Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 14: The Premier League weekend kicks off with five games today at 10 a.m. Eastern. In our contest, Hillbilly F.C. holds a nine-point lead over Liquid Football. Last week's best score was Merseyside Ziggurat's 80, which featured a captain-doubled 38 from Everton midfielder Ross Barkley (£7.0m) and 13 from Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho (£8.4m). The week's biggest acquisition target is Everton forward Romelu Lukaku (£8.9m), who has scored 34 points in the past three weeks.
Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 13: The Premier League weekend begins early Saturday when Watford visit those lovable upstarts Manchester United. Hillbilly F.C. keeps first place, leading Liquid Football by 11. But that story's importance is second to the news that my F.C. Conestoga had a week-best 67 points. I did not curse Jamie Vardy by adding him, as I feared would happen. The Leicester unstoppable goal machine's captain-doubled 18 and Man U midfielder Juan Mata's 9 led the squad. For this week, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is most-added and West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet most-dropped. Good luck to all, but primarily me.
Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 12: The Premier League weekend opens early Saturday with Bournemouth at Newcastle. In SportsFilter's Fantasy Premier League Hillbilly F.C. retakes the lead from Polo XI. The week's best score comes from bottom-of-table Garland Bombers, whose 97 points were led by Everton forward Arouna Koné's captain-doubled 40 and Leicester midfielder Riyad Mahrez's 15. The Bombers began the season a week late and are creeping up on Outlaws FC.
U.S. TV viewers for the Premier League broken out by club: Not surprising to see Man United at #1, but Swansea atop City is.
Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 11: Premier League play begins early Saturday with Chelsea at Liverpool. In the SportsFilter league PoloXI holds onto first place for a third week, 12 points ahead of Hillbilly F.C. Hagfish scores a week-best 72 with nine of the starting 11 scoring 5 or more. Top pickups this week: Spurs forward Harry Kane, Leicester forward Jamie Vardy and West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet. I just picked up Vardy, which is a bad omen for his future success.
Sepp Blatter: Russia 2018 World Cup 'agreed before vote': The suspended FIFA chief continues to crash and burn on his way out, to the extent that I wonder if he will force the destruction/replacement of FIFA by the Feb. 26 vote for his replacement; Marina Hyde calls for exactly that today. Meanwhile, here are your seven
muppets candidates to replace Blatter.
U.S. Will Host 2016 Copa America Centenario: The United States will host the centennial 2016 Copa America, soccer's governing bodies for the Americas announced Friday afternoon. The tournament from June 3-26, 2016 will feature the 10 nations in South America's CONMEBOL along with invitees U.S. and Mexico. This is the first time the U.S. has ever hosted the event.
Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 10: This week's Premiership has no early Saturday game, so five games kicking off at 10 a.m. Eastern begin the festivities. In our league PoloXI stays in first, increasing his lead over Hillbilly F.C. from 6 to 19 points. Dover Divers scores a week-best 79 because of Arsenal midfielders Alexis Sanchez (a captain-doubled 20) and Mesut Ozil (12) and Leicester forward Jamie Vardy (13). The London tabloid Metro found somebody who had Newcastle midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum as vice captain and Daniel Sturridge as captain on a triple captain week. Sturridge sat and Wijnaldum scored 25 with four goals (20), 90 minutes (2) and a bonus -- so the lucky bastich nets 75 points.
Howard Kendall, the former Everton player and manager, died last week. : This isn't just about him, though. Some of these stories shared by Guardian readers have a way of getting in and warming your soul.
Fantasy Premier League, Week Seven: The Premier League returns from international break Saturday with an early match taking Spurs to face the new heavy metal Liverpool at Anfield in manager Jurgen Klopp's debut. In the SportsFilter league, PoloXI takes first place for the first time with an 110-point week, lifted by captain-doubled Sergio Aguero's 50 points (5 goals!). Hillbilly F.C. stays close in second with 104 points led by captain Kevin De Bruyne's 30 (1 goal, 2 assists). Man City might be good at the soccer.
Fifa Suspends Blatter and Platini: Fifa has provisionally suspended its president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke and vice-president Michel Platini for 90 days.
