Saturday, March 21, 2009

MLS on S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y... Night!


Hey folks... Some exciting action in the Prem today, but we thought we'd recognize that there are a couple MLS matches on Fox Soccer tonight as well:

Houston v. Columbus - 8pm EST
Chivas v. Colorado - 10:30 EST


First up, the always strong Dynamo host the champions Crew. Then it's Chivas v. the Rapids.... Watch out for the streamers. This all means there's something like 18 hours of live footie on FSC today. Get in!

I'll be tuning in to a bit of the games. Join me in the comments, or feel free to come anticipate tomorrow's big Liverpool v. Villa tilt.

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The UF Clubhouse- Saturday Open Thread



Update (from Spectator): As can be seen from these pictures, the Premier League title race appears to be back on.... And this is why we love English football.

Good morning mates. Today is another day packed full of footie. As seasons move into the final third, title races are tightening, Euro berth races are more intense, and so are relegation battles. It is quite simply squeaky bum time.

In England, Man U looks to recover against Fulham from the thrashing it suffered last weekend at the hands of Liverpool. Chelsea and Arsenal look to continue their form against Spurs and Newcastle respectively. The marquee matchup occurs on Sunday as Villa looks to regain form against Liverpool and stay in the race for the final CL spot with Arsenal. Liverpool wants to continue its astounding form.

Germany's title race is great. Top five teams separated by only 6 points and two through four tied on points, while The Hoff has cooled and looks to get back into the race. La Liga has Barcelona looking to wrap its fingers around the throat of the league championship again and Real Madrid hopes to stay in touch with Barca. The big Serie A match is Roma v. Juve. Roma needs a victory to maintain hopes for a CL spot next year and Juve needs the win to keep its hopes up for a league title.

Select games after the jump


England (All Times ET)

Saturday
(8:45 am) Portsmouth v. Everton
(11:00 am) Blackburn v. West Ham
(11:00 am) Fulham v. Man U
(11:00 am) Stoke City v. Middlesbrough
(11:00 am) Tottenham Hotspur v. Chelsea
(11:00 am) West Brom v. Bolton
(1:30 pm) Newcastle v. Arsenal

Sunday
(9:30 am) Wigan v. Hull
(11:00 am) Man City v. Sunderland
(12:00 pm) Liverpool v. Aston Villa

Bundesliga

Saturday
(10:30 am) Bayern Munich v. Karlsruhe (Bayern tied in second on 45 points)
(10:30 am) Stuttgart v. Hertha Berlin (Hertha sits in first and Stuttgart wants to get back in the CL race)
(10:30 am) The Hoff v. Hannover 96 (Hoff is struggling and down to 4th)
(10:30 am) Arminia Bielefeld v. Wolfsburg (Wolfsburg tied in second on 45 points)

Sunday
(12:00 pm) Schalke v. Hamburg (Hamburg tied in second on 45 points)

La Liga

Saturday
(5:00 pm) Sevilla v. Valladolid (Can Sevilla continue its charge up La Liga?)

Sunday
(12:00 pm) Real Madrid v. Almeria
(12:00 pm) Osasuan v. Espanyol (6 point relegation match)
(2:00 pm) Barca v. Malaga
(4:00 pm) Mallorca v. Atletico Madrid

Serie A

Saturday
(3:30 pm) Roma v. Juventus (Roma's CL dreams will take a big hit)

Sunday
(10:00 am) Inter v. Reggina (Can Inter maintain in match with cellar occupants?)
(10:00 am) Genoa v. Udinese (Genoa sits in 4th)
(10:00 am) Fiorentina v. Siena (Fiorentina in 5th on GD)
(3:30 pm) Napoli v. AC Milan (Meelan in 3rd 12 points adrift)

Read more on "The UF Clubhouse- Saturday Open Thread"...

Exclusive Update: US Champions League Rights to Fox

We can now confirm earlier rumors that Fox has indeed won the US broadcast rights for Champions League matches starting with the 2010-11 season. Multiple sources have leaked the information and we have received confirmation from an anonymous source of the accuracy of the leaks. UF is now comfortable placing our considerable reputation [snicker] on the line and calling this deal done and dusted only awaiting official confirmation.

We are still awaiting confirmation of whether FSC will be upgrading to an HD broadcast in the near future.

It remains to be seen who will win the US EPL broadcast rights, but this should be seen as a significant blow to ESPN's recent soccer push.

Read more on "Exclusive Update: US Champions League Rights to Fox"...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Graeme Souness, F-Bomb dropper extraordinaire

Graeme Souness, who last managed at Newcastle in 2006, has been taking in a different level of football lately. His son, James, plays Under 10 football for Hale in the Stockport Metro League. Souness apparently attends the matches and, when something does not sit well with him, will offer constructive advice on how to deal with it. Either that, or he swears up a blue streak.

In a recent match against Bramhall North, James was involved in a little incident with an opposing player. According to the report, James was kicked out at by the Bramhall player. The referee saw it but, being a meek bugger, did nothing. Neither did the Bramhall manager, so Souness took it upon himself to instruct the manager on the finer points of running a team.

Souness took off to the bench area--walking across the pitch--and asked, not so politely, who the coach was. Souness then let him have it. According to the article, Souness told him "If you think this is the way to teach kids to play, you’ve no f***ing chance." For those of you worried about the delicate sensibilities of the nine-year-olds involved, Souness did apologize, but only because he saw a woman was present.

Souness did defend his actions, and even repeated some of the colorful language. In his own words:

My son took the ball off a kid and the kid lashed out. I waited 90 seconds for the coach to take the lad off — but nothing happened. I said to him, 'What the f*** are you teaching kids?'
So there.

You know what I think? I think this Respect campaign has gone too far. In the article, the ref says that he should have sent the kid off, but didn't. Well, why not? If not for the Respect campaign, Souness could have rightly blown his top at the ref, instead of feeling the need to assuage the ref's feelings and taking on the opposing coach instead. Stupid FA. Stupid campaign.

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Breaking: Walcott injured AGAIN

The Guardian feed is spouting out that Theo's hurt his knee in training, and faces another spell on the sidelines. Massive shame. He's one of the few Gooners I like.

(The official Arsenal site is confirming the story)

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Quick Throw: Stevie G not in so much trouble anymore

While he was once staring down the barrel of some serious charges, it looks like blue skies ahead for Mr. Gerrard, as the court has dropped the assault charge against him and 2 others.

He does still face "affray" charges, but that's akin to loitering or sticking chewed gum on public property. I would suggest Stevie keeps his Sussudio listening parties at home from now on.

[Guardian Sport]

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CL Draw complete. Worst fears partially confirmed

It was done way too early for us to pay attention to, but it happened nonetheless. Crazy Europeans and their insistence on doing things in the morning hours. Anyway, we did have one all-England matchup drawn, and, looking back, it's one we should have all predicted.

Chelsea and Liverpool are slated to meet for the fifth straight year in Europe. Five straight. That's pretty ridiculous. Autoglass and the Liverpool lads should have a lot of fun baiting each other before the first week of April.

Arsenal drew Villareal for their quarterfinal. The last time these two clubs met in a knockout round, Arsenal triumphed 1-0 over two legs back in 2006. I'm guessing that if Giuseppe Rossi scores, the Gooner part of UF's heads may explode. I know that I will hurl untold amounts of expletives if it happens.

Manchester United, go figure, got the perceived easy draw. The Red Devils will tangle with FC Porto. Perhaps Porto can bring Mourinho in on a coaching loan to defeat United, a feat he famously pulled of in 2004 when these teams met.

The all-continental meeting is a mouthwatering one. Bayern Munich and Barcelona will see if they can wear out the nets against one another. The likelihood of this tie producing the most goals over two legs: 75%. The likelihood either leg shows up live on ESPN2: 0%. Sad.

In the semis, the winner of Liverpool-Chelsea will take on the winner of Bayern-Barcelona, which leaves the possibility of an Arsenal-United matchup in the semis in the other half of the draw. Or an Iberian one in Villareal-Porto. The quarterfinal matches will start on April 7, with the return matches taking place the following week.

Image from Sky Sports. Ain't it swell and over-dramatic?

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Backpasses: Today, we are all Sounders

Yes, yes, yes. Lest I forget, the quote of the day. Michael Owen: "I am not injury prone." [Soccernet]
New kids have a pretty swell blog idea and execute it well. Full marks [Avoiding the Drop]
A possible reason that MLS are waiting to announce Portland tomorrow? To piggyback on some basketball tournament in town [Willamette Week]

Looking into football's crystal ball [The Offside]
Tuesday: "I'll sign, but I want full control." Thursday: "Oh, about that. No" [Guardian]
Spurs made a lot of money last year [Soccernet]
Eminem makes his comeback in Vietnam [Vietnam Net]

Finally:
NSFW-ish video. Ape head. Phil Collins. One blogger's attempt to show his excitement for tonight's match in video form. Odd, in an odd way, if you get my drift. Nevertheless, post of the year so far [The Offside Rules]

Read more on "Thursday Backpasses: Today, we are all Sounders"...

NY Red Bull v. Seattle Sounders: Your MLS Liveblog


















The 2009 MLS season kicks off (get it?) with last year's suprise contender, the NY Red Bull, against this year's publicity darling, the expansion franchise Seattle Sounders FC. The latter are under the direction of new gaffer Sigi Schmid, who lead the Columbus Crew to the MLS title last year. They make their entrance in a big way tonight, with a sold-out Qwest Field and a highlighted match on ESPN2 (available in HD!). Unfortunately, this match also goes up against 4 first-round matchups from March Madness (although odds are good that 2 of those games will be done before kick-off). Loopy from too much basketball today? Join in down below!



Seattle come into this match with a bit of uncertainty about their squad. Vagenas (stop giggling) is out, while Ljunberg and Zakuani are questionable. Luckily for them, Montero is back from South America after clearing up his visa issues. NY, on the other hand, come into the match at full strength, minus back-up keeper Conway due to his suspension for a substance abuse violation which keeps him out until April 11th.


The expected line-up for Seattle is:
GK - Keller
DEF - Riley; Ianni; Marshall; Sturgis
MID - King; Evans; Alonso
ST - Montero; Jaqua; Le Toux


The expected line-up for NY is:
GK - Cepero
DEF - Goldthwaite; Petke; Mendes
MID - Hall; Ubiparipovic; Sassano; Richards; Rojas
ST - Kandji; Angel


20 minutes until kick-off, and neither ESPN nor MSLnet have the actual starting line-ups. Glad to see that they are on the ball.

O/U on Drew Carey appearances: 7
O/U on Drew Magary appearances: 1

So, given his recent smack-talk, what is the projected beatdown that the Galaxy put on the Sounder in their first match?

5 minutes until kick-off, and ESPN and MLSnet still don't have the starting line-ups. Way to promote the game!

Everyone hold on - I am going to liveblog this match on Facebook, using Twitter, through my cell phone.

So, if this NIT game goes to overtime, the MLS match gets screwed, right?

Audio cut to Stoner, who tells the NIT game to Hurry The Fuck Up!

OK, we officially have:
Red Bull NY
1 - Danny Cepero (GK)
2 - Kevin Goldthwaite
4 - Carlos Mendes
8 - Sinisa Ubiparipovic
9 - Juan Pablo Angel
10 - Macoumba Kandji
12 - Mike Petke
13 - Jorge Rojas
19 - Dane Richards
23 - Juan Pietravallo
27 - Andrew Boyens

Seattle Sounders:
18 - Kasey Keller (GK)
3 - Brad Evans
6 - Osvaldo Alonso
7 - James Riley
9 - Sebastien Le Toux
14 - Tyrone Marshall
17 - Fredy Montero
20 - Zach Scott
21 - Nate Jaqua
23 - Sanna Nyassi
34 - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado


00:00 - Buckle up, kids!

00:00 - First Drew Carey appearance. And, whoa, that's a lot of bright green.

00:00 - Light banter between Stoner and Alexi Lalas, who just doesn't look right with short hair.

00:00 - Oh, good. Let's talk about Beckham some more.

00:01 - And we're off! Finally.

00:40 - Red Bull dominating possession. All 1 minute of it! Ubiparivpovic (Ubi from now on) goes down, but no call. Seattle throw leads to nothing.

02:20 - It has been noted (rightly) that Seattle's kits provide perfect camoflage against the pitch. Perhaps that is why they are missing each other with their passes?

03:20 - Alonso runs over Rojas, who looks like someone just kicked his dog. The resulting free-kick is wasted.

04:30 - First good touch from Montero is well-taken, and he is fouled. This kid could definitely be something special. Ball eventually comes into Cepero, who collects it easily.

06:10 - A Stooge-like pass from Seattle goes out for a NY throw. The ball goes up the line to absolutely nobody. Sloppy on both sides, but Nyassi eventually gets off a shot that Cepero takes easily.

07:20 - Ball comes into to the box to Montero and Petke muffs the first clearance, but manages to get a boot on it and put it out.

08:25 - Ball into Angel, but he is offsides. We travel to the other end where Montero tries to get onto the end of long pass but Petke ushers the ball out for a goal kick.

11:00 - GOAL! Seattle 1-0 Red Bull. The Sounders work the ball well around the top of the box and Montero puts the ball across the goal to the far post. Cepero looked a little lost in goal. Assist from Le Toux.

12:00 - Alonso picks up a YC as he trips Angel at the top of the box. The resulting kick is well over the bar.

14:00 - The ball squirts down the touchline to Nyassi (as the Red Bull defender falls over), but Jaqua puts the shot just wide of the goal.

15:40 - Defensively, NY are looking a little overwhelmed. Their marking is poor, but on the positive side their passing is...poor?

17:20 - NY get a corner kick after Scott (who is looking a little lost himself) can't keep the ball inbounds. The kick goes to the far post and Nyassi puts it out for a throw. The next ball comes into the box but is headed clear.

19:50 - As Nyassi runs past Goldthwaite, the latter reaches out and grabs him for a YC.

21:20 - Kandji, who looks a bit like Drogba, is fouled by Hurtado. The free-kick comes out to Richards who dribbles into the box and then puts it over the endline.

22:00 - Drew Carey sighting #2!

22:35 - Nyassi abuses Goldthwaite again, and gets off a shot, but it is stopped by Cepero.

23:00 - A ball over the top from Le Toux is well-take by Cepero at the edge of the box for the clearance. The ball comes back again and Montero shoots wide.

24:30 - GOAL! Seattle 2-0 Red Bull. Cepero is absolutely abused like a rented mule as Evans receives the ball in the box and nutmegs him.

26:30 - Alonso wins a free-kick after some mild contact and a Pederson-like dive. The kick comes into the box where Cepero takes it after muffing his first touch.

28:40 - Riley receives a ball over the top in the box, but his centering pass is cleared. Seattle is absolutely running roughshod over the Red Bull.

30:06 - Le Toux gets off a shot that is deflected up into Cepero's arms. Surprisingly, he holds on to it.

31:30 - After some extremely poor passing from NY, they luck when the ball hits Murtado in the arm. He gets a YC and the Red Bull get a free-kick at the top of the box. Rojas puts it into the wall.

33:30 - It's Richard Alpert v. John Legend on the pitch!

35:30 - Nyassi is played through and is barely offside. Lucky for Cepero, because the keeper grabbed Nyassi as he shot past him. Oh, and we had Drew Carey sighting #3.

37:20 - Richards goes down as he tries to cross and the ball comes back into his face.

39:00 - I saw better passing last night in the game before mine in my rec league. It was a U-10 girls match.

40:00 - John Harkes says it was a "probing, teasing, ball." He must have spent last night with Lance Armstrong.

41:01 - Corner kick for Seattle taken by Le Toux. He doesn't get it up high enough, and Angel puts it out for a throw. The next ball is cleared out to midfield.

42:30 - Shot from Le Toux goes over the bar. The Frenchman, last year's USL MVP, is looking more comfortable as the match progresses.

43:50 - Throw in deep for NY, and the ball comes in to the box only to be cleared by Le Toux.

44:50 - I do believe that Harkes' favorite word is "suspect", as he has now referred to the passing in this match as "suspect" at least 8 times.


HALF-TIME - Seattle 2-0 Red Bull. NY started well for the first 5-10 minutes, but then the Sounders started to exert control. 3 Drew Carey sightings, and from the look and sound of things, I do believe that "Green Street Hooligans" was given to each member of the crowd as a model for their scarf-wearing, chanting behavior.

Stoner asks Garber his impresison of the first half. Response - "it's what I hoped soccer could be in this country." I hope he's talking about the fan support in Seattle, because the product on the pitch is shite.

Garber's promised revelation doesn't come, as he doesn't specifically state who is getting the next franchise. They promptly show a shot of Portland as Garber says he is moving south for the announcement. Smooth. What a well-kept secret.


SIDE NOTE: I believe that Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey have a serious gambling addiction.


QUESTION: Why doesn't the women's NCAA tournament have a play-in game between #64 and #65?


45:00 - Borman on for Ubiporipovic (NY). Boyens had come on for Hall at some point in the first half, but I was napping.

46:30 - A Delap-like throw from Goldthwaite causes some minor confusion, but Seattle clear.

47:50 - Corner from Rojas for NY gets pushed to the top of the box. Shot goes wide.

51:10 - Ball into the box for Seattle and Cepero comes out well for it.

52:38 - some nice work gets the ball to Angel at the top of the box, but Seattle clear all the way out to Le Toux, who was in alone but gets stopped by Hall.

53:30 - Wait! Nate Jaqua is white?

55:05 - Harkes wants Seattle to "tease NY before penetrating." Sick bastard.

57:00 - Oh good. The Sounders fans have started the generic "Ole. Ole, Ole, Ole." chant.

59:20 - Yet another ball into the box for Seattle. It's cleared down the line and the Red Bull force a corner on the counter-attack. The ball is played in to the 6, and Keller takes it easily.

SIDE NOTE: As a GK, I have never once worn long pants. Thus, Kasey Keller is a nancy.

60:30 - Angel plays a nice through-ball, but Kandji is offsides.

62:00 - A very nasty tackle on Angel by Scott, but he gets away without a card. Studs up nasty. The free-kick is cleared by Nyassi.

64:30 - Good work from Seattle, but the ball bounces around in the box and Le Toux gets caught offside.

SIDE NOTE: Bigus would like everyone to know that Harkes is talking out his ass, as he stated that Ljunberg has played as a second striker throughout his career, which Bigus maintains is false.

67:00 - Another YC for the match. I missed who it was to, as I was following Bigus' directions.

67:45 - #1 draft choice Zakuani in for Nyassi.

68:00 - Kandji in on goal and Keller absolutely stones him.

70:00 - A nice ball to the back post from Richards to Angel comes back across the goal and is cleared. The ball eventually winds up to Rojas who gets off a great shot, which Keller barely tips over the bar. The following corner is taken easily by Keller.

71:00 - A Seattle counter leads to Zakuani getting the ball near the spot, but Cepero comes up big to deny him. The corner is taken by Le Toux, but Cepero grabs it.

72:30 - Richards leads with the elbow in going up for a header and Keller takes the resulting free-kick, which goes over the opposite touchline for a goal kick.


SIDE NOTE: u75 also wore pants in goal. He is also nancy.

74:22 - GOAL! Seattle 3-0 Red Bull. Montero gets a brace as he walks the ball up to the top of the box after dispossessing Petke and faking out Cepero.

76:35 - We have to assume that Montero is now on pace to score 132 goals this season.

78:22 - A long pass into the box for Angel is cleared by Riley. The throw goes back down the line and winds up played out by Seattle. Montero gets taken down on the counter, but it's only a throw, rather than a free-kick. Sigi Schmid complains to the 4th official about the tackle, and the center ref comes over to admonish him.

81:00 - The passing from NY has been atrocious throughout most of this match. Goldthwaite and Jaqua get tangled up and roll around on the floor. Harkes informs us that they are fine. WHEW!

81:00 - A nice ball from Le Toux is wasted, as neither Jaqua nor Alonso can get on to the end of it.

83:50 - Richards gets in to the box and then goes down like a geriatric hooker around Wayne Rooney. No PK is given, and he looks dejected.

85:00 - Seattle get even more pressure at the top of the box, and NY are unable to clear. The ball finally trickles out for a Red Bull throw.

87:20 - Another ball into the box from Le Toux, and Cepero does well to get a hand on it and push it clear of danger.

89:00 - Rojas dribbles through half of the Seattle midfield and then crosses wide. NY again fail to do anything with their work and are forced to retreat to midfield.

90:30 - Montero off to a standing ovation for his brace. Levesque comes on in his place.

91:50 - Alonso takes a shot that is well over the crossbar, which Harkes says "is not a bad strike." It's the last touch of the match.


FULL-TIME: Seattle 3-0 Red Bull. Impressive brace from Montero, and Seattle is off to a good start. NY, on the other hand, are shite.






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Doesn't A European Superleague Sound Fun?

Michel loves to see his name everywhere.

Talk of a European Superleague has arisen once again, and once more Michel Platini finds himself in the middle. He has recently been quoted as saying:

"If it was up to me, I would revert to European Cups as they were at the beginning, with just knockout rounds. But we must listen carefully to any suggestion. If (clubs) come and talk to us [about Superleague play], we would listen to them and then decide.”




Despite his recent concerns about the influence of big money on football, Platini has been forced to admit that the European Superleague may become a reality rather than his preference for a return to the European Cup. With estimates that the Superleague would have 10 times the earning potential of the Champions League and the UEFA Cup combined (which it would replace), it is unclear how the new format would fit in with Platini's ideas regarding financial equality within (and among) domestic leagues.

The European Club Association, which represents 137 of the top clubs in Europe, has proposed the Superleague as a 3-division championship with relegation/promotion, comprised of: (1) 4 teams each from the EPL (suck it, Barclay's!), La Liga, and Serie A; (2) 3 teams each from Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga; and (3) 1 team each from Eredivisie, Portuguese Liga, and the Greek Super League. Although rumours currently have Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, AC Milan (although CEO Adriano Galliani has denied it), Porto, and Lyon all on board with the proposal, the European Club Association has categorically denied that the Superleague was on the agenda at their most recent meeting.

UEFA has also denied that the European Superleague was discussed at their latest meeting, arguing that the very idea is against Platini's "philosophy" of football. This is a relief to many who feel that the rise of the Superleague would mean the diminishment of domestic leagues. The prevailing wisdom has been that these leagues would remain intact, but would be forced to reduce the number of matches played during a season to allow for the increased rigors of the Superleague.

This current talk reminds many of what happened in 1992, when the G14 clubs threatened to breakaway and essentially forced UEFA to launch the Champions League (precisely at the same time as the establishment of the current EPL system).
Interestingly, it has been suggested that these machinations regarding the Superleague come from several Spanish clubs who are in serious financial difficulties (Villareal, anyone?) as they would hope to benefit from the increased monies.

Regardless of how these ideas came to be, and whether or not they are currently being taken seriously at the highest levels, it is clear that the financial climate coupled with EPL dominance of Champions League play will stir these discussion to continue.

Read more on "Doesn't A European Superleague Sound Fun?"...

Quick Throw: Jozy's club prez leads by example

Well, not really. Xerex club president Joaquin Bilbao spent the night in jail under suspicion of involvement in a shooting at a bar. There is a board meeting today to discuss his indiscretion, and it's not sure whether he'll remain in his job much longer, which is a shame, as they're currently top of the Second Division. This kind of thing can be distracting to a title run.

It's a good thing Altidore isn't more vocal about his lack of playing time, else next time, it might be him in the firing line!

[Guardian Sport]

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Gary Neville's Topiary Tribute


Gary Neville is a Red Devil through and through having been with the club since 1991.

It's not surprising that he would be proud of this fact. What is surprising is that he would spell out his pride in his hedges.

The Daily Mail provides this wonderful overhead shot of hedges outside the Neville estate (swank digs, eh?) spelling out the intials of his club, "MUFC".

I cannot see how this could go wrong in any way. It seems the hedges are outside of the Chateau Neville. Some sneaky person could get in there and change it to MUFF for example.

What other great things could be done?
[Photo: The Daily Mail]

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Breaking News: Champs League rights to Fox

Word has started to filter out from multiple sources that Fox has usurped Champions League rights from ESPN.

UPDATE: As noted below, everything has been pulled everywhere.

Read more on "Breaking News: Champs League rights to Fox"...

ü75 Request

Much like TFA yesterday, I need your help with something soccer-related and German. You see, I just found out that the club I barely pull for--Schalke 04--will hire Oliver Khan as their new manager.

Since I cannot stand that man in any fashion, I will have to drop my slight allegiance to the Gelsenkirchen club. Therefore, I need a new Bundesliga club to pull for. A quick substitute would have been St. Pauli, but they will not be making the top flight any time soon. And while we were on the Hoff bandwagon earlier, the wheels have fallen off there.

So I need suggestions. Put 'em in the comments and let's see if we can work this out together.

This has been a ü75 request.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday Backpasses: Hanahand

If you thought today's G,B,WTF was bad, then don't look here [Dirty Tackle]
Can MLS expansion lead to promotion and relegation in the US (and Canada)? [The Offside]
Sarah got to go to her game [...and Sarah Clapped]
Yep. This is a pretty swell goal [The Beautiful Game]

Sex scandal we reported on long ago has a jail-ly resolution [Daily Press]
Fat Sam doesn't like rough play [The Spoiler]
Stephen H. Webb speaks, fails to understand concept of making things humorous to others (beyond his precocious daughter) [Match Fit USA]
Seattle Sounder were going to release doves tomorrow. Unfortunately, hawks would kill them pretty quick [The Offside Rules]
The Mexican coach who slapped Hejduk gets a two-match suspension [NYT Goal]

Finally:
More dives! Including (for now) MG Pedersen's [The Spoiler]

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Breaking News: MLS to Portland

While not confirmed officially, all signs are pointing to Portland being awarded the second MLS expansion bid on Friday. MLS has reserved a room at a local Hilton for a press announcement on Friday. Great news for yours truly since I live in Portland, but really not great timing since Portland will be hosting first round NCAA basketball tournament games on Friday for the first time in decades. But, whoever said MLS Execs were scheduling geniuses? Certainly not me.

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Breaking: Rafa Signs New 4 Year Deal

The Red Scouse long nightmare is finally over. Rafa has signed a new four year deal, keeping at Anfield for at least another 5 years, theoretically.

"My heart is with Liverpool Football Club, so I'm delighted to sign this new deal," said Rafa. "I love the club, the fans and the city and with a club like this and supporters like this, I could never say no to staying. I always made clear I wanted to be here for a long time and when I complete my new contract it will mean I have spent over a decade in Liverpool.


Big giant hattip to ONTD Football for the info.

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Trying to ignite the remains of the day


Alright Gooners. So you beat Hull, the team with the sour, sullen manager whose tactics conspire to choke the beautiful football of Arsenal FC, and you're elated to be in the semi-finals of the FA Cup! At least I hope you are.

And yet, there is the messy matter of Spitgate, which could easily evolve into one of those "Who Shot JR?" media frenzies if the hungry press have anything to do with it.


Now Cesc himself has gone on record about his class and character about spitting:
“I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing? I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players.”


So how on earth does he explain this?





And more importantly, if it does come out that he spittled upon some Tigers underling, what happens next? Barry Glendenning has a few (sarcastic) ideas.

Read more on "Trying to ignite the remains of the day"...

Quick Throw: Maradona's fighting crime

UF's favourite Argentine jheri-curled coke-snorter (note: Ariel Ortega was a close 2nd in this hotly-contested email debate) is joining forces with other Argie TV stars in a campaign demanding tougher punishments for violent criminals in the motherland.

It's a noble effort, but it has me wondering: what should his penalty be FOR STEALING THAT '86 WORLD CUP GAME RIGHT OUT OF OUR GRASP?!? F*CK SH*T F*CK YOU DIEGO!?!!!?!?!?

[Bloomberg]

Read more on "Quick Throw: Maradona's fighting crime"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Selangor is a state in the country of Malaysia. Oddly, the state's FA has a club side which competes in the Malay football system. I say oddly, but this seems to be the way Malay football works. Anyway, Selangor is a pretty damn successful side, having won the Malaysia Cup a staggering 32 times in their 62 year history. The team also plays in a behemoth of a park--the Shah Alam Stadium--which holds 81,000 people.

Last season, the club finished a somewhat disappointing fourth place in league. Tie in that the team has not won a trophy since 2005, and it is clear that Selangor need a goal to shoot for. Luckily for them, they have a manager (also their CEO) with a plan.

Zakaria ab Rahim is that manager. He has set his goal that Selangor will be the best football team in Asia by the middle of the next decade. He calls that plan Vision 2015, which is ironic since, after viewing this week's shirt, my vision has been harmed.



Oh, Puma. Why did you ever agree to put out this shirt? And then sponsor the shirt?

Ye Gods, this is horrific, isn't it? One diagonal stripe, a la River Plate, is workable. Muchos diagonal stripes--no thank you. Of course, it's made worse by that choice of green. I guess that would be a mint green? The red is a nice strong hue, but that green is hideous.

Granted, this shirt comes from 20+ years ago, but come on. Did no one have taste back then? At least the Scots, as highlighted last week, waited until the '90s to pull out their ugly shirts. Jorge Campos, too. This is just too much, even for a season that saw Selangor competing in the Asian Club Championship. Too much.

Read more on "The Good, The Bad, The WTF"...

TFA Request

Do any of our readers know of any German language soccer blogs? I read some of the German rags, but I really have not been able to locate any fussball blogs equivalent of what we have in the US of A. If you know of any let me know in the comments.

Thanks.

This has been a TFA Request.

Read more on "TFA Request"...

And..ACTION!



Wondering why Liverpool FC are flying right now? Shoving goals in left right and center over such heady opponents as Manchester United and Real Madrid? Is it Rafa's tactics and clever system of rotating his players? Is it Torres and Gerrard?

Nope, apparently it's all because of Xabi Alonso's 'classic movie nights'.


The Liverpool middy has been holding regular movie nights at his fancy home. The evenings are said to be key to the squads current team spirit. Alonso revealed that the reds favorite flick is Cassablanca. United fans might say it should be current DVD release 'Choke'.


Here's looking at you Kuyt

Other titles that may be popular at Xabi's pad...

The Night of the El Zhar

Raging Bab-bull

The Ngog-father

Reina Man

Ngog with the wind

Babel without a cause

Singing in the Reina

The Bad and the Benayoun

Mr Degen goes to town

Arbelo-a the Sea

The Accidental Torres-t

Lame I know. You can do better. Leave 'em in the comments.

-Bigus

Read more on "And..ACTION!"...

Quick Throw: They Keep Pulling Us Back In

Here we thought the whole Beckham-AC Milan-LA Galaxy love triangle had been resolved or at least they weren't going to fight for a while, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Real Madrid is stirring the pot a bit tryign to make this threesome into a foursome. The front-runner for president, Florentino Perez, of the Spanish giants has stated he will bring back Beckham to the Bernabeu with a £10 million bid to LA. Interestingly, Perez was the person who first brought Beckham to Madrid.

Read more on "Quick Throw: They Keep Pulling Us Back In"...

There's No Dancing in Football!

Cheerleaders in Happier Times.... Just moments before the NASL collapsed.

Ginge Talks the Footy blog passes along unofficial word that FC Dallas are planning to have a dance team this upcoming season. Because thee MLS isn't a big enough laughing stock on the world stage, and because it's always a great idea to emulate the old NASL.

The Celtics waited to hire cheerleaders until after Red Auerbach died, so couldn't MLS have waited until after America's soul has died? In fact, I think it died a little right now.

And yes, this is two MLS posts in a row, which I believe ties our record! In other MLS news, official announcement that Vancouver has landed a team is happening today

Update after the jump....

Turns out I was a little unfair to poor FC Dallas, because it has been pointed out that some European teams have dancers. This includes Bigus' Norwich, although they are on hiatus this season (both the dancers and the football club harharhar). Here is the visual proof:



And yet, I still have a feeling that MLS is going to be a laughingstock on this one.

Read more on "There's No Dancing in Football!"...

Drew Carey: Funnyman, Shit Talker

Doesn't most bulletin board material come from athletes?

When you think the last time Drew Carey ran toward anything that wasn't a cheeseburger?

But, hey, there's the part owner (and from what I gather, his part is very small) of the Seattle Sounders calling out the LA Galaxy:

"I think the expansion team this year actually is the Galaxy and not us. I said that to all my Riot Squad friends. You're the ones scrambling to put a team together, didn't know who was playing for you day-to-day...They're coming from a big mess, they're the expansion team."
Yeah, LA is a bit of a mess—and yeah, it is a large source of entertainment—but they do have Landycakes, who is probably better than anyone on the Seattle roster. And they'll get Goldenballs in midseason, who, even when he's half-assing it, still has better deadball service than anyone in MLS.

Isn't Freddie Ljungberg already hurt? If not. He will be by halftime of the opener. Sure he's a name, but he's not what he used to be not even close, or West Ham wouldn't have let him go last season. The Sounders do have an experienced striker in Nate Jaqua and a solid keeper in Kasey Keller, although also not what he once was.

But we're digressing. This isn't a breakdown of the two teams so much as a 'Holy crap, the part owner is talking trash.' Careful Drew. Tom Cruise is a fan of the Galaxy. He'll pull some voodoo Scientology shit on your ass and you'll never work in LA again. Either that or he'll make a couple of calls to CAA and the studio heads.

Read more on "Drew Carey: Funnyman, Shit Talker"...

UF POWER POLL-- MARCH 18, 2008


Get it? Courtesy of Bigus


The Power Poll returns this week with as much movement as we've seen since it all began, way back when in January of 2009. But before we get to it, you should know there's something of an internal debate in these parts about metrics used to rank the teams. Some in the resident cabal tend to argue that we're obliged to account for a body of work ("It's not a form poll!")... others are more inclined to look at just the past game or two. But even with the dissent-- handbags, nearly-- and up-and-down movement, this newest poll offers a pretty thorough consensus. Point averages are nearly aligned with rankings and just looking at the list, for me, it's hard to find much fault.

Do you not agree?

Also: a very special UF hurrah to the Facebook voters. Champions. Everrrryone of ya.

1) Barcelona - 1.2 (4th, 3.4)
Back to their old dickstomping ways. If there was any doubt from midweek, then little Bojan Krkic's double (in four minutes) on Sunday was proof enough. But can we be sure the Catalans are over their early-late season hump? Four first half goals in Champions League play against the 374-time French champs would indicate, "yes." That those goals came from Henry (2), Messi, and Eto'o is positively arousing... Currently six points clear of Madrid atop La Liga. Do two?

2) Manchester United - 1.9 (1st, 1.2)
We'll leave this to the professionals, that is, the respected professionals:
Liverpool revived their ambitions of claiming the Premier League title in remarkable fashion as they humiliated champions Manchester United at Old Trafford.
That was BBC's Phil McNulty-- Lingering, you may now retire to the bathroom with your catcher's mitt-- who goes on in his game account from Old Trafford to use the following words to describe Liverpool's decisive performance.

*misery(2x)
*nightmare
*torment
*lifeless
*unsettled
*toothless
*subdued
*stunned(2x)
*harrowing
*punishment

Point taken, man! Damn.

3) Liverpool - 3.4 (10th, 11.7)
Speak o' the devil. Los Rojos have been positively devastating without the weight of a title race to pin them down. Since being effectively removed from Premier League contention at Middlesbrough, Rafa's niñoshave cleared their collective windpipe and battered the life out of two of the greatest clubs in world sports. Brilliant all the way around... and I'm still trying to figure how precisely Torres sliced that first ball past van der Sar. Genius.

4) Chelsea - 5.2 (7th, 7.4)
Like it or not, Guus, you're staying in London. Unless you lose a game. So, uh, yea-- Chelsea have been very good. The return of a certain Michael Essien, who's apparently a goal-scoring machine now, shouldn't hurt, especially in the next round of CL matches. It's odd to say, but this weekend at WHL has to be a bit of a measuring stick. The Blues have been good, and beating Juventus is always a feather in your cap, but have they really faced down an in-form club and dominated? Nyet. Stomp Spurs on derby day and we'll be wholly convinced.

5) Inter Milan - 5.5 (3rd, 2.9)
Other have fallen further, but none so tragically. And none with such devastating effects for the UF psyche. I won't name names (Likely Lad!), but some of us had convinced ourselves-- and done their best to convince others-- that a win, or 0-0, at Old Trafford was possible. Of course, it was no competition. Inter looked old. Like a team that was going to win another Scudetto, then watch their manager skip town for... ahh... let's save that for the summer.

And how about that Zlatan Ibrahimovic??

6) Hertha Berlin - 7.0 (6th, 7.2)
The Bundesliga leaders are our consensus champions! I mean, champions of consensus! Aside from the top two, the only thing we are more convinced of here is that Hertha Berlin, Die Alte Dame!, is the sixth best team in the world, Europe, this power poll.

T-7) Bayern Munich - 8.8 (unranked)*
Don't care who it comes against, 12 goals in two Champions League second round ties is awesome. I venture to guess that had Klose not broken his ankle (out 8 weeks), the Germans might have climbed a bit higher. Still, an exciting, attacking team, that at their best remind you of the ol' mannschaft from back in '06. How about a showdown with Barca in the quarterfinal? That might be good for a goal or nine...

T-7) Arsenal - 8.8 (unranked)
Arse clowns are back in the pack thanks to a long undefeated run in the league-- which has them back fourth after Spurs win at Villa... uncomfortable situation for all involved-- and some penalty heroics in the land of the half-hearted stabbing. Yes, yes, the Arshavin goal was quality, and yes, yes, they've done this all with Denilson being their most used outfield player, so credit where it's due: Arsenal will finish fourth, lose in one of the next two rounds of the CL, and be paid back for their cheating in yesterday's FA Cup win with a Chelski-authored thrashing in the semifinals. (Note: Optimistic Lad reminds me that it's now a Big Four FA Cup semifinal round... so another Euro spot opens up... so... whatever)

T-9) AZ Alkmaar - 12.0 (9th, 8.1)*
We've been through it already with these Dutch bastards. They haven't lost since September 13, 2008... Bush & Cheney were still in the White House. There was a half of a half of chance that Sarah Palin was headed there, too. The Dow was at about 11,400. And so on.

That said, related/unrelated: you should really watch this video right now. I was reading (ok, re-reading, again) "Brilliant Orange" last night, so I decided to find video of "The Lost Final." That clip came up first, and though we know it's an unhappy ending, if you love football in the special way we all do, you might get emotional... (don't give up, go all ten minutes! Volume up! You'll understand what I'm on about by the fifth...)

T-9) AC Milan - 12.0 (unranked)
Yawn. They were gangbusters at Siena this weekend. For what that's worth. Quite an enjoyable game actually. Not competitive by any means, but Pippo Inzaghi did notch his 299th and 300th goals, and the Brazilian Pato is a delight. Throw in Beckham's neck tat and you've got... Unprofessional Foul's 10th best team for the week!

*Bayern Munich and AZ Alkmar scooch ahead on high score, that is, their highest ranks, respectively, beat those of the club with whom they'd tied. I swear, it makes sense.

Dropped - Real Madrid, Juventus

In the mix - FC Porto, Besiktas

Not in the mix, but in really fine form - Spurs (no votes)

Read more on "UF POWER POLL-- MARCH 18, 2008"...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday Backpasses: All of his pics have been pulled down

What to think about when not pondering why MLS decided to start up on the first day of the NCAA tourney.

Cristiano Ronaldo does not appreciate Scouse taunts [Dirty Tackle]
Soccernet table FAIL [The Offside]
Who doesn't love a good banana kick? [Daily Mail]

Below the fold sad update: Iraqi killed by bullet did not happen during game, was not bearing down on goal [NYT Goal]
Lucas wants more playing time or he's gone. Pool fans sigh, say go ahead [The Sun]
Pavs sent down to reserves, still does not score [Daily Mail]
There's a "new Fabregas". Guess, just guess, which EPL club he is linked to [Mirror]

Finally:
I actually saw Eric Wynalda in playing for SDSU as a freshman with this haircut. Plus, (a rather embarrassing) Deuce video [The Best Eleven]
My search for a Dempsey college pic may also have been fruitless, but I did get this.

Read more on "Tuesday Backpasses: All of his pics have been pulled down"...

WINNARS!

Just the facts...

Honorable Mentions for the Elfish Arshavin pic: First to Saint Patrick and slightly better was Kopper with a Back to School reference.

But the winner is: Nathaniel. That just totally tickled me. And I'm not even gay or much of a C.S. Lewis fan.

So Nathaniel you get a post of your own making. Email the blog tip email on the side, someone will get back to you with details.

Lingering Bursitis has a different prize. It goes to resident Rover jjf3:

"Phil, take a really good look at that red circle on your friend's sweater, the one he can't see right now. You will now tell me everything Gary has told you after practice today, or, well, such is life...it's your choice, Phil. You know Mr. Alex never really liked you, Phil..."

Same drill jjf3, email the blog. And LB will tell you what you've won. I think he wants it to be a surprise when it arrives in the mail. Also gives him time to get out of the country.

Read more on "WINNARS!"...

Don't Mess With The CVSL


Amateur sports are fun, mainly because we all get to have a go. Every weekend, we get to feel like the pros, donning a clean, fresh kit and jogging around for 90 minutes like tubby ex-Sunderland funster Andy Reid.

And yet, no matter where you play, there are always the guys who take it a little too seriously. Whether born of some vain attempt to revive the glory days, or to temporarily postpone the inevitable midlife crisis, they sprint about like a young Roy Keane on methamphetamines, ruining the fun.

And then, there are the guys who bring brass knuckles to a game. That's what happened in the Central Valley Soccer League recently, as a post-game war of words became an on-pitch melee that now has the police are involved.

According to the Modesto Bee, the post-game handshakes turned sour, leading at least one man to equip BRASS KNUCKLES for the fight itself. Another man ended up with a gash on the head after being struck by cleats, and before the cops arrived, ten of the players involved fled the scene.

However, they left their league ID cards with the referee, and now the fuzz are on the hunt for the assaulters. They've questioned a couple of people involved, but inquiries are still ongoing.

So, if you live in the Modesto area and were thinking of getting into the Central Valley Soccer League, perhaps try a different sport, as those brass knuckles are still on the loose!

