FIFA.com’s latest statistical review encompasses football’s spectrum of emotions, from Michael Ballack’s sad departure and River Plate’s relegation worries, through mixed sensations for Thierry Henry, and undiluted joy for Stephen Carmichael, Jermaine Jones and Javier Hernandez.
international appearances and 42 goals are the impressive tallies with which Michael Ballack officially ended his international career last week. The 34-year-old, who has turned down the chance of a 99th and final cap, captained Germany on 55 occasions, more than anyone except Lothar Matthaus (75). He ends his Nationalelf career in seventh position in both the team’s all-time appearance and goal charts, having hit the net more often than any midfielder in Germany’s history. Ballack also provided five assists at the FIFA World Cup™, a total that only eight players have been able to better at football’s showpiece tournament.
goals in his last nine appearances have taken Thierry Henry level with Landon Donovan at the top of the Major League Soccer scoring charts, quadrupling the Frenchman’s tally from his entire debut season. The 33-year-old’s latest goal came in New York Red Bulls’ thrilling 3-3 draw with Portland Timbers on Sunday, although it was a match will be remembered more for Henry picking up only the third red card of his career, and his first since being dismissed from France’s 0-0 draw with Uruguay at Korea/Japan 2002. Elsewhere in the MLS, there was relief for Vancouver Whitecaps, who finally ended the longest winless run in the league’s history by beating Philadelphia Union 1-0 for their first victory in three months and 15 matches.
goals in four CONCACAF Gold Cup appearances have left Javier Hernandez with a single-edition tally that only one player can better. Chicharito’s fellow countryman, Zaguinho, managed 11 at the 1993 Gold Cup, a record haul boosted by seven goals in Mexico’s 9-0 win over Matinique. Hernandez’s most recent goal secured a semi-final berth as El Tri came from behind against Guatemala to win 2-1 in front of a crowd of 78,807, the second-highest attendance ever recorded for an association football match at East Rutherford’s New Meadowlands Stadium. Mexico will now meet Honduras in the last four, while USA face a rematch against Panama, who have reached the semi-finals for the first time in six years. Bob Bradley’s side have not found it easy on home soil but a goal from Jermaine Jones – the first of his international career – settled their nerves in a 2-0 win over Jamaica, who have now failed to beat the Americans in all 18 of the teams’ encounters.
goals on his FIFA U-17 World Cup debut on Sunday earned New Zealand midfielder Stephen Carmichael a special place in his nation’s footballing history. Not only had none of his Kiwi predecessors scored more than once in a single match at a FIFA finals, only one – Dave Mulligan – had ever left a world tournament with more than a single goal to his name. Mulligan managed that feat by scoring against both USA and Poland on home soil at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1999, but has still found his tally eclipsed by Carmichael’s 43-minute treble in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Uzbekistan. That victory, which was achieved by a record scoreline – surpassing a 2-1 win over Poland at the 1999 edition – was only New Zealand’s second win in 35 matches at FIFA men’s competitions. Carmichael also became only the seventh player to score a hat-trick in his first appearance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, following in the footsteps of Bahrain’s Khaled Jasem (1989), Paul Agostino of Australia (1991), Nigeria legend Nwankwo Kanu (1993), Spanish duo Aitor (1999) and David Silva (2003), and USA’s Freddy Adu (2003). The challenge now is for the 17-year-old to become only the third player, after Florent Sinama Pongolle of France in 2001 and Germany’s Marcel Witeczek in 1985, to score two hat-tricks in a single edition.
wins in their last seven matches have consigned River Plate to the first relegation play-off of the club’s illustrious 110-year history. Under huge pressure to haul themselves out of the danger zone, Los Millonarios responded with four draws and three defeats, and go into their two-legged showdown against Belgrano without a win since April. Scoring goals has been the Buenos Aires giants’ principal problem – they have managed just eight in their last 12 matches, and you need to look back to 26 March for the last match in which they scored more than once. Just as concerning is the form of their Nacional B opponents, with Belgrano having made a late surge to claim the play-off place, losing just one of their last 16 matches. The first leg takes place this evening in Cordoba, and on the line is River’s status as one of just three teams – the others being Boca Juniors and Independiente – never to have been relegated from Argentina’s top flight.