August 28, 2009

Eduardo to be Banned by UEFA?

UEFA has found Arsenal striker Eduardo guilty of "deceiving the referee" and could be handed a two-match ban in the Champions League as a consequence.

But if he does get punished, this will open a huge can of worms for UEFA and its President Michel Platini. Will they actively punish diving players in all European competitions from here forward? How could they possibly punish everyone? Diving is not a black and white issue - there's lots of gray area where some see a legitimate foul and others simply see a dive.

UEFA clearly needs to do something. But I think this is a path they should not go down.

Fulham's European Tour

We're going on a European Tour!!

That would also be a picture of the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, just one of several places you will see Fulham play before the end of the year.

You have absolutely no idea how excited I am!

August 27, 2009

Fulham: From Russia with Love

Fulham are playing the second leg of their Europa League tie against Russian side Amkar Perm after winning the home tie 3-1 last week. Now...they travel to Russia. Fulham doesn't exactly like this team so much - a defender levelled Andy Johnson in the first game and dislocated his shoulder, keeping him out for 5 weeks (the defender received a yellow card, nothing more). Also, Perm plays on an artificial turf, which will prove tough to play on.

When Fulham arrived at the airport, there were some friendly Russians who met them:

Uh oh...

August 26, 2009


Arsenal beat Celtic 3-1 at the Emirates to advance to the group stage of the Champions League on a 5-1 aggregate. However, the larger story (in my eyes) is Eduardo's clear dive for a penalty against the Celtic keeper Artur Boruc. The public views his recovery from his devastating ankle injury as miraculous, and they enthusiastically celebrate each goal he scores because it proves he's back at or close to being 100 percent.

But after watching this...yikes. That's absolutely disgraceful. Celtic probably didn't have much of a shot of advancing, but I guess you never know what would've happened if that wasn't a penalty.

Rant over.

MORNING UPDATE: The Scottish Football Association chief exec wants to see Eduardo banned, adding his voice to several Celtic players who are lobbying for the same thing. This could get interesting real quick.

Man City finally buying defenders

After capturing Joleon Lescott from Everton for a cool 22 million pounds (and then taking swipes at his former manager, David Moyes), Manchester City finally have bought some competent defensive cover for Shay Given:

- Kolo Toure for 16 million pounds. He has championship pedigree as a part of the Invincibles at Arsenal.
- Sylvinho on a free transfer. He's surely past his prime, but he's definitely worth a punt (not like Man City will have any problems paying his wages), and he comes from Barcelona, a team of champions and playmakers.

Hughes has bought well. These defenders are class and have lots of experience playing at the highest level for club and country. Man City has yet to concede a goal in the league, but they've also looked less than inspiring so far considering the players they now have on their squad.

August 24, 2009

Good-bye Juan Carlos Osorio

The hapless manager of the New York Red Bulls resigned on Friday after leading the team to a 2-16-4 record less than a year after reaching the MLS Cup Finals.

What does the team do in its first game under interim coach Richie Williams? They end a 13 game winless streak with a 3-2 over Dallas yesterday. Even a goal from former Red Bull Dave Van den Burgh could not stop New York from winning only their third game of the season.

Guess Osorio needed to go sooner.

Burnley: This year's Reading or Hull?

After an uninspiring loss away to Stoke City on the first day of the new campaign, Burnley have won successive home games against Manchester United and Everton, no small feat. Not a whole lot is expected of them since they are the playoff champions, and they only finished fifth in the Championship last year.

The question now will be play like Reading two years ago and not be troubled by relegation or will they be like Hull City, starting strongly and then collapsing in the second half?

I don't know for sure, but I can say one thing about Burnley: I like their coach, Owen Coyle, a lot better than I do Hull's Phil Brown.

August 22, 2009

Jozy Altidore: Welcome to England

His first touch of the ball as a second half substitute leads to a goal in a 1-0 for Hull...their first win of the season. Not a bad way to make your first appearance for a new club in the most competitive league in the world.

I said it before and I'll say it again: Hull have not been able to bring in any strikers except for Altidore, so their success (and whether or not they stay up) will be closely tied to his success as a player this year. That's a huge burden for a relatively inexperienced, but incredibly talented 19-year-old.

Video courtesy of Altidore is wearing number 9.

Sounders vs. Revolution

I went to my first Sounders league game on Thursday night against the Revolution. Even though the final score wasn't one that I was hoping to see (1-0 to the visitors), I still thoroughly the experience. Here are my thoughts concerning the fans, the game and the league.

The fans:
- There are have been a lot of people (Portland fans especially) who have slagged Seattle for getting behind this team so strongly and wondering why it didn't happen sooner with the USL Sounders. I saw several fans with old USL jerseys at the game, Sebastian Le Toux received the loudest ovation of any of the players (he was the star of the Sounders their last few years before being "promoted" to the MLS) and the recipient of the "Golden Scarf" before the game was a member of the Nordstrom who helped found the NASL Sounders (I believe, I can't remember exactly). The fans are not naive about this club's long and storied history.
- It really annoyed me when the big screens would read "scarves up" as certain points before and during the game. For starters, the fans aren't stupid. Also, let us create our own traditions and customs, not have some technician or PA person dictate what we should do.
- The Emerald City Supporters, the group of fans behind the south goal, are led in song and movement by a couple of guys in black "XBox Live" shirts who don't watch the game. I'm sure their getting paid to do this...which really bothers me. It creates a cool spectacle, but it's all staged. I was disappointed when I found this out.

The game:
- David Beckham was right about the MLS referees - they stink. The ref let the game get out of hand with rash challenges and dives all over the place. The 7 yellow cards is a sign that he didn't do a very good job.
- The Sounders were better than the Revs, but we lack that clinical finisher who can bury a single chance.
- On a related note, Nate Jaqua isn't very good. Fredy Montero had an off day by his standards (and the paper certainly agreed), but I thought he looked very sharp...until he got in front of goal. And we missed Freddie Ljungberg

The league:
- MLS should've come to the Pacific Northwest a long time ago. The fans here know their soccer (a guy a few rows in front of me had a Wolverhampton Wanderers flag next to his Sounders flag tied to the gotta know your soccer to know much about the reigning English League Champions) and are passionate about it. It's so hard to get tickets, hence why I was only able to go on a Thursday night in mid-August when people are out of town. I can't wait for Portland and Vancouver in 2011.

August 19, 2009

EPL Season Preview

It's the start of a new and exciting season in the Premier League (OK, we're 16 games into the season already. Pardon me...I've been out of town). It's been a bizarre transfer window, one that has been influenced by the global economic recession that has lowered the number of transfers that clubs are making (excluding Manchester City of course, but more on that later on). What impact will this all have on the Premier League? Will the promoted clubs have a chance? Who will win the title?

None of these predictions have been heavily influenced by the first few games of the season. After all, one game won't determine what a team does through next May. It has only shown us that it's never as easy as it looks to predict what will happen over the course of a long season.

Champions: Manchester United. Yes, they lost Ronaldo, but look at their fellow challengers for the title. If we ignore Manchester City for the moment, nobody has bought anyone who can really change the league. Liverpool sold Xabi Alonso, who I feel is just as valuable (if not more so) as Ronaldo was to United. Chelsea have the same team that they've had for the past few seasons. Lampard, Terry, Cech...they aren't getting any younger. Carlo Ancelotti will be their fifth manager in about two seasons. I just can't see them doing it this year. Arsenal are a scary prospect once all their players are healthy, but they sold Kolo Toure, the last of the invincibles. Nobody on their squad (besides Arshavin with Zenit and the UEFA Cup perhaps) has won a significant trophy. Can they deal with the pressure? I think not.
Manchester City...? They will finish 5th and will have to be content with a Europa League spot. This will probably get Mark Hughes fired at some point. There are too many new faces and big egos for this team to jell right away. Can Hughes keep them all happy? How much of a defense do they have? Even though this squad is very good, there are too many question marks dangling overhead - I think they'll narrowly miss a top 4 finish.
Relegation: Burnley, Portsmouth and Hull/Wolves. Portsmouth already seem doomed. They haven't bought anyone, their takeover, at the rate it's going at now will stretch beyond the end of the transfer window, and they are rumored to be near administration. Burnley will probably be in for a tough season as the playoff champion team. I can't for the life of me determine whether Hull City or Wolves will go down. Hull were so bad at the end of last year and haven't bought much of anyone (Jozy Altidore will be their wild card...he could be brilliant as a strong and tall targetman, or he could flop due to his inexperience). Mick McCarthy doesn't have a strong track record of coaching in the EPL, and it's now his job to keep Wolves up this season. I think it's a coin flip.

It's already turning into a brilliant season. Let's all sit back and enjoy (and c'mon Fulham!).