Thursday, December 31, 2015
Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool
Full match recap.
Real Madrid 3-1 Real Sociedad
(Ronaldo PK 42', 67', Vazquez 87')-(Bruma 49')
Levante 0-1 Malaga
Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Atlético Madrid
(Correa 88', Griezmann 90')
Sevilla 2-0 Espanyol
(Immobile 16', Banega 41')
Eibar 2-0 Sporting Gijon
(Keko 55', Baston 62')
Getafe 0-0 Deportivo
Barcelona 4-0 Betis
(Westermann OG 30', Messi 33', Suarez 46', 83')
Celta Vigo 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Las Palmas 2-1 Grenada
(Tana 32', Araujo 50')-(Penaranda 56')
Not much changed here at the top of the table. Barcelona are still on top with a game in hand over Atletico Madrid and Real are still playing catchup from all the points they dropped against winnable opponents over the past couple of months. Most importantly, Lionel Messi scored in his 500th career match with Barca, adding something to what was already a special day. Outside of the title contenders, Celta Vigo holds the fourth Champions League spot for now. Villarreal has a match today against midtable Valencia that they should be able to win, allowing them to jump back into fourth position.
Former Manchester United manager David Moyes had some words about the future of current boss Louis van Gaal. Moyes thinks the Red Devils should stick with him. He claims that life after Sir Alex Ferguson would always have been difficult and that van Gaal is still working on rebuilding the club. By that logic, Moyes should probably still be in charge, but he has a point. Ferguson was a genius doing genius things with the biggest club in England. Replicating his success is an impossible task for just about anyone. Should van Gaal be given more time to complete his vision? Probably. But that isn't how things work at Manchester United.
Arsene Wenger, who is always criticized for his transfer moves (or lack thereof), is claiming that he will be a busy man come January. Injuries have left a few holes in Arsenal's game this season, most notable at defensive midfield, so he does have some things that need to be addressed if they want to make their title dreams a reality.
Radamel Falcao has had a rough time in his year and a half on loan with Manchester United and, now, Chelsea. The Colombian came to the Red Devils from Monaco and was less than impressive. Monaco shipped him off to Chelsea for this year and he has barely been on the pitch thanks to injury. His recurring thigh problems will now keep him out until at least mid January, possibly even longer.
Swiss authorities have turned over bank account information to the American investigators that are digging into the FIFA scandal. The records have to do with bank accounts that were potentially used to execute the bribes that kicked off the investigation in the first place.
The Brighton loan of Liam Ridgewell has been made official. The Portland Timbers have sent their captain back to his homeland for a little more than a month to get ready for their upcoming title defense. Ridgewell will play for Seagulls from January 2 to February 13.
After learning that LA Galaxy are looking to bring in Ashley Cole yesterday, today we learn that another old soldier could be joining the aging ranks in Hollywood. Former Chicago Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz is set to join the club. The 32 year old has played 11 seasons in the league with New England, Colorado, and Chicago.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Liverpool's struggles away from Anfield carried on in the first half. They looked lifeless against the worst defense in the Premier League, although they did come close a couple of times. Robert Firmino fired a rocket off the post and Jordan Henderson had one cleared off the line just before the halftime whistle. The Black Cats, while only having one shot on target, had an opportunity of their own as well. Fabio Borini didn't miss by much when a curling shot came in towards Simon Mignolet's goal. Sunderland got some bad news when Jack Rodwell was forced off the pitch with an uncomfortable looking injury near the half hour mark.
Christian Benteke put Liverpool's attacking misfortune to bed all of 22 seconds of the second half kickoff. The striker collected a through pass and easily slipped past Vito Mannone. After that goal, the Reds got extremely passive against a Sunderland side that was probably incapable of scoring against them anyway. They had a couple chances as the clock ticked towards the end. Benteke was one on one with Mannone about a minute into stoppage time and plunged his effort straight into the Italian keeper.
Belief was all that Sunderland could ride on in the final minutes. Saying they even had any chance would be a slight exaggeration. They had no attacking power against the far superior Liverpool side, who now have back to back 1-0 wins. A corner at the death of the match for the home team was their final salvo, and it was dealt with with ease from the Liverpool defense.
This win allows Liverpool to put some pressure on the top four heading into 2016. They are at 30 points, which puts them behind Manchester United in sixth place only on goal difference. Sunderland are still stuck in relegation land, a place they have narrowly avoided over the past couple years. They have 12 points from the first half of the season, which has them in 19th and seven points back from safety. It certainly looks like they year that the Black Cats finally succumb to their relegation fate.
