Friday, October 24, 2008

Match Report: Diego Gutierrez Farewell Match

Last night the Jersey "Drug Cheat" Metrobulls came to Chicago needing a win to take control of their destiny and secure a playoff spot. The Fire didn't seem to have much to play for; a win guaranteed home field for the first round of the playoffs, an advantage that according to many pundits is questionable at best. However there were a few intangibles in play as well: it was former Fire coach John Charlie Osorio's second visit to Bridgeview since his dubious departure last winter as well as the final regular season homegame for Fire hero Diego Gutierrez, a founding team member and major contributor to our sole league win as well as many of our Open Cup championships. The rain started about 30 minutes before the game and continued intermittently throughout, though it wasn't so cold (of our four pouring rain home games this year I'd rank this one second warmest). The crowd was fired up to cheer Diego, boo Osorio and root hard for an end to his inaugural season in New Jersey. Fortunately Chris Rolfe brought his shooting boots, opening the book in the 11th minute and completing his hat trick before the half was done, leading the way in a 5-2 ass whipping. There are better summary articles of the events as they transpired on the field, (I'm especially fond of this one), so I'll offer a few general observations:

- Coach Hamlett has ended the experiment of playing Blanco as a withdrawn striker and has him playing in the middle of an attacking midfield trio with Rolfe and Mapp, all playing behind McBride. This formation didn't work so well with Chad "Diesel" Barrett up top, but McBride clears out a lot of space for the other three to move in to, and it's pretty successful. Blanco makes better balls with more space in front of him, and now that he's ventured into Valderrama territory (no running, just trap and pass) he helps the other attacking players a ton. The drawback is that we're pretty soft up the middle. Chris Rolfe seems to be the greatest beneficiary, and is getting to the top of his game at the best time. Last night he scored a goal with each foot and with his head, as well as assisting on the last goal.

- The Metrobulls are a disaster. The hallmark of Osorio teams is that they win and keep the ball well but don't move forward very effectively. This team was a disaster at the back, continually botching back passes and standing the keeper. On the first, third, fourth and fifth goals three defenders left a single attacking player to pick up an available ball and score. Organization is terrible, there seems to be little talent in midfield and at the back, and nobody but Van Den Bergh can do anything with the ball. JP Angel was all alone in attack, and he took his only chance pretty well but otherwise saw little of the ball in useful spots.

- The Fire really get up to play Osorio. Our results against him this year: 9 points, goal differential of +8.

- There was a nice recognition ceremony for Diego at halftime, and fortunately the video wasn't all exclusively about his extensive charity work; there were plenty of clips of him making some seriously brutal tackles. Diego's final visit to Section 8 was touching as well; he wiped away tears on his way over to them and climbed into the stands to hug the supporters. He's truly a classy guy and we'll miss the hell out of him. He's lost a step this year, but he was always willing to do whatever the coach has asked and mostly has filled in very well. He also managed to get on the board with an assist on the fourth goal, just to cap things off properly.

So the Fire have clinched home field for the first round against New England, to whom we owe some serious payback. New Jersey now needs a huge favor from Columbus, who have nothing to play for. I hope they're done for the year.

MLS, Galaxy Not Beckham’s Main Goal

Martin Rogers: The midfielder’s imminent loan switch to AC Milan in the opening months of 2009 proves that Brand Beckham and England rank far ahead of the employer that facilitated his estimated five-year earnings of up to $250 million.

Charlie Davies 2.0

If you're wondering how much Hammarby forward Charlie Davies is enjoying soccer right now, here's your clue: despite several recent fatigue-inducing U.S. National Team call-ups, the speedster is quite bummed out to see the Allsvenskan season nearing its close.

David Ginola: My five-point plan to save Spurs

Here Ginola, a former France international, lays out his five-point plan to turn around the club's fortunes.

