Friday, February 08, 2013

Rooney & RVP, ACN, Previews, The Joy of Six, Everton, Lawro vs. Hulk Hogan

Barney Ronay is a great writer. One of our favorites. Today, he's got a column on Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Here's his lead: Manchester United pair stand near each other and score goals for the same team, but each carries a distinct, individual threat. Yes. Yes, they do. And it looks like they'll bring the trophy back to Old Trafford this season.

Can Everton really make the top four in the Premier League? They currently sit fifth. Tactician Expert Michael Cox takes a look at what's been going on at Goodison Park this campaign.

Jonathan Wilson is in South Africa. He's talking about The Faso. The Burkina Faso, that is. They'll face South Africa in the final of the ACN on Sunday. They've proven they can play with the big boys.

Germany defeated France yesterday in Paris. It was only a friendly, but it was the Germans first win in France since 1935. 1935! OK, so they won their fair share in France in WWII (ouch!), but we're talking about football here, folks. Anyway, Raphael Honigstein knows his Germany. So who were the winners and losers of yesterday's contest?

The USA lost to Honduras on Wednesday. You already knew that. Here's some more analysis for ya.

Record of Manchester United with Mark Halsey in charge: Won 18 Drawn 3 Lost 0 - Goals for 47 Against 11

Right. What have we got in terms of matches this weekend? Let's begin in England, shall we? Manchester United vs. Everton looks good on paper but the match is at Old Trafford and we can't see them dropping points at home. Look who will be the ref! Paul Merson disagrees. Check his predictions below to see why. The early match tomorrow is Tottenham vs. Newcastle (7:45am EST on ESPN2). That one could offer up some solid action. Newcastle just bought 36 French guys to boost their squad while Spurs don't have any strikers. Still, Bale is on fire and Clint is returning to form. It should be a tight contest. Here's a preview for all the EPL action followed by your usual Friday fun.

Moving on! Italy! Yes, Serie A action will be taking place this weekend. Juventus vs. Fiorentina looks to be exciting. Lazio/Napoli might be nice. Here's a preview. Over in Spain, they'll be out and about as well. Leaders Barcelona host Getafe while Real Madrid welcome Sevilla. Preview? Yes

The Joy of Six: Tales From the Boot Room! You don't need any more intro than that!

Bleh! That'll do! Enjoy the weekend.



Thursday, February 07, 2013

USA Defeat, Mexico Draw, England Victory, African Cup of Nations Semis, Carragher to Retire

There's only once place to begin today and that's in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Team USA lost after some poor defending allowed the hosts a late goal. It looked set for a draw, which would have been a good result for the Yanks, but it wasn't to be. The game featured two lovely goals, though. The first a glorious volley by Clint Dempsey from a Jermaine Jones pass, and the second a spectacular bicycle kick from Juan Carlos Garcia. Grant Wahl says the pressure is now on Klinsmann big time. And we agree. There's been nothing to indicate any improvement from the previous regime.

Here are the U.S. Player Ratings. And Grant's Three Thoughts. And more U.S. Player Ratings.

Little Boy Jamie...
There was a bit of a shock at the Azteca last night as Mexico failed to score and drew with Jamaica. We were already in bed so didn't se the match. Apparently Los Tri were booed heavily. Good. Wankers.

And then there were two. Nigeria and Burkina Faso will battle it out for the African Cup of Nations title. Nigeria began the day by defeating Mali. Later, The Fasos (?) ousted Ghana in a shootout. The final is set for Sunday at 1pm EST. It'll be streaming on ESPN3.

Meanwhile, there were enough decent match-ups in the world of friendlies yesterday to warrant a wrap-up. Here's a nice one with some video highlights of the bigger clashes such as France/Germany, Netherlands/Italy, and Sweden/Argentina.

Jamie Carragher. Love him or hate him he's had quite a career. We feel like he's been playing forever. Well, he announced this will be it for him once the season is complete. He's 35 and it's certainly the right decision. He tackles are getting later, and later, and later...

Right! That's your lot for the day. More tomorrow when we conclude the week with a bang!

Wait! Beckham is back in his briefs for H&M! Here you go!



Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Honduras vs. USA, Milan Racism, ACN Semis, Bob Bradley in Egypt, Gus Johnson

The road to Brazil continues for the men of the United States National Team this afternoon in Honduras. Things get going at 4pm EST and you can watch all the fun on beIN Sport USA. Mexico and Jamaica clash later tonight at 9:30pm EST and that one is on ESPN2. There are also a few friendlies of note (England/Brazil, France/Germany, Sweden/Argentina, Netherlands/Italy, Spain/Uruguay) but they are simply friendlies and therefore a complete waste of time. Back to the match that matters, here's a preview. And here's Grant Wahl's look at the match.

Sticking with Grant Wahl, he's got an interview with former USMNT gaffer, Bob Bradley. Bradley remains in Egypt after all the insane-o shit that's gone down there. It makes for an interesting read.