Liverpool part ways with Brendan Rogers: In a move that was either four months too late or six months early, another lackluster 1-1 result was the end of a 3+ season tenure for Rogers. Jurgen Klopp, rested after a four month break, is rumored to be first choice to take over after receiving a positive report on LFC from the team's German former midfielder Didi Hamann.
Coke, Bud, McDonald's and Visa Demand Sepp Blatter Quit Immediately: Four of international soccer's major sponsors -- Coca Cola, Budweiser, McDonald's and Visa -- have demanded that FIFA President Sepp Blatter step down immediately, following the news he's under investigation for corruption in Switzerland. "Every day that passes, the image and reputation of FIFA continues to tarnish," Coca-Cola said in a statement. "FIFA needs comprehensive and urgent reform, and that can only be accomplished through a truly independent approach." Blatter has announced his plan to leave when a successor is named in February and his lawyer says he won't resign.
Fantasy Premier League, Week Seven: The Premier League begins early Saturday with seventh-place Crystal Palace visiting West Brom. FC Gallifrey's back atop the Spofiship with a 75-point week, topped only by an 87-point explosion by new second place team EAV FC that should be remembered in song. This feat was accomplished by having Alexis Sanchez (11.1m) as captain on a week he scored 20 points (3 goals, 90 minutes, 3 bonus) and a front line of Olivier Giroud (8.8m), Graziano Pelle (8.0m) and Jamie Vardy (6.6m) who put up 25. There's a lot of carnage on the injury front, with Vincent Kompany (6.3m), Yaya Toure (8.9m) and Callum Wilson (5.8m) all out and Christian Benteke (8.3m) doubtful -- and that's just my team. Sigh.
Fifa scandal: Jack Warner banned for life by FIFA: More than four years after quitting football, the governing body’s ethics committee today announced the outcome of an investigation into Sepp Blatter’s disgraced former vice-president, who is also facing criminal charges in the United States over an alleged £100 million fraud. Warner’s ban begins at the same time as Fifa’s ethics committee examines evidence that could lead to the suspension of Blatter and Michel Platini over a £1.3m suspected criminal payment to the Uefa president.
Fantasy Premier League, Week Six: Spurs visits Man City early Saturday to open the Premier League weekend. Hillbilly F.C. takes first place back from FC Gallifrey. Maplewood Town rockets into third with a 72-point total that's the best in the league for a third straight week (damn!). Man United forward Anthony Martial (£8.3m) has scored 18 points in his first two weeks, inspiring 660,000 owners to pick him up this week. Diego Costa's (£11.0m) three-game ban for persistent douchery put him off 144,000 rosters. The FPL Scout likes Man U midfielder Juan Mata (£8.7m) as a pickup this week. He faces lowly Sunderland at home and has a goal or assist in four of six matches.
Blatter faces criminal investigation: Totally unexpected, eh? Amusingly, one of the indicated counts involves a $2M "disloyal payment" to Michel Platini; Platini said the money was legit and "relates to work which I carried out under a contract with Fifa" and he had clarified matters with the authorities. Of course.
Fantasy Premier League, Week Six: Premier League play begins early Saturday with Chelsea vs. Arsenal. FC Gallifrey holds on to the lead for a second week, seven points ahead of Hillbilly F.C. Maplewood Town and Liquid Football tie for the week's best score at 56 points, led by Leicester midfielder Riyad Mahrez's 11 points -- 22 for Liquid Football in a well-chosen captain double. Mahrez ranks in the top 3 pickups this week alongside Man City defender Aleksandar Kolarov and Everton midfielder Ross Barkley. Top drop: Man U defender Luke Shaw after his broken leg.
Luke Shaw of Man U Suffers Broken Leg in Champions League Match: Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw suffered a don't click this broken leg from a tackle during a Champions League match today against PSV Eindhoven. Hector Moreno caught the leg of the 20-year-old while making what The Telegraph called a "full-blooded tackle."
Fantasy Premier League, Week Five: The international break is over. The Premiership kicks off at 7:45 a.m. Eastern Saturday and roster moves are due an hour earlier. FC Gallifrey takes over first place with a second-best 57-point week led by Man City defender Bacary Sagna (12 points) and Everton keeper Tim Howard (11). Mid-table Maplewood Town had the best week with 59 because of Sagna, Southampton forward Graziano Pelle (9) and Leicester forward Jamie Vardy (8). Not-so-fun fact: My strikers Christian Benteke of Liverpool and Harry Kane of Tottenham are two of the five most dropped players for the gameweek.
Fantasy Premier League, Week Four: Hillbilly F.C. jumps into first place with 155 points, leading PoloXI at 153 and FC Gallifrey at 150. Week 3's dream team was led by Bournemouth forward Callum Wilson, who scored a hat trick and had a 17-point week (owned by 2% a week ago and 13% now). The most popular acquisition is Leicester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who already has 35 points (£6.0m cost). Roster moves must be in by 6:45 a.m. Saturday, an hour before Newcastle/Arsenal kicks off the early game.
Fantasy Premier League, Week Three: The Translucent holds on to first place in the SportsFilter Fantasy Premier League, scoring 54 in week 2 for a total of 103. Hillbilly F.C. is close behind at 99. It was a good week to have Everton players, with Romelu Lukaku scoring 13 and both Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman 11. Player selections and transfers are due Saturday morning before Manchester United plays Newcastle at 7:45 a.m. to open the weekend's games.
Welcome to Manchester United, Memphis Just Memphis: The 21-year-old footballer formerly known as Memphis Depay scored his first two goals for Manchester United, turning a 1-0 early deficit to Club Brugge in a Champions League playoff Tuesday into a crucial lead for the home side. Man U won 3-1 and will be sitting pretty in Bruges next week. Memphis could've had a third after being set up at point blank range by a sublime back-heel from Wayne Rooney, but he sent the shot skyward.
Fantasy Premier League, Week Two: The Translucent sit atop SportsFilter's Fantasy Premier League after week 1 with a 57-point performance led by Vincent Kompany (14), Philippe Coutinho (10) and captain Wayne Rooney (10). The deadline for picking your roster this week is Friday at 1:45 Eastern because Manchester United is playing Aston Villa on Friday night, a scheduling move that's a sign of things to come in the Premier League. Starting next season, 10 games a season will play on Fridays.
NBC Lands Premier League for Another 6 Years: NBC and England's Premier League have agreed to a six-year deal that will keep the league on the network's channels through the 2021-22 season. Terms of the deal haven't been announced, but one analyst predicted it would double the $250 million, three-year amount NBC paid to begin broadcasting the Premiership two years ago. NBC and NBCSN averaged 479,000 viewers on league matches last season, which is close to the 491,000 average viewership it pulls for NHL games. That league's TV deal is $2 billion for 10 years.
3 Days to Start of Premier League Season: SportsFilter's Fantasy Premier League has 14 owners. Use the link to join the competition. Last season, 3.5 million people competed in this fantasy game and Simon March beat them all. In an article for BBC Sport, March offers 10 tips for winning the game. Some of his advice: "Cheap defenders who play in teams that prioritize defense will often score more points than costlier alternatives who play in more attack-minded teams. Equally, a good striker in a team which generates a lot of chances may score more goals than a star striker in a more defense-minded team. ... Players who take set-pieces, especially penalties, are particularly valuable and it's worth trying to identify who these are before you make your selection."
5 Days to Start of Premier League Season: SportsFilter's Fantasy Premier League has nine teams so far and we're still digging through the archives looking for old owners to return. New ones also are needed. A new piece on ESPN Insider predicts these 10 breakout players this season: Forwards James Wilson (Man U) and Patrick Bamford (Crystal Palace); midfielders Jordan Ibe (Liverpool), Gerard Deulofeu (Everton), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Diego Poyet (West Ham), Rolando Aarons (Newcastle), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), and defender Joe Gomez (Liverpool). Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also an early favorite for the top 10 names.
7 Days to Start of Premier League Season: The Premier League kicks off one week from today with six matches, including Chelsea beginning its championship defense against Swansea and Manchester United versus Tottenham. Join SportsFilter's long-running Fantasy Premier League game and allocate £100 million towards a starting lineup you can change each week with transfers. London24 offers tips on players to avoid, including Chelsea striker Radamel Falcao (£7.5m), Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne (£5.5m) and Southampton defender Steven Caulker (£5.5m). Man U keeper David de Gea's (£5.5m) not the best pickup either, since Louis Van Gaal just agreed Saturday to sell him to Real Madrid.
