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Hello fans! It’s El Bolso, here once again to talk Uruguay fútbol! There was a lot going on this week: Racing scored yet another added time goal to stay on top of the league table, with Nacional still just a point behind. National team coach Oscar Tabárez surprised many by including Diego Arismendi, fresh from house arrest and rapidly becoming a fixture in the Nacional midfield, in the list of players reserved for Uruguay’s next batch of friendlies. The games are at home this time around, so Arismendi won’t have to remember to ask for permission to leave the country. Another familiar name on El Maestro’s list is none other than Luis Suárez, who had his way with the Indonesian under-19 national team last week (that hardly seems fair, now does it) despite allegedly being a few extra pounds from true match form. We also had plenty of Uruguayan scoring abroad: take a look here for a detailed list (sorry, it’s in Spanish).


Bend it like El Chino


I’m not going to talk about any of that, though; this week’s article is all about Alvaro Recoba. On Saturday, Nacional played last year’s league runner-up Wanderers, trying to maintain pressure on Racing, and “El Chino” was forced into extended action due to a sixth minute injury to Ignacio González. Recoba played a decent enough first half, not bad for a guy who has only come into a couple of games so far and never for more than 20-30 minutes. As halftime drew near, however, with Nacional struggling to generate clear chances, he made his way over to the far side of the field for a corner kick, and, well, just watch:



That, friends, is an Olympic goal, so called because the first such goal in a top tier game happened in October of 1924, when Argentina forward Cesáreo Onzari did it against the Uruguayan team that had just won it’s first Olympic title. Ironically, the only reason that goal was legal was that a Uruguayan player had one disallowed in the Olympic tournament final a couple of months earlier (against Argentina no less), which led to a formal protest and a rules change.


Just like that, Nacional had the lead going into halftime, a huge swing of momentum that cleared the way for another big win. Carlos de Pena, who’s had a pretty sweet last couple of weeks, added a second goal to finish off the Bohemios and keep Nacional near the top of the table, but this game was won on that crazy strike at the stroke of halftime. This win was all about El Chino’s magic foot.


Repeat Offender


Is it too much to ask that we get to see this again next May? Methinks not.


The craziest thing is, this isn’t Recoba’s first time scoring an Olympic goal; in fact, this is Recoba’s fourth such tally since returning to Nacional in 2011. The first one happened on September 22, 2012 against Fenix, a low strike onto the near post that could be blamed on an inattentive keeper. Less than a month later Recoba did it again against Liverpool (no, not that one), this time placing enough swerve on the ball to put it past the goalie and into the far corner of the goal. It was the first time in Uruguayan soccer history that one player managed two Olympic goals in a single tournament (I’m not aware of anyone pulling off a similar feat in any other league, but I can’t say for sure). The following preseason, Recoba did it yet again, in a friendly against Argentinos Jrs., this time putting the ball right in the middle of the goal, just over the reach of the Argenitinian goalie. And now Recoba has gone to the well one more time, at a time when the consensus is that he may have reached the end of his playing days.


Look, I can’t be objective when it comes to Recoba. Despite his inability to live up to the tremendous potential he showed as a teenager, I’ve always been a huge fan of his. He pretty much single-handedly returned Uruguay to the World Cup after a 12 year absence in 2002 with his two assists in the playoff against Australia, and what he’s done since coming back to the Tricolores has only deepened my appreciation for the man. Knowing his career was winding down, he took basically no money to come back and fulfill his dream of winning a title with the Bolsos, then made sure it happened by scoring the game winning goals in both derbies (an added time penalty in the Apertura and a gorgeous free kick in the Clausura), the Apertura tournament clincher against Liverpool, and the Uruguayo final against Defensor. He’s been on and off since then, clearly feeling the effects of age, but he seems to have perfected the art of the corner kick. I have little doubt this is his final year as a player; here’s hoping he goes out a winner. Salud, Chino!


Pasión Pasióoooooon, Tricolooooooor…


What, you though I forgot? Come on now. Here’s your weekly serving of pasión tricolor. See you next week!


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.