Friday, 25 July 2008

Major League Advancements

West Ham United were edged out in a five-goal thriller against the MLS All-Stars at a packed BMO Field in Toronto last night, although you would never have guessed by looking at a smiling Alan Curbishley after the game. Dean Ashton fired the first of his two goals midway through the first half only for Christian Gomez to equalize almost immediately. Veteran Mexican playmaker Blanco then struck a sublime goal just before half-time when he tricked his way into the penalty area. Although Ashton levelled matters in the 67th minute with a deflected long-range shot, Dwayne De Rosario won it with a penalty soon afterwards following a clumsy challenge from Lucas Neill.

The match was a welcome step up for Alan Curbishley's men after the 4-2 and 3-1 wins against Hampton and Richmond Borough and Columbus Crew respectively in the first two matches of pre-season. As well as Ashton's strikes, there were numerous positives. Matthew Etherington and a combative Luis Boa Morte both made encouraging returns to action, while Julien Faubert looked very bright in flashes and Scott Parker was industrious thoughout as he marshalled the midfield. The night will also be remembered by Joe Widdowson, with the 19-year-old defender marking David Beckham and proving that he might just be the capable back-up to George McCartney that was missing all last season.

Alan Curbishley cut a satisfied figure after saw the game as a vital step towards the new season. "I would like to congratulate the MLS team on their victory. For everyone concerned it has been a success," he said. "Some goals scored, chances created - it could have been a bit more of a scoreline but everybody came away with something. We are two weeks into a six-week programme of pre-season and we needed the fitness work. We certainly got that. It was a good evening and I think everybody can be pleased with their efforts."

Curbishley has been able to cast a close eye over his charges on the trip along with his backroom staff and has been impressed with what he has seen in Columbus and Toronto. "We are looking that much sharper than we did this time last year when we were doing pre-season," he noted. "Obviously the teams that come from Europe to play this game will face the same problems. It is in the start of our pre-season so it is a little bit difficult. Nevertheless we were delighted to be invited. We knew our profile in America and Canada was high and hopefully it has got a bit bigger. We have enjoyed our week here. We have been well looked after and everybody has been fantastic to us. Anyone who has come to the game will have enjoyed it ... The goals that the MLS scored were terrific. They showed that they can compete. That was the big thing. The reason for the game is for the MLS to show off their riches and their talent, they have done that. We are really pleased that we have been invited and it will be a big memory for everybody at West Ham."

The team will travel back to England on Friday night, after a community session at the BMO Field, and then have some welcome rest before a busy schedule resumes next week. When the players return they will be beneficiaries of a significantly increased level of expertise in the key areas of sports science and medicine. An official statement released by the Club today announced widespread investment in facilities and the arrival of renowned experts such as chief medical officer Nikos Tzouroudis, who has worked for several leading European clubs including Panathinakos in his native Greece, Fiorentina, Verona and Steaua Bucharest. His role will be to take a strategic overview of operations, while other recruits include a leading Serie A osteopath in Marco Cesarini, who has considerable contacts, and rehabilitation physiotherapist Giorgio Gasparini, who is used to working one-on-one with elite players such as World Cup winners Fabio Cannavaro and Filippo Inzaghi.

The move was prompted by concerns at Board and managerial level about the number of injuries and the recurrence of certain conditions among the first-team squad. As a result, an independent study was commissioned from the renowned Sports Performance Assessment and Rehabilitation Centre at Roehampton University, which looked into the club's existing operations. Consideration of that report's findings and other research made a decision to improve the club's medical set-up by augmenting the significant expertise and experience already offered by existing staff, a priority. It is stated that the imminent purchase of a new training ground, installing relevant state of the art equipment at the existing site and, most significantly, boosting the number of sports science and medical staff will all help to address these fitness issues.

West Ham United CEO Scott Duxbury said: "The Board and manager have taken these decisive steps to ensure the club has the very best support in place for the entire coaching and playing staff. We sought the best independent advice and over recent months have been looking at home and across the continent for the leading experts in the field. I am delighted we have been able to strengthen our existing operation in this way and am confident the benefits will be considerable."

No comments:


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari