Monday, June 20, 2016

Argentina v. USA - who will be in the XI for the US?

The starting XI at the beginning of the Copa America was:
Guzan in goal
Brooks/Cameron at center-back
Johnson/Yedlin at full-back
Jones/Bradley/Bedoya at midfield
Wood/Dempsey/Zardes at forward/attacking midfield.

Unfortunately, due to red card Jones is out and due to yellow card accumulation Wood and Bedoya are out.

So who should be plugged in?

Beckerman and Zusi have been frequently used as substitutes so I can see them in for Jones and Bedoya. But how do you replace Wood's pace and nose for the ball and overall ability to create havoc at the attacking end?

In listening to TV commentators, I think they I heard a someone (probably Lalas on Fox) say that Zardes will take up Wood's role and that Besler will join the defense and push Johnson up into the midfield. The other option is to have Zardes in Wood's role and have Nagbe/Bradley/Beckerman/Zusi for a 4-man midfield.

We shall see!


UPDATE: Well, what can you say after the 4-0 defeat at the hands of Argentina? The #1 team in the world with the #1 player in the world is always going to be tough for the USA ranked a lowly #31. If Argentina had an off night and the USA played their best, the game might be a competitive match with the end result probably still being a loss, perhaps not as bad as 4-0. And, of course, last night, the USA was not at its best missing three starters (Wood, Jones, and Bedoya) and the team seemed a little over awed by the moment resulting in too many rushed passes that didn't connect. It was clear that one team was an "A" level team and the other was a "B" level team.

Critics probably didn't question Zusi and Beckman in for Jones and Bedoya. But the selection of Wondo for Bobby Wood was a head scratcher (even to a novice fan like myself) when I saw it posted on Twitter. The substitution of Pulicic for Wondo at the half underlined that it was not working out. But would another choice have made much difference? Doubtful. Perhaps, a 3-1 loss instead?

Even with Bobby Wood in the line-up, the US would have still been under a lot of pressure. Nonetheless, Wood's speed, physicality and skill does prove the point that sometimes the best thing you can do for your defense is have somebody who is a threat on offense to make your opponent think for a split second there is somebody who can cause some havoc. 

The third place match against either Chile or Colombia will also be a tough one since they are ranked #5 and #3 respectively. Hopefully, the USMNT will lick their wounds and be ready for that match and be more competitive regardless of the result.

Some fans say the fans should demand more than "moral victories" from the USMNT. I don't think the USA is at that point yet. They are good enough for fans to expect them to get through the group stage. Now, the expectation should be to get at least one win in the knockout stage - met by the victory over Ecuador.

The next goal is to get two wins in the knockout stage. So a win in the third place match would be that second win. With the suspended players back in the line-up and a good effort, they should be able to be competitive. They might not win but they should be competitive. That would be a realistic expectation.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

USA v. Argentina - Tuesday 6PM PDT

#31 vs. #1. Am guessing the odds makers have the USA as huge underdogs. In this case, against the #1 ranked team in the world with the most famous player in the world, Lionel Messi, it isn't false humility to say the USA are the underdogs. Huge. Underdogs.

Team USA's most dramatic moments on the world stage have come against .... Ghana in 2014...

Algeria in 2010 ....

The hard headed sports analysts in me says that in all likelihood, Argentina will dominate possession and eventually get a couple of goals and win comfortably 2-0 or something like that.

But if the USA can keep it close such that one magical moment could do it ..... well who will join the ranks of Landon Donovan and John Brooks for scoring a late in the game goal that sends fans into the stratosphere in celebration ..... ?

Will be interesting to see if Fox Sports will come up with an exciting and stirring teaser for the match! Go Team USA!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

US Open Cup, Copa America, and Euro 2016

Friday, Italy v. Sweden.

UPDATE: Ugh. Italy wins it 1-0 on a late goal.

Tuesday night at the Stub Hub, LA Galaxy vs. La Maquina FC in a 4th round US Open Cup. Anticipating that the Galaxy "B-team" will be on the field tonight in what should be an easy win.