Their website, in a neat touch despite being 10 years back in terms of web design, has a large "NO VIOLENCE" sign to one side. Shame no-one's following it in the league, much like the "Respect the Ref" campaign.



Read more on "Don't Mess With The CVSL"...

Arsenal-Hull City FA Cup QF Open Thread.

Boy that's a lot of info to try to get into the title line.

We, of course, tend to care much more about Arsenal than Hull, so let's hit the Arsenal news. Almunia is out after Diouf tried to break the Spanglishiard's foot off at the ankle. Clichy is said to be sitting as well, while Arshavin really wants to play but may be out due to eight stitches in his foot. Eduardo is lightly injured again and--news flash--Rosicky is never coming back.

Hull have some no-names back, some no-names injured or cup-tied, and Geovanni back in form just in time to repeat his heroics at Emirates. Great.

Full Lineups:
Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Gibbs, Walcott, Diaby, Song, Vela, Arshavin, van Persie. Subs: Toure, Nasri, Denilson, Silvestre, Mannone, Bendtner, Eboue.

Hull City: Myhill, Dawson, Ricketts,Halmosi, Zayatte, Ashbee, Barmby, Geovanni, Gardner, Fagan Manucho. Subs: Hughes, Duke, France, Garcia, Mendy, Folan, Featherstone.

Enjoy it. Comment away as usual. Pagination is encouraged but not required.

Read more on "Arsenal-Hull City FA Cup QF Open Thread."...

Quick Throw: 2018 World Cup. Who Wants It?

The deadline passed yesterday and today FIFA announced the 11 teams who fancy a crack at hosting the World Cup in 2018 and 2022. Those who will spend millions on fancy drawings, scale models, super models AND footballing superstars to plead their case are as follows...England, Australia, Russia, Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, a joint effort from Portugal/Spain and the U.S.A.

Qatar and South Korea applied to bid for 2022 only.

FIFA will now accept bidding agreements and a 24 man panel will announce that England, I mean U.S.A, I mean the winner in 2010.

The next World Cup is being held in South Africa next year, Brazil will host the event in 2014.


Read more on "Quick Throw: 2018 World Cup. Who Wants It?"...

Some footballers are smart. Some footballers are only smrt

Football and brains do not go hand in hand, unless you are Lamps, apparently. Seriously, if you quizzed Wayne Rooney on heads of state, he would do worse than George Bush in a gotcha interview. Think David Beckham knows the significance of the Avogadro constant or what the number is? I'm guessing no. Heck, as we see on here nearly every day, footballers don't even have the common sense to shy away from things that you and I would never dream of doing. Which is why I always think that it is an odd match when athletes of any sort are called upon to highlight educational causes.

The people who are pushing to raise the rates of Scottish literacy (which is rather appalling, according to the article) had no qualms about asking for SPL representatives. Perhaps they should have.

Each team has one representative. Each player picked two books. One is suitable for children, while the second is more adult. There are some really good choices on the list. For the kids, St. Mirren's Jack Ross picked James and the Giant Peach, Falkirk's Tom Scobie picked Treasure Island, and Killie's awesomely-named Danny Invincible picked a personal favorite of mine: Lord of the Flies.

For adult reading, biographies ruled the day with two players each picking Roy Keane: The Autobiography and Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike. The other double up for adults was The Count of Monte Cristo, picked by Jamie Smith and Joe Keenan of Aberdeen and Hibs, respectively. There was one oddity here, but I have to give it a pass. Tomas Černy, goalkeeper at Hamilton, picked a graphic novel. Truth be told, he picked a damn good one. Maus is a bit dated in its art, especially when the narrative moves away from the war stories and into the modern day, but damn if it doesn't bring me to tears every time I pick it up. Hence the pass.

There is one real howler here, and unfortunately it doesn't originate from one of the two Glasgow giants. David Goodwillie (ha) plays for Dundee United, and, I'm guessing, is not that much of a fan of reading. You see, he picked a book that is one step up from a Magic Eye book in terms of actual words. The British name may throw you, but the cover should be instantly recognizable.


Where is frickin' Waldo. Are you kidding me? If I remember correctly, the conceit is that on every two pages there is a small postcard with maybe two lines of info, and then you go look for the speccy gent with the striped hat. There is no reading there. Besides, as I only learned today, it's been out 22 years. How is it that Goodwillie (ha) has not found Wally yet? Just another dumb footballer, I guess.

Read more on "Some footballers are smart. Some footballers are only smrt"...

West Ham Open A Can of Worms.



Just yesterday I said West Ham's settlement of the Tevez affair could set a dangerous precedent. Well today it's open season on E13 9AZ. Not only is Sheffield United's former manager Neil Warnock planning to sue, but so are the players! What's next... The fans?

Oh dear West Ham, look what you have started. Warnock says: "We worked so hard that year. The club was going forward. You do feel bitter without a shadow of a doubt."

Ring the alarm bells, free money on offer. I can see law suits from players and fans on the horizon. Still, West Ham deserve this for being so stupid as to offer Sheffield United compensation for being crap. Maybe West Ham could counter sue the FA and Premier League for not catching the Tevez transfer mess-up earlier? They both have to approve any transfer at the time of the deal.

Neil Warnock is currently the manager of Crystal Palace, and I am not going to say anything nasty about him. Why? I need his side to beat Barnsley this afternoon in one of the Yorkshire side's 'games in hand' over Norwich. Lets hope he is focussed on the match and not on a new Porsche 911 turbo. By the way West Ham, that's a 186,000 quid motor. I wonder if it comes in claret and blue?

-Bigus

Read more on "West Ham Open A Can of Worms."...

Quick Throw: Scotland sure are desperate.

Spurs fans rejoice: Alan Hutton has been recalled to the Scotland squad for their upcoming WC qualifiers against The Netherlands and Iceland. Only thing is, he hasn't played for anyone since November thanks to some injuries.

Are Scotland that lacking in wing-backs?

To add a further joke to this hilarious nation, Chris Iwelumo made the squad.

[BBC Sport]

Read more on "Quick Throw: Scotland sure are desperate."...

Was This the Goal of the Season?


As part of a series titled "Discussion Starters that Do Not Really Have Correct Answers," I present to you the following: Andrei Arshavin's goal against Blackburn was one of the best of the season. And yes I realize this gif looks like it was created on a SNES.

Granted that us Gooners are maybe gloating a bit after a disappointing season, but honestly I thought the goal was a thing of beauty. As you can see from the very crude slo-mo above (which took me waaaaaaay too much time to create last night), Arshavin managed to completely beat his defender in very tight space, control the ball along the baseline and then still have an angle to hit the goal. Oh and he didn't blast it over the bar or wide, but rather kicked it with power just over the head of poor, defenseless Paul Robinson. (Fun fact: Arsenal have scored 50 goals against the former England #1 Robinson). Granted that Blackburn's defending was poor, but take nothing away from Arshavin's effort, who paid the ultimate price for Blackburn's kick-the-shins tactics and is out of today's FA match thanks to eight stitches in his foot [Ed.-maybe not].

That said, I will also admit that this weekend's free kick by Aurelio was amazing, as was the run made by Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia. But what say you? Was Arshavin's goal a candidate for goal of the season? Is it even in the discussion? And, more importantly, what do you think is the goal of the season? As our friend Ives would say, share your thoughts below.


Arshavin


Aurelio


N'Zogbia (starts at 2:55)

Read more on "Was This the Goal of the Season?"...

Alan Pardew's "Connie Chung" Moment



Former West Ham United manager Alan Pardew must have thought he was doing an interview with Connie Chung. He enjoys Indiana University and Texas Tech University men's basketball. He thinks that Mike Tyson and Kobe Bryant are innocent. This all a round-about way of saying that Alan Pardew doesn't take rape seriously.


During analysis of the Spartak London v. Abu Dhabi City match, Pardew had the following to say about a Michael Essien tackel on Ched Evans:

"Ched Evans is a strong boy but (Essien) knocks him off ... he absolutely rapes him."



Well then. Spokespeople from Rape Crisis England and Wales, as well as Women Against Rape (umm, that seems a bit...redundant), have criticized Pardew for trivializing the violent crime of rape.


Well, Essien does look a little handsy!


Although his co-hosts looked taken aback by his choice of words, there was no immediate on-air apology. However, the BBC has apologized, both for themselves and on Pardew's behalf. This was the latter's first appearance as a talking head for the BBC, and there is no word on whether he will be asked to return or be made to sit in the corner and think about what he has done, although insiders have suggested that it will be some time before he is invited back to Match of the Day. Pardew has apologized, but it seems clear that he was forced to do so by the BBC.

Precious Roy seems to think that Pardew should have put forth the "cabbage" defense:

"I meant that the tackle was cabbage like."

