FIFA VP hates England, scoffs at ’18 WC bid

With the Premiership nearly upon us and an Englishman taking all the headlines here in the States, one would think England is a reasonable fit for a future World Cup.

Not according to FIFA VP Jack Warner, look at what he had to say.

“It’ll be Italy, Spain, or it might even be France. Nobody in Europe likes England.”

“England – who invented the sport – has never had any impact on world football. England at no time has had the love and support of Europe. For Europe, England is an irritant.”

No surprise Warner has taken quite a bit o’ heat for those not-so-loving comments.

Maybe he hates England because they beat his home country, Trinidad and Tobago, 2-0 in the ’06 World Cup.

Or maybe some English guy stole a girlfriend of his a while back and unleashed a grudge of mammoth proportions.

Whatever it is, the dude’s gotta let it go.

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MLS News Wire, 08.10.07: Talking Heads, Bad & Good; Weekend Viewing

Down below, I had some good things to say about the time Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon spent in ESPN’s broadcast booth last night (his column in today’s Post basically covers the same points; no wonder he was so prepared).  Not everyone “pardoned the interruption” ([rimshot]  Thanks!   I’ll be here all week!): My Soccer Blog makes a pretty good case against the sort of segment toward the bottom of his wrap on the game.  Mike H, that blog’s author, makes a pretty good case; if you’ve got the patience for it, I offer a defense in the comments field.  The New York Times’ GOAL blog covers has a take similar to Mike’s (I only add this ’cause it looks like a killer blog; hat-tip to The Offside Rules for pointing it out).

– It turns out that ESPN booth-dude Rob Stone shares my love for cheap beer and Chinese.  The pro wrestling, not so much.

– St. Louis, Missouri’s attempt to lure a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise before the competition starts in Colinsville, IL, where some dude wants to build a stadium.  Wanna know where Colinsville sits relative to St. Louis?  Here you go.

Turning to the weekend, I’m fairly confident I’ll get to take in Fox Soccer’s broadcast of the Columbus Crew’s visit to FC Dallas (preview).  Should be a good game (OK, it might) and it should tell us a thing or two about the state of the Crew’s offense or Dallas’ defense.  If I’m crazy/dumb enough to go to bed late or wake up early on Sunday/Monday, I may take in an accelerated viewing of Red Bull v. Toronto FC (preview); I’m very curious as to the Bulls’ state of refreshment after the long lay-off.  But that’s the most I’m going to see.

Have a good weekend, all y’all.

Beck’s Debut: A Sloppy First Kiss

Well, it finally happened. David Beckham finally hauled his Goldenballs onto a Major League Soccer (MLS) field and played for our little league. Was it good for you?

Me, I feel a bit let down – but I don’t blame Beckham for that. When he finally came on, Beckham may have tenderfooted it around the field, but he also managed a trio of solid long passes – notably the probing pass down the left that ended with Troy Perkins upending Landon Donovan – as well as showing smart movement and cleverly quick possession passes. All in all, Beckham did fine for a moderately hobbled player. I wager he’ll help his team down the stretch, perhaps a lot.

And, great googly-moogly, does the Los Angeles Galaxy need help. Whether it’s nerves or talent, their almost comically wayward passing highlights the risk taken by MLS in relying heavily on a team that failed to make last year’s playoffs – and that stands a fair chance of missing them again. Credit to DC United for making space tight out there – that’s kind of a trademark for them – but, even with their movement vastly improved over their disastrous Toronto outing, Galaxy players still look frickin’ lost. The steady turnover of players – a decision now being defended in increasingly convoluted, even defensive, language (see “Schedule from Hell” section) – has the Galaxy stuck in something like permanent preseason; the “process” to which Lalas alludes doesn’t look nearly completed, a real problem with the need to win games starting last Sunday and continuing through last night.