More sad, stupid news from Italy. This time the idiot in question is Burlesconi. No, not that asshole, his brother. Paolo, not Silvio. Anyway, he was talking about Mario Balotelli and he said this: OK, we are all off to see the family's little nigger. He's a crazy head. All the young ladies are invited as well – you can even have a chance to meet the president [Silvio Berlusconi]." So, right. OK, then. Stay classy.

Gus Johnson is going to be gracing our footie airwaves soon. Fox want him to be the "voice of American soccer". He'll do the Madrid/ United Champions League game and the Bayern/Arsenal CL match. He'll also get the FA Cup Final and the Champions League Final. The SSN staff is in agreement: Not Cool. Johnson and his hyperbole can stick to basketball. That said, we're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. This quote, in particular, gives us hope: "Look, of course, we are concerned," (Fox executive) Shanks said. "But we would not be doing this if we did not think that Gus was putting the time, effort and energy into doing a broadcast that appeals to the people listening to Martin Tyler and Ian Darke. We will work to be as good as those guys but by no means does Gus think he is Martin Tyler or Ian Darke at this point. He will continue to get better and he will make sure he's telling the true story of a match as it happens, and telling it with Gus's voice, which a lot of people love. By no means is this meant to be a sideshow."

So, we shall see. It will be a bit of a shock to hear him call matches, that's for sure. Hopefully he'll settle in quickly.

We're down to the semi-finals in the African Cup of Nations. Burkina Faso face Ghana and it's already underway between Mali and Nigeria.

Do you know who we hate? Besides, John Terry, of course. Why, it's his pal Ashley Cole. He's cretinous, really. But, but, but, he's a great player. Phil McNulty writes about him here on the occasion of the wanker's 100th cap for England.

We'll finish by acknowledging that friendlies can be fun. Here are a few things to look for today.



Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Hex, Match Fixing, Scribes, Aston Villa, MLS to Europe, Ivory Coast

Right. Sorry, we had to attend this yesterday and with party obligations Sunday night, we were unable to get a post out yesterday. Excuses, excuses...

So this match fixing shit. It's not really new news. If you've been paying attention, all of this has come out already. Europol simply finally finished their investigation and issued a report. So that's that. Well, almost. Henry Winter has written something about it and Henry Winter is a damn fine writer so let's read what he wrote.

Phil Ball is in Spain and he went somewhere he's never been. He hit the Coliseum Alfonso Perez at Getafe for their match against Deportivo de La Coruña. As always, it's a great read. Sid Lowe is over there, too. El Sid decided to focus on Atlético Madrid and the excellent season they are enjoying. Atlético are now seven points clear of Real and nine behind Barcelona.

World Cup Qualifying! The Hexagonal gets underway tomorrow as the United States head to San Pedro Sula to face Honduras. The Washington Post's Steve Goff is already there and he sent this postcard. Grant Wahl is probably there as well. He's got this preview of the entire Hex.

Brek Shea is the latest MLS product to jump across the pond. Additionally, Sporting Kansas City attacker Kei Kamara will be joining up with Norwich City on loan, and D.C. United’s Andy Najar has been sold to Belgian side Anderlecht. Jeff Carlisle takes a look at the domestic league and the strides being made.

Mega crisis, indeed!
Ivory Coast's golden generation falls short at Cup of Nations again. That's the headline from Jonathan Wilson down in South Africa. The Elephants lost to Nigeria in the quarterfinals. Didier Drogba. Yaya Toure. Gervinho. Salomon Kalou. Emmanuel Eboué. Cheik Tioté. Didier Zokora. All of these guys are experienced in top-level football. And yet they've fallen short yet again.

Aston Villa. It's a massive club with loads of supporters. It's also in big trouble because the Villains currently sit in the relegation zone and have been leaking goals for fun. Georgina Turner takes a look at what ails the storied club and if it can be saved from a trip down to The Championship.

We should probably give Paolo and Raphael some airtime. We've got to know what's going on in Serie A and the Bundesliga, after all. Paolo was actually Stateside for the Super Bowl but he knows that Balotelli scored twice for Milan on his debut. Meanwhile, Rafa reports that Schalke are in a "mega crisis." Yaahoo! We get to use the photo!

There's also The Podcast to contend with. Here's your intro: On today's Football Weekly, James Richardson is joined by Gregg Bakowski, Simon Burnton and the one and only Fernando Duarte, and it's a doozy - at 57 (fifty-seven)-and-a-bit minutes long. Woof. We start with all the fun and frolics of the Premier League, where Manchester City had to conjure up some Sergio Agüero-shaped magic to rescue a point against a very impressive Liverpool, Newcastle's French connection inflicted another defeat on Chelsea, and Aston Villa finally showed some fight. Next, we catch up on all the Brazilian football news that you could possibly want to hear. They're playing England in a friendly this week, since you asked. Finally, there's Sid Lowe on the doping scandal engulfing Spain, Jonathan Wilson on the Africa Cup of Nations, where Ivory Coast have failed again, and some much-needed love for Watford, who - would you believe it - didn't always play in yellow ...

Let's finish today by watching someone do something really stupid: