Friday, April 06, 2007

Waldo Re-Corked

Personally I much prefer angry drunken Waldo to remorseful apologizing Waldo.

Wynalda Apologizes for Derogatory Remarks

Bobbie's Chicago Fire Preview

April is here and MLS season begins tomorrow. I'm actually excited as hell, mostly due to cabin fever but also because we get to play a normal home schedule this year so I won't have to deal with missing fully a third of the home matches due to fixture congestion. The core of the team remains unchanged for the most part, though there are several notable departures and arrivals via the draft and the Beckham rule. This season also marks the final chapter of Chris Armas' standout career as he's announced his retirement. Dave Sarachan is entering his fourth season as head coach. Last season a significant portion of the fan base were calling for his head after a lackluster start but after winning the team's fourth US Open Cup championship and narrowly missing a trip to MLS Cup after an extra time collapse in the second leg against New England, the 'Chan is guaranteed the support of the front office.


Tony Sanneh
Nate Jaqua
Andy Herron

Sanneh was brought in with a huge contract 2 seasons ago from the Crew to patrol the right flank but quickly broke down and didn't play much until the second portion of last season. When he took the field he was a revelation as a center back, with great lateral quickness allowing him to claim the middle position of the Fire's 3 man back line. He won over a good number of disgruntled fans through steady competent play and his calming influence on the back line was a major reason the team had as much success as they did. His contract was not renewed, he had surgery and joined the queue of washed up players talking about cashing huge checks with the LA Galaxy. Most likely his days as a regular contributor in MLS are over.

Jaqua and Herron, last season's first choice front line pairing when healthy, have both moved on. Herron was dealt to the Crew for a draft pick. Last season was the first that he truly made an impression here and he did score some spectacular goals, though I'll always remember him for choking a 1v1 with Dida in the Milan friendly, which would have put the Fire on top, 2-1.

Jaqua was allowed to leave by the Fire as his contract expired and he expressed a desire to play in Europe. Apparently LA is in Europe since he signed there and is expected to provide the target for Goldenball's Golden Balls from the flank. David will be in for a surprise when he finds that his new target forward doesn't head the ball well and would rather have it played to his feet. This paradox pretty well sums up Jaqua's game; the body of a target forward, the mentality of a right winger. Of course he doesn't have the ball skills, speed of defensive ability to play out there, but hey who's counting anyway? Jaqua when hot can be a devastating player but having probably seen 75% of his professional matches, I've only seen him hit this form for a 3 week period which, of course, ended in injury. Here's hoping that he's healthy this season and plays just well enough to keep Cobi Jones on the bench and help his team lose in the first round of the playoffs.


Pascal Bedrossian
Bakary Soumare
Osei Telesford
Cuauthemoc Blanco

Pascal Bedrossian is supposedly a talented left midfielder from France. He was signed last season as a partial allocation but only played about 15 minutes last year. Apparently he was having a hell of a preseason before getting hurt about 2 weeks ago. We don't really have a need at LM, but what the hell do I know about putting a team together? Also, it's worth noting that his friendship with Zinidine Zidane's brother is what led to all of the "Zidane to Fire" rumors that were floating around in January.

Soumare and Telesford are both rookies, products of this year's MLS Superdraft. Apparently Soumare is being converted to a defensive midfielder and has been compared (by whom?) to a young Patrick Vieria. If this is even remotely accurate and he makes the transition well we may have a longer term replacement for Chris Armas at the club.

Cuauthemoc Blanco- what more is there to say about this guy? By all accounts a skilled technician and a intense competitor, he's also easily the most disliked Mexican national player in the United States. Reactions to his signing were mixed to say the least- 5000 people showed up to welcome him at Toyota Park last Monday, the same day that I called the front office and threatened to cancel my season tickets. My lasting impression of him was seeing him melt down as the US beat Mexico in WC'02, at one point hacking Pablo Mastroeni to the ground then standing over him screaming. Still, he's widely loved in the Mexican population and his presence on the team may end up providing a significant attendance boost. Most Fire fans are willing to give him a fair shot, mostly because of the great example given by Hristo Stoichkov, another hot tempered play maker who came here and amazed the fans with his passion, his professionalism and his love for the organization. If Blanco conducts himself similarly (and plays well) I think most fans will warm to him quickly. If he loafs, hacks, spits, moans, etc, then let's just say we'll see what happens. I still have a huge reservations about this, but I can also point at this list of players who I absolutely hated until they joined my teams:

