Friday, March 01, 2013

North London Derby, MLS Returns, Altidore Heroics, Giggs Gives Us Another Year

Well, February is gone. We hardly knew you. And that means Major League Soccer is back, bitches! We got a lot of stories to check out prior to kick-off. Freddie Adu in Philly? Landon Donovan in Cambodia? Carlos Ruiz in D.C.? No Montero in Seattle? Ryan Nelson in Toronto? Yes, these are but a few of the stories that deserve some attention. Commish Don Garber claims MLS is the Seventh Best-Supported the entire World. That's some heavy shit, Don. Click on that link and you'll see some previews for each conference. And here are some power rankings.

Wait! It's Friday? And MLS is back? FRIDAY MLS FORECAST!!

There's a rather large match looming on the horizon over in London. North London, to be precise. Yes, it's only 4.1 miles (that's 6.1302654501 kilometres) from the Emirates to White Hart Lane, and that proximity breeds some contempt, you could say. Tottenham host Arsenal in a very critical North London Derby at 11am EST on Fox Soccer Channel. Here, former players such as Ian Wright, Gary Mabbutt, Alan Smith, and Martin Chivers share some memories. Speaking of Alan Smith, he's got a nice piece on how the teams compare ahead of the big match. 

And here's all you need for the weekend (and beyond) in the EPL:

Let's check in with some other top leagues. Spain. Oh, how about that? Real Madrid and Barcelona play yet again! Shocking. It's tomorrow at 10am EST on beIN Sport USA.

Italy. There are some good ones. Juventus at Napoli (this afternoon at 2:45pm EST on beIN Sport USA) and AC Milan vs. Lazio, for example. 

Ryan Giggs is 39 years old. He just signed a one-year deal. Very, very impressive. Hats off. He is indeed older, greyer, but ever excellent.
Emirates to White Hart Lane
Hats off as well to Jozy Altidore. The young American continues to kick-ass in Holland. He scored twice in Alkmaar's 3-0 win over Ajax. With said goals he has tied Clint Dempsey's record for goals scored by an American in a foreign league. One of his goals was pretty tite. Check it.

We'll finish with Karim Benzema. He was caught driving his car at 134 miles per hour. That's fast.

Right. Enjoy that weekend.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Real Madrid Defeat Barcelona, Worst Tackle Ever?, Grant Wahl's MLS Player Survey, Everton Advance, Americans Abroad, Boro vs. Chelsea, Tim Vickery on Boca Juniors

Another epic episode of El Clásico went down last night and Madrid emerged 1-3 winners in Barcelona. As you might expect, Ronaldo figured prominently with two goals for The Whites. Meanwhile, Messi (as he did in Milan) went missing. Perhaps he had a fever?

Sid Lowe was there (of course he was!) and thinks that Barca may have lost more than the Copa del Rey with this performance. Mainly, identity, supremacy, fitness, and confidence.

The best moment of the match (from a neutral's perspective) came when Di Maria completely destroyed Puyol with a little shimmy and left the Barcelona Hair Farm doing his best Dominique Dawes imitation.  Di Maria's shot was saved, but Ronny calmly slotted home the rebound to make it 0-2.

Here are Six Things We Learned from the match.

Grant Wahl's been speaking with MLS players. He's been asking them questions. Questions like, "If you were starting a team from scratch and could pick one MLS player to start with, who would it be?" Surprisingly, even though he's retired, Coby Jones got the most votes. Uh. No.

Americans Abroad. Brek Shea made his debut for Stoke City at Fulham on Saturday. It was the early match on ESPN2, and, well, we were up early so watched the whole damn thing. He was decent. Not great, not terrible. He won a penalty that Jonathan Walters (twat) wasted, but that was about it. Here's a look at all the rest of the guys playing in other countries. Looks like things went quite poorly for Maurice Edu over in Turkey.

There was some FA Cup action yesterday. As expected, Everton defeated Oldham in their fifth-round replay at Goodison Park to advance. Andy Hunter took in the action in Liverpool. In tonight's match, Chelsea travel up to Middlesbrough in the final fifth-round clash of the competition at the Riverside.

Dennis Bergkamp is getting a statue. He deserves it. Mario Balotelli does not deserve a statue. But he'll get one anyway. By commissioning it himself.

Is this the worst tackle ever? It's pretty damn poor.

Let's conclude with Tim Vickery in Brazil. He's talking about a team in neighboring Argentina. Boca Juniors, to be precise. 



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More Bale Magic, Do Or Die For Real Madrid, Tim Cahill in New Jersey, Slides at St. James' Park, Pitiful Racist Fines

Oi! Loads to get through today. We'll begin with yesterday's fantastic edition of Monday Night Football...

