soccer

Evertonians at World Cup 2014

Featured image Everton is well-represented at this year’s World Cup. Six players who were with us at the end of the season made World Cup rosters. They are: Tim Howard — USA Phil Jagielka — England Leighton Baines — England Ross Barkley — England Kevin Mirallas — Belgium Romelu Lukaku — Belgium (on loan from Chelsea) Bryan Oveido would certainly have made the Costa Rican team but for his broken leg. In »

World Cup preview

Featured image Jurgen Klinsmann has come under fire for saying that the U.S. soccer team, which he coaches, cannot win the World Cup. Michael Willbon even declared that Klinsmann should “get the hell out” of America (though this may have had more to do with Klinsmann saying, not without justification, that the Lakers are overpaying Kobe Bryant). One can debate whether Klinsmann should have disparaged the U.S. team’s chances to that extent, »

What’s wrong with the World Cup?

Featured image The World Cup kicks off tomorrow in Brazil. I’ll probably put up a preview of sorts between now and then, but today I want to focus on the event in general. Sir Alex Ferguson says there hasn’t been a good World Cup since 1986. I don’t agree. However, I concede that no World Cup has lived up to the hype since then, and I doubt that this one will. The »

Okay, Maybe I’ll Watch the World Cup

Featured image Normally I leave the soccer beat to Paul.  Actually, normally I leave soccer to anyone.  But this two minute video promoting the World Cup is almost enough to get me to tune in.  Almost. »

Landon Donovan’s World Cup exclusion — is it wise?

Featured image Earlier this week, Jurgen Klinsmann named his squad for the upcoming World Cup. Landon Donovan, the face of American soccer and for my money the best player we’ve ever produced, was not included. Did Klinsmann make the right call? I doubt it. There’s no question but that at age 32 and with 156 games played for the national team, Donovan isn’t the player he once was. Klinsmann is almost certainly »

Spain’s soccer triathlon nears its climax

Featured image Certain competitions — a pennant race, for example — are sometimes described as a marathon, not a sprint. The cliche certainly applies to European soccer league competitions, which last from mid-August to mid-May. But the most competitive leagues can more aptly be described, for the top teams at least, as a triathlon. The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea may find themselves competing simultaneously in their respective »

Without Everton’s help, Liverpool may walk alone [UPDATED]

Featured image As the English Premier League season winds down, Manchester City and Liverpool are battling for the title, with Chelsea still in the mix. City will claim the crown for the second time in three seasons if it can win its last three matches. Anything less, and Liverpool will be champions if it can win its last two. Of City’s three remaining matches, only tomorrow’s contest at Everton looks problematic. The »

Was Piers Morgan right after all?

Featured image Everton comprehensively defeated Arsenal today, 3-0 at Goodison Park. With the victory, the Toffees move within one point of the Gunners for the final Champions League place, and have a game in hand. Everton outworked Arsenal all over the pitch. We also had a clear edge in tactics, thanks to our manager, Roberto Martinez. The Gunners legendary manager, Arsene Wenger, seemed unaware of the threat Everton poses down the left »

World Cup preview — The champions impress

Featured image Spain is the reigning World Cup and European Cup champion. Its string of successes — Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, and Euro 2013 — is unprecedented in the history of international soccer. But Brazil roundly defeated Spain in Brazil last year. That result, coupled with other recent successes and the fact that the 2014 World Cup will be played in Brazil, means that the Brazilians are justifiably favored to win »

There’s only one Wayne Rooney

Featured image Wayne Rooney produced a magical goal today for Manchester United — a lob of West Ham’s goalkeeper from 51 yards out: David Beckham — Man U legend and boyhood West Ham fan — was at the match. Beckham burst into the spotlight 18 years ago with a similar strike against Wimbledon: Beckham’s goal was from a little bit further out. But Rooney struck his on the half volley, making it »

World Cup Preview — The favorite impresses

Featured image Brazil, host of this year’s World Cup and favorite to win it, warmed up for the task earlier this month with a 5-0 victory over a mediocre South African side in Johannesburg. Brazil has now won 13 of its last 14 matches, including a 3-0 victory over Spain, the reigning World and European champion. Neymar, who has arrived at the super-star status long predicted for him, produced three goals. The »

World Cup Preview — a tough outing for the U.S.

Featured image Last week, the U.S. soccer team suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Ukraine. The match was supposed to take place in Kharkiv, but the political crisis imposed by Russia caused it to be moved to Cyprus at the last minute. Consequently, the stadium was almost empty. I enjoy such matches (typically they occur when the home team is forced to play in an empty stadium as punishment for »

World Cup preview — England tunes up with win over Denmark

Featured image Years ago, before a big match between England and Denmark, a chauvinistic commentator predicted that the Danes would take a beating at Wembley Stadium and then go back to “doing what they do best — drinking lager, making sandwiches, and watching English football on the telly.” Instead, the Danes defeated the English and qualified in their stead for the European championships. These days, Denmark is a cut below England in »

A Ukrainian grudge match revisited

Featured image Franklin Foer once wrote a book called “How Soccer Explains The World.” Actually, soccer doesn’t. However, it often reflects the world, and following international soccer sometimes provides insight into various of the world’s pockets. Ukraine is in turmoil and, as John notes, there is talk of partition between the European-looking west and the Russia-centric east. The deep division between east and west is reflected in the soccer rivalry between Dynamo »

Save American Soccer: Reform Immigration Now!

Featured image Too bad Paul is away on vacation, because I’ve found the surefire way to get him to support immigration reform: Current immigration policy hurts American soccer! Roger Pielke Jr. makes the case at LawInSport.com: One consequence of the broken immigration system can be seen in US soccer, where certain immigrants to the United States are deemed ineligible to represent Team USA, despite meeting FIFA criteria for eligibility. . . Consider the »

How not to run a sporting competition

Featured image As a citizen of the country that enacted Obamacare and came up with the BCS to determine the college football champion, I shouldn’t criticize the way foreigners organize things. But that hasn’t stopped me in the past, and it’s not going to stop me now that the team groupings for the 2014 World Cup have been established. It should be easy to divide 32 teams into eight reasonably balanced qualifying »

Martinez succeeds where Moyes failed 11 times

Featured image To get an idea of how Everton has fared at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, think of a punk biker in a Clint Eastwood film (to borrow an ancient Bill James line). Until yesterday, we had not beaten Man U there since 1992. Indeed, since the English Premier League was formed that year, no EPL club has beaten another EPL club more than Man U has beaten Everton. And »