Eric "Jim Rome can suck my dick" Wynalda
AJ Pierzynski
Albert Belle
Jose Canseco


Most likely Sarachan will stick with the classic Fire system: 3-5-2 with 2 defensive midfielders. This is actually a bit misleading as he plays Logan Pause, a defensive midfielder, as a wingback, and the other wingback Ivan Guerrero can also play as a LB. On the defensive side we should see outstanding second year player Dasan Robinson and cagey veteran CJ Brown return to the starting lineup. The third spot will be up for grabs between Jim Curtin (great ball winner & size, terrible lateral movement) and Gonzalo Segares (outstanding rookie year, very spotty second season) with Telesford getting a look. In midfield we'll see Captain Chris Armas and Diego Gutierrez winning the balls in the middle. As previously mentioned we'll probably start with Pause and Gurrero out wide, and Sarachan will most likely give Justin Mapp the free role in which he shone last season. The front line is a bit thin with the departures of Jaqua and Herron, but US U21 striker Chad Barrett may finally be ready to claim the starting role. Chad plays a target forwards game; he's got decent height and a powerful frame and knows how to hold the ball up. His partner Chris Rolfe excels in the play maker role but is probably too small to play as a target forward, as we learned in the US/Mexico match last month. I suspect that the starting lineup will look something like this:

Robinson Brown Segares
Pause Armas Mapp Gutierrez Guerrero
Rolfe Barrett

By the season's end I'd like to see something like this:

Robinson Brown Segares
Bedrossian Armas Plotkin Mapp Guerrero
Blanco Barrett

This points out another reason why I'm not wild about the Blanco signing- with him on the pitch there's no place for Rolfe to play.


I'm going to make 2, the wildly optimistic one and the more realistic one.
1. The Fire play .500 ball until July comes and they have their midfield situation sorted out. Blanco arrives, the team erupts, the season sells out and we do the double, taking home the US Open Cup and MLS Cup.
2. Armas gets hurt, Blanco only plays half of his half season, attendance hovers around 15K, the team finished 5th in the East and misses the playoffs, Sarachan fired, Steve Guppy commits suicide, Peter Wilt rides in on his white horse and the team takes it all in '08.

I'm thinking #2 is more likely, though without the happy ending.

Sanford's Premiership Predictions

Manchester City vs. Charlton

A rare Friday match sees two teams in trouble meet at the City of Manchester Stadium. I’m confident that City are safe but their form has been poor and they’ve plenty to prove, especially in front of the home support. Meanwhile, the Addicks are third from bottom and trying to claw their way to safety. This has draw written all over it.


Everton vs. Fulham

The other Friday fixture sees Fulham travel to Liverpool to face Everton. We all know how poor Fulham are on the road and I can’t see that changing much here. Everton are still smarting from a match they felt they should have won last week and they’ll make amends with this one.


Chelsea vs. Tottenham

I simply cannot bet against the Blues at the moment, especially at Stamford Bridge. When was the last time they lost an EPL match there? When Zola was strutting his stuff? Spurs often flop in these situations and that’s what’ll happen in West London on Saturday. Although Chelsea had a tough match at the Bridge with Valencia, Spurs have had one less day to recover from their controversial evening in Sevilla.


Arsenal vs. West Ham

Is a first loss at the Emirates on offer here? For some odd reason I think not. Tevez has West Ham enjoying a bit of a rebirth but I think the Gunners will pull it off somehow. I’m not saying Baptista will score (what am I, nuts?) but I think someway, somehow, they’ll win this derby.


Blackburn vs. Aston Villa

You’d have to pay me to head into Ewood Park for this one. I don’t think it’ll be pretty. And with Carew out, Villa will suffer. Drab draw, as they say…


Middlesbrough vs. Watford

I expect an elusive away win for Watford at the Riverside tomorrow. Not sure why, but Watford deserve it, that’s all. And Boro don’t.


Reading vs. Liverpool

The ease with which Liverpool disposed of PSV midweek was a tad astonishing. They’re in fine form and gunning for a second Champions League title in three years. Reading have also surprised this campaign and always give Steve Coppell 110%. I think we could see a draw here. Liverpool might be a bit too pleased after their Dutch adventure and Reading at home are always tough.


Sheffield United vs. Newcastle

Who’ll stop the rot? Is it a rot? Or is it a crisis? Those are the questions on Geordie lips at the moment and the answer is quite difficult to deliver. United are battling to keep above the relegation fray and their home fixtures have so far allowed them to be successful. Newcastle is one of those teams that just when you least expect it can pull something off. Their backs are somewhat against the wall at the moment, and I like them to snare all three here, resulting in a more muddled scene at the foot of the table.


Wigan vs. Bolton

Bolton will miss influential skipper Kevin Nolan at the JJB. Wigan haved continued to battle to keep out of trouble and I fancy them to take all three from this encounter. Bolton’s push for fourth will have to wait.


Portsmouth vs. Manchester United

Is this the match that the Reds finally don’t win? A travel to the south coast after a rough and tumble trip to the Eternal City is hardly a holiday scenario. But Portsmouth have failed to convince of late, so it’s difficult to say. In the end, I think it will be the first time United have dropped points in quite a spell. The toll of their travels will tell.


Lawro's Premiership Predictions

Old Lawro likes Arsenal to waste West Ham, Villa to be victorious over Blackburn, and Wigan to beat Bolton...

Weekend Previews for the Bundesliga, Serie A, EPL, and La Liga

German Bundesliga
Bayern hope to bring Euro-form home, Stuttgart travel to Hamburg

Italian Serie A
Pressure grows on Milan coach Ancelotti

English Premier League
Two London Derbies as Spurs travel to Chelsea and West Ham to Arsenal, ManU go south to Portsmouth and Manchester City host Charlton

Spanish La Liga
Racing upsetting the order in top six asthey travel to Sevilla

Violence continues

Having spent my youth watching football in England, spending countless matches with one eye on the game, the other on the idiots looking for a fight, it came as no surprise to hear the same things being said after this week's troubles. One side doesn't want to admit that a thug is a thug, and should be dealt with. The other side doesn't want to admit that if you treat people like animals they will act like animals.

English football tarnished by second night of violence

Platini frets over violence in game

Home Office preparing dossier on Rome riot

Strict new laws have done little to change Italian culture of knives and hooliganism

Comments from the excellent Simon Barnes and Gabriele Marcotti

Barnes: Passion driving sport means horrors of Rome will inevitably be repeated

Marcotti: Anyone dipping into the English and Italian media on Thursday...

Sevilla 2 Spurs 1

Robinson laments injustice but Tottenham have ability to survive

There were some really bad calls made this week in Europe, this is perhaps the worst of the lot.

Bremen AZ draw, Espanyol edge Benfica, Osasuna shock Bayer

Reviews of the other UEFA cup game scan be found here...

Prem news

Coleman calls for £20m kitty to revitalise Fulham

Pearce fears repeat struggle if City don't invest in players

Everton have experience to survive test of nerve, says Moyes

Jimmy Bullard profile

Jimmy Bullard is one of my favourite football players. Witty, modest, thankful - the antithesis of the modern player...

Injured Bullard still finding a way to hit back of the net

He's also a bit of a joker:

Another Chelsea article

I was a touch reluctant to post yet another article about the demise of Chelsea. But here it is anyway. Kevin McCarra gives his take in this one...

Chelsea struggling with management by committee

Oh, and Joe Cole is back...

Cole the optimist determined to have dream ending to nightmare season

Are things slowly changing in Scottish football?

Irish schoolboys help to usher in new era at Ibrox

ManU, Pool, now the Gunners?

If you're rich and American it seems you spend your days pondering which Premiership club to buy. The yankee dollar now has it eyes on Arsenal...

American tycoon buys Arsenal stake

Hopefully Kroenke's penchant for Bugsy Malone suits will have calmed down by the time he becomes the new owner.

Avoiding the drop

Addicks look likely to get the drop on their rivals in relegation run-in

Pardew puts faith in his league of nations

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Roma Vs ManU, Police Vs Fans

As predicted, things were heated in Rome, both on and off the pitch...

Chelsea Vs Valencia

Drogba again comes to Chelsea's rescue...
Drogba's route one puts Chelsea back on track

The Insider at Stamford Bridge

You wonder whether one high profile Chelsea supporter saw a silver lining in David Silva's stunning away goal for Valencia in this Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

Gulati still undecided on Bradley

You may not have realized it, but we may have already seen the beginning and end of the Bob Bradley era as U.S. national team coach.

Thursday's Rumours,,2050798,00.html

Liverpool happy

Gerrard near to peak as Liverpool turn on style

Arsenal Sad

Emirates deserves grandstand finish – but grounds for optimism are in short supply

Tired old AC

According to the editor's wife the Summer Palace in China is where the world's old peolpe hang out. A possible holiday destination for AC Milan? Their players could certainly do with a nice little rest.

Ageing Milan struggle for answers after Bayern setback

The pundit's view.

Smudger Smith rates David Villa is the man to replace Sheva.

Villa the ideal man to fill Shevchenko's shoes

Tony Cascarino thinks Chelsea still have a chance in Spain

Playing to strengths can swing it in Spain

All eyes on Seville...

Kanouté gets to meet up with his old pals from the Lane, while his boss is added to the list of thousands to be new Chelsea boss.

Ramos and Kanouté the Spanish target men

The manager's view...

Ferguson claims United faced 12 men

Jose: 'If we're not playing I'll take my kids to the wrestling'

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Waldo Uncorked

What do you get when you get national team legend and ESPN pundit Eric Wynalda drunk and ask him about the current state of the American Game? How about quips like "Jim Rome can suck my dick!" and pithy observations like this one:

"Why is EPL better? It’s not even the best soccer. Why is it the best soccer? It is the most entertaining.... Why is it so ***** exciting? Because it is 50 degrees and you can run all day."

Fulham USA interviews Eric Wynalda

Andrea Canales: Blanco gives Fire an attitude

The Chicago Fire have stamped their team with a new attitude following the signing of Cuauhtemoc Blanco. It's not as if the team didn't have a certain amount of swagger before. In 1998, a fearless Fire squad made its debut. Led by their indefatigable captain, Peter Nowak, the Fire denied two of the strongest teams in league history, that season's D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy, en route to winning the title.

Racism forces Eto'o to keep kids away from games

Barcelona's Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o has said he prefers not to take his children to matches because of the racist attitudes in stadiums.

Scunny fans can swear there are sunny days ahead

Who put the cunt in Scunthorpe??

All American sports want to be soccer - they just don't know it yet

They may think they want stripy jerseys, tape measures and endless breaks in play, but deep down Americans yearns for football's beautiful simplicity.

Wednesday's Rumours,,2049745,00.html

Martin Samuel's views on CL reform...

Platini should have seeds of doubt over grand scheme.

A nice roman welcome?

The mayor of Rome ain't too pleased with ManU's comments about the welcome their fans might receive in the eternal city, but the man from the Times seems to think they're spot on:

Chelsea play Valencia

I read a nice, succinct comment about Chelsea recently: they come, they have a look at you and then they beat you. Maybe Alan Hansen, I can't remember. Well, Chelsea fans will be hoping for more of the same tonight. But going on their display against mighty Watford, it might not be plain sailing.

Jose's in mind games with the Valencia coach. No surprise there:

Jose's going to be replaced by Sparky Hughes. That is a surprise:,,2049617,00.html

Jose's defending the Stamford Bridge toilets. That's just wierd:

ManU play Roma

Fergie's concentarating on the league and missing Vidic, wereas Roma wont be displacing Inter and are at full strength to concentrate on the CL title, so I think ManU could be in for a tough night. Could be question of who wins in the battle of the prima donnas, Ronaldo and Totti.

AC 2 Bayern 2

The boys fron the Säbenerstraße are hardly pulling up trees in the stouty old Bundesliga, but come CL nights they put on their glad rags and transform into real entertainers. Their game against the octogenarians from Milan was a cracker. And, as against Real, they came up with a late winner...

A sign of things to come?