Anyways, on to yesterday's lone match and a plethora of soccer news items.
Leicester City 0-0 Manchester City
It's no secret that Michel Platini isn't happy with his ban from all football related activities. He wasted no time defying that ban when he attended an awards ceremony in Dubai this past Sunday. He could face further discipline from FIFA as a result.
Manchester City have not been the same team without their leader, Vincent Kompany, on the pitch. Word has come out that the Belgian international could miss up to another month due to his lingering calf issue. Surely this will continue to impact Manchester City's title pursuit as several more matches without their top defender is likely to allow a few more goals to find their way in against them.
I like to avoid transfer rumors as the only think that rivals the gossipy nature of transfer reporters is a group of high school girls, so unless it's a done deal, you won't read it here. However, the transfer window begins this week and we are already seeing some agreements in principle. For instance, it looks like Everton are selling Steven Naismith to Norwich for the modest sum of £8 million. The emergence of Gerard Deulofeu has made the Scot expendable.
Sad news for Montreal Impact fans as it looks like seeing Didier Drogba at the Stade Saputo is becoming increasingly unlikely. Drogba appears to be more interested in joining Chelsea in a coaching capacity rather than returning to America to play. The once world class Ivory Coast international took MLS by storm, scoring 11 times in as many games.
LA Galaxy have been making headlines by selling players off to Mexico lately, so it makes sense that we are starting to hear about the men they might bring into the club. Their prime target is 35 year old Ashley Cole, who would join Steven Gerrard as former Premier League stars at the club. He also joins Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos as old international superstars joining LA for a smooth transition into retirement.
Finally, Vancouver Whitecaps have brought in a much less known player with international experience. They have signed Japanese international Masato Kudo on a free transfer. The striker scored 92 goals in 260 matches in the J-League to go along with four caps with Japan. He hopes to bring some scoring to a club that struggled to grab many goals down the stretch last year.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Leicester entered the biggest match of their season needing a win in order to go back to the top of the table at the halfway point of the season. They gave it their all, but couldn't muster a goal to their name while defending a true onslaught of Manchester City's strong attacking forwards. Their defense, and goalkeeper Kasper Schmichael, were plenty up to the task and they earned their first scoreless draw of the season.
The Foxes knew they would be forced to win this one on the counter and perhaps through a set piece, but they only were able to try that strategy on rare occasions as City controlled the ball and peppered the home goal with 21 shots. They did snag 11 of their own, but nothing that truly tested Joe Hart, although Jamie Vardy, who had battled the flu all week, came close to one at the end of the first half.
Manchester City's best chance came when Sergio Aguero was brought down in the box by Gokhan Inler in the 63rd minute. Aguero's tumble may have been a bit exaggerated, though and the referee refused to indulge the Argentinian's slight theatrics with a penalty.
The draw puts Leicester level with Arsenal for first place, but the Gunners remain on top thanks to their superior goal difference. Manchester City go back above Tottenham for third place and are three points back of the leaders.
The Foxes may not have come out on top, but they did prove that they can at least handle a high end side like Manchester City. They showed some fight in gutting out this result to hang on their mantles along with an away draw at Manchester United and home win against Chelsea. They have some things to work on. Squad depth could be an issue, as we saw with their battered side dropping points with the congested schedule this week. They are also screwed if Vardy and/or Mahrez go down and have to miss some significant time. But, based on their first half performance, I would say that Leicester are here to stay.
Crystal Palace 0-0 Swansea
(Lukaku 21', 64', Joselu 80', Arnautovic PK 90+1'))-(Shaqiri 16', 45', Deulofeu 71')
(Howson 24', Mbokani 87')
(Ighalo 41')-(Lamela 16', Son 89')
After saying that he could simply quit Manchester United, Louis van Gaal is saying he will not resign his post after yesterday's scoreless draw against Chelsea. It was rumored that he would be fired had yesterday's match resulted in a defeat.
Real Madrid made one final appeal to remain in the Copa del Rey competition and that appeal has been denied. The club was booted from the tournament after having used a suspended player for the first half of their match against Cadiz. They could continue the process of trying to get back in, but that would involve suing the Spanish Football Federation in a civil court, which would probably take way too long and not be worth the effort.
