Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shaka Hislop on new MLS season

As kick-off looms for the new season, it'll be fascinating to witness more of the Beckham effect - and whether anyone can topple Houston
Dazzling Dynamo the team to beat as MLS steps into the limelight

Et tu, Brute?

Sunderland manager attacks his former club as he hits out at 'hypocrites' who fail to show respect towards football officials
Roy Keane slates Sir Alex Ferguson for referee abuse

Galaxy sinking into Black Hole?

With crowds down and his team struggling, a tough second season for the MLS's 'ambassador' begins today
American dream fades as Beckham's Galaxy stare into a black hole

Friday, March 28, 2008



If this match was taking place a month or so ago I would have tipped Everton to win.
However, Tim Cahill is injured,Mikel Arteta appears to be struggling a little for form and they have picked up just one point from the last two games.
Liverpool need a performance after their showing against Manchester United last week.
Forget about Javier Mascherano - in terms of performance Liverpool were very much second best and United did not have to play all that well to beat them.
The most worrying thing for Liverpool was that they got done through the middle on five separate occasions. Normally they are so strong down the centre of their team.


Lawro's predictions

Gillett Vs Hicks

George Gillett Jr reveals extent of breakdown with co-owner Tom Hicks, which has led to death threats
Liverpool owners at war over club sell-off

Rangers vs. Celtic: Old Firm Set for Grand Finale

With 10 SPL matches remaining, Walter Smith's side hold a three-point lead over Celtic and have played a game less. It is a nice cushion for a team that can boast a run of 12 consecutive league victories. However, due to the vagaries of a more mixed up than usual domestic calendar, three of those games will be Old Firm derbies, with the first taking place at Ibrox on Saturday lunchtime.

Can't get enough of this photo...

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

And just like that, the title race is on again. Does anyone want to win the thing?


Racing to the title in the SEAT 600...

EPL needs NBA discipline

The FA should appoint a disciplinary commissioner to improve football's reputation, says Lawrence Donegan
For lessons in discipline football should look to NBA

England: EPL Weekend Previews

It's the Liverpool Derby as Everton travel across town to Anfield in the weekend's premier fixture, leaders United host stumbling Villa, Chelsea welcome Boro, Arsenal are at the Reebok to face Bolton, Derby host Fulham and Newcastle are at White Hart Lane where they'll try to make it two on the trot versus Spurs.


Team News

Lawro's Predictions

El Tri: Too Little, Too Late For Sanchez's Sergio Tristan believes that Mexico's win over Ghana on Wednesday isn't enough to save Hugo Sanchez's job.

USA to Face Argentina in New York

For the first time since last summer's Copa America, the United States and Argentina, ranked #1 in the world, will meet in a friendly on June 8.

2008 MLS Season Full of Intrigue

Bobbie's preview below is far superior, but for what its worth, feel free to check out Jeff Carlisle's preview should you desire...

The league's latest attempt to draw fans.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Leaders Inter are in Rome to face Lazio, Roma are on Sardinia to face Cagliari, Fiorentina face Udinese and Juventus are at home against Parma.


Bex heads to Dick's

Fans and media alike show apathy aplenty as American soccer's star attraction flies in for season opener in Colorado
Centurion Beckham in low-key return to MLS
How come we don't hate David Beckham?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bobbie's Quickie MLS Preview!

It's true, Major League Soccer season is due to open this weekend. What, you didn't notice that last season had ended? While most Americans are easily distracted by such noble passtimes as the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA football and basketball post seasons, ultimate fighting and of course PBR (professional bull riding), world soccer's longest off-season seems comparable to Moses' 40 years in the desert to those who follow MLS. While MLS CentCom makes an honest effort to keep fans engaged, for the most part they are starved for information due to most clubs non-existent relationship with their local news media. A Chicago Fire fan such as myself had a fair amount of off-field developments to follow over the course of the season but the most we got from the soccer writer at the Chicago Tribune were variations on a theme: "I'm here to write about the team but nobody there will return my phone calls. Why does the Fire hate publicity?" Don Garber, please take note. However the waiting is nearly over and I'll do my best to give a little update. If one were to ask your typical MLS fan about any other team in the league, (aside from Alexi Lalas' Jewel of MLS, because they're always on 60 Minutes) the most you'd get would be, "I hate them." We are an entirely self-interested lot. So with that in mind, here's a Chicago Fire fan's MLS season preview:

