WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Mano Menezes, the coach of the Brazilian national soccer team, has a plan to put the Seleção back on top – be more like Spain.
“The [benchmark] is always the [World Cup] winners and that’s Spain today. Brazil used to be the prominent team and we’re trying to regain that [position],” Menezes said. “We’re sure our prominence will return and we’re working towards that. We must take on that role in world soccer.”
To help Brazil add to its record five World Cup titles, Menezes plans to implement a more attacking style to make the 2014 World Cup hosts the favorite to win it all. The country last reached the top of the soccer mountain in 2002 in Japan. Since then, the nation has lost some of its luster, as it has been knocked out in the quarterfinals in each of the past two World Cups.
Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso of Santos and Lucas of São Paulo are expected to be the building blocks for the London Olympics in 2012 and the 2014 World Cup and the focal point for the national team forward.
Neymar, however, has been nursing several injuries, and Menezes said he was going to take a cautious approach with his 19-year-old prodigy.
“The priority is the senior team,” Menezes said. “There is a possibility of using him in the senior team and not taking him to the Under-20 World Cup, because it would (mean) taking him away from (his club) Santos for a very long spell, and we have to be sensitive.”
Colombia: Medina suspended after failing drug test
Wilder Medina, the dynamic goal scorer for Deportes Tolima, has been suspended for three months, fined US$3,000 and ordered to attend rehab after testing positive for marijuana for the third time this year.
Medina, who is tied for the league lead in goals in the country’s top division, tested positive for marijuana after matches on February 5 and 13 and again after a 2-0 win over Deportes Cali on March 26.
“Wilder has a problem with addiction and wants to rehabilitate himself, he needs help,” Andrés Charria, the player’s lawyer, said. “Marijuana is not doping, it doesn’t improve physical performance. He’s living a human problem.”
Medina has scored eight goals during the spring season after scoring 16 this past fall.
Dominican Republic’s Francisco Liriano throws no-hitter
Francisco Liriano faced 33 batters on Tuesday night against the White Sox, but not one of them could come away with a hit from the native of San Cristóbal in the Dominican Republic in the Minnesota Twins’ 1-0 win on May 3.
“I’m pretty excited,” Liriano told reporters after the game. “I can’t explain myself right now. I’m very happy, very excited. I had a rough start to the season, so it’s very exciting.”
Liriano issued six walks and struck out two before getting Chicago’s Adam Dunn to line out to shortstop on Liriano’s 123rd pitch to end the game. Liriano, 27, was mobbed by his teammates who stormed the field at U.S. Cellar Field. He’s the seventh pitcher in Twins’ history to throw a no-hitter, the team’s first since 1999.
“It was a crazy night,” said Liriano, who might have been pitching to save his spot in the rotation after he entered the game with a record of 1-4 with a 9.13 earned-run average.
“He didn't say much,” Minnesota center fielder Denard Span told reporters after the game. “I think he was speechless. I don’t think it really set in, what he had done, right after the game. You could tell ... I wouldn’t say he wanted to cry, but you could just tell he was emotional, and you could tell he left everything out there tonight.”
It was an emotional night for Liriano. He was off to a horrendous start to the season after going 14-10 with a 3.62 earned-run average in 2010. Liriano was expected to return to elite form this year after posting his first solid season following surgery on his throwing arm that sidelined him for the 2007 season.
“I’ve probably seen him with better stuff, but obviously not with the results,” Minnesota pitching coach Rick Anderson told reporters after the game. “He was effectively wild. I guess that’s what you call it. So yeah, he’s had better stuff, but today he kept pounding it in there and made some big pitches when he needed to, and our defense played great for him.”
José Bautista swinging hot bat for Blue Jays
José Bautista is proving he’s no one-hit wonder.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ outfielder from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is building off one of the best seasons in recent memory, as he is among the major league leaders in nearly all offensive categories. Bautista led the majors with 54 home runs last season to go with a stunning 124 runs batted-in.
He leads the American League in batting average (.357), home runs (9), runs (25), walks (30), on-base percentage (.530) and slugging percentage (.762).
The Blue Jays entered the weekend with a record of 14-17, four games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East Division.
Bautista led the majors with 54 home runs last season to go with a 124 runs driven-in last season.
“After you’ve been doing something the same way for five or six years it feels funny to change,” he said, according to ESPN. “Now I can swing to attack the ball, instead of trying to make something happen when it’s already too late.”