionally tarnish his impressive goals-to-games scoring ratio.

On Wednesday, Rondón received the nod over Kerzhakov for the first leg in Liège, though despite Zenit’s dominance for at least two-thirds of the game giving them a crucial 1-0 victory, he may have boarded the plane back to Saint Petersburg feeling frustrated. In Zenit attacks, he was often peripheral with service to him not as forthcoming as he would have hoped, though when he did receive the ball in the final third his first touch sometimes let him down. On the one rare occasion that he was provided with a clear opportunity he could have put the tie out of sight when, at the end of the first half, he ran onto Danny’s through-ball but poked the ball against the crossbar. That particular outcome may have been a little unfortunate but it will be curious to see whether he starts this weekend’s game against Amkar Perm; if AVB instead goes with the ageing Kerzhakov and the side’s all-time top-scorer reels back the years with a magisterial performance, then a starting place in the forward line for next week’s second leg will surely be up for grabs.

France

France’s Ligue 1 hosted the weekend’s most anticipated game of Venezuelan interest as Fernando Aristeguieta and Oswaldo Vizcarrondo lined up for Nantes at home to Juan Falcón‘s Metz in a 1-1 draw.  Falcón has come in for some criticism for his roles in both goals, with some feeling that he should have been tracking Jordan Veretout who fired in a loose ball for the early Nantes opener and that he tripped himself up – unintentionally or not – to win Metz a penalty on 12 minutes that Yeni  N’Gbakoto converted. Irrespective of the merits of these claims, Falcón was certainly a more threatening figure than he was allowed to be in his side’s 0-0 draw away with Lille, providing optimism to Metz fans still coming to terms with the departure of Diafra Sakho to West Ham earlier in the week. On the home side, Fernando Aristeguieta was substituted off again two-thirds into the game for last week’s provider of football’s latest Roy of the Rovers fairytale, Yacine Bammou. However, the former Paris St. Germain club shop employee was unable to provide another match-winner and so Aristeguieta can rest assured for the time-being at least that he is the man fans will be counting on to fill the boots of Filip Đorđević. As he experienced an injury in pre-season that ruled him out for at least a couple of weeks, it is possible that he is not fully fit at the moment.

Moving briefly down to Ligue 2 for the derby match in Corsica, Grenddy Perozo‘s Ajaccio comfortably defeated Gazélec Ajaccio 2-0 away from home, keeping a rare clean sheet against the commune’s poor-relations who were playing with ten men for over an hour.  This was Ajaccio’s first win of the season though will be facing sterner opposition in the league at the weekend against second-placed Tours and next midweek in the Coupe de la Ligue away to current league-leaders Troyes.

Portugal

The Portuguese Primeira Liga was inaugurated over the weekend, with two Venezuelans in action. 1770 people on the island of Madeira turned out to watch last season’s fifth-placed side CD Nacional, featuring Mario Rondón, lose 1-0 at home to last season’s Segunda Liga winners Moreirense. Rondón played the entirety of the game but though he was involved in some attacking opportunities that were soundtracked to some Thunderbirds-esque drumming by the home fans, his side were undone by an 80th minute header by Paraguayan substitute Ramón Cardozo. Over on the north coast of the mainland, Rio Ave went some way to moving on from the disappointment of losing the previous week’s Portuguese Super Cup match on penalties to Benfica by defeating Vitória Setúbal 2-0. However, whereas last week forward Yonathan Del Valle was ordered to run his socks off for over 120 minutes and chase every frantically hoofed clearance, here he was sacrificed for midfielder Pedro Moreira at half-time as Rio Ave were reduced to ten men following Filipe’s dismissal. Despite the man disadvantage, the home side showed character and opened the scoring after 53 minutes through Diego Lopes; they were further boosted when Zequinha was sent off for the opposition on 71 minutes, who actually finished the match with nine men as Manu received two bookings in the last ten minutes – in between these two events, the Brazilian Marcelo headed home the second for Rio Ave.

Del Valle and Rondón both started their sides’ Europa League games on Thursday as they sought to gain a first-leg advantage to earn group stage spots, but the Venezuelan pair again experienced more personal disappointment. Del Valle was again withdrawn by Rio Ave at half-time in Sweden against Elfsborg, this time along with fellow-starter Pedro Moreira, as the Portuguese side were trailing 2-0; the changes arguably made some difference as the deficit was eventually halved to 2-1 with Marcelo again scoring and there were opportunities to get on level terms. As for Rondón, he again played the full 90 minutes for Nacional but they were undone in the Belarusian capital by a goal in each half in a 2-0 defeat by Dinamo Minsk. Rondón had a European experience not entirely dissimilar to his Zenit namesake in that he received the ball several times in and around the box but rarely in potentially punishing positions, instead often ending moves by blasting half-hearted shots at crowds of defenders who could then clear. It will probably be Del Valle, not Rondón, who will feel more confident going into next week’s second legs, though whether he will be permitted to play more than one half remains to be seen.