UPDATE: Last time I try to predict an "easy win!" LAG got a 1-0 lead but then a foolish red-card (aren't they all?) put them in danger. Indeed the score was tied 1-1 where it remained for regular time. In extra time, LAG picked up a "gift" of a goal when many players on both sides did not play to the whistle.

After that, LAG got two more goals for a final tally of 4-1 but more drama than the scoreline indicated.

Saturday night, Galaxy return to MLS action on the road up in Toronto. Hopefully, team USA will still be in the Copa America. I'm guessing Zardes (the one Galaxy player on the USMNT) would not be available for the LAG even if the US are defeated by Ecuador.

UPDATE: I was half asleep watching this match and switching occasionally to Argentina v. Venezuela. Argentina had an easy 4-1 win over Venezuela. Meanwhile, my impression of the Galaxy v. Toronto match was that it was headed for a 0-0 final. Galaxy offense didn't seem to be doing much. Unfortunately, a late goal (76') by Toronto gave them the 1-0 victory. Galaxy had possession 58% but never really seemed to threaten as reflected in their being out shot 14 to 10 and 5 to 2 on shots on goal. Toronto also won 9 corners to the Galaxy's 5. During my time of viewing the game, I though Lleget had one good opportunity but scuffed the shot. Otherwise, not much else. Galaxy had none of their DPs in the game while Toronto had one. At this point, the Galaxy look to be headed toward a playoff appearance but probably an early exit. Of course, they still have time to put all the pieces together in the second half of the season. I think they have more quality players than last year but some of those players are now a year older.

Thursday night in Seattle, USMNT against Ecuador. Ecuador is a highly regarded team and the USA has only beaten them three times since 1984, the most recent being the recent friendly. But this is win-or-go-home knockout competition and the stage where the USA has not had a good track record. There once was a time that surviving the group stage was considered an accomplishment. Now, the bar for USMNT is to advance at least one round in the knockout stage. Can they finally do it?

UPDATE: "I believe that we will win!" Hah! They actually won! A dramatic 2-1 victory over Ecuador!

USA (ranked #31) v. Argentina (ranked #1)
Columbia (ranked #3) v. Chile (ranked #5)

Ecuador is ranked #13 so it was an upset for the USA to win! Does team USA have another one in them?

Friday, June 10, 2016

USMNT in Copa America & Sweden in the Euro 2016

With no MLS or Allsvenskan matches, it is time to follow the national teams in their competitions.

Its pretty simple for Team USA: don't lose to Paraguay. 

A draw is okay because USA finishes with 4 points in group A and the only way they can get eliminated is a big upset by Costa Rica over Columbia. It would be a big upset because Columbia is really good. It would also have to be a big upset in that Costa Rica has to erase their -4 goal differential with a seven goal victory over Columbia.

A win by the USMNT gets them to six points and into the knockout stage.

Paraguay is at the win or go home point. The only way they get to the knockout is to win.

I haven't seen any of the USMNT games but have heard post game comments. The general feeling I get was that the early goals in both matches were key. Colombia got the early goal and US had to chase the game and don't have the skills to break down a solid defense. USA got the early goal against Costa Rica so they had to chase which allowed the US to counter attack and it snowballed into a big win for team USA. The analysts at ExtraTime said this situation played into the US hands because Costa Rica is weak at defensive midfield.

So what does the USA brain trust call for tactically in the first half of the first half against Paraguay?

Do they ask the team to go out and press for the opening goal?

Or do they sit back and let Paraguay be aggressive and hit them when they get too far forward?

If this article is any indication, Paraguay wants to win the game 1-0 and not fall into the trap Costa Rica did and paid for dearly in a 4-0 thrashing.

Meanwhile, in Euro 2016, the usual suspects (France, Germany, and Spain) are favorites. Sweden would be at best a dark horse. Zlatan has had much club success. National team success has been harder to come by because the supporting cast isn't as strong. Nonetheless, he is a game changer and not short on confidence!

