Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Henry roots for his "home team"

Pardon New York Red Bulls captain and striker Thierry Henry if he has a soft spot for Guadeloupe. Henry's father hails from the Caribbean island.

"I will root for them, no disrespect to United States, Canada," the former French international said. "You have to remember, the island is not big. The good players all play for the French national team."

Guadeloupe, an "overseas department" of France, cannot compete in World Cup qualifying. Its residents can only play as a member of France. As an associate member of CONCACAF, however, it can compete in the Gold Cup, and will make its third appearance when it faces Panama in the opener of Tuesday's Group C doubleheader at Ford Field.

Henry is proud of Guadeloupe's accomplishments. The Caribbean side reached the semifinals in its first Gold Cup appearance in 2007, losing to Mexico 1-0. In 2009, it advanced to the quarterfinals.

Guadeloupe, which has a population of 400,000, qualified for the third consecutive time by finishing second to Jamaica in last year's Digicel Caribbean Cup.

"What they're doing by qualifying, is amazing," Henry said.

Guadeloupe faces some stiff competition this time.
"I know it will be a tough one," Henry said. "They're in a tough group."

Playing for Guadeloupe, for Henry, was a second choice.
"Being a French island, I wanted to play for France. If you're kind of good, you want to play for France, no disrespect," he said.

Many players from Guadeloupe choose to play for France.

"It's going to be hard," Henry said. "They're still a French island. That's the issue about it."

But Henry is still proud of the team's accomplishments.

"For us, it's a proud thing, being in the Gold Cup," he said.

Bedoya in, Feilhaber out
As expected, the U.S. added midfielder Alejandro Bedoya to its CONCACAF Gold Cup roster to replace 2007 tournament hero Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber, who scored the winner against Mexico in the final four years ago, suffered an injured ankle in the New England Revolution's 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 28.

25K and counting
Ticket sales for Tuesday's doubleheader in Detroit had reached 25,000 as of Monday, according to a CONCACAF spokesman.
De Rosario: Spain too much for United States
De Rosario isn't one to revel in any U.S. misery over it's loss to Spain on Saturday, or give the Americans any comments to remember on when they play Canada.

"I mean, they played against Spain," he said. "I didn't think much of it. Besides, they played against the best in the world. That's where the U.S. is at right now. They want to be No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and in order to be there, you have to compete with the best. It's a huge honor to get an opportunity play against a team like Spain.

"You can see their ball movement. It's just very hard to compete with them. I've seen their passing and the understanding of each other. It's a very unfair assessment when you look at the U.S. in that game, especially when they're missing some key players."
Negotiating for the future
Dely Valdes, a former Panama international, will complete a 10-month contract at the end of the tournament. He is negotiating a new contract.

Asked if Panama had to reach at least the second round for him to be retained, Dely Valdes replied, "No, no, no. A few weeks ago they mentioned they would like to keep us [Dely Valdes and his staff] on. So we'll see."

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