Saturday, July 23, 2016

Elfsborg: Can they make a run to the Europa League?

It isn't looking too good for IF Elfsborg this season as they are sitting mid-table in 6th place with 21 points at 14/30 or 7/15 or just about half-way through the season.

Currently, the league champion goes to the Champions League of course. Finishers two and three get invites to the Europa League. Since 2008 when the Allsvenskan expanded to 16 teams, the third place team has gathered 52 to 61 points. Thus, Elfsborg needs something in that range to have a decent shot at finishing in third place.

Let's say 55 points is a target to get to 3rd place. Currently Goteborg is at 25 points after 14 matches. They are on track to about 54 points.

In the table below is a scenario that gets Elfsborg to 55 points. They need 10 wins, 4 draws, and 2 losses. Not an easy task ahead!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ranking the Star Trek Movies

Everybody is making lists so why can't this pajama wearing blogger who watched every film at least once! Also have seen all the TV shows though some via Netflix after the fact. At the time, I didn't quite get hooked into DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise during their live run on TV. But upon viewing on Netflix, have found each has its own strengths.

Onto the list of films .....

From best to worst FWIW IMHO .....

Star Trek II - the Wrath of Khan
Star Trek IV - the Voyage Home
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek - First Contact
Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek III - the Search for Spock
Star Trek - the Motion Picture
Star Trek - Generations
Star Trek - Nemesis
Star Trek - Insurrection
Star Trek V - the Final Frontier

Monday, July 18, 2016

Triple your pleasure - LA Galaxy update

LA Galaxy playing at home defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0.

That is their third win in a row.
They have moved up to third in the West conference.
The team sits at third in the Supporter's Shield.

Saw parts of the game. The forward movement and play between dos Santos/Zardes/Keane is looking better. By stats, it looked like an even match up. By eyeball, in the parts that I saw, the Galaxy seemed to be having their way with Houston though they didn't put it into the net except for the Gerrard goal at the 66 minute mark. Seems to me they should have won by a wider margin as they weren't "clinical" on the final part of the play.

Went over to LAGConfidential to see how their guy saw the WHOLE game.

Here are some excerpts from their report in italics with my comments in regular text.

Giovani dos Santos: For my money, the enigmatic little Mexican midfielder was LA's man of the match. He didn't show up on the scoreboard, but he played with a level of intensity and commitment that surpassed any previous performance for LA. 

I'd agree he looked fit and lively.

In this match, he (Zardes) did a great job playing the role a target winger. He stays wide, works hard defensively, makes slashing runs through the midfield, but also plays the role of the hold-up player. He receives the ball with his back to goal, and and dishes it off to his teammates, maintaining possession and helping to transition from defense to the attack.

I'd agree he looked fit and lively.

Of course, I can't talk about this match without appreciating how his group of players have shored up their defense. The team is currently playing very cohesive and effective defense. Houston are one of the worst teams in the league, but LA did a very good job harassing them in the midfield and not giving them any good scoring opportunities in the penalty box. [......] While the score and the stats may not reflect it, LA seemed to be truly in control of this match.

Great to see the Galaxy pitching shutouts!

Robbie Keane, while creating plenty of chances, had an uncharacteristically poor night finishing his them. The missed penalty early in the match is the obvious example, but he also seemed to be just off on his runs, his touch, and his communication with his teammates.

I didn't see the missed PK. I did see the play when he got after Houston that resulted in the Gerrard goal. I thought is is pretty amazing that these two mid-30-somethings out-hustled the Dynamo defenders. Wonder if the Dynamo just didn't expect these old guys to get after it like that? But I'll take the LAG's word for it that over the whole game that while Keane was on the ball he was not as sharp with it at the end of the run of play as he usually is.

I don't understand why Arena is so slow to make his substitutions. This team has unprecedented depth. Mike Magee was the first sub, and he came on for Gerrard in the 80th minute. Poor Sebastian Lletget, the second and final substitution on the night, didn't get in until the 89th minute.[......]As regular readers know, I have a love/hate relationship with Gerrard. He has the ability to make things happen for the team. He can spray the ball around like nobody's business, and he'll occasionally crop up in a key position and score a game-winning goal like he did tonight. Unfortunately, at his advanced age, there are also some pretty gaping holes in his game. In about the 60th minute, it became pretty clear that he was getting fatigued.