It was a top performance, but I'm not sure if this guy from the Guardian isn't rushing to conclusions. Swallows and summers, etc...

Liverpool take a stroll in Eindhoven

Personally I thought Liverpool's top showing last night was due to their cool, 70's style numbers. Luckily the Missus, in typical teutonic style, set me straight, pointing out that Mascherano was 'getting mentioned alot'. Stevie G, as usual, gets all the headlines, but the Argentinian was exceptional. According to the bloke on the telly, Rafa has only paid £1.5 m for him. This seems hard to believe, but whatever the price, he was worth it. West Ham have handled him brilliantly: first they get him on some dodgy lay-a-way scheme which could see them loose points, then they dodn't play him [shame no one watched the small, obscure tournament last summer in which he played quite well], now he's gone for peanuts. Well, at least the Hammers aren't in danger of going down...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sanford's Premiership Predictions Results

Six right, four wrong, one perfect score...

A rather unispired performance, I'll admit.

OK, let’s start at the top. I had a pretty good feeling that Liverpool would be Arsenal. They had lost to them three times already this season and it’s tough to beat any team in the top flight four times in one year. ManU would struggle to beat Sheffield United four times in one season. Chelsea would struggle to beat Watford four times in one season. You get my point. But who knew the lethargy that the Gunners would show? They were so inept, slow, and just plain poor. Meanwhile, Liverpool look to be gelling just at the right moment. So my Uncle can knock off $10 from the mountain of cash I'm owed based on past Gunner/Reds encounters.

As for Bolton and Sheffield United, Bolton did get the win but I thought they’d get more goals. And although Le Sulk didn’t score, he was critical in the buildup to Davis’ fine finish. Bolton will play in Europe next year, but I wonder who will be playing for Bolton?

Kudos to Charlton for finding all three points in their match with Wigan. I was confident this would be a draw but a dodgy penalty allowed Darren Bent to score from the spot. It was a classic 50/50 call and Charlton got it and with it the victory. They’ll still go down.

I was also wrong about the Craven Cottage clash. Fulham could only salvage a draw. But it’s a huge point and they’ve got to feel comfortable.

Up in the northwest I thought Blackburn could pull one off at Old Trafford. They didn’t, of course. But they did score first and for a second I thought I might be right. But this is United’s year because of their ability to win in matches like this, even with patchwork squads. Scholes was magnificent.

Flip over the the northeast and you’ve got a rot in full effect. Just what is it about Newcastle? I thought they’d have the goods to take a team like City (woeful on the road) at St. James’ Park. But no. Their talented side is not a team that can flow at the moment and serious questions have to asked of Glen Roeder. I can’t see him lasting long if this continues. How can a team with Martins, Parker, Dyer, Duff, Given, etc. be crap so often?

I was right about West Ham, though. Tevez has found his feet and he’s got the skill and panache to take the Hammers to safety. There’s still time and I could see it happening. Boro are Boro. Like Man City, terrible on their travels. Blah, blah Boro.

I’d rather not comment on the Chelsea match. So I won’t. You can read about it elsewhere.

Spurs did their best Arsenal (this past Saturday aside) imitation by dominating play, creating loads of chances, and relying on a dubious handball penalty to beat Reading. I assumed they’d stroll at White Hart Lane, but man, Reading are a tough side. Anyway, it was just one-nil there thanks to Robbie Keane’s shot from the spot.

And then yesterday was my lone perfect score. A 1-1 draw between Villa and Everton that always looked to be headed in that direction. Everton will be upset that they didn't get the penalty but they can join Reading with their complaints. You win some, you lose some.

At this point the top two are set. I can’t see Chelsea catching ManU, nor do they deserve to. United have been the better side throughout the year and continue to play better than their West London rivals. Meanwhile, the fight for third won’t be a fight at all based on Saturday but Arsenal still have a game in hand and anything is possible. I don’t think anyone below will catch either Liverpool or Arsenal. That leaves the relegation fight to enjoy. My suspicion is that West Ham will carve a great escape, most likely at the expense of Sheffield United. -Sanford

Benitez handed £40million transfer fund

Liverpool will now have the resources to buy a spot at the top. Eto'o and Villa top Rafa's shopping list...

