By Jeff Kassouf
With 2008 just around the corner, everyone is making their resolutions. Some may want to lose weight and others may wish to be more adventurous. In the soccer world, there are a few teams who have a lot to hope for if they wish to turn things around starting New Year’s Day.
Fulham: A lot of Americans root for the boys at Craven Cottage thanks to their strong American contingent of players. Unfortunately, they may find themselves supporting a League Championship side at season’s end, with relegation looking inevitable if Fulham’s form continues. The team hasn’t been playing poorly per say, but has blown numerous leads late in games over the past few months to see three points become one, or even none. Fulham’s 5-1 defeat to Tottenham on Boxing Day left them in the drop zone with just 14 points, and morally depleted.
Derby: Another team with interest to American fans, the Rams sit dead last in the Premiership with just seven points, one win, and a minus 34 goal differential. Barring any miracles, the likes of Americans Eddie Lewis and Benny Feilhaber are destined for relegation after Derby was just promoted. Chairman Adam Pearson might need to open up his wallet in the January transfer period to resurrect this team.
Orlando Sharks: Yes, the Major Indoor Soccer League is not quite up there with the likes of the Premiership, but the Orlando Sharks may be the most desperate of all the teams. The Sharks are now 0-12 on the season and seem to lack any type of urgency or energy (they also don’t get any help at home from the nearly empty Amway Arena). Orlando’s New Year’s resolution needs to not only involve winning, but putting butts in the seats. If they can’t do that, they may join the long list of defunct MISL teams.
Los Angeles Galaxy: Brand Beckham is yet to truly make its mark after an injury-plagued 2007 campaign, but Beckham at full-health is still a great player who will carve up MLS defenders. On paper, Los Angeles is a contender, with the main needs being an experienced central defender and a natural striker. On the field, this franchise has been going through a drought of more than two years of poor, inconsistent soccer, mostly from slow starts. The Galaxy need to make a resolution as a team to not come out to another stumbling start and put themselves in another insurmountable hole to fill.
US Women’s National Team: Indeed, these women are still one of the top teams in the world and are defending Olympic Gold Medalists. However, they have disappointingly dropped out of two straight World Cups in the semi-finals. New Coach Pia Sundhage will not only need to help the team win another Gold Medal, but help them do so in a dominating fashion. Anything short of that will disappoint the very demanding supporters of the United States Women’s National Team.
Jeff Kassouf is a staff writer for The New Paltz Times and a freelance writer who covers soccer, and can be reached at: email@example.com
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