Monday, December 29, 2008

Dempsey Comes Up Big

Clint Dempsey delivered when it was needed this past weekend with 2 goals against Chelsea to salvage a point at Craven Cottage and extend Fulham's unbeaten streak to 9 games. Dempsey scored his 3rd and 4th goal of the season against the Blues on Sunday and has consequently helped to cement his place in Fulham's starting lineup. Dempsey was not in favor with Roy Hodgeson at the begining of the season but has worked his way towards playing regular minutes.

Good for Clint. He is one of my favorite American players to watch and I am glad he is doing well in London. Hopefully his quality play will continue through the rest of the season and help keep Fulham in the top half of the Premiership table. While this season has been much closer in terms of points separating the 20 EPL teams, it seems as though Fulham has a good thing going and should avoid a relegation scare such as last year. Currently Fulham sits in 9th position with 26 points. Their next three Premiership games come against Blackburn, West Ham and Sunderland, definitely some opportunities to pick up some points.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Arsenal Without Cesc for 3-4 Months

Gunner fans who saw Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas go down during Sunday's 1-1 draw against first placed Liverpool had their fears confirmed this morning. Cesc is reported to have partially ruptured his medial collateral ligament, and will be sidelined for 3-4 months.

This proves as yet another blow to Arsenal's already dwindling title hopes; no word on whether this injury will affect Wenger's actions during the winter transfer window. The transfer period runs from January 1st through January 31st.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Juande Ramos set to take over in Madrid

Former Tottenham and Sevilla manager Juande Ramos will take charge of Real Madrid today; his managerial debut will be a UEFA Champions League match that could have Madrid finishing atop their group with a win. Ramos must be enthusiastic about the opportunity with a top flight club, but his tenure with Madrid may prove to be anything but long term. Ramos is contracted for only a 6 month period and Madrid is notorious for discarding managers. Ramos will be Madrid's 11th coach in the last 10 years.

Madrid takes on Zenit St. Petersburg today in UEFA Matchday 6. Ramos will want a strong performance from his side, but the performance to watch might be that of Zenit's Andri Arshavin. Ramos has called him "magical" and may be looking heal some of Madrid's injury woes by bringing Arshavin to Real during the transfer window.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Carlo Ancelotti "Fumed" with AC Milan

AC Milan was handed a sobering 3-1 defeat by Sicilian club Palermo in a loss that gives first place Inter a commanding 6 point lead over their inter-city rivals. The Rossoneri were unable to take the lead in the 27th minute when Ronaldinho failed to convert a penatly and did not find the back of the net until it was far too late. Palermo had already scored three goals before Ronaldinho got one back in the 83 minute. And in an effort to calm his frustration, Carlo Ancelotti was caught on the sideline taking advantage of the Serie A's smoking policy (or lack there of--good luck getting away with that in the EPL).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ronaldinho Goes Top Shelf

Ronaldinho showed his skill once again with this superb strike against Portsmouth on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Cup.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Portugal, Ronaldo Embarrased in Brazil Friendly

World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portuguese side was dismantled by an inspired Brazilian side in this weeks international friendly. Portugal were outplayed throughout, and were handed a 6-2 defeat, but the excitement didn't come to an end with the final whistle.

It seems that just about everyone had something to say about Ronaldo's performance. Brazilian defender Silva refused to shake Ronaldo's hand on behalf of what Silva claimed to be a "leg breaking" tackle shelled out by Cristiano. And another Brazilian defender also spoke out against Ronaldo's apparent lack of class; Marcelo claimed he fell victim to a Ronaldo elbow.

Cristiano quipped to the press earlier this week that he was so good last year, he should have been awarded not only the FIFA World Player of the Year, but the top three spots. In response to this Brazilian international Elano showed his class with a statement that captured the his sides' sentiment on the night, "Cristiano Ronaldo scores big goals and does excellent exhibitions but for me I would choose Kaka as the world's number one. We certainly overcame Portugal in this duel and I will always help Kaka to overcome Ronaldo."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Manucho Rejoins Manchester United

With all the attention on the Dimitar Berbatov saga, little has been made of 25 year old Angolan national, Manucho, who has rejoined Manchester United after finally securing a UK work permit. Manucho signed a three year contract with United last December, but was forced out on loan to Panathinaikos FC after he was unable to obtain a UK work permit.

It became obvious just how good of a prospect Manucho was after his spectacular showing at this years' African Cup of Nations. During the Cup of Nations he scored four goals in three games and was named honored with a "Best XI of the Cup" award. Now the real question will be, how does Ferguson balance the likes of Berbatov, Rooney, Tevez and Manucho?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tottenham Transfer Speculation

Reports are surfacing that Tottenham Manager Juande Ramos is hoping to make this transfer window a memorable one. ESPN is reporting that Ramos is looking to sign David Villa, Andrei Arshavin and Vedran Corluka for a sum of roughly 120 million dollars. The transfers (and now we move into the heavy speculation) would be partially funded by the 60 million dollar sale of Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United.

Quite the undertaking? It might not be as far fetched as one would think. David Villa has reportedly stated that he is ready for a move to the Premier League. Tottenham may prove to be an easy transition for the Spaniard because of the fast style of play enforced by Ramos' managing. Arshavin's chances at joining Barcelona seem lost; the striker might be thinking that a trip to Tottenham is his only chance at leaving Russia. And as for Corluka, Ramos has publicly stated that he hopes to base his defense on a partnership between the Croatian and Jonathan Woodgate.

Nothing but another fantastic European transfer window pipe dream? Perhaps, but with the recent inclusion of David Bentley, Giovani and Luka Modric, one has to feel that Ramos has the vision and the capability of putting together a side that is capable of great things. Now all he needs is the money.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

EPL Transfers

I know this list is a bit dated (from July 21), but it gives a good overview of most of the transfers that Barclay's Premier League teams have made this summer. Check it out and start to map out your fantasy team for the upcoming season. The season kicks off on August 16th.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Liverpool Sign Robbie Keane in 20 Million Pound Deal

Tottenham fans will be saddened to see Robbie Keane depart White Hart Lane as Liverpool completed the signing of the Irish National. The deal's legitimacy was initially questioned by Tottenham, but the Spurs have officially withdrawn their previously filed complaint. Liverpool has been in the hunt for a striker since the departure of Peter Crouch. And with the addition of Keane to Liverpool's attack, its hard to deny that the Red's goal scoring potential. Keane has reported to Anfield for his his team physical.

Spurs fans are probably pretty shaken up (especially with the continued doubts of Dimitar Berbatov's future) but I wouldn't be too quick to lose faith in Tottenham. Juande Ramos is an adept manager and now with the departure of Robbie, I doubt that the additions of Luka Modric, Giovani Dos Santos will be the last of the summer.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Americans at Villa Park

The American Brads have taken over at Aston Villa during the current transfer window. First Brad Guzan signed with Aston Villa several weeks ago (pending a work permit being issued) and today Brad Friedel's transfer went through from long time club Blackburn. Friedel will almost definitely come in as the starter, taking Guzan under his wing.

