Rantlines: New Managers, Grant Needs to Keep Mouth Shut, Benetiz in Glorious Backtrack, Jose for England, And More

28 November 2007

First off I would like to apologize for not finishing the match reviews as scheduled. Sometimes life gets in the way of a good plan, plus the fact that one cannot live off VCR tapes forever. Hopefully in the very near future I'll have a DVR where I can store all of the games off TV for quick and easy viewing. Then after the new year, it's after securing a laptop. Hopefully everything comes in due season.

Onto the first topic of the day obviously being two new managers appointed over the course of the American overnight. In what has to be one of the biggest boneheaded decisions ever from an international manager, Alex McLeish left the Scotland post...for the comfort of Birmingham City. The excuse, the Premier League being too much of a lure to get back into club management. I'm sorry but I'm calling balderdash on this one. McLeish, do you not realize you could have gifted any club job right now after the dramatic turnaround you performed with the Scottish National Team? It also seems to me that when your bosses reject a 700,000 pound approach that it isn't the best time in the world to be quitting the job your doing in the first place. Your also taking over a club that is only one point away from the drop zone at present and with the way the bottom eight looks right now, you could be in for the fight of you life...just to keep the lure of Premier League football alive. Bottom line McLeish is you could have cherry picked your next job in club football and the fact you rushed into Birmingham City's job tells me that your heart was never in it as manager of Scotland, and that is simply a bloody shame. Tradition can only get you so far.
The other appointment this morning comes from Pride Park, in that Paul Jewell has agreed to take on yet another daunting task that could see him in an early grave (or at least with more gray hairs), the Derby County job. The man who kept Bradford City and Wigan in the Premier League has been given the task of keeping Derby in the Premier League one more season. If there was any man in the country, if not the globe, that could give Derby County any shout of staying up, it's Jewell. There's just something to the man that gives players belief that the impossible is truly possible. And let's face it, if Derby stay up from the start they have had, it's going to be Jewell's finest hour. Say what you want about Bradford City's great escape, but this Derby County side has never looked Premier League standard. Paul Jewell though at least will be tactically savvy enough to know that if they go zonal at the back they won't be conceding goals, and if they play with the pride and passion they did in the second half against Chelsea, the relegation dogfight could yet again be the story of this Barclays Premier League campaign.

Avram Grant simply amazes me at times. I know Jose Mourinho said some weird things to invoke reactions from the media, but this one from Grant takes the cake. I want anyone to please explain this quote to me ""I don't blame the players for questioning the referee because the decision was unfair. The players did it in the right way by going to the referee...The FA need to be a bit more reasonable. I'm thinking about speaking to the FA but I want to do it in a positive way. We need to do something. For 30 seconds they said something and then the game continued. What's wrong with that?" WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT, YOU HAVE THE GALL TO ASK WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT? Where would you like me to begin Grant, the fact that it's blatant intimidation, brings the referee's decision into disrepute, makes your players look like screaming little brats that were told they couldn't get that chocolate bar at the check out counter. The sadder thing is I could go on with those. I cannot believe the gall Grant has even though Chelsea didn't get the most aggrieved call on the day. Just ask Derby County fans what they think of their goal that was disallowed. Ask them if they didn't feel their hearts collectively getting ripped out. Ask them if what they felt like when Chelsea got their second goal on a questionable no call? Ask them if they didn't feel like just blowing their brains out? The fact of the matter is your very lucky Michael Essien didn't get a five match ban for that pathetic punch and if the FA had any backbone, Chelsea would see the three points they earned at Pride Park lost for a second, yes a second, charge of failing to keep control of the players under contract. Do us all a favor Grant and shut up. Your starting to make Jose Mourinho's comment about omelette's make sense. It is simply not right to crowd a referee.

Boy did Rafa Benetiz backtrack or what. Was it the fact he's saw the writing on the wall and decided he better make peace? Either way Rafa is now saying he wants to stay at Liverpool and bring the side glory. Did you finally wake up and realize that all that money you've spent (and some could claim wasted) hasn't come good and you don't want to be branded a failure for never winning the Premier League. I also wonder if he realized that these two particular managers have had quick trigger fingers for giving managers the sack in their American jobs and decided that he better pick it up. Look Rafa, despite the fans looking to back you tonight, they will soon forget you if your given the sack and someone else comes in and does a better job.

I have to give Sir Alex Ferguson some credit for a change. Why you may ask, because he has come out publicly and backed Jose Mourinho for the England job. The two may not have been the best of friends against each other on the pitch, but at least someone has the forthright to realize that not many people will want the job, or be able to deal with the English media in the manner that Jose can. It also helps now Jose is coming out and almost daring the FA to hire him. All I'll say to you Jose is be careful what you wish for. While you are a natural fit for the job, you are in a position you can choose any managerial job you want. Don't rush into a job is all I'm saying.

Quick Rants:
The 'thank you captain obvious statements' of the day. Spurs fear Berbatov will be gone in January. Like the money you will get for him isn't going to be tempting enough, the table position doesn't help either. Didier Drogba feels Chelsea need to win in order to show Euro credentials...in Norway. Yea like your performance at Stamford Bridge wasn't the best in the world. Gareth Southgate finally admits he isn't bullet proof and needs results, not like sitting one goal above the drop zone will make you open your eyes to that realization...or the fact your in the same boat as Avram Grant. And Sir Alex Ferguson tells his players they need to win silverware before they can be considered great, well winning another Treble would help that fact as well.

So David Moyes, over a month after the fact, is charged by the FA because of comments he made about Mark Clattenburg? Are you only doing this to appease Sir Alex who you had to charge as well? It makes that FA look like they are playing favorites, something they shouldn't be doing.

Only four percent in England think they have a legit chance at the 2010 World Cup, talk about the most obvious reactionary poll in the history of polling. Then again, all polls can be manipulated to show whatever result they so desire.

Before I go, I would like to take a few minutes to answer a question I've gotten from a few people. That question being 'why have I decided to also start blogging on CSRN'? Well the answer to that question is quite simple really. Why would I say no to more exposure and having my blog mentioned on national over air radio? I was graciously asked and when your given an offer like that, it's just too hard to say no.

Until I write again, may the debating begin!

Note: Please post any comments here.

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Rantlines: Manager Number Six, Could Rafa Be Seven? Allardyce Be Eight? And More.

26 November 2007

So I guess two games quickly turned into one. If your to believe the reports from last week, Billy Davies only had two games to turn around his fortunes at Derby County or he was a goner. It doesn't matter much now because after a 2-0 defeat and the fact Davies said in his post match presser he wanted five minutes with Pearson, Billy Davies becomes the sixth manager, and second after immediately playing Chelsea, to have either been sacked or left the club by mutual consent. Jose Mourinho, Sammy Lee, Martin Jol, Chris Hutchings, and Steve Bruce have already left the club they started the season with, a scary thought that thirty percent of the managers have already turned over. After this episode let's make one thing perfectly clear, the new vernacular to a sacking has changed to 'left the club by mutual consent'. Davies, the man who after two failed promotion attempts at Preston North End, got Derby County up at his first attempt at Derby County. However looking completely out of his element in the Premier League ultimately sealed his fate. Moral of the story, some managers are best to stay in the Championship and once getting a side promoted, finding someone who can keep the team up.
The scary thing is...we may not be done with manager sackings before Christmas. It looks like the man who could be leading the sack race right now could be none other than Rafa Benetiz. The sadder thing is this could be totally averted, yet Rafa is heading for a collision course that will only see him jobless. For all the money you have spent Rafa, let's face it you should already have a squad capable of getting results when you need them. To criticize your bosses because as you claim, 'They don't understand what the transfer window means in Europe' when you were given plenty to work with over the summer is an embarrassment to your own credibility. Tom Hicks is one percent in the right to tell you to quit the whining and I don't know DO THE JOB YOU WERE HIRED TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE. And while your at it, maybe getting a core starting lineup instead of this rotation commotion wouldn't hurt either. Just know this Rafa, you don't make the second round of the Champions League and you'll be getting the Jose treatment, you know the one you had so much fun with.
And to add to that list, could Sam Allardyce be the eighth manager to see the ax this season? When your own fans have already turned on you chanting 'you don't know what your doing', something left for referees and not managers, you have to admit your on extremely thin ice. Yes no one likes losing, but fans don't like seeing their side go 3-0 down after fifteen minutes (the game before), fans leaving that game soon thereafter. This past weekend, most left right after the second half began. The fans have given you a directive Sam, there will be no time to rebuild this team. You simply have to produce with what you've got. The bad thing Sam is you simply have not and the fans are ready to turn their backs on you in exactly the same vein you did Bolton at the end of last season.

Quick Rants:
Message to Avram Grant, worry about getting your coaching badges and not appealing a stupid red card Michael Essien picked up over the weekend. That worthless punch should see him on the end of a five game ban and appealing it could make that ban longer.
Thank you Juande Ramos for stating the obvious that Spurs central defense needs lots of work. Just imagine how good Spurs would be had they had two competent people in that position?

Back with more match reviews tonight, until then may the debate begin!

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Match Reviews: Everton v Sunderland and Manchester City v Reading

Well it's another night and time for more weekend match reviews. Tonight I take a look at another two fixtures from Saturday. Tomorrow I'll finish off the Saturday games and Tuesday will be the night the Sunday games will be reviewed. In the meanwhile expect another set of rants to hopefully come up in the morning.