To return to the first kiss analogy, consider Beckham an intriguingly deep and tender kiss…while the rest of the Galaxy amounts to a rough, mildly painful groping of our collective breasts.

Other random observations: Continue reading

My Premiership Picks—Week 1

Simply put, I’m going to see how well I can predict this Premiership season’s outcomes every week. If anyone wants to try this on a weekly basis, let me know and I’ll set something up for the masses. Maybe even dish out a prize or two if anyone is intersted.

The score and goal scorers are just extra info, I’m just looking to pick winners, or draws for that matter.

Man City vs West Ham

1-2 Sven’s new boys don’t know what they are getting themselves into. At least his scouts have seen them play.

Aston Villa vs Liverpool

1-3 Goals by Gerrard, Torres and Kuyt help the reds start off strong.

Derby vs. Portsmouth

0-0 draw as Derby narrowly escape at Fratton Park and gain their only point for a long time.

Arsenal vs. Fulham

2-0 as Arsenal tries to put to rest it’s fears from being out of the Top 4 come season’s end

Reading vs Manchester United

1-3 as Reading strikes first, but Ronaldo nets 1 and Rooney gets 2 to start the season.

Tottenham vs. Sunderland

1-0 as Bent tallies for the Hotspur

Everton vs. Wigan

2-0 with Tim Howard posting a clean sheet and Wigan fans cowering in fear.   Goal by Johnson

Middlesbrough vs. Blackburn

1-2 as Roque Santa Cruz makes his presence felt for Rovers.

Bolton vs. Newcastle

0-1 as Viduka scores, despite his age.

Chelsea vs. Birmingham City

1-1 draw as Chelsea’s injury bug is way to much to handle for Shaun Wright-Phillips and he runs off the field and cries in a corner.

We’ll see how well I do come Sunday.  Tune in Monday to see the results.

Again, if anyone wants to do a weekly pick-em, let me know by emailing me and I’ll set it up.

Supercopa de España Preview

Saturday is the traditional ‘start’ of La Liga season with the Supercopa de España, which pits the winner of La Liga vs the winner of the Copa del Rey. This season’s Supercopa sees the wonder that is FC Sevilla vs those Real Madrid characters who kinda won La Liga last year.

But all kidding aside, this game should be an interesting match up between the two sides. Sevilla are looking to extract a bit of revenge from their 3rd place in La Liga last season while Real Madrid are looking to pick up the pieces after a summer of turnover at the Bernabéu.

Real Madrid have struggled a bit this pre-season in an attempt to find replacements of a slew of players that jumped ship after last season. Roberto Carlos, David Beckham, Jose Antonio Reyes and Ivan Helguera have all yet to be replaced by first year skipper Bernrd Schuster. It is being reported that Arjen Robben signed with Madrid on Thursday, but he obviously won’t be around for kickoff of this game.

Former Barça standout Javier Saviola hasn’t produced as billed and the La Liga leading goal scorer, Ruud Van Nistelrooy is out with an injury as is Higuain, who is sidelined with an injured thigh.

Sevilla aren’t in such a good place either, as the injury bug has bit Javi Navarro, Kanouté, Julien Escudé and newcomer Kahlid Boulahrouz who are all doubtful for Saturday’s clash at the Sánchez Pizjuan.

Don’t expect Juande Ramos to put out any players that are questionable for this game as Sevilla has their first Champions League match on Wednesday against AEK Athens. As much as the Sevillistas want to give it to the La Liga holders, the draw of European competition will influence who plays on Saturday.

The backline will most likely be Alves–Drago–Hinkle–Poulson as Ramos has the option of moving Poulson to the back to start over Fazio.

My guess for this game is that both sides will come out a bit hesitant due to injuries. After 30 minutes or so, the game will open up and both sides will get some quality chances throughout the rest of the match.

I’m picking a 1-1 draw with goals by Chevantón for Sevilla and Ramos netting the equalizer for Madrid. Sevilla will look to win, but won’t chance their first Champions League match on Wednesday.

