The World's Game In The Heart of the Sun Belt

Never a dull moment for AC Milan

Before heading on its American summer tour that stops in Atlanta on July 22, AC Milan is getting in some training time back home. But it’s been hardly a subdued return to the pitch.

Players were greeted by fans throwing smoke bombs and firecrackers Monday as they got in their first stretching and kicking of the preseason.

The fans weren’t mad at the players who were in attendance, but at club management for selling Brazilian midfielder Kaká to Real Madrid.

The subject of their ire, owner Silvio Berlusconi, was nowhere to be found. And as Italy’s prime minister, he’s got problems of his own, embroiled in a sex scandal (yes, in even in Italy now!) as he prepeares to host the G-8 summit this week.

AC-MilanAC Milan, which plays Mexico’s Club América at the Georgia Dome, is deep in debt, but Berlusconi remains his typical blustery self about the quality of his club, which has seen crosstown rival Inter Milan claim the last four Serie A championships.

First-year coach Leonardo, who takes over from new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, has named club and Italian World Cup veteran Massimo Ambrosini to take over as captain for the retired Paolo Maldini.

In one of his first public comments in his new role, Ambrosini stated that he thought AC Milan “rushed” its sale of Kaká and furthermore, doubts that Ronaldinho, who had a limited role in his first season, is up to sharing the burden.

Well, how’s that for starting off on the same page? And it’s anyone’s guess who will be on the roster of Italy’s most popular club when it arrives here in two weeks.

There are all kinds of transfer rumors kicking about in terms of who might be joining and leaving the rossoneri during the July window, but one player thought to be looking elsewhere, midfielder Andrea Pirlo, says he wants to stay put.

Updated, July 7: Well hells bells! AC Milan has gone and signed U.S. central defender Oguchi Onyewu, whose name was connected to virtually every team from Real Madrid to Fenerbahçe to Genoa to Ajax to Fulham to Birmingham City, among others. The 27-year-old former Clemson star was sparkling for the Americans at the Confederations Cup, boosting his stock after his contract expired at Belgian champion Standard Liège. But even though he was a free transfer, Milan thinks enough of him to have done a three-year contract.

“Gooch” becomes only the second American to play in Serie A after Alexi Lalas parlayed his 1994 World Cup stardom into a two-year gig for Padova. Says Lalas:

“The pressure will be more because he’s an American than the fact that he’s playing at AC Milan. . . .

“Most Italian clubs have at least one big forward, an Ibrahimovic, a Iaquinta, or whoever, and I think he’ll match up very well against those big forwards that a lot of these teams have. As a matter of fact, I think he’ll gobble them up.”

The timing of the Georgia Dome match coincides with the end of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but Onyewu was not called into the American camp for that tournament.

Tickets for the AC Milan-Club América match are on sale, and the Georgia State Soccer Association is selling discounted tickets ranging from $23.75 to $118.75 per person. There also are special group rates that includes free admission to a July 21 practice session for the teams at the Dome.

Like a few other European club teams, AC Milan isn’t limiting its presence in North America to elite international friendlies. The club just completed a week’s camp at North Atlanta Soccer Association.

1 comment

1 Rubia { 12.17.15 at 8:12 am }

-“Du me5ste vara otroligt llkiycg som har ve4rldens be4sta jobb och fe5r resa till ste4llen som andra aldrig ens fe5r se. :)”

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