Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Heath hired as first Minnesota United MLS coach

Yesterday's Scores
EFL Cup- Quarterfinals
Hull City 1-1 Newcastle (3-1 on penalties)
(Snodgrass 99')-(Diame 98')

Liverpool 2-0 Leeds United
(Origi 76', Woodburn 81')

At the ripe young age of 17, Ben Woodburn became the youngest scorer in Liverpool history with his 81st second insurance goal. Liverpool are through to the semi-finals because of it. Hull City are also there thanks to their penalty shootout win over resilient Newcastle.

Copa Del Rey- Round of 32 First Leg
Leganés 1-3 Valencia
(Machis 59')-(El Haddadi 3', Medran 25', Bakkali 90+1')

Sporting Gijón 1-2 Eibar
(Viguera 62')-(Bebé 2', Pena 89')

AS Alcorcón 1-1 Espanyol
(Gimenez 51')-(Reyes 84')

Real Betis 1-0 Deportivo La Coruna
(Sanabria 19')

Ligue 1
Lille 4-2 Caen
(Eder 12', Sliti 24', de Preville 64', Lopes 65')-(Feret 31', Ronny 84')

Lorient 2-1 Stade Rennes
(Ciani 28', Waris 46')-(Sio 32')

Dijon 1-1 AS Monaco
(Sammaritano 87')-(Carrillo 17')

European League Tables

Coppa Italia- Fourth Round
Empoli 1-2 Cesena
(Gilardino 79')-(Panico 67', Rodriguez 102')

Chievo Verona 3-0 Novara
(Inglese 27', 30', Cesar 49')

Torino 4-0 Pisa
(Ljajic 92', Lopez 111', Boye 113', Belotti 117')

Headlines
Adrian Heath has been officially hired as Minnesota United's first MLS head coach. Heath was in charge for Orando City's first season and a half in MLS after leading the team through the USL and its predecessors since 2008. He will now tackle another MLS expansion project, this time one coming from a middling season in the NASL.

MLS commissioner Don Garber was in Cincinnati for a town hall meeting related to the city's potential for an expansion team. He met with the owners of the USL's FC Cincinnati, toured Nippert Stadium, and even met with supporters at a local pub. All this was before a town hall meeting at Woodward Theater, where the soccer don answered questions about the league and the chances that FC Cincinnati eventually gets admitted to MLS. Such town halls are usually good signs for future expansion. The most recent one was in Sacramento, and they are dangerously close to being given a spot in the top tier of American soccer.

More rumors swirled around about the increasingly likely death of the New York Cosmos, and possibly the NASL as a whole. There were reports that they had informed the league that they would be ceasing operations and that players were notified of their release. There were other reports saying that the team had not, in fact, folded and were in meetings with the league in Atlanta all day yesterday. Signs still point to the end of the franchise and, probably, the league as well, but nothing official has come out quite yet. 

There is only one entity to blame (okay maybe two) if the New York Cosmos cease operations. That would be the New York Cosmos(and maybe the NASL as a whole). This isn’t the fault of U.S. Soccer standing idly by while a competitor to MLS fails. This isn’t a result of an MLS conspiracy theory aimed at dethroning a competing league. It definitely isn’t the fault of an American system that does not have promotion/relegation.

Sunil Gulati and the United States Soccer Federation don’t have any control over how the Cosmos and the North American Soccer League run their businesses. The federation couldn’t care less how they go about making their money. If the Cosmos and NASL want to create hurdles for themselves by spending more than they have on things like players, travel, stadiums, and anything else, what is the USSF to do?

For everyone in the pro/rel and anti-MLS armies complaining about the USSF and their lack of action, I never once saw one of them come up with a viable thing for them to do. Their arguments started and ended with promotion/relegation, which the American soccer landscape isn’t hardly ready for yet.

If the federation stepped in to curb their spending in an effort to save the league, the same people who complain about the federation’s lack of action would instead complain about them overstepping their bounds in an attempt to keep the NASL below MLS.

As I said yesterday, I truly believe that MLS never truly considered the NASL a threat to their existence. They never looked down on the league, or the Cosmos and said “These guys could take us down.” MLS had better things to worry about than a small bunch of noisy neighbors trying to upset the apple cart. They had a league to run. They had expansion of their own to work on. They probably saw the NASL and their best average attendances at less than half of the worst in their league and shrugged them off as nothing. There was no reason for MLS to concoct some half baked scheme and shady alliance with U.S. Soccer to make sure the NASL failed. Despite Bill Peterson’s and his partners’ words, the NASL was never going to compete with MLS on a financial level.

Finally, the demise of the Cosmos, and the NASL, isn’t the result of a closed league system. In fact, I feel like promotion and relegation would only have accelerated the death of the team. The Cosmos couldn’t cut it financially in a second tier league. There is no way they could have absorbed the increased costs of promotion to the more expensive MLS.
The failure of Cosmos (and the NASL) is not the cause of some outside entity conspiring against them. No, this is the fault of a team and league that spent too much time, effort, and money trying to punch above their weight and compete with a league that had far more resources available to them. It was the result of a team and league consistently outspending their wallets while not attracting the fans to refill the coffers.


Finally, the soccer world was rocked in the wee hours of yesterday morning when a plane carrying Brazilian club Chapecoense crashed in Colombia. The club was travelling to the Copa Sudamericana Final, which is the equivalent of UEFA's Europa League final. The club had been through a remarkable journey, having been in the Brazilian fourth tier as recently as 2009. They made it to the first division by 2014. Only three players who travelled with the team survived the crash. 

Colombia's Atletico Nacional, who were to be Chapecoense's opponents in the final, have already ceded the title to them. Brazilian clubs have petitioned to allow the club to be immune to relegation at the end of the season. Players and clubs across the world have expressed their sympathies for a club that is going through the worst tragedy possible. My deepest condolences to Chapecoense, their surviving players, their fans, and the entire Brazilian Serie A for their loss.

Today's Matches
EFL Cup- Quarterfinals
Arsenal v. Southampton- 2:45pm
Manchester United v. West Ham- 3pm- beIN

Copa del Rey- Round of 32 First Leg
Real Madrid v. Cultural Leonesa- 1pm
SD Formentera v. Sevilla- 1pm
Toledo v. Villarreal- 1pm
Guijuelo v. Atletico Madrid- 2pm
Granada v. Osasuna- 3pm
Cordoba v. Malaga- 3pm
UCAM Murcia v. Celta Vigo- 3pm
Hercules v. Barcelona- 4pm

Ligue 1
AS Nancy Lorraine v. Metz- 1pm
Bastia v. Bordeaux- 1pm
Guingamp v. Nice- 1pm
Nantes v. Olympique Lyonnais- 1pm
St. Etienne v. Olympique Marseille- 1pm
Toulouse v. Montpellier- 1pm
Paris-Saint Germain v. Angers- 3pm

Coppa Italia- Fourth Round
Palermo v. Spezia- 9am
Atalanta v. US Pescara- 12pm
Sampdoria v. Cagliari- 3pm

MLS Cup Playoffs- Conference Final Second Leg
Toronto FC v. Montreal Impact- 7pm- FS1

