Monday, August 1, 2011

Pique sees growth in the US game

FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique knows a thing or two about winning.

The 24-year-old helped Spain capture its first World Cup trophy in 2010 and claimed the UEFA Champions League title with his hometown club this season. He also dates singing star Shakira, whom he met in South Africa last summer.

U.S. fans should be pleased to hear that Pique, who was in Washington, D.C., for an exhibition against Manchester United, says American soccer is headed in the right direction.

"I think people around the world are taking them very seriously," Pique said Sunday, a day after watching his team fall 2-1 before 81,807 fans at FedEx Field. "When the World Cup was here in '94, the USA wasn't nearly as strong as they are now. They are getting better and better."

Pique, who has played for soccer coaching legends Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola, says former U.S. coach Bob Bradley did a great job but change could be good for the Americans. Bradley was fired Thursday, and Jurgen Klinsmann was named his successor the next day. Klinsmann, who coached Bayern Munich and the German national team, will be introduced today at a news conference in New York.

"Maybe Klinsmann can bring something different," Pique says. "But I think they've been doing things really well. In a few years, you can see them challenging at a World Cup."

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