Friday, November 07, 2008

Roses are Red

Violets are Blue, I hate the New England Buttfucking Revolution and we finally knocked them out of the playoffs! There's not a ton to say about what happened on the field that hasn't been written already, so I'll offer a few observations:

- We had an excellent turnout, about 17.5k on a Thursday night despite a terrible weather forecast. This looked especially good in comparison to the 5500 that attended the road leg of the match. Traffic getting in was hideous and lines at will call were long, so many fans got to their seats late, myself included. The location of the Big Yoda is fairly brutal for weeknight games as fans have to battle commuter traffic, and it's by far the biggest drawback of the venue.

- Shalrie Joseph is still the most complete midfielder in MLS. His harrying, ball winning and passing over two legs was the only thing that kept New England at all coherent.

- Blanco ran harder last night than I've seen since 2007. He was chasing balls until the end and showed a lot of desire. He's clearly a big match player and loves to entertain the home crowd. His passing was as excellent as always and his shot on goal just before the half, parried by Matt "Dying Darth Vader" Reis into the path of Chris Rolfe, was a rocket.

- Chris Rolfe continues to sizzle. His quickness of thought on the ball is unmatched in MLS. He's a bit wasted in the Fire's 4-2-3-1 formation as he's not entirely effective deeper, but he always makes perfect decisions near the goal. His lightning quick finish at the end of the first half put the Revs on their heels and his assist on Segares' goal iced the cake while simultaneously rubbing salt in New England's wounds.

- Our back line is on Fire. Bakary Soumare and Wilman Conde in the middle have formed an amazing partnership, which last night resulted in only one serious New England shot on goal, easily dealt with by Jon Busch. They both dominate in the air and make solid decisions on the ball. Conde's goal was a thing of beauty; he seemingly materialized out of thin air to dominate his marker and power home a crushing header, effectively ending New England's season. Gonzalo Segares continues to prove that he's probably the best left back in the league- running the flanks, marking his man out of the game and finishing his chances superbly. His goal was especially sweet as his extra time game winning goal against New England two years ago in the playoffs was incorrectly and unjustly called back for offside, ending our season. If we can hang on to him and Conde next year (unlikely at best), we will have the best defense in MLS two years running. Soumare's decision to play for Mali rather than wait for his US citizenship is a serious loss for the USMNT talent pool.

- McBride continues to pay dividends. He didn't find much space last night but his knock down play and smart positional sense clears a ton of space for our attacking trident of Blanco, Mapp and Rolfe to operate. The difference in our attacking play since he arrived is remarkable.

- Chris Albright is still an idiot. He came into MLS as a golden boy striker, demanded to play for DC, had the draft rigged for him and then did nothing. There was a fair amount of speculation by the national soccer press that he must practice better than any American in the history of the game given his unjustified number of call-ups to the USMNT, but he produced jack at every turn. Some lauded his willing conversion to right back when it became clear in LA that he just couldn't score the ball, but now he's just an over-matched hack playing out of position. Justin Mapp and Chris Rolfe beat him like a rented mule all night long, he didn't get forward in any useful way and his passing was unexceptional at best. He capped off his black-hole-of-the-match performance by getting sent off with 10 minutes to go for a second yellow card earned by a stupid and pointless foul on Blanco. Chris, what do you have to offer? Why are you still playing in this league? Why don't you pull your head out of your head out of your ass?

- I look really handsome in HD.

So bring on round 2. Unfortunately I'll be unable to attend the match next round, home or away, but I feel confidant that I'll be in LA cheering for my boys to take home the cup on 11/23 in LA.

West Ham Extend Obama Invitation

Obama saw West Ham play during a visit to see his half-sister Auma in 2003.

Rio Ferdinand's Homegrown XI

Rio Ferdinand has captained Manchester United and England - and even tried his hand at television presenting.

On Sunday he switches his attentions to the airwaves, where he will be taking over BBC Radio 1Xtra as part of their '1Xtra Loves HomeGrown' season.

Ahead of his appearance, Rio played the role of fantasy manager to pick his all-time HomeGrown XI, a UK and Ireland team of footballers who have plied their trade in England.

Maradona visit lifts United players before Arsenal game

Manchester United's players were given a lift ahead of their Premier League game against Arsenal when Diego Maradona visited them at their training ground on Friday.

Elton John severs his links with Watford

Sir Elton John, the “Rocket Man” of Vicarage Road for 32 years, has fallen to earth. Not so much with a crash and explosion, but a mild bump and a whimper as he resigned as life president of Watford, the struggling Coca-Cola Championship club.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview


Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Milan look to protect lead, Inter host Udinese and Juventus face the Flying Donkeys...

