Meat Pies and Orange Slices

Here’s a sampling of stories from around the world of soccer that are interesting but don’t merit a post of their own.

If you wanted to see shambolic defending, the Chivas vs. Galaxy game was definitely a superclassico. All four goals were horrendous and completely due to defensive miss ques. There were two miss hit clearances, a back pass gift, and a hopeful shot from distance that should have been saved. What made matters worse was when there were actual good scoring chances created from open play those chances were squandered. Alan Gordon the most obvious culprit. Donovan is sitting in the six yard box unmarked for a tap in, you have a clear passing lane if you pick your head up and look. What do you do? Well, if you are Alan Gordon you badly shank a shot from an acute angle. I really wonder if Arena left Buddle in the game whether he squares that ball and Galaxy are on cruise control into the next round.

MLS and Don Garber will be sweating bullets going into the next leg of playoff games. First and foremost the league wants Beckham in the next round. Chivas playing anybody is a disaster. Secondly, they want Seattle to get through. Houston has very good support, but it is nothing like Seattle and a Beckham vs. Ljungberg is quite a draw. Out east, New England’s pathetic playoff crowd of 8,000 is a disgrace and the league will strongly hope to see Chicago and Blanco overcome their 2-1 defeat and get to the finals. I would imagine the league is not too choosy concerning Salt Lake and Columbus, but Columbus vs. Chicago has a bit more of a bite to it than Salt Lake vs. Chicago (unless of course Stockton and Malone magically appear to take on Jordan).

More anti-continental jingoism from the British Isles as former Liverpool great Whelan rails against Benitez. Ronnie Whelan, commenting on Irish television, blasted Rafa Benitez for subbing Fernando Torres after an hour against Fulham with the score tied 1-1. Whelan told RTE, “It’s all gone wrong with the manager and he’s shown exactly where his priorities lie. He wants to win the European Cup so he can get a job in Europe. For me, his days have got to be numbered at Liverpool.” This is 27 different ways of stupid. I have no problem criticizing Benitez for not bringing in enough cover during the summer, but Torres is getting injections for a groin injury, and he is a major doubt for Wednesday’s game against Lyon because he played on Saturday. In case Whelan has forgotten, Benitez already has a European Cup, with Liverpool, and is constantly rumored to be desperately wanted by Real Madrid and could probably have the job right now if he wanted. He will have to deal with another kind of pressure at the Bernabeu, but anti-continental crap from former players and the press isn’t likely to be one of them.

Lerner is succeeding in the Prem but struggling in the NFL. MatchfitUSA picks up on the growing discontent in Cleveland over the sorry state of the Browns (bad football is something I can relate to, eh Dan?). Villa is doing pretty good – still threatening to crack the Big Four and Lerner is perhaps the only genuinely popular American owner in the Premier League. But the Browns are terrible, utterly awful. And that apparently has one Cleveland sportswriter arguing that the demands of running two teams in two sports on two continents are dragging on Lerner’s ability to put a winning product on the field in Cleveland. That’s dumb. Lerner is exactly the right kind of owner for both sports – hiring the right people and being supportive but staying out of the way. He may need to make a move to get better football people in charge of the Browns, but their ineptitude has nothing to do with him owning Aston Villa.


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