Italy and Spain: Weekend Briefs & Previews


Camoranesi to miss Turin Derby


Higuain could replace RVN


Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

With the season now fully underway, things are starting to settle down and teams are finding their way. Hamburg remain top with Hoffenheim also still flying high and the two clash this weekend.

Bayern Munich got their long-awaited win last Saturday, while Frankfurt also bagged their first win in midweek. previews all the weekend action…

UEFA Cup Wrap: Milan, Hamburg, Udinese, CSKA win

Another loss for Tottenham and Pompey fall apart...


England: Premier League Previews & Predictions

Liverpool's visit to Chelsea is the Big One of the weekend. Elsewhere, Everton host Manchester United, Arsenal are at West Ham, it's the Tyne-Wear Derby as Sunderland and Newcastle clash, and it's a must-win for Spurs as they welcome Bolton to White Hart Lane

Preview One

Preview Two

Phil McNulty on Chelsea vs. Liverpool

Nick Webster's Predictions

Lawro's Predictions

On that day: End of the Invincibles

It will perhaps be remembered for the use of a buffet in a post-match argument but October 24 2004 was a seismic day in the history of the English Premier League. In surrendering a truly wondrous unbeaten record of 49 games, Arsenal's aura of invincibility was gone. And has not returned since.

OCTOBER 24 2004:

Spanish Debate: La Liga's Best Newcomers

Ewan Macdonald crafts a line-up comprising only those who have made their Primera División debut this season. Is one of your club's heroes among them?

Nélson - Pareja - Pellerano - Morris
Busquets - Van Der Vaart - Román - Shojaei

MLS: NY Fail To Clinch Spot After Rout By Fire

It was the Chris Rolfe show on Thursday as the 25-year-old netted a hat-trick in the Chicago Fire's 5-2 victory of the New York Red Bulls.

Bocanegra keeps plugging away

Europe may be just about small enough to fit into the back garden of a Hollywood mansion in his native California, but Carlos Bocanegra is discovering the quintessential differences that make up the Old Continent can pose a globe-trotting footballer more headaches than the morning-after a bender with Paul Gascoigne.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Assistant referees have the impossible job, not England manager

With every close decision analysed like molecules, the abuse and risk of injury, “linos” have a terrible time week in, week out.

Caldwell Set For Long-Term Celtic Stay

It appears as through Gary Caldwell has finally established himself as a key man for Celtic under Gordon Strachan, winning an initial one-year contract extension...

Barton aims to "turn negatives into positives"

Controversial Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has vowed to use the tide of abuse heading his way to fuel his bid to return to his best form. The 26-year-old could return to senior action for the Magpies in Saturday's derby clash with Sunderland and the Stadium of Light.

The Interview in Full

Gabriele Marcotti: AC Milan aim to cash in on David Beckham glitz

David Beckham's proposed move to AC Milan on loan is merely the continuation of a vision laid out by Silvio Berlusconi, the club's owner, a long time ago.

Oh dear...which is worse...this or the Eduardo photograph??

Arsenal's Eduardo could return within weeks, says Arsene Wenger

The injury was so bad that Sky Sports chose not to replay the incident, while Taylor received death threats from Croatian fans amid fears that the Rio de Janiero-born player would not play again.


UEFA Champions League: Wednesday Reports & Wrap

Chelsea 1 - 0 Roma
The Insider at Stamford Bridge
Totti provides few moments of quality

Atletico Madrid 1 - 1 Liverpool
Simao leveler
Sid Lowe at the Vicente Calderón

Inter Milan 1 - 0 Anorthosis Famagusta

Adriano goal settles drab affair

Basel 0 - 5 Barcelona
Catalonian class

Panathinaikos 2 - 2 Werder Bremen
Greeks held

Bordeaux 1 - 0 CFR Cluj
French stay alive


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday Previews

What: Champions League Group A
Who: Chelsea (1st, 4pts) v Roma (3rd, 3pts)
When: Wednesday, 22nd October, 2008 - 20:45 (CET)
Where: Stamford Bridge, London
Preview Two