UEFA Cup Wrap

Spurs win, late Ronaldinho goal wins it for Milan, Villa and City win...


England: Premier League Preview & Predictions

The weekend's big clash is on Saturday in North London where Arsenal host Manchester United. Elsewhere, Wigan welcome Stoke, Hull host Bolton, Tony Adams takes Portsmouth to Sunderland to face Roy Keane's lads, West Ham welcome Everton and West Brom go to Liverpool. Sunday sees Chelsea at Ewood Park to face Blackburn, Boro at Villa, Tottenham at Manchester City and Newcastle down at Fulham...

Arsenal vs. Manchester United Preview


Team News

Lawro's Predictions

Nick Webster's Predictions

MLS Playoff Reports: Chicago 3 - 0 New England

It took four years, but the Chicago Fire finally solved the New England Revolution.

Chris Rolfe, Wilman Conde and Gonzalo Segares all scored as the Fire advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the Revolution on Thursday.

Fire blow by Revolution

Gabriele Marcotti Column

The Enforcer XI: midfield hardmen who would suit Arsenal

Big spender
Marcos Senna
Anatoliy Tymoschuk
Christian Poulsen
Anatoliy Tymoschuk

Short-term solution
Timmy Simons

Domestic options
Scott Parker
Fabrice Muamba

Speculate to accumulate
Miguel Veloso
Stephane M'Bia

Into the unknown
Antony Annan
Marek Suchy

Ray Parlour: "It's time for Arsenal to roll their sleeves up"

But former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour, speaking to ESPNsoccernet ahead of the game, believes that despite the side's recent poor run, they should have no problem getting themselves mentally prepared for the game.

''You're playing Manchester United. What preparation do you need?"

Goal.commentary: Ferguson Vs Wenger

Sir Alex Ferguson takes his troops to do battle in north London against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime. These fixtures used to have added bite and hostility, but Alan Dawson looks at how things have changed over the years...

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Come back, Spalletti, all is forgiven. Er, actually, Luciano Spalletti, Roma's coach since 2005, never went away in the first place, but perhaps he wished he had, after the Giallorossi's awful start of the season. Some unimpressive performances early on brought about a chain reaction of events and, more to the point, controversies, that threatened to dissolve all the good work the wiry, perennially tanned Tuscan has done in the capital.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

MLS Playoff Preview: New England at Chicago

SSN's own Bobbie BS will be at The Yoda tonight. Look for a match report tomorrow.

TV: ESPN2 at 9pm EST

The Joy of Six: Great Footballs

From the then-exotic Tango to the lethal mouldmaster and the pigs bladders of yore, The Guardian recalls six essential makes of ball.

2) The Mitre Delta 1000

On the long list of Doodles Done In Class In The Late 80s, the Mitre Delta comes behind only assorted genitalia and that formless thing with the tail and a sort of face. The pre-Premiership ball of choice might now be associated with a dark period of Elton Welsby and Saint & Greavsie, but at the time it was seriously cool: who wouldn't want the ball that was caressed by the likes of Brian Kilcline, Ian Ormondroyd and Mal Donaghy? Short of swaggering into school with Bronwyn from Neighbours on your arm, there was no surer way to win friends and influence people than by whipping out a Delta at lunchtime. But woe betide the kid who had to go home and tell his parents it had been punted out of the school, never to be found.

The Other Five Balls

Luka Modric’s return to Dinamo Zagreb with Tottenham revives tough childhood memories

Luka Modric is guaranteed a warm welcome when he returns to Dinamo Zagreb with Tottenham for an emotional Uefa Cup fixture for the midfielder whose family still bare the scars of the Balkan conflict that formed a backdrop to his youth.

English Premier League: Who will avoid the drop?

One of the things which is making this season so enjoyable is that the league table has been squeezed up from the bottom. Hull have quite rightly been attracting the most praise, but all the newly promoted sides have made a really good start and nobody looks like being cut adrift.

Quotes & Chants of the Week

"English soccer crowds are great, always cheering and singing.. no booing though, they'd never boo a player."
NFL commentator on Saints v Chargers game at Wembley

"John Carew, Carew. He likes a lapdance or two. He might even pay for you. John Carew, Carew."
Villa fans at Wigan.