UPDATE: Well, well, well. The Scriptwriters at Copa America threw a couple of twists there! The USA got the goal early as the USA fans hoped for. But then the scriptwriters threw in the craziness of Yedlin picking up two yellows thus leaving the USA with 10 for almost all of the second half. Nonetheless, Guzan and the defense held firm and preserved the 1-0 win. But there was one more twist to come: Colombia's manager decided to send out the "B" team against Costa Rica and Costa Rica won 3-2! Classic case of disrespecting your opponent coming back to haunt you. Thus, the US wins group A by goal differential over Colombia.

Sunday's group B match results determine who plays who: the US will get the #2 from Group B and Colombia will get the #1 from Group B. To see the scenarios go here.

UPDATE: Well, well, well. The Scriptwriters at the Copa America throw down another twist by eliminating Brazil with a 1-0 defeat to Peru!
UPDATE: It was a blown call by the refs by all accounts.

USA Fifa ranked #31 face Ecuador (#13)
Colombia (#3) face Peru (#48)

Euro 2016

Meanwhile in Euro 2016, Sweden face Ireland on Monday.

So far the main story line about Euro 2016 has been the fan violence on the streets and in the stands.

On the field, England managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory due to a stoppage time goal late in the game is twist from the Scriptwriters working the Euro 2016.

UPDATE: It is a final. 1-1 Ireland v. Sweden.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

FWIW - Voting on Judges for LA County?

Unless you personally know the judges running for their offices there isn't many ways to know much about them. So for what it is worth, here is what I have found from four sources. Each has its own perspectives and criteria.

Los Angeles County Bar Association
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles County Democratic Party
Los Angeles County Republican Party

Here is an article from KCET about how the LA County Bar Association conducts its survey of judicial candidates. Here is another item from KCET about the attempt to balance having the govenor appointing judges and the public voting on judges.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

LA Galaxy a bit of a muddle

LA was defeated at Montreal on the stoppage time free kick. The goal was a howler as Rowe probably would stop that thing 9 times out of 10. The other part that irks fans is that the free kick was set up by a ill-timed foul. Net result a 3-2 defeat snatched from the jaws of a draw.

Tonight, LA take the field at home against a struggling SKC.

MLS does not take the entire international break off though after tonight's match, LA doesn't play again until June 18.

The feeling I get following the club and seeing parts of several games is that they run hot and cold. They can get out and score in bunches as reflected by their 27 goals so far that makes them the highest scoring club currently. On the other hand, when the game is close, their defense has let them down thus yielding draws that should be wins and losses that should be draws (both came in 2nd half stoppage time!). Thus, with the most goals scored and the highest goal differential, the club languishes in 5th place in the Western Conference (top 6 make the playoffs) though in fairness to the Galaxy they do have a couple of games in  hand. Nonetheless, the feeling is they could/should be doing better than 5 wins 2 losses and 5 draws.

Player performance:
Steres - am guessing he wasn't expected at the beginning of the season to be logging this many minutes but circumstances have given him the opportunity and he is doing pretty well
Van Damme - his addition does give LA a more fierce defense overall but there have been untimely breakdowns costing them but Van Damme is a powerful presence in the back line
Zardes - will see if all the USMNT duty wears him out but he is a positive force with the potential for big stardom
Cole - another veteran added off season to shore up the defense
Magee - a great pick up! The second goal against Montreal was spectacular
Lletget - he made a big splash early last season but so far not quite the same since
Rogers - a solid role player
Dos Santos - has been on fire!
Gerrard - continues to divide the fan base - good moments but than other times disappears and seems out of gas late in games
De Jong - intimidating presence in the midfield and generally viewed as a good pick up and looks to take a DP spot next season
Keane - hard to say between injuries and international duty still solid but is time catching up with him?
Boateng - promising newcomer, remains to be seen how much of the upside he will ultimately attain to

FT: LAG 0 SKC 0. Didn't watch the match but read some of the post-game and watched the video highlights. Would this qualify as a "damp squib" as Roger Bennett of Men In Blazers would say?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Recurrent Small Bowel Obstruction and 24 Inches of Plastic Tubing

image source: 

24 inches of plastic tubing. Doesn't seem like much but it is one of the major pieces of technology in the non-surgical management of small bowel obstruction. The ER nurse knew my medical history so she knew I knew what was about to happen thus her explanation was relatively brief. In 2004, twelve years earlier, the descriptions and assurances were quite extensive as it was the first time I underwent the procedure. But on this afternoon, it was all done in short order. She coated the tubing with anesthetic gel and skillfully placed the nasal gastric tube.

24 hours earlier ........

April 22 Friday

I was at work having a mostly normal day. But inside, in my small intestines, things were not normal. Around 5PM, I began to experience abdominal pain. It was a familiar sensation. Over the years, sometimes the pain would go away after a few hours as the obstruction would resolve on its own in short order. On some occasions, the pain would remain at a low level for more than a few hours and then go away. On some occasions, the pain would escalate and the decision would be made to head to the emergency room. By midnight, the pain was present for seven hours and was increasing. We made the decision to head to the Ronald Reagan University Medical Center

April 23 Saturday

Emergency department (ED) waiting rooms are somber places. The patient waiting is in some kind of distress. The family member or friend bringing them in is concerned. 

The first point of contact with the ED is the triage nurse who asks some questions, gets medical history and takes vital signs. Some cases get moved right into the emergency room itself. Others are sent to the waiting area. Small bowel obstruction (SBO) in the early stages don't get moved to the front of the line so my wife and I waited quietly with about a dozen other people.

After an hour or so, I was called in. There are examination rooms with various equipment and there are designated areas in the hallway with a number on the wall where gurneys are parked. As would be typical for a big city ED there were many patients parked in the hallway and I was parked. 

ED's are like Las Vegas casinos in a couple of ways: there is a pretty constant beehive of activity and you have no sense of the passage of time unless you have a watch or someone to tell you what time it is. When you are in pain time seems to pass very slowly. I was eventually examined by a doctor. I can't remember how long it was I was parked in the hallway. But during the passing time, I could see and hear the stories of other patients and what pain has brought them to the ED. Some are in good humor despite the suffering and others wail in pain. I tip my hat to the medical professionals who live and work in this world!

I have been told UCLA tries very hard to encourage good doctor-patient communication experiences. The doctor came he asked me to describe (without any interruption) what I was experiencing. He then did a physical exam. He said given my medical history and current physical state, an SBO was quite likely and a CT scan was ordered. Pain (morphine) and anti-nausea medication was administered and I began the process of drinking the liquid contrast for the CT scan. 

Time passed and my drinking of the contrast liquid was slow. First, it tastes terrible and second, with a SBO (i.e. backed up plumbing in your gut), adding more fluid is very uncomfortable. The pain and nausea came back fiercely and I was given another dose of both meds. I eventually gulped down enough of the contrast liquid. However, the call to go to the CT didn't come. We asked about it and the nurse found out that one of the CT units had broken down so the backlog was causing the delay. 

Eventually, I was rolled to the CT suite and a set of images were taken with the contrast liquid. Then another set was taken using IV contrast that gives an indication of blood flow to the area being imaged. I was rolled back to my spot in the hallway.

The MDs (two this time) came back and said, yup, the CT showed a SBO so we are going to admit you into the hospital but the problem right now is that the hospital is completely full. However, a bed should open up in a few hours. 

At some point, I was moved into an examination room where the nasal gastric tube was installed and hooked up to the house vacuum system. By mid-afternoon, I was moved into Eighth Floor East Wing. The ED portion of the story was a least 14 hours.

The NG tube was gurgling and the IV was keeping my electrolytes in balance and giving me sugar for energy and I slept in short bits through the night.

April 24 Sunday

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?

I was in 8-East so the window faced the morning dawn which roused me from my fitful slumber. I reached for the phone and snapped the picture you see above. 

The surgical team made their visit and said it was pretty much wait and see.

SBO is a fairly common reason people are hospitalized. If a patient comes into the ED and determined to have SBO and they have NEVER had abdominal surgery, the recommendation is surgery. Tumors of the small intestine can cause SBO and they would not be detected by imaging. However, if a patient has SBO and they have had prior surgery, non-surgical management is recommended since the case may resolve on its own. In the case of recurrent SBO due to prior surgery, the reality is that even the best of surgical techniques can leave scar tissue adhesions on the intestines which raises the risk of SBO. In my case, the surgery was in 2004 and this was my fifth recurrent SBO. 

Non-surgical management is not without risk. The main concerns are complications of the SBO. Strangulation of the bowel (blood flow being cut off) will lead to death of intestinal tissue and requires immediate surgical intervention. The other concern is perforation of the bowel that also demands immediate surgical intervention. Either can be fatal if surgical intervention is delayed. Thus, monitoring of the patient by direct observation, blood work up, and vital signs help the doctors know if things are going in a bad direction. 

But if the patient appears stable, it is watch and wait and hope the SBO resolves on its own. One clue is the how much material is being collected via the NG tube. When the SBO resolves, fluid once again begins moving forward in the intestinal tract and less material is extracted by the NG tube suction.

April 25 Monday 

Psalm 142:5 I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

With an NG tube placed and being in hospital (even if without an NG tube) is not conducive to high quality sleep and there is diminished quantity of sleep. Besides reduced sleep, physical weakness due to one's condition, and the uncertainty takes its toll on even the most positive of personalities. For me, I took to reading the Psalms on the Bible on my iPhone. I jotted down some phrases on the iPhone notepad that resonated with me. I've put some of them underneath the photos I took.

Check out this wonderful video of a conversation between U2 front man Bono and Bible scholar Eugene Peterson about the Psalms.

In the afternoon, the surgical team dropped by to check in on me. Based on the NG tube output and the x-ray they took in the morning, they decided to turn off the NG tube suction and installed a bag to collect fluid by gravity. The plan was to check back the next morning to see how much fluid would be collected.

April 26 Tuesday

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

The surgical team came in and took a look at the NG tube collection bag and noted the volume and color. The volume was modest and the color consistent with gastric fluid. They decided it was time to take the NG tube out! The next test would be to have some liquid diet food for lunch and monitor my reactions.

Although I was already walking around (if at all possible patients are encouraged to get out of bed) the previous days, it is a bit easier with no NG tube. I did many laps around 8-East and ventured out to other parts of the 8th floor. I noticed the art work and below are pictures of some of my favorites.

Just love the humor of a picture of people looking at a picture!

Modern art can be hit or miss. At least this was kind of pretty and interesting!

Of course, you got to get an obligatory picture of a work by a famous artist like Worhol!

Hospitals and healing go together. In addition to the medical procedures and drugs, the other part of the equation is helping the patient's emotional state. I suppose that is part of the art collection to make the place seem more alive than just sterile walls. As I took my walks around the corridors, I came across many other patients doing the same thing. Some had an IV pole like myself. Others had many other things attached to them. But we all tried to give a smile to each other as we walked the hallways. I'm told also that there are more and larger windows in newer hospital design to bring more light in and allow the patients to see the outside world. In the rooms are couches and recliner chairs so that visitors can if they wish stay the night.

Visiting a patient in the hospital is not an easy thing to do for most people. It is a reminder of our mortality which is something most of us struggle with. Also, unless you have a special gift, knowing what to say or not to say is an issue. As someone laying in the hospital bed, I can only say that company is welcome. However, conversation readiness is highly variable from a patient perspective. Sometimes I felt filled with words that longed for someone to hear. But at other times, the medications or the lack of sleep or the aches and pains, the words were few and conversation was an energy drain and the silent company was needed and welcome. Thus, take your cues from the patient you are visiting.

Psalm 63:6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

April 27 Wednesday

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Good morning! Lunch and dinner (liquid meals) were tolerated from the day before. This morning was pureed food. By late morning, the word was given ... they were cutting me loose! The paperwork worked its way through the system and finally by early afternoon, my last tie to medical procedures was cut with the removal of the IV needle in my left forearm. Below is the IV pole on which hung the bags that fed me a saline solution with dextrose sugar and potassium for five days. The rectangular shaped boxes are the IV pumps. In my case, only one of them was active. I suppose some other patients might have multiple bags of things to be infused as there were three IV pumps on this pole.