This is a great development for Guzan. He will be able to transition into the EPL under Friedel, a seasoned keeper in one of the best leagues in the world. This will also bode well for the USA national team as their historically strong position of goalkeeper will gain even more strength with Guzan's development with the Villians. Either way, we should see a Brad playing between the sticks at Villa this season. Go Brad(s)!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Video: Top Goals at Euro 2008

I feel as though I've been spoiled by the European Championships. Now I am going to have to wait another 2 months to watch top notch football (I guess we do have the Olympics to tide us over). If you miss the goals and drama of the Euro Cup as much as I do then here is a little video to cheer you up. These are a few of the better goals scored at the tournament.

Monday, July 7, 2008

European Transfer Roundup

Zenit reject Barcelona's 15 million pound offer for Arshavin
The Russian international's dream to play in Spain is put on hold again as Zenit St. Petersberg rejected the Catalan's offer. Zenit has offered to extend Arshavin's contract until 2012, but I don't see Arshavin staying in Russia. Barcelona has already unloaded Deco, and with Ronaldinho and Eto'o on their way out, I think its just a matter of time (and money) until Barca gets Arshavin.

Dani Alves arrives in Barcelona
Barcelona completed the transfer of defender Dani Alves from Sevilla for a transfer fee that is speculated to be roughly 35 million Euros. Alves proved his quality over the past few seasons with Sevilla as he helped them win two UEFA Cups during his 5 years with the club. I think the move to Barcelona is a logical one; his explosive flair should fit well with Barcelona's attacking style of play.

Peter Crouch To Portsmouth
After months of speculation, Peter Crouch is finally leaving Anfield. Benitez accepted Portsmouths' 8 million Euros (with 3-4 million extra in bonuses) bid for the towering striker. Crouch, who had a turbulent stay at Anfield, has to be content at leaving his relationship with Benitez behind. I think Crouch is an underrated player and will justifiably see more time with Pompy. Here is a look back at Crouch's quality; a spectacular bicycle finish against Turkish side Galatasary.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Manchester City Signs Jô, Still Pursuing Ronaldinho

Manchester City general manager Mark Hughes is doing some investing this off season. His club just completed the record signing of 21 year old Brazilian striker from CSKA Moscow (finished 3rd in the Russian Premier League). The transfer fee is undisclosed, but the English side has reportedly shelled out around 19 million pounds. is coming off an accomplished season with the Russian club having scored 44 goals in all competitions. Although he has only been capped once for his country, he has a proven goal scoring record; City fans will hope that he can adapt to the English style of play with ease.

Hughes and City are also courting Ronaldinho. There have been transfer rumors coming out of Manchester for the better part of the last 3 months. So far no deal has been finalized, but one has to wonder if his fellow Brazilian's move to City may sway Ronaldinho. On a side note, if City is able to bring Ronaldinho in, they will have consolidated two of the goofy-ist looking Brazilians to the same team. Well done Mark Hughes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

EURO 2008 Semi-Final Preview

And then there were four. The semifinal picture is finally complete as Turkey looks to take on Germany and Spain faces off against Russia.

After 120 scoreless minuets in the last quarterfinal of the tournament, Spain defeated Italy by a penalty margin of 4-2. In my opinion the man of the match has to be Iker Casillas. Italy attacked sparingly and created few scoring opportunities during the run of play, but when called into action, Iker keep the reigning world champions out of the back of the net. Casillas' continued to prove his strength as a shot stopper during the penalty shootout, denying both De Rossi and De Natale

Here is a closer look at the Semifinals:

Turkey vs Germany (Wed. June 25, 2:30 EST, ESPN)
Turkey's Cinderella run has been incredible, but one has to wonder if they are facing too large a challenge as they look to take on Germany. Turkey will be without keeper Volkan Demirel, attacking midfielders Arda Turan and Tuncay Sanli and defender Emre Asik due to suspensions. Turkey will also be missing the lethal Nihat Kahveci due a groin injury. Germany's clinical attack may be too much for Turkey to handle.

Spain vs Russia (Thur. June 26, 2:30 EST, ESPN2)
Spain continues to believe that this is their year as they take part in their first semifinal of a major tournament in 24 years. Spain defeated Russia by a 4-1 margin during the group stage, but the Russians were without the magic of Andrei Arshavin in that match. Arshavin and the rest of his team will look to take the game to the Spaniards, much like they did against the Netherlands. Since both teams have a fast attacking style of play that flows through the midfield, control of that part of the field will be the key to the game. Personally, I think the best midfield to "out attack" the Russians would be one powered by Fabregas, Xabi, Ineista, and Silva. Perhaps Cesc's game winning penalty against Italy will be enough to secure a spot in the starting lineup.

USA Advances in World Cup Qualifying

The United States beat Barbados 1-0 in the Barbados to advance to the semifinal round of World Cup 2010 Qualifying. A first half goal by Eddie Lewis held up and gave the Americans the victory. This game came on the heels of last weekend's 8-0 drubbing by the Americans in LA by an almost full strength United States team. The team that took the field yesterday was composed more so of players that normally wouldn't get a look.

The Americans will now face Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba in semifinal group round play which will start up in August. You can see the results from the other recent CONCACAF games and the group play draw here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quarter Finals: Russia 3 - 1 Netherlands

A young and explosive Russian side managed to defeat the high flying Dutch by a score of 3-1 this afternoon. Russia struck first in the second half on a goal by Roman Pavluchenko. A great ball played into the goal area was finished off by the streaking Russian forward. It looked as though the Ruskies would win 1-0 until Ruud Van Nistleroy managed to sneak in behind his defender on a free kick and head home the equaliser in the 86 min.

In extra time it remained tied until Andrei Arshavin crossed in a ball that did not look that threatening but managed to make it drop in on the back post and the substitute Torbinsky flicked it into the back of the "onion bag" for the eventual game winning goal. 4 minutes later Arshavin buried a shot (which took a deflection to be fair) to seal the win. Arshavin was undoubtedly the star of the game, constantly displaying his quickness and nose for good attacking football. He should definitely move somewhere big over the summer transfer window.

This was a tough loss for the Dutch as they coasted through the group stage. I think it is safe to say that anyone who underestimates the Russians from this point on will be making a huge mistake. The Russians will play the winner of the Spain versus Italy game which airs on ESPN tomorrow. Gus Hiddink managed to pull off another unexpected result for his team. The man continues to impress wherever he coaches.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

EURO 2008 Quarterfinal 1, Germany Oust Portugal

The German's put in a stunning performance to oust a Portugal team that seemed very uninsipired in the first Quarterfinal of the tournament. Bastian Schweinsteiger was the star of the show, coming back from a suspension with a superb showing, scoring Germany's first, and assisting the second and third goals. Here is a look at Germany's first goal--from which they never looked back; a truly beautiful display of precise football.

Portugal attacked with flair at times, but never seriously threatened Germany. Cristiano Ronaldo was a non factor for most of the game, and one has to wonder if his constant transfer speculations proved to disrupt his focus, as well as that of his countrymen.