All the Fun

Champions League Reflections: English Big Shots Far From Hot-Shots

Graham Lister reflects on a winless week for the English in the Champions League…

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday Wrap & Reports


Celtic 1 - 1 Manchester United
Giggs to the rescue
Richard Jolly at Parkhead

Real Madrid 0 - 2 Juventus
Magical Del Piero

Arsenal 0 - 0 Fenerbahçe

Running on empty
Edgy Gunners

Fiorentina 1 - 1 Bayern Munich
Germans go through

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday Previews

What: UEFA Champions League Group E, Matchday 4
Who: Celtic (3rd, 1 point) vs. Manchester United (1st, 7 points)
When: Weds., 5th Nov., 19:45 GMT
Where: Celtic Park, Glasgow

What: Champions League Group H, Matchday 4
Who: Real Madrid (2nd, 6pts) vs Juventus (1st, 7pts)
When: Wednesday, 5th November 2008, 2045 CET
Where: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain

What: Champions League Group F, Matchday 4
Who: Fiorentina vs. Bayern Munich
When: Wednesday, 5th November 2008, 20:45 (CET)
Where: Artemio Franchi, Florence

What: Champions League Matchday 4
Who: Arsenal (1st, 7pts) v Fenerbahçe (4th, 1pt)
When: Wednesday 5 November, 2008
Where: Ashburton Grove, N5

Gabriele Marcotti Column

Fans forums, Arsene Wenger's verbal assault and waiting for Chelsea...

Furious Wenger says 'cowardly' Stoke set out to injure Arsenal players

Arsène Wenger labelled Stoke City's players "cowards" yesterday and accused them of deliberately setting out to injure Arsenal players in Saturday's stormy encounter at the Britannia Stadium.

The Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has hit back at Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger over his comments claiming the Stoke players set out to deliberately injure his players during last Saturday's contest at the Brittania Stadium, when Arsenal lost 2-1.

Kevin McCarra:
Arsene Wenger is a remarkable manager but his idiosyncratic approach may cause Arsenal to drop out of the top four

Villa consider racism complaint against Barton

Aston Villa were last night weighing up whether to make an official complaint to the Football Association as they looked into allegations that Joey Barton racially abused the England Under-21 international Gabriel Agbonlahor during Newcastle United's 2-0 victory at St James' Park on Monday night.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday Wrap & Reports


Roma 3 - 1 Chelsea
Blues on red alert as messy Mikel sums up limp show

Anorthosis 3 - 3 Inter Milan
Six Goal Thriller

Barcelona 1 - 1 Basel
Barca through

Sporting Lisbon 1 - 0
Shakhtar Donetsk
Portuguese through

Richard Jolly at Anfield

Liverpool 1 - 1 Atletico Madrid

It's never over until it's over for Gerrard

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wayne Rooney loses £65,000 in two hours gambling

Wayne Rooney lost an astonishing £65,000 in just two hours after hitting a casino at four in the morning. The soccer hero went on the betting spree after flying home from scoring twice for England in the World Cup qualifier in Belarus. Rooney, 23, jetted back with his team-mates after the 3-1 win and went straight to the members-only club in Manchester to play blackjack and roulette at £500 a go.

Frank Dell 'Apa: Celtics' Garnett plugged into the soccer scene

"Soccer is growing, the appreciation and desire for it is growing," Garnett said. "Now, we need to get a soccer channel here."

Reminded that several channels already exist, Garnett said: "No. I mean in here [at the Celtics' training facility]. So we can watch right here."

Americans on the Continent: Jolly Jozy

It was a big week for Americans in Europe, as Jozy Altidore opened his account at Villarreal and Carlos Bocanegra manned Rennes's defense to two shut outs. Aaron West's weekly column breaks it all down.

Michael Bradley, Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)
Away to VFL Wolfsburg, 0-3, 58 minutes; vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, 1-2, 34 minutes
Michael Bradley started in a more advanced position against Wolfsburg, playing just behind forward Rob Friend in the trequartista role, but was unable to drive M’Gladbach to victory. In the 14th minute, Bradley was the recipient of a Karim Matmour cross, but was unable to strike the ball cleanly and saw his effort cleared from the post. German wunderkind Marko Marin replaced Bradley in the 58th minute. In the following match against Eintracht Frankfurt, Bradley came off the bench to replace Sebastian Svard in the midfield, but was unable to rescue any points for M’Gladbach as they fell 2-1 at home. Next up: Away to Arminia Bielefeld, Saturday, November 8

Americans in the UK: Howard on Point

For the second week running, Everton number one Tim Howard was the shining star of the Americans plying their trade in Queen Elizabeth's realm. Plus, a Frankie Simek sighting!

DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu, Rangers
vs. Hamilton (both DNP)
vs. Inverness CT (16 min for Beasley, Edu DNP)
Although Rangers picked up two big wins this week, their American contingent was not influential in either contest as both Beasley and Edu logged just 16 minutes last week. On Tuesday, Rangers knocked off Hamilton in the CIS Insurance Cup while on Saturday the Glasgow outfit won easily, 5-0, and kept pace with Celtic atop the Scottish Premier League. Up next: Tuesday, home to Dundee United and Sunday, away to Kilmarnock.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Werder's emphatic victory was the game of the weekend, but dark horses Hoffenheim and Bayer still have their noses in front.

Brilliant Bremen prove the old adage: never write off the Germans

Sid Lowe in Spain

Josep Guardiola has guided the same Barcelona players that finished 18 points off the pace last year to the top of La Liga this time around.

'Pep Team' win hearts, minds and games around Spain

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Talk of David Beckham's move to Milan can wait - more newsworthy now is that they're top of Serie A for the first time since 2004.

Milan's need for Beckham far from evident after Ronaldinho's free-kick

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday Previews

General Preview:
Inter, Barca, Chelsea on brink of Final 16

What: Champions League Group D, Matchday 4
Who: Liverpool (1st, 7pts) vs. Atlético de Madrid (2nd, 7pts)
When: Tues., 4th Nov, 2045 (CET)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Anfield finally seeing best of Kuyt

What: Champions League Group A, Matchday 4
Who: Roma (3rd, 3pts) v Chelsea (1st, 7pts)
When: Tuesday, 4th November, 2008 - 2045 (CET)
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome

What: Champions League, Group C
Who: FC Barcelona (1st, 9pts) v FC Basel (4th, 0pts)
When: 20:45 CET - Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona

What: Champions League Group C, Matchday 4
Who: Sporting Clube (2nd, 6/9pts) vs. Shakhtar (3rd, 3/9pts)
When: Tuesday 4 November 2008, 2045 CET
Where: Estádio José Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal

What: Champions League Group B - Matchday 4
Who: Anorthosis Famagusta (2nd, 4 points) vs Internazionale (1st, 7 points)
When: Tuesday 4 November 2008, 20:45 CET
Where: Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Larnaca

Soumare opts for Mali national team

Unfortunately for Soumare, he eventually learned that there was no way to cut down a wait of at least two more years to become an American citizen, so he made a decision that was best for his career, and one that would make his family in Africa happy.

Soumare is going to play for Mali.

Phil Ball in Spain

It's a tactic I've used for some time here now, because it takes the wind completely out of people's sails. It never fails to work. This is because the Spanish reaction to any kind of dispute is one of self-defence, as opposed to self-reflection.

Fergie v. Madrid

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

I'm sorry. I know you're dying to read another of those hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, close-to-libel opinion pieces about the Bundesliga that I'm notorious for. The pieces which tell you in the clearest of terms and with the coldest of hearts who's rubbish and who's roguish in Germany.

Hold on ... or was that somebody else's dirty duty?

Argentina thankful to have God on their side

The Maradonian Church will be in full voice when the legend-cum-deity takes over as coach of the national team.

England: Monday's Premier League Report

Newcastle 2 - 0 Aston Villa

Martins' double strike has Newcastle looking up

Monday, November 03, 2008

Moritz Volz: What your boot colour says about you

Today even I wear white boots, which says it all. But for me, style is way down on the priority list. Like Birkenstocks, it’s all about comfort. I have very wide feet, you see. They’re almost square (which probably explains a few things), so blisters are a constant problem.

The Monday MLS Breakdown: Play-By-Playoff

From the perch on his couch,'s Kyle McCarthy unleashes his annual first-day-of-the-playoffs running commentary.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Gullit: Americans Scared Of Football And Beckham

Former Milan striker Ruud Gullit has shown his admiration for David Beckham's decision to join his old club on-loan and he believes Americans are scared soccer will overshadow sports which dominate the United States such as baseball and basketball...

Lionel Messi seen spitting at Duda during Barcelona’s win over Malaga

Argentina forward Lionel Messi is facing the first criticism levelled at him in his short and successful career after he was caught spitting at an opponent during Barcelona’s 4-1 La Liga victory over Malaga.

Couldn't find the video of the incident in question...

Arsenal: Crisis?

Arsène Wenger's side have lost three games without playing any of the big boys, and a first Premier League title since 2004 now looks very unlikely.
Is Arsenal's title challenge over already?

Phil McNulty:
Arsene must cure Arsenal's frailty