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.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter Announces His Resignation: Just days after he was voted to another term as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter has announced his resignation. The Guardian is live-blogging the news, which he revealed during a press conference Tuesday. TalkSport radio in the U.K. is currently covering it as well. The announcement comes after media reports that Blatter's top lieutenant, Jerome Valcke, made $10 million in transactions central to the bribery scandal involving World Cup site selection.
Arsenal Dismantles Aston Villa in FA Cup Final: Arsenal defeated Aston Villa 4-0 in the FA Cup Final Saturday, winning the trophy for a record-setting 12th time. Arsene Wenger became the first post-war manager to win it six times. Theo Walcott opened the scoring late in the first half. Alexis Sanchez roofed a brilliant long-range shot off the crossbar for the second and the Gunners were cruising after that. "Arsenal were so utterly superior here, in every department," writes Daniel Taylor in The Guardian. The win puts Southampton in the Europa League next season.
Henchmen arrested, but the Joker is still at large: 10 FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland for extradition to the U.S. for a whole host of corruption charges. Sepp Blatter is up for re-election on Friday, but with only one challenger and such rampant corruption, it's a wonder whether or not this will affect his chances.
Messi goal puts Barcelona past the post: Winning 1-0 over Atletico Madrid, last season's champions, at the Vincente Calderon, clinches the season title despite Real Madrid's 4-1 win today. This is their seventh title in ten years, with the Copa Del Rey and Champions League finals still to play.
Relegation-Bound Blackpool's Fans Storm Field, Cancel Match: The fans in Blackpool invaded the field during the English Championship team's final game before relegation Saturday, calling for chairman Karl Oyston's ouster. The game had to be cancelled. Fans announced earlier they would begin their anti-Oyston protest at the statue of legendary Blackpool player Stan Mortensen outside their stadium. The team had the statue cut down on Tuesday, so all that remains is the base. Daniel Taylor of The Guardian writes of Oyston, "I couldn't say with absolute certainty that he is deliberately setting out to be regarded as the most unpleasant man in the business, but he is certainly making a good fist of it."
Arsene Wenger, The Martyr: The sacrifices involved in playing the beautiful game.
U.S. Men Win 2-0 Over Mexico in San Antonio: Playing on a dismal surface, the U.S. men's national team handed Mexico another 2-0 loss in a friendly Wednesday night in San Antonio. Jordan Morris, the first current college player to play for the U.S. since 1999, scored a scrappy goal off a defender's carom and Juan Agudelo took a long pass out of the air, opened up a little space outside the box and beat the goalie to hang the famous "dos a cero" on the Americans' southern rival.
Former Bradford chairman linked to at least eight fires before Valley Parade disaster: '[T]here had been at least eight other fires at business premises either owned by, or connected to, Stafford Heginbotham, Bradford’s then-chairman, in the previous 18 years, resulting in huge insurance claims . . . "Could any man really be as unlucky as Heginbotham had been?"
Cyclones and Grass Roots Football: The Nerimbera Magpies. The soul of a town.
62,000 Welcome Orlando City to MLS in Franchise Opener: Kaka scored an equalizer on a free kick in extra time as Orlando City SC played to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC in the Major League Soccer franchise opener for both teams. Mix Diskerud had scored in the 76th minute on a pass from David Villa to put the visitors ahead. A crowd of 62,000 fans packed the Citrus Bowl, the second largest ever for a team's first game in MLS.
Revealed: the ghost game bet on around the world ... that never actually took place.:
All this would have been reflected in the odds offered before and during the game by bookmakers such as bet365 and SBOBET, odds that should have been increasingly in Shakhter’s favour. Except most people backing them were doomed to lose from the outset, because FC Slutsk 2 Shakhter Soligorsk 1 was always going to be the final score of a match Inside Sport can reveal never took place.
Belgian Soccer Fans Lose Their Heads: Fans of the Belgian soccer team Standard Liege greeted the return of their former captain Steven Defour on the opposing team with an enormous banner that depicted his decapitated head. Belgian foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders called it "stupid, nasty and irresponsible."
Coming of Age: The long, hard luck story of Australian football may be coming to an end.
Former Portuguese footballer Luis Figo joins crowded field looking to unseat Sepp Blatter as President of FIFA.: The 78-year-old Blatter is seeking his fifth consecutive term as FIFA President in an election to be held May 29th. Figo joins Frenchman Jérôme Champagne, Jordanian Prince Ali (who has won the backing of England's FA), Dutch FA President Michael van Pragg, and a bookmaker-backed publicity candidate. ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti offers a brief primer (autoplay audio/video warning).
The Miracle of Sociedad Deportiva Eibar: The town of Eibar, Spain, population 27,000, has a club playing in La Liga's top division for the first time in its history. Sociedad Deportiva Eibar has a $22 million budget compared to $934 million at Real Madrid, but after 16 games it has five wins and five draws and is in ninth place, seven points above the relegation zone. The club, the smallest ever in Primera Division, is debt-free and self-sustaining. "We could be a little bit uncomfortable for a lot of clubs, because they have done things in the opposite way," said club president Alex Arranzabal.
Chris Wondolowski Relives That Shot: "Wondolowski went back to the locker room and showered and dressed. Moments later, he did something that no athlete in the aftermath of failure should ever, under any circumstances, do: He checked Twitter." Jordan Ritter Conn of Grantland catches up with Chris Wondolowski, six months after the World Cup round of 16 game-winning goal that wasn't.
Plans for 39th Premier League Game Abroad Fizzle: Six years after Premier League chief Richard Scudamore floated the idea of playing a 39th game in other countries, he is conceding defeat. "The idea of an extra game is gone," he said. "I bear the scars from thinking it’s a good idea." Another proposal has been more successful: The next broadcast deal will feature Friday evening games beginning in 2016.
New India Super League Has Fourth-Highest Attendance in Soccer: The India Super League began a month ago, hoping to bring soccer to prominence in a country where it was once the most popular sport. The league has brought on some older foreign stars -- Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka and David Trezeguet -- and drew 56 million viewers to its opening matches. The league has eight teams, plays three months and does not relegate, although it plans a merger with the smaller, established I-League within five years. Organizers tout that it has the fourth-highest attendance of any league, ahead of Serie A and behind the Bundesliga, Premier League and La Liga. In a country of 1.2 billion, there are a lot of potential eyeballs. "Even a niche does very well for numbers," said Siddhanth Aney, editor of Sports Illustrated India. "You only need 1 percent of the TV audience to be successful."
Wigan owner makes controversial comment about Jews: Will the English get their own Donald Sterling moment? Kick It Out think so, and Wigan's shirt sponsor has already cancelled their deal over Mackay's hiring.
FIFA Goal of the Year nominees:
(Where "year" is October 2013 to September 2014.)
World Cup inquiry clears Qatar but criticises English FA: Or does it? Fifa report 'erroneous', says lawyer who investigated corruption claims and Fifa World Cup report pointless and a joke - FA boss Greg Dyke. So, Fifa corruption report: Who is to blame and what happens now?