By Adam Vaccaro
What happened Sunday: American World Cup hero Landon Donovan prepared to return to MLS action, as his Los Angeles Galaxy was set to host Seattle Sounders FC at the Home Depot Center for a 10:30 p.m. match. Teammate Edson Buddle, who also represented the US in South Africa, will join Donovan in receiving what should be quite a hero's welcome on this Independence Day. The only MLS team to send two players to the World Cup, the Galaxy (10-1-3) are the clear class of the league in 2010. Donovan, who earlier this week downplayed speculation that he'd bolt to Europe after this season, leads America's top domestic league with nine assists. Buddle's nine goals also front the pack, and the squad is coached by former U.S. manager Bruce Arena.
The other two MLS-based U.S. players Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein and Real Salt Lake striker Robbie Findley already returned to action this weekend and were each warmly welcomed home by American fans. Findley scored the last of Real Salt Lake's goals in the reigning MLS Cup champions' 5-0 drubbing of the Revolution on Friday night.
The Nigeria Football Federation has fired its president and vice president in hopes of getting the nation's president, Goodluck Johnson, to reconsider his two-year ban on the Super Eagles from international competition. Johnson is under pressure from FIFA to reconsider, having been told that he has until Monday to rescind the ban before the country faces disciplinary measures. The organization strongly prohibits government involvement in all soccer matters.
Some good news for the Netherlands: striker Robin Van Persie and defender Joris Mathijson should both be fit to play in the semifinals against Uruguay. Van Persie injured his shoulder during the team's upset victory over Brazil while Mathijson was scratched just before game time after hurting his knee during pregame warm-ups. The center back's absence particularly showed as the Dutch defense struggled to come together in the match's early going. But the defensive breakdown that led to Robinho's first half goal and gave Selecao a 1-0 lead is a distant memory for Dutch supporters, who celebrated heavily following the Oranje's second half comeback en route to the stunning 2-1 win.
Spanish coach Vincente Del Bosque suggested that striker Fernando Torres may be benched against Germany on Wednesday. Torres has not scored in the tournament and has had very little field presence. Del Bosque spoke highly of Liverpool's star scorer but said that he is not certain to start against a German side that he believes to be the best still standing in the tournament.
Argentina will return home to very disappointed supporters after its quarterfinal loss to Germany. And by disappointed, I mean potentially threateningly disappointed. Police are taking every precaution to guard for the players safety and will bar fans from the airport at which the team is scheduled to arrive.
Question of the Day: Are you one of nearly 790 thousand to have signed the U.S. Soccer Federation's Go USA Bid petition? In May, the Federation officially submitted its bid for the United States to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022 and aims to collect 1 million signatures to show off by selection time in December. Just imagine a potential Fourth of July weekend with the U.S. still alive late in the tournament on home soil. Maybe that weekend's quarter or semifinal match would even be held at Gillette Stadium. If you're into that (and I bet you are), make sure to head to www.gousabid.com and add your signature to the already very long list.
Quote of Note: "Pepe Reina had told me Cardozo sent his penalty against him to the left and hard. His advice paid off." - Spanish keeper Iker Casillas, explaining how Reina, his backup who had faced penalty shots from Paraguay's Oscar Cardozo in club play, assisted him in saving Cardozo's penalty bid on Saturday.