Germany looked polished; for a team that struggled through the group stage, they must feel very confident as the look to take on the winner of the Croatia/Turkey Quarterfinal. That Quarterfinal takes place tomorrow, game time is 2:30 EST on ESPN2.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Euro 2008 Recap (Part 3), So far...

So the Group stage is now over. Here is what happened in the last round of group stage games.

- The Turks pulled of a remarkable win against the Czech Republic. Down 2 goals with about 15 minutes left to play, Turkey scored 3 goals in a row and won their way into the quarterfinals. It really seems as though Turkey has some momentum and they could be a team to watch closely. They will face Croatia in the quarters.

- Switzerland wins a game that really doesn't mean anything. 2-0 to the hosts over a second string Portugal squad. Hopefully the Portuguese don't lose their killer instinct that they showed in their first two games.

- Germany beats Austria on a screamer of a free kick from Michael Ballack, 1-0. Germany will face Portugal and the Ronaldo circus in the elimination round.

- Croatia beats Poland 1-0 and earns full points from their 3 games. They will face Turkey next.

- Ahh the "Group of Death." Italy beats an under performing French squad 2-0. A penalty/red card in the first half committed by Abidal gave the Italians the lead. A horrible deflection on a free kick off of Henry led to the second goal. Honestly the Italians did not impress me through their first 3 games. They will face Spain.

- The Dutch continued to roll with a 2-0 victory over Romania. With a +8 goal differential, it seems as though the Dutch will be the team to beat. They match up against a young and dynamic Russian squad next.

- Russia downs Sweden to move out of the rather difficult group D. A 2-0 victory over Ibrahimovic and the Swedes will see Gus Hiddink and the Russians into the quarters. They will try to take down the steamroller known as the Dutch. Should be a good game.

- Spain take out the 2004 European Champions, Greece, with a B squad by a score of 2-1. The Spanish will take on World Cup holders Italy in the quarters. I really hope they kick the shit out of the Italians. Not to sound bias or anything...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Euro 2008 Recap (Part 2), So far...

Here is a summary and some observations after the second round of the group stage games:

- Portugal put on a show against the Czechs and manage to put 3 past Petr Cech on their way to a 3-1 victory. It's safe to say that C. Ronaldo and his countrymen are looking very strong through the first two games.

- Turkey score a very late winner and as a result eliminate one of the tournament's hosts, Switzerland.

- Germany gets out played by the Croatians as they lose by a score of 1-2. Croatia shows its potential and Germany shows that it can be beaten.

- Italy and Romania tie as the Dutch route France 4-1. This "Group of Death" has been a bit unpredictable. The Netherlands are definitely one of the top teams in this tournament. Will Italy fail to make it out of the group stage?? (I guess Italy and France could both fail to advance, wouldn't that be something?!)

- Spain beats Sweden on a last gasp goal by the tournament's leading scorer, David Villa. This was a real heart breaker for the Swedes, although I think that Spain definitely out played Sweden in the second half. They must have had around 65-70% of the possession in the second half but couldn't put a goal in until the 93rd minute. A por ellos!

The third and final round of group stage games starts today. Should be some exciting stuff. If you are looking for the TV schedule, just look to the upper right of the page and there should be a link. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Euro 2008 Recap, So far...

So far there has been some really good soccer played and some not so good soccer played. Here is a quick list of some of the headlines and highlights of the European Championship through the first round of games for each group.

- Portugal wins their first match but all the media can still talk about is the Real Madrid/Man Utd/Ronaldo drama.

- Podolski scores a brace for Germany in route to a 2-0 victory over neighbors Poland.

- Both host countries, Austria and Switzerland, lose 1-0 in games where they could have had a more positive result.

- The "Group of Death" did not live up to its billing with France vs. Romania. Unless that name is referring to being bored to death with watching the game. I really thought France would have done better than a 0-0 tie.

- The other half of said group saw the Netherlands dismantle Italy 3-0. This could prove to be a rather large hole for the World Cup champions to dig themselves out of. It will be interesting to see how they rebound against Romania.

- Many peoples' favorite to win the tournament, Spain, picked apart a young Russian side 4-1. David Villa scored the first hat trick of Euro 2008. Russia was not all that bad though. I still think Spain and Russia will be the two teams to come out of this group.

More to come as the tournament progresses...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

USA 0 - 0 Argentina

No doubt about it, Argentina is a good squad. They came out firing on Saturday night at the Meadowlands. The South Americans brought the pressure to the U.S. defense, causing Tim Howard and Co. to make several key defensive stands early on. Howard in particular made several point blank saves, including two on Julio Cruz of Inter Milan, one of which came right before half time. Argentina had the better play of the two sides in the first half, implementing a potent and quick counter attack. The Americans had some promising moments as they were able to keep possession on several sequences against the stronger Argentine side. The best scoring chances for USA came from a deflected Dempsey shot and a screaming volley from Heath Pearce on the left flank.

At half time, Coach Bradley subbed Maurice Edu for Michael Bradley. A good attacking run by Pearce in the 47th min almost yielded a goal with the subsequent scrum in the penalty area resulting in the ball hitting the crossbar. In the 50th minute Eddie Johnson showcased his new defensive move, "The Crotch Grab," on Mascherano. Result: pulled groin for Mascherano (yuk yuk yuk). The 62nd minute saw more subs for the U.S. with Jay Demerit coming on for Onyewu and Adu coming on for Dempsey. A phantom red card in the 71st on Mastroeni was a blow to the U.S. team but they managed to hold it together. Play continued to go back and forth until the 85th minute when Mascherano put a nasty studs up tackle on Donovan and was shown a red card as well. The younger U.S. attack of Adu, Edu and Klejstan had several good attacking sequences, but couldn't create any goals. The match ended in a 0-0 tie.

I would have to say that Argentina had the better portion of the play in the first half where the second half was much more even if not slightly in the favor of the U.S. I'm sure the substitutions (especially Messi and Cruz coming off) along with the playing conditions (100 degree plus heat) had something to do with this. My choice for man of the match would have to go to Timmy Howard for keeping the Americans in the match with his clutch first half saves.

This was a good result for the U.S. and I'm sure rather disappointing for the Argentines after dismantling Mexico earlier in the week. This result bodes well for the Americans as they start World Cup qualifying next weekend against the Barbados in L.A.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Video: Ridiculous Futsal Goal

This is one of the more acrobatic goals I have ever seen. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jozy Altidore sold to Villareal

La Liga's Villareal reportedly purchased former Red Bull forward Jozy Alitdore for a fee of 10 million dollars. The European transfer window does not open until July 1st, but sources close to the Red Bulls have reported that the deal has been agreed upon by both parties. Jozy is expected to join the Yellow Submarine soon after the transfer window opens.

Jozy's transfer fee of 10 million dollars makes him the most expensive player to ever come out of the MLS. The previous record was held by Clint Dempsey who was bought for 4 million dollars in 2006 by Fulham.

I think this is a great move for Jozy; he is finally free of the continual transfer speculation that has continued to haunt him. Hopefully he will be able to adapt to the Spanish league, and continue to develop and mature as a player. The National team needs you Jozy--Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mourinho Unveiled as Inter Manager, No Longer "Special"

Jose Mourinho officially accepted the position as manager of Italy's Internazionale this morning, replacing Roberto Mancini. In the ensuing press conference Mourinho stated, "I have arrived to a special club and I believe I am a great coach but I don't want to be special." He continued, insisting that he is not "special," instead that he is, "Mourinho--period."