If anyone wants to catch this game, check out www.live-footy.org. I’m sure they will be streaming the game live via the Spanish broadcast.

EPL: Who you pickin’ for the weekend?

West Ham United vs. Manchester City
10am EST, FSC

Both teams spent a crapload and look to reap the benefits. Overall, the new Citeh boys have looked quite effective so far – with plenty of secret weapons in tow. Martin Petrov, Gelson Fernandes, and Geovanni have shown promise but Rolando Bianchi is easily the star of the bunch. Valeri Bojinov, Vedran Corluka, and Javi Garrido could . The Hammers haven’t brought in anything particularly foreign to the Premiership – Scott Parker, Marlon Harewood, etc. My guess is that this year’s big breakout will be a Hammer – former Watford man – Ashley Young.

Prediction: Man City 2, WHU 1 – Bianchi and want-away Samaras grab the goals. West Ham’s Young grabs the consolation goal.

Aston Villa vs. Liverpool
12pm EST, FSC

After watching the first test for Sven Goran Eriksson’s shopping spree, you should watch the same of Rafa Benitez’s. Quite possibly the best contest of the day, it will be interesting to see Torres and Kuyt against the unchanged Villa backline. Villa is still pissed they missed out on Craig Gordon – especially to recently promoted Sunderland – and as Sorensen won’t be ready to go, you’ll see Stuart Taylor in goal. The Reds could potentially take advantage. Along with Ashley Young above, Gabrial Agbonlahor looks to avoid a sophomore slump after a great 12-goal breakout season.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1, Agbonlahor grabs the first but Torres and Gerrard respond furtively

Derby vs. Portsmouth
2:30om EST, FSC

As Benny Feilhaber has clearance, will he be in a Derby County kit ready to contribute come Saturday? Most likely not, but we’ll see. He should see significant time right away, especially since boss Billy Davies has said that the Rams are less than 75% of his required ‘quality rate’. It should be a troublesome first couple games (i.e. season) for Derby and the first match-up will see Dave Nugent and John Utaka trying to establish themselves immediately in the Premiership. I fully expect them to do so. A reinvigorated Sol Campbell – on the national team radar yet again – will lead a Pompey backline, even without an injured Linvoy Primus.

Prediction: Portsmouth 1-0…the goals don’t come in droves for either team, but Pompey grabs the only one that matters…Kanu does what he’s got to do.

Sunday, August 12th

Arsenal vs. Fulham
7:00am EST, FSC

Fulham always seems to get the results against the big teams – often falling to the fellow strugglers. Brian McBride has been named outright captain of the Cottager squad and, as it stands, all three Americans could make the start against Arsenal. The Gunners will start their post-Henry era and it could go either way. With William Gallas and Kolo Toure in the back, I’d say at least you have a defense to count on. The thought of Hamuer Bouazza and Clint Dempsey on the same field together makes me a happy man.

Prediction: Fulham 2-1, Diomansy Kamara and McBride shoot Fulham ahead.

Reading vs. Manchester United
11am EST, FSC

At not one point this pre-season did the Red Devils look vulnerable…(except against Italian teams). Rooney and Ronaldo look to be ready to go – while Giggs doesn’t look a step older. For Reading the absence of Leroy Lita is crucial (out with an injury from ‘stretching in bed’), as Kevin Doyle and Dave Kitson will most likely be swallowed up by the size and tackling of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. The saving grace could be the return of Bobby Convey, who has not completely regained form but has certainly look presentable in his first preseason games back – scoring 2 goals.

Prediction: 2-0, Man Utd – Rooney and Ronaldo strike.

Other games (not televised in the US)…

Tottenham vs. Sunderland
Everton vs. Wigan
Middlesbrough vs. Blackburn
Bolton vs. Newcastle
Chelsea vs. Birmingham City

What match-ups you looking forward to the most?