Chelsea, which has lost three of its last four league matches, gets some good news. Frank Lampard and John Terry are nearing return, although neither will figure in this weekend’s match against Newcastle. Fullback Jose Bosingwa may make his return from injury, although Michael Essien and Yuri Zhirkov will miss the tilt due to suspension and injury, respectively.
Carlo Ancelotti admitsthe Blues aren’t the intimidating force they used to be, but perhaps it’s just a case of ill finishing: “The last few games, particularly away from home, we weren’t able to score. Our statistic has gone down from 21% to 6% in shots converted. We have to improve that.”
Wayne Rooney opens up about his situation with Manchester United, particularly addressing the fans. “I feel like I have apologized to the fans, but everyone keeps saying that I haven’t and, if that is the case, then I apologize for my side of things,” Rooney said.
José Mourinho is in trouble. UEFA will investigate the Real Madrid manager along with four of his charges – Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, and Jerzy Dudek – for their “dead game” tactics during a Champions League match with Ajax.
Martin Rogers believes it’s going to be hard to pin anything on the group, and he’s right. Good luck proving intent, UEFA.
BLAKE OWEN – One of the best attributes of a 4-2-3-1 is its ability to stymie squads employing a 4-4-2. Olympique Lyonnais manager Claude Puel must have assumed his 4-2-3-1, and the man advantage in midfield it bestowed, would allow Lyon to control the run of play against Schalke 04 and their 4-4-2. A hyperactive Raul turned the tables in the first half. (more…)
The Portland Timbers made several interesting moves today during the expansion draft. They started off the afternoon how everyone thought by selecting 23-year-old Dax McCarthy as their first pick, but then traded the young midfielder to DC United for defender Rodney Wallace.
In the six and eighth rounds of the draft the Timbers made a few controversial picks by selecting Robbie Findley and Jonathan Bornstein. Findley is looking to leave the MLS and head to Europe and Bornstein already has a contract with Mexican club Tigres starting in January, these are controversial decisions by Timbers management.
The Vancover Whitecaps picked up Sanna Nyassi as their first pick and drafted four forwards,four midfielders, and veteran keeper Joe Cannon.
ANTHONY MANNINO – How quickly can the tide turn in sports? After four games into the season Roma had only two points in were in the relegation zone.
The team looked flat with no creativity on offense and a porous defense that allowed nine goals in the four game stretch. Age looked to have finally caught up to Francesco Totti as the Roma captain struggled and could not find the net.
Then all of the sudden a 90th minute goal by Mirko Vucinic gave the Giallorossi a 1-0 win over Inter Milan, and a light was turned on that sparked Roma’s change of form. The goal seemed to give the club new life and completely changed their form.
The Roman club also has changed in strategy from recent years, instead of Totti being the main focus of the offense the club has changed to a team effort. Lead by the attacking trio of Jeremy Menez, Mirko Vucinic, and Marco Borriello these three have terrorized opposing defenses. (more…)
The MLS season may be over, but preparations for the next are already beginning as the 2011 Expansion Draft gets under way today at 2:00 PM ET. A list of all the unprotected players Vancouver and Portland will be able to choose from. The 2011 MLS Superdraft will take place on January 13. Follow the draft here.
The “winning” lunge from Mac Kandji that led to George John’s own-goal (and Colorado’s 117th minute winner) has torn the forward’s ACL.
Champions League has returned this week. Chelsea and Real Madrid, both already through to the elimination rounds, cruised to victory, although Madrid is facing a UEFA investigation for “deliberate red cards.” The standings after Tuesday’s fixtures.
After winning their first three matches in record fashion, Arsenal have dropped their last two in less than inspiring fashion. The loss puts their chances of advancing in Champions League – something that seemed a virtual certainty two matches ago – in serious jeopardy. The struggling Gunners will need all three points from their final match against Partizan Belgrade to essentially ensure progression, while a tie or loss opens a massive door for Braga – a team they beat 6-0 back in September – to jump them for the second-place spot. They’ve also lost Cesc Fabregas for another 2-3 weeks.
BRENT LATHAM – At the end of an exciting year of soccer in the U.S., MLS had a bucket of cold water dumped on it when it was revealed that the final match set an all-time ratings low for a Championship game.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to explain away that circumstance and keep smiling: the final drew two teams with small fan bases, it was played in Toronto in front of a sparse and irritated crowd in the cold, it was up against Sunday Night Football.
But is it a good idea to focus on the one-off excuses rather than the core question: in a year in which soccer has been embraced in the U.S., how is it possible, by these measures, less people than ever – far less – cared enough to watch the title game? (more…)
The expansion draft projections are comingin and Dax McCarty is your consensus No. 1 pick. The FC Dallas midfielder may have found himself expendable because of Eric Alexander’s steller play. Barry Gorman, FCD’s technical director, said the 23-year-old “handled [the news he was left unprotected] like a pro and a player beyond his years.” It’s an MLS lovefest!
NOAH DAVIS – At Yanks Abroad, Brian Sciaretta scores the scoop that Germany’s U-17 captain Fabian Hürzeler will commit to the United States, joining Thomas Rongen’s U-20 camp in January. (UPDATE: Bayern Munich doesn’t have to release Hürzeler in January since it’s not an official FIFA date.) Although he doesn’t need to switch federations to join the American training session, he will need to let FIFA formally know his intentions if he wants to be a member of the U-20 World Cup qualifying cycle or the 2011 World Cup.
In addition to playing for the European country’s youth side, Hürzeler is the youngest member of Bayern’s reserve side. The central midfielder was born in Houston before decamping to Germany with his family at an early age.
He’s the latest soccer player to decide to switch his allegiance, but it doesn’t sound like he will be the last. (more…)