Liga MX Playoff- Semi-Finals First Leg
Leon v. UANL- 9:36pm- Univision Deportes

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
As we head into the final day of the campaign, articles about the Cosmos and Adrian Heath's hiring along with this Wake Up have brought me to within 1,000 words of the 50,000 word goal. We stand at 49,049. Expect the winning articles to go live this afternoon and a victory recap post here tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Pete Vagenas named new Galaxy general manager

Yesterday's Scores
La Liga
Las Palmas 3-1 Athletic Bilbao
(Prince-Boateng 40', Momo 50', Viera 90')-(Garcia 79')

Serie A
Napoli 1-1 Sassuolo
(Insigne 42')-(Defrel 82')

Inter Milan 4-2 Fiorentina
(Brozovic 3', Candreva 9', Icardi 19', 90+1')-(Kalinic 37', Ilicic 62')

This is certainly a positive result for an Inter Milan team that has been having quite a rough go of things. They will certainly take a 20 minute opening ambush that saw three different players, including recently disgraced captain Mauro Icardi, score goals. While they tried to let the lead go in the second half, a second from Icardi in stoppage time prevented the lead from being blown. The three points lift Inter up to eighth place from 12th in Serie A, still seven points back of a Europa League position, however.

European League Tables

Headlines
Jose Mourinho is being charged with improper conduct yet again after getting sent to the stands during Sunday's Manchester United-West Ham match. He faces a three match ban for the incident. It's the second time in the last month that Mourinho has been banished from the touchline. The FA is currently reviewing the case and should present a ruling and punishment this week. Manchester United has until Thursday to refute the charges before any punishment could be handed down. Mourinho's behavior is just another problem plaguing Manchester United. They are off to their worst start in the Premier League era with 20 points from 13 games.

Philippe Coutinho suffered a nasty ankle injury on Saturday afternoon in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Sunderland. Scan results haven't been made public, but reports indicate there is ligament damage that would keep him out until the middle of January. That would keep him out of a Merseyside Derby and a crucial match against title challengers Manchester City on New Year's Eve.

The front office turnover at LA Galaxy has begun. They have brought in former Galaxy captain Pete Vagenas to serve as general manager. Bruce Arena had held both the head coach and GM positions during his time in Southern California and it looks like the Galaxy will have two different men in charge this time around. Vagenas played with LA for nine seasons from 2000 to 2008. He finished his playing career with Seattle and Chivas USA. He has worked in the Galaxy front office since the end of his playing days as director of the club's academy and as VP of soccer operations. His first job will be finding Arena's replacement at head coach.

The New York Cosmos, the crown jewel of the NASL, are in a bit of financial trouble. Dave Martinez of Empire of Soccer reports that the team has struggled to pay their staff and is even putting some on furlough for a week or more. They have not secured a home stadium for the 2017 season and are not even taking season ticket deposits. Many signs point to them closing, but there isn't any definitive word yet. Most assume that they intend to play out the season, but it's not looking bright at the moment.

Combine this latest issue with MInnesota United departing for MLS, Ottawa Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies bolting for the USL, and financial issues with Rayo OKC and Fort Lauderdale Strikers, the NASL is in an awful rough patch right now. With half of the 12 teams from this past season either gone or possibly folding, it's not an unrealistic assumption to say that the NASL as a whole is next to crash and burn. That's exactly what I wrote about over at Last Word on Soccer yesterday.

Of course, the pro/rel army and anti-MLS conspiracy theorists decided to use the occasion to accuse the MLS of clandestine crimes against the NASL while U.S. Soccer sits around watching the league burn. I have long maintained that the NASL doesn't need help from the federation or MLS to kill itself off. Their over aggressive business plan an impatience for success have done a plenty good job of that on their own. MLS likely never considered the NASL a true threat to their first division status or general popularity despite the NASL's aspirations. Because of this, they'd have no reason to orchestrate an overly complicated scheme to send the league into financial ruin after only six years of play.

Today's Matches
EFL Cup- Quarterfinals
Hull City v. Newcastle- 2:45pm
Liverpool v. Leeds United- 2:45pm- beIN

Copa Del Rey- Round of 32 First Leg
Leganés v. Valencia- 2pm
Sporting Gijon v. Eibar- 2pm
AS Alcorcon v. Espanyol- 3pm
Real Betis v. Deportivo La Coruna- 4pm

Ligue 1
Lille v. Caen- 1pm
Lorient v. Stade Rennes- 1pm
Dijon v. AS Monaco- 3pm

Coppa Italia- Fourth Round
Empoli v. Cesena- 9am
Chievo Verona v. Novara- 12pm
Torino v. Pisa- 3pm

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
Articles about the future of Jermaine Jones and the New York Cosmos bring the word count up to 46,689. Only two days left to reach the coveted 50,000 word threshold.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Seattle heads to their first MLS Cup Final

Yesterday's Scores
Premier League
Watford 0-1 Stoke City
(Gomes OG 29')

Arsenal 3-1 AFC Bournemouth
(Sanchez 12', 90+1', Walcott 53')-(Wilson PK 23')

The first half was pretty ugly, but Arsenal manage to score twice in the second to keep pace with the rest of the leaders in England. They find themselves three points back of the top, but down in fourth place thanks to Liverpool and Manchester City sitting within one of Chelsea in first. Arsenal are now on a 19 match unbeaten run in all competitions. They have not lost since the opening day of the season agaisnt Liverpool.

Manchester United 1-1 West Ham
(Ibrahimovic 21')-(Sakho 2')

Hey, look! Jose Mourinho had himself another temper tantrum and was sent to the stands again. That makes two banishings for the United manager this season. He had a rather harsh reaction to a yellow card shown to Paul Pogba for diving in the first half. Last time he was sent away from the bench, he was suspended for a game. Before that, he was fined £50,000 for comments towards Anthony Taylor's appointing as referee for his match against Chelsea. It seems The Special One is picking up right where he left off at Chelsea in terms of his behavior.

Southampton 1-0 Everton
(Austin 1')

Bundesliga
Schalke 04 2-1 SV Darmstadt 98
(Kolasinac 26', Choupo-Moting 60')-(Heller 6')

Hertha Berlin 2-1 Mainz
(Ibisevic 36', 67')-(Seydel 25')

La Liga
Villarreal 0-2 Alavés
(Gomez 8', Camarasa 17')

Osasuna 0-3 Atlético Madrid
(Godin 36', Gameiro 37', Carrasco 90')

Celta Vigo 3-1 Granada
(Aspas 23', Bongonda 39', Diop 90+3')-(Kravets 87')

Real Sociedad 1-1 Barcelona
(Jose 53')-(Messi 59')

Barcelona experiences another slip up leading into next weekend's El Clasico. They are in second place, but they are six points back of their biggest rivals Real Madrid. A win at home will go a long way towards keeping this a two (or more) team race. A loss might as well hand the title to Ronaldo and company already, though, as a nine point difference will be very difficult to make up considering how great Real Madrid have been playing all season long.

Serie A
Palermo 0-1 Lazio
(Milinkovic-Savic- 31')

Bologna 0-2 Atalanta
(Masiello 15', Kurtic 68')

Cagliari 2-1 Udinese
(Farias 35', Sau 58')-(Fofana 51')

Crotone 1-1 Sampdoria
(Falcinelli 43')-(Bruno 71')

Genoa 3-1 Juventus
(Simeone 4', 13', Rigoni 29')-(Pjanic 82')

AS Roma 3-1 US Pescara
(Dzeko 7', 10', Perotti PK 71')-(Memushaj 60', Caprari 74')

This was quite the win for Genoa as they ambush the leaders with a trio of goals in under a half hour. This closes the gap in Italy to only four points when it could have been seven. AS Roma and AC Milan are the closest challengers. Lazio and Atalanta are five points back of the top in fourth and fifth respectively.