Join SportsFilter's Fantasy Premier League: England's Premier League kicks off in 10 days, so it's time to assemble your team of the best soccer players £100 million in fake money can buy. Use this link to join our free league. TalkSport radio offers 10 suggestions for rising players, including these bargains: Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward (£4.5M), Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne (£5.5M) and Swansea midfielder Sung-Yueng Ki (£5.5M).
U.S. Wins Women's World Cup: An incredible storm of early goals, including a hat trick by Carli Lloyd, led the United States to a 5-2 victory over Japan in the Women's World Cup. The U.S. avenges the 2011 loss in the Final and hoists the championship trophy for the first time in 16 years. Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath also scored for the Americans, who become the first country to win the Women's World Cup three times. Hope Solo won the Golden Glove as the cup's best goalkeeper, Lloyd the Golden Ball as best player.
U.S. Defeats Germany, Advances to Women's World Cup Final: In a meeting of the world's top two FIFA-ranked teams, the United States defeated Germany 2-0 in the Women's World Cup semifinal and advances to the final for the second straight cup. Germany had a chance to take the lead in the second half but missed the first penalty kick in the team's WWC history. The U.S. got a penalty of its own shortly afterwards and Carli Lloyd scored. Lloyd had an assist on the second goal with a pass scored by Kelley O'Hara.
U.S. Defeats China, Advances to Women's World Cup Semifinals: The U.S. women's soccer team defeated China 1-0 Friday night, advancing to the semifinals of the Women's World Cup in Canada. The Americans were in solid control for most of the match but went into the half in a scoreless tie. In the 51st minute, Carli Lloyd scored on a header with a terrific pass from Julie Johnson near midfield. The U.S. will face Germany, which defeated France 5-4 on penalty kicks after being tied 1-1.
Brazil's World Cup Stadiums, One Year Later: ESPN looks at Brazil's 12 World Cup stadiums, some of which are barely used because they have no soccer club to fill them. One of the most glaring examples is Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia, which cost $900 million to build and is only used by semi-pro clubs because the city lacks a large pro club. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of construction costs of these venues was lost to corruption.
U.S. Beats Nigeria, Wins World Cup's "Group of Death": After finding out that qualification was guaranteed before the game, the United States defeated Nigeria 1-0 and won top spot in Group D of the Women's World Cup. Abby Wambach scored the only goal shortly before the half, turning a cross from Megan Rapinoe into a flying karate kick. The Americans' potential opponent in the first knockout game is looking like Thailand, France or Spain.
U.S. Men Beat Germany After Beating The Netherlands: The United States came back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat world champs Germany in a friendly in the latter country Wednesday. Mix Diskerud scored after a terrific setup from Michael Bradley ending a 30-pass sequence by the Americans and Bobby Wood scored the winner late on a curving scorcher from just outside the penalty arc. Last Friday the U.S. achieved another surprising comeback victory, 4-3, on the road over The Netherlands.
U.S. Women Impress in World Cup Opening Win Over Australia: Australia gave the U.S. a scare in the Women's World Cup opener Monday, evening the score at 1-1 27 minutes in and putting keeper Hope Solo to work with a stronger and faster attack. But over time the U.S. began to take charge in a convincing 3-1 Group D victory. Megan Rapinoe scored the first and third goal and Christen Press the second. Player of the Match Rapinoe was exceptional on the ball, and called her play "my best Messi impression -- much slower." "She is the most skillful player I've come across," said Australian midfielder Katrina Gorry
Barcelona Wins Champions League, Completes the Treble: FC Barcelona has won the Champions League for the fifth time, defeating Juventus 3-1 Saturday on goals by Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Alvaro Morata scored for Juventus in the 55th minute to tie the match after Rakitic's early goal, but Lionel Messi and his teammates displayed the skill that enabled the Spanish side to complete a treble after also taking La Liga and Copa Del Ray. This was the last game in Barcelona for Xavi Hernandez, who after 17 years is leaving for the Al Sadd club in Qatar. Juventus sets a record for Champions League runner-up finishes at 6.
Enter the Women's World Cup Confidence Pool: The Women's World Cup begins Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern as Canada hosts China. We're running a confidence pool for the tournament, a contest in which you give all 24 teams a point value from 24 to 1 and receive points each time they win or tie in the tournament. The first prize is an Adidas Performance Conext15 Glider soccer ball.