Superliga Final: Joy, Pride, The Moment

Life gave me a hard, unwelcome shag last night: I won’t bore you with the details on the assumption that you don’t want to hear them; the main thing is, this will be (comparatively) brief and I won’t be posting today with my accustomed relish and volume.

Taking the nouns in the sub-title in order:

JOY
To my delight, the online video feed worked flawlessly last night: no hiccupping video, no long pauses, not even an pixilation.  Instead, I enjoyed smooth, TV-esque viewing.  Huzzah!

PRIDE
Coping with the aftermath of that shag meant I caught the game from the 60th minute forward.  While I can’t speak to the first half, I’ll celebrate the second, when I saw one of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) worst teams give one of Mexico’s best an entirely respectable fight.  Good on ya, Los Angeles.  All y’all played to the credit of the league.

THE MOMENT
Raise your hand if you thought Landon Donovan wasn’t the guy to take the decisive penalty kick.  My hand is raised.

Here’s the thing: I literally jumped out of my chair when Pachuca’s player shanked his attempt off the crossbar.  This was ME cheering for LA, for crissakes.  But then I saw Donovan, who had spent some time before taking his kick getting his legs limbered by a trainer; no less significant are the very reasonable doubts regarding Donovan’s composure under pressure.

But the question lurking behind that one poses no less a problem: if not Donovan, then who?  That Abel Xavier, a defender, stepped up and fluffed the following PK makes it hard to figure where else one might look.  After looking at MLSnet.com’s match report and reviewing the names of the eleven players on the field at the relevant time, I confess myself stumped.  As captain from the BB era (that’s Before Beckham), Donovan really had to take that kick.  I just wish he didn’t.

The biggest surprise for me, though, was Edson Buddle’s kick.  Holy crap, son.  Where did that come from?

Well, CF Pachuca takes the first Superliga title.  So be it.  I’m mainly glad it was a good game and look forward to next year’s.

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RSL 3-1 KC: I knew it.

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.

Damn my hide that I didn’t say it, but I knew it.  KC has issues.  Especially against teams with “fight.”  And that’s all Real Salt Lake has at this point.

And, for the record, I don’t even know what happened in this game…it could have been totally fluky…but, still, I knew it.

Your UEFA Champions League Group Stage Qualifiers are set…

Except for one. The winner of Sevilla and AEK Athens will move on. That game will be played September 3rd. Here they are by seed – the draw will be held today, early afternoon EST.

Pot 1/#1 Seeds
AC Milan (Cup Holders)
Barcelona
Liverpool
Inter Milan
Arsenal
Real Madrid
Chelsea
Manchester United

Pot 2/#2 Seeds

Valencia
Lyon
Porto
Sevilla/AEK Athens
PSV Eindhoven
AS Roma
Benfica
Werder Bremen

Pot 3/#3 Seeds
Celtic
Schalke 04
VfB Stuttgart
Steaua Bucharest (ROM)
CSKA Moscow (RUS)
Sporting Club de Portugal
Lazio
Marseille

Pot 4/#4 Seeds
Rangers (SCO)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Besiktas (TUR)
Olympiakos (GRE)
Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
Fenerbahce (TUR)
Slavia Prague (CZE)
Rosenborg (NOR)

French Ligue One: Midweek action yields win for Lyon

Lyon overcame a Valter Birsa PK conversion by sandwiching the Sochaux player’s strike with two of their own. Karim Benzema struck again and is fast becoming a staple in the starting line-up while offseason purchase and former Lille leader Mathieu Bodmer provided the winner early in the second half as Lyon survived 2-1.

Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, and Saint-Etienne all registered shutout wins. Monaco needed the early strike from former Vert Frederic Piquionne to over come Lille 1-0, while PSG and Saint-Etienne had slightly more comfortable wins. Amara Diane and Sylvain Armand did the dirty work for PSG and Saint-Etienne’s needed an Ilan penalty kick to beat a faltering Strasbourg. It’s the best start for Monaco [4-1-1] in a long time, while PSG underperforms again [1-4-1]. Les Verts opt for mediocrity in the tables and pure balance [2-2-2].

Olympique Marseille was the odd man out, the only giant to lose in the midweek. Les Bleus lost to a reeling Nice squad led by the production of Vincent Hognon and Belgian David Hellebuyck. Not even Samir Nasri can jumpstart this team as they desperately missing the presence of Ribery on the wing. Benoit Cheyrou does not compare…the game, however, saw most of the chances go Marseille’s way.

Rennes buried the hapless Auxerre even further in their relegation ditch as 2/3 of their concrete scoring chances were put away. Transfer target Jimmy Briand had the clincher as Auxerre never threatened and instead fell to 1-5-0 on the season.

Former Lyon player Alou Diarra hit for the only goal of the game as Bordeaux won a close contest with Metz, 1-0. Bordeaux sits pretty at 4th in the standings.

Tuesday’s match-up saw Valenciennes dominate yet another Ligue One squad. This time the victim was Lorient, losing 3-1 as Valenciennes depended on the brace of Gregory Pujol. To add a bit of a buffer zone, Sebastien Roudet added a goal in the waning minutes. Valenciennes sits proudly tied for first with an admirable 4-1-1 record.