Friday, October 07, 2011

SSN Exclusive: Danish Fans Invade Cyprus Ahead of Euro 2012 Qualifier

From L. Frost,
Nicosia-based correspondent

International Friendly Preview: USA - Honduras

Jurgen Klinsmann goes in search of his first win as U.S. national team boss when his side hosts Honduras in Florida on Saturday.

UEFA Euro 2012: Weekend Previews

The fight for the six remaining automatic berths and eight playoff places for Euro 2012 intensifies on Friday when the penultimate round of qualifying matches kicks off. Several teams are still in the chase for a guaranteed spot in Poland and Ukraine alongside the joint hosts and already-qualified world and European champions Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Germany.

A last chance to qualify

Montenegro vs. England:
England to face weakened Montenegro
The Rise of Montenegro
Rooney relaxed and ready despite father's arrest
Kevin McCarra:
Capello faces dilemma
Jonathan Wilson:
Montenegro inspired by proud past

Group A:
Turkey vs. Germany:

Serbia vs. Italy:
Fan violence a worry

Liechtenstein vs. Scotland:

African Nations Cup Qualifying Preview

The scramble for Africa reaches its climax this weekend with the final round of African Nations Cup (ANC) qualifiers being played around the continent. Three of the 11 groups have already been decided and six countries have confirmed their participation in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon next year, leaving plenty of room for a final scrap as ten tickets wait to be claimed and 21 countries battle to secure them. Here is the definitive guide to last round of qualification fixtures.

Michael Bradley is back to focusing on football

The 24-year-old midfielder spoke with about his move to Italy, his father joining Egypt, Jurgen Klinsmann and whether or not Serie A is in decline.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses the Whitecaps' 3-0 win over RSL and previews the truncated Week 30 slate.

Amy Lawrence: Robert Enke's life story should make us pause before we castigate

English football can learn lessons from the German reaction to the death of the international goalkeeper.

The writer Ronald Reng, who was a friend of Enke's and took on the task of accounting his story in the exceptional book A Life Too Short – The Tragedy of Robert Enke, has been taken aback by the reaction to this deeply personal memoir. The book became a bestseller in Germany straight away, and he cannot even begin to count how many people with depression wrote to him, and how many players and agents called him up to talk about issues so easily kept hidden that he had brought to the surface.

Michelle Obama hosts USWNT at White House

The family dog, Bo, was greeted with pats and hugs from the children and athletes as he made a brief appearance at the end of the clinic.

Grant Wahl: A committed Beckham enjoying by far his finest MLS season to date

There was a cool moment at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday night. In the second half of New York's 2-0 win against Los Angeles, David Beckham readied for a free kick near midfield by tossing the ball forward a couple yards. His old pal Thierry Henry noticed and pushed the ball back a few feet toward Beckham. Then Beckham got one of those sour, competitive looks on his face, the same look he probably flashed when he was eight years old.

The message was clear: the two biggest names in Major League Soccer still care, and judging by their performances this year Beckham and Henry are hardly treating MLS like a retirement home. Henry's 14 goals, tied for tops in the league, are the main reason New York still has a playoff pulse. As for Beckham, it's fair to say that he's somewhat quietly having his finest MLS season since joining the Galaxy in 2007.

Jon Carter: Rewind to 1996

On October 9, 1996, one of the most bizarre matches in football history was 'played' at the Kadriorg stadium in Estonian capital Tallinn. Scotland had travelled to the country for an important 1998 World Cup qualifier, but a row over the poor standard of the floodlights at the stadium resulted in FIFA changing the kick-off from 6.45pm to 3pm local time. The Estonians refused to change their plans so, at 3pm, Scotland kicked off against nobody and the referee ended the game after just three seconds.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Americans Abroad: Clint Dempey helps Fulham to crucial wins and Jozy Altidore has quiet weekend after weekday goal

Dempsey was instrumental as Fulham scored victories in Europa and league play, while Altidore scored in AZ's Europa League victory.

Big day for Tim Chandler in Germany

The Full List

The Big Interview: Micah Richards

The right-back is in the shake-up to play against Montenegro and cannot wait to reclaim a regular place for his country.

How Europe's fearsome four have eased their way through to Euro 2012

Holland, Germany, Spain and Italy look in supreme shape ahead of next summer's finals.

Sir Alex Ferguson worried by Manchester United away ticket allocation

Sir Alex Ferguson has written to Manchester United's supporters to urge them to improve their behaviour at away matches or risk their ticket allocations being slashed.

