Saturday, December 26, 2009

Premier League Boxing Day Roundup

While December 26th is simply known as the day after Christmas in the USA, in the UK and various other countries they call it Boxing Day. With the holiday comes a full slate of English Premier League matches, most of which I'll have watched while parking my ass on the couch all day. (Thanks FSC) Here are the results from the day:

Fulham 0 - 0 Tottenham
Fulham missed several good opportunities including a clanger off the crossbar from my man Clint Dempsey in this all London draw. (sorry Dilbs)

Birmingham 0 - 0 Chelsea

West Ham 0 - 0 Portsmouth

Everton 1 - 1 Sunderland
The Toffees save a point when they could have used 3 in their fight to move up the table. A clinical finish by Darren Bent and a 85th min equalizer from Fellaini rounded out the scoring

Burnley 1 - 1 Bolton

Manchester City 2 - 0 Stoke City

Wigan 1 - 1 Blackburn

Liverpool 2 - 0 Wolves

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NFL Kicker Dave Akers Practices with the US Men's National Team

Aside from the announcement of who will be participating in the January training sessions, there isn't a lot going on with US National soccer right now. In order to tide everyone over here is a stellar video showing David Akers of the Philadelphia Eagles practicing with the Men's National Team. Its a few months old, but definitely entertaining.

Akers spends the afternoon swapping trade secrets with both Santino Quaranta and Stuart Holden. The video is pretty great, not only does it show Quaranta and Holden nailing 50 yard field goals, but it shows Akers ripping some set pieces on frame with Quaranta in goal. Akers says he hasn't played soccer in over 17 years, but this dude knows a thing or two about kicking a ball.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!!

European Team of the Decade

The problem with picking a "Best Team" is that the stars get all the credit. There is never any room for players that stand out for the balance and the support they provide. What would Cantona have been without Keane, Henry without Ljungberg, or Raul without Xabi and Iniesta? Okay those last two are stars in their own rights. But the point remains: its a lot harder to create a team that will play well together than it is to create a flashy team with the best individual talent.

The BBC's Phil Minshull recent European Team of the Decade lacks said balance. Phil's midfield from left to right plays: Figo, Zidane, Beckham. Ironically, this "best" lineup was a reality in 2004. Beckham joined Figo and Zidane in Madrid and Makelele left the same year. There was no balance to the team and the initial success of Los Galacticos waned (it took 3 years for Madrid to win another trophy). And on defense Phil has Carvalho playing next to Philp Lahm. Both are great players by any standards, but a team that represents Europe's best without fielding Maldini or Ashely Cole seems incomplete.

That being said, SOTB will be compiling a few "best team" lists (we can't resist the urge to manage from our armchairs too) to round out both the year and the decade. Leave your comments below on who should or shouldn't be included.

January Transfer Window Action

Its that time of year again folks: when speculation is king and hearsay is always reported. The January European Transfer Window provides teams with the opportunity to prepare for the second half of the season. And it also seems to provide everyone else with the opportunity to guess/judge what exactly is going through our favorite manager's heads. Here at SOTB we are no better, but we can help you through this year's window. Here are the latest:

And if you are looking to get a grasp on what else to expect from this winter's transfers here is a great roundup.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Profile: Ryan Giggs

A Ryan Giggs figurine circa 1995 from
a trip to England with my youth soccer team.

While Manchester United have dropped 2 of their last 3 matches, they still sit near the top of the table. This is a familiar position for the Red Devils over the last 20 years, and someone who has been there almost that entire time is Ryan Giggs. With his recent signing of a one year contract extension, the 36 year old will be suiting up for his 19th season with Man Utd's first team next year. I thought I would take this space to highlight some of what has made Giggs one of the most respected professional footballers ever in the English Premier League.

He has been with Man Utd since the inception of the Premier League and in that time he has appeared in over 550 league matches and scored 105 goals. He has terrorized the left side of the pitch and scored some of the greatest goals ever seen. Here is my favorite from 1999 in the FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal. He scored in the 109th minute to give United the lead and help them win the cup during their historic "Treble" season (FA Cup, Premiership Title, Champions League).

Ryan Giggs Vs Arsenal - Click here for another funny movie.

Giggs has continued to score goals and produce for United, even into the latter stages of his career. Now he has been able to provide a strong sense of leadership on a team that still competes in the highest echelon of world football. The only thing that English football fans could dislike about him is the fact that he did not play for their national team (he is Welsh). Here's a compilation of some of Giggs' greatest moments on the pitch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wonder Strikes

Maynor Figueroa had a hell of a goal this past weekend. He quickly played a restart from midfield and caught Stoke City's keeper out of position with a perfectly weighted shot, helping Wigan to a 2-2 tie. We have seen similar goals from different leagues around the world, including two notable goals from David Beckham (a beauty of a 60 yarder with Man Utd a while back and one with the Galaxy last season). Below is a compilation of some other long range strikes that are truly world class. The video starts off with one of my favorite goals of all time by the Brazilian left back, Roberto Carlos, against the dirty French.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rumor Mill: Man Utd for Sale?

The transfer windows are when most of the football rumors are floated around the interwebs, but it seems that someone has gotten the jump on the gossip usually reserved for January. There are reports that a group of Chinese businessmen have a bid ready to buy Manchester United for over 1 billion pounds! That is absolutely absurd. While seemingly ridiculous, it might be somewhat believable for a couple of reasons. One is that the club currently has debt in excess of 700 million pounds which it has had some difficulty refinancing. The other reason being that we have seen similar big sales in the last couple of years, including Chelsea and Manchester City to Russian and Middle Eastern billionaires. Let's see what the Glazers (Americans who also own the Tampa Bay Bucs) decide to do.

Is the offer even real? Is it too good to pass up? Are Gillette and Hicks wishing the Chinese would approach them for a sale? We'll find out soon enough.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NCAA College Cup Final

Today at 1PM, the Akron Zips will face the Cavaliers from the University of Virginia for the NCAA men's national championship. The match is being played in Cary, NC and will be aired on ESPN2 and

It seems as though whoever ranked the teams prior to the tournament did a good job. Undefeated Akron (23-0-1) is the #1 ranked team and UVA (18-3-3) holds the #2 position. The Zips are going for their first national title while UVA is trying for its 6th (last title won in 1994).

While I'm a bit partial to my alma mater in UVA, I think it should be a good game. UVA is on a 15 game win streak while Akron has been playing well also. Both teams did face tough tests in the semifinals with UVA beating Wake Forest in OT and Akron defeating UNC in penalty kicks. Hopefully this game will be decided in regulation and not go to penalties.

Go Hoos!

Friday, December 11, 2009

MLS Top Goals of 2009

I know the MLS season ended last month, but I thought I would highlight some of the great goals from the past year. Below are the top 10 "Goal of the Year" nominees. Landon Donovan won the award, and I think rightly so. That was a siiick nasty full volley with some crazy swerve on it. For me, Clint Mathis' one-time volley and Freddy Montero's long range blast were honorable mention. Enjoy.

World Cup 2010 Draw

On December 4th, the draw for next summer's World Cup in South Africa was announced. Some countries were happy (USA!) and some would like a re-do of the groupings. Below are the groups as decided by a hybrid ranking and random selection process.

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal (GROUP OF DEATH)

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

With the groups decided, now teams can go about scouting opponents, forming strategy and finalizing their rosters for the finals which start on June 11, 2010. Group G looks to be the "Group of Death." Looks like C. Ronaldo might want to sharpen up his triple step-overs and apply a little extra hair gel if Portugal plan to advance against the all-star roster of the cup holders Brazil and Ivory Coast with the likes of Didier "The Great Diver" Drogba and the Toure brothers. USA seems to have a good opportunity to advance to the 2nd round for the first time since 2002 when they made it all the way to the quarterfinals. With that being said, USA still has a lot of unanswered questions about its team that need to be figured out before this summer.

Now that the draw is set...LET THE COUNTDOWN TO JUNE 11 BEGIN!

We're Back!

With the draw for the upcoming World Cup in South Africa being announced a week ago, I've become inspired to start up the blog again. Look out for new posts on the beautiful game!