Ligue 1
Angers 1-2 St. Etienne
(Pepe 18')-(Pogba 59', Tannane 77')

Nice 1-1 Bastia
(Plea 11')-(Crivelli 60')

Olympique Lyonnais 1-2 Paris-Saint Germain
(Valbuena 48')-(Cavani 30', 81')

PSG keeps pace with the other contenders in France with this win. The top three spots in Ligue 1 are separated by only one point now thanks to the Nice draw. Nice are still in the lead, but right on their tails are hot AS Monaco and the always threatening PSG. 

European League Tables

MLS Cup Playoffs- Conference Finals Second Leg
Colorado Rapids 0-1 Seattle Sounders (1-3 on aggregate) 
(Morris 56')

Jordan Morris capped off a wonderful defensive performance from the Sounders to send them through to their first MLS Cup Final in their eight seasons in existence. Seattle managed to beat the Rapids at their own game in this one. Normally it is Colorado looking to remain smart at the back while hoping to smash and grab a 1-0 victory. With the Rapids already down in aggregate, however, they needed to be more aggressive in their search for the one goal. Seattle's defensive approach forced a possession based game out of the Rapids, which they have never been used to playing. They were never able to create any truly viable chances up front and made one mistake in back that allowed the Morris goal.

The Sounders await the winner of Wednesday's Eastern Conference Final between Toronto FC and Montreal Impact. If the Impact hold their 3-2 aggregate lead, the Final will be played at CenturyLink Field. If Toronto succeeds in the comeback, it will be at BMO Field. Regardless, it will be a fantastic atmosphere, possibly the best MLS Cup has ever seen.

Liga MX Playoffs- Quarterfinals Second Leg
Guadalajara 0-1 Club America (1-2 on aggregate)
(Peralta 55')

Club American gets the lone goal of this second leg to take the series in another playoff match between Mexico's biggest clubs. It's the second time in 2016 that America has ended Guadalajara's season. They also knocked Chivas out of the playoffs last Clausura campaign.

Pachuca 0-0 Necaxa (1-2 on aggregate)

Here are the semi-final matches for the Apertura playoffs:

UANL v. Leon
Club America v. Necaxa

While no specific times are known yet, the first legs will be played midweek and the second legs over next weekend.

Headlines
This is actually from a couple days ago, but I forgot to include in in Yesterday's Wake Up. Detroit City FC announced their latest international friendly match. They will take on Northern Irish Premier Division side Glentoran on Saturday May 27 at Keyworth Stadium. The match will honor the first ever professional soccer team in Detroit, the Detroit Cougars, who were represented by Glentoran back in 1967. Glentoran call Belfast, Northern Ireland their home and have won 23 Northern Irish titles, most recently in 2009-09. Last season's Detroit City international friendly agaisnt FC United of Manchester attracted more than 6,200 fans to Keyworth Stadium.

Today's Matches
La Liga
Las Palmas v. Athletic Bilbao- 2:45pm

Serie A
Napoli v. Sassuolo- 1pm
Inter Milan v. Fiorentina- 3pm

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
We are heading into the home stretch of the campaign and the word count stands at 44,115. Over the next three days, I will need to write 5,885 words, an average of 1,962 per day. So, with that in mind, expect a lot of soccer writing before the end of Wednesday.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Mexico draw Portugal for Confederations Cup

Yesterday's Scores
Premier League
Burnley 1-2 Manchester City
(Marney 14')-(Aguero 37', 60')

Hull City 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
(Dawson 72')-(McAuley 34')

Leicester City 2-2 Middlesbrough
(Mahrez PK 34', Slimani 90+4')-(Negredo 13', 71')

Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland
(Origi 75', Milner PK 90+1')

Divock Origi rescued a Liverpool team that was looking like they wouldn't be able to scratch anything across against lowly Sunderland. They had their chances throughout the match, but until Origi steppe, they couldn't get anything going. Unfortunately, the only reason Origi was in the game at all was because Phillippe Coutinho left around the half hour mark with an ugly looking foot/ankle injury. The injured limb had to be braced off as Coutinho was stretchered off in severe distress.

Swansea City 5-4 Crystal Palace
(Sigurdsson 36', Fer 66', 68', Llorente 90+1', 90+3')-(Zaha 19', Tomkins 75', Cork 82', Benteke 84')

In what can only be described as a wild, wild finish, Bob Bradley gets his first Premier League win. It didn't come without difficulty, though. His side blew a 3-1 lead in the final 15 minutes before going down with six to play. Two stoppage time goals from Fernando Llorente turned the tides in the dying moments to give Swans only their second win of the year and the first ever for an American manager in the Premier League.

Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham
(Pedro 45', Moses 51')-(Eriksen 11')

Chelsea's streak of six consecutive clean sheets died out early thanks to a stunner of a goal from Christian Eriksen. Not to be outdone, Pedro produced an equally impressive strike to level the score before the break. Victor Moses was able to get the winner early in the second half that saw Chelsea extend their win streak to seven and retain their place at the top of the Premier League pile.

Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 TSG Hoffenheim
(Dahoud 25')-(Amiri 53')

Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
(Huszti 46', Seferovic 79')-(Aubameyang 77')

The is an unfortunate result for Borussia Dortmund, especially after their big win against Bayern Munich last week. They miss a change to get back into the top four with this setback. They are down in sixth place with 21 points, one back of a Champions League place.

FC Köln 0-0 FC Augsburg

FC Ingolstadt 04 1-1 VfL Wolfsburg
(Jung 31')-(Caligiuri 78')

Hamburg SV 2-2 Werder Bremen
(Gregoritsch 3', 28')-(Bartels 14', Gnabry 45')

Bayern Munich 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
(Alcantara 30', Hummels 56')-(Calhanoglu 35')

Bayern Munich manages to keep pace with RB Leipzig, who were six points ahead after yesterday. The gap is back down to three, but the long running German champions are still behind through 12 matches. The two top sides square off on December 21, the final week before the German winter break, at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

La Liga
Málaga 4-3 Deportivo La Coruña
(Santos PK 21', 56', Ramirez 40', Ontiveros 90+2')-(Borges 4', 81', Andone 72')

Real Madrid 2-1 Sporting Gijón
(Ronaldo 5', 18')-(Carmona 35')

Another brace for Ronaldo, another victory for Real Madrid. They enter next weekend's Clasico against Barcelona in a solid first place. They are seven clear of their rivals, who play today.

Espanyol 3-0 Leganés
(Moreno 47', Piatti 51', 88')

Sevilla 2-1 Valencia
(Pareja 75')-(El Haddadi 65')

Serie A
Torino 2-1 Chievo Verona
(Falque 35', 38')-(Inglese 85')

Empoli 1-4 AC Milan
(Saponara 17')-(Lapadula 15', 77', Suso 61', Costa 64')

It's entirely possible that AC Milan are back. This emphatic win moves them temporarily into second place and four points back of Juventus for first. AC Milan were once one of the Giants of Europe. They last won the Champions League in 2007 and were Italian champions as recently as 2011. In fact, they have the third most domestic and continental titles in the entire world. They've been down for the past few years, but their early season outlook has them back in the Champions League at the end of the year. Colombian international Carlos Bacca is leading the charge with six goals, but 23-year-old Spaniard Suso, who scored the winner yesterday, is right behind him with five. 

