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.
2014 World Cup Will Use Goal-Line Tech: FIFA has agreed to use goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Two different systems have been tested: Goalref, which employs magnetic sensors to determine whether the ball crossed, and Hawkeye, which relies on cameras. Frank Lampard and Geoff Hurst had no comment.
Robbie Rogers comes out as gay: US Soccer player Robbie Rogers has stated on his blog that he is gay and will be taking a break from soccer to concentrate on life.
Lower-level clubs oust 5 EPL sides in FA Cup: With apologies for posting one of my articles, the Premier League took a bit of a hit, and almost near-annihilation, by lower-level clubs in the FA Cup's fourth round.
What is American Soccer?: A tactical history of the USMNT. From a list of the best football writing 2012.
Russian Team's Fans Demand All-White, All-Straight Team: The biggest fan club of the top Russian soccer club Zenit St. Petersburg have released a manifesto demanding that the team only sign white heterosexual players. "Dark-skinned players are all but forced down Zenit's throat now, which only brings out a negative reaction," the manifesto by the Landscrona fan club states. It calls gay players "unworthy of our great city." Without referring specifically to the manifesto, Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti said, "I think that Zenit has proven through its work that the club understands what tolerance is, and what it means to have tolerant behavior." The fan club insisted, "We are not racists and for us the absence of black Zenit players is just an important tradition that underlines the team's identity and nothing more."
Merry Christmas, Spofites.: The best, but mostly worst, of Christmas/football music.
Bradford City stuns Arsenal: For Arsenal, a giant embarrassment against a team that refused to quit.
Champions League may have 64 clubs & Europa League scrapped: Seven English and five Scottish clubs would make the expanded field if M. Platini's latest, er, brainstorm becomes fact. At least it would end all those Thursday nights away requiring dark o'clock flights home from the Continent.
NBC Grabs Premier League for $250 Million: NBC Universal has acquired the U.S. broadcasting rights to all 380 Premier League soccer matches for the next three years, beginning in August, after outbidding a ESPN/FOX joint offer. The reported $250 million bid is considerably larger than the $23 million Fox currently pays. The NBC Sports Network will be the primary channel to watch games, but NBC Chairman Mark Lazarus said every game will be available through an NBC TV or online platform. "FOX Soccer has been the primary US voice of EPL for almost two decades, and has done much over the years to increase its popularity, value and availability," Fox Sports sighed. "We wish them well."
Cascadia Cup: In front of a national audience on ESPN with a 66,000 plus crowd last night Seattle beat Portland 3:0 in MLS competition. When will the national mainstream media, both print and electronic, give the sport the recognition it deserves? For instance the LA Times with two teams MLS teams in LA doesn't even list soccer in its sports section banner. Just one of many examples.
One-Legged Soccer Player Scores Epic Goal: One-legged student soccer player Nico Calabria, who uses crutches to compete for Concord-Carlisle Regional High School in Massachusetts, scored recently off a corner kick. "I played four years of Division 1 college soccer -- two of which actually on the field -- and never saw a single person hit a ball so clean off the volley from a corner," writes Mike Foss of USA Today.
Cover Up At Hillsborough: A British inquiry finds that an official cover up took place after 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death before their team's FA Cup semi-final in 1989. Prosecutions may now follow.
Transfer Deadline Day, not much nonesense yet: Dimitar Berbatov providing the most amusement so far, flying to Italy but returning to England without meeting anyone from Fiorentina after the move was hijacked by Juventus and the player instead signing instead for Fullham. And of course from that same club Clint Dempsey still sits and waits, spurning offers from Aston Villa and Sunderland in hopes that Liverpool or Arsenal will yet come in for him. Mancini has been busy on the blue side of Manchester, selling notorious chest-stomper Nigel de Jong to a vastly changed AC Milan and buying Scott Sinclair and a some would say past his sell by date Maicon. Liverpool have done some business, selling Charlie Adam to Stoke (who also brought in American Maurice Edu) and loaning Jay Spearing to Bolton, after loaning(?!?!?!) lost boy Andy Carroll to West Ham last night.