12 April, 2014

Champions League final four

Thibaut Courtois saves Atletico Madrid's victory over Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid were the biggest winners in this week's second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, eliminating Barcelona by a 2-1 aggregate score. In Camp Nou last week, early substitute Diego put the visiting Atletico ahead 1-0 in the second half with an impressive long range shot. Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois heroically kept Atletico ahead until the 71st minute, when Neymar equalized for the home team on an assist from Andres Iniesta. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw. In the second leg this week, Atletico Madrid's Adrian Lopez hit the goalpost in the fifth minute. David Villa collected the ball and crossed it to Lopez, who headed the ball in front of the goal for Koke to volley into the net. Later, Koke would repay David Villa with a near assist but Villa struck the crossbar, nearly driving a dagger into his former team. Atletico went on to win 1-0 at home for a 2-1 aggregate victory over Barcelona. Atletico Madrid are having a much better season, in first place to Barcelona's third place (trailing Real Madrid as well).

26 March, 2014

USA hosts Mexico April 2

Credit: Tony Quinn -
The final warmup for the US team before the World Cup Roster is set will be a week from today, April 2, against Mexico in Phoenix, AZ. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN at 11:00 pm Eastern / 8:00 pm Pacific. This is the last chance for most of these players on the "bubble" to try to make the World Cup squad.

All of the players on the Roster for Wednesday's Friendly are based in North America, either in MLS or Mexico. Nick Rimando looks to solidify his position as the #3 goalkeeper on the World Cup roster after EPL starters Tim Howard (Everton) and Brad Guzan (Aston Villa). Will DaMarcus Beasley be the starting left back in the World Cup? Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and Brad Evans should round out the starting back four. Michael Orozco and Clarence Goodson have certainly earned a roster spot, too. So, it looks like Geoff Cameron and Edgar Castillo are out, or at best, deep on the bench.

In the midfield, most of the starters are here: Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, and Graham Zusi or Eddie Johnson on the right wing. This might be the last chance for Brad Davis, Kyle Beckerman, or Maurice Edu to prove they are good enough for the World Cup roster. The guy I want to see in a tryout, Brek Shea, is not available, nor the probable starting left wing, Fabian Johnson.

Finally, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore have already nailed down starting spots on the World Cup roster, and I'm sure Aron Johannsson will be on the bench. That leaves only one more forward spot on the World Cup roster. Will Chris Wondolowski earn it?

GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

08 March, 2014

FA Cup Quarter 2014: Arsenal v Everton Highlights

Özil, Arteta and Giroud throws his two in as Lukaku keeps the scoreline from being a blank as Arsenal moves on to the Semis of the FA Cup. Arsenal 4 Everton 1.

Video: Foxsoccer

EPL 2013/14: Manchester United v West Brom Highlights

Jones, Rooney and Walbeck all score as a newly upped Shrek manages to down West Brom 3-0.  Maybe no one will notice they lost a mid week CL tilt against Olympiacos 2-0.

Video: Dailymotion

07 March, 2014

USMNT v Ukraine or I Don't Want to Play In Brazil

Like a bad highlight reel or a Rocky and Bulwinkle show, the US didn't play to win, or even to impress.

No, they played to get off the team.  The lone bright star out there was Howard.  Stopping two through ball first shots by Ukraine, he couldn't carry his defense on his shoulders.

The US attack looked anemic.  The defense was worse with poor marking and slow recovery.  The lack of possession in midfield was also disturbing.  I could have sworn we were running a 4-2-3-1.  Should lend to possession and defense, but instead, I learned that Onyewu is about 5yrs past his retirement and our D, when not standing and ball watching, was busy doing anything but playing soccer.

This game was abysmal.  Maybe it was because I was sitting at a Buffalo Wild Wings next to Ukrainians, and that I bet them a beer on the result.  Maybe we owed them one for telling Putin, "bad... shame on you".  Who knows.  What I did learn was for our USMNT, I better not see Gooch, Brooks, Jones, or Castillo.  Duece looked more like Once for his lack of impact since his move last year to Spurs, and this latest move to Seattle.  Altidore made a huge mistake going to Sunderland to sit the bench for a relegation bound team.  Shea has ability, but isn't getting any better right now and Johannson looks like his technical work with AZ in Holland has been the biggest help.

Honestly, I think we've been overrating EPL action for US players of late.  We seem to exude physicality on the pitch, but we lack the technical and creative ability that Belgium and Netherlands seem to bring out in us (see Johnny O'Brien).  

I just hope was don't play like this in Brazil, or that Russia 2018 thing is going to hurt.

By the way, attendance for the match: 1573
Temp at kickoff: 62F
Enjoy the highlights below... or don't.

Video: Ussoccer

09 February, 2014

Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC

Jermain Defoe is carried off the field by teammates
after his final home appearance for Spurs (Reuters)

I was interested at the hullabaloo near the 80 minute mark of today's NBCSN Premier League match, when Jermain Defoe entered the game as a substitute for Aaron Lennon. It was his last game at White Hart Lane, a crucial 1-0 win over Tim Howard and Everton, who are neck-and-neck with Spurs in the standings. The 31-year-old England National Team regular is moving to Toronto FC when MLS training begins at the end of the month.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored the game's only goal in the second half. Everton entered the game with a slim one-point lead in the standings over Tottenham. The win moved Spurs ahead of Everton in the standings for fifth place and a bid in UEFA. Jermain Defoe circled the field afterwards as the fans showed their appreciation of his 11 seasons with Hotspur. Glad I tuned in to see the historic moment.

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