Their best player is probably midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura, who arrived from Atalanta at the beginning of the 2014/15 season. He has made himself a staple in the attacking and central midfield thanks to his wonderful passing skills. A consistently 80%+ passer, he hasn't seen action with the Italian national team since 2013, but with the way he's playing at AC Milan, that could change soon.

Ligue 1
AS Monaco 4-0 Olympique Marseille
(Boschilia 23', Germain 29', 39', Carrillo 90+1')

Bordeaux 2-2 Dijon
(Rolan 48', Kamano 88')-(Abeid 44', Tavares 62')

Caen 1-1 Guingamp
(Ronny 79')-(De Pauw 85')

Metz 3-3 Lorient
(Falette 11', Vion 75', 78')-(Waris 16', Moukandjo 54', PK 61')

Montpellier 0-0 AS Nancy Lorraine

Nantes 0-0 Lille

Monaco are on top of France until at least the end of the Nice-Bastia match today. Together, Nice and Monaco are providing a wonderful title fight with Paris-Saint Germain only three points off their pace at the moment. That's quite a change of pace in Ligue 1, which has been dominated by PSG for the last four seasons. The combination of Laurent Blanc leaving as manager and Zlatan Ibrahimovic moving on to conquer the Premier League has opened doors for the rest of the league, including the Mario Balotelli led Nice and the filthy rich AS Monaco.

European League Tables

Liga MX- Quarterfinals Second Leg
UANL 5-0 Pumas UNAM (7-2 on aggregate)
(Gignac 4', 75', 79' Veron OG 26', Delort 89')

Tijuana 3-2 Leon (3-5 on aggregate)
(Moreno PK 13', Corona 41', Rodriguez 43')-(Boselli 81', Montes 84')

tigres rides their French star Andre-Pierre Gignac to the semi-finals this week. Meanwhile, top seeded Tijuana looked to be forcing extra time with Leon until the final ten minutes foiled their plans. Two away goals in the dying minutes was enough to sink the leaders in unexpected fashion.

Headlines
We have groups for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia next summer. The tournament will feature Russia as hosts, Germany as defending champions, and the winners of each of the six confederations. Portugal, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, and Australia are already in. Africa is yet to determine their representative, as their championship will be played this winter.

GROUP A
Russia
Portugal
Mexico
New Zealand

GROUP B
Germany
Chile
Australia
TBD (African Nations Cup winners)

There's no way to avoid a tough draw in such a small torunament. While both groups are tough, Group B is the more difficult of the two thanks to Germany and Chile being there. Australia and the African champions will have themselves a tough go. Mexico gets a solid look, though. While playing Russia at home will be a challenge, it's far from impossible. New Zealand should be a win. Portugal will be their toughest match, but I see them prevailing overall and making it to the semis.

Today's Matches
Premier League
Watford v. Stoke City- 7am- CNBC
Arsenal v. AFC Bournemouth- 9:15am- CNBC
Manchester United v. West Ham- 11:30am- NBCSN
Southampton v. Everton- 11am- CNBC

Bundesliga
Schalke 04 v. SV Darmstadt 98- 9:30am
Hertha Berlin v. Mainz- 11:30am- FS1

La Liga
Villarreal v. Alavés- 6am
Osasuna v. Atletico Madrid- 10:15am- beIN
Celta Vigo v. Granada- 12:30pm
Real Sociedad v. Barcelona- 2:45pm- beIN

Serie A
Palermo v. Lazio- 6:30am
Bologna v. Atalanta- 9am
Cagliari v. Udinese- 9am
Crotone v. Sampdoria- 9am
Genoa v. Juventus- 9am- beIN
AS Roma v. US Pescara- 2:45pm- beIN

Ligue 1
Angers v. St. Etienne- 9am
Nice v. Bastia- 11am
Olympique Lyonnais v. Paris-Saint Germain- 2:45pm

MLS Cup Playoffs- Conference Finals Second Leg
Colorado Rapids v. Seattle Sounders- 4pm- ESPN

Liga MX Playoffs- Quarterfinals Second Leg
Guadalajara v. Club America- 7:06pm- Univision
Pachuca v. Necaxa- 9:06pm

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Wilshere to get a new Arsenal deal, says Wenger

Yesterday's Scores
Bundesliga
SC Freiburg 1-4 RB Leipzig
(Niederlechner 15')-(Keita 2', Werner 21', 35', Sabitzer 79')

RB Leipzig just keeps on rolling. They are now unbeaten on all 12 of their Bundesliga games this season and are on a seven match winning streak. They are six points ahead of second place Bayern Munich, who play today. The newly promoted club will continue to draw the ire of many German traditionalists as the Red Bull owned outfit was build to do exactly what they are doing, climb to the first division and compete for a title quickly. I am not complaining, however. Germany has been a one horse race for some time now. If Red Bull can step in and buy a team that can compete with Bayern Munich, I'm all for it.

La Liga
Eibar 3-1 Real Betis
(Leon 19', Enrich 23', Kike 90+2')-(Castro 84')

Eibar are now level on points with giants Atletico Madrid for a Europa League position with 21.

Ligue 1
Stade Rennes 1-0 Toulouse
(Gourcuff 1')

European League Tables

Headlines
Jack Wilshere, who has been rather outcasted from Arsenal lately, is reportedly getting a new deal with the club. The often injury plagued midfielder is currently on load at Bournemouth and has a year and a half left on his Arsenal contract. He's made nine appearances for the Cherries, who visit the Emirates on Sunday, and apparently Arsene Wenger likes the regular play Wilshere is getting. Wenger heasn't had talks with him yet, but hopes to after the new year.

Mario Balotelli has experienced a bit of a renaissance at Nice in France. This is a fun thing to have as Balotelli is one of the most interesting players in the world when he is playing well. Unfortunately, he will miss the next three matches thanks to a calf injury picked up in training. He has scored six goals in as many matches since joining Nice from Liverpool on a free transfer at the end of August.