Everton v Sunderland: Sunderland's central defense was an absolute embarrassment, as doubles from Yakubu and Tim Cahill, along with goals from Steven Pienaar, the returning Andrew Johnson, and Leon Osman made Roy Keane's visit to Goodison Park one he will want to forget as Sunderland were simply destroyed 7-1. Dwight Yorke got one back before halftime to throw Sunderland a lifeline to start the second half, but Everton's pressure was just too much.
There really is only one thing negative to say about Everton's performance. That being Tim Howard didn't look at his best in goal. Granted he only really had four situations to deal with, but when your putting yourself in a bad position after parry saves, you have to be thankful for your supporting cast. Arteta showed why this team is special with him and average without him with his play on the wing. It was amazing to see how Everton were able to turn Sunderland's back four with relative ease. Sunderland to be quite frank have to replace Higginbotham and McShane and if they don't have the depth to do it now, they better get someone in January. Route one football should be the easiest to defend and Sunderland made mistakes of it three times. You can't even fault Craig Gordon for five of the seven goals. The midfield didn't have any time on the ball. However the few times they did, Sunderland did make Tim Howard work. There are building blocks for the future, but it means nothing unless the central defense gets better.
Defining Moments

Minute 5: Steven Pienaar with the game's first chance. Pienaar turns Whitehead and McShane, but pulls his shot well wide of the near post. Has to do better with the space he was given.
Minute 7: McShane and Higginbotham with desperate defending after Arteta plays a great cross to Yakubu. Yakubu sees Cahill in plenty of space from ten yards out. However McShane and Higginbotham are able to get in before Cahill blasts one with pace past Gordon. Cahill should have never seen that much space in the penalty area to begin with.
Minute 12: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL YAKUBU. Off a Tim Howard goal kick, Paul McShane misses the ball entirely trying to kick the ball. Yakubu beats Higginbotham before allowing two hops, a settling touch and shooting goal bound and in. The irony to the goal is had Higginbotham not slid in and deflected the ball, Gordon would have had a chance at making the save. Two mistakes led to this goal, the failed clearance from McShane off the goal kick and then Higginbotham allowing Yakubu to blow right by. Everton 1 Sunderland 0.
Minute 17: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL TIM CAHILL. Quick free kick taken by Everton off a Sunderland offside. Yakubu finds Arteta on the wing who turns Harte before flicking onto Neville. Neville then crosses onto Arteta who collects, turns and scores central from eight yards out. Arteta had McShane and Whitehead on him, but only McShane made an attempt to block the shot, and it was half-hearted at best. Poor marking by Sunderland led to this one. Everton 2 Sunderland 0.
Minute 21: Yakubu gets two chances on goal from inside the penalty area, but McShane blocks both shots. Again scramble defending from Sunderland and not the variety you want to see from a central defender.
Minute 24: Sunderland should have pulled one back. Edwards crosses onto the far post, and Howard only gets a weak fist to it. Grant Leadbitter gets his head to ball and puts it into the side netting. Howard doesn't make many mistakes of that ilk and Leadbitter with an open net has to score. It was really the first time Howard was called into action and it he looked shaky at best.
Minute 30-31: Ian Harte gets three chances from corner kicks, but his final touch to Paul McShane is headed wide of goal. The final product from McShane should have been flicked on into the fray instead of heading himself on goal.
Minute 43: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL STEVEN PIENAAR. Sunderland are dispossessed in the midfield and Valente plays onto Pienaar. Pienaar then plays a one-two with Valente before slicing his shot far post and in. The one-two pulls McShane out of position and Pienaar gets past Higginbotham and Yorke before putting his shot on goal. Gordon would have never been able to save that shot as it sliced away from Gordon into the upper ninety. Possession was given away way too cheaply in the midfield and when Everton break, the look more likely to score than miss altogether. Everton 3 Sunderland 0.
Minute 45+2: GOAL SUNDERLAND GOAL DWIGHT YORKE. The cross in from Leadbitter is parried away by Howard. The ball lands at the feet of Grant Leadbitter who's shot is palmed out by Howard. Jones then sees Yorke on running and passes back as Yorke with pace fires home past Howard near post. Had Howard parried the first shot out for a corner, or even caught it, Sunderland don't get a chance. Even still, Lescott has to clear the second shot clear. When teams get a third chance, they normally don't miss. Everton 3 Sunderland 1.
Minute 58: Yakubu takes the ball forty yards out. Turns McShane and makes Higginbotham his personal friend. However he rushed the shot when he still had space to run in and goes wide of the near post. The only thing you can fault there was the final touch.
Minute 62: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL TIM CAHILL. Howard lays off to Joseph Yobo who goes route one all the way to Tim Cahill. Again, and this isn't a recording, Paul McShane isn't able to get the ball and Cahill is there. After four bounces, and seeing Gordon starting to go down, Cahill pokes the ball under Gordon and in at the far post. McShane has to be taken off as this is the second time he has misjudged a ball in the air that has led to a goal. Either way, good take from Arteta as he showed patience in waiting for the right moment to shoot. Everton 4 Sunderland 1.
Minute 64: Michael Chopra has absolutely no excuse for missing the near post. Howard out of position trying to save the ball off the feet of Jones and Valente wasn't turned to block. Chopra then puts too much pace on the shot and is well wide of the near post from four yards out. Talk about a case of simply trying way too hard.
Minute 73: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL YAKUBU. Craig Gordon with a great quick reaction save to deny Leon Osman thanks to a touch by Higginbotham for a corner. Off the corner, taken short, Arteta in space finds Osman who's shot is blocked by Gordon. McShane or Jones are unable to clear and Yakubu is there to turn and fire past an unsuspecting Craig Gordon. Again there is just something about the center of Sunderland's defense that fails them as that ball should have been cleared not once, but twice. The fact Yakubu is able to turn and shoot is just shocking. Everton 5 Sunderland 1.
Minute 80: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL ANDREW JOHNSON. Unreal stuff. Third route one ball and really the ball was a clearance from Phil Neville. Johnson kept McShane off the ball very well. Gordon comes out way too far and Johnson just flips the ball over Gordon and in going far post. McShane has to do better trying and play the ball and you really can't fault Gordon for trying and clear the ball himself. Everton 6 Sunderland 1.
Minute 85: GOAL EVERTON, GOAL LEON OSMAN. My friends this is a goal that should be in goal of the season mention. Osman takes the ball on the center line. Osman doesn't shoot until the penalty spot. In the meanwhile, Osman turns past Higginbotham, freezes McShane in his cleats and sees Leadbitter make a half hearted tackle that was never going to get the ball. Osman then sees Gordon leaning far post and goes more center near post than anything else and it was always going in. Can someone please explain to me why no one and I mean absolutely no one bothered to try and defend that? Completely pathetic from Sunderland as they already had thoughts on how bad Keane was going to give it to them in the locker room. Instead they only added more fuel to that fire. Everton 7 Sunderland 1.
Minute 88: Yellow Card Paul McShane. That was simply McShane taking frustration out on Steven Pienaar.

Manchester City v Reading: A late wonder volley from Stephen Ireland saw Manchester City keep it's perfect start at the City of Manchester Stadium. In a game that Manchester City controlled from the start, Reading saw a late first half equalizer from nothing. In the end, with all the ball control from Manchester City, they were worthy winners on the day where not many chances were scored...winning 2-1.
I think people have to finally realize that Manchester City plays with either two styles of play. The one style is their counter attacking style forcing teams into mistakes, that they do very well. The other style is the one we saw today where the opponents force City into beating them at their own game, and that they are still having difficulty with. It's almost like Manchester City are afraid to push forward or link up with Petrov and Mpenza up front. Sometimes you just have to trust your attackers and let them do their job. The back four with the exception of five seconds played very well and the midfield did well to keep the ball.
Something about Reading today that puzzled me was the fact they looked scared to close down in the midfield and spring counters. The back looked out of place at times and Hahnemann thankfully didn't have much to do, or it could have been a long day for the Royals. It also doesn't help that you waste free kick opportunities in good areas or that you only create one legitimate chance from open play. What is also sad is that this is pretty much the same team, minus Steve Sidwell. This is what happens when you lose the glue that keeps your team together.
Defining Moments

Minute 7: Bobby Convey off a Reading free kick with a crack on goal from 22 yards. However Convey rushes the volley when he could have settled and the result is well wide of the near post.
Minute 11: GOAL MANCHESTER CITY, GOAL MARTIN PETROV. Kevin Doyle dispossessed by Corluka in the midfield who feeds the ball to Ireland. Ireland's centering pass finds Elano who's first effort hits the far post, has his second effort blocked off Hahnemann. Mpenza gets a shot on goal blocked by Hahnemann, and it's Petrov who is there to finish the job. Doyle gave up possession way too easily in the midfield and the failure of Murty to clear the ball off the second block didn't help matters either. Still it shouldn't have taken four attempts for Manchester City in that sequence to score. Manchester City 1 Reading 0.
Minute 43: GOAL READING, GOAL JAMES HAPRER. Off a Hahnemann goal kick. Dave Kitson finds Kevin Doyle. Doyle's pass to Shorey is blocked by Dunne but comes right back to him. Doyle finds Convey central and Convey finds James Harper following on. The flick on from Convey to Harper sets him up perfectly and scores sending the ball central near post. Garrido should have dealt with Harper's shot and he didn't bother trying to block it. Totally against the run of play that goal was. Manchester City 1 Reading 1.
Minute 50: Yellow Card Stephen Hunt. Late challenge from behind on Fernandes Gelson. The studs went into the upper leg and while it didn't look rash, I've seen easier tackles get red. It was at least a yellow card offense and rightfully given.
Minute 58: Kitson gives up a bad free kick after getting caught behind Hamann. However Petrov's shot ends up right at Hahnemann. It looks to have taken a deflection off of Ingimarsson. Either way it wasn't a well taken free kick from a spot where he should be giving the keeper some problems.
Minute 65: Geovanni turns Gunnarsson and from 22 doesn't miss the bottom of the crossbar by much. Not a bad half chance considering there haven't been many to discuss.
Minute 71: Petrov with a great pass to Samaras, but Hahnemann is strong to the task and makes a sliding save of Samaras's shot. Samaras did have to stretch for that shot and you wonder if he would have gotten a better shot off had he not had to stretch.
Minute 78-79: Stephen Hunt pushed by Garrido for a free kick to Reading 19 from the end line. The free kick is wasted in glorious fashion by James Harper as it goes right to Isaksson without anyone making a play on the ball. Shorey should have taken that free kick.
Minute 85: Yellow Card Shane Long. Late tackle after Sun Jihai had already played the ball on. Always going to be a card and he knew it when he went in.
Minute 90: Convey does well to earn Reading a corner. However the corner doesn't clear the first man and Manchester City clear.
Minute 90+2: Geovanni gets in behind Sonko, but blasts the shot over the crossbar from fifteen out. That should have been the game winner and he knew it.
Minute 90+4: GOAL MANCHESTER CITY, GOAL STEPHEN IRELAND. The ball forward finds Geovanni's head. The pass from Geovanni to Ireland was simply perfect and Ireland on the volley finds the near post. That was just nothing more than a perfect volley that no keeper in the world was going to save. Shorey was closest to Ireland, but even he had to not think that volley would be so perfectly struck. Talk about late escapes! Manchester City 2 Reading 1.

