Friday, November 16, 2007

Who Will Make it to Austria and Switzerland?

The greatest intrigue involves England, of course, but the Scotland/Italy match is massive as well. There's a full preview of that in a post below. Here's a general wrap of what's upcoming...

Euro 2008 in the balance for Italy, France and England

Beckham: Great Player or Great Celebrity?

It's a stupid headline. The answer is obviously both. Anyone who doubts that Beckham is/was a great player is a fool. He's proved that he's been one of the best over the last decade. -Sanford

David Beckham, the rock star with his gold-stitched initials adorning his adidas boots, will hang up his Predators next Wednesday – as far as the international stage is concerned anyway – unless England is afforded an outrageous slice of good fortune and qualify for the 2008 European Championships.

Euro Qualifying Group E Preview: England Need Help, Croatia & Russia Don't

When the draw for the Euro qualifying groups was made, the general view - especially in England - was that Croatia and England were the best bets from Group E to reach the finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Euro Qualifying Group C Preview: All Eyes On Oslo

Greece are already through, but Turkey and Norway face the clash of a lifetime on Saturday in Oslo as second place still lies wide open. Moldova, Malta and Hunary have just pride to play for as Group C draws to a close...

Euro 2008 Qualifying Preview: Scotland-Italy

What: Euro 2008 Qualifying – Group B
Who: Scotland (24 pts, 2nd) v Italy (23 pts, 3rd)
When: Saturday, November 17, 2007, kick-off 17:00 GMT
Where: Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Biggest Game In Scotland’s History?

Allen Hopkins Previews the MLS Cup

Allen Hopkins covers Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer for ESPN, and he has patrolled the sideline for "MLS Primetime Thursday." He can be reached at

MLS Cup Final
New England vs. Houston

RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
Sunday at Noon EST on ABC

MLS Cup Scouting Breakdown

Alex McLeish Interview

Proud Scot and ESPN Soccernet Press Pass host Derek Rae visited Glasgow to speak to Scotland manager Alex McLeish ahead of his team's crucial Euro 2008 qualifier with Italy.

The Tartan Army - and Derek of course - are hoping that McLeish's team can get the win at Hampden Park, where the interview took place, to take their place in Austria and Switzerland next summer.

Passarella Quits River Plate after Shock Elimination

With River already out of the running in the domestic Apertura championship, the Copa Sudamericana, the region's equivalent of the UEFA Cup, had represented their last chance to win a title this year. However, after drawing both legs 0-0 against their humble neighbours, River were beaten 4-2 on penalties at home on Wednesday night.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tim Vickery in South America

A seemingly innocuous piece of shirt swapping could have serious repercussions for one South American player - and highlights the importance of local derbies in his continent's football.

Death Overshadows Italy Build-up

Italy's preparations for the Euro 2008 qualifier against Scotland at Hampden have been as meticulous as you would expect from a team as disciplined as the Azzurri.

The Soul of Arsenal in 50 Moments

18) Last Fling of the Busby Babes

Manchester United’s splendid young team came buoyantly to Highbury on February 1, 1958. Doomed, alas, just five days later to suffer the appalling Munich air crash. At half-time they were 3-0 ahead with goals by the powerful Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor, the centre forward, both of whom would both die in Munich, and the precocious Bobby Charlton. Arsenal, however, scored three times in three minutes in the second half. Dennis Violett and Taylor made it 5-3. The Gunners pulled one back and it finished 5-4. Jimmy Bloomfield, the clever inside forward, scored two of the Arsenal goals, David Herd and Derek Tapscott one each.

Steven Gerrard supports quota system as England search for excuses

This is absurdly reactionary. And really quite sad. -Sanford

By offering his support for a Fifa proposal to introduce quotas that would require a minimum of six England-qualified players in each team, Gerrard has become the first senior England international to raise concerns about the growing overseas influence in the Premier League.

Legrottaglie: Jesus The Reason For My Good Form

I don't really care that much about Legrottaglie, but whenever I get the chance to use the "Jesus Coach" figurine I've got to take it. Anyway, apparently He is coaching the Juventus defender quite well. For now. -Sanford

Juventus defender Nicola Legrottaglie says that Jesus Christ is the reason for his incredible upturn in fortunes this season.

England: Great Club Players, Rubbish Internationals

It would be a major blow to England should the national team fail to qualify for Euro 2008. But for this inward-looking nation of football fanatics, England's absence from Austria and Switzerland might be a blessing in disguise, saving us all from another dose of our 'world beaters' suffering another 'shock' quarter-final exit. The truth, you see, is that England aren't that good. And that's nothing new.

Adriano Sent To Rehab In Brazil

I hope the guy can get things straightened out. When he's on, he's pretty much unstoppable. And I miss seeing him in that form. -Sanford

Troubled Inter striker Adriano has flown to Brazil to undergo a course of rehabilitation and is not expected back in Italy until the New Year.

Tickets Sell Fast for Seattle's New MLS Franchise

Seattle's professional soccer team will play its home games at Qwest Field, home of the National Football League Seahawks. The stadium will seat 24,500 for soccer.