What: UEFA Champions League Group D, Matchday Three
Who: Atlético Madrid (1st 6 points) - Liverpool (2nd 6 points)
When: Wednesday October 22 2008, 2045 CET
Where: Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
It's personal for Torres and Benitez
Preview Two

What: Champions League, Group C
Who: FC Basel (4th, 0pts) v FC Barcelona (1st, 6pts)
When: 20:45 CET - Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Where: St. Jakob-Park, Basel

What: Champions League Matchday 3, Group B
Who: Internazionale (1st, 4 points) vs Anorthosis Famagusta (2nd, 4 points)
When: Wednesday 22 October 2008, 20:45 CET
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

What: UEFA Champions League Group C, Matchday Three
Who: FC Shakhtar Donetsk (3rd, 3 points) - Sporting Clube de Portugal (2nd, 3 points)
When: Wednesday October 22 2008, 2045 (CET)
Where: RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium, Donetsk, Ukraine
Ref: Herbert Fandel (GER)

Hail the masterly jacks of all trades

It's a loss for football that so few players in the modern game have the flexibility and ingenuity to be a true all-rounder.

Jack of one trade...

Drogba is a diver, says Mourinho

"I am no longer Chelsea coach and I do not have to defend them any more," he told "I think it is correct if I say Drogba is a diver."

Another Ukraine Euro 2012 arena faces uncertainty

Authorities in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv are looking for new builders after an Austrian firm pulled out of constructing a stadium for the Euro 2012 finals, an official said on Monday.

Lviv is lovely...

Six things to note from MLS Week 30

Steve Davis gives us an update on what's going on in MLS...

No Mo in the playoffs...

Beckham to join AC Milan on loan

David Beckham has agreed to move to AC Milan on loan in January, the Italian club has told BBC Sport.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday Reports & Wrap

Manchester United 3 - 0 Celtic
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford
Beguiling Bulgarian leaves Tevez as the odd man out

Juventus 2 - 1 Real Madrid
Del Piero stunner

Real Madrid and Juventus observe a moment of silence on behalf of those killed and injured in a bus crash on the way to the match in Turin...

Fenerbahce 2 - 5 Arsenal

Wenger salutes his young guns

Bayern Munich 3 - 0 Fiorentina
Bayern back on track

Steaua Bucharest 3-5 Olympique Lyon
Les Gones second half surge

Villarreal 6 - 3 AaB Aalborg
Stunning comeback

Porto 0 - 1 Dynamo Kiev
Surprise road win


Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

With roughly a quarter of the season already behind us, I guess we can now safely state that the Bundesliga has gone bonkers.

Forget Oktoberfest, it's a goal-fest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spain: La Liga Team of the Week + Winners & Losers

Team of the Week

Winners & Losers

Boca Juniors v River Plate superclásico is the mother of all football matches

The football is second to the party and not even Mothering Sunday can distract rival fans from trying to shout the loudest.

Sanford's 1994 Superclasico Report

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Bayern's return to winning ways means attention can turn to the team causing most excitement in the Bundesliga: Hoffenheim

Order is restored at Bayern while Hoffenheim's upstarts come good.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday Previews

What: UEFA Champions League, Group E
Who: Manchester United vs. Celtic
When: Tuesday, 21st October, 19:45 BST
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
TV: ESPN2 at 2:30 EDT
Capture of Nakamura was Strachan masterstroke

What: Champions League Group H, Matchday 3
Who: Juventus (2nd, 4pts) vs Real Madrid (1st, 6pts)
When: Tuesday, 21st October 2008, 2045 CET
Where: Stadio Olimpico di Torino, Turin, Italy
TV: ESPN Classic delayed at 5pm EDT

What: Champions League Group Stage
Who: FC Bayern vs AC Fiorentina
When: Tuesday October 21, 2008 at 20:45 CET
Where: Allianz Arena

What: Uefa Champions League, Group G, Matchday 3
Who: Fenerbahçe SK (4th, 1 pt) v Arsenal (1st, 4 pts)
When: Tuesday, 21 October, 1945 BST
Where: Sükrü Saracoglu Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey
Wenger: I'll shake hands with Aragonés

Who: Villarreal vs. Aab Aalborg


Americans on the Continent: Dortmund’s Good Fortune

Neven Subotic and Dortmund were involved in one of the most exciting affairs in recent memory, as they earned a dramatic draw at Werder Bremen on the final kick of the game.

