French Ligue One: Lille and Lens making changes; Lyon hunts down a striker

LILLE: Signed Pierre-Alain Frau from Paris St-Germain to a 3 and 1/2 year deal. Frau – formerly of Lyon, Sochaux, and Lens – cited a starting role as his reason for moving. Lille is a good place to be Frau as they are a good team, under-performing at the moment (17th) but with a young core to move along with.

LENS: It is also a striker for Racing Lens who sit third from the bottom. They opted for Toifilou Maoulida of Auxerre as they look to turn around a season in which many never had, but now do, characterize them as ‘strugglers’. The deal is also for three-and-a-half years.

BORDEAUX: Les Girondins have off-loaded Colombian Edixon Perea to Gremio in Brazil. Perea had high expectations of him coming over, but the success of Fernando Cavenaghi and his subsequent relegation to the bench kept him from ever achieving his potential. Gremio paid $1.25 million for the striker. Perea is 23, however, and talented enough to make a concerted effort at a comeback.

NEW COACHES: Grenoble boss Yvon Pouliquen has taken over the reins at FC Metz following the recent departure of Francis de Taddeo, this past Sunday. Metz sits at the bottom of Ligue One with one win in 14 matches. Sochaux who isn’t in much better of a position (second to last) will rely on the services of former Lens coach Francis Gillot to pull them out of the gutter. Sochaux has been without a coach since early December.

LYON: Brazilian striker Fred Chaves could be set to leave during this transfer window as he has been kept to only three appearances so far this season. Fred says he’s happy to stay and fight for his chances at least until his contract runs out in 2009, but that he won’t do that if it hurts his chances to play for Brazil (which it has). Both PSG and Fluminense of Brazil want the young striker and the decision gets even easier for Lyon officials with the possibility of a fantastic signing in Cesar ‘Chelito’ Delgado from Cruz Azul. Delgado averages over 20 goals a year in the Mexican leagues, but his move hasn’t been confirmed as of January 2nd.

ROUND-UP: At the half-way mark, Lyon sits in front with only a 4 point lead over upstarts Nancy. Some other surprises mark the top five – Caen and Le Mans the two that jump out to many. Bordeaux – though inconsistent – are capable of making a run at Lyon as they sit only 6 points out in third place, but it is Nancy who boasts the best defensive record in the league holding opponents to only 11  goals in 19 matches. Former Manchester United man David Bellion is the key figure for Bordeaux as he tries to match Lyon’s youngster Karim Benzema goal-for-goal. Benzema has 12, Bellion has 10.  

MLS Daily Sweeper, 01.02.08: Trade Rumors to Dull the January Jones

Last night I told my wife I was happy to have an off-season from soccer, just a little time off from building my life around the domestic calendar’s schedule.  These are the little lies that sustain a marriage…

– …and I say that ’cause a wicked craving hit the second I checked the upcoming calendar on soccertv.com. What is the next game involving either a Yank club or the Yanquis proper?  The Pan-Pacific Tournament – a.k.a. the LA Galaxy’s latest whip-round for cash – doesn’t kick off till mid-late February – and that’s more like cut-rate codeine than methadone.  I suppose the U.S. Men’s National team get first crack with the January 19 game versus Sweden, but that’s also a friendly, just like the Mexico game in early February.  So, yeah, we’re a long way from competitive soccer featuring enough Yanks to kill my personal jones; we’re probably looking at Olympic qualifying before anything else….shit.

– Speaking of those friendlies – and I know I’m way behind on this – the U.S. men have a couple camps going on, one for the full national and one for the U-23s.  That Oursports Central site has a one-stop release (yeah, I know they lifted it, but it’s where I look) that lists players for both sides.  And, quickly, here’s who either “turns” my crank, “piques” my curiosity, or makes me “titter” for the full national side: Will Hesmer (titter; where’s Ray Burse?); Zach Wells (titter); Eddie Robinson (turns; make room on the damn bandwagon); Marvell Wynne (piques); Maurice Edu (turns); Brad Davis (turns); Josmer Altidore (piques); Jeremiah White (piques); Justin Mapp (turns); Eddie Johnson (titter).  The rest strike me as more of the same…and that’s not necessarily bad.

So, yeah, we’re all standing here just biding time and holding our most precious body parts as we do so…so let’s get to the big rumor floating around. Continue reading

LAST CALL! Happy New Year, Now Give Us All Your Info!

We’re at that point where there are enough readers here, we’d really like to know where you all from!

In the comments section, please let us know that as well as…

1. MLS Allegiance

2. World Club Allegiance

3. Pick for MLS Cup Champion 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

EPL Daily 1.2.08: SAF Lashes Out; Eddie Johnson where?; Rumors; and a New Year’s Run-Down

I’ll have a quick breakdown of readers’ allegiances and what not coming up either later today or tomorrow…for now, however, let the January transfer window commence as the EPL starts to heat up. I will post every significant transaction along with analysis as they arise. EPL match capsules below…

SAF: Sir Alex Ferguson lashed out at Manchester United’s supporters for Glazer-bashing and the fact that Old Trafford sounded like a ‘funeral’ during Man Utd’s 1-0 win over Birmingham yesterday. Carlos Tevez provided something to cheer about, but the atmosphere didn’t last for long. Maybe we should ask for competitive parity in the EPL before we require that supporter’s groups actually get excited to play a Birmingham City! Ferguson also slammed supporters on the topic of Glazer-bashing.