Eastern Conference

DC United: DC got the biggest makeover in the league this off season. After twice posting the best record in the league and then failing in the first round of the playoffs Tommy Soehn decided to remake his roster. Gone are glamor boy Bobby Boswell and former league MVP Christian Gomez and arriving is a host of affordable South American talent led by DP Marcello Gallardo. There are questions about how quickly they can gel as a team, but perhaps coming out of the gates a bit cooler will see them through to a stronger finish. But I doubt it.

New England Revolution: New England are hoping that addition by subtraction isn't a pipe dream. They lost Pat Noonan and Andy Dorman, brought in Chris "Asswipe" Albight and managed to alienate their main scoring threat by denying Taylor Twellman his dream move to Preston North End. Let me repeat that: Taylor Twellman, Dream Move, Preston North End. Can they find motivation in their repeated championship game losses or will they again fall short? I'll answer, it's the latter.

New York Red Jokebullshitofafranchise: Another year, another coach. The Bruce answered a long standing question when he fell in a forest and there were plenty of people around to hear but none of them seemed to give a crap. The Austrian Energydrink brain trust decided that it was too much work to scout their own coaching candidates so they just stole ours. It's unclear what exactly happened but it certainly involved secret phone calls and offers of sacks of cash, followed by Coach Osorio's wife going public with the fact that she hated Chicago, the weather, the people, the organization, her condo, the Cubs, Italian Beef, you name it. Thus suitably neutered by his wife before all, Coach Ososio was able to slink off to the swamps of New Jersey. It was not long before he was back, tapping up defensive stalwart Wilman Conde. Conde made a critical mistake by doing his own complaining to the press rather than having Mrs Conde do it, and he's thus far failed to break free. Osorio cleared out a lot of The Bruce's dead wood but he failed to find any suitable replacements. They feature the best strike tandem in the league in Jozy Altidore and JP Angel but they lack the midfield and defensive personnel to play Coach Osorio's possession oriented defensive game as well as the midfield playmaker to get the ball to the forwards. Unless Coach Poacher can come up with the reinforcements the team needs they will find it tough going in an improved Eastern Conference.

Chicago Fire: The Fire had a typical playoff run, (dump DC, lose on the road to New England) and a brutal offseason. As mentioned in the FuckBulls preview, we lost our coach of 4 months and he's still trying to poach our best defender. The hiring process for the new coach shed light on the massive ineptitude of the Fire's front office, as they settled on Houston's Jon Spencer as the new coach only to have him reject their lowball offer. Nice one Guppy, that's the kind of leadership we've come to expect of you. They made an offer to assistant head coach Dennis Hamlett who considered leaving it on the table, (it was the third time he interviewed for the position) but ultimately accepted. Along with newly hired Technical Director Frankie Klopas and Assistant Head Coach Chris Armas we now have a nice core of original franchise stalwarts running the sporting side of things so Guppy can concentrate on alienating the fans and fucking up sponsorship deals. The Fire also have new ownership after a long tenure as the red headed stepchild of the AEG empire. Let's hope they can rapidly identify a new President! Oh, yes also the Fire are a soccer team. They lost their starting keeper to QPR but most of the other starters are back. Aztec God Chuathemoc Blanco returns to lead the attack from midfield and new marketing tool/striker Thomasz Frankowski joins the attack. Hopefully Frankowski will do better that last season's tally of zero goals for Wolverhampton. They still don't have a right winger and if Conde goes (or refuses to play) they'll have issues at the back. I expect the Fire will both score and concede more than they did last year, but they'll be a safe pick to finish in the middle of the pack and make the playoffs where they'll beat DC and lose to NE.

