Archive | July, 2010

Liverpool opens season today

29 Jul

Yikes, Liverpool plays Rabotnicki in the third round of Europa League qualification today. Most of the team’s regular stars like Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will not be in the squad. The team hasn’t yet won a pre-season friendly, but hopefully they can cobble together a win today. It will not be the best start to Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool career if he can’t find a way to get it done, granted he does have limited resources at his disposal.

Also, sorry for the lack of regular posting, but I’ve been on vacation and staying away from computers. I’ll be back to regularly scheduled posting on Monday.

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Manchester United tops the charts again

22 Jul

Once again, Manchester United is the most valuable sports franchise in the world, valued at $1.83 billion.  In Forbes’ top 50 list, there are nine soccer teams overall and three in the top ten.  United’s reign at the top of the list is attributed to its worldwide fan base (supposedly at 139 million), plus huge deals with Nike and new shirt sponsor Aon.  The NFL rules the list though, thanks to a lucrative league-wide TV deal. Individually, David Beckham is the only footballer in the top ten after pulling in $43.7 million in the last 12 months.

Even as a Liverpool fan (ranked No. 41, by the way) I’d be interested to see United’s marketing plan just to figure out how they manage to have such global appeal.  I mean, hell, they are $67 billion more valuable than Arsenal, the next Premier League team on the charts (I think, I suck at math though so that might not be accurate).  However, it’s mind boggling that the most valuable sports franchise in the world is in debt.  That just should not happen.

Top Ten Most Valuable Teams
1. Manchester United (Premier League) – $1.83 billion
2. Dallas Cowboys (NFL) – $1.65 billion
3. New York Yankees (MLB) – $1.6 billion
4. Washington Redskins (NFL) – $1.55 billion
5. New England Patriots (NFL) – $1.36 billion
6. Real Madrid (La Liga) – $1.32 billion
7. New York Giants (NFL) – $1.18 billion
8. Arsenal (Premier League) – $1.18 billion
9. New York Jets (NFL) – $1.17 billion
10. Houston Texans (NFL) – $1.15 billion

Top Ten Athletes
1. Tiger Woods (USA/golf) – $105 million
2. Floyd Mayweather (USA/boxing) – $65 million
3. Kobe Bryant (USA/NBA) – $48 million
4. Phil Mickelson (USA/golf) – $46 million
5. David Beckham (ENG/soccer) – $43.7 million
6. Roger Federer (SUI/tennis) – $43 million
7. LeBron James (USA/NBA) – $42.8 million
8. Manny Pacquiao (PHI/boxing) – $42 million
9. Eli Manning (USA/NFL) – $39.9 million
10. Terrell Suggs (USA/NFL) – $38.3 million

Gerrard staying at Liverpool

20 Jul

And all Liverpool fans breathe a sigh of relief.  Captain Steven Gerrard has announced his intention to stay at Liverpool this season after he had been the subject of transfer rumours during the World Cup.  The life-long Red had been linked with both Madrid and Inter.

Seeing this headline when I woke up this morning made my day.  Gerrard had a lackluster season last year, but hopefully he will be rejuvenated for a strong 2010-11 campaign and be Captain Fantastic once again.  His announcement comes on the heels of the Joe Cole signing, which is looking more and more brilliant by the moment.  Well played, Roy Hodgson, well played.

Next on the list for Mr. Hodgson? Convincing Fernando Torres to stay and getting a quality left back.

Cole signs with Liverpool

19 Jul

Former Chelsea man Joe Cole has signed a four year deal with Liverpool, supposedly worth around £90,000 a week (That’s about $137,000 for the Yanks out there).

Cole will replace Yossi Benayoun, who went to Chelsea earlier this summer. I think it could be a good signing (albeit a pricey one), but he’s battled injury issues and heaven knows, Liverpool does not need another player going through the injured/healthy cycle 50 times a season.  It is also a slight concern that he signed with Liverpool supposedly because they offered him the most $$$.  People that play for money are not nearly as committed in my opinion.

On the other hand, the signing shows that new manager Roy Hodgson is ready to do what it takes to get Liverpool back into the top four. With top players like Fernandon Torres, Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano all subject to transfer rumours, bringing in a strong player that can contribute right away is huge. Cole can be dangerous up the left or in the middle and will also be able to offer service to Torres up front.

What do you think of Cole’s signing?

Henry joins MLS

15 Jul

It’s finally official, Thierry Henry has joined the New York Red Bulls in a move that has been rightly speculated for months. 

