Friday, November 20, 2015

Liverpool Klopp Episode 8: Can't Buy Me Love

Upcoming match for LFC is Manchester City on the road. Saturday 930AM PST on NBC.

Comparing wage bills (unfortunately it appears the data is a bit old 2013-2014 season)

Manchester City has the 2nd highest wage bill at 205 million pounds.

Liverpool has the 5th highest wage bill at 144 million pounds.

Currently Man City is #1 on the table so they are "over performing" while Liverpool lags at #10 so they are underperforming.

In American baseball, money doesn't buy championships! As a long suffering LA Dodger fan, this year's team had the highest wage bill but was eliminated in the NLDS.

In the Premier league, the "Big 4" have had a virtual monopoly on the top slots in the EPL. Liverpool broke the lock in 2013-2014 and 2008-2009 by finishing second and fourth in 2007-2008. Tottenham crashed the party in 2011-2012 (fourth) and 2009-2010 (fourth). Thus, over an eight year period the 32 top four spots have been held by the Big 4 twenty-seven times (84%).

But the most emotional part of the money game for LFC fans was the drama of LFC having Raheem Sterling, one of their young rising stars, recruited by Man City.

Certainly his form at Liverpool waned, shaping the argument City had paid an exorbitant sum, although hindsight suggests it was harsh to single out a 20-year-old for losing his way when his team and manager had done so too. The contract dispute, the decision to halt negotiations (relayed in person by Sterling to Rodgers), the interview and leaks over financial disagreements, however, left a toxic impression on his former supporters.

In any case, Liverpool has to go in with what they got and not lament the players they have lost.

The defensive four looks to be Clyne, Skrtle, Lovren, Moreno. Too bad about Sakho's injury against Palace. LFC fans will be on edge about how Lovren responds.

The midfield should see the return of Milner, alongside Can and Lucas.

Upfront? Probably Firmino, Beneteke, and Coutinho.

Likely subs?
Would think Lallana and/or Ibe will get in for fresh energy going on the attack.  Will Sturridge get in? Perhaps, for the last 15 minutes to see what he has in those knees.

I don't think Klopp is likely to "park the bus" and will have the team run at Man City. May turn into a rout but I don't think Klopp would be content to let Man City have all the possession. Now, if the game is at level and the clock is ticking down to the final 10 minutes or so, then he might order the team to pull back some. Getting a point at the Etihad would be more than good for LFC at this point.

Stealing a win? That would be a minor miracle!

UPDATE: Liverpool have stolen the lead via an own goal at the 7 minute mark!

23' Oh my! Coutinho!! UK Guardian Scott Murry described it this way:

What a counter attack this is. Firmino battles his way past a spinning Mangala and Demichelis in the middle of the park. He drifts to the right of the D, bringing both men with him, then dinks a pass back into the middle. Coutinho is running in to meet it, and sidefoots into the bottom-right past a wrong-footed Hart. That’s a goal of electric brilliance in attack, though City’s centre backs were on a silent-movie tip there.

Had to leave following the game to run some errands but did catch a little bit here and there on internet radio coverage. Amazing that my little smartphone can bring the action of a soccer contest almost half a world away in real time!

Anyway, the two analysts said that Liverpool didn't pressure all over the field but waited for Man City to cross over the half-line and then put the pressure on them! Once they gained possession they used their speed to mount the counter. Worked great! Coach Klopp is being hailed as a tactical genius.

LFC got the third goal via the Brazil duo again but this time with Firmino putting it into the net. Man City got one goal just before half-time. The second half yield opportunities for both sides but Skrtle put in a goal off a corner to make it 4-1.

The one down note was that Coutinho had to be subbed off with an injury. So far no word from the medical team whether he will be out for an extended period of time or not.

Next match: Nov 26 at home for Europa league.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

World: Should USA Take Syrian Refugees?

With the civil war in Syria, many people have fled and where they should be transferred to is an ongoing challenge.

The USA, separated by the Atlantic Ocean, hasn't taken in too many.

Of course, there are concerns about terrorism. In a group of refugees what is the possibility of some terrorists being among them who then conduct Paris-style attacks on some American city?

No governor or mayor wants to be in the position of having to go before the news cameras to report some terrorist incident was the result of the settlement of refugees in their city or state.

Thus, the key is how much "vetting" of refugees take place?

This news item over at CNBC suggests the vetting is pretty thorough.