Chicago Fire Add Blanco

I feel for my pals in Chicago who now have to watch this maggot take the field in Fire colors.

La Liga Team Of The Week + Table

Casillas, Dragutinovic, Ronaldinho and Zigic stood out over the weekend, turning in hugely significant displays for their teams.

Spanish First Division Table

3Real Madrid281451
5Real Zaragoza281347
6Atletico Madrid28944
7Racing Santander28143
8Recreativo Huelva28042
15Real Betis28-632
17Celta Vigo28-1227
18Athl Bilbao28-1426
19Real Sociedad28-1621

Tuesday's Champions League Previews

PSV Eindhoven vs. Liverpool
Injuries weaken PSV for visit of Liverpool:

AC Milan vs. Bayern Munich
Maldini says time for Milan to step up:

Serie A Team Of The Week + Table

Quagliarella's goal earns him a spot...

Italian Serie A Table
Teams P GD Pts
1 Inter Milan 29 40 79
2 Roma 29 33 59
3 Lazio 29 27 52
4 Palermo 30 9 48
5 Empoli 29 4 45
6 AC Milan 29 14 44
7 Fiorentina 29 21 38
8 Sampdoria 29 0 36
9 Udinese 29 -5 35
10 Atalanta 29 0 33
11 Livorno 29 -13 32
12 Torino 29 -15 32
13 Catania 30 -21 32
14 Siena 29 -7 31
15 Cagliari 29 -9 30
16 Chievo 29 -8 28
17 Reggina 29 -3 25
18 Messina 29 -20 24
19 Parma 29 -24 22
20 Ascoli 29 -23 19

Agbonlahor rescues wobbling Villa

Gabriel Agbonlahor rescued a precious point for Aston Villa and dealt a blow to Everton's European hopes with a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw against David Moyes' side.

Euro 2008 tickets 30 times oversubscribed

Euro 2008 kicks off in Basel on June 7, 2008, with games also being staged in Geneva, Berne, Zurich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Klagenfurt and Vienna, where the final is scheduled for June 29.

Philipp Lahm Interview

Bayern's brilliant left-back dishes the dirt on Owen Hargreaves, explains why Germans really wear Lederhosen, and predicts who'd win a fight between Mark van Bommel and Oliver Kahn.,,2049104,00.html

James Richardson in Italy

During the past 30 years, Bruno Giordano has bounced back more often than Russell Grant doing press-ups. But can he save Messina?

Sid Lowe in Spain

Celta de Vigo tried charm bracelets, ridiculous rituals and the rest to beat Real Madrid, but it was the visitors who ragged a 2-1 victory.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Insider at Upton Park

West Ham United 2-0 Middlesbrough

Weekend Reports From England, Spain, Italy and Germany

English Premier League
ManU comeback to win, Liverpool crush Arsenal:

Spanish Primera Liga
Sevilla lose ground on leaders:

Italian Serie A
Milan and Roma draw:

German Bundesliga
Bayern Munich beat Schalke to stay in touch:

Top clubs in secret talks over European super league

Secret talks have taken place between Europe's leading football clubs and Brussels politicians that could lead to a breakaway super league. Sources involved in the discussions, held at the PSV Eindhoven-Arsenal Champions League match in February, state that a breakaway is the "ultimate threat" that could be exercised if Uefa and Fifa "run wild" in their governance of the game.,,2047991,00.html

Monday's rumours,,2048339,00.html

Totti turns on Ferguson and mocks English football

He added: 'I don't like the way English football is even if some great players play there. 'I don't like English football and I don't like England either because of the weather.'

Fans thrown off plane over Niall Quinn's Disco Pants

"Niall Quinn's disco pants are the best. They go up from his arse to his chest. They're better than Adam and the Ants. Niall Quinn's disco pants.",,2048124,00.html

Kahn goes crazy as Bayern batter Schalke

The champions won a crucial match on Saturday despite their goalkeeper losing his mind.

Totti has United in his sights

Roma's refreshed star is having a brilliant season and aims to make Alex Ferguson's men his latest victims on Wednesday, says Amy Lawrence,,2047410,00.html

Alan Hansen's column

Alan says Liverpool can win the Champions League...