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Hello fans, it’s El Bolso again! After taking a deserved post-World Cup break, I’m ready to talk fútbol with you. Today I’m starting a new regular segment called “The Charrúa Report.” Uruguayans are known as Charrúas throughout South America, honoring the name of the native tribes occupying most of Uruguay before Spanish colonization. Now that club soccer season is finally upon us, I’ll be checking in after each weekend to tell you about your (well, my) favorite Uruguayan players and teams. Let’s get right to it!

Fo Tines a Mady

Ivan Alonso of Nacional
Ivan Alonso shows off his world-famous Sanford and Son goal celebration. “This is the big one, Elizabeth!” (Tenfield Digital)

On the home front, the Uruguayan tournament started again after the usual round of postponements and strike threats. On Saturday, Peñarol beat strong relegation candidate Cerro 3-0, so Nacional (do I need to tell you that’s El Bolso’s team at this point?) had to win to keep pace and keep the fans calm. With a new, unproven coach (Alvaro Gutiérrez, promoted from the reserve team at the end of last season), and a shaky preseason (including a winless Spain trip during which they were outscored 0-5), Nacional faced a tough test in Defensor Sporting, a Libertadores Cup semifinalist last season. Nacional was also missing 12 players due to various misfortunes: the flu, injuries, leftover suspensions, incarceration… you know, the typical reasons. So things weren’t looking good for the Tricolores, but they went out there and surprised everyone by manhandling Defensor 5-2 (it would have been 5-1 if not for a last-second free kick). Center forward Ivan Alonso, coming off a thoroughly crappy and ineffectual season, put the league on notice by scoring 4 of the 5 goals. It looks like the boys came to play this year.

Another One Bites the Dust

Luis Suarez of Uruguay
I just put this here for our British (and anglophile) readers to reminisce about. (Today Online)

The Suárez saga dragged to a close last week, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (known as TAS for its French initials) ruled on the final appeal of his suspension. They upheld both the 9 match national team ban (boo!) and the 4 month club suspension (double boo!), but Suarez can now train and play in friendlies with both Uruguay and Barcelona (yaaay, I guess?). He can also participate in off-the-field activities, so he was promptly presented by Barcelona as their latest addition. He played some minutes in a team friendly, and is expected to play for Uruguay in two matches in September, but he won’t be around for the first two months of the Spanish League season or the 2015 Copa America. See you soon, Luis!

Keep ‘em Coming!

It was a pretty good weekend for La Celeste players in Europe. As far as the main squad, Edinson Cavani scored the second goal in a 2-0 PSG win against Bastia in the French League, while Maxi Pereira opened the scoring in another 2-0 triumph, this one for Benfica in the Portuguese League. Promising youngster José María Giménez scored in an Atletico Madrid friendly against Italian side Sampdoria, which also finished 2-0. It looks like Diego Godín is not the only Uruguayan defender going goal-crazy at Atletico. Finally, Diego Forlán scored the fourth and final goal for Cerezo Osaka of the Japanese League, although he was unable to stop yet another loss (4-5) for a team that will be lucky to avoid relegation. Still, it’s good to see Diego back in the scoresheet, even if his days with the national team have come to an end.

There was also plenty of scoring for recent youth team players, as both Diego Rolán (Bordeaux, French League) and Felipe Avenatti (Ternana, Italian Cup) scored twice. It looks like Uruguay will need some new blood at forward for the next two years, so it’s encouraging to see the kids step up and make their mark on the top soccer leagues in the world.

That’s it for this week, guys. See you next time!

About El Bolso

El Bolso is Uruguay’s foremost soccer-fan-in-exile, a true authority on the Celeste and its favored son, the Club Nacional de Football. He believes in precision passing, tireless marking, and strong finishing, and is not above the occasional slide tackle from behind when the situation calls for it.

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