With Major League Soccer heating up as teams jockey for playoff position and the new season getting underway in Europe, there is no better time to choose what's hot and what's not in the world game.
As David Beckham will testify, fortunes in soccer can change in an instant and yesterday's hero can quickly become tomorrow's zero.
So here is Yahoo! Sports' stock report on what to look out for in the coming months on the gigantic fluctuating ladder that is the world of soccer.
Buy: Conor Casey returning to Europe. Casey has been in fine form for the Colorado Rapids since returning to the United States after several years in Germany. He is busy making life tough for MLS defenders with his strength and finishing power. Several German clubs are keeping tabs on his progress this season, but his name is also being whispered around more than one English Championship club as well.
Sell: Carlos Pavon. During their recent woes, the Los Angeles Galaxy needed a striker prepared to put his body on the line and bring his A-game to every game. Pavon was impressive in a 5-4 defeat to New York Red Bulls, but he has been otherwise woeful, looking disinterested, disillusioned and completely out of place.
Buy: SuperLiga. This year's competition drew big crowds and produced some high quality soccer with Pachuca leaving the Home Depot Center as worthy winners. Expect the tournament to grow in its current format over the next few years, establishing firm ties between MLS and the blossoming Mexican league.
Sell: Denilson – this season. The Brazilian superstar needs only to take a look at the goings on in Los Angeles to realize that moving to MLS is not always a seamless transition. As displayed in Denilson's debut with FC Dallas last Saturday – a 4-0 home thrashing by D.C. United – it will take time for him to adapt to the American game and jell with his new teammates. However, expect big things in 2008.
Buy: Liverpool's Premiership points. As the saying goes in England, "They don't hand out trophies at Christmas," and September is certainly too early to start pronouncing the Anfield club as the Premier League's favorites after a few strong performances. However, Rafa Benitez appears to have his team in better shape to challenge on the home front this season and is desperate to outdo Manchester United and Chelsea after impressive results in the Champions League.
Sell: Reading's and Wigan's 2007-08 finishing position. Both clubs did phenomenally well in their first season in the Premiership, but now history starts to stack up against them. Teams often tend to get worked out in their second and third campaigns in the top division, and unless Steve Coppell and Chris Hutchings formulate some fresh ideas, the next eight months could be an uphill struggle.
Buy: Juventus to win Serie A. The Italian giants want to get back to what they do best – collecting championships – after a year of life in Serie B as punishment for their role in a match-fixing scandal. With no distracting involvement in the Champions League, the Turin club could run away with the title, especially if unsung hero Mauro Camoranesi continues to show superb form.
Sell: England reaching the 2008 European Championships. England has not missed the finals of a major tournament since the 1994 World Cup, but Steve McClaren's squad is in big trouble. An injury crisis has struck at the worst possible time, sidelining David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and a string of other players for the crucial qualifying matches ahead. In England's group, Croatia looks to be moving on and Russia is in good shape to claim the crucial second spot.
Buy: Freddy Adu. Adu's playing time has been limited since he moved from Real Salt Lake to Portuguese giants Benfica, but it was always the club's plan to ease him in slowly. Sources in Portugal have revealed that Benfica's coaching staff have been impressed with Adu's skills and attitude in training and are planning to increase the young American's exposure over the next few months.
Sell: Lucio Flavio. The Botafogo midfielder is surely set to be on the receiving end of jokes in his club's locker room after complaining about stunning Brazilian assistant referee Ana Oliveira posing naked for Playboy magazine. Lucio angrily insisted: "I am against any woman taking her clothes off in public." Really? Why?
- David Beckham
- Major League Soccer