Until I write again, may the debate begin!

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Match Reviews: Newcastle v Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers v Manchester United

25 November 2007

Well I am back for another batch of match reviews, this from the start of the Premier League weekend. Sit back and enjoy as I take a look at one utter dominance and another total shock.

Newcastle United v Liverpool: Liverpool simply dominated Newcastle United in a way you won't see many teams dominated during a competitive match. Goals from Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel were compounded by the fact Fernando Torres had four golden chances of his own yet not finding the back of the net as Liverpool leaves St. James Park 3-0 winners.
Fact is Newcastle were killed in the midfield, were woeful at the back, and only once did Newcastle properly link with a forward. Newcastle has to have the narrowest midfield ever seen in professional football. It doesn't also help that the midfield can't press forward and that the midfield is consistently getting beaten to the point they are picking up worthless fouls. It also goes to show you what happens when you cannot get the ball to the feet of Obafemi Martins. Liverpool I think were more shocked at how easy it was to move the ball around the park today as they cut through Newcastle with relative ease. The back four wasn't really tested and the midfield looked like adults taunting kids. One minor concern coming from this game was the fact Fernando Torres didn't finish a number of chances. Had Torres's confidence not been ruined from his time on the bench, Liverpool could have scored seven or eight. It was that kind of easy for Liverpool on the day.
Defining Moments
Minute 8-9: Free kick to Liverpool when Beye fouls twenty-three from goal, however the free kick comes to nothing when shirts were being pulled in the wall and Gerrard isn't able to put his shot on goal. The free kick was generous and the foul in the wall was even more generous.
Minute 22: First shot on target in the game from Steven Gerrard close to thirty yards out, parry saved from Given. There was some knuckle to that shot so Given was well to stop that one.
Minute 28: GOAL LIVERPOOL, GOAL STEVEN GERRARD. Torres fouled by Emre thirty yards from goal. Emre clipped Torres as he was running by and that will always be a free kick. Steven Gerrard takes the indirect free kick from the foot of Lucas and gets a perfect shot on target right past the outside of the wall. Given doesn't see the ball until late and by the time he can react, it's in at the near post. Poor wall from Newcastle and honestly had the two on the outside not moved, I don't think it would have mattered. Gerrard placed his shot that well. Newcastle United 0 Liverpool 1.
Minute 38: Alan Smith puts Newcastle close to an equalizer. Smith takes the pass off his knee and his volley far post doesn't miss by much. First time Newcastle got anything that resembled a proper link up in the game.
Minute 45: Controversial moments involving Shay Given. Fernando Torres gets in all alone and Given comes well off the line. Torres tries to shoot over Given but it hits the shoulder and really should have been a red card hand ball. Either way Kuyt feeds Torres again and his second effort ends up on the far post and back out. Poor defending from N'Zogbia who was the closest man to Torres on the pass and lucky from Given that he wasn't sent off when he should have been. Also please explain to me why Given was twenty-plus yards off his line?
Minute 46: GOAL LIVERPOOL, GOAL DIRK KUYT. Off a Liverpool corner to start the second half, Gerrard finds Hyypia on the near post. Hyypia flicks on and finds the knee of Kuyt who knees the ball in central. Poor line management from Newcastle as no one bothers to come off the line and make the save. Also even poorer from Given to let that ball get past him on the flick on. Newcastle United 0 Liverpool 2.
Minute 60: Torres does well to fight Beye and Geremi to get the ball eight from goal, however his shot ends up curling wide of the far post. Poor defending from Newcastle as Torres should have never gotten in that position.
Minute 61: Yellow Card Nicky Butt. Clips Steven Gerrard ankle first. Tough on Butt as Wiley was in his way and really a harsh yellow card to be given.
Minute 62: Torres beats Rozehnal inside the penalty area, but in that time Given is able to get out and kick save whatever Torres was trying to do with the ball. That would have been the time to flick over Given's body.
Minute 66: GOAL LIVERPOOL, GOAL RYAN BABEL. Babel plays a perfect one-two with Gerrard after a very long spell of continued possession. Babel beats Butt and Rozehnal was in the place Babel took the shot from. However Rozehnal went after Gerrard. Poor defending from Rozehnal and Enrique on that one as both Gerrard and Babel were in plenty of space. Newcastle United 0 Liverpool 3.
Minute 68: Torres gets in all alone after Geremi keeps him onside but pulls the shot wide of the far post. Should have finished that one off.
Minute 69: This is a recording. Torres breaks the central defense down yet again and it's Given who kick saves before Torres can shoot. How many chances can you get?
Minute 79: Yellow Card Mohamed Sissoko. Dangerous challenge on Joey Barton using both feet diving in. That challenge will always see a color.
Minute 87: Yellow Card Habib Beye. Shoulder lunge into the back of Fernando Torres. Stupid challenge that could only be birthed out of frustration.
Minute 90+1: Yellow Card Alan Smith. Too many fouls makes Smith see the book.

Bolton Wanderers v Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson yet again underestimates a new manager at a club as Bolton through a Nicolas Anelka eleventh minute goal was enough to see off the pressure of Manchester United and give Gary Megson his first win as Bolton gaffer winning 1-0 at the Reebok.
What can be said about Gary Megson. He has brought back the football that everyone may groan about with Bolton, however for the Bolton players it's just effective. The back was tight, the midfield did it's part, but Bolton wasted chances to put this game out of reach. Manchester United looked completely disheveled on the day and it makes you wonder what they are like without Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. Do Manchester United just not have the depth they thought they did? The shocking bit to it all was the fact that the Red Devils just looked shaky enough at the back, and were pressing too much going forward. Gerard Pique needs more matches to get better and it wouldn't hurt for him to be loaned out to a Championship side to get just a little bit more seasoning.
Defining Moments
Minute 9: Carlos Tevez goes to ground off a Davies challenge. Really nothing to the challenge and Tevez dropped to ground a tad too easily. Referee correct in playing on.
Minute 11: GOAL BOLTON WANDERERS, GOAL NICOLAS ANELKA. Free kick conceded by Patrice Evra on a poor challenge to Danny Guthrie. While Guthrie may have over hit the ball, the fact remains that Evra shouldn't have hit the deck and sent Guthrie flying. Ivan Campo takes the free kick and the ball makes it's way through to Nicolas Anelka who one times it far post and in. Gerard Pique doesn't head the ball clear and Louis Saha was posting up Kevin Davies. Pique was the man responsible for marking Anelka. Had Pique just stayed with Anelka, Van der Sar has an easy save. Instead one mistake leads to a shocking start. Bolton Wanderers 1 Manchester United 0.
Minute 19: Patrice Evra and Kevin Davies gets into a little bit of a tussle after Davies catches Evra late. Why Evra felt the need to come back with a small shove is beyond me. Just move on with life.
Minute 22: Yellow Card Kevin Davies. Stupid challenge on Patrice Evra by Davies after Evra had already played the ball off his feet. You would have thought that Davies would have gotten the message from the challenge of just a few minutes ago.
Minute 29: Ryan Giggs with Manchester United's first decent effort on goal. However it's from distance and right off the back of Andrew O'Brien...right into the ever waiting hands of Jussi Jaaskelainen. It was more speculation than shot and a shot that didn't really ever look like it was going to threaten the Bolton keeper.
Minute 31: Mark Clattenburg has a serious discussion with Kevin Davies after yet another challenge on Patrice Evra. Davies was late on the challenge as Evra had already headed the ball clear by the time Davies clashed heads with Evra. Honestly that should have been a second yellow and Davies is very fortunate to escape with only a warning.
Minute 34-35: Now it's Kevin Davies winning a free kick for Bolton in a decent position after beating Evra with ball on feet and Evra taking Davies down. Either way the resulting free kick and corner come to zero and Bolton will feel that was a wasted opportunity. They didn't even create a decent half chance off the set pieces.
Minute 38: Owen Hargreaves still doesn't have his Manchester United account open. Nani on the wing finds Tevez inside the penalty area. Everyone wearing a Bolton kit closes down Tevez who finds an on rushing Hargreaves twenty from goal. However Tevez puts the ball on Hargreaves off foot and the shot curls wide of the far post. Even if you don't score off that effort, you have to at least make Jussi work for a save, something he didn't have to do.
Minute 43: Had Rio Ferdinand been just a little softer with his ball forward to Tevez, he's equalizing the game. Nicky Hunt was caught just a little flat footed and even on the Rio long ball, Tevez just barely missed getting his head to it. Bolton will consider themselves fortunate to have escaped.
Minute 53-54: Free kick to Bolton after a one two to Guthrie is fouled by Michael Carrick. Anelka and Campo are over the ball and and it's Anelka's free kick that is blocked out for a corner. The resulting corner leads to a spell of possession for Bolton, but Davies is unable to link up with the final pass from Campo and it's out for a goal kick.
Minute 59-60: Ivan Campo catches Louis Saha without playing the ball for a Manchester United free kick. Comes to nothing when Manchester United try to go wide before centering the ball.
Minute 62: Kevin Nolan holds off Michael Carrick as well as drawing Wes Brown in. However Nolan's pass to Davies is one timed right off Brown's back. Davies had a chance to get a touch before shooting but his hurriedness to shoot hurt that shot.
Minute 64-66: Yellow Card Kevin Nolan. Patrice Evra was on the attack and Nolan took him down from behind, most times that will be a yellow card and that time it was. Hargreaves's free kick is put in a good spot, but it's Jaaskelainen with a wonderful parried over the bar save. The resulting corner kick appears to come to nothing, but it's Nicky Hunt catching Evra before the cross could be played for another free kick. Hargreaves's free kick is deflected out for a corner, that Meite clears. The first real sustained period of attack for Manchester United.
Minute 72: Patrice Evra finds Carlos Tevez in the perfect place between Meite and Gardner. However Tevez's final touch severely fails him and instead of toe poking in the equalizer, he puts his shot well wide of the near post. Tevez has to finish that shot and there are no excuses to why he didn't.
Minute 81: Tevez tries to feed Saha, but Jaaskelainen is there to slide in and save before Saha can get a shot on goal. Jussi hasn't had to do much, but the work he has had to do has simply done the job.
Minute 87: Yellow Card Nicky Hunt. Time wasting by taking too long to get the ball back into play off a throw in.
Minute 90+2: Ivan Campo concedes a corner that brings Van der Sar forward. It's Campo defending the ball. Evra dispossess and heads down the wing, Louis Saha running unmarked in the penalty area. However instead of Evra passing to Saha for an easy equalizer, Evra goes for glory and severely misses the crossbar. Wasteful from Evra as Saha wouldn't have missed from where he was.
Minute 90+4: Diouf concedes a free kick in a dangerous spot and it's Owen Hargreaves to take. That didn't miss by much as it ends up on top of the net, not inside it.

I will be back over the course of the next three days covering as many games as time allows. Until then, may the debate begin!

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Rantlines: What I am Thankful For, I Never Want to Hear One Thing Mentioned Never Again, Bruce on Hold, and more.

22 November 2007

First off I have to say that there are many things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving day. I am thankful that my dad is still alive on this planet and thankful for the wonders of modern medicine and what it can do to people (On an aside, he's still not doing well. This recovery is taking longer than expected). I am thankful that I have the world's cutest niece in the world who is celebrating her first birthday today. I am thankful I still work in a decent enough job with wonderful benefits...
But I am extremely thankful that I am not now or ever going to be the manager of the England National Team.
Yes that 3-2 victory by Croatia on Wednesday was simply the straw that broke the camel's back. Steve McClaren, the man who in one qualification competition lost more points than one Sven Goran Eriksson did in his entire time as England manager, has finally been sent on his merry way. Now McClaren can change his story about what time he knew he was sacked, but I'm going to go with before 9:04 am when the Daily Mirror was the first to break the story that McClaren was sacked. All I know to say is that had to be the quickest meeting in the history of the FA. Meet at 8:30 probably drank a cup of java or tea, and then collective looked at each other and said he was sacked, to be finished by 8:45. The sad thing to this whole ordeal is McClaren should have done the right thing, the same thing Kevin Keegan did. He would have saved himself plenty of torment by just tendering his resignation instead of getting the sack. Then again, I can see 2.5 million reasons he didn't, that being his sad payoff. Memo to anyone writing a contract from now on, if you sack someone, there should be zero compensation for the fact they cannot do their job properly... you'll save plenty of money that way. McClaren can cry all he wants about this being the saddest day in his career, but I wonder how it pales in comparison to how those England fans were thinking the second they found out you were hired? If you McClaren think you're a better coach now than you were eighteen months ago, I would hate to think what you thought of your own skills then.
One thing I would be extremely wary about right now if I was an England National Team supporter is this one simple harsh reality. No manager in the history of the World Cup has won the title for a country other than the country of their birth. So when the odds makers have Jose Mourinho, Marcello Lippi, Fabio Capello and Martin O'Neil as favorites, that should tell you what the standard is with English managers...that being it's just not good. It's pretty comical when Niko Kovac is taunting England about how easy there were to beat.

Now I want one thing made perfectly clear from now on. Anyone who complains to me about gridiron lines on a pitch in any of my comments will have them instantly deleted. Why you may ask, the answer is quite simple. I have only heard of ONE (yes one) person in the blog world or print media scream about said lines from the game last night. That person being Giles Smith in the Times. And the fact he is blaming America for the condition of the pitch instead of Wembley for either scheduling the game or failing to replace the pitch when they had close to a month to do so is simply stupid and hypocritical on his part. Now to the rest of you lot who haven't made one mention of the gridiron lines. From now on, should you say anything about them during an MLS match simply goes to show you how much you do not care to see the league succeed. You are hypocritical because when you complain about one, you better get ready to complain for it all. As I've said before I have no problem with these lines, but the silence from everyone else about it on Wembley's surface on it's biggest European night in quite sometime makes my blood boil and only goes to show exactly how ignorant/hypocritical/stupid some people truly are.

So 250,000 quid is holding up Steve Bruce being announced as Wigan Athletic manager? That to me has to be the most comical thing I've ever seen in my life. You mean to tell me that of that three million you got from Wigan to approach Bruce in the first place wasn't enough? What's next Birmingham City, trying to approach Marcello Lippi? Oh wait you sadly thought you had a snowballs chance in hell at him. Look Birmingham City, be thankful you got three million from anyone to save you from having to pay him a compensation package and move on with life, like trying to find a proper manager. And you may not want to take your jolly sweet time either.

Quick Rants:
I give Gabriel Agbonlahor all the credit in the world for committing his future to Aston Villa despite Arsenal breathing down his throat. He took the lessons learned from seeing what happened with Petr Cech and Didier Drogba and applied them well.
So Sven is going to get another four million quid to stay around Manchester City and not be tempted from other clubs. Honestly I think Sven is perfectly happy to be at Manchester City simply to rub it into the big clubs in England that he actually was a good manager...and that it's already been proven.
So now Gordon Brown wants a home internationals next summer. Gordon stay out of sport and stick to politics. Though the sad thing is I could see this happening just to rub it into UEFA and Euro 2008. But why would you bother watching four countries who didn't get into Euro 2008?

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and I will be back tonight with a ninety minutes blog of Steve McClaren's last game in charge of England. Until then may the debate begin!

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Rantlines: Manager's Transfer, Memo to Liverpool Players, Rafa May Wish He Didn't Snub Bayern Munich and more.

20 November 2007

I would like to welcome those who read this blog on Word Press to the fold as I start up today's wacky world of the rantline.

The first thing I want to spend a few minutes discussing is the three million pound transfer of Steve Bruce from Birmingham City to Wigan Athletic to be Wigan's new gaffer. The one comical bit to this is that Chris Hutchings is backing Bruce, like he has any say in this matter. One line in the above linked article caught my interest. That line, the quote from Dave Whelan where he says "You would think nothing of paying £3 million for a player, to have a manager of his quality - it's a very cheap price to pay." When you look at it that way he's right, but it makes you scratch your head for two reasons.
The first reason being why on God's green earth would you say that in a public forum knowing that from here on out, that figure will now probably start at double for other clubs (including yourself Wigan should you see yourself in another managerial bind when you screw up another signing). To basically say that managers can be transfered from club to club and thinking it's going to be this cheap in the future is absurd at best considering good players start between seven to ten million. Sure you got Bruce on the cheap because of his uncertainty at Birmingham City and the fact there was a real possibility he would be sacked once new ownership took over, and that it would have been easier for them to just take the three million and run instead of paying his buyout clause, but now you just gave carte blanc to let other owners hijack the negotiation process knowing they will be able to get more money. Now yes owners of managers under contract should be able to get the best deal they can possibly get, but why advertise something you didn't have to. If you haven't guessed the second reason by now, this is just another prime example of how much money is being spent in today's Premier League environment.

A memo to current and any future Liverpool player, do you think you could possibly invest better in anything that resembles a proper security system? A fifth (yes you read that number right) Liverpool player was burglarized Thursday and this time the target was none other than Dirk Kuyt. Add him to a list that includes Peter Crouch, Jerzy Dudek, and Daniel Agger. Let's look at a few simple realities here...
1) If someone wants to burglarize your home, don't you realize that the public pretty well knows your schedule and other particulars. It isn't difficult to find addresses to your work schedule is pretty well public.
2) A high price security system may take away from buying that Porsche or Lamborghini for another month, but they are getting cheaper every day.
3) Even with your salary, couldn't you hire an off duty police officer to patrol your house when you know your going to be gone?
However it does make you ask the question...would you want to live in Liverpool when it appears that's where all these burglaries are happening?

This story to me is just funny. If your Rafa Benetiz, knowing that this is probably your last season at the club unless you by hook or by crook win either the Champions League, Premier League, or FA Cup, wouldn't you keep your options open? Why would you reject the notion of possibly going to a club next season that by all means is loaded thinking that as long as you finish in the top four and make deep runs in the Champions League everything is going to be alright? Eventually ownership may think that you've just hit a wall that you can't climb over and will just look for someone else to get them over the hump. If your a Liverpool supporter, of course your going to be happy that Rafa isn't looking for another job, but don't you have to have a little bit of doubt that he could get the sack at the end of this season?

Quick Rants
I just laugh at the complaining from those inside Chelsea crying about the fact Avram Grant is facing Monday morning classes in Israel so he can get his coaching badges. Look Chelsea insiders, you knew when you hired him as your gaffer that he didn't have his badges and was going to need them pronto. Also for someone who has been in coaching since age eighteen, wouldn't you have sometime in your busy life just went ahead and kept your badges current?
Speaking of Chelsea, so now Michael Ballack is ready to play for the club again. Anyone want to take bets on how fast he's crocked again? Just pick a charity and a reasonable amount and we'll pool the monies together and the winner will have the whole lot donated in your name. Ballack may have come to Chelsea on a free, but so far he maybe an even bigger waste of money than the 30 million quid failure. At least Sheva gets a goal every once in blue blowout.
You have to feel a little sad for Staines Town right now. With their FA Cup first round replay canceled due to a waterlogged pitch, they appear to have potentially lost 75,000 pounds they could have put to good use. Hopefully Sky Sports will do the reasonable thing and put their match on when it's rescheduled, but I'm not holding my breath on it.
So Roy Keane will only get fifteen million pounds should Sunderland stay in the Premier League? I hate to say this, but that may only get you one maybe two players next summer unless you have the best scouts in the history of the world.
Peter Crouch says he's happy to play the lone striker role should he be required on Wednesday. Honestly with a better scoring record than Wayne Rooney, it's not the worst idea I've heard of. Then again, Crouch has always needed someone else up front to play against.
Until I write again, all feedback is welcomed and appreciated!