Rape
noun
a plant of the cabbage family with bright yellow, heavily scented flowers, esp. a variety ( oilseed rape) grown for its oil-rich seed and as stockfeed. Also called cole , colza . • Genus Brassica, family Brassicaceae, in particular B. napus subsp. oleifera.


In the spirit of stupid things said concerning footy, The Mirror has compiled the "Top 10 Football TV Outbursts." Obviously we here at UF were gladdened to see Joe Kinnear on the list.

Read more on "Alan Pardew's "Connie Chung" Moment"...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Backpasses: Hermione

William Gallas drives a chrome Mercedes. Really [Daily Mail]
Emma Watson loves an older man with money [ONTD]
Another bad dive, This one from MGPederson [The Spoiler]
Has Barcelona traded Miami for Philly? And if so, who's the freaking genius that did that? [The Offside Rules]
Platini has a moment of clarity [Guardian]

A below the fold sad: Iraqi player shot dead during game. I've seen conflicting reports as to whether it was while he was bearing down on goal for an equalizer [NCNB]
If you are a manager and go out drinking and fighting with your team, it will get you fired [BBC]
Luca Toni beefcake [Kickette]
Liverpool will fuxxor themselves down the stretch [JSL Blog]

Finally:
Two more takes on Stephen Webb. One by our friends at Avoiding the Drop and one from American Soccer News. American Soccer News are pansies for their caveats at the bottom (and suck for getting our name wrong).

Read more on "Monday Backpasses: Hermione"...

Money For Nothing. I Want Some.



Just when you thought you'd heard the last of Tevez-gate!

Carlos Tevez at West Ham and the relegation of Sheffield United to the Colaship. It's bored us all to tears. West Ham were fined but Sheffield United wanted more. They wanted some free cash to reinforce the false belief that they belonged in the Premier League. They blamed West Ham and Tevez for their relegation from the Premier League. Of course it had nothing to do with them being crap.

Well West Ham have agreed to settle with Sheffield United and give them 15 million quid! WTF. Why not just hand them a place in the play-offs or an automatic promotion spot next season.

If you are not up to speed on this story, click here. If you are, read on.

I object. This whole affair smacks of toddler tears. Boo hoo, cry me a fucking river Sheffield United. Tevez was ineligible? Yes. Were West Ham punished? Yes, 5.5 million quid. Are the folks who bungled his transfer still in charge at West Ham? No. Did Sheffield United only collect 38 points from 38 games? Yes. Did they have the opportunity to survive by playing Wigan at home on the last day of the season? Yes. Did they beat Wigan? No. Facts not to be forgotten.

West Ham have agreed to settle out of court and give Sheffield United 15 million quid. Nice. How the rest of the Colaship must be delighted to see one of their rivals handed a 15 million transfer kitty amid a recession.

Sheffield United were/are pissed that West Ham were not docked points, relegating the east London side and saving United from the drop. But what's important here is that the FA have already dealt with this. They fined West Ham. They recognized that the previous regime at Upton Park is no longer in charge and decided that it was unfair to punish the new owners and the fans for the actions of one Terry Brown and his dodgy mates.

Sheffield United went down at the end of the 06/07 season because they sucked. They went down by one goal 'goal difference' because they couldn't beat Wigan at home on the last day. In fact they let old boy David Unsworth strike the killer blow. They went down because over 38 games they only won 10 and only scored 32 goals. They went down because they lost 20 games and conceded 55 goals.

Sheffield United scored 8 goals in 19 away games and won just 7 of their 19 at home. That's why they dropped.

Table never lies.

Handing United 15 million just punishes every team in the Colaship and sets a dangerous precedent. Well guess what, I want some of this generosity!

In 2005 Norwich City were relegated from the Premier League with 33 points. Like the Blades, we only won 7 games at home: One of them was Manchester United 2-0, get in! Like the Blades, we were not good enough over 38 games to stay. We lost a game less than Sheffield United and scored 10 more goals. We did, however, ship a whopping 77 into our net. We were sent down on the last day after we lost our bottle and were handed a thumping at Craven Cottage after a perky few weeks and some important wins. But...There is one pivotal moment in our final few games that could have cost us survival and the 60 million quid that goes with it. One moment of outrageous cheating that, looking back, denied us of 2 points. Those points were the difference between us staying and West Brom dropping.

Let me transport you back in time to Saturday the 16th April 2005. The venue? Selhurst Park. With minutes remaining Norwich were winning 3-2. Then it happened. The biggest diving cheat to ever grace the football grounds of England earned a 9.8 from all of the late night sofa judges watching Match of the Day on BBC1 that evening. Andy Johnson's dive in the box was so outrageous it boils my blood to think of it now, nearly 4 years later. He flopped on to his face and won a penno that tied the game.

So if Sheffield United are getting 15 million then I want Norwich City to sue Crystal Palace and Andy Johnson for relegation in 2005. I don't see the difference. An act beyond our control cost us a place in the Premier League. An act that is clearly immoral and just wrong.

Of course, this is never going to happen and a weak attempt by Bigus at justifying a Norwich side that was not good enough to stay up. If they had been, they would have gone to Fulham and got a result. They would have ground out another win at home. Like Sheffield United, just not good enough.

But I guess Sheffield United supremo Kevin McCabe sniffed an opportunity for some 'money for nothing'. He turned into a rabid pit-bull and was persistent enough at the heels of West Ham's current owners that they finally decided to throw the dog a bone. Here's 15 million, now f*ck off.


Dog with a bone: Kevin McCabe

Unfortunately by doing so they just handed Sheffield United the financial clout to win the Colaship.

In honor of West Ham's lack of balls and Sheffield United's incessant bitching and moaning. And to celebrate their new transfer kitty, lets enjoy an old favorite...



Now look at those blades, that's the way you do it, blame Carlos Tevez for being shit...

I for one will be hoping that United blow their windfall on expensive players, high salaries and fall flat on their arses.

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Is It "Alves 'Pooled or "Alves Fletchered"?

This is starting to rise to the level of a yawn as it happens almost weekly, but Alfonso Alves was robbed while Middlesbrough was out drawing with Portsmouth (courtesy of a late David James gift).

This makes the 'Boro striker footballing victim #15.

The raid is estimated to have been worth £50,000 in damage and lost belongings. The 28-year-old returned home shortly after 6pm on Saturday to find his passport stolen along with jewellery, computers, Brazil and Boro shirts, documents, pairs of shoes, and about £200 cash.
But here's where things take a turn for the unbelievable. The Daily Mail piece continues: "Liverpool midfielder Lucas, Alves's compatriot, suffered a burglary in November, while other victims include Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Pepe Reina, Dirk Kuyt..." blah blah a bunch of other Liverpudlians, etc.

Anyway, Alves's compatriot? Uh, no way Lucas is Brazilian. Not a fucking chance. He's worse than Denilson.

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Contest Time!


Don't think we've rolled one of these out in a while Hey, we're rolling these out on consecutive weeks but so caption this pic of Adebayor and Arshavin and win a guest post.

Okay, you don't get a post just for submitting, only the best caption wins.

According to blogger, that's a 'large' sized pic. I'm thinking the Google coders have tiny penises (No, really, that's six inches). Anyway, click on the pic to get a slightly bigger view. It helps to get a better sense of how ridiculously the height difference is.

Or just check it out in its original context at the Daily Mail. Also scroll down for a pic of Cesc Fabregas checking out the b-cup rack on Clichy's wife.

Read more on "Contest Time!"...

In Argentina This is a Documentary


Oh, South America, what would we do if you didn't raise crazy to a new level on almost a weekly basis?

More than 100 fans were involved in a riot four hours before Sunday's Boca Juniors' kick at the Bombonera.

Okay, rioting bad. But, eh, not completely out of character for South American fans. But Boca fans didn't clash with their opposition, Argentinos Juniors. They fought amongst themselves.

From the Guardian: "It was the second successive week that rival factions of [Boca's supporters group] The 12 have fought before a game. Last week, dozens were arrested during a pitched battle before the game away to Independiente."

Among the wounded? A 55-year-old man, and an 85-year-old woman. The latter was hit in the leg... with a bullet, while the former—and here's where this gets substantially less funny—suffered a serious head wound.

But Argentinos Juniors fans were not without their own action if Boca fans didn't want to riot with them. No, they fought with Racing fans even though they were involved in seperate matches. Buses carrying supporters of the respective teams crossed paths in Buenos Aires so rival fans took the opportunity to stone each others' buses.

Argentina, it's like South America wanted it's own Ohio, only burning furniture wasn't quite good enough.

Read more on "In Argentina This is a Documentary"...

Ligue 1 Weekend Review



This week saw goals galore, along with numerous cards, as well as the potential for a shake-up in the top 4. The result of the week goes to Olympique de Marseille, who beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 to leapfrog the club from the capital and move into 2nd place, only 1 point behind Lyon.



Saturday, March 14th:

Caen 0-1 Lille - Caen have 0 Ligue 1 wins since late November, and they never looked like breaking that streak in this match. Toudic sent a volley wide and ben Khalfallah was stopped by Lille GK Malicki, and Caen did not have another good opportunity until the end of the match. Bastos began to exert pressure for Lille, twice forcing a save from Caen GK Plante just before the half. Just after the restart Cabaye should have opened the scoring with his lob of Plante, but the Caen GK did well to keep it out. Bastos finally got his goal in the 60th minute on a counter-attack and Lille settled into a defensive formation. This almost cost them the points in the 82nd minute, but Savidan was well-stopped by Malicki to preserve the 3 points.


Le Mans 2-2 Rennes - Le Mans are unbeaten in their last 5 matches but should have taken all 3 points from this tilt despite being outshot and out-possessed by Rennes. Le Mans struck in the 2nd minute with a Lamah header pushed out by Rennes GK Douchez, only to give Helstad an easy tap-in for the finish. Gervinho then made the score 2-0 in the 19th minute after a great individual run. Rennes thought they had pulled 1 back in the 34th minute, but Thomert had his shot cleared off the line by defender Geder. They were also unable to break through just before the half when Le Mans GK Pele did well to stop a volley from Danze. After the restart Rennes was again foiled when Leroy had his lob cleared off the line by defender Cerdan, but they finally struck back in the 75th minute on a great solo effort from Ekoko. The comeback was complete in the 92nd minute when Pele came out to clear a Leroy cross and missed the ball, leaving an empty net for Sow to finish and share the points.



Monaco 3-2 Toulouse - This match featured 11 shots on goal and 39 saves coupled with some late scoring to make things exciting. Toulouse opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Congre mis-hit a Didot corner and Gignac cleaned up the mess for his 16th Ligue 1 goal. They should have scored again in the 30th minute, but Braaten hit the bar. Instead it was Monaco who scored next when Nimani finished off a Mollo free-kick in the 40th minute. In the 50th minute Didot sent a free-kick just wide, but his effort in the 68th minute was sent in by Cetto for a 2-1 lead. Modesto then equalized for Monaco with a stunning bicycle kick off a Nimani cross in the 75th minute. The 3 points were sealed in the 89th minute when a Mollo free-kick was pushed out by Toulouse GK Carrasso to Lolo for an easy finish. Freddy Adu watch: HE WAS ON THE BENCH! DNP - CD.



Nantes 1-1 Lorient - In a relatively dull match the clubs only managed a draw to share the points. The first goal came in the 25th minute when N'Daw chipped his shot over Lorient GK Audard off a cross from Bagayoko. N'Daw almost had an assist a few minutes, but Bekamenga headed his shot wide. Lorient had their first opportunity in the 40th minute, but Vahirua was stopped by Nantes GK Alonzo. Just 1 minute later N'Daw thought he had a brace, but his free-kick slammed into the post. Lorient should have equalized in the 69th minute when Poullard fouled Morel in the box, but Alonzo made a great save on the resulting PK taken by Abriel. They did equalize in the 78th minute when Morel hit a scorching shot from 20 yards.


Sochaux 2-1 Nancy - This match started quickly as Sochaux GK Richert did well to come out and deny a good cross from Helder in the 4th minute. His teammates responded by providing him with a lead to protect in the 13th minute when Erdinq flicked a cross from Mikari on to Boudebouz for the finish. But Richert was helpless in the 42nd minute when his defender Faty made a poor clearance only as far as Hadji, who rocketed home his shot with a deflection off Faty (so, not a good 10 second sequence for the defender). Sochaux had an opportunity to take the lead in the 76th minute when Luiz fouled Sverkos in the box, but Nancy GK Bracigliano stopped the PK taken by Erdinq. The latter made up for his miss in the 79th minute when he provided a cross for Sverkos to finish, and should have had a goal of his own in the waning minutes but hit the crossbar.


Valenciennes 3-2 Le Havre - Valenciennes are unbeaten in their last 11 matches but struggled in this one despite holding 65% of the possession. They were pressured early on shots from Lesage and Noro, which Valenciennes GK Penneteau did well to stop. Le Havre got the first goal in the 23rd minute when Penneteau pushed out a free-kick Alla, but only as far as Franquart for an easy header. Valenciennes equalized in the 41st minute when Saez drilled home a shot from the edge of the box. Lacourt almost provided the lead in the 47th minute but he was stopped by Le Havre GK Revault. In the 66th minute Anin beat Penneateau but his shot went just wide right. Valenciennes took the lead in the 75th minute with an excellent free-kick from Lacourt, but Le Havre equalized again when Anin sent home a pass from Diallo in the 81st minute. Audel stole the 3 points at the death when he finished off a headed pass from Pujol.



Bordeaux 2-1 Nice - Bordeaux had only 1 win in 6 matches coming into this match, but they got the victory to move back into contention. In the 10th minute a fantastic volley from Gourcuff was well-saved by Nice GK Ospina. Remy responded in the 12th minute, but his shot was cleared off the line by Bordeaux defender Diawara. Chamakh broke through in the 18th minute with a shot from close range to give Bordeaux the lead, but in the 24th minute Bordeaux GK Rame took down Fae in the box and Bamogo converted the resulting PK. Bordeaux regained the lead almost immediately after the restart when Henrique directed home a cross from Wendel. Rame made difficult saves on Remy and ben Saada late in the match to preserve the 3 points.



Sunday, March 15th:

Grenoble 1-0 St. Etienne - In a match that saw only 1 shot on goal from each club, it was that 1 shot (taken at the death) that sealed 3 points for Grenoble. In the 15th minute Cesar almost put Grenoble ahead, but his header came back off the crossbar. In the 30th minute St. Etienne thought they had taken the lead, but Mirallas was adjudged to have fouled Grenoble GK Wimbee in scoring his goal. Grenoble then thought that they had taken the lead in the 50th minute when Batlles scored, but he was ruled offside. St. Etienne went down to 10 men in the 82nd minute when Tavlaridis received his second YC for a foul on Akrour, and the latter increased the pain in the 93rd minute when he volleyed home the winner.


Lyon 0-2 Auxerre - Lyon had 7 shots on goal and 62% of the possession, but they simply could not get anything past Auxerre GK Sorin. After losing to Lille in Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France, and crashing out of the Champions League in embarassing fashion to Barcelona, Lyon looked to turn around their luck in the match. Juninho was in great form early on, sending a free-kick just wide and having another barely headed over by Makoun. In the 40th minute Benzema tried his luck, but was stopped by Sorin. Auxerre then struck in the 42nd minute when a poor clearance from Boumsong fell gently to Jelen for an easy finish. Just after the restart Juninho took yet another well-struck free-kick, but Delgado's header was again saved by Sorin. In the 56th minute Sorin stopped a wonderful volley from Ederson, and then made an excellent double-save on Grosso a few minutes later. Yet another save from Sorin came on a 25-yard missile from Juninho. In the 90th minute Lyon GK Lloris took down Lejeune in the box, but he managed to stop the resulting PK taken by Hengbart. In the 93rd minute Kahlenberg put the match out of reach when he collected the ball at the 40-yard line and lobbed Lloris for the 2-0 win.



Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Marseille - Paris Saint-Germain missed their chance to go top of the table, and actually fell to 3rd behind Marseille after this match. L'OM began early, with Cana, Cheyrou and Valbuena all shooting just wide. Zenden finally broke through in the 24th minute when he latched onto a clever backheel from Brandao for the finish. PSG fought back, with Hoarau and Giuly missing chances. The latter equalized, however, in the 43rd minute when a pass from Luyindula split the defense. But PSG found themselves down to 10 men in the 53rd when Camara received a straight RC for taking down Zenden as the last man. Zenden's resulting free-kick was parried by PSG GK Landreau, but it went only as far as Kone and bounced off the latter back into the goal. Cana put the match well out of reach in the 61st minute with a finish from 18 yards.



So, after Matchday 28, the top of the table looks like this: (1) Lyon, with 53 points on a 15-8-5 record and a +15 goal differential; (2) Marseille, with 52 points on a 14-10-4 record and a +17 goal differential; (3) Paris Saint-Germain, with 52 points on a 16-4-8 record and a +12 goal differential; and (4) Bordeaux, with 50 points on a 14-8-6 record and a +15 goal differential.

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