Mourinho did admit that he would like to bring in 2 or 3 players in order to make the current Serie A champions "more competitive." Frank Lampard, Ricardo Carvalho, and striker Didier Drogba have been linked with a move to be reunited with Mourinho, but Jose refused to comment on any specific prospects.

This guy is great, I don't know if he purposely soaks his speeches in irony, or its just his nature, but either way, I'm glad he is back. I look forward to the hilarity that will surely ensue with his future dealings with the Italian media. Welcome back Jose.

US Men's National Team Friendly vs Spain Preview

The European Cup almost upon us, its easy to forgot about some of the star power that the US Men's National Team will be squaring off against in the coming days. Just a week after suffering a defeat on English soil the National Team will be traveling to Spain for a friendly surly designed to "prep" the Spaniards for the European Cup.

Ranked number 4 in the world, Spain has the talent to make a run for the Euro 08 title, but on Wednesday, what can the United States expect? The United States won't have to worry about being terrorized by Raul or Bojan, but with a roster as impressive as Spain's, the good news stops there. Spain will probably look to give their European team a chance to gel before the tournament, so the United States should expect to see a full roster. The attack will be lead by Cesc, Xabi, Iniesta, Torres and Villa. Spain's defense will be controlled by Carlos Puyol, Sergio Ramos as well as Liverpool's Alvaro Arbeloa. Impressive.

Bob Bradley will look for Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley to lead the attack. And with Landon Donovan out with a calf strain, perhaps its time for Freddie Adu to merit a starting position. Adu's injection into the squad could in turn give the United States more fluidity and creativity in the attack, something they will certainly need to break down Spain's defense.

Spain notoriously under preforms. On paper it looks like the US is in over their heads, but in actuality they need to be ready to take advantage of any studdering by the Spaniards. Upset anyone? I believe. Be sure not to miss this one, the game airs tape delayed on Wednesday at 5:30 PM on ESPN2.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

European Championship TV Schedule

The start of Euro 2008 is creeping up on us. Luckily we will be blessed with ESPN/ABC airing every game on TV. Here is a fixture list to help you all with scheduling your TiVo.

Classic Nike Commercial

Although this video is a little dated (Denilson, and yes, this was before he was a substitute for FC Dallas) it is still a pretty cool commercial. Enter, THE SCORPION TOURNAMENT.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McBride to return to MLS

Brian McBride has decided to part ways with Fulham after 4+ seasons with the London club. After coming back from an pretty bad knee injury to help the Cottagers avoid relegation, McBride has decided to return to the States with his family. The 36 year old still has some good soccer left in him if you ask me. He is one of the most prolific soccer players in the air, never seems to stop working, and can provide invaluable leadership. I'm sure any MLS club would like to have his services. Let the speculation begin.

Here is a video montage featuring McBride that we linked to a couple months back.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

DC United grind out win against TFC

DC United finally secured a win tonight in the nation's capitol, beating Toronto FC by a score of 3-2. Danny Dichio opened up the scoring for the Canucks in the 13th minute with a close range header. Later in the first half, Gonzalo Peralta headed in his first career MLS goal to level the score at 1 a piece. Then just when DC was feeling confident about tying the score, Dichio slots home his second of the night to put Toronto back in front.

During the second half DC was able to claw back to 2-2 on a Jaime Moreno penalty. Santino Quaranta was able to draw the spot kick after a rather stupid push from Marvell Wynne. Less than two minutes later, last year's MLS MVP and golden boot winner, Luciano Emilio, hustled to clean up a Sutton rebound and put DC in the lead at 3-2.

This was a much needed win for United as they have already lost 7 games, the same amount that they lost during all of last season. A very full fixture schedule in the preseason and first month or so of the season, Emilio's lack of form and key injuries to players like Ben Olsen have all played a role in DC's surprising tumble down the table. Tom Soehn can now breathe a bit easier as they managed to earn 3 points from a home and away series with Toronto during this past week. Hopefully DC will be able to build on tonight's performance and start to turn their season around.

So Long Avram Grant

It seems that almost winning the Champions League Final won't be enough to save Avram Grant's job as Chelsea's head coach; the London based club terminated his contract this afternoon. This decision probably doesn't surprise many, despite achieving success on the pitch, Grant never won the hearts and minds of the fans, the players, or the media. Grant supporters (the few that are out there) might argue that he wasn't given a long enough tenure (or enough credit for his successes), but in the end the expectations of a club as immense as Chelsea proved to be too great for Grant.

The news of his departure from the Blues will soon be dwarfed by the speculation of who his replacement will be. It has been reported that Frank Rijkaard and Sven-Goran Eriksson are early favorites. Let the rumor mills begin to churn.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Celtic, Rangers Vying for SPL Title

Scottish Football fan's around the world won't consider yesterday's conclusion of the Champions League the end of the European football season. Rangers and Celtic are tied for first place in the Scottish Premier League with just one game to go for each side. Although tied for points, Celtic is holding on to first place thanks a favorable goal margin.

Rangers will face off against Aberdeen while Celtic will take on Dundee United in the season's final matches. If Celtic loses, Rangers will control their own destiny, a win or a tie will ensure them the title. However if Celtic wins, Rangers will have to better Celtic's goal margin by at least 4 goals.

Unai Emery Selected as Valencia's New Coach

It has been a long season for Valencia. They have shed three coaches and ended in a disappointing (albeit safe from relegation) 10th position in Spain's La Liga. I really hope this coach is the answer to Valencia's problems because it doesn't make sense how a team with so much talent can play so inconsistently. Hopefully Emery will be able to lead the team through the off season and provide them with hope for next season.

Under Emery in the 2006/7 Segunda Division season Almeria finished as runners up and were subsequently promoted to La Premera division for the first time since 1981. Emery's success as a manager continued in La Liga as he was able to lead the Andalusian side to a surprising finish in 8th place.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Barton in the Slammer

"Nice knowing you man. Give me a hug, I'm going to jail!"

Some people are just plain stupid. Especially high profile athletes that have everything to lose and then go ahead and lose it. Case in point: Joey Barton. Mr. Barton managed to get 6 months in the klink for attacking two people last winter. This guy is a genius. I mean, if I was on probation for two other charges, I don't think I would leave the house much less drink 15 beers and then go attack people in the streets. Oh well, maybe he will learn his lesson. I think Michael Vick should call him up and give him some pointers about jail life. Idiots.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fulham Rallies to Save Premiership Status

Fulham managed to escape relegation to the Championship by winning 1 - 0 against Portsmouth on the last day of the season. Reading beat Derby 4-0 so that meant Fulham had to take the full 3 points from Portsmouth. Late into the second half Murphy seemed to be the only one to rise for a Jimmy Bullard free kick and headed home the game winner and season saving goal. This video, which I saw on Soccer by Ives, gives a nice little recap to the Cottagers' end of the season. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The End is the Begining

This can be a very exciting time of year for a soccer fan. All of the major European leagues are coming to an end. All domestic cups and European competitions reach their climax. MLS is starting to heat up. Needless to say there is a lot of soccer available to the fan who is willing to following the game. This also means that the summer doldrums are on their way. 2-3 months of speculation, transfers and gossip. It's kind of like high school all over again. Booooo.