Kansas City: KC are an easy early pick for most improved, though I guess if the Galaxy can win 30% of their games they'll lock it up. Eddie Johnson is off to accolades of unfulfilled potential at Fulham and Argentine legend Claudio Lopez arrives to take his place. Why didn't Fulham just sign Lopez? We'll never know. With second year MLS player Carlos Marinelli hopefully a more useful player they should see a dramatic uptic in scoring. But will anyone notice?

Columbus Crew: Pity Guillermo Barros Schelotto. I guess the money looked good at the time or maybe he'd never eaten at Olive Garden before. Perhaps he and Frankie Hedjuk can give the Crue the backbone they need, but if the Crue had a motto it would be, "don't get your hopes up." Maybe in 10 years after all of the new stadia are built they can host the All Star Game again.

Toronto FC: Last year they had the fans but not the squad. And that plastic pitch in their soccer specific stadium (why?). This offseason has seen few significant additions to the team, though rumors have MLS bad boy Amado Guevara making his return to the league. If Toronto knows what's good for them they'll bring in Bruce Arena as a special consultant to poison the locker room vibe; it wouldn't help on the field but it would be funny as hell. But things are looking up for the Toronto fans because, a) they're always drunk, b) there's a new expansion team for them to condescend to and c) they're guaranteed to finish better than Columbus.

Western Conference

Houston Dynamo: The team of choice for all Ukrainian Soviet military veterans took home a second consecutive MLS title last year and aim to keep at it. They lost Nate Jaqua to Europe (this will help their scoring) and brought in Bobby Boswell (read all about it on his blog!), as well as MLS debutante striker Francisco Caraccio. They're counting on Dwaye DeRosario to run the offense from the midfield and Brian Ching to knock in the goals. Simple formula, I know, but it seems to have been working.

Chivas USA: The Goats posted the best record in the west last year but lost to Kansas City in the playoffs. Wait, you say Kansas City is in the East now? Oh do shut up, this is MLS we're talking about here. Anyway goal machine Ante Razov is back and determined to prove that .... he's a dick? I don't know but he's out to prove something. Jesse March will provide the yelling and the hacking David Beckham, U23 star Sacha Kljestan will handle the Ronny Wood haircut and the midfield playmaking duties and Brad Guzan, still smarting from his failure to get a work permit and a job at Aston Villa, will keep the sheets clean. Brad, look on the bright side: where would you rather live, LA or Birmingham?

FC Dallas: Dallas still has a soccer team? And they made the playoffs last year, you tell me? Pull the other one, no I mean the third one. Mmmmmmmmm, yes, that's it. Anyway, last year the fans of the former Burn found out what the rest of the world has known for some time: step overs are not goals, and step overs are not assists, and step overs are not even successful passes. It's true, Denilson has slunk off back to somewhere, maybe Saudi Arabia, to mail it in and cash checks. As for the rest of them, I could give a fuck.

Colorado Rockies: Arsenal USA has played like anything but. All-Overrated coach Fernando Clavijo is back for another year of mile high disappointment. Former league MVP Christian Gomez arrived in the offseason, soon never to be heard from again. Is Pablo Mastroeni still on the team? Anyone remember that sweet bicycle kick goal Marcello Balboa scored back in '97?

Jewel of MLS: The Galaxy circus never disappoints. What dumb thing will Lalas say next? Will he shoot roman candles out of his penis if nobody pays attention to him? How many pricey players can they gather on to one squad at the expense of any kind of depth? How many new rules will MLS make up to keep them on TV? New coach Ruud Gullit has worked for Kenny "Motel" Bates and as such he's accustomed to answering to buffoons, but early rumors out of LA have he and Alexi butting heads over personnel. New face/old face Carlos "9.8" Ruiz brings his high scoring and hard diving ways to the Home Depot Center and it also looks as though the Gals have signed an extra 6" of hair for Abel Xavier, hoping people looking at billboards won't notice Lando's bald spot. If everything goes right for our heroes they could truly put together a season to remember. And if not, well we've seen how that ends- with a fantastic January press conference that wipes away the bitter memories. Oh, and TomKat will be at all of the home matches so there's that to look forward to.