With their transfer ban finally about the be lifted, Barcelona are looking to shore up their reserve squad with some fresh signings. They made a big deal about three new players coming on to their B team, and then promptly cut one of them hours later. Sergi Guardiola had his contract revoked after it was discovered that he made some anti-Barcelona, pro-Real Madrid, and anti-Catalan tweets... more than two years ago. Call me crazy and naive, but if this player was really worth something, wouldn't a couple of tweets from a couple years ago be irrelevant? I could launch myself on a rant concerning people's over-sensitivity to social media, but I'll spare you.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Norwich struck first in this battle near the bottom of the table. That first goal came in the 24th minute from Jonathan Howson who was unmarked when a deflection came right to him for the easy shot and goal. A quick transition off a goal kick and some weak defending from Aston Villa allowed Dieumerci Mbokani to head home the insurance goal and give Norwich the three points against the bottom team in the table.
A turnover in the middle of the pitch led to a simple break away from Erik Lamela to score with ease against some passive Watford defending. The Hornets got back on level terms in the 41st minute. Odion Ighalo, who is approaching Jamie Vardy levels of heat, snuck through the back line to find the tying goal. Their good fortune took a bit of a downturn just after the hour mark when Nathan Ake was shown straight red for a high and reckless challenge on Lamela. It took a while, but ten man Watford did concede the Spurs' winner. South Korean international Son Heung-Min backheeled home a low cross in the 89th minute. This came less than a minute after the Hornets had a potential go ahead goal cleared off the line. Spurs are in third place with the Leicester-Man City result pending.
After a boat load of close calls, mad scrambles, and off the line clearances, West Brom finally found the interior of the goal in the 79th minute. Darren Fletcher's head was the provider after a soft cross was lobbed in his direction. That was all West Brom would need to hold off their Geordie visitors.
Crystal Palace continues to struggle with this whole scoring goals thing as they can't find the net against Swansea. Thankfully for them, they were able to keep the Swans out of the goal as well to earn their second straight scoreless draw.
The second half featured more Bournemouth on the ball, but also another Arsenal goal. The Gunners lead was doubled when Ozil was the final piece of a nice passing play through the middle in the 63rd minute. Arsenal were unlucky not to have scored a couple more times on the counter attack. Theo Walcott missed a golden chance when he tapped the ball wide off a rebounded shot, although h was offside anyway. Bournemouth, despite their superior second half possession,never tested Petr Cech all that much and ended up falling 2-0.
It's a couple days late as far as the Gunners are concerned, but they are now in first place, at least until Leicester City's huge match with Manchester City on Wednesday.
No matches and a fairly slow newsday yesterday will make today's large slate of Premier League games all the more fun, especially the "Save van Gaal Derby" between Manchester United and Chelsea.
The Louis van Gaal saga is taking an interesting twist. Reports have surfaced the the Manchester United boss will be sacked should his side fall to Chelsea this afternoon. That match was already going to be the saddest ever game between the two storied clubs, but now it had a bit more intrigue.
It's easy to forget that Jack Wilshire still plays for Arsenal. WIth the exception of the Boxing Day debacle agaisnt Southampton, Arsenal have had a pretty strong season so far without the talented midielder. Arsene Wenger is now hoping for a February return for his oft injured star, but in all reality, he doesn't know when he will be back on the pitch.
Sad news out of El Salvador as the leader in international caps for the nation, Alfredo Pacheco, was shot dead at a gas station in the capital city of San Salvador. Pacheco had 86 caps for El Salvador, but was one of 22 players banned for life by FIFA for match fixing. He was 33 years old.
Andrea Pirlo was considering a loan move to Europe over the winter, but has now ruled out that possibility. The New York City FC was hoping to return to Europe for a period of time in order to boost his chances of beings elected for the Italian squad in Euro 2016, but feels he can make the team with his play in MLS.
Bundesliga relegation candidates Hanover have named Thomas Schaaf as their new manager. Schaaf had previously led Werder Bremen for 14 years, winning the Bundesliga in 2004.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Stoke City 2-0 Manchester United
(Krkic 19', Arnautovic 26')
AFC Bournemouth 0-0 Crystal Palace
Aston Villa 1-1 West Ham
(Ayew PK 62')-(Cresswell 45+2')
Chelsea 2-2 Watford
(Costa 32', 65')-(Deeney PK 42', Oghalo 56')
Liverpool 1-0 Leicester City
Manchester City 4-1 Sunderland
(Sterling 12', Toure 17', Bony 22' de Bruyne 54')-(Borini 59')
Swansea 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Tottenham 3-0 Norwich City
(Kane PK 26', 42', Carroll 80')
Newcastle 0-1 Everton
Southampton 4-0 Arsenal
(Martina 19', Long 55' 90+2', Fonte 69')
Full Premier League Recap
After his club's latest failure at Stoke, Louis van Gaal suggests to reporters that he may resign as Manchester United's manager. The former boss of the Dutch national team said that the club doesn't have to fire him, he could simply quit on his own. Earlier in the week, captain Wayne Rooney expressed his support for his manager.