BUT WAIT! This summer we have Euro 2008 held in Austria/Switzerland from June 7th - June 29th. I am pretty sure ESPN/ABC will be broadcasting each and every game of the tournament. (High def soccer! Get a hint FSC.) I really am going to need to invest in a DVR. So go ahead and vote on the poll at the top of the page for who you think will win this summer's European Championship. (Sorry England, maybe next time.)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Relegation Escape for Fulham?

Can you say clutch performance? That is what Fulham has delivered in the past two weeks in their fight to stay in the Premier League. A remarkable 3-2 comeback win against Manchester City last week and a 2-0 victory over fellow bottom dwellers Birmingham City have moved the Cottagers out of the drop zone for the first time since Christmas.

Yesterday Brian McBride headed home the go ahead goal and Erik Nevland sealed the win for Fulham. With Reading losing, Fulham leap-frogged up to 17th place. Next week Fulham plays Portsmouth which should prove to be a challenging last match. But to put it bluntly, Fulham has no other option except for victory if they want to secure another season of top flight football. Here are the other fixtures that will have implications in the relegation battle in the EPL:

  • Birmingham City v Blackburn
  • Reading v Derby County
  • Chelsea v Bolton
It finally seems as though Roy Hodgson has Fulham playing quality football. Now if they had only started to find their form a bit sooner....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Goal of the Week; Marcelo Gallardo

For those of you who though that great goals only happen in Europe, think again. This week's Goal of the Week is awarded to Marcelo Gallardo of DC United. United has had a rough start to the season, but performances like last week's 4-1 victory over Real Salt Lake are the perfect way to jump start your team. Check out Gallardo's blast here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sweet Commercial

This is a pretty imaginative commercial by Nike I first saw on Steve Goff's blog, Soccer Insider. Not a bad soundtrack either. It's like I'm really in the game...

Monday, April 21, 2008

UEFA Champions League Semifinal Preview, Manchester United v Barcelona

The only two teams that have not suffered a defeat in this years Champions League competition are set to face off Wednesday night at the Camp Nou in Barcelona. This semifinal will allow both Manchester United and Barcelona to show off their stylish attacking brands of soccer.
Match Preview
The media is touting Manchester as the favorite, especially due to Barcelona's lackluster La Liga performances (earning only 4 victories in their last 13 games). However, Barcelona's ace up the sleeve has to be the return of phenom Leo Messi from injury. Manchester looks as imposing as ever and must feel ready for this challenge. United host so many attacking threats; despite dropping points to Blackburn this weekend, they are playing confident and consistent soccer. I expect both teams to attack in what will prove to be an exciting match filled with goals.
Key Match Ups
Its hard to isolate the most important match up when almost every player on each team is a superstar. With that in mind, the two most obvious threats for their respective teams are Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. Ronaldo is on track to be the World Player of the Year and Messi is one of the most dangerous players on the planet when he is fit. Whichever team can manage the impact of those players will have a gigantic advantage.

SOTB Prediction: Manchester United 2 - Barcelona 2

UEFA Champions League Semifinal Preview, Liverpool v Chelsea

The wait is over, the first leg of the Champions League semifinals is here. In the week's first match (Tuesday, April 22nd) Chelsea will travel to Anfield and take on Liverpool.
Match Preview
There is good news for the Merseyside faithful, Stevie Gerrard has been declared fit after recovering from last week's neck injury. And Blue's fans will be glad to see Lampard suit up for Chelsea after missing the past two games. Since the first leg is at Anfield, I'm expecting Chelsea to play conservatively, they won't want to go behind early. Liverpool on the other hand, will want to take the game to the Blues through the Gerrard-Torres fueled attack. I don't think Chelsea is going to be able to keep that attack out of the back of the net.
Key Match Ups
The midfield battle is key and the obvious match up to watch is the Lampard/Gerrard dynamic. Both players mean so much to their respective teams, but I think Gerrard has the edge in this one. Avram Grant's side has their work cut out for them.

SOTB Prediction: Liverpool 2 - Chelsea 1

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mums the word with Avram

It seems that Avram grant didn't have much to say following Chelsea's 1-0 victory over Everton. A rather strange press conference was the result of Grant's unwillingness to answer any of the questions the media asked him. It's actually pretty funny. Give the press conference word for word here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Celtic Close Gap on Rangers in SPL; Nakamura's "Goal of the Week"

The race for first place in Scotland's Premier League just got more interesting. Celtic toppled first placed Rangers by a score of 2-1 in today's Old Firm derby. The game was a must win in order for Celtic to have a chance at winning the Scottish Premier League; they now sit in second place (1 point aback of Rangers) with just 2 games remaining.

Shunsuke Nakamura's stunningly beautiful strike opened the action in the 20th minute, and earned him "Goal of the Week" honors. Rangers leveled with a goal in the second period, but in the 70th minute where reduced to 10 men as Carlos Cuellar was shown red. The Hoops failed to convert the ensuing penalty and it looked like gloom and doom for the Celtic fans until Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (doesn't it sounds like he is from Middle Earth? - ED.) scored the stoppage time winner.

This game will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel Thursday April, 17th at 8 PM (yes the game was played on Wednesday--FSC doesn't make sense) and should definitely be considered as a "must see " match. Here is a sneak peek of the match and Nakamura's "Goal of the Week."

Valencia Wins Copa del Rey

Valencia's disappointing season was given a much needed shot of optimism this week as they defeated Getafe to win the Copa del Rey tournament. It was Valencia's first trip to the finals since 1999 when they defeated Atlético Madrid. One might say that this victory "saved" Valencia's season as they are awarded a spot in next years UEFA Champions Cup.

Unfortunately Valencia's season was marked inconsistent play despite having a talent-filled squad. But fear not! Since we are always the optimists here at Soccer on the Brain we feel that with Valencia's recently booked spot in the 2008/9 UEFA Cup, the Spanish side can confidently say "there's always next year."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ronaldinho to AC Milan

This deal seems pretty legit, Ronaldinho and Barcelona are reported to be in advanced talks with Italian side AC Milan. Ronaldinho's agent (also his brother) stated yesterday that "In general Ronaldinho and Milan are in agreement." Ronaldinho has had a frustrating year with Barcelona and there is no doubt in my mind that a move away from Spain is in the cards. However, is the move to Italy the right one?

It has been speculated that Ronaldinho and Kaká can't play together and that brining the 28 year old Brazilian in is unwise. However, the attacking potential of a side that hosts Kaká, Pato, Ronaldinho, Pirlo and possibly Ronaldo is hard to ignore.