Holy Moses! Gareth Bale is en fuego. He pretty much took care of West Ham on his own yesterday, leading his Spurs to a 2-3 win at Upton Park. His free kicks weren't up to their usual standards but The Hammers allowed the new Welsh Wizard plenty of time on his left foot to knock in two glorious strikes. Scott Parker reckons Bale has "deflated" Arsenal ahead of Sunday's mega-clash. Some of the SSN staffers who are Arsenal fans were certainly deflated. Jonathan Wilson says André Villas-Boas has changed Spurs' shape and the system has allowed the winger to take flight with startling results. Startling results, indeed. Here's a match report. And here's the winner:

Now that all of this round's action is complete, let's take a look at the table. As noted in the reports above, Spurs jumped above Chelsea into third. United remain comfortable at the top, while a gap has now opened between fifth and sixth after Everton's loss. QPR looked doomed, which means 'Arry will leave to ruin yet another club, and Villa have work to do to get out of trouble.

On to Spain. We're graced with two (count 'em) two columns from Sid Lowe today. The first is his usual weekend round-up, whilst the second is a closer look at the upcoming grind for Real Madrid. The Special One's boys face Barcelona away in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg at Camp Nou this evening, having drawn 1-1 in the first; on Saturday they play Barcelona again in La Liga at home and next Tuesday they travel to Manchester United in the Champions League, again having drawn 1-1 at home in the first leg. Yikes!

Speaking of Barcelona, Phil Ball was down there at the weekend and filed this report.

Honigstein? Yeah, we got him. Bayern Munich are running away with the Bundesliga but their rivalry with Borussia Dortmund remains completely compelling. The two sides clash in the German Cup morgen.

The Houston Dynamo have new jerseys. Didn't expect that jump, did you? Anyway, this writer is rather upset about it. We've done an informal poll around SSN HQ and we like them. So there.

Sticking with the USA, Tim Cahill is here. Yes, the boxing midfielder left lovely Liverpool for Harrison, New Jersey. New Jersey! Tom Dart had a chat with the former Everton star. Speaking of Everton, they've got a tricky Cup tie tonight against Oldham. Preview, please.
Governor Patterson was shocked by Cahill's move...
Granted, it's Tuesday, but we enjoy Marcotti's Monday Musings, so we're willing to back it up a bit. This week Gabby is talking Milan Derby, Beckham's PSG debut, and Mancini's mentality.

This headline from the Daily Mail sums it up: The price of racism? Inter fined just £43,000 after fans subject Balotelli to monkey chants and wave inflatable bananas... and Mario is charged £8,500 for reacting! 

Slides at St. James' Park? What a novel idea. We like it. "Travel Accelerators." Very cool.

Right. That's your lot. Off you go.



Monday, February 25, 2013

Swansea Win Cup, Honors Even in Milan With Racial Abuse For Balotelli, City Defeat Chelsea, West Ham vs. Tottenham

The first Cup of the campaign was delivered to Swansea City yesterday. Bradford were simply out of gas and out of ideas for this one. Propers to Laudrup and Swansea -- they've got a lot of quality in that side and they play attractive, attacking football. Andy Hunter was at Wembley. As was Phil McNulty.

An Inter fan shows his class...
We're going to break with tradition today and go straight to Paolo Bandini in Italy. The Milan Derby took place yesterday and ended 1-1. Balotelli got the expected abuse, but Paolo says the racial angles were taken only by a few in the crowd. Cassano got his fair share of abuse. Zanetti continued to turn back time (we love that guy). Mega-Mohawk Man El Shaaraway scored for Milan while Inter substitute Schelotto got his team's goal. Elsewhere in Italy, Michael Bradley's Roma won again, this time in the snow up in Bergamo.

Yank Abroad Michael Bradley enjoys the snow...
Back in England, Manchester City knocked off Chelsea at home (Hart saved a Lampard penalty and Jack Rodwell was surprisingly effective), Manchester United continued their march to the title with a win at QPR, Norwich edged Everton, Santi saved Arsenal, and a Berbatov rocket coupled with a Schwartzer penalty save gave Fulham a win at Craven Cottage. Here are some lovely links:

Manchester City 2 - 0 Chelsea

Norwich City 2 - 1 Everton

Queens Park Rangers 0 - 2 Manchester United

Newcastle 4 - 2 Southampton

Jeff Carlisle wants to talk about Landon Donovan. You're right, Jeff. Donovan does still owe us something. Have at it, Jeff.

There is some Monday Night Football this evening and it's a doozy. West Ham host Tottenham. Will Gareth Bale continue to score and make weird signs with his fingers? Will Sam Allardyce chew his gum so hard he breaks his ugly jaw? Will AVB squat? Will Andy Carroll do, well, anything? Check it at 3pm EST on ESPN2.

Meanwhile, Martin Samuel wants to talk Barcelona and Arsenal. Apparently, even when it goes wrong, both clubs still feed the soul. Ok, then.

Fight! Fight! Fight! Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven players get it on!

We out!