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Once again, it’s time for the Charrúa Report! How did those talented Uruguayans do at home and throughout the world? Was Nacional able to follow up on last week’s huge victory? What’s the latest on La Celeste? Did anyone get bitten? Let’s find out.

 

Talkin’ ’bout My G-G-G-Generation

 

Four more years! Four more years!

There were two huge news stories about the UMNT (I’ll be using this acronym to refer to the Men’s National Team, because I’m lazy) this week. First, Oscar “El Maestro” Tabárez will be back as coach. El Maestro is on the verge of signing a new deal, which will be finalized as soon as the national federation manages to elect a permanent ruling council (I’ll get to this some other week, I can’t even deal).  Those of use who lived through Tabárez’s previous stints as head coach (and more importantly, suffered the many coaches in between) will be happy to see him stick around. This also means El Bolso’s dream scenario, Tabárez staying on long enough to hand the reins to current Sunderland coach Gus Poyet, is still possible. Two competent coaches in a row? This is not my father’s UMNT.

Then there’s the second bit of news: one of the few (reasonable) criticisms of El Maestro has been his over-reliance on the same aging bunch of trusted players, many of whom looked ready for the scrap heap during the last World Cup. El Bolso always felt that Tabárez had decided on a group he was going to take to Brazil, and would begin a generational exchange immediately following, and guess what, I was right! Uruguay released a list of reserved players for the September FIFA international match dates, when La Celeste will be facing Japan and Korea, and there are a ton of surprises on it. Gone are the Diegos (Forlán, Lugano, and Pérez), as well as Gastón Ramírez (recovering from injury) and Luis Suárez (he’s technically allowed to play but it’s not clear if Barcelona has to give him up). As far as the new faces, there are several members of the recent U-17 and U-20 Youth World Cup runner up team (Diego Laxalt, Camilo Mayada, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Diego Rolán, Emiliano Velázquez), as well as other new faces (Martín Campaña, Mathías Corujo, Jonathan Rodríguez) and some earlier Tabárez era players who for one reason or another didn’t stick around (Mathías Aguirregaray, Alejandro Silva, Jorge “Japo” Rodríguez). Not all of these player swill make the final roster (only 20-23 of the 29 will) but it’s good to see some new blood getting a chance to wear the prettiest jersey in all the world.

 

Dancing to the Jailhouse Rock

 

Ignacio Gonzalez and Diego Arismendi
Ignacio González and Diego Arismendi back in the good old days, when they were not in jail. (Ovacion Digital)

I mentioned last week that Nacional was a dozen players short for their opening game (not that it mattered). Several of those players rejoined the team this week, but one stands out: 2010 World Cup starting midfielder Ignacio “Nacho” González was back on the training pitch after 10 days of house arrest. You may remember from our Libertadores Cup series that Nacho and Diego “Mama” Arismendi, half of Nacional’s starting midfield, missed two months at the start of last season because of a brawl in a “friendly” preseason match against Peñarol. Well, the judge who determined that suspension (yes, it was a legal issue, not a football federation matter, because Uruguay) also ruled that the players involved could not leave the country without written authorization for a period of one year. So when Nacional took a trip to Spain to play in the prestigious Teresa Herrera Cup last month, did anybody at the club request that permission? Of course they did not. Did customs officials refuse to let the players leave without the proper documentation? They waved them through like they were Dale Sveum on a sharp single to right field. When Nacional returned a week later, the players were promptly picked up by police and sentenced to ten days house arrest. The team briefly considered legally moving them into the training complex, but chose not to, because they’re not Bobby Valentine. The ten days were up last Friday, so Nacho is back with the the team and looking to contribute starting next weekend.

You may have noticed that I mentioned Nacho’s return and not Arismendi’s. You are clever chaps! That’s because he’s still at home, his confinement extended until the 28th. See, when you get house arrest in Uruguay, you’re not fitted with a tracking ankle bracelet that tells police when you leave home, and you’re not asked to check in periodically from the house. Some dude shows up at your house unannounced at some random time, and if they don’t find you you’re in trouble. So when Arismendi, exhausted from his illegal travels and stressed out about his legal situation, allegedly decided to take a sedative to get some rest, did he think to make sure that someone else would be in the house to answer the door? Did he leave a key under the mat and a note explaining what he was doing (which is probably a really bad idea in Uruguay, but whatever)? Did he call the police and say “yo guys, I’m going down for a few, if you come check on me ask the neighbor to let you in”? No, he did none of those things, and so he’s still working out in the garage of his apartment complex. It looks like it will be a few more weeks before Nacional can go back to its feared “Nacho Mama” formation. (Thank you! Thank you! Don’t forget to tip your waitress!)

 

Iván Does it Again

 

Ivan Alonso
Sud América’s goalie can only watch as Iván Alonso flicks a header over him for the game’s only score. (Tenfield Digital)

Week two of the local tournament is in the books, and Nacional is still looking pretty good. On Saturday they took on Sud América, another first week winner. While they were not able to light up the score sheet like they did against the ironically-named Defensor, the Tricolores created most of the goal chances and came away with the three points thanks to a cheeky header from (who else?) Iván Alonso. Alonso came into the game tied for the league lead with 4 goals, and is now all alone in first place. Racing Club super sub Agustín Rodríguez, who scored 4 times after coming into the game in the 60th minute last week, again came one with half an hour left in the game (what does the man have to do to crack the starting lineup?) but was unable to put one in. Speaking of Racing, they scored 4 goals for the second consecutive week and lead the league by goal differential over Nacional, Peñarol, and Fénix, the only other teams who have managed to pick up all six points in play.

In international news, Diego Godín once again starred for Atlético Madrid defense as the Colchoneros (matress makers) won the Spanish Super Copa against crosstown rivals Real Madrid. Godín played the usual solid, physical, some-may-call-it-dirty defense and got punched in the face by Cristiano Ronaldo for his trouble. Some people just can’t deal with a friendly headlock, I guess. A week after salvaging a dramatic 1-1 tie in Real’s own stadium, Atlético scored early at home and made it hold up for a 1-0 win and the season’s first title. Poyet was also in the news, salvaging a tie against a renewed Manchester United squad in the second week of the Premier League.

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

El Bolso

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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