I'd agree that the Galaxy has a strong bench and over the long season it would be good to work them into games. Of course, in this particular game, Gerrard got the goal at 66' and would potentially have been subbed out at 60. But the counter-point is that one of the subs (probably Magee) might have pounced on the loose ball just as well and have scored.

Anyway, this week is a mid-week a US Open match against Seattle. Will see how much of the "A-team" plays. MLS Cup is the main thing so would anticipate some mix and match for the line-up card.

UPDATE: Well, that was a nice surprise! Galaxy advance to semi-finals of US Open Cup with a 4-2 win over Seattle. Down 2-1, Arena sent in two offense members of the "A-team," Zardes and Dos Santos, in the 74th minute. Boom - Dos Santos got the tying goal at 77. Zardes to Husidic to Lletget to get the go ahead at 85. Zardes and Lletget did a two-man game and Lletget gathered another at 88.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

#Never Trump - end of the line .......

There was an attempt to allow GOP delegates to vote unbound to their state results; however, the #NeverTrump side lost those votes by a wide margin. It appears the last actions could take place at the convention with gestures of dissent.

As a #NeverTrump voter, am looking at a protest vote with the Libertarian Johnson-Weld ticket...

Here Gov. Johnson makes his pitch to the #NeverTrump voters ....

And here Johnson makes his pitch to #FeelTheBern voters ....

Friday, July 15, 2016

Harsanyi - How Obama Divides America

Hard hitting stuff over at posting an op-ed from David Harsanyi.


Seemingly every political battle waged by the modern Democratic Party—gay rights, immigration, climate change, inequality—is imbued with a kind of spiritual certitude that justifies circumventing debate. If a person who opposes the Obama administration's transgender bathroom policy is just like a Klansman, why even discuss the matter? In this context, the histrionics of Democrats in Congress over guns or the media's melodramas make all the sense in the world. [.......]

If you continually claim that every problem in America is driven by hate, people may start believing you. According to a new Pew Research Center poll, Americans' perception of race relations is more negative today than it has been in 20 years. About 48 percent of those polled claim that "race relations are generally bad." And 36 percent of adults say that "too much attention" is paid to race and racial issues today. Are things really worse today than they were 30 years ago? Fifty years?

When Obama calls for unity (you'll recall this was a big part of his first campaign), he's not talking about a nation that maximizes its freedom so that there is space for an array of cultural outlooks and ideas. He means a nation of diverse people who can all agree that progressivism is right for the nation.

Reading my Facebook newsfeed each day is a window into the divide --
Friends who are gun owners defending gun rights and other friends demanding more gun control ...
Friends who think the UK is crazy to do Brexit and others posting articles explaining it isn't such a bad idea ...
Friends who support Hillary and friends who don't ...
Friends who support Trump and friends who don't ...
Friends who think there is no room for objections to LGBT at any level and those who have reservations for religious reasons ...
Friends who think groups and people that are skeptical of global warming are criminal or crazy and those who link to articles that question climate change ...
Friends who support more immigration and others who thinks maybe it is time to slow down ...
Friends who are atheists who think theists are stupid and theists who think atheists are stupid ...
Friends who hate the 1% and businesses and there are those who question government over-regulation ...

And on and on ... and both sides blast the other side ...

People have always had differing opinions but now in the world of social media, it is available for everyone to see. On one hand, maybe it can open up real conversation? On the other hand, it may feed into polarization?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Falkenberg FF and the Allsvenskan

Can Falkenberg (FFF) stay in the Swedish top-level league, the Allsvenskan?

It is going to be a uphill battle for them but I think it is still possible.

To finish 14th and thus qualify for the relegation playoffs, they need somewhere between 24-32 points. That is the number of points the #14 place team has gotten since the current 16-team table has been in place (since 2008).

If they can beat bottom of the table clubs (11-16), draw mid-table (6-10), and lose to top-table (1-5), they can finish with 30 points which should put them in 14th or even better.

Can they do it? Go FFF! Laget vid Havet!

UPDATE: Ooooffff ..... 3-0 up on Hammarby only to surrender 3 goals and only getting a draw out of that match. Not good.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Sigi Schmid and Bruce Arena the Godfathers of American Soccer

Interesting profile of current MLS Galaxy (Arena) and Sounders (Schmid) coaches.

Seattle and Los Angeles face off on Saturday.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Allsvenskan is back in action this weekend .....

The international break is coming to an end and Swedish soccer returns.