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Rantlines: MICKEY D-E-R-B-Y, Foreign Cap Hypocrites, Platini In Head Scratching Moments, Cech Pulls a Drogba, and More.

16 November 2007

So the Walt Disney Company is talking to Derby County? Make all the jokes you want to about their performances so far in the Barclay's Premier League, but this one makes sense for them...if they already didn't have an agreement with Chelsea Football Club. The deal with Chelsea, more at a youth level, still makes you seriously scratch your head this sudden interest in a side that looks destined to be relegated to the Championship this summer not to return for a while. It's really sad that the link to Chelsea wasn't mentioned in any reports about all this potential takeover talk, nor the speculation that this could be Disney's way in with the Premier League in regards to possibly trying to slip the Premier League TV rights away from FSC and Setanta. While Derby County could use the money that the Disney Company has, Disney has plenty of explaining to do in regards to having a contract in the United Stated with Chelsea, yet trying to buy Derby County.
Speaking of the whole US owners bit, can someone please tell Michel Platini that using the whole 'American way of thinking' bit is a complete waste of time and that it would have simply been wise to keep his mouth shut on this one? So it's only Americans who are only in it for money? It's only Americans that will try and change the rules? So Platini I am going to ask you a few questions that no one in Europe has the guts to ask you. One, please explain to me why the UEFA Champions League is full of 'non champions'? Two, please explain to me if it's not all about the money then why do you not complain about all the advertising boards along the side of the pitch and the big sponsor logo in the center of a team's kit? Three, do you seriously think Platini that it's only Americans who are wanting to change the rules so more cash can come in due to advertising breaks and that if Blatter could get away with saying it he would? The only thing in Platini's whole diatribe that makes any sense is the American owners in the Premier League should have invested more in the game here in the United States.

Well the talk of Foreign quotas have started again in the Premier League and it is nothing more than total hypocrisy on the part of the two people who are all of a sudden trying to champion it's cause. When Steve Coppell spoke about quotas, one could debate the point. However when Steven Gerrard starts talking about quotas, one seriously has to laugh directly in his face. Then it makes people start looking at both Reading's and Liverpool's first team rosters to see exactly how many 'English' players they have. Reading, well I'll give you credit because your first team roster has eleven players on it, but only half of them ever see game action. Liverpool, well they only have nine first team 'English' players, however only four will ever see any first team game action. The rest of them simply rot in reserves. If you were a foreigner playing under Coppell, could you look your manager in the eye after the comments he made and feel slighted because of the fact Coppell wants to potentially replace you for an English born player. If your a foreigner at Liverpool, how can you look your captain in the eye and play on the same pitch as him, knowing he wants to limit how many foreigners he wants to play along. It's obvious that this over reaction to the potential of England not qualifying for the European Championship is hypocritical on every front, and only thing to say about it is simple. Shut up and simply play football. If your English, do more work and maybe just maybe, you'll get on the park more often and Premier League teams may not have to feel the need to go out and get foreign investments.

So the keeper in the helmet is now backtracking on comments made that he would be keen on making a move to Barcelona? Do players not realize that in today's media world, people do not forget the original story and that people are simply not that stupid to see a backtrack when they see one? When Didier Drogba made comments about wanting to leave Chelsea this upcoming summer, he instantly went into suck up mode; wearing the blue shoes and suddenly upping his work rate to the form that Chelsea fans came to love. Cech, do everyone a favor. Next time someone asks you about joining another club; just say that you are not thinking about a move, don't intend to think about a move, and that you love playing for the club you're currently at.

Quick Rants
Just when you thought Jose's name had left Premier League minds, he takes a swipe at Arsene Wenger yet again. If he's slamming Wenger now, boy isn't going to be interesting what he says should Liverpool not qualify out of the Champions League group stage to the knockout round?
Don't you just have to love all the talk from the English media about why the FA won't back McClaren? Thanks for telegraphing to the entire world that at 10pm GMT Wednesday that you have sacked him? If this news leaked out ala Martin Jol, could you see the fans at Wembley giving him the 'good bye' song?
So Liverpool is saying they will get rid of Peter Crouch for 10 million in January. When Sven Goran Eriksson heard that news, how fast did he call the owner for the funds so that at 12:01 am on January 1, he could make a bid and pick him up for Manchester City? And is it not sad that Sven seems to be the only manager that has any faith in the player?
It's very hard for me to believe these numbers, but is it not sad that Bolton have claimed in their financial report they spent 41.9 million pounds on players over the last fiscal year, and currently sit in 18th? It only makes the words from Platini only ring more hollower.

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Seattle to Become MLS 15th Team. Can You Get a Sixteenth by 2009?

13 November 2007

So I'm sitting here this early morning looking a couple of my favorite websites and I spot this little nugget...
"Can Drew Carey ever show his face in Cleveland again after becoming part owner of a soccer team? In Seattle?"

Curiosity gets the best of me and MLSnet is reporting that the world's worst kept secret will be confirmed in a press conference that Seattle will get the fifteenth franchise to begin play in 2009. It's obviously a natural fit for Seattle to get a franchise with it's history in the sport and the fact a team in the northwest is just smart business sense.

Two things though worry me about this selection.
1) The team will be playing at Quest Field, current home of the Seattle Seahawks. I guess we'll get those idiots who will damn this team to hell because American football lines will be on the pitch. While it doesn't bother me to the extent of some people, it could turn off a select number of people.
2) The Seattle Sounders playing in USL only averaged 3325 this past season, a drop from the 3826 it was in 2006. Even in winning the USL 1 Title, they only averaged 3374 for their two playoff games.

The one positive thing about this move though does excite me. Drew Carey will have a minority ownership in the club that also includes Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, Seattle Sounders owner
Adrian Hanauer, and majority owner Joe Roth, a Hollywood producer. What this does tell me is this team will be financially stable and hopefully they use that money to openly market the club to the region to put fans in the seats. Another thing I think will prove to be a positive is Drew Carey appears to really want to make this club a club of the people, even going as far as holding elections every four years for the General Manager. I will feign ignorance on this, but it does surprise me that teams don't openly try to promote official club memberships. (On a side note, I will be doing some research on this matter sometime this week so I can see how truly wrong I'll probably be.)

The biggest question I have is can MLS get itself in gear and also in the near future announce a sixteenth franchise to start in 2009? Obviously Philadelphia looks to be a sure fit, but I would also like to see if there is a possibility that someone in the Vancouver area could get an MLS investment group going. You couldn't go wrong with either one of those two cities (I'll even include St. Louis in that mix) and with 16 teams, you could go to a table structure similar to that in Mexico and also schedule everyone home/away for a comfortable 30 game season.

Also on a side note, I will also be doing a live blog of the MLS Cup Final live as it happens on the USA Soccer Spot website from noon Sunday. I hope you stop by and take a look.

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Rantlines...FA v Barton w/ Barton Winning, Jens Wants to go Well Let Him, Carson Finds a Home, and more

12 November 2007

I would first off like to apologize for not getting any more match reviews up this weekend. It's been a hectic night getting the house prepared for my dad's arrival home tomorrow. I'm happy to report that the surgical pain is starting to finally go away, and he's finally stopped chasing nurses. He's just happy to be coming home, and I'm just happy this ordeal is temporarily over.

That said, time to get a few things off my chest from the world of the Premier League.
It's time for the FA to get serious about retroactively banning players for dangerous play the referee obviously didn't see. The incident in question this go around happened around halftime of Sunderland/Newcastle when Joey Barton went studs up into the most sensitive bits of Dickson Etuhu. I just love the fact that one minute they are saying they want to use the video, but then quickly turn around and say they are not and cannot do anything about it. It's plainly obvious the referee didn't see the incident in question and in those matters, the last time I checked you were suppose to come in and be a voice of reason. What Barton got away with is simply inexcusable and the fact that you as an organization decide to do nothing only makes you look like a bigger joke to the rest of the world. Barton should have at least been brought up on charges, and that he isn't going to be. Would charges have been raised if this was a team in the top four? One would think probably so.

So Jens Lehmann is saying he wants to leave in January in order to save his international career. I have a feeling deep down in Arsene Wenger's mind he's already preparing the good bye speech that will be said about you as you head off to some mid table German club. Look Jens, your simply getting to that age where younger players will get a chance, you have to live with it. The fact that you just simply assume you'll be Germany's number one for the rest of time and that just isn't the case. Look, it's highly debatable that your the best keeper at Arsenal (it really is a case of Lehmann and Almunia being pretty much the same keeper) and the fact you've put yourself out there and slag off your manager about the situation your in makes look an utter fool and I will have no pity on you when you aren't the Germany number one. With the way you run your mouth, you simply don't deserve it.

So it appears that Scott Carson will no longer be a Liverpool pawn and will finally have a settled home as the full time Aston Villa keeper. The 22 year old appears to have finally taken roots at Villa and the fact Carson is as young as he is only makes this a wise move for Villa. Aston Villa get an improving keeper that will be a rock at the back (if he could get a little bit more help from his center backs) and a player that could be with the club for the next ten years. I applaud this as it was obvious he was going to end up being number 2 at Liverpool and in the end, Liverpool get a little bit of money back to cover some of those signings from last summer.

Quick Rants
Rafa Benetiz ought to be ashamed of himself for being thankful that Fernando Torres won't be called up by Spain. If I was Spain, I would call him up out of spite. Have we seriously gotten to the point where playing for your own country is meaningless? Statements like the one Rafa made should come with a heavy price...out of his own pocketbook.
So Paul Robinson says he wants to stay the number 1 at Spurs? Well Paul, why should anyone else want you considering the poor form you have been on? Be thankful that any club would want you as a number 1 right now.
Steve Gibson says that he isn't looking to replace Gareth Southgate. Would anyone be surprised now if he's the next manager to go? Isn't that almost like getting the not so vote of confidence?
Steve Bruce says that English player simply aren't good enough and wants to go after those from abroad in January. Thanks for telling us something the world already knows plenty about.

Remember, your feedback is always welcomed and appreciated. May the debate begin! Note: I will return Wednesday with some more ranting as I spend tomorrow with my dad as he gets out of hospital.

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Premier League Round 13 in Review Part 1

Hello, just another quick update on my dad. He is doing much better and out of Heart Recovery and into his own room (and in the making me jealous moment, with his own Plasma TV). It looks like it will be Tuesday before he is allowed to come home as his blood pressure overnight Friday and into Saturday dipped dangerously low. However he is now making a sound recovery.

I've decided to make a slight tweak to my match review and after letting a couple of people have a look they have told me it's the most concise one yet. I hope you enjoy and remember all feedback is welcome and appreciated. Tonight I take a look at the three games from Saturday.

Sunderland v Newcastle United: The Stadium of Light saw a very entertaining second half as James Milner's cross that ended up in the back of the net canceled out Danny Higginbotham opener in a game that ended 1-1. The first half really didn't see too many serious chances on goal, but the second half and more importantly the final twenty minutes saw some exciting stuff to watch. Sunderland have to be the more upset side as they dominated huge chunks of this game, however their failure to capitalize on their scoring chances was to their undoing in getting all three points. I was very impressed with Chopra and Leadbitter as they linked up well together, and with Kenwyne Jones as he frustrated Newcastle in the midfield. As for Newcastle United, they will to feel very very fortunate to get one point out of this game. They were out played in every aspect of this game and only had one true spell of lasting possession in the second half. Their goal looked a cross and the play of David Rozehnal was simply shocking. Teams have figured out if you can frustrated Newcastle in the midfield, they have a very good chance of getting all three points. It also didn't help that Martins wasn't able to come on until late due to an illness. Though you would have expected him to be on the park right after Newcastle equalized to give them an added spark.
Defining Moments
Minutes 5-6: Free kick to Sunderland after Joey Barton gives away a cheap foul. First real chance of the game to either side and it's Leadbitter to take and blows the chance as his free kick goes right into the wall. They keep possession and earn a corner that Leadbitter gets on the end of, but Taylor blocks. For first chances, talk about rather tame ones at that.
Minute 15: Ross Wallace in plenty of space off the cross in as Taylor went to mark Jones inside the far post. Instead of setting the ball, Wallace volleys an effort well over the crossbar. Wallace has to do better with chances like that as he was in all alone with Harper. Had he played that and Harper raced off his line, it's an open goal and chipping over a downed keeper wouldn't have been that difficult from as close as Wallace was.
Minute 24: Yellow Card Michael Chopra. Charles N'Zogbia on a nice run gets clipped from behind by Chopra who wasn't making a play on the ball. Free kick comes to zero.
Minute 25: Danny Collins on for the injured Nyron Nosworthy. The only defender Sunderland have on the bench.
Minute 27-28: First chances for Newcastle N'Zogbia's cross goes to Owen at the far post and Gordon denies. Difficult angle for Owen and even more difficult decision to give a corner when the replay showed it looked in. Doesn't matter as the corner is easily cleared by Sunderland.
Minute 32: Two golden chances by Sunderland denied on the line. Edwards's cross finds Harte who's shot far post is saved by Harper before Chopra can mop up. The second attempt comes from Grant Leadbitter who sees shot blocked by Alan Smith. You have to do better with chances like those.
Minute 36: Yellow Card Abdoulaye Faye. Kenwyne Jones and Faye get their feet tangled right in the edge of the penalty area. At first glance it looks the right call, but on second look, I can't understand why a yellow was given. Nothing malicious in the challenge as they were going for a fifty fifty ball and was marking very well. Doesn't matter in the end as the free kick goes the other way.
Minute 44: Excellent save from Steve Harper to deny Chopra. Collins dispossesses Barton in the midfield and finds Chopra heading to the end of the penalty area. Chopra then gets into position on the edge of the penalty area and forces Harper to go far post to make the save. Harper does well to save, but was cheated too much on the near post. Chopra though, had Leadbitter central and didn't bother to make the pass.
Minute 52: GOAL SUNDERLAND, GOAL DANNY HIGGINBOTHAM. David Rozehnal poorly concedes a corner not trying to play the ball against an on rush Jones, who dispossessed Taylor in midfield. Newcastle are not set and Sunderland quickly take the corner. Jones taps to Leadbitter who sees Higginbotham rushing far post after beating James Milner and crosses in. Higginbotham latches onto the header and scores sending the ball center of the goal. Harper goes to ground and the closest man to the goal scorer was Steven Taylor. What was Rozehnal thinking as this goal is all on him. Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 0.
Minute 62: Habib Beye on for the injured Abdoulaye Faye. Faye looked to tweak the hammy there.
Minute 65: GOAL NEWCASTLE UNITED GOAL JAMES MILNER. James Milner takes the pass down the left wing plays a 1-2 before getting to the edge of the penalty area. His shot looks like a cross on goal but he isn't going to care as it bounces in far post. Paul McShane nearly got a foot to it, but the fact Gordon didn't bother trying to go after the ball bothers me. Granted I don't think he would have gotten to that ball, he still should have made a play on it. Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 1.
Minute 66: Kenwyne Jones so close to giving Sunderland the lead in great reply. Didn't get fully turned as his shot goes wide of the far post. Couldn't have asked for more there but to score.
Minute 68: Michael Owen takes the long ball, beats the central defense, but gets too wide and loses his balance before shooting. He had the defenders turned and should have set up his body before shooting that one. In the end it was so tame Gordon had the easiest of saves.
Minute 70: Yellow Card Steven Taylor. Steven Taylor flails the arm and catches Chopra in the face. Obvious booking. Sunderland's free kick taken by Leadbitter ends up hit with too much pace and out for a goal kick. Has to do better with that free kick as they had plenty of options on the far post.
Minute 77: How is Kenwyne Jones called for a foul when Harper doesn't get control of the football? Martin Atkinson was just a little too quick with the whistle there when he shouldn't have been.
Minute 82: Corner to Sunderland that is taken by Harte. Harte goes far post and Chopra is very unfortunate to see that ball end up on the underside of the crossbar and out. Vaduka was there to mark and didn't do a good job of it. Had Chopra been half a yard in, that's 2-1 to Sunderland.

Derby County v West Ham United: Pride Park saw Derby County taken behind the woodshed and simply beaten senseless as West Ham United took a late first half goal and turned it into a 5-0 thumping of Derby County. West Ham though were under a little pressure early in the first half, but it was the late first half goal, that was controversial at best that sent Derby County into a tail spin.
I just have one question for Billy Davies. Can you please explain to your supporters why you feel the need to man mark when at this point zonal marking would save you a lot of the trouble you currently have? It was depressing seeing Mears and Moore just beaten time after time. I was simply shocked at how the Derby backs just gave up on three of the five goals. It really does make you wonder if Billy Davies will be around much longer. West Ham United just simply took advantage of the opportunities given to them. And after last weekend, took out their frustrations with ease. I would be cautiously optimistic about West Ham after this game however. This was just too easy. However for West Ham, this is a great building block to a mixed bag season. Even with that said, Bowyer, Etherington, Cole and Solano just had excellent games.
Defining Moments
Minute 11: Pearson is just unable to latch onto an Andy Griffin cross. Too much pace on the cross in but Pearson has to make a better play to reach that ball.
Minute 20: Yellow Card Matt Oakley. Just a very nasty challenge that never got the ball, just the lower leg of Matthew Etherington. It almost border lined on a lunging challenge and an instant red card. The yellow was justified.
Minute 24: Andy Griffin nearly has his legs broken thanks to a John Pantsil challenge. Pantsil lunged at Griffin and Griffin leaps up just in time not get hit straight on. Pantsil tries the old 'I'm hurt worse bit' and he ought to be thankful that Griffin jumped. Had he not, it could have very well been a red card. Still a reckless challenge that was yellow justified.
Minute 30-31: Andy Griffin gets caught for handball off a Boa Morte pass. Griffin has to be lucky that it was a yard outside the penalty area and not inside the penalty area as that was a handball that was deliberate. The free kick taken by Solano sees the underside of the crossbar and bounces out. So close to bending that ball in, however if he had been a yard or two further back, that may have been off the near post.
Minute 34: Yellow Card Lee Bowyer. Clips Giles Barnes from behind with no play on the ball. Lucky for Barnes the studs weren't showing and even lucky for Bowyer there were no studs in that one as red would have been the only card that could have been shown.
Minute 42:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL LEE BOWYER. No marking whatsoever on this one. Solano's cross finds Carlton Cole who spots Bowyer running unmarked in the box. Cole's header ends up being played off the arm and chest of Bowyer. Bowyer gets into a shooting position all alone with Bywater, and slots home near post. No marking whatsoever on the play and Bywater went to ground way too soon. It wouldn't have mattered though, as Bowyer placed it where Bywater wasn't going to save it. Rushing a one on one chance does have it's curses, and that was one of them. Derby County 0 West Ham United 1.
Minute 47: Boa Morte has to make it 2-0. Darren Moore is caught out of position as Boa Morte runs right by him. The shot is is saved by Bywater and out for a corner. The resulting corner ends up off the crossbar from a Upson rocket and eventually cleared.
Minute 50: Kenny Miller simply has to do better with the shot going far post. Eddie Lewis does well to keep the ball in and spots Miller unmarked and off the cross, just pushes the header a couple of yards wide of
Minute 51:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL MATTHEW ETHERINGTON. Off the goal kick, West Ham attacks with ease. Matthew Etherington plays a one two with Bowyer from a Pantsil cross in. Etherington then gets Tyrone Mears turned around and slots home at the near post. The marking again fails and gives Etherington all the time in the world to set and shoot. Bywater though has to make a better effort to save that shot. Derby County 0 West Ham United 2.
Minute 54:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, OWN GOAL EDDIE LEWIS. Solano's corner goes off Moore right to Jonathan Spector. Spector sets and shoots and Lewis looks to save the ball off the line. However Lewis's foot ends up back heeling the ball in. When it rains it pours for Derby County as Lewis does stop the Spector shot, but doesn't clear the ball, just puts it into own net. Derby County 0 West Ham United 3.
Minute 59:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL LEE BOWYER. Carlton Cole latches onto a pass from Upson and spots Bowyer running right past Tyrone Mears. Darren Moore was the other man who could be consider close to him, but it didn't matter. Bowyer one times the shot right into the back of the net with pace, Bywater never having a chance to save. It's a recording on how bad Derby County's marking has been. Derby County 0 West Ham United 4.
Minute 67: Matt Oakley is very lucky to not be given his second yellow card for a challenge on Etherington. That tackle was late and to be frank should have been shown a yellow card. It is absolute BS that what would be a yellow card for a player not on one, isn't a second yellow card for one who does have one.
Minute 69:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL NOLBERTO SOLANO. Free kick to West Ham that Solano is just ready to take. From 23 from goal on the edge of the penalty area fires a shot that no wall would block and no keeper would save right into the far post. Just a perfect indefensible free kick. Derby County 0 West Ham United 5.

