soccer

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 »

World Cup field set

Featured image With the completion of the last set of qualifying matches, we now know which 32 national teams will compete for the World Cup in Brazil next year. Here is the list: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay The United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, England, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland, Bosnia, Portugal, France, Greece, Croatia Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon South Korea, Japan, Iran, Australia Brazil and »

U.S. sends Mexico to New Zealand

Featured image When is it okay for an American to root against a U.S. sports team? Anytime, I think. Folks can root for whichever sports teams capture their fancy. However, until Tuesday night I never thought I would root against a U.S. sports team. Here’s what led me to do it: As of Tuesday, the U.S. had long since qualified for the 2014 World Cup. Mexico, however, was in danger of missing »

Merseysiders send England to Brazil, racial controversy ensues

Featured image England advanced to the 2014 World Cup (to be played in Brazil) by defeating Poland 2-0 on Tuesday. Both goals were made on Merseyside. Wayne Rooney — Liverpool born, Everton bred — scored the first. No surprise there. He has averaged about a goal per game that he’s been healthy enough to play in during World Cup qualification. The way Rooney scored was a little surprising though. The goal came »

Good news and bad news about Marouane Fellaini

Featured image The good news about Marouane Fellaini, the Belgian midfield star, is that he’s playing in the European Champions League. The bad news is that he’s not playing for Everton, which isn’t participating the ECL or, for that matter, in any European football. Everton transferred Fellaini to Manchester United an hour before the close of the transfer window. It’s seldom a happy day when your club sells a world class player, »

Understated works, even in sports

Featured image Most goal celebrations in soccer leave me cold, although I’m glad that the sport grants the players more leeway after scoring than the repressive NFL does. A penalty (in the form of a yellow card) will be assessed for removing one’s shirt, but this just encourages players find more creative ways to celebrate. Sometimes they use the corner flag as prop. But my favorite use of a prop occurred years »

Brazil is back

Featured image Brazil served notice today that it’s more than ready to compete for the World Cup next year, as it handily defeated the current World and European champion 3-0. Spain can take no comfort from the fact that Brazil had the home field advantage; the World Cup will also be played in Brazil. But perhaps it can take some comfort from the fact that the team was playing with just two »

Previewing the Brazil-Spain match — eyes right

Featured image To the extent that Spain and Brazil have been vulnerable during the Confederations Cup tournament, it has mostly been to attacks down the right flank. Brazil’s vulnerability stems from the propensity of its left back, Marcelo, to play as a winger. As with his predecessor, the great Roberto Carlo, left back is more of a mailing address than a position for Marcelo. Spain has a better-rounded left back in Jordi »