Before moving on from Portugal, one final piece of brief news: 20 year-old defender Víctor García, fresh from earning the number 50 shirt for the season, did not feature in Porto’s 2-0 opening day win over Marítimo nor their impressive midweek Champions League victory away to Lille. Still, plenty of time yet.

Switzerland

Over in the erstwhile land of passive neutrality (who said this column is out-of-date and living in the past?), Alexander González enjoyed another full 90 minutes as FC Thun came from a goal down against St. Gallen to record an impressive 3-1 win to go third in the league. As this win came against the only side to take any points – never mind beat 2-0 away – the league-leaders Basel this season, Thun can feel especially pleased with themselves. Speaking of whom, further south the league’s sole Champions League representatives won 3-2 away to Pedro Ramírez‘s Sion in a very entertaining match that was only taken out of the home side’s grasp in the last ten minutes. However, the former Zamora starlet continued his run of negligible contributions as he was only substituted on for the last few minutes of the match and so unsurprisingly was unable to demonstrate to the fans why he was purchased in the summer.

Regarding the Feltscher brothers, Frank is still injured but interesting news regarding his younger sibling Rolf who, following his summer release from Lausanne-Sport, has finally found a club to allow him to get his career back on track. Despite repeated rumours of a move to Deportivo Táchira, he has instead made the move north to the German third division to sign for MSV Duisburg. While this move has been met with some bemusement by Venezuelan commentators, it could well prove to be a rewarding move in the long run. Duisburg are down in the third-tier not due to relegation but rather problems relating to their license documents (please, no questions about this in this comments). They are a team with the resources to gain at least one promotion, having been in the Bundesliga just six years ago playing in a stadium that holds over 30,000 people (still often half full) and as an indication of their potential, just this weekend they enjoyed dumping Nürnberg out of the DFB Pokal Cup.

England

Fernando Amorebieta has continued to be frozen out of Fulham’s match-day squads, not featuring in any of their opening three defeats in the Championship as manager Felix Magath appears to be alienating fans and players alike with his team selection and general approach. However with Amorebieta, it is possible that his allegedly high wages and feelings towards playing for a second-tier team mean that his days at the club have always been numbered since relegation so his exclusion is understandable if Magath is expecting him to leave. As reported in previous columns, various sides have been linked with a move for him though in the past week there has been some new rumours. Firstly and perhaps lacking in substance is the story regarding Dynamo Kyiv’s interest, but more credible is the interest of Granada, whose sporting director has made some enquiries but admits his wages may be a stumbling block.

Italy

Torino were another team of Venezuelan interest to be vying for a place in the Europa League group stage as Josef Martínez‘s side played out a 0-0 draw away to RNK Split in Croatia. Torino will undoubtedly be favourites in next week’s leg and given the stalemate may well offer an opportunity to Martínez, who remained on the bench through the first leg.

Looking ahead, while the Serie A does not get underway until 30 August, this upcoming weekend sees the introduction of some of the top-flight teams to the Third Round of the Coppa Italia. Tomás ‘Gattuso 2.0’ Rincón‘s Genoa will be making the journey south to Serie B’s Virtus Lanciano and Franco Signorelli‘s Empoli shall host third-tier L’Aquila, who beat Bologna, recently relegated from Serie A, in the last round.

Spain

Excitingly, the Spanish leagues will be commencing this weekend and so, given the scope and name of this website, readers can look forward to some more detailed coverage from the Primera and Segunda Divisións. Málaga will kick-off the top-flight with their difficult home match against the Basque side Athletic Bilbao; Roberto Rosales is an almost definite starter at right-back for Los Boquerones despite the recent acquisition of Miguel Torres and the youngster Juan Pablo Añor will be pushing for a place in the match-day squad after being given regular chances in pre-season and handed the number 28 shirt for the season. Another player with similar circumstances – albeit with more first-team experience – and who scored some goals in pre-season is Darwin Machís; his side Granada will be looking to get off to a winning start at home against the newly promoted former league champions Deportivo La Coruña.

In the Segunda División, Real Valladolid will begin their attempt to bounce straight back to the top-flight with a home match against Mallorca. Former Barcelona man Jeffrén  Suárez, now 26 and who has been in talks with representing Venezuela for the first time, has got an opportunity to play consistently for the first time over the course of an entire season and in a league that could well prove to be beneath him. His team-mate and international goalkeeper, Dani Hernández, who seemed to be certain to exit the club in the summer, is likely to start at the weekend as he has done  so all throughout pre-season as the club have failed so far in their attempts to buy a replacement. Elsewhere, Josmar Zambrano will be in contention for Recreativo Huelva as they start their bid to improve upon narrowly missing out on a play-off place last year with a home game against Real Zaragoza. Finally, if he makes an unlikely recovery by the weekend, then the creative playmaker Julio Álvarez could feature for Numancia at home to Sporting Gijón, though don’t bank on it as he has not featured at all in pre-season.

Cyprus

AEL Limassol nearly caused an upset against Tottenham Hotspur in the home leg of their Europa League tie, taking a first-half lead only to be undone by goals from Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane in the last quarter of the game. Jonathan España sat on the bench throughout this game though as ever, the whereabouts of his compatriot Jaime Moreno is unknown.

