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.
Wayne Rooney's Leg Gashed, Out Four Weeks: Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney's leg was sliced open in an accidental collision with Fulham's Hugo Rodallega during a match Saturday. During extra time of Man U's 3-2 victory, Rooney fell and Rodallega's boot slashed his leg above the knee, leaving a large open cut that teammate Danny Welbeck was too squeamish to look at. "It was a very bad one. He has gone to hospital. It looks like he will be out for four weeks," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said. Rooney and Ferguson are on the outs and his days with the club could be numbered, claims The Sun tabloid.
West Brom Crushes Liverpool on Premiership Opening Day: Liverpool opened the Premiership season Saturday with a 3-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion. New Liverpool skipper Brendan Rodgers watched goals by Zoltan Gera, Peter Odemwingie and Romelu Lukaku hand his squad a road loss before a Europa League qualifier Wednesday and next weekend's EPL match against Man City.
First Win for U.S. Men in Mexico: After 75 years, 23 losses and one tie, the U.S. men's soccer team has won a match in Mexico for the first time ever. Mexican-American Michael Orozco Fiscal scored a goal in the 80th minute and Tim Howard made two monumental saves to hold on for a 1-0 victory.
Premier League season starts Saturday: The transfer window has been quiet so far, enough so that Mancini went public at the lack of funds, though judging by their beat down of Chelsea in the Community Shield they may not need anyone new. My Reds have made two buys, ManUtd brought in a Japanese playmaker (and IPOed), Chelsea bought three quality attackers (but let Drogba go to China), and Arsenal paid big money (overpaid?) for Podolski. Robin van Persie, Luca Modric and Clint Dempsey sit by their phones waiting for news that their moves to, respectively, Juventus/Manchester/Spain (??), Real Madrid and Liverpool have come through.
PS: Remember to pick your fantasy team before then.
U.S. Women Take Soccer Gold: Before an Olympic-record crowd of 80,203, two goals by midfielder Carli Lloyd and some spectacular saves by keeper Hope Solo led the U.S. women's soccer team to the gold medal over Japan. Yuki Ogimi scored the only goal for Japan. American midfielder Tobin Heath got away with a handball in the first half that would have been a penalty kick because it occurred in the box.
Usain Bolt Will Get Man United Tryout: After Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt discussed his love of soccer following his gold medal finish in the men's 100-meter final, the world's fastest human is getting a trial with Manchester United. "We would love to have him along," a team source said. Defender Rio Ferdinand was making his own appeal on Twitter. "If you want that trial at Man Utd shout me," he tweeted. "I’ll speak to the boss. Well done in 100m."
Everton's Tim Cahill Joins Red Bulls: Australian midfielder Tim Cahill, 32, is moving to the New York Red Bulls after eight years at Everton in the Premiership and seven years prior to that at Millwall. He has 108 club goals and 24 for the Australian national team.
New York Cosmos Will Join NASL: The New York Cosmos are joining the North American Soccer League (NASL), the second-tier of U.S. pro soccer, in the hopes of one day reaching the MLS. The original Cosmos management spent $10 million, generated some hype and got Pelé and Eric Cantona attached to the effort, but this line from Grant Wahl shows how that all worked out: "An actual team with real players is coming."
Spain Reigns in Euro 2012: Spain trounced Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 tournament finals with goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. Winning its third consecutive major tournament, Spain set a new record by allowing just one goal the entire tournament. Italy had to play a man down after Thiago Motta suffered a hamstring injury, lacking any more substitutions.
2 Balotelli Goals Send Italy Into Finals: Goals by Italian striker Mario Balotelli in the 20th and 36th minute helped Italy shock Germany 2-1 in the Euro 2012 semi-finals and advance to the final against Spain Sunday. A Mesut Oezil goal in added time brought Germany within one, but Italy held off their frantic comeback attempt over the final two minutes. "The German defense had appeared breachable at times during the Euro, but it took Balotelli's power, speed and skill to expose it," writes Grant Wahl.
Spain Beats Portugal, Advances to Euro Final: Spain has reached the Euro 2012 final, defeating Portugal 0-0 (4-2) on penalty kicks -- with Cristiano Ronaldo never getting to kick because he was set to go fifth. Cesc Fabregas scored the winning penalty for Spain after Bruno Alves clanked one off the bar. Eurosport called it "a game that resolutely refused to catch fire."
Italy Punts England on Penalties: After dominating England for most of the preceding 120 minutes -- but scoring no goals -- Italy beat England 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 match in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals Sunday. England had a 2-1 lead after Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney scored and Riccardo Montolivo shot one wide, but they scored no more after Ashley Young hit the crossbar and Ashley Cole was stopped by keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Spain Stomps France in Euro 2012: Xabi Alonso scored two goals, leading Spain to an easy 2-0 victory over France in the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 Saturday -- its first win over France in its history. Spain will face Portugal Wednesday for a spot in the finals and a chance to become the first country to win three successive major tournaments.
Germany Shows Greece Who's Boss: With goals by Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus, Germany defeated Greece 4-2 in the second Euro 2012 quarterfinal Friday. Greece put a brief scare into Germany with a 55th minute equalizer by Georgios Samaras that made the score 1-1, but after the Khedira goal five minutes later they could find no relief.
Portugal Advances Over Czech Republic: Portugal defeated the Czech Republic 1-0 in Euro 2012 quarterfinals Thursday. Cristian Ronaldo scampered around a defender and blasted a header in the 79th minute on a terrific cross by Joao Moutinho after twice hitting the post on earlier shots. The Czechs had no shots on goal and only two attempts the entire match. "Now it is big smiles and good music," Ronaldo said.
Germany, Portugal Advance in Group B: A Lars Bender goal in the 80th minute sent Germany past Denmark 2-1 and into the Euro 2012 quarterfinals Sunday in the final day of Group B play. Portugal claimed the second spot out of group with a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands. Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals. The Dutch, runner up in the 2010 World Cup, go home without earning a single point.
Greece, Czech Republic Advance in Group A: Greece knocked off Russia 1-0 and the Czech Republic beat Poland by the same score in Euro 2012 group A's final games Saturday, putting the Greeks and Czechs in the quarterfinals. Giorgos Karagounis scored for Greece on a defensive miscue right before the first half ended. Petr Jiracek scored for the Czechs in the 72nd minute. Russia went into its game only needing a draw to advance.
Spurs Kick Harry Redknapp : Only months after he was a frontrunner for the England job, manager Harry Redknapp is out at Tottenham Hotspur. Redknapp, who led Spurs to two top-four finishes the past four years and a Champions League run, could not reach terms on a contract extension with team chairman Daniel Levy. Last week Redknapp publicly urged Levy to lengthen his deal beyond one more season. "If they don't extend it and I go into my last year, it's not an easy one when players know you've only got a year left," he said.
Russia, Poland Draw After Their Hooligans Clash: Several violent clashes between Russian and Polish fans preceded their match at Euro 2012 Tuesday. Russia's Alan Dzagoev scored his third goal of the tournament and Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski got the equalizer in a 1-1 draw. "The Russian-Polish tension here is overwhelming," writes Grant Wahl, who described an enormous banner unfurled by Russian fans of a medieval swordsman. "Revealingly, the banner was in English, suggesting that the Russians were attempting to make a nationalist statement to the wider world."
Soccer Pitch Carved Out of Forest: On July 21, four soccer teams will play each other on a new pitch cut out of a forest in the Scottish borders near Selkirk. The Forest Pitch project was created by artist Craig Coulthard for the Cultural Olympiad and London Olympics. The teams will be amateurs who've only been U.K. citizens since 2000 or later.