More on this as it develops. In the meantime, Milan continues to struggle to secure a spot in next years UEFA Champions League. They square off against Juventus this afternoon in one of the biggest games of the season. Juventus is struggling to hold on to their 3rd place spot and with both Milan and Fiorintina (5th and 4th place respectively) scrapping for every possible point, the game is a must win for both sides.

The game airs at 2:30 on FSC.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Champions League Semifinals Take Shape

And then there were four. The race for European glory narrowed again today as the UEFA Champions League Semifinal picture came into focus.
Liverpool 4 - Arsenal 2 (5-3 on aggregate)
This was the most enthralling fixture of the matchday. The defining moment of the match must have been when Liverpool were awarded a dubious penalty just moments after Arsenal had tied the Reds 2-2 thanks to an inspired Theo Walcott play. Babel went down in the box after minimal (Arsenal fans might say incidental) contact from Kolo Touré and Stevie Gerrard coolly finished the ensuing penalty. Arsenal fans may feel cheated, but I feel that Liverpool outplayed the Gunners in the second half.

Barcelona 1 - Schalke 0 (2-0 on aggregate)
I didn't have a chance to watch this one, but it seems like Schalke just didn't have the ability to outmatch the Catalan side. Barcelona's hopes at catching Real in La Liga are starting to look unattainable; perhaps its time for Barca to start focusing on the mammoth task of undoing United in the Semifinals.

Manchester United 1 - AS Roma 0 (3-0 on aggregate)
Manchester proved its quality again with a solid performance over Roma. Squandered chances will haunt the Roman's as they failed to convert a first half penalty that could have changed the game drastically. United rested many of its players as they have more work to do in the EPL this week. They will play host to a victory starved Arsenal side on Saturday.

Chelsea 2 - Fenerbache 0 (3-2 on aggregate)
Yawn. Did anyone really expect Chelsea to be knocked out by the Turkish side? You would think with both EPL and European glory sitting as viable possibilities for the Blues they would be playing a more inspired brand of soccer. Instead we are forced to watch a side that continues to win (albeit, they are winning) by "going through the motions". I miss the fire, passion and controversy that Jose Mourinho instilled in this side. Lets see how boring Avram Grant can make these next few weeks.

The first leg of the Semifinals will take place on April 22nd and 23rd. FC Barcelona will take on Manchester United, meanwhile Chelsea will face Liverpool.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Trip to England

This past weekend I had the opportunity to make the trip over to London with my Dad, Dave and Boyd. Needless to say, it was one hell of a good time. The original plan was to see Chelsea v Boro and Spurs v Newcastle. The Chelsea plans fell through and we managed to get tickets to see Reading v Blackburn on Saturday and Spurs v Newcastle on Sunday.

Reading 0 - 0 Blackburn

The atmosphere at the Madjeski seemed a little bit subdued but was still amazing to experience. The beer wasn't as expensive as I thought it was going to be and we even got to watch a bit of the Rangers v Celtic match before our game started. The stadium only holds about 24,000 people so it was a very intimate setting. The weather was about 50 degrees with 20 mph winds and rain. It was a good thing our seats were high up so we didn't get soaked.

The game went back and forth and each team had some chances. Both of the American goalkeepers played well with Marcus Hannehman making some saves to keep his team in the game. (Each time he made a good stop the crowd would chant U-S-A! I thought that was pretty funny) Stephen Hunt had a 'mare of a game and was taking a lot of flack from the supporters sitting next to me. He had a good chance in the waining minutes but managed to flub it up. A late substitute in Shane Long showed some promise and maybe should have been made earlier. It was a respectably result for Reading but really could have gone either way.

Tottenham 1 - 4 Newcastle

On Sunday we made our way to North London for the Tottenham/Newcastle fixture. After stopping for a few pints before the game, we headed over to White Hart Lane. I have to say it is definitely a different feeling going to a sporting event in the middle of a city rather than one in the suburbs like so many American sports facilities. Our seats were in the next to last row on the side of the pitch, but it didn't matter. The atmosphere was more vibrant and energetic than the Reading match. The Newcastle supporters were there in force and added to the energy of the match.

Things got started off with scoring in the 26th minute by Darren Bent with a lovely header. The place erupted and things were looking good for the Spurs. A Nicky Butt equalize
r in first half stoppage time evened the score at 1 a piece going into the second half. A second half Geremi free kick took even more momentum away from the home side and eventually led to Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins sealing the deal. I'm not sure about the decision to play Berbatov, Keane and Bent at the same time but I guess Ramos knows more than me.

All in all, it was an awesome trip and I can't wait to go back again. Until then....MLS.

The Newcastle fans were out in full force.

Monday, March 31, 2008

UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal Preview

The Champions League is back this week with eight remaining European sides looking to secure a trip to the semi finals. Matchday 9 is upon us and no one seems to be denying that there are some definite Davids and Goliaths left in the tournament. Here is your preview for this week's match ups.

Tuesday April 1st

Manchester United at AS Roma
United is being regularly referred to as the best club in the world right now, and probably rightfully so. Cristiano Ronaldo is playing inspired soccer and is seemingly scoring goals at will. Roma will be missing Totti due to injury and despite their current hot streak in the Serie A, I don't think anyone is going to be able to touch United right now.
SOTB Prediction: Manchester United 3 - AS Roma 0

FC Barcelona at Schalke 04
Both injuries mark the Barcelona side that making the trip to Germany. The Catalan's will be without the attacking prowess of Leo Messi, Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto'o is still questionable after injuring his calf last weekend. Schalke has a huge opportunity to put itself in the driver seat, but Barcelona still looks dangerous with Xavi and Iniesta running the midfield and youngster Krkric (alongside Henry) up top.
SOTB Prediction: Barcelona 2 - Schalke 1

Wednesday April 2nd

Liverpool FC at Arsenal FC
From a neutral perspective one has to feel that Liverpool has all the momentum. They finally have a little bit of breathing room in the EPL and can go into Wednesday's match knowing that they have one of the best strikers in Europe with Fernando Torres. Arsenal is in trouble. They are playing without any of the conviction or consistency that usually defines their style of play. I think they will concede a couple of away goals in this one and put Liverpool in the driver seat for the second leg.
SOTB Prediction: Liverpool 2 - Arsenal 0

Chelsea at Fenerbahçe SK
I get the feeling that
Fenerbahçe is really enjoying being the underdog. The Turkish side seems to be relishing the opportunity to play without any pressure. Fenerbahçe is brimming with confidence and Chelsea is the side that has it all to loose. I'm betting that Fenerbahçe really goes for Chelsea in this one in an effort to get a few goals before their trip to London for the second leg. On the other hand, I'm expecting Chelsea to try and control the flow of the game and attack limitedly.
SOTB Prediction: Chelsea 1 - Fenerbahçe 2

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

It was a big weekend for soccer both stateside and abroad. My colleague Skippy is currently on location in London and was lucky enough to catch a few of this weekend's EPL match ups. Soccer on the Brain wishes him safe travels; enjoy a pint for us over there! Here is a rundown of some of the weekends scores, as well as a few selected "matchday thoughts."
Major League Soccer
  • Houston Dynamo 0 - NE Revolution 3
    FC Dallas 1 - Chivas USA 1
  • KC Wizards 2 - DC United 0
  • Columbus Crew 2 - Toronto FC 0
  • Chicago Fire 1 - Real Salt Lake

"Matchday Thoughts"
The big story here is the Revolution's "redemption" over the Houston Dynamo. The KC Wizards opened with a big win over a very strong DC United team. KC has the potential for a strong season as they will be looking to take advantage of signing their first DP (designated player), Argentinian Claudio Lopez. A Cuauhtemoc Blanco goal saved the Fire from what could have been a season opening upset by much weaker Real Salt Lake. All in all it was a great matchday-- its gonna be a great MLS season.

