Abby Wambach: Players Didn't Get Coach Fired: The surprise firing of U.S. women's national team coach Tom Sermanni was not orchestrated by the players, star Abby Wambach said. "Everybody out there who may think the players made this happen, none of it's true," she said. The team finished seventh in the Algarve Cup last month.
Through Thick and Thin: Using Manchester United as an example, how happiness doesn't always relate to winning all the time. With real psychology stuff.
"The Krafts Are the Worst Owners in the League": what the heck is wrong with the New England Revolution?
Barcelona Wins 7-Goal El Clasico Thriller: Barcelona came from behind twice to defeat Real Madrid 4-3 with three goals from Lionel Messi, two on penalty kicks, during a raucous El Clasico match Sunday at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid played short handed in the second half after Sergio Ramos was given a red card for taking down Neymar on a scoring opportunity.
The Life And Death of Justin Fashanu: Roads and Kingdoms details the life of Justin Fashanu, the first black player in England to be transferred for £1,000,000 and the first openly gay English professional footballer.
Alan Pardew Head Butts Hull City Player: Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew head butted Hull City's David Meyler after being pushed aside when Meyler retrieved the ball for a throw-in. Pardew, objecting to that contact, put his head into the opposing player and was sent off the touchline. "I think I'm going to sit now," Pardew said afterwards.
Why Aren't More Americans Playing in Europe?: Though it seemed for a few years that the best American players would crash the top levels of soccer in Europe, these days the biggest signings are when they come home to the MLS, writes Roger Bennett of ESPNFC. The appeal of playing in Europe is dimming, said Herculez Gomez. "There are other places that are more lucrative from a financial perspective. As they say about the Premier League, it is glitz, glamour and 50 percent tax."
The Best Football (Soccer) Writing 2013: It was a good year for the long form piece, judging by this list.
Cristiano Ronaldo wins the Ballon D'Or: Rob Smyth with an eloquent, measured assessment of Ronaldo's career. Sports writing at its finest.
Nicolas Anelka scored twice this weekend and celebrated in a way only Nicolas Anelka could: sending a heartfelt gesture to a close friend going through some tough times. The friend is a old-school comedian with a style reminiscent of old European theatres, specifically, WWII's Eastern and Western Fronts and the gesture is his, a variation on the Nazi salute combined with a more traditionally obscene gesture.
'He Sees You When You're Sleeping': Mancester City fullback Aleksandar Kolarov offers his reading of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."
This is Football: Normally the English FA can be relied upon to do something stupid. However, they commissioned poet and writer Musa Okwonga to pen an ode to celebrate their 150th anniversary. With a few special guests.
Don't Get Andrew Luck Started on Soccer: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck loves the other football. He spent nine years of his youth in London and Germany while his dad Oliver was an exec in the World League of American Football. "The passion the supporters have for their football clubs in Europe is different from the passion NFL or college teams will have," he told ESPNFC's Roger Bennett. "And I think both are great in their own right, but to me ... the supporters of a Tottenham, Arsenal or Manchester United ... I love watching the games and hearing them chant and sing, and I love the fluidity of soccer. The football I play tends to be a much more staccato sport where you go, you stop for a while, maybe a TV timeout, and then you start up again."
The all-time World Cup finals league table: Not surprise that Brazil top this table or that Germany is a close second, but a bit surprising for me the gap after that, both in points and goal difference. Spolier alert: USA are in 25th heading into next summer ;)
Sporting KC Wins MLS Cup on 10th Round of Penalty Kicks: Before their home stadium in 20 degree weather (7 degrees factoring in wind chill), by far the coldest final in MLS Cup history, Sporting Kansas City defeated Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks 7-6 Saturday. The teams were tied 1-1 after 120 minutes from a goals by Alvario Saborio of RSL and an Aurelien Collin equalizer for KC. Keeper Jimmy Nielsen outdueled Nick Rimando on PKs and then spray-painted "2013" under "MLS Champions" at Sporting Park in the postgame celebration.
U.S. in World Cup's Group G (as in Grim): The draw for the 2014 World Cup was telecast live at 11 a.m. Eastern, and the United States has ended up in Group G alongside Germany, Ghana and Portugal, an extremely tough draw for the Americans.
Don't Play Thailand: Many football fans will be scratching their heads to see Switzerland among the top seeds at next year's World Cup finals, while thoroughbreds like the Netherlands and Italy are not. The truth is that it could be down to the choices made by football administrators, not players.
Orlando Lands Major League Soccer Team: The Orlando City Lions are making the jump from the US Pro League to Major League Soccer. Commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday night that Orlando is becoming the 21st MLS team in 2015. A $84 million, 18,000-seat stadium is being built for the team near the Magic's Amway Center with around half funded by local tourism taxes. This will be the first MLS team in the southeastern U.S. since Tampa and Miami franchises folded in 2001. New York City also is getting an MLS team in 2015, and two as-yet-undecided cities are expected to be added by 2020.
Even after the NFL wised up, the Premier League still isn't sure concussions matter: Saturday's Everton/ Tottenham matched featured a 10 minute Keystone Kops skit that ended when the Tottenham medical staff gave up and let Hugo Lloris stay in the game after being knocked unconscious by Romelu Lukaku's massive thigh.
Ronaldo Speaks Up for Field-Crashing Fan Who Hugged Him: Cristiano Ronaldo has written a letter to a Florida judge and prosecutor seeking leniency for Ronald Gjoka, a 20-year-old fan who ran onto the field and hugged him during a match last summer at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. "I am concerned because I understand he may face problems with immigration and with his college if the criminal charges against him are not dropped," Ronaldo writes. "I would hate to see him face criminal charges for his mistake. By all accounts he has a bright future ahead of him and Iíd hate to see this future ruined by an error of judgement."
Michael Jackson Evicted from Craven Cottage: New Fulham FC owner Shahid Khan has removed a Michael Jackson statue from its spot outside the team's Craven Cottage field, where two years ago it was put up by former owner and Jackson pal Mohamed Al Fayed. Fan jeers over that move prompted Al Fayed to rage, "If some stupid fans don't understand and appreciate such a gift this guy gave to the world they can go to hell. I don't want them to be fans. If they don't understand and don't believe in things I believe in they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else. ... The last game he attended here with me, he was running like a child, he loved the place. He loved Fulham and he wanted to attend all of the matches." Jackson only went to one match in 1999 against Wigan Athletic. Khan gave the statue back to Al Fayed.
Football as Religion?: Dennis Bergkamp on motivation, Arsene Wenger and the love of the game.
Dos a Cero, Again: The US Men's National Team beat Mexico 2-0 for the fourth time in a row in Columbus last night and, with Honduras getting a draw against Panama, became one of five teams to qualify for the World Cup Finals next summer. With the loss, Mexico assured themselves of a tough road simply to qualify.
Joining the US in Brazil will be Argentina, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Italy, while Jordan won a playoff to, well, playoff against the fifth place team from South America. Fomer USMNT coach Bob Bradley's Egypt side finished their AFC group stage a perfect 6-0 with a 4-2 over Guinea.
Matt Besler's Yellow Card a Complete Farce: U.S. defender Matt Besler is "extremely disappointed" with a yellow-card decision that left him suspended for Tuesday's World Cup qualifying match against Mexico, he said on Twitter. Video shows Costa Rica winger Joel Campbell walk behind Besler and then fake being knocked to the ground, for which Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez gives Besler a completely unmerited yellow.