It’s a good move for the Red Bulls as Henry’s arrival will give them much needed exposure and help put some butts in the seats.  He’s a huge name and will help draw the interest of the ever-fickle New York market.  While there’s no doubt that it’s an excellent PR move, it will be interesting to see how he performs on the field. 

He’s coming off possibly the most embarassing World Cup failure ever and didn’t even start while in South Africa.  He also largely rode the bench for Barcelona (granted he did have players like Lio Messi in front of him).

I could see this going one of two ways.  Possibility 1: He’s like screw all y’all, I can still play and tears it up.  Possibility 2: He’s disillusioned after sitting the bench for so long and doesn’t bother putting in a solid effort.   I do think possibility 1 is the most likely scenario.  There’s no reason for him not to try.  A partnership with Juan Pablo Angel has the potential to cause some serious damage.

We could possibly see Henry in action this weekend against Columbus, but he’ll likely make his debut next week in friendlies against Tottenham and Manchester City.

Final thoughts on the 2010 World Cup

13 Jul

I am still slightly saddened by the fact that the most glorious month of football is over for another four years.  It all went by so fast.  I’m resigned to watching MLS and waiting on transfer rumours until the Premier League starts August 14.  Lame.  Anyways, I got the idea for this post from Sports Illustrated’s 50 observations story and figured it was a good way to do things since I have too many jumbled up thoughts in my head to actually write a coherent post.

My 27 thoughts on South Africa 2010 (in no particular order and which I’m sure to add to)

1. There was no better way to start the tournament than Siphiwe Tshabalala’s rocket shot.  An awesome start for the host nation.

2. I still can’t believe what a disaster the French team was.  Those players are going to be embarassed when they look back on this.

3. I lost track of the number of times I wished that Charlie Davies was healthy and able to play for the U.S. Robbie Findley’s inability to get a decent shot off was so damn frustrating.

4. The more replays I see of Nigel De Jong’s karate kick to Xabi Alonso’s chest, the more I’m amazed that he only ended up with a yellow card.

5. The emotion in this sport is phenomenal.  You can go from tears to cheers to outrage, all over the course of 90 minutes.  What a fantastic sport.

6. How awesome would it have been to be in Spain for the final on Sunday? 

7. Spain’s win emphasized the team over individual.  That team is full of all-stars, but they put their egos aside for their country.  Take note of that, England.

8. While entertaining, Diego Maradona is not fit for coaching.  Like I’ve said before, being a great player does not make you a good coach.

9. Germany was the most fun to watch (well, except against Spain).  The way they could move the ball up the pitch so quickly and finish so well was awesome. 

10. I still think refs needs to be held accountable for their decisions during a game.  There’s no real punishment if they screw up.

11. Landon Donovan’s stoppage time goal against Algeria was one of the highlights of my U.S. soccer watching career.  Absolutely amazing.  It made me cry.

12. Who would have thought Uruguay would make it to the semifinals?  Diego Forlan was a complete stud throughout the tournament and rightly won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

13. Italy’s failure to advance out of the group stage was all about cockiness. They thought they could cakewalk through the group and that wasn’t the case.

14. I think the vuvuzela will stay a South African tradition.  I’m sure a few will pop up in other places, but there’s no way it’s going to replace a good old-fashioned yell.

15. Tim Howard was disappointing for team USA.  Yeah, he had a couple of good saves against England, but he was otherwise pedestrian.  I expected more from a top-class keeper.

16. Fernando Torres was clearly not 100% fit.  His touch was off and he couldn’t find the back of the net to save his life.  An apparent hamstring? groin? injury was just the crappy end he needed.  Well, at least he ended up with a winner’s medal as consolation.

17. I think there should be retroactive punishments for horrible diving.  Example: Ivory Coast’s Kader Keita’s dramatic “facial injury” after running into Kaka, which earned the Brazilian his second yellow of the game.  The game does not need that shizz.

18. How did Lionel Messi not score a goal?  He had some pretty wicked shots on goal and had some goalies make some terrific saves.

19. I have absolutely no problem with what Luis Suarez did in the Uruguay-Ghana game.  Was it illegal? Yes.  Did he get punished appropriately? Yes. It was such a big deal because Ghana was the last African team left, but I’m glad FIFA wasn’t jaded by that fact.  If things had gone the other way around, I’m sure the Ghana fans would’ve said it was worth it.

20. I would not want to be a national team manager, especially for a team like England.  Too many egos involved.  Props to those managers that put up with that crap on a regular basis.

21. My call for biggest upset: tie between Slovakia 3, Italy 2 and New Zealand 1, Italy 1.  I hate the Italian national team so these results were amazing.