Hanauer says 2,000 fans have submitted suggestions for the team's name.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Euro 2008 Qualifiers: The Final Reckoning

There are just two matchdays left... 43 matches in total, the outcome of which, in a week's time, will determine the full line-up of 14 nations to join co-hosts Austria and Switzerland next summer at the finals of Euro 2008.

McClaren Not Alone As Club Success Hits Big Nations

Kevin McCarra: Countries whose teams fare well in the Champions League are suffering more than others in their Euro 2008 quest

The struggle to qualify:

Italy: Group B

Drew 1-1 in Lithuania and lost 3-1 in France.

To qualify Italy need to beat Scotland, or draw with Scotland then beat the Faroes. If France lose to Ukraine, a win in the Faroes will do.

England: Group E

Drew 0-0 at home to Macedonia, lost 2-0 in Croatia and lost 2-1 in Russia.

To qualify If Croatia lose to Macedonia: England can go through if they beat Croatia 2-0, depending on goal difference, or by three goals. If Croatia draw with or beat Macedonia: if Russia lose to Israel a draw with Croatia is enough for England; if Russia draw in Israel England will qualify if they beat Croatia; if Russia beat Israel, England are almost certainly out as Russia only need to defeat Andorra.

Spain: Group F

Lost 3-2 in Northern Ireland and 2-0 in Sweden.

To qualify Need to win one of their two games, or draw one and hope other results go their way.

Sundhage Named U.S. Women's Coach

The 47-year-old Sundhage (pronounced Soond-hahg-eh) replaces Greg Ryan. His surprising decision to switch goalies before the World Cup semifinals was followed by a lopsided loss, and his contract wasn't renewed.

Fire Captain Armas Retires after 12 Years in MLS

"When you think of the Chicago Fire, you think of Chris Armas," Fire president John Guppy said. "When you think of Chris Armas, you think of the Chicago Fire. Chris has helped create the values that the Chicago Fire stands for."

Arsenal Amaze Dave Kitson

After being on the sharp end of a 3-1 defeat by Arsenal, Reading striker Dave Kitson believes the Premier League leaders are now ''the best team on the planet".

Next Six:

Nov 24 Wigan (h)
Dec 1 Aston Villa (a)
Dec 5 Newcastle (a)
Dec 9 Middlesbrough (a)
Dec 16 Chelsea (h)
Dec 22 Tottenham (h)

Manchester United
Nov 24 Bolton (a)
Dec 3 Fulham (h)
Dec 8 Derby (a)
Dec 16 Liverpool (a)
Dec 22 Everton (h), Dec 26 Sunderland (a)

Isabella displays courage in the face of adversity that is Neville family hallmark

“I came on to a chorus of ‘If Neville can play for England, so can I’,” he recalled. “I walked off that night and I said to myself, ‘That’s it, I’ve had enough.’ For the first time I just thought, ‘What’s the point?’

Phil talks about Neville haters and his daughter's illness...

US and Mexico to Meet Feb. 6

It'll be a "friendly" and fans will be separated. Or at least attempts will be made to do so...

Keane Leading by Example on Training Pitch

The Irishman had promised he would not allow himself to join any training sessions but it is a vow he has been unable to keep as he takes a more hands-on approach to getting the best out of a set of players among whom top-flight experience is lacking.

Broken Bones in His Back Sideline Carvalho

Chelsea's Injury Woes Continue -- Carvalho out for eight weeks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Americans in England: Howard Sets the Bar USA's Matthew Braine recaps last week's action by the American contingent playing in England and Scotland, highlighted by the standout play of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Ferguson's finest squad? Let's not get carried away

Kevin McCarra: Sir Alex Ferguson's claims for his team's greatness owe more to bravado than considered thought.

EPL: Classy Arsenal Stroll Back to the Top

Reading 1 - 3 Arsenal - Goals from Flamini, Adebayor, Hleb and Shorey

Barclays Premier League Table
1 Arsenal 12 17 30
2 Man Utd 13 17 30
3 Man City 13 3 26
4 Chelsea 13 10 25

5 Liverpool 12 13 24
6 Portsmouth 13 10 23

7 Blackburn 12 4 22
8 Aston Villa 12 4 21
9 Everton 13 4 20
10 West Ham 12 8 18
11 Newcastle 12 1 18
12 Reading 13 -13 13
13 Fulham 13 -4 12
14 Tottenham 13 -1 11
15 Birmingham 13 -7 11
16 Sunderland 13 -9 10
17 Middlesbrough 13 -11 10

18 Bolton 13 -7 8
19 Wigan 13 -13 8
20 Derby 13 -26 6

Teams of the Week

La Liga: No Barcelona Representation This Week
Serie A: Juventus Nab Three Spots
Bundesliga: No Bayern Munich Representation This Week
Premier League: Joe Hart is the Keeper of the Week

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

The league's teams are falling further and further behind the elite of Europe. They can't compete in the Champions League anymore and have to decide between embracing the dough or sacrificing success in Europe to remain fan-friendly. Uli fills us in...