Real Salt Lake: The Rocky Mountain Taliban, as some on the internets have taken to calling them, have waived goodbye to Eddie Pope and Freddie Adu and are welcoming to the fold a host of new players. Who? Find out yourself if you give a crap, it's all on the web. Real Madrid's sister club is almost guaranteed to finish above the cellar if only because of the arrival of a new kid on the block.

San Jose Earthquakes: So this was an MLS team for 8 years or so but they had to move to Houston due to a lack of fan support, but now they're back 2 years later. I don't get it. And what about those old 'Quake titles, do they belong to Houston? (yes) And what about all of those great players they had, are they allowed to show pictures of Agoos and Lando in old 'Quake gear or is that out the window too? (we'll see) And will security confiscate old 'Quake jerseys at the entrance to the stadium? (I sure hope so) These are the stupid ways I amuse myself instead of actually bothering to find out anything about this team other than that they're fucked. Better luck next year.

So that wraps up the capsule but it doesn't answer any questions, so I'll do that now.

Q: What roster rules changes can I expect this year?
A: Whatever LA asks for.
Q: Who will win the scoring title?
A: Razov
Q: Who's going to be MVP?
A: Ask the Galaxy's marketing department, but whomever it is he'll be guaranteed to sell a lot of shirts in Asia.
Q: Why are the MLS All-Stars going to play West Ham?
A: What smells like shit in here?
Q: Who will win the Supporters Shield?
A: It doesn't matter because they're bound to blow it in the playoffs.
Q: What's going to happen in the playoffs?
A: The format will be different than last year. At some point you'll wonder what the hell is going on. Your team will probably make it and then disappoint you and you'll lose interest and two weeks after the MLS Cup is won you'll delete the final match from your TiVo without watching it first.

So there you have it folks, MLS 2008. Keep your eyes peeled for me on ESPN2, I'm the drunk guy in the front row by the corner flag.

- Bobbie

Dark Arts of the Defensive Mid

The chief danger to the game isn't backchat or the legbreaker, it's the snide, sneaky, play-breaking fouls of the defensive midfielder
Why the Makelele foul is the real threat to football

Beasley Eyes Shock Gers Return

DaMarcus Beasley believes he could return for Rangers before the end of the season after a miraculous recovery from knee ligament damage.

Quotes and Chants of the Week

"I'm telling you man, this kid could be the best thing on two legs since Sophia Loren."

Ray Hudson confuses Barca's Borjan with a beautiful woman.

"You don't know what you're doing!"
Villa fans when someone said yes to their partner's half-time marriage proposal.

All the Fun

International Friendly Wrap

France beat England, Spain beat Italy, the Dutch beat Austria, Greece beat Portugal and more...

Seven Up: The Premier League Title Race

After a weekend that saw the so-called ‘Big Four’ go head-to-head, there are now just seven games standing between the top three teams and Premier League glory. Gill Clark looks closer...

Poland 0 - 3 USA

Three set pieces lead to three goals by Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, and Eddie Lewis as the United States steamrolls Poland in Krakow.

United States crush undermanned Poland

U.S Continues to Improve on the Road

"It's never been about money. It is about respect "

Surely the time is right for a second thrilling instalment of Ashley Cole's autobiography? Asks Marina Hyde
The price of Cole could leave you feeling a bit sick

Is Rafa still The Man?

Elsa Benítez - not Rafa's sister

Once again, when it comes to the league Liverpool aren't really up there with Arsenal, ManU and Chelsea. Does this mean Rafa should get the chop? Alan Mullery and former Reds striker David Fairclough discuss the pros and cons of the under-fire Spaniard
Is Benítez still the man to bring Liverpool the title?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Corinthian Spirit

As they prepare for life in the second division, São Paulo giants Corinthians have less problems on the pitch than off it
O Timão call on the Toothy One to heal the scars left by MSI

Warning Sign

"The biggest lie to nail over the Mascherano affair is the one about consistency" says Martin Samuel
Javier Mascherano wrong to ignore post-Cole warning

International Friendlies: General Preview

Blah Blah Blah. Midweek international fixtures are such a waste of time.

Here's a preview if you care.