Today's Matches
Premier League
Burnley v. Manchester City- 7:30am- NBCSN
Hull City v. West Bromwich Albion- 10am
Leicester City v. Middlesbrough- 10am
Liverpool v. Sunderland- 10am- NBCSN
Swansea City v. Crystal Palace- 10am- CNBC
Chelsea v. Tottenham- 12;30pm- NBC

Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach v. TSG Hoffenheim- 9:30am
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Borussia Dortmund- 9:30am- FS2
FC Koln v. FC Augsburg- 9:30am
FC Ingolstadt 04 v. VfL Wolfsburg- 9:30am
Hamburg SV v. Werder Bremen- 9:30am
Bayern Munich v. Bayer Leverkusen- 12:30pm- FS2

La Liga
Malaga v. Deportivo La Coruna- 7am
Real Madrid v. Sporting Gijon- 10:!5am- beIN
Espanyol v. Leganes- 12:30pm
Sevilla v. Villarreal- 2:45pm

Serie A
Torino v. Chievo Verona- 12pm
Empoli v. AC Milan- 2:45pm- beIN

Ligue 1
AS Monaco v. Olympique Marseille- 11:10am
Bourdeaux. v. Dijon- 2pm
Caen v. Guingamp- 2pm
Metz v. Lorient- 2pm
Montpellier v. AS Nancy Lorraine- 2pm
Nantes v. Lille- 2pm

Liga MX- Quarterfinals Second Leg
UANL v. Pumas UNAM- 8pm- Univision Deportes
Tijuana v. Leon- 10pm

Hooligan's Wake Up: Wilshere to get a new Arsenal deal, says Wenger

Yesterday's Scores
Bundesliga
SC Freiburg 1-4 RB Leipzig
(Niederlechner 15')-(Keita 2', Werner 21', 35', Sabitzer 79')

RB Leipzig just keeps on rolling. They are now unbeaten on all 12 of their Bundesliga games this season and are on a seven match winning streak. They are six points ahead of second place Bayern Munich, who play today. The newly promoted club will continue to draw the ire of many German traditionalists as the Red Bull owned outfit was build to do exactly what they are doing, climb to the first division and compete for a title quickly. I am not complaining, however. Germany has been a one horse race for some time now. If Red Bull can step in and buy a team that can compete with Bayern Munich, I'm all for it.

La Liga
Eibar 3-1 Real Betis
(Leon 19', Enrich 23', Kike 90+2')-(Castro 84')

Eibar are now level on points with giants Atletico Madrid for a Europa League position with 21.

Ligue 1
Stade Rennes 1-0 Toulouse
(Gourcuff 1')

European League Tables

Headlines
Jack Wilshere, who has been rather outcasted from Arsenal lately, is reportedly getting a new deal with the club. The often injury plagued midfielder is currently on load at Bournemouth and has a year and a half left on his Arsenal contract. He's made nine appearances for the Cherries, who visit the Emirates on Sunday, and apparently Arsene Wenger likes the regular play Wilshere is getting. Wenger heasn't had talks with him yet, but hopes to after the new year.

Mario Balotelli has experienced a bit of a renaissance at Nice in France. This is a fun thing to have as Balotelli is one of the most interesting players in the world when he is playing well. Unfortunately, he will miss the next three matches thanks to a calf injury picked up in training. He has scored six goals in as many matches since joining Nice from Liverpool on a free transfer at the end of August.

Today's Matches
Premier League
Burnley v. Manchester City- 7:30am- NBCSN
Hull City v. West Bromwich Albion- 10am
Leicester City v. Middlesbrough- 10am
Liverpool v. Sunderland- 10am- NBCSN
Swansea City v. Crystal Palace- 10am- CNBC
Chelsea v. Tottenham- 12;30pm- NBC

Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach v. TSG Hoffenheim- 9:30am
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Borussia Dortmund- 9:30am- FS2
FC Koln v. FC Augsburg- 9:30am
FC Ingolstadt 04 v. VfL Wolfsburg- 9:30am
Hamburg SV v. Werder Bremen- 9:30am
Bayern Munich v. Bayer Leverkusen- 12:30pm- FS2

La Liga
Malaga v. Deportivo La Coruna- 7am
Real Madrid v. Sporting Gijon- 10:!5am- beIN
Espanyol v. Leganes- 12:30pm
Sevilla v. Villarreal- 2:45pm

Serie A
Torino v. Chievo Verona- 12pm
Empoli v. AC Milan- 2:45pm- beIN

Ligue 1
AS Monaco v. Olympique Marseille- 11:10am
Bourdeaux. v. Dijon- 2pm
Caen v. Guingamp- 2pm
Metz v. Lorient- 2pm
Montpellier v. AS Nancy Lorraine- 2pm
Nantes v. Lille- 2pm

Liga MX- Quarterfinals Second Leg
UANL v. Pumas UNAM- 8pm- Univision Deportes
Tijuana v. Leon- 10pm

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Toronto-Montreal sets Canadian viewership record

Yesterday's Scores
Europa League
Fenerbahce 2-0 FC Zorya Luhansk
(Stoch 59', Kjaer 67')

FC Astana 2-1 Apoel Nicosia
(Anicic 59', Despotovic 84')

FK Qabala 1-3 Anderlecht
(Ricardinho 15')-(Tielemans 10', Bruno 90',  Teodorczyk 90+3')

Zenit St. Petersburg 2-0 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
(Kokorin 44', Kerzhakov 90+1')

Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 Panathinaikos
(Schone 39', Tete 50')

Celta Vigo 1-1 Standard Liege
(Aspas 8')-(Konstantinos 81')

KAA Gent 2-2 Braga
(Coulibaly 32', Milicevic 40')-(Stojilijkovic 15', Koka 36')

Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 Konyaspor
(Bardacki OG 10', Dentinho 36', Eduardo 66', Bernard 74')

Krasnodar 1-1 FC Salzburg
(Smolov 85')-(Dabour 37')

Schalke 04 2-0 Nice
(Konoplyanka 14', Aogo 80')

Fiorentina 2-3 PAOK Salonika
(Bernardeschi 33', Babacar 50')-(Shakhov 5', Campos 26', Rodrigues 90+3')

Liberec 3-0 FK Qarabag
(Vuch 11', Komlichenko 57', 63')

Hapoel Be'er 3-2 Inter Milan
(Maranhao 58', Nwakaeme 71', Sahar 90+3')-(Icardi 12', Brozovic 25')

Sparta Prague 1-0 Southampton
(Nhamoinesu 11')

FC Zurich 1-1 Villarreal
(Rodriguez PK 87')-(Bruno 14')

Steaua Bucharesti 2-1 Osmanlispor
(Momcilovic 68', Tamas 86')-(N'Diaye 30')

Manchester United 4-0 Feyenoord Rotterdam
(Rooney 35', Mata 69', Jones OG 75', Lindgard 90+2')

Olympiakos 1-1 Young Boys
(Fortunis 48')-(Hoarau 58')

St. Etienne 0-0 Mainz

Dundalk 0-1 AZ Alkmaar
(Weghorst 9')

AS Roma 4-1 Viktoria Plzen
(Dzeko 11', 61', 88', Mateju OG 82')

Austria Vienna 1-2 FK Astra Giurgiu
(Rotpuller 57')-(Florea 79',  Bodescu 88')

Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Sassuolo
(Garcia 10', Aduriz 58', Lekue 79')-(Balenziaga OG 2', Ragusa 83')

Racing Genk 1-0 Rapid Vienna
(Karelis 11')

Liga MX Playoffs- Quarterfinals First Leg
Necaxa 2-1 Pachuca
(Gallegos 33', Riano 85')-(Guzman 66')

Club America 1-1 Guadalajara
(William 24')-(Salcido PK 45+7')

Headlines
The first leg of the Toronto-Montreal Eastern Conference Final set a record for television viewership across Canada. As 61,000 watched inside Olympic Stadium, another 3.6 million tuned in to at least part of the game in their homes. It was the most watched MLS game ever in Canada, breaking the previous record set during last year's all Canada knockout round match. Let's see if next Tuesday's second leg in Toronto can surpass it yet again.