Ferguson has become personally involved after United learned that their usual 3,000 allocation for the game at Liverpool on 15 October has been reduced to 1,960 because of problems involving their supporters at recent matches.

Sir Alex's Letter

Sid Lowe in Spain

Every now and again soccer players talk like soccer fans. It doesn't happen very often -- years in the game see to that, familiarity too -- but sometimes their eyes widen and enthusiasm flows; sometimes, they too look at another player and can't help smiling. There are moments in which even those inside the game offer the simplest of descriptions: "wow, what a player he is." It doesn't happen very often, so when it does it leaves a mark; there is something a little special about it. There is joy but there is also a kind of authority to the judgment when it is offered so unreservedly, so wholeheartedly -- and when it is not offered as an interviewee's answer but in conversation. Ruud Van Nistelrooy has seen plenty of good players over his career and has played with some of the best so when, before the season has even started, he smiles "what a player Santi [Cazorla] is" it means something. Something good.

Van Nistelrooy is not alone. Other players at Málaga agree.

Belgium's "Golden Generation" hits a rocky road on the way to Rio

The idea that Belgium could have an outside chance of winning the 2014 World Cup might seem strange to anyone who considers its lack of recent success and a domestic league suffering from low budgets and poor stadiums.

However, a look at the current squad shows that for the first time in 20 years there is talent to spare: Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Steven Defour, Axel Witsel, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen, Moussa Démbéle; the list is endless. This sudden blossoming of talent though is more by accident than design.

The Race to the Euros

By Tuesday evening we'll know the 12 of the 16 nations which will participate at Euro 2012. Poland and Ukraine will be there as hosts of the tournament, while Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain can already book their flights. Though mathematically Netherlands could still finish below Sweden in Group E, they would be guaranteed the remaining automatic spot as the best runner-up.

The eight group winners qualify automatically along with the best runner-up. As three groups only have five teams, the groups with six teams will have the record of the team finishing bottom of the group ignored to calculate the best runner-up.

We take a group-by-group look at who can still qualify, and how they can get to the finals. Head to head record comes before goal difference in this qualifying campaign.

Wayne Rooney's Dad Arrested

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney's father and two other members of his family have been arrested in connection with the investigation into betting irregularities that has also seen Motherwell's Steve Jennings taken into custody. Rooney senior, 48, was arrested at his home in the West Derby area of Liverpool, while uncle Richie, 54, has also been detained, according to the Daily Mirror. Later, it was revealed that cousin Thomas was also being questioned.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Trend Continues, Fire Crap the Bed, Sounders Win US Open Cup

For the third year running the Seattle Sounders hosted the US Open Cup final at home and destroyed the Chicago Fire, winning their third consecutive US Open Cup. Seattle played well and more importantly are comfortable moving the ball on their awful plastic pitch. The Fire spent the entire game falling over, failing to trap the ball and watching as all of their passes were either hit too hard to too lightly on the field turf. Sean Johnson played out of his head in goal to keep the Fire in the game and at one point after the Sounders hit maybe their third post of the game it looked like fate was conspiring against them, but Freddy Montero finished a rebound in the 78th minute and they added a second on the break in injury time just to kick the Fire in the nuts.

Frankly I see this trend continuing. Seattle's financial clout allows them to outbid anyone else in the cup to host matches and they are extremely difficult to beat playing the pinball game that their football stadium demands. Perhaps one of the other northwest teams that also play on plastic may be able to compete but until those teams are competitive from a quality standpoint it's not going to happen.

Therefore I congratulate you Sounders fans on winning the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Cups as well as wrapping up this year's trophy. You are the best fans in the league by far, we know because we hear you tell yourselves that every day. Good luck playing on grass in the playoffs, I know it doesn't really work so well for your team.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tim Vickery in South America

South American giants set for 'super-classic'

Raphael Honigsten in Germany

Huub Stevens's comeback proves to be a quiet triumph

The Hamburg fans' reaction to the return of their former manager said much about the Bundesliga, and Germany as a whole

Juventus start to look their old selves in new home against Milan
Antonio Conte's Juve are evolving into a team with a swagger, as the champions found out on their first visit to the Old Lady's new stadium

Sid Lowe in Spain

Marcelo Bielsa finally begins to get a tune out of Athletic Bilbao

After their worst start in 32 years, the former Chile manager steers Athletic to a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad as his methods begin to work

From Steve Kean to Roberto Martínez: Five managers feeling the heat

Why it might be wise for five Premier League strugglers to dispense with their managers – and why it might not be.