Beaucoup de questions

Karim Benzema's absence presents Raymond Domenech with a selection dilemma for tomorrow's France-England clash
Questions aplenty for Les Bleus coach

Beckham seeks more glory as milestone approaches

A little profile on Golden Balls as he nabs his 100th cap...

Becks back in the day...

International Friendly Preview: Poland - United States

When: 3:30 pm ET, Wednesday, March 26
Where: Wisla Stadium, Krakow, Poland
TV: Fox Soccer Channel


Give & Go: U.S. National Team defender Cory Gibbs

After years of injuries and setbacks, Cory Gibbs is finally back in shape and ready to regain his spot on the left side of the U.S. defense.

Greg Lalas interviewed the Yank Abroad...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

German Stereotypes

Every club in the Bundesliga was acting against type over Easter weekend. Well, apart from one outfit from Bavaria, that is. Herr Honigstein reports.
Ruthlessly efficient ... at destroying stereotypes.

Americans in England: Highs and Lows

The Americans across the pond continue to ride the wave, as the highs and lows of a Premier League season keep on coming.

Eddie Lewis, Derby County
Vs. Middlesbrough (90 minutes, 0 goals)

The Rams played a rather boring match on Saturday as they fell 1-0 to Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium. Lewis and company actually had control of the game for the most part but could not convert possession into points. Although Derby continue to lose, they haven’t been looking quite as dismal lately and can surely build on their toughness as they go into next season.

Americans on the Continent: Two for Bradley

Michael Bradley continued his torrid scoring pace for Heerenveen, scoring twice against Roda JC.

Clint Mathis, Ergotelis (Greek Super League)
vs. Atromitos, A, 1-2 win (7 minutes, 0 goals)
The extraordinary turnaround for Ergotelis since Mathis’s arrival continues. No one gave them a chance of escaping relegation a couple months ago, but with this latest victory, helped by another late Mathis cameo, their noses are above relegation waters by goal difference. Mathis came on as a late sub and had a hand in Nigerian striker Patrick Ogunsoto’s 87th minute winner. With only four matchdays left, the Cretan minnows have given themselves a real and unexpected chance at survival. Up next: Levadiakos (Super League), 3/30.

England: More on the Big Weekend Clashes

Arsenal need more extensive options in all areas if the league title is to be won again in the near future Sun sets on Wenger's way as a route to the title

Rafa Benítez should be worried that his team's spine collapsed under United's challenge
Mascherano's mad moment masks Liverpool's all-round failure

International Friendly: Poland vs. United States

Poland vs. USA
Wednesday, March 26
Wisla Stadium, Krakow, Poland
3:30 p.m. ET

Goalkeepers: Marcus Hahnemann (Reading, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England).

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham, England), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Cory Gibbs (Charlton Athletic, England), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege, England), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock, Germany), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England).

Midfielders: Michael Bradley (Heerenveen, Netherlands), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Benny Feilhaber (Derby, England), Eddie Lewis (Derby, England).

Forwards: Brian Ching (Houston), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Eddie Johnson (Fulham, England), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich, Germany).

Bradley anticipates tough matchup against Poland

Monday, March 24, 2008

Orange is the colour

Valencia's wayward striker Javier Arizmendi has blown the La Liga title race open - again - with his first goal of the season. Señor Lowe reports...
The future's bright, the future's Valencia's

Honduras beats US without much Adu

Honduras 1 - 0 U.S.A.

U.S. lacks finishing touch in the final third

The Insider at White Hart Lane

Tottenham 2 - 0 Portsmouth
A meeting of overachievers

Germaine Greer on soccer

Aussie feminist Germaine Greer discusses football as culture in British life
Football counts as culture just as much as opera does. And it doesn't need subsidies

Portuguese League Cup

Vitória de Setúbal have won the first edition of the Carlsberg Cup, with Sporting confirming once again their problems to score from the penalty area
Setúbal Best Sporting In Shootout

Primera Liga

Atlético Madrid enhanced their European hopes with a first win at Sevilla in over 15 years
Argentines earn Atletico rare win at Sevilla
After taking the lead, Valencia went 2-1 down, only to storm back for a late victory to stun the league leaders...
Valencia Stun Madrid At The Bernabeu
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta hailed his side's 4-1 victory over Real Valladolid as the perfect way to maintain confidence as they seek to catch league leaders Real Madrid
A Perfect Boost, Beams Iniesta
Spain are hoping The kid will bring his Liverpool form to the national team
Spain hope to see the new Torres against Italy