Today's Matches
Bundesliga
SC Freiburg v. RB Leipzig- 2:30pm

La Liga
Eibar v. Real Betis- 2:45pm

Ligue 1
Stade Rennes v. Toulouse- 2:45pm

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
After Thanksgiving the word count stands at 40,459.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Bale set to miss El Clasico

Yesterday's Scores
UEFA Champions League
Arsenal 2-2 Paris-Saint Germain
(Giroud PK 45+1', Verratti OG 60')-(Cavani 18', Moura 77')

Ludogorets Razgrad 0-0 FC Basel

Arsenal and PSG both miss chances to clinch the top spot in Group A with this draw. Arsenal did have themselves a 2-1 lead late in the match until Lucas Moura's header off a corner brought the sides back level. The tiebreaker will now be away goals socred, which is kind of a silly tiebreaker. I get the head to head record being the first one, but why are you skipping overall goal difference or goals scored and heading straight to away goals? It seems kind of silly to me that, at the moment, Arsenal, who have a greater goal difference and have scored more overall but find themselves in second because they have only scored four away from home. The Gunners will need a win and two goals scored at Basel on December 6 to take the top spot. PSG can only win and hope Arsenal can't accomplish that.

Besiktas 3-3 Benfica
(Tosun 58', Quaresma PK 83', Aboubakar 89')-(Guedes 10', Nelsinho 25', Fejsa 31')

Napoli 0-0 Dinamo Kiev

The race for the two Group B spots is wide open as only one point seperates Napoli, Benfica, and Besiktas at the top. Speaking of the Turkish club, hats off to them as they score thrice in the second half after going down 3-0 to salvage a point and keep hopes of winning the group alive. Napoli will probably feel like they missed their chance to get a leg up here with their draw at home to Kiev.

Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Manchester City
(Raffael 23')-(Silva 45+1')

Celtic 0-2 Barcelona
(Messi 24', PK 55')

Manchester City and Barcelona, who have won the group, are both through thanks to City holding the tiebreaker over Borussia Monchengladbach, who will likely end up in the Europa League. Fair play to Celtic yesterday, though. Only losing to Barcelona 2-0 is a moral victory for a club of their stature.

Rosov 3-2 Bayern Munich
(Azmoun 44', Poloz PK 49', Noboa 66')-(Costa 35', Bernat 52')

Atlético Madrid 2-0 PSV Eindhoven
(Gameiro 55', Griezmann 66')

Rostov's shocking first ever group stage win opened the door for Atletico Madrid to win the group and that's exactly what they did. Atletico made simple work of PSV to seal the top spot with the only perfect record in the Champions League remaining. They will test that against Bayern Munich in a match that will be fun, although meaningless. Rostov is back in play for the Europa League. A point against Eindhoven will see them through to Europe's other competition.


Liga MX Playoffs- Quarterfinals First Leg
Leon 3-0 Tijuana
(Boselli 12', Moran 18', Cano 62')

Pumas UNAM 2-2 UANL
(Barrera PK 36', Martinez 66')-(Sosa 8', Damm 48')

Headlines
Neymar is facing a two year suspended prison sentence thanks to some improper handling of his transfer fee from Barcelona to his former Brazilian club Santos. Brazilian investment group DIS evidently owned 40% of his transfer rights and was not properly compensated. Neymar and his father are apparently being considered at fault, too. The pair will stand trial in a Spanish court.

Amidst rumors that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave Manchester United for MLS, the club has announced their intention to extend his contract into next season. He signed a one year deal with an option for a second with United over the summer on a free transfer from Paris-Saint Germain. Despite not producing the gaudy numbers he had in France, Jose Mourinho is apparently satisfied enough with him that he wants another season with the Swede.

Gareth Bale picked up an ankle injury in Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Sporting CP, The knock is serious enough that he will be required to have surgery and could miss several months. He is definitely counted out for El Clasico against Barcelona on December 3 and the Champions League group stage finale a few days later, which Real Madrid needs to win in order to win their group.

Portland Timbers midfielder and American international Darlington Nagbe is being courted by Glasgow Celtic. He was in attendance for their Champions League match against Barcelona and given the red carpet treatment by the Scottish giants. The Timbers say that a deal is unlikely, but Celtic manager Brendan Rogers is hoping to sign him in January.

Steven Gerrard will be retiring. He was already set to leave LA Galaxy over the winter as his contract expires, but it was rumored that he might return to England or pick up another gig with an MLS side.Instead, the former Liverpool and England captain will hang up his boots. He played 710 matches for Liverpool and won the Champions League in 2005. He also has two FA Cups and 114 caps with England to his name.

Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Orlando City, and Sporting Kansas City made a plethora of roster moves yesterday. The biggest of which was the Crew not picking up the option on goalkeeper Steve Clark. Several other players are out of contract with their teams, including Razvan Cocis and Luis Solignac of Chicago, Seb Hines of Orlando, and Jacob Peterson of SKC.

Today's Matches
Europa League
Fenerbahce v. FC Zorya Luhansk- 11am
FC Astana v. Apoel Nicosia- 11am- ESPN3
FK Qabala v. Anderlecht- 11am
Zenit St. Petersburg v. Maccabi Tel-Aviv- 11am- FS2
Ajax Amsterdam v. Panathinaikos- 1pm
Celta Vigo v. Standard Liege- 1pm- ESPN3
KAA Gent v. Braga- 1pm
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Konyaspor- 1pm
Krasnodar v. FC Salzburg- 1pm
Schalke 04 v. Nice- 1pm- ESPN3
Fiorentina v. PAOK Salonika- 1pm- ESPN3
Liberec v. FK Qarabag- 1pm
Hapoel Be'er v. Inter Milan- 1pm- FS2
Sparta Prague v. Southampton- 1pm- FS1
FC Zurich v. Villarreal- 1pm
Steaua Bucharesti v. Osmanlispor- 1pm
Manchester United v. Feyenoord Rotterdam- 3:05pm- FS1
Olympiakos v. Young Boys- 3:05pm
St. Etienne v. Mainz- 3:05pm
Dundalk v. AZ Alkmaar- 3:05pm
AS Roma v. Viktoria Plzen- 3:05pm
Austria Vienna v. FK Astra Giurgiu- 3:05pm
Athletic Bilbao v. Sassuolo- 3:05pm- ESPN3
Racing Genk v. Rapid Vienna- 3:05pm

Liga MX Playoffs- Quarterfinals First Leg
Necaxa v. Pachuca- 8:30pm- Univision Deportes
Club America v. Guadalajara- 10:30pm- Univision Deportes

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
We are entering the home stretch as this Wake Up and an article remembering the rocky MLS career of Didier Drogba take the word count to 40,098. Less than 10,000 words to go!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Arena officially named Klinsmann's successor

Yesterday's Scores
UEFA Champions League
CSKA Moscow 1-1 Beyer Leverkusen
(Natcho PK 75')-(Volland 16')

AS Monaco 2-1 Tottenham
(Sidibe 48', Lemar 53')-(Kane PK 52')

Bayer Leverkusen and AS Monaco clinch spots in the round of 16 with these results. Tottenham's first season of Champions League will now result in nothing more than a Europa League appearance.

