soccer

At last, Spain vs. Brazil

Featured image Since 2008, Spain has dominated international soccer, winning the European Championship that year and in 2012, and the World Cup in 2010. Even in 2006, Spain was as good as any side at the World Cup, but the coach’s tactics let the team down in a knock-out match against France. Before 2006, Brazil was soccer’s dominant nation. It won the World Cup in 1994 and 2002 and finished second in »

Two Everton players among Europe’s top 20

Featured image Evertonians Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines are listed among Europe’s top 50 players in a ranking by Bloomberg Sports that rates players based on new performance statistics. Fellaini comes in at 12th place; Baines at 16th. Liverpool star Luis Suarez slots in between the two at 15th place. Former Everton players Wayne Rooney and Mikel Arteta are listed at 26th and 46th, respectively. These rankings are only as good as »

Wigerton FC

Featured image Everton’s 2012-13 season was eerily intertwined with that of Wigan Athletic, a provincial club — in a town better known for its rugby than its soccer — that will be playing in England’s second-tier next season. But before I explain, let’s have an overview of Everton’s season. By many measures, it was a successful year. We finished in sixth place, which is normally sufficient to qualify for European play. Only »

English Premier League All-Stars, 2012-13

Featured image It’s a slow scandal weekend, so why don’t we name our Power Line EPL all-stars for the just completed season? We’ll name three teams, like last year. And, as always, you should assume that the players you believe were criminally omitted would have made Power Line’s fourth team. First Team Petr Cech — Chelsea Pablo Zabaleta — Manchester City Leighton Baines — Everton Jan Vertonghen — Tottenham Hotspur Rio Ferdinand »

No tears for Piers

Featured image In early March, I wrote a post called “Tears for Piers” about the meltdown of Piers Morgan on Fox Soccer Channel as he watched Arsenal, the soccer team he supports, lose to Tottenham Hotspur, the club’s North London rival. In a tirade the sophistication of which failed to meet the standards of a 3:00 a.m. sports call-in show, Morgan castigated Arsenal’s long-time, hugely-successful manager, Arsene Wenger. He concluded by advising »

Romance returns to the FA Cup

Featured image England’s FA Cup — the oldest soccer competition in the world and open to something like 700 teams — gains its romance from victories by “minnows” over footballing powerhouses. This occurs a time or two almost every year in the early rounds. But in these days of vast financial disparities between clubs, it almost never happens in the Cup final. Indeed, from 1996 until this year, only Portsmouth had broken »

Everton’s Moyes will replace Sir Alex at Manchester United

Featured image This week, Sir Alex Ferguson surprised the soccer world by resigning as the head man at Manchester United. During his remarkable 26 years at Man U, he led the club to 13 English championships and two European ones. At age 71 Ferguson was known to be close to retirement. But few expected he would retire this year. Almost immediately, Man U ended speculation over his replacement by naming David Moyes, »

Previewing the Merseyside Derby (UPDATED)

Featured image Everton and Liverpool last met in late October, when the teams produced an eventful 2-2 draw at Goodison Park That result left Everton in fifth place, 8 places ahead of their cross-park rivals. Looking ahead, I wrote that “there’s a good chance [the two teams] will be close together in the Table when the Derby is played at Liverpool in early May.” Sure enough, with the Derby set for Sunday, »

“The Cannibal” strikes again

Featured image I’ve written before about Luis Suarez, Liverpool’s star forward. He is, in my opinion, the best player in the English Premier League this year, and arguably one of the best 11 players in the world. He is also, in my opinion (and by consensus, I believe) the biggest cheat in the EPL. It’s an unusual combination. Fowards of Suarez’s quality may “dive” to draw fouls (see Cristiano Ronaldo). They may »

U.S. advances toward world cup, unimpressively

Featured image The World Cup qualifying campaign of the U.S. soccer team gained a big boost this week from a 1-0 victory at home over Costa Rica and a 0-0 draw against Mexico. Although we are still early in the campaign, qualification seems likely. The U.S. need only finish third in a six team group to advance, and a fourth place finish would enable us to qualify if we can then beat »

“Just [Bleeping] ‘it it”

Featured image On Saturday, Everton defeated Manchester City, the defending English Premier League champions, 2-0. They accomplished this playing the last half hour with only 10 men. The score stood at a nail-baiting 1-0 until the final moment when Nikica Jelavic, who hadn’t scored for Everton in forever, produced the clinching goal. The video below takes you into the lower Gwladys Street stand, where Everton’s most rabid supporters reside, as Jelavic’s goal »

Hugo Chavez and Joey the Jackal

Featured image I was checking out a series of tweets, compiled by Nathaniel Botwinick at the Corner, called “Leftists Worldwide Defend and Mourn Hugo Chavez.” Among those paying to tribute to the Venezuelan thug were usual suspects like Ken Livingstone and George Galloway. Then, I saw this tweet from one “Joseph Barton” (@Joey7Barton): “Sad to hear of President Chavez’s passing… #RIP.” Who is Joey Barton? He’s a soccer thug. By this, I »

Tears for Piers

Featured image What’s more fun than watching Tottenham Hotspur defeat Arsenal in the North London Derby, causing Arsenal to drop to within two points of Everton in the battle for fifth place in the EPL? Lot’s of things, actually, and one of them is watching this happen in front of Arsenal fan Piers Morgan, the insufferable CNN talk show host. I’ve seen Morgan on Fox pre-game shows before. On those occasions, he »

U.S. loses to Honduras in world cup qualifier

Featured image The U.S. kicked off the final phase of its World Cup qualification campaign by losing 2-1 in Honduras. The defeat isn’t a huge deal. The normal path to qualification consists of winning 4 of the 5 matches to be played in the U.S. and as few as 1 match played away from home. Honduras didn’t figure to be that one away victory, although a draw didn’t seem too much to »

EPL Team of the half year

Featured image With the English Premier League season just about half way completed, why not name an EPL all-star team? Petr Cech Chelsea Rafael Manchester United Leighton Baines Everton Jan Vertonghen Tottenham Hotspur Ryan Shawcross Stoke City Yaya Toure Manchester City Santi Cazorla Arsenal Juan Mata Chelsea “Michu” Swansea City Luis Suarez Liverpool Robin van Persie Manchester United Only two English players in the lot. I was unhappy to name Shawcross because »

A banner day in the English Premier League

Featured image Today’s EPL schedule served up three mouth-watering matches: First place Manchester United against second place Manchester City (last season’s champions, with Man U as runner-up); fourth place Tottenham against sixth place Everton; and tenth place West Ham against twelfth place (but clearly better than that) Liverpool. Each match turned out to be a gem. Manchester City dominated the early play against their old enemy, but its attacks kept breaking down, »

Goal of the decade

Featured image Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s true super stars, and probably its most underrated (though not by me, I had him in my Euro 2012 all-star team even though his team, Sweden, didn’t make it out of the group stage). Ibrahimovic has scored prolifically, and often “for fun,” at the club level (including for the top clubs in Italy, Spain, and France). And, despite playing internationally for so-so Sweden, he »