The Timbers have made plenty of roster moves so far, and now defender and captain Liam Ridgewell is being targeted by Championship side Brighton on loan. He was loaned to Wigan Athletic last offseason, so a short stint in England is certainly not out of the question.
LA Galaxy are contiuing their fire sale as they have sent Juninho packing for Tijuana in Mexico. Juninho becomes the second Galaxy player to be sold to a Mexican outfit as Omar Gonzalez left for Pachuca last week. These sales are possibly leading to another big buy in Los Angeles.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
WIth all the controversy surrounding Louis Van Gaal and his job status, you would think that he would want a strong performance against Stoke to quiet the rumors of his imminent demise. Instead, first half goals from Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic within seven minutes of each other send the home team into the break with a two goal lead. The second half was not much better from United, Although they didn't concede again, they only had a couple of chances that goalkeeper Jack Butland stopped without extreme difficulty. Van Gaal was supposedly given two weeks to turn his side around. Today, they looked unmotivated and flat. Much like Chelsea and Jose Mourinho, Manchester United have the talent, just not the manager to get the best out of it.
Both sides had a tricky challenge today as Leicester still have their fair share of doubters heading into a road game against a large, but struggling, club like Liverpool. The Reds only had to welcome the league leaders, however unproven they may be, to Anfield. Liverpool was on the attack for much of the proceedings. They didn't threaten to score much until Christian Benteke struck gold from the top of the penalty area in the 63rd minute. The Foxes were forced to attempt their comeback without their two biggest weapons. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez both were subbed off with minor injuries late in the second half. It is a real wonder how Liverpool didn't score more. They had a three on one break just after the 80 minute mark that they botched up. They also had a four man rush on an empty net that resulted in miserable failure.
The Guus Hiddink era began in earnest today as this one against Watford was his first on the Chelsea bench. Diego Costa gave Chelsea the lead in the 32nd minute by banging home a Willian corner. They held the lead until the 41st minute. That's when Nemanja Matic was punished for a handball in the box and awarded a penalty to Troy Deeney, who scored the attempt with ease. Odion Ighalo used the momentum from the late first half goal to score in his fifth straight game in the 56th. minute. The Blues were down but not out after they fell behind. Costa nailed his second of the match at the end of a splendid passing play in the 67th minute to tie the score one again. That would be it as Chelsea once again drop points against newly promoted opponents.
After Chelsea had their way with Sunderland a week ago, you would expect a Manchester City side looking to get back on track at home would have little issue with the relegation candidates. A powerful ten minute stretch saw Raheem Sterling score in the 13th minute and Yaya Toure double the lead six minutes later. Wilfried Bony added the third in the 22nd. The City domination continued in the second half. Kevin de Bruyne made their lead four goals in the 54th minute. Just as the clock hit 58 minutes, Sunderland got one back in their futile comeback effort. Fabio Borini was the man putting them on the scoreboard. This was a much needed win for City after last week's failure at Arsenal. They're still in third, however.
Harry Kane scored from the spot ti give Tottenham at 27th minute lead as they chased a Champions League spot. He earned his brace in the 42nd. In the 80th minute, a rare goal scorer, Thomas Carroll, sealed the three points for the home team. Spurs have taken advantage of the Manchester United downfall and have jumped into the top four, two points clear of Crystal Palace.
Boxing Day got off to a great start for Swansea. In the ninth minute, Boaz Myhill failed to control a shot and Ki Sung-Yueng came flying in to tap home the loose ball for the Swans. That's all they would need to keep lifeless WBA out of the goal to war the victory. The win keeps the disappointing Swans out of the drop zone by a single point.
Aaron Cresswell gave the Hammers the lead in the final minute of the first half, but Villa would be able to claw back into the match. Jordan Ayew scored a penalty in the 62nd minute to level for the last place Villains. The draw continues West Ham's return to Earth after their hot start. They are in ninth after today.