Borussia Dortmund 8-4 Legia Warsaw
(Kagawa 17', 18', Sahin 20', Dembele 29', Reus 32', 52', 90+2', Passlack 81')-(Pirjovic 10', 24', Kucharczyk 57', Nikolic 83')

Sporting CP 1-2 Real Madrid
(Silva PK 80')-(Varane 29', Benzema 87')

Borussia Dortmund and Legia Warsaw decided to play a game of FIFA 17 on amateur difficulty in order to set a record for most goals in a Champions League game. The win Dortmund's spot in the knockout rounds and sets up a matchup with Real Madrid in December fit the top spot in the group.

FC Copenhagen 0-0 FC Porto

Leicester City 2-1 Club Brugge
(Okazaki 5', Mahrez PK 30')-(Izquierdo 52')

Leicester City may not be doing well in the Premier League, but their Champions League campaign is going wonderfully.  They will take the top spot in Group F with this win. Porto will need another point to join them after this lackluster showing in Denmark.  They will host host Foxes on December 7 too close the group stage.

Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 Olympique Lyonnais
(Lacazette 72')

Sevilla 1-3 Juventus
(Pareja 9')-(Marchisio PK 45+2', Bonucci 84', Mandzukic 90+4')

Juventus with advance with this win and Sevilla is likely to join them in spite of this setback. The only thing that would keep then out would be a two goal defeat against Olympique Lyonnais in a couple weeks. If that does happen. Lyon will go through instead.

Champions League Tables

MLS Cup Playoffs- Conference Final First Leg
Montreal Impact 3-2 Toronto FC
(Oduro 10', Mancosu 12', Oyongo 53')-(Altidore 68', Bradley 73')

Montreal looked to be rolling with a 3-0 lead until they fell asleep defensively and allowed Toronto to snag a couple away goals. Those could be the difference as Toronto is sure to come out attacking in the home leg at what is sure to be a cold and blustery BMO Field next Tuesday night. Here's my full match recap on Last Word on Soccer.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Colorado Rapids
(Morris 20', Lodeiro PK 61')-(Doyle 13')

Kevin Doyle's deflected goal will loom large despite the Seattle win. At this point a signature Rapids 1-0 home win would be enough to sent them through to MLS Cup.

Headlines
As expected, Bruce Arena has been naked huge USMNT's next head coach. The now former LA Galaxy boss ran the team from 1998 to 2006. His rub included a trip to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002 and a group stage without a victory four years later. He's going to begin his second tenure in charge of the squad with a hole to dig out of in World Cup Qualifying. They are in last place on the Hex with zero points through two matches. 

This is a fairly safe choice. Arena is probably the greatest American soccer mind in history and should bring some stability to team selection and tactics. His comments about dual nationals raise some questions, but I think he would be dumb to end the national team careers of Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, and other foreign born players just because they don't fit in with his overly ideal vision of what the team should be.

His first duty will be setting up January camp and getting a team ready to face Honduras and Panama in the next batch of World Cup Qualifying matches in March.

Today's Matches
UEFA Champions League
Rosov v. Bayern Munich- 12pm- FS1
Besiktas v. Benfica- 12:45pm
Arsenal v. Paris-Saint Germain- 2:45pm- FS1
Ludogorets Razgrad v. FC Basel- 2:45pm- ESPN3
Napoli v. Dinamo Kiev- 2:45pm
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Manchester City- 2:45pm
Celtic v. Barcelona- 2:45pm- FS2
Atletico Madrid v. PSV Eindhoven- 2:45pm

Liga MX Playoffs- Quarterfinals First Leg
Leon v.Tijuana- 8:30pm- Univision Deportes
Pumas UNAM v. UANL- 10:30pm- Univision Deportes

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
These past two days have been some of the busier news days in the soccer world thanks to the USMNT coaching shakeup. I wrote another pro/rel piece, the news of Arena's hiring, and the Montreal-Toronto recap linked above at Last Word on Soccer. The word count stands at 38,239, which has me well ahead of pace to reach 50,000 words by the months end. This is very good, since the Thanksgiving holiday is probably going to slow me down a bit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Klinsmann fired from USMNT

Yesterday's Scores
Premier League
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Burnley
(Phillips 4', Morrison 16', Fletcher 37', Rondon 64')

La Liga
Leganés 2-0 Osasuna
(Ibanez 6', 57')

Headlines
Well, here I thought the biggest story was going to be a promotion/relegation study commissioned by the owner of Miami FC. Then, U.S. Soccer decided to fire Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann had a rocky final few days in charge of the USMNT. The last straw was the 4-0 loss at Costa Rica, but the 2-1 loss at home to Mexico was certainly awful, too. But, there was more to the firing than that. Klinsmann's repeated lack of tactical knowledge in his own team is nothing short of baffling. His use of experimental tactics in a huge match against Mexico was inexcusable. He could never settle on any sort of lineup that could consistently work together. He refused to call in an actual left back.

He's been the man in charge during some of U.S. Soccer's lowest moments in the past 25 years. He broke the dos a cero win streak in Columbus. He led the USMNT to their first two loss opening in the Hex. He didn't make a Gold Cup Final. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his failures.

There were some high moments, though. He did escape the group of death in 2014. He has overhauled the youth system in ways we will not see for several years. In general, I think he has left the national setup in a better place than he found it. However, his failures gave little hope for the future of the senior team. I think Sunil Gulati finally saw that there would be no progress in the 2018 World Cup and that a new man was needed for the job.

That new man, if you indeed call him that, will more than likely be Bruce Arena. Arena was the manager for the 2002 World Cup, which saw the USA progress to the quarterfinals. On the flipside, he also oversaw the 2006 team that couldn't win a game in the group stage. He has had loads of success at the MLS level and knows the domestic game inside and out. 

He has gone on record criticizing Klinsmann's use of non-American born dual nationals. I can see his point about the national team needing to be American and all, but I hope he doesn't shut the door on players like Julian Green, Fabian Johnson, and John Brooks just because they were born in Germany. These players have made, and will continue to make, contributions to the senior team at key times. Excluding them would be just as bad as Klinsmann keeping deserving players like Benny Feilhaber out just because of some silly political grudge. I hope Arena, or whoever takes the reins, keeps an open mind to any player he can possibly call in.

Regardless, I think Arena is only a short to medium term stopgap for the USMNT. He will guide the team through the 2018 World Cup and then step away from the job, regardless of the results. The team needs somebody who can focus on a long term development plan, and I don't think that Bruce Arena is at the point in his coaching career that he wants to do that. His focus should be on the senior team, and that's perfectly alright. 

Gulati and his team would do right to bring in a different guy to handle player development duties. One theory for Klinsmann's failure as senior team coach is that  he had too much on his plate while pulling double duty as technical director. I don't think the federation wants to go down that road yet again.

Anyways, I mentioned a pro/rel survey at the beginning of this spiel. The ownership group of the NASL's Miami FC had commisioned Deloitte, a professional services firm, to do a study on the possible benefits and risks associated with implementing a promotion/relegation system in American soccer. The general results of the study indicated that it would benefit the game as a whole, but the soccer landscape isn't ready for it quite yet. 

It goes into more detail, but as a whole it's nothing you haven't heard before if you've been following the debate from the beginning. The people who are in favor of such a system speak of grassroots development and larger crowds turning out to see a team get promoted to MLS or to survive a relegation battle. The anti crowd mentions how the billionaire investors in the top division won't want to risk becoming essentially a minor league team thanks to a bad season and how competitive balance would be shot as the new teams get promoted and constantly yo-yo back and forth between tiers.