Bundesliga reaches cash crossroads

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Gotta gives us his take on the wider scope of the crisis.

Violence a matter of national importance

Phil Ball in Spain

Phil brings us up to date on Ronald Koeman's work at Valencia and Manuel Pellegrini's impressive results at Villarreal.

"V" Signs

Carey signs on to invest in Seattle expansion team

The new franchise, which will begin play in 2009, was announced Friday and was to be formally introduced Tuesday.

But Carey was at Monday night's Seahawks game against San Francisco at Qwest Field, which will be the home of the to-be-named franchise.

Coleman in trouble with his bosses in Spain

Cookie's been enjoying San Sebastian with his mates...

Sociedad launch prove over Coleman's conduct

Italian soccer in crisis

Ultras across Italy hijacked Gabriele Sandri's death for their own capital. Now the Italian football federation must consider its next move carefully. Signor Paolo Bandini reports.
Fan tragedy sends the fight against Ultras back to square one

Hitzfeld feels the heat

Ever since the groin of Stuttgart's Mario Gomez gave Bayern a first defeat of the season, critics have been rounding on Ottmar Hitzfeld. Herr Raphael Honigstein reports.
Gomez's low blow has Hitzfeld on the ropes

Robinho Runs Riot

Having been given a final chance to fulfil his potential at Madrid, Robinho has sent scribes scrambling for the same old superlative. Señor Lowe reports.
Suddenly Robinho looks like the New Pele ... again

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hell's Bells

A small article on my home town team:

Punks, prostitutes and football

Seattle to get expansion MLS franchise for 2009

"I can confirm that commissioner Don Garber is going to travel to Seattle for an announcement Tuesday of the expansion of Major League Soccer for the future into the Seattle market," Dan Courtemanche, MLS senior vice president for marketing and communications, said Friday by phone from league headquarters in New York.

The Champions League, sorry the Tri-Nations, just isn't working

English, Spanish and Italian domination of the Champions League has made the competition stale.

Bundesliga: Stuttgart Rock Bayern, Schalke and Hamburg Draw


La Liga: Madrid Win Thriller, Barcelona Lose to Getafe


Serie A: Juventus Draw, Fiorentina Lose, Matches Abandoned or Called Off

R. Mehdi's Reports

EPL: Everton hold Chelsea, Villa win Birmingham Derby, Tyne/Wear is a Draw

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Sat., Nov. 10
Derby 0-5 West Ham Recap
Liverpool 2-0 Fulham Recap
Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle Recap
Sun., Nov. 11
Birmingham 1-2 Aston Villa Recap
Bolton 0-0 Middlesbrough Recap
Chelsea 1-1 Everton Recap
Man Utd 2-0 Blackburn Recap
Portsmouth 0-0 Man City Recap
Tottenham 4-0 Wigan Recap
Mon., Nov. 12
Reading vs. Arsenal Preview

Rome Rioting, Police Plead Not Guilty Against Murder

The situation is fluid in Italy, and particularly in Rome, in the face of Lazio fan Gabriele Sandri being killed by the police.

Riots hit Rome, with fans attacking a police barracks as well as the Olympic Stadium and causing extensive damage to the headquarters of the Italian Olympic Committee next door.

At least 40 police were injured in Rome alone, officials said.

A top flight game between Atalanta and AC Milan was also abandoned after seven minutes when fans tried to break down a glass barrier keeping them from the pitch.

Gabriele Sandri was hit in the neck by a shot fired by a policeman at an Italian motorway rest area where rival fans had been fighting on Sunday. An autopsy on his body was carried out as controversy raged.

The Envy of Major League Soccer?

The Evil Empire?

Leiweke wants the Galaxy to be the best and makes no apology for it. His words will not be to everyone's liking, but those who refuse to accept second-best cannot be everyone's best friend.

"I like the fact that the Galaxy is the most important team in Major League Soccer," Leiweke said. "I like the fact that we lead the way. We are the ones trying to reinvent this sport and reinvent this league.

"I like everyone shooting at us. I like everyone being pissed off at us. But we have got to get better. We have got to back it up.

"We don't like losing and I don't like people pointing fingers at this organization. It is time to step it up and Ruud will help us get better."

Dynamo's depth shines against the Wizards

Houston's 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards in Saturday's Western Conference final earned the Dynamo a return trip to MLS' championship game.

Richard Jolley at Old Trafford and Anfield

Manchester United 2-0 Blackburn Rovers

With parts of Old Trafford populated by people who could testify to the ferocity of Sir Alex Ferguson's hairdryer treatment, it was indicative of the importance of more modern management methods that Blackburn were beaten by a player he had sweet-talked.

Liverpool 2-0 Fulham

Unlikely as it is that a chant of 'attack, attack, attack' will displace 'You'll Never Walk Alone', it is being heard with increasing frequency from the Liverpool supporters.