The second half didn't start off well for Arsenal, they were lucky to have not conceded in the 50th minute when Virgil Van Dijk headed home a free kick, but he was called for offside as he clattered into Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal. After a minute or so on the ground, the Gunners' keeper was well enough to remain in the game Not that it helped at all. Southampton did score for real in the 55th minute on a counter attack finished by Shane Long. They were then free to hold numbers back and defend the all out attack that Arsenal was sure to bring. Not that defensive posture prevented them from getting forward. The third goal came from Jose Fonte in the 69th minute to put first place out of Arsenal's reach for sure. Shane Long's second and Saints' fourth came a couple minutes into stoppage time to make the 4-0 final scoreline.
Arsenal misses their shot to go top, somewhere they have been for all of two days this season. To make things worse, third place Manchester City is only a point back of them. Southampton remains mired in midtable mediocrity with the win. They are still in 12th after the Boxing Day bonanza.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Sepp Blatter, at age 79, will probably not be able to make a comeback after his eight year ban is finished. He may be coming to grips with that reality, saying his work in football is finished. He also says he has lost faith in FIFA after being brought down by the very committee he created to root out (or give the appearance of rooting out) people just like him.
LA Galaxy have made a pretty high profile move. They have sent US National Team defender Omar Gonzalez to Liga MX's Pachoua for an undisclosed fee. Gonzalez had been with the Galaxy since he was drafted in 2009 and was given a designated player contract in 2013. He was bought out of the designated player role so LA could sign Giovani dos Santos.
Jose Mourinho has been linked with Manchester United since he was sacked at Chelsea. Although rumors were spreading that he had a deal in place with the Red Devils, it turns out they are not true. That doesn't mean he won't end up there. He seems to want the job, and United seem to want him as well. So it is probably just a matter of time.
It's becoming difficult to tell who the real front runner is in the chase for Pep Guardiola's services. Popular opinion had been that Manchester City would land the managerial giant, but Chelsea are also trying to convince him to come to London.
Spain's manager Vicente del Bosque will be retiring after Euro 2016. The now legendary boss led Spain the 2012 European title and the 2010 World Cup. Overall, he ushered in a golden age of Spanish football and will be remembered for making the Spanish national team one of the most feared in the world.
Liverpool's Martin Skrtel will miss the next six weeks with a hamstring injury suffered on Sunday against Watford. That is better than the original estimate of three months. This weakens an already struggling Liverpool team that has dropped to ninth place in the Premier League.
MLS has unveiled its opening slate of matches for the 2016 season. All 20 clubs will open the season on Sunday, March 6. The season kicks off with the Red Bulls hosting Toronto FC.We get an MLS Cup rematch right off the bat as Columbus visits Portland, and a battle of Canadian playoff sides with Vancouver and Montreal. Here's the full slate:
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City
(Walcott 33', Giroud 45+1')-(Toure 82')
Full match recap.
There are two massive news sagas making their way through the soccer world. One is the continuing speculation on where Pep Guardiola is headed after his season with Bayern Munich concludes. Manchester City are the frontrunners for his signature and Manuel Pellegrini has accepted that his job status is in doubt. There are a number of reports saying that Guardiola has already decided where he will go next season.
Next up is the Jose Mourinho drama. It appears that Manchester United are interested in bringing the Portuguese maniac on board to replace Louis Van Gaal. I said this the other day, but somebody please, please, make sure this happens. The soccer world, and specifically the Premier League, is a more fun place with Jose Mourinho in it.
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini getting banned for eight years is the other major story. Both men continue to proclaim their innocence and will appeal the decision with the Court for Arbitration in Sport.
David Beckham is still trying to bring MLS to Miami, and now he wants to bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic there too. By the time the non-existent Miami club is could to begin playing in MLS, Zlatan will be pushing 40 years old, perfect for joining the likes of Kaka, David Villa, Frank Lampard, and others as the old men playing out their careers in the USA.
Elsewhere in old men looking to come stateside, Uruguayan international Diego Forlan is also interested. He is apparently awaiting an MLS offer.
Seasoned Mexican captain Rafa Marquez is taking his career full circle. The long time Mexican national team defender is returning to his boyhood club Atlas in Liga MX. He departs Hellas Verona in Serie A, where he had spent the last year and a half.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Unless you're one of the few who really believe that Leicester City have what it takes to maintain their title run for the second half of the season, these two clubs are in the best positions to compete for the top spot when all is said and done. Tonight's winner would be able to take the inside track in the race. Both sides are facing injuries, but City is getting healthier than Arsenal as they returned Sergio Aguero to the lineup for the first time in a while. The Gunners, meanwhile, were without their killer threat Alexis Sanchez.