It also says that soccer fans are overwhelmingly in favor of pro/rel, but they also only surveyed 1,000 fans. No mention is made of borderline soccer fans who are accustomed to standard closed American sports leagues. These are the types of fans that American soccer needs to win over. Pro/rel is a foreign concept to many of them and it could turn them off. I have no doubts that many soccer fans in the USA wouldn't mind seeing such a system come to our leagues, but I also think that many understand why it hasn't yet.

My full digestion of the survey is over at Last Word on Soccer.

In less controversial news, Arsenal signed right back Hector Bellerin to a long term deal. He had been linked to a move away to Barcelona, but had refuted those reports a number of times. This deal solidifies his commitment to Arsenal, as it will keep him in North London until 2022.

Finally, Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro has won the MLS Newcomer of the Year for 2016. He joined the club at the end of July and helped dig the team out of a ninth place hole and qualify for their playoffs. He unlocked the potential of Jordan Morris and picked up a lot of slack in the absence of Clint Dempsey.

Today's Matches
UEFA Champions League
CSKA Moscow v. Beyer Leverkusen- 12pm- FS1
AS Monaco v. Tottenham- 2:45pm- FS1
Borussia Dortmund v. Legia Warsaw- 2:45pm
Sporting CP v. Real Madrid- 2:45pm
FC Copenhagen v. FC Porto- 2:45pm
Leicester City v. Club Brugge- 2:45pm
Dinamo Zagreb v, Olympique Lyonnais- 2:45pm
Sevilla v. Juventus- 2:45pm

MLS Cup Playoffs- Conference Final First Leg
Montreal Impact v. Toronto FC- 8pm- ESPN
Seattle Sounders v. Colorado Rapids- 10pm- FS1

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
This Wake Up, along with the story of the Deloitte survey linked above and a little news piece about Lodeiro winning newcomer of the year take the word count to 35,192.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Chelsea win sixth straight without conceding

Yesterday's Scores
Premier League
Middlesbrough 0-1 Chelsea
(Costa 41')

After Liverpool and Manchester City rose to the top yesterday, Chelsea retakes the lead thanks to Diego Costa's goal shortly before half time. This was a little trickier of a road fixture for the Blues, who now won six straight without conceding a goal in the Premier League since getting wrecked 3-0 at Arsenal on my birthday back in September. 

Bundesliga
TSG Hoffenheim 2-2 Hamburg SV
(Wagner 45+1', Zuber 49')-(Kostic 28', Muller 61')

Werder Bremen 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
(Grillitsch 38')-(Meier 52', Barkok 90')

Bobby Wood's Hamburg SV remain winless in the Bundesliga even though they scratch out a road point against fifth place TSG Hoffenheim. They sit at the bottom of the table through 11 matches and look like they are bound for the 2. Bundesliga at season's end. Hopefully Wood can keep up the good work over there and find a new top division home for next season if it does end up that way.

La Liga
Alavés 0-1 Espanyol
(Moreno 81')

Valencia 1-1 Granada
(Nani 47')-(Carcela-Gonzalez 45+1')

Sporting Gijón 1-3 Real Sociedad
(Cop 28')-(Prieto 19', Zurutuza 51', Martinez 56')

Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Villarreal
(Garcia 67')

Real Sociedad's win knocks Atletico Madrid onto the edge of Europa League qualification. A consistent tittle challenger over the past few years, Atletico Madrid seems to be in a freefall now after losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid for the second time in three years.

Serie A
Sampdoria 3-2 Sassuolo
(Quagliarella 84', Muriel 85', PK 90+1')-(Ricci 64', Ragusa 74')

Atalanta 2-1 AS Roma
(Caldara 62' Kessie PK 90')-(Perotti PK 40')

Bologna 3-1 Palermo
(Destro 20', Dzemaili 67', Viviani 72')-(Nestoroski 9')

Crotone 0-2 Torino
(Belotti 80', 89')

Empoli 0-4 Fiorentina
(Bernardeschi 26', 61', Ilicic PK 47', 67')

Lazo 3-1 Genoa
(Anderson 11', Biglia PK 57', Wallace 65')-(Ocampos 52')

AC Milan 2-2 Inter Milan
(Suso 42', 58')-(Candreva 53', Perisic 90+2')

The Derby della Madonnina one of the most heated rivalries in Europe and Ivan Perisic made sure to keep the honors even at this edition at the San Siro. Instead of AC Milan holding onto the win, Stefano Pioli gets a point in his first match with Inter Milan as he was brought in during the international break to replaced the fired Frank de Boer. A derby match like this is tough for any manager, let alone making his debut with a new club. He will certainly take the result, even if it did come at the death of the match.

Ligue 1
Guingamp 1-1 Bordeaux
(Briand 90+3')-(Lewczuk 22')

Olympique Marseille 1-0 Caen
(Rolando 81')

St. Etienne 0-1 Nice
(Eysseric 63')

Nice continue to make France an interesting league this season. This win came without their newly resurrected goal scoring threat, Mario Balotelli and keeps them three points clear of Paris-Saint Germain and AS Monaco atop the table.

European League Tables

Liga MX
Toluca 1-2 Santos
(Leite 89')-(Izquierdoz 27', Rodriguez 76')

Puebla 0-3 Pumas UNAM
(Barrera 54', 81', Britos 63')

Toluca fails to get a result at home against lowly Santos and thus misses the Liga MX Apertura playoffs. Things fared much better for Pumas, who also needed a win to make the postseason. Their second half goal fest propels them from ninth place and out all the way to sixth place and in while ending Monterrey's season prematurely.

The playoff matches present us with another two legged tie featuring Mexico's two most popular clubs, Chivas de Guadalajara and Club America. Last Clausura, the two met at this same stage with Chicas prevailing. There's also a rematch of the 2015 Apertura final between Pumas UNAM and UANL, which UANL won on penalties after a thrilling 4-4 tie through two legs. Here's the full set of quarterfinal matches with the first legs to be played in the middle of this week and the return legs over the weekend:

Tijuana v. Leon
Pachuca v. Necaxa
UANL v. Pumas UNAM
Guadalajara v. Club America

North American League Tables


Headlines
West Bromwich Albion have been sitting striker Saido Berahino due to being overweight and out of shape. He hasn't seen the pitch since September and won't be on it any time soon. He has been sent back to France for additional conditioning. He hasn't been on manager Tony Pulis's good side for a while now. He wasn't too happy about his club turning down a transfer offer that would have taken him from lower mid-table West Brom to borderline title contenders Tottenham over the summer. If his method of protest was to stop training and gain weight while falling out of shape, then I think he needs to find a more productive way of forcing himself out of a club.

Robbie Keane has left LA Galaxy, but is still open to latching onto another club. Most people think that new club will be back in the UK or Ireland, but there's a rumor going around that MLS expansion outfit Atlanta United are offering him a contract. They already have one Designated Player in former Premier Leaguer Kenwyne Jones, and could add another older one from the looks of it.

Today's Matches
Premier League
West Bromwich Albion v. Burnley- 3pm- NBCSN

La Liga
Leganes v. Osasuna- 2:45pm

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