Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Messi wins Ballon d'Or

No matches were around to distract us from the Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich. Lionel Messi won the award for men's player of the year for the fifth time, and the first since 2012. He scored 52 times in the calendar year of 2015 and garnered more than 41% of the vote. On the women's side, USWNT star and leading scorer of the 2015 Women's World Cup Carli Lloyd took home the women's player of the year.

Plenty of other awards were handed out as well. Barcelona's Luis Enrique won men's manager of the year, while the USWNT's Jill Ellis was named the best female boss. Brazilian Wendell Lira's scissor kick goal was given the Puskas Award for goal of the year. FIFPro also announced their World XI. Barcelona and Real Madrid took eight of the 11 spots.

Headlines
It was a busy day for MLS roster movement. First off, it looks like Jack McInerney, who never caught on with Columbus after he was displaced my Didier Drogba's arrival in Montreal, appears to be signing with the Portland Timbers. He might provide competition for Fanendo Adi as the top striker, but I expect he will end up being a replacement for Maxi Urruti, more of a super sub with a knack for scoring late in the game. It will be McInerney's fourth team since he first signed with Philadelphia at age 17 in 2010.

LA Galaxy have done nothing to get any younger today. This time they resign 34-year-old American Alan Gordon instead of going after another old Euro player.

Bournemouth have added another striker, their second in as many days. After bringing in Benik Afobe on Sunday, they bought Norwich's Lewis Grabban for an undisclosed fee. The 27-year-old scored 35 goals in two years during his first stay at Bournemouth.

Newcastle have signed 25-year-old Senegalese midfielder Henri Saivet from Ligue 1's Bordeaux. The MAgpies hope that he will boost the Premier League's third worst offense and help them stay up in the top flight when they year is over.

The FA Cup fourth round draw was made yesterday as well. Several Premier League sides were handed some pretty easy matchups. There are only two possible all Premier League matches, and neither involve a pair of power clubs. Manchester City can play Aston Villa if they see off Wycombe Wanderers in their replay. If Liverpool downs Exeter City in their rematch, they will take on West Ham. Here's the full draw:

West Bromwich Albion/Bristol v Peterborough United
Eastleigh/Bolton for Leeds United
Arsenal v Burnley
Derby County v Manchester United
Huddersfield/Reading v Walsall
Exeter/Liverpool v West Ham
Wycombe/Aston Villa v Manchester City
Shrewsbury Town v Sheffield Wednesday
Nottingham Forest v Watford
Carlisle/Yeovil v Everton
Crystal Palace v Stoke
Oxford Utd v Newport/Blackburn
Ipswich/Portsmouth v AFC Bournemouth
Colchester Utd v Tottenham/Leicester
Bury/Bradford v Hull City

Northampton/MK Dons v Chelsea

Every replay will be played on January 19 except for Liverpool v. Exeter City, which goes down the following night.

The NASL is in a bit of a rough patch as far as keeping franchises is concerned. The San Antonio Scorpions are up in the air since the NBA's San Antonio Spurs swooped in the lead an ownership group with an eye on the MLS. Atlanta Silverbacks have been league owned for the past year and are now seeing their operations suspended. This drops the NASL's franchise total back down to 11 for the spring 2016 season. Puerto Rico FC joins for the second half of the season to bring the league up to 12 total teams. Here are my full thoughts on the matter, complete with a promotion/relegation plug.

Today's Matches
Premier League
AFC Bournemouth v. West Ham- 2:45pm
Aston Villa v. Crystal Palace- 2:45pm
Newcastle v. Manchester United- 2:45pm- NBCSN

Copa del Rey- Round of 16
Deportivo la Coruna v. Mirandes- 2:30pm
Sevilla v. Real Betis- 2:30pm

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