MLS (Semi-)Daily Sweeper, 12.18: The REAL Dull-Drums, A World Cup Qualifying Must-Read

With the FIFA Club World Cup and the NCAA Championships done and dusted and half of Europe taking a winter siesta, things look to have really wound down for 2007. Speaking specifically about the U.S., a look at Fox Soccer Channel’s 15-day domestic forecast says it all: the only thing more pointless than an international club friendly is a days-old, tape-delayed international club friendly…that it stars the Major League Soccer (MLS) dog-n-pony show only makes it that much worse.

Given that, I’ll be going into a winter break of my own till the New Year, but won’t start that till the end of this week. I’ve got Christmas BS throughout, in any case, and will thus be too busy with food, euchre, presents, running my kids around, and having drunkenly aimless, yet unbelievably passionate arguments about everything under the sun to get to much for posting.

But there’s always today and the rest of the week – and, as Steve Goff points out on Soccer Insider, today is positively stuffed with activities. The time being what it is, I’ll get to those tomorrow…it’s not like the story is going to change on me. So, on with the show, this is it….literally…

– On ESPN’s site, Steve Davis posted the quintessential hubris-checker regarding the United States’ road through World Cup qualifying; those wanting a clearer explanation of what the hell he’s talking about can get that through My Soccer Blog’s road map for the first part of the journey. The latter is useful for Davis’ column, but by no means necessary. Speaking for myself, I’m most worried about the one I’m assuming worries everyone else least: the play-in home-and home versus either Dominica or Barbados. Yes, either team is miles below us, both in the FIFA Con-jo…er, World Rankings, and quality of play, but it’s the lower margin of error that brings the anxiety, not to mention the potential for MASSIVE, unbearable humiliation. The thing is, if the U.S. finds themselves in a funk, or if Barbados (to pick one at random) somehow steals a goal and plays killer, athletic defense…well, that’s it. Unlike in the round-robin stages, both games against whichever Caribbean minnow we face matter, at least so long as we don’t carry a butt-stomping lead into the second leg; anything less than a 3-0 lead going into the second leg and I’ll be more nervous than I ought to be given the opposition. This is the point of Davis’ column: weirder things have happened in World Cup qualifying. So, stay frosty, people. Continue reading

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EPL Daily 12.18: Man City gets good news, not so for many other EPL teams today

Is Nery Castillo the missing piece for Sven Goran-Eriksson and Manchester City? The pacy and tenacious winger has joined the Blues on a one year loan from Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. With Castillo and Elano – both Copa America 2007 standouts – I can’t imagine that Eriksson’s Citeh will be falling much lower than 4th place in the standings. Unless, of course, Castillo steals a PK from Elano, prompting an all-out inter-squad brawl. That didn’t exactly happen, but it was close enough…Castillo’s last spat was on field, in-match with Claudio Lucarelli over a PK. I’m expecting nothing but good to come of this though….

Two Carling Cup Quarterfinals today: Manchester City vs. Tottenham; Arsenal vs. Blackburn (Tottenham is already up 1-0, in the 20th minute as of 3:00pm est).

Bunch of Negative Headlines:

Liverpool downgrades stadium plan.

Manchester United party to be investigated after rape claims.

John Terry injured. Leon Osman injured.