English Premier League
  • Chelsea 1 - Middlesbrough 0
  • Liverpool 1 - Everton 0
  • Tottenham 1 - Newcastle 4
  • Arsenal 3 - Bolton 2
  • Derby 2 - Fulham 2
  • Manchester United 4 - Aston Villa 0
"Matchday Thoughts"
Robin Van Persie welcomed his first goal since since returning to Arsenal's squad in what was a very turbulent match that produced 5 goals and 5 cards (4 yellows and 1 red). Arsenal (3rd place) sit just 1 point behind Chelsea and 6 points back from league leaders United. Liverpool secured their fourth place spot with a victory over Everton thanks to another Fernando Torres goal. Torres is playing like one of the best, if not the best natural striker in England. Every game is becoming a "must win" for Fulham yet they were only able to split points with fellow bottom feeders Derby. Time is running out for "FulhAmerica." Chelsea won over Middlesborough and is doing everything it can to keep the title race interesting while Manchester continues to play evolved football.

Monday, March 24, 2008

David Beckham on CBS 60 Minutes

For those of you who missed it, David Beckham was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on last night's 60 minutes. The interview didn't really shed any information about Beckham that any semi-serious soccer fan wouldn't already know. But, hopefully it will stir up a little attention for this Saturday's start of the 2008 MLS season. The interview's target audience doesn't seem to be the MLS faithful, but you can't deny this type of public exposure doesn't hurt. I've posted the interview here for those who missed it; the highlight comes after about 10 minutes: Beckham "bending" past Anderson Cooper.

In related news, the MLS season kicks off this weekend. Be sure to sign up for MLS Fantasy, and don't forget to join the Soccer on the Brain League!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Goal of the Week

This week's honor goes to Rubén Baraja who's blast helped put a struggling Valencia side into the finals of the Copa del Rey over injury laden Barcelona.

The Copa del Rey trophy looks like Valencia's only chance to get back into Europe next year, as the winner of the Cup earns a spot in the 08/09 UEFA Cup. Valencia, who currently sit 11th in La Liga, will meet 8th placed Getafe in the finals on April 16th.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CONCACAF Champions Cup Semifinal Takes Shape

The Houston Dynamo became the second MLS team to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions Cup Semifinals tonight at the expense of Guatemalan side Municipal by 3 goals to 1.

Unfortunately, the questionable calls are what are going to be remembered from this match. Corey Ashe won Houston a penalty as he went down very gingerly in the box midway through the second half. It was a terrible call and I was certain that Ashe was going to be booked for embellishment. Not the case; Dwayne DeRosario netted his brace from the the penalty spot giving his side a 2-0 lead. It wasn't long before the Texan side netted their third goal and secured the victory before allowing Municipal a loan consolation goal in the closing minutes of the game. Its unfortunate that the second half was pocked with spotty officiating, choppy play and heightened tempers (several of the players were involved in a short scuffle after DeRosario's penalty). All of these detracted from the game which at times was dominated by a fast paced and exciting style of play.

Questionable calls aside, Houston definitely deserved this win. I don't hold it against Ashe for winning his side a penalty, in fact, he looked just as surprised as the Municipal defenders at the call. All in all Ashe had a great night, he looked very dangerous down the left flank as much of Houston's attack came through him. DeRosario was also solid, he was the driving force behind Houston's midfield throughout the game. Even when Municipal looked dangerous, Houston was always able to regain control.

Here is how the semifinals will shape up.

Semifinal 1: DC United (USA) vs Pachuca CF (Mexico)
Semifinal 2: Houston Dynamo (USA) vs Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica)/Atlante FC (Mexico)

Barcelona's Injury Woes Continue

Barcelona isn't doing itself any favors as it strives to take home both La Liga and UEFA trophies this year. With 10 games to go in La Liga, the Catalan side sits 7 points back from Real Madrid and in the Champions League they are set to face an upset minded Schalke side in two weeks time. But, Barcelona's list of injured superstars keeps growing with the news that Ronaldinho has been left out of the last few games due to injury. Conflicting reports coming out of Spain are making the diagnosis confusing. While most sources are stating that he is suffering from "medical problems" its not exactly clear (perhaps this is how Rijkaard would like things to stay) what those medical problems are. What is certain is that Ronaldinho was unable to play in Barcelona's drawl with Almeria on Sunday, wasn't able to train this week, and won't be playing in Thursdays fixture with Valencia (King's Cup semi-final, second leg).

Confusion surrounds the cause of the Brazilian's injury troubles, but knowing the exact diagnosis doesn't change the fact that none of this poses well for Barcelona. Ronaldinho will be joining the likes of Rafa Marquez, Giovani dos Santos, Deco and Leo Messi on the bench.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

CONCACAF Champions' Cup: DC win big

DC United 5 - 0 Harbour View
(DC wins series 6-1 on aggregate)

DC United pulled out a emphatic 5-0 win over Harbour View (Jamaica) in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champion's Cup series. After a 1-1 draw last week in Jamaica, DC was able to crack the game wide open in the second half and secure their spot in the semi-final round. Devon McTavish and Luciano Emilio both had 2 goals and Fred added the 5th.

Overall I think DC played much better in this match than last week. It seems as though some of DC's off season acquisitions are definitely going to pay dividends this season in MLS. Gallardo has looked solid on the ball although he falls to the pitch much to easily for my liking. He almost had a spectacular goal in the first half on a full volley rebound from about 20 yards out. Fred put on a dominate performance, repeatedly giving Harbour View problems down the left side and even set up one of Emilio's goals with a nice back heel pass for an assist. Recently signed Santino Quaranta made his way into the match in the second half and had several chances on goal, tallying at least one assist.

This season is looking bright for last year's MLS Supporters Shield winners. DC's acquisitions will hopefully be more than adequate replacements for the likes of Troy Perkins, Christian Gomez and Bobby Boswell. The team seems to be gelling together nicely, but we'll see just how ready they are when the MLS season kicks off at the end of the month.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fulham win against Everton

TOOT TOOOOOT!! Is that the sound of the comeback train I hear? Maybe, maybe not. Fulham pulled out a 1-0 win against Everton on a Brian McBride header late in the second half. Now Fulham is sitting on 23 points and still in 19th position. With Bolton (at 25 pts) losing to Wigan, Fulham might have an opening to leapfrog up a spot in their fight to get out of the relegation zone. There next four games are against Newcastle, Derby, Sunderland, and Reading; presumably all winnable games.

