Quote of the Day: It’s not over until the fat man sings?

Is this good for you Sir Alex? (photo by randomduck)

Is this good for you Sir Alex? (photo by randomduck)

“Sir Alex Ferguson likes to boast that his Manchester United team score more late goals than any other side in the world. Others argue that they get a bit of extra help from referees. It has now emerged that the Premier League champions do, as suspected, benefit from an imbalance in the amount of stoppage time that is added to their matches.” – Daniel Taylor, Guardian


Weekend Rewind

Some thoughts on this weekends action.

First, the Manchester derby lived up to the hype. There have been a lot of detailed explanations for the two extra minutes. Yes, Bellamy celebrated a goal just as the board went up and there was also a substitution. But there is a reason managers make substitutions at the very end of games – it is to waste time! It’s a common tactic that works and officials rarely take that time into account – if they did why would they care if players stall while going off the field and furthermore why would players stall! I am not saying that slack time keeping is a good thing, but match officials are almost never that eagle-eye about added time. Hence the suspicious letter of the law interpretation. The Guardian in a great piece of investigative sports journalism concludes – yes, Man U. do get more stoppage time.

Additionally, British commentators show at times a maddening level of pro-English bias. A common refrain now heard is that Carlos Tevez runs around like a “headless chicken.” Hmm… His work rate caused a Ben Foster mistake and a city goal. Could you just imagine the praise that would descend down if that were Wayne Rooney.

Second, Spurs lost to a better Chelsea side, but definitely didn’t get any breaks. Tottenham had a bright start but didn’t convert despite many chances. Continue reading

Gold Cup final the end of U.S. Concacaf hegemony? Not so fast…

courtesy of reporterasdeguardia

courtesy of reporterasdeguardia

Kartik at MLS Talk has a piece revisiting the terrible Gold Cup final this summer in which a hodge-podge U.S. team got demolished 5-0 by Mexico. He writes,

After a summer that saw the US defeat Spain and defy the odds in several other matches, we may look back at July 26th and the Gold Cup Final as the day it all began to come apart. The US hegemony over CONCACAF was effectively ended, with Mexico’s three year crisis of confidence, finally over turned.

Kartik was also my foil for this past piece defending Bob Bradley – so it is clear we generally disagree over the state of the U.S. program, which is legitimate, but I think he is guilty of doing the same thing he accusses U.S. promoters of doing after the Spain game: putting too much emphasis on a single game.
Continue reading

Quote of the Day: The Sports Guy

ESPN Editor

ESPN Editor

“You’re new to soccer but the rule with extra time when Man United plays is that the game goes until they win.” – Bill Simmons to his twitter followers following Man United’s victory in the 127th minute of stoppage time. For being new to soccer, Simmons certainly nailed it.

Who ate all the ties?

Photo by striatic

"Mr. Tie" Photo by striatic

A very peculiar thing is happening in the Premier League this year: there have been virtually no draws through six weeks of the season. The result is a rather stretched table for so early, making my argument—and frankly that of many—that the top of the table will be more competitive this year look a bit off the mark. This could be just a statistical oddity that will even out over the course of a 38 game schedule, or it could be caused by lots of late goals like the rather controversial winner at Old Trafford yesterday.

Of the 57 games played through the first six weeks of the season, only four have resulted in a draw, compared to ten draws through the same period last year and 14 ties in 2007-08. When compared to the overall rate of drawn matches over a full season, the lack of ties is even more evident. Just 7% of games this year have been drawn, compared to 25.5% in each of the last two seasons.

The effect on the league table is obvious. None of the top nine teams have drawn a single match with Chelsea enjoying a three point advantage over second place Manchester United, followed by another three points to four teams level on points led by Liverpool in third place on goal difference. Continue reading

Weekend Preview

There are some big big games this weekend. Ives has the rundown. In England the Manchester derby is the highlight, with another London derby, Chelsea v. Spurs also enticing.

Manchester Derby
Oh its on. And the pissing fest between Hughes and Ferguson has become highly entertaining. The genius who put up the Carlos Tevez billboard clearly deserves a raise, since it clearly got under Sir Alex’s skin.
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Quote of the Day: Sir Alex’s Manchester Mind Games

alex ferguson
“I think they’ve got seven centre-forwards now, which is crazy, just amazing, but when you have spent that amount of money, and the wages they are paying, you have to win the league with that kind of investment and that’s where the difficulty will come for them.” Sir Alex, kicking up the Manchester derby a notch.

MLS 2010 schedule is a big step forward

Major_League_Soccer-logo-BB49EA9EC4-seeklogo.comTwo new modifications to the MLS schedule for 2010 further demonstrate the growing maturity of the league and soccer in America. With the addition of the Philadelphia Union franchise next year, MLS will have for the first time a balanced schedule like most major soccer leagues. Another first will see the league take a two-week break during the group stages of the World Cup and also skip games on semi-final and final days. Small shifts to be sure, but a big step forward for the league.

Marrying American sports league tradition with world soccer league structure has been—and always will be—a challenge for MLS. All major U.S. team sports have a regular season followed by knock-out playoff rounds, with the ultimate champion the last remaining survivor. In most major soccer leagues around the world, that two-stage process is broken into two distinct competitions, with the league champion crowned after each team plays every other at home and away in what Americans term the regular season, and the knock-out phase is a separate tournament that runs throughout the season.

The Union will be MLS’s 16th franchise, making a truly balanced schedule a realistic option as each team will now play 30 games, once at home and once away against each of the 15 other teams in the league. The team that finishes those 30 games with the most points won’t be the MLS Cup champion—that will still go to the playoff round winner—but it will provide a solid benchmark to measure which team can lay claim to being the league’s best. Continue reading

Why Bob Bradley Deserves Praise (part 2)

usThis is part two of a series on Bob Bradley. Read Part 1. Deconstructing the Bob Bradley Hate

U.S. fans have been highly critical of Bob Bradley since he took over after the 06 World Cup. As I said last week, we thought they were going to date the hot foreign exchange student in Jurgen Klinnsman, but ended up with the girl next door. The disappointment was palpable. While Bradley deserves some criticism – as all coaches do – he has not gotten enough credit for transforming a program that was entering a new World Cup cycle in real flux, into one that looks settled and strong a year before the World Cup. Additionally, U.S. soccer has never been more respected internationally than it is now, leading to more and more Americans playing at the highest levels abroad. Bradley deserves credit and recognition for being a solid manager and a good steward of the US program.

What Bradley has done right:
Continue reading

Divers in the box should be sent off


Nobody likes diving (except the Italians). Eduardo’s flop against Celtic has garnered an enormous amount of attention, both for the offense and for UEFA’s since rescinded two-match ban. Most of the commentary on this episode however, like Philip Conrwall’s on Football365, seems resigned to the supposition that, “diving is a problem, but is – as this case shows – incredibly hard to police.”

This acceptance of being powerless to stop divers is disappointing because it overlooks the influence of the rules of the game. Right now, a diver that is caught receives only a yellow card, but can gain at least a penalty and also a possible man advantage, an easy risk-reward assessment. This creates incentives for attacking players to dive in the box. There is a solution. Just as was the case with the establishment of a red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, divers trying to win a penalty should face equal punishment.

Being sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity—originally called a professional foul—is a relatively modern addition to the game, first introduced by the English Football League in 1982 and then adopted by FIFA prior to the 1990 World Cup. It arose primarily because of an incident in the 1980 FA Cup Final when West Ham’s Paul Allen was deliberately fouled by Arsenal’s Willie Young to prevent his clear run on goal. A committee of English football luminaries recommended players who commit such “professional fouls” be sent off. Through the years, the language has been altered to eliminate the interpretation that the foul was deliberate, and the rule now reads simply “denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.” Continue reading