EDDIE JOHNSON: The Times Online UK has listed the suitors for Kansas City Wizards forward Eddie Johnson while the Daily Mirror has thrown one into the mix at well. A combined list includes Fulham, Manchester City, Reading, Derby County again, Middlesbrough, and Benfica. Johnson’s addition to Fulham would give the Cottagers an American army consisting of Keller, Bocanegra, Dempsey, and McBride. It seems Fulham will only make the move if their attempt to sign Liverpool’s wantaway Harry Kewell.

STEVEN PIENAAR: The South African winger for Everton is a rising stock in the EPL and his club loyalty confirms that. Pienaar has asked for special leniency to delay his African Nations Cup call-up in order to play in the Carling Cup semifinal against Chelsea on January 8th. The first match of the  African Nations Cup is January 23rd, but South African national team players are expected to report January 5th in order to prepare. He should find out either today or tomorrow.

TRANSFER RUMORS: David Villa to Chelsea, David Bentley to Chelsea or Atletico Madrid, Emmanuel Villa from UAG Tecos to Derby County, Dean Ashton to a number of clubs, but it was Liverpool midfielder throwing out the ultimatum – saying Liverpool either signs him soon or he’s out and it wouldn’t be very hard for him to find a home. I bet Mohamed Sissoko would like that…

New Year’s Day Matches

Chelsea 2, Fulham 1

A Hodgson-led Fulham side looked much more engaged and ready to play, but the Cottagers – thanks to a botched PK call on Michael Ballack – still took the loss. Danny Murphy put away Fulham’s PK chance in the 10th minute, but it was Salomon Kalou who has become a fixture in Chelsea’s first team who powered home a close-range header to start a 10-minute double salvo that pushed Fulham deeper into the relegation zone. Both Americans – Dempsey and Bocanegra – played all 90-minutes, while Brian McBride is apparently on the hot trail to return by the end of the month.

Arsenal 2, West Ham United 0

First twenty minutes and the game was already put away as the rising duo of Adebayor and Eduardo da Silva each grabbed a goal to ensure Arsenal’s first place position. Both goals were equally ‘magical’ – to quote Ray Hudson. Adebayor’s was put away at the most acute angle possible and Eduardo’s was a half volley with a feint of sorts that threw Robert Green off his mark. Carlton Cole made Manuel Almunia’s life on the pitch a miserable and deceivingly tough one, but the Spanish goalkeeper prevailed. The win over Man Utd put a noticeable fatigue on West Ham’s midfield but it was the early goal that took the wind out of their sails.

Manchester United 1, Birmingham 0

United kept pace with the Gunners and the scoreline looks tighter than it probably should have been. The Devils wasted several chances – especially a three-yard miss from Cristiano Ronaldo that could put away the game. Carlos Tevez scored the game’s only goal early on though and Carlos Quieroz kept them attacking, but nothing would go in. Sir Alex Ferguson’s discontent was somewhat visible as he sat in the crowd serving the second of his two-game sideline suspension. Park Ji-Sung – though regaining match fitness – showed glimpses of his old self, while Michael Carrick had his worst day in a while – bad first touch, terrible vision, etc. Overall, it was clear the West Ham loss took a bit out of the Devils. Tevez paid for his goal as it looks like the forward will miss the FA-Cup match against Aston Villa coming up with severe brusing in the ankle.

Portsmouth 2, Reading 0

This game marked a great day for Marcus Hahnemann – despite the loss and two goals conceded. The American keeper triggered a clause in his deal that guaranteed him a new deal if he played in 20 EPL games on the season. Mission accomplished and Hahnemann stays a Royal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that Pompey unravelled the Royals led by Sol Campbell. Reading didn’t do much for themselves though as three minutes in Ibrahima Sonko was sent off after levelling Benjani in the box. Niko Kranjcar missed the attempt, however. John Utaka added the clincher in the 66th minute as Reading fought against a potent offense that never once let up. For those of you worried about Bobby Convey leaving in the 7th minute, it was merely a tactical decision made by Coppell in reaction to Sonko’s ejection.

Everton 2, Middlesbrough 0

Finishing and a man known as Tim Howard set the tone for Everton’s 2-0 shutout of Middlesbrough. Howard made some remarkable saves allowing Everton’s offense the time to finally put one home. It took until the 67th minute but Andrew Johnson found net and opened the door for James McFadden to add another 5 minutes later. Other than that, the rainy day made it a scrappy affair but Everton corrected their form and seem ready to resume their challenge for Europe.

Aston Villa 2, Tottenham 1

A pair of defenders were the difference on both sides of the field as Villa shut down Berbatov and company. Heading into January, Juande Ramos’ biggest concern his holding onto the Bulgarian striker with Darren Bent most likely on his way out too. Olaf Mellberg powered home a header early on only for it to be snuffed out by Jermain Defoe’s late strike in the 79th minute. Martin Laursen – another central defender – albeit one with 5 goals! – put one home in the 82nd minute off yet another set piece. Michael Dawson was made to look like a lost little puppy by the defenders who scraped and clawed their way to freedom in the penalty box. At least, in post-game interviews, it was reiterated that Berbatov will, in fact, stay at White Hart Lane.