Fighting Talker

2-Nil in O-HI-O …

December 16, 2008 · No Comments

Ed here.

… It was announced today on GoffBlog that the US-Mexico qualifier to kick off action in the Hex will indeed be played at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, February 11. I plan on being there - hotel room is already reserved. Ticket information hasn’t been announced yet.

I know there was some sentiment and even some reports that the new Real Salt Lake stadium was up for consideration for this game, but I have to think here that the Columbus pick is the right one. There’s a good history vs. Mexico there, of course, and it’s the right kind of venue for this game. Small, limited fans, tickets will have a demand to them, and the fans that go should be more of the vociferous kind, which is exactly what we need against Mexico.

Categories: International Soccer · Soccer · Sports

Ince Out at Blackburn - Does it Matter?

December 16, 2008 · 1 Comment

Ed here.

… So, I’ve been wondering to myself for most of the day about the Paul Ince dismissal at Blackburn. I don’t think it can be characterized as a surprise. Blackburn are in the relegation zone currently and perhaps worse, are not really relevant in the Premier League this year. As a United fan, Blackburn used to be a game I would circle on the fixture list - only because on its day, Rovers could play with anyone and they seemed to come up with stirring performances against teams like Manchester United in the past.

Then I started thinking about it in a larger perspective. This past weekend was another in which the supposed top four teams in the Premier League all sputtered through their games, each earning a point - but with Arsenal getting jumped by Aston Villa for fourth place. It was a whole lot of blah, basically, and it seems to me at times that in a sense, this has been what the whole season has been. Maybe it’s a jaded perspective because United isn’t top of the league - but they haven’t necessarily been top of the league at this stage in recent years when they’ve won the title, so I don’t think that’s it. (more…)

Categories: Arsenal · English Premier League · Personal · Soccer · Sports

College Cup At a Glance

December 11, 2008 · No Comments

Wake Forest is 43-3-3 in 2007 & 08, but will the Demon Deacons be celebrating again Sunday?

Wake Forest is 43-3-3 in 2007 & '08, but will the Demon Deacons be celebrating again Sunday?

Ed here …

… It’s an Atlantic Coast Conference party at the NCAA men’s Division I College Cup this weekend, as the defending champion Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Maryland Terrapins, and North Carolina Tar Heels converge on Pizza Hut Park for tomorrow’s semifinals. The party crashers are St. John’s from the Big East.

Let’s start with Wake, which enters the national semifinals with a 21-1-1 record - the loss coming to Virginia in the ACC semifinal, and the only other blemish being a scoreless draw vs. Duke. Statistically, Wake is the closest thing you’ll find to a PlayStaion team. They have more than double the shot attempts of their opponents (415-204) and they have outscored their 23 opponents by a combined 81-16. That’s right, more than 3.5 goals per game scored, and less than 1 goal per game allowed. On seven occasions this year, the Demon Deacons have scored at least five goals in a game. Five! (more…)

Categories: College Soccer · College Sports · Soccer · Sports

The Worst Kept Secret is True …

December 10, 2008 · 5 Comments

When Sigi leaving Columbus, does he have to give back the scarf?

When Sigi leaving Columbus, does he have to give back the scarf?

Ed here. …

… Sigi Schmid will not return to the Columbus Crew, after leading the club to its first MLS Cup victory in 2008.

The news is being reported by ESPNNews, courtesy Allen Hopkins, and is available on Soccernet.

It’s not a surprise, I suppose, except that for some odd reason to me, it is. It has been long rumored and discussed that Sigi the Scarf (does he get to keep the scarf?) wouldn’t return in 2009, with Seattle his most likely destination. And if he wants to be on the west coast, then you can’t blame him. I guess in some ways it just doesn’t make sense to me.

But the questions left for me are, did the Crew make an attempt to keep him? Had they put enough money on the table, could they have made Sigi change his mind about wanting to stay (assuming his wanting to leave is the reason he’s leaving)? (more…)

Categories: MLS · Soccer · Sports

Schuster Out, Ramos In

December 9, 2008 · 2 Comments

Schuster out, Ramos (above) in at Madrid.

Schuster out, Ramos (above) in at Madrid.

Ed here.

As we mentioned in last week’s podcast, the days were probably numbered for now former Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster, once he got the always dreaded “vote of confidence” from those above him. The end came this morning, as Schuster was sacked and replaced by none other than Juande Ramos - he of that glorious spell at Spurs, of course.

I don’t think you can blame Madrid for the move, and it certainly was in the cards after a 4-3 loss to Sevilla on the weekend. It also comes during the week leading up to the club’s match at Barcelona on Saturday. A loss there would leave Real 12 points adrift in La Liga, and it would be safe to extinguish the last of the club’s title hopes right then and there. (more…)

Categories: Soccer · Sports

Guess What!!!!

December 4, 2008 · 1 Comment

Roy Keane has reportedly left Sunderland. (Note: Sunderland has confirmed)

Ed here … There hasn’t been an official word of what’s going on, so maybe Keane just got his now world-famous beard chopped off, walked into the team offices this morning and no one realized he was actually there because they didn’t recognize him, and some intern called the papers to say that Keane had left.