Liverpool 0-3 Watford
(Ake 3', Ighalo 15', 85')
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Mainz
(Darida 34', Kalou 54')
(Stindl 44', Nordtveit 51', Wendt 86')-(Heller 28', Wagner 67')
Real Madrid 10-2 Rayo Vallecano
(Danilo 3', Bale 25', 41', 61', 70', Ronaldo 30', 53', Benzema 48', 79', 90')-(Amaya 10', Jozabed 12')
(San Jose 55', Williams 82')
Orellana 21', Aspas 44')
(Suarez 27', 88')
Carpi 2-3 Juventus
(Borriello 15', Bonucci 90+2')-(Mandzukic 18', 41', Pogba 50')
(Kalinic 20', Ilicic 32')
(Icardi 61')-(Candreva 5', 87')
St. Etienne 1-0 Angers
(Larbi 32', 67')-(Grenier 72')
Sunday, December 20, 2015
It was a disaster of a start for Liverpool. On a third minute corner, their backup keeper Adam Bogdan rose to collect the attempt, but fumbled it in the six yard box where Watford's Nathan Ake was waiting to boot it home. Things went from bad to worse in the 15th minute. Odion Ighalo tucked a shot inside the far post on a small counter attackto double Watford's lead. Liverpool was then forced into all out attack mode. Unfortunately for them, they gave up more chances on the counter attack than they created for themselves. Watford found a third goal with Troy Deeney picking out Ighalo for his second of the match in the 85th minute.
The Hornets are still in seventh after the win, but they are only a point back of the top four. Manchester United, Tottenham, and Crystal Palace all sit with 29 points for that fourth place finish. Liverpool is still stuck in ninth with a disappointing 24 points.
Swansea City 0-0 West Ham
Swansea was the better team in this goalless draw. They managed to launch 20 shots towards Adrian in the West Ham goal, but only forced him to make two saves. West Ham was equally woeful in their sparse attempts on goal as well. Swansea's only beef will be a 63rd minute attempt by Sung-Yueng Ki that appeared to be stopped only by the hand of defender James Collins in the penalty area. Swansea was furious when the referee only pointed to the corner flag instead of the penalty spot.
Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland
(Ivanovic 5', Pedro 13', Oscar PK 50')-(Borini 53')
(Lukaku 32', Mirallas 89')-(Mahrez PK 27', Mahrez PK 65', Okazaki 69')
(Martial 66')-(Jerome 38', Tettey 54')
(Kane 40', Alli 43')
(Wickham PK 45+2', Chung-Yong 89')-(Krkic PK 76')
(McAuley 79')-(Smith 52', Daniels PK 87')
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Werder Bremen
(Meier 31', Aigner 48')-(Pizarro 29')
(Zoller 82', Modeste 90')-(Sokratis 18')
(Muller PK 40')
The Dortmund slip up allows Bayern Munich to extend their German lead to eight points. Dortmund was, and sort of still is, the only team capable of competing with Pep Guardiola's squad. A squad that faces some questions as they now know they will be under new leadership next year. The only thing left for them to win is the Champions League, so with the league comfortably under control, that should be their real focus. Meanwhile, Chicharito continues his stellar form with another road goal against Ingolstadt.
Valencia 2-2 Getafe
(Alcaer 15', Mina 35')-(Sarabia 10', Lafita 22')
Deportive takes a small step towards Spain's top four. They are two points back of fourth place Celta Vigo, who is yet to play this weekend. Barcelona has the weekend off from domestic action while they play in the mostly meaningless Club World Cup in Japan.
Bologna 2-3 Empoli
A double from Massimo Maccarone lifts Empoli into sixth position and within striking distance of the Champions Leaue. They are five points back of a top three spot, which is currently held by Napoli. Trouble is, Juventus and Roma, two far superior sides, stand in their way.
Caen 0-3 Paris St. Germain
(di Maria 16', 50', Ibrahimovic 36')
Paris St. Germain has opened up a 17 point lead atop Ligue 1 and really has no competition for the title. Their real season is the Champions League, and their domestic matches should be seen as no more than tune ups for that which really matters. Monaco is the leader in the clubhouse for the other two Champions League spots, although their bland away draw against bottom feeders Troyes leaves a lot to be desired.
Jermaine Jones says he would like to return to New England Revolution for next season, but he doesn't want a substantial pay cut. Jones claims his latest offer from the Revs is for less than 20% of what they paid him last year. I can't say I blame him. If someone wants to cut my salary by 80% or more, I'd be interested in finding a new place to work as well.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Welcome to the second Guus Huddink Era at Chelsea. The Blues certainly came out on fire in their first game without Jose Mourinho at the helm. Not five minutes had passed before Branislav Ivanovic headed home a corner to put the Blues in front. Pedro headed home another corner in the 13th to put Chelsa up a pair. An obvious penalty and yellow card against Sunderland keeper Costel Pantilimon just after the second half started led to Oscar nailing Chelsea's third goal in the 50th minute. Sunderland was able to answer right away, however. Fabio Borini was gifted an easy rebound off a free kick in the 53rd minute to cut into the Chelsea lead.
Leicester was trying to solidify their spot atop the league with a good showing at Everton, and Riyad Mahrez got them off to the right start. He converted from the spot in the 27th minute to give the first place club the lead. Romelu Lukaku had the perfect answer for Everton, though. Five minutes after going behind, he blasted home rebound to tie the score. The score stayed level until yet another penalty was awarded to the Foxes in the 65th. Mahrez nailed that one as well to get them back in the lead. Leicester then got some secondary scoring to pull away. Shinji Okazaki scored in the 65th to secure the points. Kevin Mirallas pulled one back in the 89th, but it was to no avail. The Foxes are five points clear of Arsenal at the top of the table, at least until Monday night's showdown with Manchester City.
It was a big day for a United legend as Wayne Rooney returned to the lineup to make his 500th appearance with Manchester United. Instead of honoring Rooney's legacy with a business like win over newly promoted Norwich, they decided to make their case for being the new laughingstock of the league. In the 38th minute, Jerome weaved his way down most of the pitch and through a bunch of pylons in Manchester United kits to score the first goal for Norwich. More absentee defending from United led to Alexander Tettey scoring a second a tht 54 minute mark. Anthony Martial began the salvage operation in the 66th minute by booting home a corner after some fancy footwork through Norwich's defense.
As for the here and now, United are out of the top four and down to fifth.
Harry Kane got the Spurs party started in the 40th minute with a determined run down the center of the pitch.WIth a hop, skip, jump, and run, the Tottenham local put his side in front with a simple shot tucked inside the post. Dele Alli was in the right place at the right time three minutes later to double the lead. That was all Spurs would need to handle Southampton on the road. Spurs jumps into the top four thanks to the United loss.
A couple penalties were almost the deciding factor in this one. First it was Conner WIckham for Palace at the tail end of the first half. Then it was Bojan Krkic in the 76th. But Lee Chung-Yong scored a late stunner from distance to win it for Palace in the 89th minute.
Although West Brom was down to ten men after James McLean was shown straight red in the 34th minute, Bournemouth's quest for a third straight win had to wait until the second half for a breakthrough. Adam Smith tucked a low shot against his momentum in the 52nd minute. Gareth McAuley's 79th minute equalizer through a wrench in that plan, however. That was until Charlie Daniels rescued the victory with an 87th minute penalty. There was a little bit of argy bargy just before the final whistle that ended in a Salomon Rondon headbutt, earning him a red card and a slightly early shower.
We are back to big time European league action after the domestic cups occupied our week. But, more importantly, there is no shortage of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola rumors floating around. Finally, it was a busy day in MLS transactions, including a lot of movement north of the border.
Schalke 04 1-0 TSG Hoffenheim
Here are two clubs at opposite ends of the spectrum. Schalke possibly enters the winter break with a Champions League spot depending on what happens in the rest of the weekend. Hoffenheim, on the other end, could be in last place if Stuttgart wins later today.
Nice 1-0 Montpelier
Nice gets three points to put a little bit of pressure on the current holders of France's European places. With the rest of the weekend left, they are a point back of Caen for the fourth place trip to the Europa League and only two back of Monaco and Angers for second a third, which heads to the Champions League.
Jose Mourinho, who was just fired yesterday, wasted no time in speculating about his next job. He is not planning on any time off after the Chelsea debacle and supposedly wants to take over the Manchester United job, assuming Louis van Gaal gets booted out at the end of the season. Somebody, please, please make this happen. Manchester United have had their fair share of managerial issues since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, but I would love for their next one to be in the form of Jose Mourinho. The Premier League is a better place, or at least a more interesting one, with Jose in it, that's for sure.
As for Chelsea's immediate future, Guus Hiddink has been confirmed as the club's manager for the rest of the season.
Pep Guardiola supposedly knows his future, but isn't revealing it yet. Many reports have him leaving Germany in the spring, but that hasn't been confirmed at all. Several high profile English clubs (*cough* Chelsea and Man U.) could very well be looking for a new manager and Guardiola could be a prime target for them. Carlo Ancelotti could end up replacing him at Bayern Munich.