Turkey

Though thankfully pre-season is coming to an end and coverage here has recently been kept to a minimum, it would be churlish not to mention Ronald Vargas‘s free-kick winner for Balıkesirspor at home to AEL Kallonis last weekend. He did also score in a 3-1 friendly win on Thursday against Somaspor and if footage of that becomes available, you can be sure it will be posted both here and on the Twitter page. Vargas is a man who showed a lot of promise in his early days in Europe with Club Brugge but has had countless injury setbacks that have hampered his progress. 28 in December, he will be hoping to get his career back on track as he enters what should be his prime and will begin his season on 29 August with a home game against Akhisar Belediyespor.

Asia

Thailand

Last time we were with Andrés Túñez, his impressive start to his career at Buriram United was painfully interrupted by a last-minute goal against title-challengers Chonburi, thus narrowing the race. However, instead of wilting it appears that Buriram, and Túñez in particular, have reacted impeccably to the threat. Firstly, at the weekend they kept a clean sheet and comfortably defeated relegation-threatened Air Force United 2-0 and then in midweek earned a vital victory away to opposition who, before the match at least, were very much in with a chance of winning the league. Had Muangthong United won, they would have been one point behind Buriram (who would have been level with Chonburi) but thanks to a first-half goal from Túñez himself, seven points now separate the two sides (with Chonburi three behind).  After a Muangthong corner was cleared and then picked up by a Buriram player, Túñez (now unmasked) could see that the home side had over-committed and charged forward from his own area to receive a pass and then slot it home for a moment of glorious euphoria. However, Buriram certainly did not have it all their own way, as Muangthong had a penalty saved at the end of the first half and then, following Theeraton Bunmathan’s dismissal, the away side had to repel attack after attack with ten men for over 30 minutes. If you have an opportunity to view the highlights please do as the game was a great advertisement for the league. With seven league games left and having already faced the two closest title challengers, Buriram United are definitely favourites to win the Thai Premier League.

Qatar

Later on today, Friday 22 August, Miku should be beginning his season with Al Gharafa at home to Umm Salal, a team who also finished in a mid-table position last year, albeit two points above Miku’s side. The Venezuelan hitman has been somewhat neglected so far in this column due to the lack of news from his part of the world but no doubt once the season is up and running, there will be regular reports on his goals.

North America

Mexico 

Last week’s Friday night league game of Juan Arango‘s Xolos de Tijuana was mentioned in the last update and he did not feature in his side’s midweek 0-0 away draw with Deportivo Tepic in the Copa MX, which leaves them 2nd in their group behind Guadalajara. In the league below, Giancarlo Maldonado has been scoring again, this time the second goal – a header from a cross – for Atlante in their big 4-2 away win against Mérida, which leaves them second in the table. Maldonado, along with seven of his team-mates, was not selected for the midweek cup defeat against top-tier Toluca; such changes show where Atlante’s priorities lie and, along with the strength of their group, accounts for them currently being last with just one point from three games.

United States of America

Bernardo Añor is still out with a hamstring injury and thus sadly missed Columbus Crew’s 4-1 thrashing of LA Galaxy, a side which featured both Robbie Keane and Landon Donavan. The Crew are back in the play-off positions in the Eastern Conference.

South America 

Colombia

Alejandro Guerra did not feature in Atlético Nacional’s 1-1 away draw against Deportes Tolima in the league over the weekend, but he did make the journey back home to Venezuela to play in another 1-1 away draw, this time in the Copa Sudamericana First Round against Deportivo La Guaira. Guerra played just under an hour of this first leg, with the goals coming after his departure, first for La Guaira with a bullet-header from Framber Villegas after 66 minutes and then for Nacional from an Edwin Cardona penalty with 7 minutes remaining. Remarkably, Atlético Nacional fielded a completely different squad on the same night to fulfil domestic cup obligations against Jaguares de Córdoba and achieved a 1-1 draw thanks to a stoppage-time goal from former Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Ángel. Moving on to Santa Fe, Luis Manuel Seijas‘s side lost ground in the league last weekend as they were defeated 2-0 by Deportivo Cali. Seijas played the entire game and his team now find themselves 9th in the league, albeit with a game in hand which, were they to play tomorrow and win, would put them level on points with 2nd. Santa Fe, minus Seijas and most other first-team regulars, played midweek in the cup achieving a late turnaround with two goals in the last ten minutes to beat Expreso Rojo 2-1 away. Santa Fe have already won their group with an impressive record of 8 wins in 9 games and will play their remaining game against Bogotá next week.

Chile

This weekend just gone, Emilio Rentería‘s San Marcos had to wait until the 90th minute to make the decisive breakthrough against Antofagasta, with the goal coming from a Renato González free-kick, for which Rentería was also standing over providing a decoy. This win leaves San Marcos 9th and Antofagasta last, but in the reverse midweek cup fixture, San Marcos made wholesale changes, leaving no place for Rentería and ended up on the wrong side of a 4-0 hammering. Both teams now have the most points (10) in their group, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Antofagasta now have the edge on goal difference. Despite making a rare return to first-team football last midweek in the cup, Javier González was again sidelined to the bench once the more prestigious matters of league football returned, as Ñublense were defeated 3-2 by Unión La Calera, leaving them 11th with 7 points. 

Mercifully for us all, that concludes the round-up of the last several days of action but if you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been neglected, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!

 

Venezuelans Abroad – 16 Aug 2014 Midweek Round-up

There was a bit less competitive action this midweek so this update will be shorter than previous ones, but as always, if you follow this site’s Twitter page (Hispanospherical) then you will already be aware of what the many disparate Venezuelans have been up to, but if not then here follows a summary of the highlights:

Asia

The honeymoon period of the masked gladiator Andres Túñez at Thailand’s Buriram United may be under threat as he endured his first ever defeat in a league game, having gone nine league games unbeaten since his arrival – the team itself had not lost in the league since April, making the undefeated streak 19 games overall. League leaders Buriram were defeated in a rather agonising set of circumstances that could well prove to be the pivotal moment of the season as second-placed Chonburi won with an 89th-minute winner from Sutthinan Pukhom to move up to just one point behind their opponents with nine games left to play. Take a look at the highlights – you may notice Túñez looking dejected as he receives a a slight accidental push from an opposition player amidst the goal celebrations. 

Europe

More positive news on this continent with Venezuela’s other league-leading export as Salomón Rondón has been keeping up his exceptional start to the season by scoring the winner in the 74th minute for Zenit St. Petersburg in a 2-1 victory away to Ural. His goal again came from a low-ball crossed in by the indomitable Hulk, this time from the left. It was a good, solid, right-footed finish, though it is unlikely he would win any Goal of the Match competition as Danny’s opener and especially Gerson Acevedo’s equaliser for Ural were real pearls. Nevertheless, Rondón will certainly have a spring in his step as not only did he start another match in preference to national hero Aleksandr Kerzhakov but he has also now scored 4 goals in 3 league games and his overall tally comes to 5 goals in 5 games if the two Champions League qualifiers are included (and I will do his agent’s job by pointing out that he was a second-half substitute in the one game in which he did not score). 

Over in Portugal in the other piece of European news of note, one development regarding the young defender Victor García appears to answer why he was not playing for Porto’s B team last weekend. Rather than an injury, it appears that he, along with 29 other players, has earned a place in Porto’s first-team squad for the season as he was presented with the number 50 shirt in a ceremony. García did not feature in the squad for last night’s 2-0 opening-day victory over Marítimo but if he manages to keep on impressing his Spanish boss Julen Lopetegui then he is certainly in with a shot of making Porto’s final Champions League squad and thus joining Rondón in that competition. 

South America

Atlético Nacional kept up their strong recent form and Venezuela’s Alejandro Guerra bears considerable responsibility for that, having arguably scored two goals in a 3-0 Cup victory against Medellin. The first goal came from his shot, which took a strong deflection off defender Andres Mosquera, with some sources crediting it as an own goal for the Medellin man and other Venezuelan publications being more generous towards Guerra. The third and final goal of the game was certainly all Guerra’s though, as a throw-in from the left somehow bobbled past several hesitant defenders and he ran onto it, dinking it over the goalkeeper with aplomb. Also, in cup action was Luis Manuel Seijas, who played the remaining 20 minutes of Santa Fe’s 1-0 victory over Millonarios; his side are comfortably top of their group. Cup football was also being played in Chile as Javier González made a return to the Ñublense line-up for the first time since the opening day of the league season to play all of his side’s 2-1 victory against Curicó Unido. Ñublense are now top of Group 8 with 7 points, 1 ahead of the team they defeated. 

North America

Last night, Juan Arango played and was responsible for setting up the first of Dario Benedetto’s double with a refined first-time volleyed-pass as Xolos de Tijuana won their first match in the league 2-1 at home to Jaguares. While this may take some heat off boss César Farías, he certainly generated some of his own in a touchline incident with his opposition number, which looked no more than ‘handbags’ but nevertheless saw both men sent to the stands for the rest of the game. 

That concludes the round-up of the last few days of action but if you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been neglected, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!

Venezuelans Abroad – 12 Aug 2014 Weekend Round-up

Another long weekend over and more competitive football is now underway, particularly in Europe. If you follow this site’s Twitter page (Hispanospherical) then you will already be aware of what our many disparate Venezuelans have been up to, but if not then here follows a substantial summary of the highlights:

Europe

Who better to start with than Salomón Rondón? He is Venezuela’s most lethal finisher, will no doubt become their all-time top scorer within the next five years and, more to the point, has been spanking in the goals again for the rampant Zenit St. Petersburg. Indeed, Zenit, having been one of four sides to win by a four-goal margin on the opening day, now enjoy some daylight over their nearest rivals at the top of the Russian Premier League following an 8-1 home steamrolling over Torpedo Moscow that was played in front of empty stands due to certain incidents that occurred late last season. In a game reminiscent of a pre-season pasting delivered to a group of fourth division amateurs in a secluded Swiss retreat, Rondón started once again and got on the scoresheet twice, as did the rampaging colossus that is Hulk as well as the Brazilian’s replacement, Alexandr Kerzhakov – Smolnikov and Shatov were responsible for the other two. Rondón scored Zenit’s second –  an acrobatic bicycle-kick that matched in quality Hulk’s preceding stepover and dinked ball from the right – as well as their fourth, a rebound that fell into his path after Shatov’s shot was parried and which was stabbed into an unguarded net. At this point, Torpedo’s defence already looked like they were reconsidering their career choices and Rondón soon helped inflict further misery with his quick return-ball to Hulk who burst into the box and rounded the keeper for the fifth. Hulk was very much the catalyst in this performance and if there were any relieved sighs in the Torpedo ranks when he was taken off just before the hour, his replacement Alexandr Kerzhakov ensured that there would be no reprieve. 

Moving on from a goalfeast to a stalemate, the first weekend of France’s Ligue 1 got underway, with Juan Falcón making his debut for Metz in a creditable goalless draw away to last season’s third-placed side, Lille. Falcón has been handed the coveted No. 9 shirt and played for 78 minutes but failed to get a clear shot on Vincent Enyeama’s goal as he was often reduced to chasing long balls and attempting to hold the ball up as Metz were largely set up to frustrate the likes of Ryan Mendes and Divock Origi. It was the Liverpool-loanee Origi who nearly put Lille 1-up in the first half with a header that was well-saved with an outstretched glove of Johann Carrasso, who certainly kept Metz within the game on more than one occasion. Next weekend, Falcón will be hoping to have more freedom to show what he can do as Metz host Nantes, a game which national team boss Noel Sanvicente will surely be watching as it will feature two more Venezuelans who also started over the weekend. Oswaldo Vizcarrondo and Fernando Aristeguieta featured in the 1-0 victory for Nantes at home to Lens in a closely fought match, the outcome of which may have brought more satisfaction to the centre-back Vizcarrondo. Indeed, whereas he can be pleased with his role in his team’s clean-sheet, Aristeguieta may have mixed emotions about his team’s match-winner being scored from a close-range volley less than a minute after he was substituted in the 63rd minute by his replacement, Yacine Bammou. This hitherto unknown forward was actually making his debut, not only for Les Canaris but also as a Ligue 1 player, having not long previously been combining lower-league football with a job in Paris St. Germain’s club shop. Bammou’s rise is quite a story in itself and while it may prove to be too much too soon, he can be forgiven for having an eye on regularly replacing Aristeguieta as Nante’s lead man after Filip Đorđević’s summer departure to Lazio. The one remaining Venezuelan who played in France this weekend was Grenddy Perozo who made his first appearance of the season for Ajaccio in their second game in Ligue 2 as they were defeated 2-0 at home by another relegated side, Sochaux. A quick glance at the highlights will not allay any fears regarding their defence, which was the most porous in Ligue 1 last season, conceding at a rate of nearly two per game.  

Over in Switzerland, two of our men featured for their clubs. Firstly, starting in an advanced position behind the forward, Pedro Ramírez played 54 minutes of Sion’s 1-0 home victory against Vaduz, though in events not entirely dissimilar to those befalling Aristeguieta, his substitution also came a minute before his team scored. However, as the match-winner Vilmos Vanczák was a fellow starter, Ramírez will probably not feel that there is an instant threat to his position and may just be grateful to have started for only the second time this season for what is now the third-placed team in the league. The other Venezuelan who made it onto the pitch in the Super League was Alexander González of Thun who again played in an advanced position on the left of midfield as his side took an early lead and held on to a 1-1 draw with Young Boys for a respectable point that leaves them fourth in the league, one point behind Sion. Touching briefly upon the matter of the two Feltscher brothers, whilst Frank is still injured and has thus not been able to serve fifth-placed Aarau, unattached younger brother Rolf is being strongly linked to a move to Deportivo Táchira in Venezuela, though is believed to be hesitant about taking a perceived backwards career move. 

The last competitive match in Europe this weekend featuring one of La Vinotinto‘s finest occurred in Portugal as Yonathan Del Valle‘s Rio Ave put up a valiant fight to frustrate Champions and Cup-winners Benfica in the Portuguese Super Cup, known as the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira. Rio Ave qualified for this match by virtue of being runners-up to their opponents in May’s Taça de Portugal, a game in which Del Valle did not play. However, while on sunday his side were often on the backfoot attempting to repel attacks, there was more than one occasion when they could have caused an upset. Perhaps most significantly for this column was an unexpected chance at the end of the first-half when a ball was played back to Artur in the Benfica goal and he dithered; with the ball not under his full control, Del Valle sensed an opportunity and slid in, nearly making enough contact to embarrass the goalkeeper, who ultimately recovered. The double-winners came even closer to gifting the opposition the match after 117 minutes of a goalless – though eventful – game in which Benfica’s chances at goal outnumbered Rio Ave’s by a ratio of over 5:1, when Jardel nervously attempted to hook a ball in the box clear and ended up striking his own crossbar. Nevertheless, the game went to the limit without a goal. Thus, penalties were required and despite Rio Ave taking an early lead, Benfica did manage to recover and won the Super Cup by the narrowest of margins, 3-2 on spot-kicks.