U.S. Soccer's 12-Game Winning Streak Ends: Costa Rica scored two goals in the first 10 minutes and traded goals in the final 80 for a 3-1 home victory over the U.S. in World Cup qualifying Friday night. Clint Dempsey scored the U.S. goal on a penalty kick shortly before the half. The loss ends a 12-game winning streak for the Americans, but they're in second place with 13 points and in strong position to move on with a win Tuesday against Mexico Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
Arsenal's Accounts: A forensic analysis of a football club. Where the money comes from, and where it goes. Except, apparently, on new players.
So you've purchased a football team: here's how to use it for nefarious means. This week's The Economist provides "A villainís guide to football". As a counter-balance, they also offer suggestions on cleaning up the game.
Jacksonville Owner Buys Fulham FC: Shahid Khan, owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, has bought Fulham FC of the English Premier League.
The Special One returns to Chelsea: After more (Inter Milan) and less (Real Madrid) spells elsewhere, Jose Mourinho signed a four year deal to return to Stamford Bridge. One wonders if he'll get on any better with his billionaire boss and how much change he'll ring before the season kicks off--speculation's already out there that Torres and Terry are goners and Essien will return to take the DM spot from Obi-Mikel. And maybe CR7? My main hope is that BetFair continues to back Special1 TV!
Bayern Munich shed the loser tag: After withstanding strong early pressing and a half dozen shots on goal from Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich switched up their formation and won the 2013 Champions League final 2-1, easing the pain of losing two of the previous three finals (Arjen Robben especially). The audience were treated to a lively match, a real change from the past few years when at least one side were determined to park the bus.
Robbie Rogers Unretires, Signs with L.A. Galaxy: U.S. international Robbie Rogers, who retired from pro soccer in February after revealing in a blog post that he's gay, has signed with the L.A. Galaxy. Speaking to a group of LGBT teens at a Nike event a month later changed his mind about retirement, he said. "That Nike camp made me feel a little soft," said Rogers, 26. "It taught me I needed to man up a little bit. It's easy to play a sport that you love and be a role model for people. It's a perfect situation for me." The former Leeds United player will be on the active roster for tonight's game against Seattle. "His gay legacy will be significant -- he'll go down in history as the first to play in a game," said Jim Buzinski of Outsports.Com.
MLS announces expansion team New York City FC: Manchester City and the Yankees partner to pip Cosmos to the NYC MLS franchise, which will play in a purpose-built stadium in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, starting in the 2015 season.
Attending Your First Premier League Game: "It will be noisier than you are used to. Emotions will be higher than they are at home. The food will be awful. People will be drunk. The weather will be bad. Many of the supporters, even the ones cheering the loudest, will not appear to be having fun as we know it, and will be expressing their feelings in novel combinations of swear words."
End of an Era. Fergie Out!:
Imperial Lord Ferg Sir Alex quits. Here are some highlights of the last 35 years or so of his footballing life.
As the season gets closer to a close, the npower Championship league has hit some turbulence: some, like Crystal Palace's Ian Holloway feel Watford's use of loan players from foreign teams their owners also control is unfair. Understandably, Watford fans do not and quickly try to change the subject to Cardiff City's crass purchase of promotion by a new owner who feels only the barest sense loyalty to the team's history.
Rec Soccer Ref in Critical Condition After Player's Punch: A referee in a recreational soccer league in Taylorsville, Utah, has been hospitalized in critical condition after being punched by a teen player he had just yellow carded. The 17-year-old had just been assessed the penalty when he struck the ref in the head. Though the injury appeared minor, the ref was found in the hospital to have suffered serious internal head injuries.
U.S. Achieves Historic Draw in Mexico: For only the second time ever, the U.S. men's soccer team earned a point in a World Cup qualifier in Mexico at Azteca Stadium. Behind the play of keeper Brad Guzan and defenders Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, the Americans played to a 0-0 draw on the road. Mexico had 15 corner kicks, including three in the final two minutes.
If it seems like Botswana's Bobby Shillinde came out of nowhere,: that's because he did. And sadly, he's probably going right back, assuming they can sort the passport.