Toronto FC had a busy day. First, they sent their second round 2016 draft pick to Vancouver in exchange for Iranian international defender Steven Beitashour. Then, they acquired Canadian international Will Johnson from the Timbers in exchange for a conditional 2017 draft pick and targeted allocation money.
The Columbus Crew have also signed former Orlando City full back Corey Ashe to a free agent deal. Ashe had spent more than eight seasons with Houston Dynamo before being dealt to Orlando this past summer.
New York Red Bulls homegrown defender Matt Miazga is apparently attracting interest from across the pond. Goal.com is reporting that Leicester city and Chelsea are apparently taking a look at the young American international. He has a Polish passport, so he would not be subject to the somewhat complicated work permit rules that have kept some Americans out of England before.
Nobody needs a soccer specific stadium more than DC United, and their managing partner Jason Levien spilled some of the details about the facility they plan to open in 2018. They hope build a 18,000-23,000 seat stadium in the Buzzard Point area of Washington DC, close to the US Capitol Building and are hoping to settle on a design in the next two months.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Spanish Copa del Rey
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Reus Deportiu (3-1 aggregate)
(Trigueros 28', Soldado 78')
(El Arabi 68')
Mirandes vs. Deportivo
Cadiz vs. Celta Vigo
Real Betis vs. Sevilla
Athletic Bilbao vs Villarreal
Eibar vs. Las Palmas
Rayo Vallecano vs. Atletico Madrid
(Matri 70', Cataldi 79')-(Kone 67')
(Niang 50', Bacca 90+3')
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Women's International Friendly
United States 0-1 China
(Wang Shuang 58')
Nurnberg 0-2 Hertha Berlin
(Darida 32', Brooks 65')
(Niedermeier 21', Werner 99', Sunjic 118')-(Baffo 6', Ademi 110')
(Aubameyang 61', Mkhitaryan 66')
(Heberer 39', Hoogland 44')
Athletic Bilbao 6-0 Real Balompedica Linense (8-0 aggregate)
(de Marcos 9', Eraso 49', Etxeitia 56', Sola 62', Garcia 67', Rico 89')
(Borja 45+2', Enrich 62', Verdi 73', Arruabarrena PK 85')
(Leon 8', Vergini 23', Vasquez 31')-(Bangoura 52')
AS Roma 0-0 Spezia (2-4 on penalties)
(De Gaudio 76')
(El Kaddouri 4', Mertens 12', Callejon 75')
(Zaza 28', 51', Dybala 73', Pogba 82')
Ahead of her final match with the US Women's National Team, Abby Wambach caused quite a stir by saying she would fire Jurgen Klinsmann if she were in charge of US Soccer. She cited his lack of attention to youth programs as her main reason, as well as his reliance on foreign born players who are eligible to play for the USA through one of their parents.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Spanish Copa Del Rey
Sporting Gijon 3-3 Real Betis (3-5 on aggregate)
(Espinoza 14', Halilovic 47', PK 72')-(von Wolfswinkel 18' 83', Cejudy 88')
(Dominguez 69')-(Lopez PK 79')
(Burgui 15', Caicedo 52')-(Verza 8')
(Immobile 15', Reyes 40')
Borussia Monchengladbach 3-4 Werder Bremen
(Stindl 32', Hrgota 73', 90')-(Sternberg 51', Vestergaard 58', Pizarro 75', Ujah 78')
(Bauer 27')-(Chicharito 31', Kiebling 55', Bellarabi 83')
(Xabi Alonso 40')
(Feik 48', Schnatterer 54')
Genoa 1-2 Alessandria
(Pavoletti 90')-(Marras 46', Bocalon 114')
(Palacio 24', Brozovic 71', Perisic 81')
The US Men's National team has confirmed a couple of its early 2016 friendlies. They will take on Iceland January 31 and Canada on February 5, both at Stub Hub Center in Carson, California. The squads for both game are expected to be heavy on MLS players, since they take place outside of the normal international window.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Leicester City 2-1 Chelsea
(Vardy 34', Mahrez 48')-(Remy 77')
Lazio 1-1 Sampdoria
(Matri 78')-(Zukanovic 90+3')
Justin Mapp had become the first MLS player to sign a true free agent contract. The former Montreal Impact winger signed a deal with Sporting Kansas City yesterday. Mapp fits in well with Sporting's 4-3-3 formation ave spooks enjoy a successful stay in Kansas City. There are 25 other free agents in MLS still looking for work.