Moving on to two Venezuelans who were not involved in their teams’ competitive games, starting in England’s second-tier with centre-back Fernando Amorebieta. The future of the former Bilbao man has been subject to speculation throughout the summer and as there has been no official word regarding an injury, his exclusion from the match-day squad for Fulham’s opening-day Championship loss to Ipswich has only reignited some old rumours, with an alleged move to Málaga being the most popular. Secondly, defender Victor García was not part of the match-day squad for Porto II’s opening day defeat at home to UD Oliveirense in the Portuguese Segunda Liga. Having featured regularly last season and in pre-season, it is likely that he was not match-fit and possibly carrying a knock.

Bringing this section to a close with some mercifully brief news on players who are still in their pre-season, this column can report that eleven players that are regularly tracked featured in friendlies these past few days. If you wish to know more about the matches involving Roberto RosalesJuan Pablo AñorJosmar ZambranoTomás Rincón, Franco SignorelliRonald Vargas Jonathan EspañaJaime MorenoJeffrén SuárezDani Hernández and/or  Darwin Machís, feel free to leave a comment and you will receive a response as soon as possible. For now, the most significant news regarding those players relates to the last two as both Hernández and Machís appear to have bolstered their positions at their respective clubs. Regarding Hernández, despite seemingly being on his way out of Real Valladolid at the beginning of the summer, Venezuela’s first-choice goalkeeper has been a consistent starter in pre-season games. While this may in part be due to his team’s lack of success in bringing in a new shot-stopper – Javi Varas of Sevilla is an ongoing target – Hernández may well find he has a future at the club even if they do. As for the young Granada forward Machís, regular readers of this column will know that at the very end of July his agent Sebastian Cano had said that he felt the following fortnight would be crucial regarding his client’s prospects of gaining a place in the first-team squad for the upcoming season. A fortnight on, he has still featured regularly in pre-season matches – the last two games coming against strong German opposition – and Granada’s Sporting Director Juan Carlos Cordero has stated that Machís will indeed be retained within the squad

Asia

Andres Túñez maintained his immaculate iconic status in Thailand and his side’s unbeaten streak as Buriram United took an early lead and ran out 2-0 winners at home to Singhtarua to extend their lead at the top of the table to four points. 

South America

In Colombia, Luis Manuel Seijas played the full 90 minutes of Santa Fe’s 2-1 victory over Independiente Medellín, which leaves them on seven points with four other teams. On five points having played a game more than Santa Fe is Alejandro Guerra‘s Atlético Nacional who gleefully romped to a 5-0 Clásico thrashing against Millonarios, scoring a cracker or two along the way. Sadly, for reasons that are not entirely clear, Guerra was not part of the squad for this pounding. 

Moving south to Chile Javier González, who has not featured since his side’s opening day 3-0 defeat, was again absent as Ñublense recorded a 2-1 home victory against Universidad Católica to increase their points tally to seven – only three other teams have more points at this early stage. Elsewhere, Emilio Rentería was unable to continue his impressive goalscoring start to this season as he played the entirety of San Marcos 1-0 defeat away to a previously pointless Barnechea, which leaves his side with a mere four points. 

North America

As the two Mexican league games of relevance were played on Friday, they were featured in the last update but feel free to revisit them if you wish to see a pearl of a free-kick by Atlante’s Giancarlo Maldonado. Furthermore, in the aftermath of Xolos de Tijuana’s draw with Morelia – leaving them with a paltry two points from four games – there have been some calls on social networks to remove Juan Arango‘s manager, former Venezuela boss César Farías, from his position. Also, regarding Arango, there has been further confirmation that he will not join the national team for their matches in Asia but national coach Sanvicente has said that the door is still open for him to return.

Lastly, up north in the USA, Bernardo Añor was again absent for Columbus Crew’s entertaining 3-2 home reversal against a Defoe-less Toronto FC, with the match-winner scored by another Englishman, Luke Moore. That narrow defeat leaves the Crew just one place off the play-off positions in the Eastern Conference. 

That concludes the round-up of the last few days of action but if you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been neglected, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!

Venezuelans Abroad – 29/7/14 Midweek Round-up

One of many recurring features on this site will be an attempt to keep track of all the notable Venezuelan players who are either in or have a realistic chance of playing for the national squad, affectionately known as La Vinotinto. There are several handy Venezuelan websites that also attempt to cover these disparate individuals – well over 30 players, at last count. Although I will keep a personal record of the progress of each player, I won’t be overloading you all with a comprehensive barrage of tedium, detailing minutes played and all the cross-field pass statistics you could ever hope for. Instead, I shall be more selective and instead pick out some of the highlights and most notable stories, adding some opinions from time to time. I will aim to update this at least once a week, if not twice (Midweek and after the Weekend). 

To begin with and in this particular message there may be well be too information to process as I intend to give updates for players than span the last few weeks or more of action as well as introductions to certain individuals, but I hope I at least give you an idea of who to look out for and who is currently making the news around the world.