Some interesting quotes:

One administration official admitted that a lack of records is often a problem for refugees, but "in contrast to that," Syrians and Iraqis tend to be "a very, very heavily documented population." Trained U.S. specialists examine their passports, family registries and military records to assess authenticity, that official said.
"Refugees, including and especially those from Syria and the Middle East, are subject to the most intensive security screenings of anyone entering our country," said Betsy Fischer, deputy policy director at the International Refugee Assistance Project. "And because there are all of those security screenings, we think that calls for ceasing Syrian resettlement fundamentally betray a crucial American value."

Here is a clip of the Lynch, the head of the DOJ, testifying that it is challenging to vet refugees but procedures are in place to do so.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Theology: How much "heresy" is too much heresy?

Was reading in Matthew 24:14 recently: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

This verse is in one of the "end-times" passages. There are probably as many ideas of what the end times will look like as there are people speculating on the end times! If you read all of Matthew 24-25, the safest conclusion I think is: (1) the timing of the end is unknown and (2) it will catch most people by surprise.

But Matthew 24:14 appears to be the most clear cut statement about when it will happen.

And so how are we doing with the world evangelization plan?

The Joshua Project attempts to identify which ethnic groups have not been reached with the good news of Jesus.

One other question I've been pondering is the the role of "heretical" Christianity.

I found out while visiting the library of Uppsala University that has the oldest Bible manuscript in the Goth language is the so called "Silver Bible." In the 4th Century a bishop translated the Bible into Goth and evangelized the Goths of modern day Germany. None of the Bible copies from his time survive but the Silver Bible is a copy prepared in the 6th Century. That copy is in fragments containing much of the 4 Gospels but nothing else. Thus, the scholarly interest in the Silver Bible is for its value as the oldest example of the Gothic written language rather than as a contributor to textual criticism.

What is interesting theologically was that this bishop subscribed to an Arian flavor of Christianity!

My understanding was that the Arian Christology was a disputed and that argument that led to the Nicean formulation of the Trinity. The short version is that the historic view of Christ was that God the Father and God the Son were of the same substance while the Arian view (followers of Bishop Arius of Alexandria) was that God the Son was created by God the Father and thus of lesser substance.

Thus, the Goth people groups were reached with the Gospel by what was considered a heresy! These people who trusted in Jesus had no idea of the strict Christology that was stated in the early church councils! I suppose the bottom line is whether a person's life is transformed by their encounter with Jesus. Thus, their intellectual understanding of who Jesus could be muddled. My guess is that the thief on the Cross who trusted Jesus might not be able to answer all Christological questions but he indeed called on the name of Jesus from whom life and salvation pours forth!

So how much "heresy" is too much heresy?

Monday, November 09, 2015

MLS: and then there were only 4

The final four of the MLS: Columbus, NY Red Bulls, Portland, Dallas.

How do these team line up in terms of overall team salary?

According to Denver Post...

Portland #9
Columbus #12
NYRB #19
Dallas #20

So no correlation between high team salaries and making a good run this year!

How about high budget players (again Denver Post)?

Just 2 of the players on this list are still playing!

Certainly, part of bringing in the high budget designated players is to market the game. But to win, this year, looks like having those big DPs didn't help.

Gerrard and Galaxy: the road ahead

Unlike the Liverpool Echo that will have multiple articles per day about their club, the LA Times has a few articles a week about the MLS generally and the LA Galaxy specifically.

In this item, LA Times Galaxy beat writer Baxter speculates on Gerrard's future with the club.

I started following Liverpool FC in late 2014 and it was clear that Gerrard was in his swan song season with the club. I had read about his exploits on the team but the player I watched in a handful of games was on the fast downside of his career with occasional flashes of his younger self. The great passing was still pretty much and the almost wound-too-tight intensity was occasionally evident. However, there was longer the speed and endurance that would allow him to grab a match by the scruff of the neck. Nonetheless, he still provided a few highlight reel moments in a difficult 2014-2015 season.

Thus, his move to the MLS would prove interesting to see if the MLS had continued to "catch up" to the rest of the world. Would a declining icon from the EPL run wild in the MLS or would he fit in or would it actually prove challenging?

Indeed, much was made of the physical geography of the MLS travel schedules and stadium locations in the run-up to his arrival and Gerrard got to experience it right away.

Steven Gerrard had been with the Galaxy all of two weeks when he played his first road game in Houston, where the temperature soared to 102 degrees and the humidity was almost as high. A week later Gerrard played 90 minutes against the Colorado Rapids in the thin mile-high air outside Denver. For someone who had never lived anywhere but Liverpool, a port city where the thermometer rarely wanders above 70, it was a rude and painful welcome to Major League Soccer.

I attended two matches to see Gerrard and the Galaxy this season. First, was his MLS debut against San Jose and second was the home finale against Portland. Both games had 5-2 shorelines but in the first, it was in favor of the Galaxy and Gerrard was a solid supporting cast member (1 goal, 1 assist, and drawing a PK that Keane put into the net). Fans who knew of Gerrard's success with Liverpool left happy that night thinking their long time captain was going to hold up the reputation of the Reds in his stint with the MLS perhaps being part of a domestic title run which eluded him in the EPL.

Fast forward to the final home match with Galaxy fans on edge as the club was slumping since late summer barely scoring goals and suffering losses and draws far in excess of wins. In the first half, all look right in the Galaxy universe when they dominated the game but the concern among knowing fans: only 1 goal despite so many opportunities. The second half was a disaster. The field was tilted and Portland was constantly threatening and it was a matter of time before something would happen. The Galaxy were cut to the quick by the Timbers and found themselves down 3-1. The Galaxy regained the initiative and made it 3-2 but shortly after it was 4-2 and fans began to bolt for the parking lots. The final score was 5-2.

Gerrard can't be solely blamed for the team's failure that night and on many other nights during the tailspin of the final third of the season. But one wonders what he thinks now about his MLS adventure?

No one would blame him if he decides to hang it up and leave the $6 million on the table. After all, he really doesn't need the money. Donovan walked away even though he still had some gas left in the tank. Though Gerrard seems to have probably even less left in the tank at 35. But Donovan got the chance to walk off the stage holding yet another MLS Cup trophy overhead.

For Gerrard, the scriptwriters have not been kind. A dreadful howler that contributed to Liverpool coming up short of the EPL title in 2014. And the ending to the 2015 Liverpool season and Gerrard's time with his boyhood club was written as if to shred his dignity with a defeat in his final home game in front of the Anfield faithful. And then the final indignity of a total collapse of Liverpool at Stoke (6-1 defeat, the one goal was scored by none other than Gerrard) to conclude his EPL career.

The Galaxy brain trust will need to make some big decisions for the 2016 season. Will Gerrard be part of those plans? I would think so. Will Gerrard want to be part of those plans? I would think so.

The script writers almost seem to have it in for Gerrard. And, as he did in all his years at LFC, he will take it, he is a footballer and loves the competition come what may.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Liverpool Klopp Episode 7 - Star Coach - the Palace Menace

Crystal Palace has caused some grief for Liverpool in the last couple of seasons even if they aren't a top 4 club.

And this morning while listening to the match on audio, Palace have claimed the lead at the 21 minute mark when LFC's defense made a hash of the clearance.

Will be interesting to see if Liverpool has the mental toughness to respond as they did last weekend when they went down 1-0 to Chelsea.

Milner is out due to injury, Coutinho is back in the line up after his absence at the Europa match on Thursday, and Ibe draws a start.

Liverpool is sounding like they are taking more of the initiative seeking to equalize. But do they have the energy after the very long round trip to Rubin Kazan for the Thursday Europa League contest?

40' Sakho is subbed off with Lovren due to injury.

42' The Force is strong with this one, Coutinho, the Little Magician equalizes!

Concurrently, am following the relegation match between Falkenbergs vs. Sirius for a spot in the Allsvenskan. Sirius is up 1-0 in the match and 3-2 in aggregate. However, if Falkenberg can equalize to 3-3, they would win on away goals.

56' 1-1! Falkenberg equalize! 

Meanwhile, the Liverpudlians are hoping for something to happen. As is often the case, LFC is dominating possession and shots but most of those shots are not on goal and so far only one in the net.

65' Firmino in for Can.

If you are looking for lively live blog commentary, UK Guardian is usually good for some lolz!

It seems the British are really going crazy over new Liverpool FC's German manager Klopp as seen in this item over at the UK Telegraph.

82' ARGH! Palace is up 2-1 due to another defensive miscue... The Palace Menace causing grief yet again for the Scouser's tonight. This could be the first loss under new manager Klopp. One substitution left. Will he send in the youngster Origi for an extra attacker?

87' Yup. Origi is in as fresh attacker as Ibe goes out.

Meanwhile, back in Sweden, Falkenberg is hanging onto the Allsvenskan for dear life. 15+ minutes to go for a 3rd year in the promised land if they can hang on to the 1-1 score.

4 minutes of stoppage time at Anfield. Time drains out on LFC to equalize.

FT - LFC is defeated yet again by Palace.

10+ minutes and counting! 
84' Sirius makes its last substitution.
87' Sirius pressing FFF defending.
89' Rodevag in for FFF.
2 minutes of stoppage time!

Peep!!!!! Falkenberg stay in the Allsvenskan as a mighty roar goes up from the home crowd!
The Swedish radio broadcasters follow the Vin Scully style of no words from themselves and instead lets the singing crowd tell the story!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Liverpool Klopp Episode 6: Back in the USSR

If you are in the USA, Fox Sports has Europa League TV coverage.

If you aren't near a TV or don't have Fox Sports, you can catch Spanish coverage on or you can get LiverpoolFC's audio feed from

Anyway, Klopp has most of his normal 1st team out there with the exception of Lallana, Coutinho, Lucas and Skrtel on the bench. Unlike the League Cup match, Klopp has plugged in known quantities in Lovren, Allen, Ibe, and Benteke instead of the young and future prospects of the club.

At the half, pretty typical stat line with Liverpool dominating possession and shots but unfortunately as usual, 0-0.

UPDATE: Caught a handful of minutes at the end of the match. Ibe got the lone goal early in the second half. Late in the game Kazan was trying to mount some offense to equalize but LFC defenders held. LFC was shaky at times with some fouls that drew free kicks but they never gave up any howlers. Coach Klopp is clearly a gregarious fellow as he went onto the field to hug his players to celebrate their first win on European soil in a long time. The team seems to have a little extra spring in their step despite the heavy schedule of recent weeks.

Next up, a home match against Crystal Palace.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

IFK Norrkoping wins the Allsvenskan!

Hats off to Norrkoping as they took fate into their own hands and defeated Malmo 2-0 to claim the championship of the Allsvanskan for the first time since 1992!

Goteborg had a slim chance of overtaking Norrkoping but they needed the combination of defeating Kalmar which they did not (drawn 2-2) and Malmo beating Norrkoping which didn't happen either.

Meanwhile Elfsborg won over their neighbors to the west Falkenberg 4-2 to finish in 4th place.

Falkenberg by finishing in 14th enter the relegation/promotion two-legged playoff against IK Sirius (#3 in the Superettan) to be held November 5 and 8.

End of the line - Seattle 3 Galaxy 2

At some point, teams with a track record of great success collapse.

Since 2009, the LA Galaxy have:
Appeared in FOUR MLS Cups
Appeared in FIVE Conference finals

But this year, they were eliminated in the knockout round. Since 2009, they had 6 straight runs to the conference semi-finals or beyond making this their earliest exit.

Teams on a great run are a tribute to the players, coaching staff, and upper management. It is very difficult hard to sustain as players get older, swapping in new players may or may not work out, everyone else is gunning for you and finally, sustaining a winning motivation is not easy to do season-after-season.

And so, it appears the Galaxy may have hit that point this season as they wobbled into the playoffs with a #5 seed and were booted out by long time rival Seattle Sounders.

As to the game itself, a very lively first half with the Galaxy getting many good opportunities cashing in two goals but missing others. But they also gifted Seattle two goals. In the second half, it was clear both teams were tiring in the rainy cold conditions and because of the end-to-end play of the first half. But Seattle had the extra bit of fuel in the tank (see the possession chart favoring Seattle in the 2nd half) and put the pressure on and it was just a matter of time when something would break.

Indeed, it wasn't even all that dangerous an attack but two failed clearances by the Galaxy defenders gave the Sounders the opening to shut the door on the Galaxy's chances to make another MLS Cup run.

The brain trust at the Galaxy will need to look long and hard at the club and make some personnel decisions.
Is Brian Rowe ready to be the #1 goalkeeper or will they need to look elsewhere since Ricketts is done?
Will changes be made to the defensive backline of AJ, Gonzalez, Leonard, Rogers?
Zardes and Lletget will probably draw interest from Europe so how does the Galaxy juggle the salary cap for their non-designated players?
How best to utilize Gerrard who no longer appears able to play a full 90 minutes?

Here is some end-of-the-line analysis from LAG, LAT, MLS, and ESPNFC.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 5 - Dr. No

Am under the weather and so slept in this Saturday morning. However, did rouse myself to hear the last 20 minutes of the match via And just in time too, as Coutinho got his second goal to put Liverpool up 2-1 over defending champions Chelsea. Benteke eventually put in an insurance goal to make it 3-1.

Eventually got enough energy to turn on the TV coverage at NBCSN via our cable package just in time to see this post-match interview from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho .... transcript of his remarks at the UK Guardian.

Suffice to say, Jurgen Klopp had a little more to say about his first EPL victory with LFC.

Great to see Coutinho get back on track after a handful of sluggish performances. Looks like the back four plus goalie are doing well. The forward situation improves with Firmino and Benteke being on the field and getting back into playing shape. Hopefully, Sturridge will be able to return to the mix soon. As for the midfield, am concerned that Milner is going to get worn down tracking so many kilometers game-in-game-out.