The situation is pretty grim for Falkenberg with only 1 win 1 draw and 10 losses for a paltry 4 points. They are in 16th in a league of 16 teams. Positions 15 and 16 are automatically relegated. Position 14 leads to a one-game playoff.

There are 18 matches left in the season and to jump over two clubs isn't going to be easy given how much they have struggled so far. On the positive side, 5 of their 10 losses have been 1 goal defeats. Thus, the team isn't constantly being blown out by opponents. If they can pick up a few wins against other bottom half clubs and snatch a few draws from the mid-table teams, FFF could be back in the hunt for that #14 relegation playoff spot.

As for Elfsborg, they are sitting at #7. Defensively, they have only given up 15 goals (only two clubs have allowed fewer goals) and all five losses were by only 1 goal so they are in competitive in most matches. Hopefully, a stronger performance in the second half and they climb up the table. A good goal for them would be grab the #3 spot and a ticket to the Europa league.

FFF returns to action this Saturday at Gelfe the other club in the relegation zone. Thus, a win here would be key to their quest to stay for a 3rd season in the top flight.

Elfsborg travels to Helsingborg on Sunday in a match against a fellow mid-table club. A win here would begin their march to the upper tier of clubs in the Allsvenskan.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Liverpool Summer Update

So far LFC has not been very active in the summer transfer window. As of this writing, they have signed four players (Grujic, Matip, Karius, and Mane). I've only been following Liverpool the two years prior and LFC had rather frantic summer transfer activity compared to this summer. Hopefully, Klopp will be able to make judicious signings unlike the rather chaotic mix-and-match the previous two summers.

The management is looking to lock down Klopp to a longer term deal.

Usher describes it this way:
Back in October, when Rodgers departed, any suggestion that Liverpool would reach the Europa League final having knocked out Manchester United, Dortmund and Villarreal along the way would have been laughed out of town. Yet that's what they did, and although the 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in the final showed just how far they have to go, the journey that took them there at least suggests that Klopp gives them a chance of getting back to the top. There is no guarantee he will bring success to the club, but Liverpool are extremely lucky to have him and their swiftness in opening talks on a contract extension tells you that they know it.

The club will play nine pre-season friendlies of which three will be in North America. EPL matches start up again in August. Don't think I'll have the energy to blog about each match in the EPL campaign. There will also be potentially a few matches in the League Cup and the FA Cup. Unfortunately, there will be no European football (Europa or Champions League). I think a realistic goal would be to finish fifth.

Looking at the last 7 years:
2010 - 7th
2011 - 6th
2012 - 8th
2013 - 7th
2014 - 2nd
2015 - 6th
2016 - 8th

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Dodgers 2016 as of July

On one hand, things haven't gone according to plan:
The hope was that Pederson, Puig, and Grandal would show the hitting form they exhibited in early 2015. There are hints of it but still their numbers aren't great.
The hope was Turner and Gonzalez would continue to defy father time and be the core of the offense. There are hints of it but still their numbers aren't great.
The hope was that collecting a bunch of starting pitchers would be better than spending huge money on one pitcher. Unfortunately, there is almost an entire roster of starting pitchers on the DL right now. But things maybe turning a corner with the return of McCarthy and soon return of Ryu.
The front office probably didn't plan on having to use Stripling, Urias, and Bolsinger as pitchers as much as they had to. They weren't always effective but they did show promise, in particular Urias.

However, there have been some positives:
Seager looks to be the star the front office thought he might be.
Thompson appears to be better than the scouts anticipated though his numbers are starting to fall off.
Utley seems to be drinking from the fountain of youth validating their decision to hang onto him.
For all the problems the relief corp had at the beginning of the season, they seem to be settling into their respective roles. But one worries they are being overworked and at some point they may collapse.
Kazmir after a rocky start is now 7-3.
Maeda coming over from Japan was an uncertain quantity is showing himself to be capable.
UPDATE: Although, lately he seems to run out of gas as the innings add up in the game (his outings tend to run 5 to 6 innings).
At least the first outing for Bud Norris worked out. Hopefully, he will turn into a solid number 3, 4, or 5 starter.

Considering how many injuries hit the pitching staff that part of the club isn't doing too bad - they are #4 in the NL in terms of ERA. Given the options for pitching aren't great in the coming trade deadline am guessing the front office is going to look for offense (#8 ranked in run production in the NL). But who do you let go? Any of the existing pieces? Some of the prospects? How much will they be willing to spend?

Go Dodgers!