Liverpool v Fulham: It may not have been 8-0, but Liverpool controlled the entire game against Fulham. However it still took two goals in the final ten minutes to see off Fulham 2-0 in a one sided affair at Anfield. It took the substitutions of Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres to make the difference for Liverpool.
Liverpool looked like they were never in trouble, but still missed too many chances they should have finished. Liverpool passed the ball around with ease, and it was when they upped the tempo when they got their better chances on goal. Voronin though I was shocked wasn't substituted sooner as he was just dire when he had chances to score. Crouch looked more settled than he had in a long time in a Liverpool shirt, and did well to set up chances inside the box. For Rafa, this was a good start. He stuck with the same 11 as he did midweek, and the only thing I could see doing to the lineup to finalize it would be to start Torres along with Crouch...which looks the likely paring once Torres is fully fit. Fulham are just an 80 minute team. Every time I have seen them play they have looked simply dead on their feet in the final ten minutes. Until then though, they were simply given a masterclass and did too much defending for their own good. Dempsey was closed down extremely well and so were any hopes of Fulham getting any quality chances on goal. Fulham simply have to find a second man to partner with Dempsey because teams are figuring out if you close down Dempsey, you close down Fulham's attack. They just can't the ball to the forwards without getting it though Dempsey.
Defining Moments
Minute 6: Antti Niemi makes a good save from a Sami Hyypia shot taken from a short free kick and shot that Liverpool seem to have perfected. The resulting corner though comes to nothing.
Minute 13: Steven Gerrard takes Riise's pass and gets a good first touch into shooting position, however he puts too much power into the shot and goes over the crossbar. That has to be taken better and at least make Niemi work. He knew the second it was shot that it was going over.
Minute 27-28: Liverpool get two good crosses into the penalty area for players to connect on, however both times the link up players fail to get a proper first touch on the ball. It was almost comical the way it happened. Voronin fails to get a proper chest down and Benayoun can't control the ball with his foot.
Minute 35: Dejan Stefanovic with a poor clearance deep inside the penalty area, however he will feel very fortunate that Peter Crouch didn't clean that up the way it should have been. His header was weak and Niemi easily collects. Crouch has to do better with that header and at least put some pace into it.
Minute 42: David Healy does well to get to the end line, however his cross in met the outside of the near post and out for a goal kick. Besides a half in the fifteenth from Danny Murphy, this was the closest they have come to anything that would resemble a chance on goal.
Minute 45+1: Fabio Aurelio fouled by Danny Murphy gives Aurelio a free kick in a decent place. The cross in finds Peter Crouch who had Niemi beaten, but saved off the crossbar. So close to the equalizer on the stroke of halftime.
Minute 47: Gerrard finds Crouch at the far post who heads a great ball to Voronin just inside the eighteen. Voronin sets up for the volley, but Niemi does well to collect. Great link up play from Liverpool, but Voronin's positioning on the volley was that there was only one place for it to go and Niemi was already there when he shot.
Minute 54: Yellow Card Danny Murphy. Steven Gerrard central in open space is taken down from behind by Murphy. Obvious yellow card and Murphy must be thankful the studs weren't out. Gerrard's free kick is saved well from Niemi's parry, but Benayoun and Arbeloa get in each other's way and the follow up from five yards out goes over the cross bar. Had Benayoun or Arbeloa called the other off, it was a tap in goal as Gerrard got Niemi out of position off the free kick.
Minute 58: Andriy Voronin plays a good one-two with Crouch. Crouch then sets up the pick for Voronin who has his shot saved by Niemi over for a corner. Liverpool's corner results in another corner, the second one completely wasted as Fulham clear with ease. Voronin's first effort was simply just well saved. Liverpool on the set pieces were simply awful.
Minute 63: Ryan Babel finds Benayoun who just mis hits the delicate shot to the far post. It still makes Niemi work to make the save. It's a recording off the corner as it is cleared without any problem by Fulham.
Minute 67: Benayoun does well to find Voronin on the diagonal run. However Voronin gets too much of the ball and his shot goes wide of the far post. Voronin was marked well on the run and had to semi-rush the shot. Still not bad considering the angle.
Minute 78: Peter Crouch clears a Fulham free kick for a Fulham corner. Davies takes for Fulham and in the end Reina saves. The only set piece opportunity I can think of where Fulham remotely threatened goal...and they really didn't in the end.
Minute 81:
GOAL LIVERPOOL, GOAL FERNANDO TORRES. Torres plays the long ball from Reina and on four touches gets into position. The shot looks rather harmless however Niemi doesn't make a play on the ball. It's not an excuse, but Niemi must have assumed that Hughes would block the shot, however it went right through the five hole. Niemi though should have at least looked like he would at least try and make a save. Liverpool 1 Fulham 0.
Minute 84-85:
PENALTY LIVERPOOL, GOAL STEVEN GERRARD. Crouch takes Babel's pass and miss hits the first touch. However Crouch right on the edge of the penalty area is barely clipped by Carlos Bocanegra, and barely clipped could be kind. The replay shows it should have been a free kick, but penalty was given. It was so tight I can forgive Steve Tanner for missing that one. Steven Gerrard takes the penalty and goes bottom right with the shot while Niemi goes to Gerrard's left. The penalty decision looked to be in the same vein of the one Russia got at home to England and Gerrard finished with ease. Liverpool 2 Fulham 0.


I'll be back tomorrow with a couple of matches from Sunday. Until then, may the debate begin!

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Live Blog: Houston Dynamo v Kansas City Wizards

10 November 2007

Starting Lineups from mlsnet.com
Houston Dynamo Starting Lineup: 18 - Pat Onstad (GK) 2 - Eddie Robinson 5 - Ryan Cochrane 9 - Brian Mullan 11 - Brad Davis 14 - Dwayne De Rosario 16 - Craig Waibel 21 - Nate Jaqua 24 - Wade Barrett 25 - Brian Ching 30 - Richard Mulrooney.
Substitutes 1 - Zach Wells (GK) 4 - Patrick Ianni 7 - Chris Wondolowski 17 - Mike Chabala 22 - Stuart Holden 26 - Corey Ashe 33 - Joseph Ngwenya
Kansas City Wizards Starting Lineup: 1 - Kevin Hartman (GK) 2 - Michael Harrington 3 - Nick Garcia 5 - Kerry Zavagnin 7 - Eddie Johnson 9 - Sasha Victorine 11 - Kurt Morsink 12 - Jimmy Conrad 14 - Jack Jewsbury 19 - Scott Sealy 22 Davy Arnaud
. Substitutes 24 - Eric Kronberg (GK) 6 - Jose Burciaga Jr. 10 - Carlos Marinelli 16 - Eloy Colombano 20 - Tyson Wahl 26 - Ryan Raybould 29 - Ryan Pore