22. The World Cup brought out some really good journalism.  It also brought out some total crap.  After Rick Reilly’s horrible WC column, I refuse to read anything he writes.

23. For the love of all that is holy, Bob Bradley, what the hell were you thinking with the lineup against Ghana?

24. The whole Paul the Octopus phenomenon really amused me.  It was crazy to see how seriously people were taking his predictions.  It’s an octopus, people!

25. Game of the tournament: Uruguay-Ghana, hands down.

26. I don’t think Robert Green will ever live down his howler against the United States.  He’s just lucky that draw didn’t cost England a spot in the knockout round or it could’ve gotten a lot uglier.

27. The supposed “stars” of this World Cup didn’t shine, but I’m ok with that.  It allowed players that are equally as awesome like Diego Forlan, Xavi, Asamoah Gyan and more to get their deserved chance in the spotlight.

My World Cup best XI

12 Jul

I’m sure everyone in Spain is drunk with glee, the Dutch are drunk with sorrow, but I’m sober and it’s time for my World Cup best XI.  Let me know what you think.

BEST XI

G – Iker Casillas, Spain – He didn’t win the Golden Glove for nothing.  The Real Madrid keeper posted four straight shutouts in the knockout round and came up huge when it counted, notably on two breakaways from Arjen Robben in the final.  He also saved a key penalty in the quarterfinal win over Paraguay.

D – Carles Puyol, Spain – He was a rock in the back and a leader for Spain throughout the tournament.  His flying header to send the team through to the final.   Puyol was part of a defense that only gave up two goals in seven games.

D – Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Netherlands – The Dutch captain was crucial to their final run.  Playing in his final World Cup, Van Bronckhorst scored one of the goals of the tournament in the semifinal win over Uruguay, unleashing an absolute cracker from about 30 yards out.  The defender was aggressive, yet controlled throughout the tournament and helped keep David Villa off the score sheet in the final.

D – Sergio Ramos, Spain – Sorry for the multitude of Spanish players, but Ramos deserves to be here.  This guy probably ran more than anyone else in the tournament, thanks to his long runs into the attacking third.  He put on a solid defensive display, particularly in the final, and was also a threat to put the ball in the back of the net.

M – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany – He had a stellar World Cup.  Playing in the middle of the field, he was the lynchpin for Germany’s offense.  His field vision and calmness on the ball was excellent and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up in there either.  He’s clearly matured a lot since his first go-round in 2006.

M – Xavi, Spain – Spain’s passing game would not be nearly as fluent without Xavi.  He was a catalyst for the champions and plays his non-glamourous role with aplomb.  He also played a major role in shutting down key players like Wesley Sneijder and Schweinsteiger.

M – Thomas Mueller, Germany – The 20-year-old won the Golden Boot and was also named Young Player of the Tournament.  Not too shabby.  He finished with five goals (same as three others), but won the tiebreaker with three assists.  He made his presence known as part of the killer German counterattack and his dynamic play was sorely missed in the semifinal.

M – Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands – What a season for Sneijder.  He won the Champions League with Inter Milan and came oh-so-close to winning the World Cup.  Although his impact was minimal in the final, his five goals in the tournament helped propel the Dutch into the final.

M – Asamoah Gyan, Ghana – Although maybe best known for missing the penalty at the end of extra time against Uruguay, Gyan was a force for Ghana in its quarterfinal run.  He scored three goals, including the extra time winner against the U.S.  He also gained major respect (at least from me) for nailing Ghana’s first penalty in the shootout with Uruguay mere minutes after missing in extra time.

F – Diego Forlan, Uruguay – Forlan won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and rightly so.  Another five-goal man, Forlan was key to Uruguay’s surprise fourth place finish. (If you called Uruguay as the last remaining South American team, more power to you.)  He came up big when it mattered and was thisclose to sending the third place match into extra time after clanging a last second free kick off the crossbar.

F – David Villa, Spain – He continued to excel on the international stage, scoring five goals, including three game-winners.  He has shown that he can be a threat from anywhere on the field, including 50 yards out (goal against Chile).

BENCH

M – Landon Donovan, USA – Finally shed the big game choker label and scored the goal that sent the U.S. through to the knockout round.  Showed the ability to carry the team on his back.

D – Gerard Pique, Spain – Had a great tournament anchoring Spain’s defense, probably bled more than any other player.

D – Maicon, Brazil – So dangerous down the right flank.  Strong defender with an excellent touch on the ball (See: goal vs. North Korea)

F – Luis Suarez, Uruguay – Made up a fearsome  partnership with Forlan, not afraid to shoot from anywhere.