Phil Ball in Spain

I've just got back from Peru, as you do, a few hours ago - so if I manage to stay awake over the keyboard, something will come out. Things are doubly hard for me, because on arriving at Barajas airport in Madrid this afternoon (Peruvian morning), I learned the terrible news on my mobile phone - that Real Sociedad had lost to Athletic in the Basque derbi.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Tottenham vow abusive fans will be banned

Sections of the home crowd taunted Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger while some away fans were widely condemned for mocking the deadly gun attack on the Togo team bus which Emmanuel Adebayor survived.

The Trawler: McClaren's Fall and Barmby's Army

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

UEFA Euro 2012: Spain, Netherlands face tough draw

Spain and Netherlands face the prospect of a tougher draw at Euro 2012 due to the top seeding of hosts Poland and Ukraine - while France could find themselves in the bottom pot of seeds. The draw for the finals, which takes place on Friday, December 2, will seed teams based on the coefficient of performance in qualifying and final tournaments of Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, as well as qualifying for Euro 2012. There will be weighting of 40% each on Euro 2012 qualifying and World Cup results, and 20% for Euro 2008.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review + Team of the Week

Juventus and Udinese moved back into a share of top spot in Serie A after posting impressive wins on Sunday. Udinese held the leadership outright for a few hours following their 2-0 defeat of Bologna but they were joined once again by Juventus, who beat AC Milan 2-0 in the late kick-off. Napoli registered a convincing win at Inter Milan, ending Claudio Ranieri's winning start to life as manager of the Nerazzurri . Walter Mazzarri's side laid out their title credentials in style with a 3-0 success at the San Siro. A red card for Joel Obi and a dubious penalty decision in the 43rd minute helped Napoli on their way - although Marek Hamsik missed the penalty, Hugo Campagnaro converted the rebound.


Team of the Week

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review + Team of the Week

Reigning champions Barcelona and surprise packages Levante make an unlikely couple at the top of the La Liga. Elsewhere, Gonzalo Higuain struck a hat-trick as Real Madrid thrashed Espanyol. Barcelona took over top spot after an early goal from Adriano saw Pep Guardiola's side claim a scrappy 1-0 win at bottom club Sporting Gijon, but they find themselves level on 14 points with unfancied Levante. Levante made it fours wins on the trot after a first-half effort from Juanlu saw them record a 1-0 away victory over Real Betis, who have now lost back-to-back matches after starting the season with four successive victories.


Team of the Week

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports, Analyses, Teams of the Week & Table

Kyle Walker hit a spectacular 25-yard winner as Tottenham earned the north London bragging rights with a 2-1 victory over bitter rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane. Frank Lampard served up a reminder of his importance to the Chelsea cause as he hit a hat-trick in the Blues' 5-1 demolition of Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. At Craven Cottage, Fulham striker Andrew Johnson emulated Lampard's efforts as he bagged three in his side's 6-0 mauling of west London rivals QPR. Manchester City recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over Blackburn while their rivals Manchester United secured a less fluent 2-0 victory against Norwich.


Everton 0 - 2 Liverpool
Duncan White at Goodison Park
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park
Joe Lovejoy at Goodison Park

Tottenham 2 - 1 Arsenal
Kevin McCarra at White Hart Lane
Henry Winter at White Hart Lane
Phil McNulty at White Hart Lane I
Phil McNulty at White Hart Lane II
Dominic Fifield: Five Things We Learned

LinkBolton 1 - 5 Chelsea
Richard Jolly at the Reebok Stadium

Manchester United 2 - 0 Norwich City
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford

Blackburn 0 - 4 Manchester City
Paul Ogden at Ewood Park

Fulham 6 - 0 Queens Park Rangers
Declan Taylor at Craven Cottage

Team of the Week
Garth Crook's Team of the Week

Five Things We Learned

Man Utd76101919
Man City76101819
Aston Villa7250411
West Brom7124-55

Monday MLS Breakdown

Chicago and Seattle grind out results despite Open Cup selection concerns. Both sides collected points on Saturday despite juggling their lineups and resting several players ahead of Tuesday's final at CenturyLink Field.


The Big Interview: Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes was never one to court publicity but this week spoke out in support of Carlos Tevez. Retirement is certainly bringing out another side of the former midfielder.

The Fifth Official

Few of us like Monday but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a week brimming with potential victims.