As you will see below, Venezuelans play in at least four different continents and so these continents shall provide the categories. In the absence of a universal football calendar, some leagues have already started and so below there will be an emphasis on actual competitive football, though friendlies will not be neglected altogether as plenty of Venezuelans have made big moves and are attempting to force their ways into their respective manager’s plans.

Europe

The Swiss Super League is the only European league that is currently underway and that began less than two weeks ago, with two Venezuelans having already been in action. Pedro Ramírez, a title-winner with Zamora FC back home last year and recipient of the Best Young Player of the Season, did not feature in the first game for FC Sion, but came on in the second and started the 1-0 victory over St. Gallen on Saturday. Hopefully, we’ll soon be seeing why this promising lad has been dubbed the ‘Venezuelan Messi’. Super League veteran of two years Alexander González has featured in all three games with his new club FC Thun, starting two, including the glorious 3-2 away win against Grasshoppers this past weekend. The two others affiliated with this league, the Feltscher brothers, have not yet seen action; Frank (of FC Aarau) due to injury and Rolf due to being unattached, though he did play for Grasshoppers in pre-season.

Elsewhere and in rather significant news, an all-out Venezuelan civil war may break out for the right to play in the Champions League. Indeed, AEL Limassol of Cyprus, having recruited two uncapped Venezuelans in the form of Jonathan España and Jaime Moreno have been drawn against Vinotinto colossus Salomón Rondón and his Russian side, the AVB-led Zenit St. Petersburg. The latter are undoubtedly the favourites and the first leg kicks off tomorrow, 30 July, with Limassol at home – the return leg will be on 6 August. The Russian top-flight begins this weekend, though Zenit will surely not be complacent and rest the likes of Rondón, who scored a corker against Karlsruhe in pre-season that blasted in at 123 km/h. On the other side, whether the Venezuelan pair get any match-time for the Cypriots remains to be seen, though if they were to cause an upset then defender Jonathan España will have played in the group stage of his second premier Continental club competition, having represented Zamora FC in the Copa Libertadores.

The Europa League Third Qualifying Round is also played this week and two Venezuelans may well play. Firstly, Josef Martínez, an import from the Swiss League (yes, that league knows an emerging footballing nation when it sees it) may well feature for Torino away to Brommapojkarna of Sweden. Having played regularly in pre-season, notching some goals and assists, he’s certainly one to keep an eye on and time will tell how often he features in a new-look Immobile-less Torino attack with new-boy Fabio Quagliarella. Over in Portugal, Rio Ave, home to another forward in the form of Yonathan Del Valle, will also start away to Swedish opposition, IFK Göteborg. Del Valle has featured in pre-season but whether he plays here is another matter. Regardless, both ties will be played on Thursday, with the return legs a week later. The winners will then go into the Play-off Round where they will be joined by the loser of the Zenit-Limassol tie (and all the other losers in the Champions League Third Qualifying Round) as well as the top-seeded teams which include C.D. Nacional of Portugal, where Mario Rondón plays. These ties will begin on 20 August and it will be curious to see whether Rondón is still there as, whilst representing his team in pre-season, he has also stated to the press that he thinks it is time to make the leap, claiming teams from England, Spain and France are interested.

Moving on to less competitive European news, the remaining Portugual-based player, 20-year old right-back Victor García, appears to be spending another year in the Porto B team, having trained with them and played in their pre-season 3-2 loss to Nottingham Forest.

Spain, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a fair few Venezuelans to keep an eye on and if there is one club that may get featured more than any other on this site, it will be Málaga CF, home to two players (quite possibly three, if certain rumours prove true). Firstly, the new signing Roberto Rosales, a right-back who at the tender age of 25 already has 7 years of European experience under his belt and comes from a successful spell at FC Twente in the Eredivisie. Secondly and less prominent, is the emerging prospect Juan Pablo Añor who has racked up an impressive ratio of one goal in every two games for the youth team and has been training with the first team this pre-season. Both men have featured in their Australian tour games and the club, acknowledging their Venezuelan links (it’s also the former club of Salomón Rondón), recorded a chat with the pair. There could well be another young Venezuelan forward in the Primera División as Darwin Machís appears to have been promoted to Granada’s first team squad, having played on loan in the Segunda B last year.

One league below, there’s at least four players of interest, two of whom are currently at Real Valladolid. Firstly, national team goalkeeper Dani Hernández, who has featured in a couple of pre-season games, though he has been strongly linked with a move away and is arguably only playing while the owners find a replacement. Secondly, Jeffrén Suárez, a winger who also plays as a forward, formerly of Barcelona (he scored against Real Madrid) and Sporting Lisbon. Now 26 and still eager to prove himself, he has made himself very much open to a call-up, having previously played at every level except senior for Spain. Elsewhere in the Segunda is Julio Álvarez of Numancia, a creative player who was responsible for half of his side’s 42 goals last season, assisting with 14 and scoring 7. He was born in Venezuela but moved to Spain at four and represented the latter at youth level but with no senior call-up forthcoming he accepted the Venezuelan offer and began playing for La Vinotinto three years ago, making his debut at the age of 30. He hasn’t played for nearly two years but with a new manager, who knows. The last player from this league that will be on my radar is Josmar Zambrano of Recreativo Huelva (the oldest team in Spain). He’s a 22 year-old midfielder with two caps from experimental squads three years ago, but despite some injury setbacks he appears to be in Huelva’s plans this season and has already played in friendlies against a Barcelona XI and Sunderland, amongst others.

Moving on to Italy where Josef Martínez will be playing, one transfer saga has recently been resolved, with national stalwart Tomás Rincón finally choosing his next destination having let his Hamburg contract run down, with Genoa receiving his services for the upcoming season. Franco Signorelli, a midfielder who helped Empoli achieve promotion, will be looking to make a name for himself in the big league, a place where no Venezuelan to date has really prospered. Indeed, the remaining player still registered in this league is Rafael Romo, goalkeeper at Udinese. However, his side is not short of goalies and the writing appears to be on the wall, with moves to either Venezuela or Spain having been rumoured.

Over in France, two key national team players, striker Fernando Aristeguieta and defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, have both been involved in Nantes’ pre-season, the latter more so as the former picked up a minor injury along the way. Elsewhere, at newly promoted FC Metz, Juan Falcón will be looking to make a name for himself on the European stage after his move from domestic champions Zamora FC, where he bagged a goal ratio of over one in two. In the league below, Grenddy Perozo will hopefully be able to plug the defence of recently relegated Ajaccio, a task made all the more difficult after the loss of the Mexican Jesus, Guillermo Ochoa.

Two remaining European-based players will be monitored. Firstly, the experienced former Bilbao defender Fernando Amorebieta, currently of Fulham, who has been the source of some transfer speculation, with a move to Málaga at one point seeming imminent. He has not featured in any Fulham friendlies thus far, though this may be more due to an alleged injury. Secondly and finally, is Ronald Vargas, a talented midfielder who has had a fair share of injury problems and was released from his contract at Anderlecht. He has recently joined the newly promoted Balıkesirspor in the Turkish top-flight. As their official Facebook page shows, they did hold a real mother of a blowout for him – almost Darius Vassell proportions.

South America

Colombia is home to two talented Venezuelans and both have actually played competitive football this season. Alejandro Guerra, who joined giants Atlético Nacional on loan earlier this month from Mineros de Guayana in Venezuela, has featured once apiece in their league and cup campaigns without embarrassing himself. The somewhat more illustrious midfielder Luis Manuel Seijas has been in action all season for Santa Fe, playing regularly in both league and cup matches, helping his team to a 100% record in the latter. Just one week ago, he scored an absolute scorcher in a friendly against Deportivo de La Coruña. 

Over in Chile, where the top-flight kicked off less than two weeks ago, there are also two players of note who have been performing for their respective clubs. Forward Emilio Rentería has looked a handful for newly promoted San Marcos, having several chances in his first game, scoring in a cup match last midweek and then netting a volley at the weekend in a 2-1 loss to Ñublense, the team of our other man, Javier González. He did not actually feature in that match – whether his team’s 3-0 opening day hiding at the hands of Huachipato had anything to do with that, one can only speculate.

North America

The uncapped Bernardo Añor has been having a promising season at Columbus Crew in the United States and it is surely only a matter of time before Sanvicente gives him a try. He is well into the season and has shown his versatility by playing at both left-back, left-wing and in midfield. Ten days ago, he scored two match-winning goals as his side came from behind to defeat Montreal Impact – the second has shades of Bobby Charlton vs. Mexico in ’66. For trivia fans, he is in fact the brother of Juan Pablo Añor at Málaga and their father was also a professional football player, which seems to be abnormally common amongst the Venezuelans.

Mexico is now home to Venezuela’s two all-time joint top-scorers, Juan Arango and Giancarlo Maldonado. Arango left Europe after ten successful seasons to return to Mexico with Xolos de Tijuana. So far it has not quite been the dream return as his side went down unexpectedly at home to Puebla in his first match, with Arango receiving harsh criticism afterwards for his rather subdued performance. His second match got off to a good start as he converted a penalty against Club América, but his side could not hold on and were defeated 2-1 in the Azteca. One league below, Maldonado has returned to his old club, Atlante, and scored two goals in two league games. Despite his age, given the strength of Mexican football, a return to the national set-up does not seem out of the question.

Asia

Former Celta Vigo defender Andres Túñez has made a strong start to his spell in Thailand with Buriram United, even managing to get on the scoresheet side and help his side to the top of league – mostly whilst wearing a facemask which looks like it would not be out of place in the UFC.

Finally, former La Liga and Celtic striker Nicolás ‘Miku’ Fedor has recently started his pre-season with Qatari side Al-Gharafa, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win.

Thus ends the very first update of Venezuelans Abroad. The ones in the future won’t be so extensive and will not feature each players’ every move, but for now, these are the players that will be featured with varying regularity and I hope you will bookmark this page and keep track of their progress with me.