Serie A

Mauro Camoranesi and David Trezeguet scored to give Juventus a 2-1 win over leaders Inter
Juventus beat leaders Inter, Roma gain ground
Marco Materazzi had admitted that he did fall-out with Inter team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Matrix Admits Mancini Fight, Ibra Fall-Out
Serie A Team Of The Week: Round 30

EPL Round Up

Kevin Keegan's deployment of Michael Owen in a deeper role was key in the Magpies' victory
Keegan's re-invention of Owen proves pivotal
A sterile game was drifting aimlessly until Spurs manager introduced Darren Bent with 20 minutes left
Darren Bent hopes for better days at Spurs
10-man Blackburn cruise to victory
Brad Friedel helps Blackburn beat the freeze
The Sunderland manager recorded his first away win of the season against an out of form Villa
Keane cashes in as Villa hit the wall
Campo and Nolan hint at Bolton's lack of harmony
Defender has a moment of madness in the African Cup of Nations, but has now come good
Andre Bikey finally clicks to alter internet image
West Ham looking stronger, Everton wobbling
Hammers blessed with options
Turkey player's fine finish was one bright moment in a frigid afternoon in North-East
Jewell keeps his humour on difficult weekend

Mascherano sees red, Red Devils eye title

Hard to judge the Mascherano red card at Old Trafford. Yes, he was an idiot, yes, he went too far in his badgering of the referee. That said, you got the feeling he was paying for Ashley Cole's actions on Wednesday. Add in Ferguson's pre-match comments, the Old Trafford crowd and above all referee Mike Riley being a bit of a prick, Javier had no chance.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team were installed as 1/4 favourites for the title after a resounding 3-0 victory against Liverpool
Forget Liverpool's maniac, this was a 90-minute masterclass from United
Don't blame ref Steve Bennett for being over-zealous, says Alan Smith. He may have done us a favour
Mascherano's red card for dissent timely
Wayne Rooney's clever movement was a constant problem for Liverpool's defence at Old Trafford, says David Pleat
David Pleat's chalkboard

Lack of cool leads to Chelsea win

Once again, Arsenal blow a lead. The most obvious explanation for this is would be a combination of their large number of younger players and a lack of leadership from their older players. But in truth it's the older players that can't keep their cool. Touré and Gallas had been struggling with Drogba all game, but were doing okay. Then Arsenal scored, and they just lost it, especially positionally, repeatedly defending the wrong side of Drogba or Anelka. This lead to chaos and goals.

Avram Grant's side are the nearest challengers to Manchester United after striker's two late goals
Drogba double takes Chelsea into second
Grant reflected on Didier Drogba's match-winning performance by suggesting it was long overdue
Drogba delivers in style and about time too, says Grant
One win in eight is Arsenal's worst sequence in almost a decade and has made a fourth title for the Frenchman unlikely
Wenger forced to admit that his side have a soft centre
Avram Grant's late substitutions turn jeers to cheers for first win against a top-four team
Maybe Grant does know what he's doing after all

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Today's big EPL games : more guff and analysis

Ryan Giggs meets Liverpool today for the 35th time – and he still has a crucial role to play
Ryan Giggs: 'I love beating Liverpool'
Chelsea stopper John Terry admits that rivals Arsenal can be mesmerising at times, but he'd rather win ugly with Chelsea...
Terry Compares 'Weak' Arsenal With 'Winners' Chelsea
Arsenal captain's passion could be a deciding factor when he returns to his old club for the London derby
Is William Gallas a hero or explosive hothead?
Sir Alex Ferguson's war of words with Liverpool counterpart Rafa Benitez has given today's showdown extra acrimony
Managerial rivalry adds extra spice to Manchester United v Liverpool
The Chelsea manager needs a victory over Arsenal today to try and curb criticism and assert some authority
Is Avram Grant losing his grip?