Pre-Match Thoughts: Kansas City went from fun football to defend and pray against Chivas USA and are now here against what many would call the most balanced team in Major League Soccer. This game is going to be won and lost in the midfield and at the back. The Semi-Final question is who up front can get it going...Jaqua and Ching or Victorine and Johnson? There's only one way to find out. Ninety minutes of live blogging as fast as these fingers can type next. Also note, if your around, leave comments. You never know, they may get incorporated into this blog.
First Half
Minute 1: Houston kick off. And get an early goal kick.
Minute 2: Jimmy Conrad does well with his first touch to deny De Rosario who was rushing towards goal.
Minute 3: Brian Mullen and Eddie Johnson clash and Mullen is the worse for wear. Looked like Johnson got Mullen with the boot to the ankle. That hurt.
Minute 4: De Rosario dispossess in the midfield and off the 1-2 with Jaqua, earns the corner for Houston.
Minute 5: Off the corner which Davis takes, Hartman denies at the far post as De Rosario got in behind Hartman and would have had an empty net to head onto. Mulrooney takes corner two and it's wasted when Hartman is fouled.
Minute 7: Garcia does well to mark Ching and earns Kansas City a throw in. KC does nothing with it.
Minute 8: Mullen's cross is too deep and Hartman collects.
Minute 9: Onstad gets his first touch...off a long ball. Kansas City better start using the midfield or Houston will pick them apart.
Minute 10: Jaqua through the center of the park and Jewsbury blocks the shot. On the other end, Eddie Johnson with an effort blocked by Barrett.
Minute 11: De Rosario slips trying to turn on Zavagnin, and the ball harmlessly goes out for a goal kick.
Minute 12: Waibel concedes a free kick to Kansas City. Off the free kick, Johnson gets a great chance off the volley and goes just over the crossbar.
Minute 13: Davis with a great cross that gets Hartman to ground on the parry. De Rosario there and he tries the volley...see Eddie Johnson's effort.
Minute 15: Already got the first complaint on the comments about how the game is unwatchable because of the college football lines. I wonder what the comment would be if they were Rugby (union or League) lines? Until everyone can get into their own stadium (and as we've seen in Dallas's case it isn't always the case), you have to just simply live with it. If lines on a field are going to stop you from watching a game...find another sport to watch. Just my opinion.
Minute 16: Nate Jaqua gets a golden chance from Barrett's cross, but pushes wide of the near post.
Minute 17: Davey Arnaud with a good cross into Johnson, but he fails to properly get a good touch to it.
Minute 18: Mullen too long for Ching and in the end it's a Kansas City goal kick.
Minute 19: Updated the lineup to show what it truly was. Ching with a half chance, but Conrad there to deny.
Minute 21: Hartman at the edge of the 18 to punch. Had he missed, Ching was there and would have had the simplest of goals.
Minute 22: Now Ching with a chance. Unmarked from 13 as Jewsbury slips. Well wide of the near post though.
Minute 23: Harrington catches Mullen and Houston with a free kick. Mulrooney will take it long and misses his intended target by a good 8 yards. In the end Weibel is right to complain as that went off Hartman's hands, goal kick awarded.
Minute 26: Kansas City free kick that is just simply wasted. No possession off it and right now this game is about as close to one sided as you can get.
Minute 27: Just as I write above, Kansas City get their first long spell of possession. In the end, Barrett catches Sealy's horrible first touch and Houston breaks.
Minute 28: De Rosario with a shot blocked, but Houston keep possession and after another couple of chances, Kansas City finally clear. Houston may begin to regret these missed chances.
Minute 29: Ching gets the ball in a good place from Jaqua's header, but the bending ball to the far post was never a threat.
Minute 31: Johnson with a poor first touch and Houston takes. Ching gets a cross into De Rosario, but Conrad there to block.
Minute 32: Jaqua tries the overhead kick pass but it's too heavy and Hartman collects.
Minute 35: De Rosario tries from 30, Hartman with a great save to concede the corner. Mulrooney takes the corner AND GOAL HOUSTON, GOAL NATE JAQUA! MULROONEY SIMPLY GETS IT TO THE TALL MAN AND ROBERTSON STADIUM ERUPTS. ROBINSON GOES NEAR AND EVERYONE FOLLOWS HIM. HARTMAN MISSES THE BALL AND JAQUA SIMPLY OVER HARRINGTON AND IN. THAT WAS ABOUT AS PERFECT A CORNER KICK AS YOU CAN GET. HOUSTON DYNAMO 1 KANSAS CITY WIZARDS 0.
Minute 37: Can Kansas City finally start using the midfield to link play or...not so fast. Davis thinks he is God and from 25 losing his balance kicks a field goal over the crossbar.
The point I was trying to make is Kansas City have to start linking play in the midfield, but so far they haven't had a chance to.
Minute 40: Kansas City are getting more of the ball, but are losing it just as quick as they get it.
Minute 41: SHOVE FEST. Jaqua with an elbow to Jewsbury and that is a yellow card. There is plenty of debate about that being red, but I feel that would have been too harsh. Both teams get in each others faces, trade pushes, and order is restored as Jewsbury continues to get treated.
Minute 44: Jewsbury gets up and he looks like he's in another world. Sadly is his night over?
Minute 45: Arnaud blows by Barrett, but runs into Davis. Tried to do simply too much.
Minute 45+1: The first of four first half stoppage time minutes begins with Hartman punting the ball long.
Minute 45+2: GOAL...NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND. Mullen with a long shot blundered by Hartman, but De Rosario was offside. Off the free kick, De Rosario comes back on the run, but his cross to the far post is well wide of anyone.
Minute 45+3: Now Ching is the man offside. Houston is going for the kill, and with the way Kansas City is losing possession, why not.
Minute 45+4: Eddie Johnson refuses to do the hard work inside the penalty area and go for a bouncing ball. Shout for a penalty with Sealy being taken down in the box. Was a good one, and it should have been given. That's the last action of the first half.
HALFTIME: HOUSTON DYNAMO 1 KANSAS CITY WIZARDS 0.
First Half Thoughts: Well this was simply as one sided a playoff game as you can possibly get, the only thing is how in the hell is Houston only 1-0 up? They had six chances to legitimately score, but it took one brilliant set piece to do so. Houston have to finish one from open play here in this half. Kansas City started doing it towards the end of the first half, but the fact they are not consistently linking play through the midfield and in essence taking them out of the game by playing the long ball simply isn't working. If I was Kansas City, if your going to play the long ball, you need to go 4-3-3 because Johnson is getting neutered on the park. He's gotten one good chance, but failed to do anything with it.
Second Half
Minute 46: Kansas City kicks off. Marinelli on for Zavagnin. Jewsbury gets an immediate good chance from a Marinelli pass, but only finds side netting.
Minute 47: Ching earns Houston a corner kick.
Minute 48: Off the corner, Davis's cross causes a fracas in the box, Kansas City eventually clearing. Two good chances, nothing comes of them.
Minute 49: Ching offside.
Minute 51: Hartman nearly trips over a streamer. That would have made my top ten bloopers of all time had he fallen.
Minute 52: Marinelli finds Johnson, but Johnson can't get past the first defender, Eddie Robinson.
Minute 55: Yellow Card Nick Garcia. Takes down Ching from behind. Ching should have been booked as well for the shove.
Minute 56: Mullen takes Harrington down from behind and it should have been a yellow at best. The referee played on.
Minute 58: Morsink with a big mistake trying to switch play but finding no one. Lucky for him, Houston does nothing wit the throw. Then coming back, Onstad was well off the line and Sealy missed the ball.
Minute 58: Yellow Card Carlos Marinelli. Marinelli got Davis from behind with the boot to the back of Davis's foot.
Minute 60: Arnaud with a cross that is just way too strong. Kansas City have to get better service than that.
Minute 62: A very late offside decision given on Nate Jaqua. Was the right call, but you have to call that sooner.
Minute 63: Jaqua tries to find De Rosario, but Morsink gets to the ball first to concede the corner. Mulrooney gets two crosses with the ball, but Robinson heads out for a goal kick.
Minute 65: Whoa, Kansas City gets a corner kick. Marinelli's ball in goes through everyone and Houston clears.
Minute 66: Kansas City sub. Eloy Colombano on for Sasha Victorine. KC needed someone with pace, and now they got it.
Minute 68: De Rosario goes to ground way too easily and the referee wise to play on.
Minute 69: Davis does well to keep the ball in play close to the byline. The cross in is saved by Hartman, Ching getting injured when he gets in under Conrad.
Minute 70: Houston sub: Joseph Ngwenya on for the injured Brian Ching. Now the injury watch will begin on Ching should Houston make the final..right now that is looking very likely.
Minute 72: Colombano with a poor touch, and Barrett easily takes that off the foot.
Minute 73: Free kick to Kansas City after Barrett fouls Johnson. Marinelli takes the free kick nicely, but no one fights to get to the far post and it goes out for a goal kick. Colombano should have gotten to that.
Minute 75: Injury update from FSC. Word is Ching told the FSC sideline reporter that Ching heard a pop.
Minute 75: Marinelli lucky he isn't shown red.
Minute 75: Kansas City sub: Ryan Pore on for Jack Jewsbury.
Minute 76: Sealy tries to turn on Barrett, but Barrett dispossess.
Minute 77: Colombano goes down and it should have been a free kick. On the Houston break, De Rosario tries to center to Barrett, but Conrad's touch misses the near post by a foot. Corner to Houston.
Minute 78: Mulrooney takes the corner and Robinson offside as Jaqua tries the overhead kick again.
Minute 80: Harrington limping around after being taken down. Here's to recovering quickly.
Minute 81: De Rosario with a touch that goes backwards than forward...
Minute 82: GOAL HOUSTON GOAL DWAYNE DE ROSARIO. HE GETS A SECOND CHANCE WITH THE BALL AND HE SIMPLY BEATS HARTMAN NEAR POST. THE FIRST TOUCH IS FROM A WAIBEL CROSS. THEN AFTER KANSAS CITY LOSES THE BALL IN THE MIDFIELD, DE ROSARIO GETS LUCKY AS GARCIA DOESN'T BOTHER TO MARK AND FROM 12 OUT, GOES NEAR POST AND HARTMAN DOESN'T GET TO IT IN TIME. GREAT WORK FROM DE ROSARIO TO GET A SECOND CHANCE WITH THE BALL AND TO PUT HOUSTON INTO THE MLS CUP FINAL. HOUSTON DYNAMO 2 KANSAS CITY WIZARDS 0.
Minute 83: I love how Bretos is talking about this great atmosphere, but to us viewers at home...well IT'S FREAKING MUTED! Great work there FSC in muting what looks like a very rowdy crowd.
Minute 85: Houston Sub: Stuart Holden on for Dwayne De Rosario.
Minute 87: Colombano with a decent cross to Johnson, but Johnson is unable to get boot to ball and it's a goal kick to Houston.
Minute 90: Johnson finds Arnaud out wide and as a streamer is thrown his way, Mullen gets caught in the middle of it...then follows Arnaud for 30 yards.
Minute 90+1: The first of the final four minutes of Kansas City's season start with them on the ball, until the start of their attacking third when Houston dispossesses. It sounds like a recording. On the other end, Holden gets Houston a free kick.
Minute 90+2: Houston take the passing route, and as Davis goes corner shopping, is caught offside.
Minute 90+3: Davy Arnaud gets a frustration yellow for taking down Brad Davis.
Minute 90+4: Free kick to Houston as Colombano takes down Ngwenya in the corner. Houston just pass the ball around...AND THAT IS IT!
FULLTIME: HOUSTON DYNAMO 2 KANSAS CITY WIZARDS 0. HOUSTON DYNAMO WILL TAKE ON THE NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION IN THE MLS CUP FINAL!
Final Thoughts: What can be said about this Houston side? They took the game to Kansas City in a way that only possibly came closest when Chicago dominated Los Angeles on the final day of the season. Kansas City lost this game by completely taking the midfield out of the equation on their attack. Houston just picked them apart and did the rest. The only big question is how fit will Brian Ching be for Houston next Sunday?

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read. Until I write again, all feedback is welcome. The Houston Dynamo are Western Conference Champions.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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