WASHINGTON, January 8, 2014 — It has been a bad few days for soccer. England’s speedy right-winger Theo Walcott has been ruled out of the World Cup after he ruptured his ACL in Arsenal’s F.A. Cup game against Tottenham.
It is a devastating blow for the 24-year-old, who will now be out of action until July. If England’s task was hard enough, having to play Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in its opening round, it just got a little harder for the weakened Three Lions.
Walcott was just getting back into top form after missing two months of the season due to abdominal surgery. This season he has been in sparkling for Arsenal scoring some crucial goals. He was enjoying his soccer, and unlike so many talented English players in the Premier League, he was starting for his team. His five goals in 13 league games was impressive.
England will surely miss his fast runs down the flanks and the center of the midfield in Brazil.
Theo Walcott’s absence now means the chances of replacements James Milner, Andros Townsend, Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Adam Lallana being on that plane to Brazil this summer have all increased.
The injury is also a major setback for Wolcott’s club Arsenal, a team blighted by injuries to its attacking-minded players. Arsenal remains at the top of the league, but their chances of taking the title for the first time since 2003-2004, has taken a big hit.
Soccer, in recent days, said goodbye to one of the greatest strikers in history. Portuguese forward Eusebio, passed away at the age of 71. The Mozambique-born striker played 64 games for Portugal scoring 41 goals.
Eusebio is remembered mostly for the nine goals he scored at the 1966 World Cup. He helped his club Benfica beat Real Madrid 5-3 to win the European Cup in 1962 and was named European Footballer of the Year in 1965. Eusebio retired in 1978 after scoring an amazing 733 goals in 745 professional games.
He was a humble man and loved by millions. Eusebio won the hearts of many when he left the field in tears after Portugal lost to England in the semifinals of the 1966 World Cup. He also played for three teams in the old North American Soccer League.
The Fall of Manchester United
The bigger they come, the harder they fall. It is painful watching mighty Manchester United come crashing down. The English champions have lost three games in a row and suffered five defeats at home this season.
United are seventh in the table and 11 points adrift of leaders Arsenal. The club was knocked out of the third-round of the F.A. Cup by Swansea at home over the weekend, something thought unbelievable in the last 25 years, and then lost 2-1 at Sunderland in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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