There is no place like home!

Thanks to the doctors and nurses and staff of RRUMC. Thanks to friends and family who visited. And a huge thank you to Mrs. Rambler for love and support through this episode of "in sickness and in health" of our married life.

Previous SBO hospitalizations:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Following FFF = Falkenbergs Fotbollförening and IFE = Idrottsföreningen Elfsborg

Swedish soccer's most famous product is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He started in Malmo and was a once in a generation talent. As such he moved onto the big stage of European soccer and has played in many top clubs. He is rumored to be moving next to Manchester United.

LA soccer fans have a connection to Sweden though the LA Galaxy that is owned by AEG. AEG is owner of the Swedish soccer team Hammarby. Hammarby has had limited success competitively but a very large and loyal fan base.

I follow my in-law's home town clubs Elfsborg and Falkenberg. Both clubs have interesting story lines that make it fun to follow.

Elfsborg has a record of periodically being in the hunt in the Allsvenskan the top league of Sweden. They have won the championship six times and finished second six times. The big club in Malmo (21 championships) and the big club in Gothenburg (13 championships) are the traditional powerhouses. However, the league is mid-tier in the scope of European and World soccer so the differences between the big market and smaller market clubs isn't as large as in US professional sports. Thus, teams from smaller cities have had opportunities to claim the top spot. For instance, last year's champion Norrkoping (13th championship) is from a comparatively small city of under 100,000 people.

Allsvenskan is a place where young talent (Zlatan being the most famous example) often gets groomed for eventual transfer to more heavily funded leagues in other parts of Europe and the world. Because of AEG's Swedish/Scandinavian connections, the LA Galaxy has been the recent home of some older players from Scandinavia like Mika Vayrynen (Finland) and Stefan Ishizaki (Sweden). And this year, youngster Emmanuel Boateng came to the Galaxy by way of Sweden. Boateng is from Ghana originally but has played in the USA for a couple of years before being in Sweden for three years.

Falkenberg's story is a dream come true for a small town (20,000 people) type of story. They play in the smallest stadium (5000 seating) in this year's Allsvenskan. As would be expected for a small town club, they played in the lower divisions most of their history. But in 2003, they got to the Superettan the 2nd tier of the Swedish soccer pyramid and in 2014 they debut in the Allsvenskan. The avoided relegation in 2014 by finishing 13th. They survived the relegation playoff in 2015 (finished 14th).

Unfortunately, this season has been very rough for Falkenberg as they are in 16th place. The season is 30 matches and after 11 they have a mere 4 points. The current 16 team Allvenskan has been in place since 2008. During that time, the 15th place team (automatic relegation for 15th and 16th place) has gotten anywhere from 21 to 29 points for the season. At the current pace, Falkenberg is looking at only getting 12 points. Likewise Gefle is in 15th place sitting at 5 points. The two clubs could potentially set a record for fewest points. Hammarby (as mentioned before, owned by AEG the Galaxy owners) is in 14th place with 10 points. Falkenberg need to jump over both Gefle and Hammarby to get to 14th place to qualify for the relegation playoffs.

I can't read Swedish so I can see broad trends like wins and losses. But for specific news, I rely on Google translate and since I only translate a few soccer articles here and there I can only see a small window of what is going on.

It appears that one of the bright stars at Falkenberg is Gustaf Nilsson. He played in a number of matches in the 2015 campaign to good effect and was part of the U19 national team. However, he is scheduled for a summer transfer to Brondby in the Danish league and a bigger payday. FFF had hoped they could have him for 12 matches before the transfer but in game number 5 he was injured in a match against Norrkoping and has been out since.

Next up for Falkenberg is a home match against Kalmar. FFF needs points and Kalmar is the type of lower end of the table club that could be beat. Go FFF!

Falkenberg supporters in the West Coast of the USA!

UPDATE: Fans of the team by the sea "Liget Vid Havet" went home disappointed after taking a 1-0 lead, they gave up two and went down to defeat to Kalmar. See the video highlights from CMore in the link. 

Next up for Elfsborg is a road game against defending champions Norrkoping. Norrkoping is number two in the table while Elfsborg is seventh. Last week, Elfsborg let a 3-1 lead slip away. Hopefully, this week they can pull off the upset and move up the table. The Allsvenskan news page has articles that contain the CMore match highlights video along with text report in Swedish that I read using Google translate.

Update: Elfsborg fought Norrkoping to a 0-0 draw. See the video highlights from CMore in the link. Take a close look at the replay of the Elfsborg scoring opportunity at the 83' mark. It looks like the ball got into the goal in slow motion. Of course, the referee has to call the game at normal speed and allowed play to continue saying it was not a goal.

Norrkoping manager Jan Andersson will be in charge of Sweden's national team at the Euro 2016 in the month of June, hence the "Tack Janne, Grattis Svierge" (Thank you Janne, Congratulations Sweden) banner at the end of the clip. Thus, Allsvenskan action will go to break until July. A handful of the league's players are part of the Euro 2016 squad.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Philemon - a small story of the big difference Jesus makes in life

What do Christians believe?

How do we see and describe how God is at work in the lives of human beings?

At one level, we can go to the theologically rich descriptions that can be found in St. Paul's writings in Romans and Galatians and other places. And there is definitely a place for that.

However, sometimes, it is just as powerful and perhaps even more so when we look at the "small" stories that reveal the big impact of what God means to people's lives.

In the New Testament, I think of the one chapter book of Philemon. It is the story of three men: Paul, Onesimus, and Philemon. These three me all want to follow Jesus. In 25 verses, we read their story in all its humanity and their wrestling with what it truly means to follow the Christ!

In the video below, noted Bible scholar NT Wright offers some of his reflections of the grandeur of what God was doing in Christ in the lives of these three believers. Their example of Jesus' reconciling work 21 centuries ago is just as relevant today.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Zlatan to MLS? Galaxy maybe?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's contract with PSG is ending in the summer.

Where next?

The rumors have him looking at Premier League (big budget Man U is often mentioned), Chinese League (they have been raining money on players to build the league), and MLS with New York or Los Angeles as likely destinations.

LAT Baxter has the rumor mill round-up and what the possible path would be for a move to the MLS and in particular the LA Galaxy. It would require some creative juggling but the LA Galaxy brain trust is well known for finding ways to work within the MLS rules. The last two seasons of has had them navigate the system to land Gerrard, Dos Santos, De Jong, and Cole. Nonetheless, there are huge challenges.

For starters there's the contract. Ibrahimovic will have to accept a massive pay cut to come to the U.S., even under the best of circumstances. MLS teams are allowed three designated-player exemptions, which allow them to pay salaries that go beyond the league's maximum yet count only partially against the payroll cap. The Galaxy's three DP spots are all taken, though, meaning all they could offer Ibrahimovic is a pro-rated $457,500, plus a few thousand more in so-called allocation money. Ibrahimovic made that much every five days last season.

Meanwhile, in this current season, the Galaxy are in the hunt for the playoffs. They are finding some team chemistry on offense with a league leading goal differential of 12 on 24 total goals. This Sunday, they face, at home, their California Clasico rival the San Jose Earthquake. It is a one of the historic and competitive rivalries in the MLS.

LAT Baxter also has a piece on Gerrard's adjustment to MLS and life in LA and the USA.

This season, with the benefit of both a six-week preseason training camp and a better understanding of the L.A. freeways, Gerrard says he's far more comfortable, both on and off the field. And that, too, has shown in his performance: Gerrard has already equaled last year's total of two goals and three assists despite playing less than half as many minutes and taking fewer than half as many shots.

Go Galaxy!!

It's a final: 1-1.

Drat! Had the victory only to give up the equalizer late. But then again, one might say the go ahead goal by the Galaxy was a bit of a fluke and the game could have easily been 0-0. On the other hand, Boehm over at thought the game could have been 3-3 with the open attacking play shown by both sides. So as the Brits often say in post-match commentary, "it was a 'fair' result."