Eddie Johnson, McBride and Keller all got the start with Bocanegra and Dempsey coming on as subs in the second half. I have to say that I am sad to see Dempsey's playing time diminish in the last couple of weeks. I would think that Hodgson could find a useful position on the field for him. Anyway, it should be exciting to see what materializes for the Cottagers in the upcoming weeks. Just look at the picture, McBride is about to throw up just at the thought of relegation.

Friday, March 14, 2008

UEFA Champions League Draw

UEFA conducted the draw for the Champions League quarterfinals this morning from Nyon, Switzerland. Footballing fans around the world were not let down as there are some truly must see matches ahead. Here is the draw:
April 1st
Fenerbahçe SK v Chelsea FC
AS Roma v Manchester United

April 2nd
Arsenal FC v Liverpool
Schalke 04 v FC Barcelona

The second leg of the quarterfinals will take place on April 8/9th. Here is a look at how the semifinals (April 28/29th) will line up:

Arsenal/Liverpool v Fenerbahçe/Chelsea
Schalke 04/Barcelona v AS
Roma/Manchester United

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Midweek Action

Here is a quick rundown of a few of the midweek results in el mundo de futbol:


Everton 2 - 0 Fiorentina
(Fiorentina advances in penalty shootout)

A tough loss for Tim Howard and Everton. They played well and managed a 2 - nil result but the aggregate stood at 2-2. That means extra time which eventually led to a shootout. A Yakubu spot kick off the left post and a Jagielka miss sealed the Toffees fate. Better luck next year.

Tottenham 1 - 0 PSV Eindhoven
(PSV advance in penalty shootout)

Two EPL teams getting knocked out of the UEFA Cup on PK's on the same day? Yup. Berbie and Co. finished regulation 1-0 and tied 1-1 on aggregate. Once it made it to PK's, Chimbonda's miss in the 7th round of kicks doomed Tottenham. Sorry Dilbs.

CONCACAF Champions Cup

DC United 1 - 1 Harbour View (Jamaica)
(Aggragate 1-1)

United managed a 1 nil advantage until late in the game. On a corner kick from the home side, the ball was bouncing around and made its way to the foot of a Harbour View player and ended up in the back of Zack Wells' net. This game was rather sloppy and only a slight departure from the Champions League matchups everyone has been used to watching. I wonder how a chain link fence lining the San Siro would have gone over on Tuesday? The second leg of this series heads to RFK next week.

P.S. MLS starts in about 3 weeks. Who is excited!!!?? Anyone down for some Fantasy MLS this year??

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

UEFA Round of 16 Wrap Up

There has been some high quality European soccer taking place over the past two days. For those of you who missed the action we have all the results from this weeks' matchday. In my opinion "the goal of the matchday" goes to Cesc Fabregas for his 30+ yard strike that silenced AC Milan.

Yesterday, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal and Fenerbahçe all advanced to the round of eight. And in today's matches favorites Real Madrid were ousted by Roma, Chelsea dismantled Olympiacos and Porto lost in penalties to German side Schalke. The last match before the quarterfinal draw will take place next week as Liverpool will face off against Internazionale.

Here is a quick rundown of the aggregate scores (bold teams are through to the quarterfinals):

Arsenal 2- Milan 0
Fenerbahçe 5 - Sevilla 5 (Fenerbahçe through on penalties 3-2)
Manchester United 2 - Lyon 1
Celtic 2 - Barcelona 4
Olympiacos 0 - Chelsea 3
Roma 4 - Real Madrid 2
Schalke 1 - Porto 1 (Schalke through on penalties 4-2)

The first leg of the quarterfinals will take place during the first week of April.

Monday, March 3, 2008

UEFA Round of 16 - Second Leg Preview

Sixteen teams will be trying to move one step closer to securing a trip to Moscow in this weeks' UEFA Round of 16 second leg. One can never expect an easy ticket in European football, and this week is no exception. With some truly epic clashes taking place this week; here is a preview for Tuesday's fixtures.

Celtic FC vs FC Barcelona: Celtic will travel to the Camp Nou and try and relinquish the three goals that they surrendered in the first leg. Celtic might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the task of trying to deconstruct a Deco-Messi-Ronaldinho-Eto'o-Henry led attack, and if they don't, they should be. I'm expecting Barcelona to put a goal away early--killing the Scots' dreams of advancement.
Prediction: Barcelona 2 - Celtic 0 (5-2 agg. Barcelona through)

Lyon vs Manchester United: United will be looking to extend their consecutive UEFA winning streak (at home) to 10 at Lyon's expense. United was lucky to pluck an important away goal in the first leg; it was Tevez's last gasp equalizer that put United in the driver seat. Benzema and Lyon are lethal, but I think United and Old Trafford will be too much to handle for the French side.
Prediction: Manchester United 2 - Lyon 0 (2-1 agg. United through)

Fenerbahçe SK vs Sevilla: I really want Sevilla to take this one, but the way they have been playing it looks like they are more cut out for UEFA Cup competition. Sevilla is down 3-2 on the aggregate, but they do have two important away goals. On paper this should be a walk in the park for an attacking suited Sevilla. They have a record of coming from behind in European competitions (albeit UEFA Cup) and they also have an impressive home record this season. This game will will show if they have the ability to preform at the highest of levels.
Prediction: Sevilla 2 -
Fenerbahçe 1 (4-4 agg. Sevilla through on away goals)

Arsenal FC vs AC Milan: Milan seemingly has all the momentum.
Kaká, Pato, Maldini and Nesta are all reported as fit. And Arsenal on the other hand has some serious question marks surrounding their team. Arsenal supporters are sure to be hoping for both Cesc and Hleb to improve upon their performances last week; Arsenal's style of play depends almost exclusively upon their play. Also, I think that Gallas' ability to lead the team is questionable at best. The Gunners have been on an emotional roller coaster ride over the past few weeks and I'm not sure they are going to have what it takes to top Milan.
Prediction: Milan 1- Arsenal 0 (1-0 agg. Milan through)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Liverpool's Ownership Circus Continues pt II

Thursday Feb, 28th EDIT:

It looks as if the American's aren't going anywhere. Tom Hicks announced today that not only is he staying with the club, but he is going to do everything to make sure Gillett stays on board with him. This move would ensure that the American's would continue to own 100 percent of the club (both Gillett and Hicks respectively own 50 percent). Hicks may feel like he has won an important battle here, but ultimately its going to take time continued UEFA success for everything to settle down. Speaking of the Champions League, Liverpool travel to Milan next week for their second leg match-up. You can bet that the American's are glad to see that Liverpool in the drivers' seat.


It now seems likely that the DIC group are planning to make an offer on George Gillett's share of Liverpool FC. As reported yesterday on SOTB, Gillett was the more likely party to be willing to part ways with Liverpool. This would leave the DIC and Tom Hicks as co-owners of the club. However, it has been suggested that the DIC would also try to secure some of Hick's stake in the club, in an effort to become the majority shareholders of Liverpool.

Hicks, who is still pledging his non-wavering support to the Merseyside, wants to hold on to his stake in the club despite his current unpopularity. I don't expect to see him to cave to Dubai's wishes and sell off any of his share.