soccer

Immigration, diversity, and the 2018 World Cup [UPDATED]

Featured image The qualifying rounds for the 2018 World Cup are finally complete. We now know the 32 teams that will compete. The list contains most of the usual suspects, but three will be missing in Russia: Italy, Holland, and the U.S. The absence of the U.S. (for the first time since 1986) is surprising only because the competition in North America is so weak. Our team is crap and doesn’t deserve »

Rooney scores on return to Everton

Featured image Everton defeated Stoke City 1-0 today in the Premier League opener for both teams. Wayne Rooney scored the lone goal on a fine header just before the end of the first half. I wrote about Rooney’s return to his boyhood club here. He’s been gone since 2004 when he left under acrimonious circumstances to join Manchester United. He became United’s all-time leading goal scorer, as well as the England national »

Wayne Rooney returns to Everton

Featured image Thirteen years ago, Everton sold Wayne Rooney to Manchester United. At the time, Rooney, age 18, wasn’t just the best young footballer in England, he was as a good a young player as England had seen in the 25 years I had been following the English game (and in the 13 years since), a status he had underlined with a breakout performance at the 2004 European Championships. Rooney basically forced »

EPL All-Stars 2016-17

Featured image English football came to a dramatic end this weekend. Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final and Huddersfield Town won “soccer’s richest game” on penalty kicks to gain promotion to the Premier League. Huddersfield Town will return to England’s top division for the first time since 1972. Judging by what I saw today, and for much of the season, it will be a short, albeit lucrative, stay unless »

Europe On Edge Over Dortmund Bombing

Featured image Paul wrote last night about an apparent terrorist attack on a bus that was driving the Borussia Dortmund soccer team to a quarterfinal European Champions League soccer match against Monaco. Three pipe bombs were placed along the bus’s route, loaded with projectiles to kill and maim as many people as possible. The bombs went off, but miraculously no one was killed, and only one Dortmund player was injured. German authorities »

Rooney ties Sir Bobby [UPDATED]

Featured image Debate still rages as to whether Wayne Rooney is an all-time England soccer great. But when you’re tying and breaking records held by a bloke with “Sir” in front of his name, there really isn’t room for discussion. In 2015, Rooney broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s record for most goals scored for England. Today, he tied Charlton for most goals scored for Manchester United. Rooney also had an assist in his »

Thwarted in attempted show of disrespect for U.S., female soccer star lashes out

Featured image I don’t follow women’s soccer closely. However, I’ve seen enough of the U.S. team to know that if there’s an act to get into, Megan Rapinoe, the flamboyant star midfielder, is probably going to get into it. Thus, it wasn’t surprising when she decided to emulate Colin Kaepernick and disrespect America by refusing to stand for the National Anthem. Bill Lynch, the owner of the Washington Spirit against whom Repinoe’s »

U.S. women’s soccer scores a Solo own goal [UPDATED]

Featured image Hope Solo has for years been the goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s soccer team and one of the team’s high profile stars. She’s also the bad girl of the sport and, arguably, all of American women’s sports. At the 2007 World Cup, the U.S. coach foolishly benched Solo for a semifinal game against Brazil, which the United States lost 4-0. Solo blasted the coach and disrespected veteran U.S. keeper Briana »

France v. Portugal, a preview [UPDATED: Portugal wins]

Featured image France will play Portugal tomorrow for the Euro 2016 championship. France is heavily favored, and rightly so. France is the home team. Its squad is superior to Portugal’s. And France has been the better team throughout the tournament. France has won five out of its six matches in regulation time (the exception was draw against a pretty good Swiss side). Portugal has only won one of its six matches in »

Getting it right at Euro 2016 — better late than never

Featured image For me, the most fascinating aspect of big international soccer tournaments is the quest of team managers to determine their best team. It seems odd that a manager wouldn’t know his best team going in, but remember that international teams — e.g., Italy and England — don’t really exist as a unit of players until around three weeks before a big tournament. During the rest of the year, a collection »

Euro 2016 — the vanishing middle class

Featured image It has taken 36 matches for the Euro 2016 field to be reduced from 24 teams to 16, the number that should have been invited to begin with. As one would expect, the quality of play improved a bit after the first set of matches as teams got used to playing together in competitive matches. It remains pretty ordinary, though. This is not mainly the fault of the minnows — »

Euro 2016 so far

Featured image Every team has played at least one match at Euro 2016, so we can now make a few observations about the tournament: 1. Everyone feared a terrorist attack at or near one of the venues in France. None has materialized, but this doesn’t mean the tournament has been trouble free. Two more traditional forms of violence have marred it: (1) soccer hooliganism, the worst of it from English and (above »

Euro 2016 — a preview

Featured image Euro 2016 kicks off today. The host nation, France, will take on Romania. The Euro tournament has long been my favorite soccer tourney because of its size. The World Cup nowadays includes 32 teams from all over the world, including continents where the play is inferior. Usually, only about half of the teams are worthy of attention, though the ratio was higher in 2014. The Euros have been limited to »

Leicester City and the richest game in soccer

Featured image Last month, Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday played a soccer match estimated to be worth more than 200 million British pounds for the winner. How was it that two mediocre Yorkshire teams play found themselves in such a contest? Because they were playing for the right to be promoted to the super-lucrative English Premier League. Hull City prevailed 1-0. They are now one of the richest teams in Europe. Not »

EPL All-Stars, 2015-16

Featured image The English Premier League wrapped up its season yesterday, as Manchester United defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 in extra time in the FA Cup Final. Wayne Rooney put in a true captain’s and man-of-the-match performance. He hoisted the Cup for the first time in his long, illustrious career. The real story of the season, though, was Leicester City wining the League. The odds on them accomplishing this were 5,000-1 at the »

Remembering a Dutch master

Featured image Soccer legend Johan Cruyff died yesterday at age 68. Cruyff is one of four magical attacking players I have had the privilege to watch, and the only European in the batch (the others are Pele, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi). Cruyff is also the only one of the four to have emerged from a soccer backwater (Holland). Argentina and Brazil were soccer powers before Pele and Maradona arrived on the »

Sports post of the day: An EPL insurgency

Featured image The English Premier League is possibly the most popular sports league in the world. It has even caught on in the soccer-ambivalent U.S., thanks mainly to fans under the age of 30. One of the EPL’s few drawbacks is that a few rich clubs dominate it. This was also true of certain major American sports leagues at one time, but we’re more egalitarian now that so many clubs are rich. »