Frank Rijkaard heading to Chelsea?

The Telegraph in the UK, which is about as reliable as my foot, had an article today linking Frank Rijkaard as the next in line to coach Chelsea.

As I thought about it today, it doesn’t sound that far away from the truth. Rijkaard has had a bit of success at Barcelona in the last couple of years, but did not bring home any trophies last season. And in the world of soccer, the quote about managers is ‘What have you done for me lately??’

Barcelona are playing exceptionally well this season, and are going to give Real Madrid a run for their money in La Liga. This makes me second guess Rijkaard’s departure to England next season. Hell, Rijkaard was even ‘rumored’ to be in line to take over the US MNT job before Bob Bradley, which made me laugh.

Rikaard also may be pushed to head to the land of fish and chips with Henk Ten Cate looking to sign with the blues this week after being give permission to talk to Chelsea from Ajax. Ten Cate was Rijkaard’s assistant at Barcelona for three years, one of with was the Barcelona’s Champions League title.

What do you think?

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Post YOUR Power Rankings

Dang me.  I keep forgetting to post these things.

If you want to post Major League Soccer (MLS) power rankings of your very own (or just chuck in a link to them), feel free to do so in the comments below.  I’ll then roll them into this week’s collective rankings (which will look a lot like last week’s – only Dallas should be a little higher, KC a little lower, etc.).

The more people contribute, the better.

Daily Sweeper, 10.9: Playoff Omens & Predictions; LandyCakes; MLS’ Best Youth Set-Up

By way of continuing my tradition of burying the lead, I think I’ll lead with something outside the title…

The Columbus Dispatch, in the course of dissecting the corpse of the Columbus Crew’s season, gets some inside dish that suggests Sigi Schmid and his belly will stick around for another year. So, Crew fans (assuming any visit this site), any thoughts on this one?

– Why this came up again, I’ll never know; maybe we can credit/blame (depending on what you think) the reserved and tasteful kiss Andrea Canales’ planted on Landon Donovan for ESPN’s site. Whatever started it, people are picking up on it. If you want to know what I think, check out the comment I left on the post Laurie wrote for the LA Offside; and, naturally, Laurie’s thoughts are well worth the time. But I have to credit Nick Green’s 100 Percent Soccer for the best post on the recent Donovan-chatter: he looks at how the Galaxy rate him (through the eyes and, naturally, the mouth of Alexi Lalas), but he also asks the ever-relevant “Europe” question. I found Donovan’s answer surprising and unsurprising all at once.

– The best youth system in MLS: Sideline View’s Luis Bueno makes the case for Chivas USA’s. Well, OK then.

– Finally, the playoffs: people are getting serious about this stuff, whether it’s the Chicago Tribune’s Luis Arroyave making predictions about future games and post-season match-ups or Luis Bueno from Sideline Views reinventing the abacus to tell us who clinches what by myriad results and combinations of results. (I’ve never had the patience for this kind of thing and will thus nod dumbly and smile.)

But the scariest thing I read today was this (and that came from here):

After five months of injuries, poor play and unfulfilled expectations, the Galaxy’s late surge has put it in a position that only weeks ago seemed preposterous: They’re masters of their own fate.

Son of a BITCH!!

At least that’s what I barked at my computer before Ives Galarcep brought me the perspective I needed to return to my happy place:

“That just might be enough to get the Beckham hype machine rolling again, only this time the added attention would be focusing on the MLS playoffs, where the league’s best teams and players would be on display.”

And there you have it, the Devil offering a deal: is the risk of LA repeating the Act of Extreme Asshole-ism* worth the exposure a Beckham-iffied Galaxy would bring to the MLS playoffs and, yes, the (formerly) better teams they would face therein? I’ll only say this: the Devil is one tricky motherfucker. (OK, OK, I’ll answer – put away the screws: Yes! Yes! I’ll take the publicity. God help me! I feel so dirty!)

* “The Act of Extreme Asshole-ism” refers to LA scraping into the 2005 playoffs as the 8th seed and going on to win MLS Cup; this rendered the good work many teams put in over the regular season – back when LA was sucking eggs – irrelevant to the point of mockery.

MLS to Seattle: Did They Bone It? So far…yep.

With a hat-tip to Who Ate All the Cupcakes, I read this morning that a soccer-specific stadium is not on the cards at present for the potential/rumored Seattle Major League Soccer (MLS) club.  Due to Paul Allen’s reported involvement with the club, they’ll play their games in Seattle’s Qwest Field.  Those Who Eat Cupcakes don’t find this so upsetting as I do, based mainly on their impressions of Qwest as a facility for soccer – gathered first-hand for the record – and what happens with the revenue streams.

Having visited Qwest for a soccer event or two (I even think I once caught a game at Safeco Field, the joint for baseball), I don’t disagree in terms of the basic structure, even if I feel like no amount of decorative cover can overcome the consuming emptiness of a too-small crowd in a too-large building.  And the revenue thing is nice as well.  What’s not nice?  Working around an NFL schedule and staring at the damn grid lines.  I thought MLS was past the “take-what-we-can-get” mentality, but I’m guessing the national footprint thing won in the end.

So that’s the first thing they boned.  Here’s the second:

“The Sounders will be recognized for their second United Soccer Leagues First Division championship in the last three years next Sunday when the Seahawks host the New Orleans Saints.  Players will be honored on the field while a championship banner is raised on the west side of the stadium.”

Maybe others have had different experiences with football fans and soccer, but based on what I’ve seen down the (considerable) years, this has the potential to go badly.  They can expect nacho-and-beer searching indifference to this recognition ceremony.

MLS Week 27 Rankings: DC United + Guests

In a mistake that I’ll now attempt to pass off as being a common one, I stated in yesterday’s wrap of Week 27 that “just one more team clinched a post-season placement.”  This is incorrect: Red Bull New York made it in as well; so far as I know, credit for the correction goes to MetroFanatic for realizing before anyone up to including MLSnet’s interns that both Chicago and LA can’t win their final game of the season.

So that makes two dodgy teams in the post-season – at least two.  Who knows?  Maybe if Denilson continues to play defense (as he did against Columbus, if only a little bit) and Dallas gets some steel in their shoes, they may again become the team they were.  With Red Bull, eh, not so much.  But the rot goes beyond those two teams, really: as it now stands, the playoff picture looks a lot like DC United and _____.  Who can you see hauling down DC United – and this is crucial – before MLS Cup?  With all the contenders losing their footing down the stretch, figuring the team to do this requires a mixture of cool analysis and faith in one of the teams to play their best game when it matters.  It’s that little bit of missing consistency and conviction, something we’re seeing now in all comers, that makes me wonder if there’s anyone up to trading blows with the Black and Red.

Finally, I’m going to rip these things up and start from scratch.  The (absurdly long) regular season, whether you’re talking records or points compiled, just doesn’t seem all that relevant as we peer over the post-season precipice.  As I see it, the real question now is which teams do the others want to avoid in the first round.  The answer to that is, Chicago…or LA.

All righty, moving to the business side of this, last week’s ranking appears in parentheses after this week’s ranking, each team’s points total appears after their name, and, finally, each team’s Week 27 opponent comes after my chatterings. Continue reading

EPL Daily, 10.9: Henk ‘so I’m the asshole?’ ten Cate, Bolton draws a giant

Henk Ten Cate held a press conference to say he wouldn’t be heading to Chelsea, but to no avail, the offer was too good to refuse. Ten Cate was given the go ahead to sever his ties with Ajax and head to Stamford Bridge to open negotiations. It’s not every day you see the Dutch powerhouses stamped upon and trampled over by a ‘bigger’ club or……………maybe they didn’t want to fight for ten Cate who has seen his grasp on the club slip along with Ajax’s form in European play. The bitter 1-goal Eredivisie championship loss to PSV last year was enough to turn many against the former Barca assistant. That’s not to say Ajax officials weren’t fuming…

“Henk presented it to us as a fact and we didn’t have any choice. We didn’t want to work with a coach who had his mind at Chelsea.Things should have been done differently. I don’t want to say more.”

Bolton, Tottenham, and Everton all found out their UEFA Group fates with Bolton grabbing a match-up against Luca Toni and Bayern Munich. Tottenham will face Anderlecht in a replay of the 1984 UEFA Cup final, while Everton will face Blackburn’s executioners, Larissa as well as Dutch big guns AZ Alkmaar. 

UEFA Group Draws

Group A
AZ Alkmaar
Zenit St Petersburg
Everton
Nurnberg
Larissa

Group B
Panathinaikos
Lokomotiv Moscow
Atletico Madrid
FC Copenhagen
Aberdeen

Group C
Villarreal
AEK Athens
Fiorentina
Mlada Boleslav
IF Elfsborg

Group D
Basel
Hamburg
Rennes
Dinamo Zagreb
SK Brann

Group E
Bayer Leverkusen
Sparta Prague
Spartak Moscow
Toulouse
FC Zurich

Group F
Bayern Munich
Bolton Wanderers
Braga
Crvena Zvezda
Aris Thessaloniki

Group G
Anderlecht
Tottenham Hotspur
Getafe
Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Aalborg

Group H
Bordeaux
Austria Vienna
Galatasaray
Panionios
Helsingborgs