DAVID SMITH - Monday, July 13, 2009
The weekend comes a few hours too early

Few will argue that perhaps the best part of the weekend is starting it early. This is especially true in Europe during the summer months, where people jump at any opportunity to get out of their offices on Friday while the afternoon is still young. Coincidentally, this usually makes getting information from clubs in the old country about breaking announcements past lunchtime an exercise in futility. Naturally, there are always some Friday afternoons when club press agents seemingly hit the "send" button on major or simply curious news as a last act before ducking out for the weekend, leaving those of us in the media either digging deep into our black books or left stewing till Monday morning in the search of more information.

This Friday we got hit twice.

Don't drink the water in Düsseldorf?

In one of the stranger twists in the seemingly neverending quest of Sal Zizzo for regular playing time, his seeming loan destination for the 2009-10 season, Fortuna Düsseldorf of Germany's second Bundesliga, announced on Friday afternoon that the player would be headed back to Hannover showing symptoms of gastro-intestinal flu. Zizzo's loan was made public in the media and by Hannover (although curiously never by Fortuna) more than a week before, allowing many YA fans to breathe a sigh of relief after seeing his career in Hannover go nowhere. While one certain porky strain of flu has proven in recent months to be enough to obstruct intercontinental tournaments and cooperation beteween federations (the FMF must still be seething), this must surely be the first instance of the flu scuttling a transfer or loan deal.

Whether it's off all together or simply delayed till he's better, the curious aspect is the length of time over which this came out. Hannover had confirmed eight days prior Fortuna's announcement that Zizzo was undergoing his physical in Düsseldorf on that day. Perhaps the physical was delayed. Perhaps Zizzo got an unusually long-lasting G-I flu bug. Maybe we'll never know, but at the very least, the questions are left to cook, unasked until Monday.

(and before anybody complains, I just confirmed with a friend from Düsseldorf - she says it's perfectly safe to drink the water)

The worst kept secret in Sochaux

The long-rumored transfer of Charlie Davies from Sweden's Hammarby IF to French Ligue 1 club FC Sochaux was finally announced by both clubs late on Friday afternoon, ending a saga that had stretched back to the previous winter transfer period. While the transfer doesn't come as so much of a surprise, the way it played out in the Swedish and French media in the final days leading up to the announcement began to take a feel reminiscent (albeit on a smaller scale) of many of the more publicized transfer "sagas" throughout Europe. Statements leaked to various media sources attributed his management of a quickly ballooning list of suitors and hints of previously unexpressed dissatisfaction with aspects of his situation at Hammarby seemed curiously directed towards lubricating or bluntly pushing negotiations.

Davies, for his part, has kept mute on any specific of his transfer possibilities prior to the announcement, even under direct inquiry during his time at the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup. As a player who we at YA have spoken with on several occasions, Davies is the sort of player whose main objectives are always on the field, so his lack of participation in any public posturing is both admirable and no surprise.

Regardless of any flea circus surrounding the transfer, Davies will spend the 2009-10 season competing in Ligue 1, in a move which few will argue is fantastic for both the player as well as the national team.

Europa League footnote

Already in mid-July a first YA has come and gone in European competition, with Jamath Schoffner's Käerjéng 97 of Luxembourg suffering a brutal knockout blow, being KO'ed by Cypriot powerhouse Anorthosis Famagusta (who were themselves responsible for several memorable shocks in the group stage of last year's Champions League) by an aggregate 7-1 score in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. Starting right back Schoffner went the distance in both legs, with game notes giving no indication that Steve Cherundolo or Jonathan Spector should be looking over their shoulders. After losing the first leg in Greece by a painful 5-0 scoreline, they salvaged a respectable result in the home leg, holding it together for a final 2-1 loss which ended on a high note with an injury-time consolation goal by Käerjéng's Alessandro Fiorani.

While the Luxembourg National Division will likely not be included in our week-to-week coverage, we'll certainly keep an eye on Schoffner in case anything noteworthy should arise. And if we by chance have any readers in the country who can tell us a little more about the league, please don't hesitate to drop us a line - who knows, we could become the first English-language sports outlet with a dedicated Luxembourg correspondent.

Eddie Johnson sighting

After his Cardiff City stint didn't exactly work out as planned, many thought a return to MLS from Fulham was a given. Not so fast.

While not exactly a Champions League final, Eddie got his preseason off to a good start with a quality goal in the Cottagers' preseason tour of Australia after a 20-yard run and schooling a defender against Melbourne Victory.

We'll keep an eye on Eddie and hope to get to talk to him soon as part of our English season preview feature coming out in few weeks.