Ravi Ubha's Roundup of Yanks Abroad

Americans in the UK: The Woes Continue

Just as was the case before the international break, the Yanks couldn’t make much of an impact in the EPL or the Championship. And the SPL guys were on a break.

England: Monday's Premier League Report + Table

Newcastle 2 - 2 Manchester City
Ireland strike denies 10-man Newcastle a precious win

Barclays Premier League Table

1Chelsea8 16
2Liverpool8 7
3Hull City8 0
4Arsenal8 10
5Man Utd7 8
6Aston Villa8 2
7Portsmouth8 -4
8West Ham8 0
9Blackburn8 -6
10Man City8 6
11West Brom8 -4
12Sunderland8 -2
13Middlesbrough8 -7
14Wigan8 2
15Bolton8 -2
16Everton8 -6
17Fulham7 -2
18Stoke8 -5
19Newcastle8 -6
20Tottenham8 -7

Phil Ball in Spain

Atletico Madrid:

Stitching up the mattress makers

Monday, October 20, 2008

Americans Abroad: Whitbread quietly climbing the ranks at Millwall

Whitbread joined Millwall, a club in South London that has struggled with hooliganism in the past, on loan from Liverpool in 2005-06, when Millwall was relegated from the Championship. He then signed a permanent deal with the Lions, though a pelvic injury sustained in December 2006 ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign. Last season, he made 28 appearances and flourished under manager Kenny Jackett, who replaced Richard Shaw in November.

Suspicions raised by John Terry’s swift return

The defender seemingly chose club over country after sitting out on international duty only to play 90 minutes for Chelsea.

Structural damage Ramos's problem as White Hart pain continues

Paul Doyle:

Spurs' decision-making has been poor, a fact exemplified by their defeat at Stoke.

Jimmy Hill involved as beautiful game turns ugly once again

Football had a depressingly Seventies retro weekend full of crowd violence, coin throwing and even a spat involving octogenarian Jimmy Hill.

Argentina: 10-man Boca Beat River in Superclasico

Boca Juniors ended 10 days of internal squabbling by beating arch-rivals River Plate 1-0 away on Sunday in the biggest fixture of the Argentine season despite playing most of the second half with 10 men.

Italy: Serie A Reports

Inter crush Roma to stay top, Napoli stun Juventus, Lazio lose and Fiorentina cruise...


R Mehdi's Reports

Sid Lowe in Spain

The Madrid derby ended on a familiar note, even though Atlético thought they had it won for once.

Derby day in Madrid brings Atlético same old woes.

England: Premier League Reports

Manchester United win at home, depleted Chelsea have no problems at Boro, Bruce claims injustice as Liverpool complete comeback win, Arsenal beat Everton, Spurs simply cannot win, Hull's honeymoon continues, and Fulham, Sunderland, Blackburn, Bolton, Villa and Portsmouth cannot score a goal...

Manchester United 4 - 0 West Brom

Rooney and Giggs shine

Liverpool 3 - 2 Wigan
Bruce seethes after Liverpool comeback

Middlesbrough 0 - 5 Chelsea
No problem for Blues as Boro blown away

Arsenal 3 - 1 Everton
Moyes punished for caution

Hull City 1 - 0 West Ham
The party continues

Aston Villa 0 - 0 Portsmouth
Missile trouble at Villa Park

Fulham 0 - 0 Sunderland
Fulham miss McBride

Richard Jolly at the Britannia Stadium

Stoke City 2 - 1 Tottenham

Spurs continue to sink