But as it is, it looks like the Keane era at Sunderland is over. He lasted roughly 2.5 years, promoting Sunderland from the Leauge Championship and keeping the club from relegation in the Premier League last season. But the Black Cats have been declawed lately, losing five of six and with little prospect of things getting better as they travel to Manchester United on Saturday.

I thought Keane was going to go, but even I didn’t think it would be this quick.

But hey - now if Sigi goes to Seattle, Columbus can hire Keane!!

Categories: Uncategorized

Guess Tevez was Ticked …

December 3, 2008 · No Comments

… Ed here.

Manchester United advanced to the English NIT Carling Cup semifinals with a 5-3 win over Blackburn today. Carlos Tevez took advantage of getting a run out to show Sir Alex Ferguson maybe he can play a little bit, scoring four goals. Guess he really does want to play. Can’t argue with the result.

About the game, Tevez was quoted on Soccernet:

”I am very proud to score four goals,” said Tevez. ”It is the first time I have done it in my career and it is better because it came for Manchester United.

”I have not played very often, so I was looking forward to the game and I am happy with my performance.’

United joins Spurs, Derby County, and Burnley in the semifinals. I have a bad feeling the draw is going to go United-Spurs and Derby-Burnley, but we’ll see. The semifinals bring the added challenge of a 2-leg set up, so the non-Prem sides might well want to play each other rather than avoid trying to upset one of the higher-placed clubs over two matches.

Categories: Soccer

What Are They Doing?

December 3, 2008 · 1 Comment

Citys big-name signing?

City's big-name signing?

Ed here. … Two stories on Soccernet caught my eye this morning.

First, Manchester City insist they are going to make a big splash in the winter transfer window that will open at the end of this month. The names linked to them are the usual suspects, of course, the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka, and given his situation at Manchester United, possibly Carlos Tevez. Though, I have some suspicions, even as a United fan, whether you would put Tevez with the company of those others if it’s truly a “big name” that City seek to sign. Tevez, however, might certainly be the most available of that group. I talked on the new podcast about the Tevez situation. I don’t think he’s happy coming off the bench, and with Berbatov now joining Rooney and Ronaldo in the mix, I just don’t think there’s minutes for Tevez - and of that group, he seems to be the last choice for Sir Alex. And I don’t think the manager is necessarily wrong in that assessment, either.

But while Tevez might be a convenient buy from their neighboring rivals, it isn’t the answer as to what is A) going to lead them toward the top of the Premiership, and B) becoming “the” club on the world stage, where all the top players will want to go play and thus, perhaps, accomplishing Goal A. More after the jump. (more…)

Categories: Uncategorized

MLS 2008: The End is Here

November 25, 2008 · 3 Comments

The Crew lifted the MLS Cup trophy, beating New York in the final, 3-1.

The Crew lifted the MLS Cup trophy, beating New York in the final, 3-1.

So, another Major League Soccer season - the 13th in fact - has come and gone. Raise your hand if you thought you’d see 13 consecutive seasons of MLS.

Anyway, the Columbus Crew are champions, and deserved ones at that in my humble opinion, after their 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Stade de Home Depot. Despite New York having the better of the play early, I don’t think they did enough over the course of the game and eventually the class of Guillermo Barros Schelotto took over and it was painfully obvious that the Red Bulls had nobody in their lineup (and it’s no shame, many teams didn’t) that could contain him.

His class, of course, was summed up on the Crew’s third goal - his lofting, soft pass flying over the top of the back of the Red Bulls defense and into the path of Eddie Gaven Frankie Hejduk, who put it away in the late going for victory. It was clutch for the Crew, of course, because at 2-1, there’s still no guarantee that referee Baldomero Toledo won’t screw up the game somehow in the final minutes and for the match to somehow end up level. (more…)

Categories: MLS · Soccer · Sports

LiveBlog for MLS Cup Final

November 23, 2008 · 3 Comments

Join us tomorrow for a live blog of the MLS Cup Final between the Columbus Crew and the New York Red Bulls. I will update with the direct link to the live blog as we get closer to game time tomorrow.

LiveBlog available here.

As for the game, as I’ve said before, I think it would be better if Columbus won. There’s something to be said for the best team in the regular season winning the playoffs. Despite what FSC’s Max Bretos wanted to tell you over and over again last week, the Red Bulls are not a Cinderella story. Davidson in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was a Cinderella. A team that qualifies as a Cinderella should be one that when they finally lose, people are sad. Very few people would have been sad had New York lost at some point along the way up to now, and few would be crying if they get punked tomorrow. Hell, even if they did win, the victory parade would probably be in 60-90 days.

But as much as I don’t want to admit it, New York has more than a puncher’s chance here. They present a big issue for any opponent due to Juan Pablo Angel’s ability on free kicks. If they are within a goal, they are always in the game. I don’t expect either team to come out and play too defensively, but the game could certainly use for an early goal to get things going. (more…)

Categories: MLS · Soccer · Sports