Liverpool Klopp Episode 17: The Godfather



Soccer is a game. 22 people running around on the field. 44 feet trying to kick a ball.

Nonetheless, fans, players, and managers do take it pretty seriously - it is strictly business.

Here is an article compiling some of Coach Klopp's interesting remarks about the "beautiful game."

Some interesting ones:
"We have a bow and arrow. The problem is Bayern have a bazuka - but then Robin Hood was quite successful."
"It's like someone having to play the chess world championships after 72 hours of sleep deprivation."
"I'm proud of my first red card as coach. I approached the fourth official and said: 'How many mistakes are you allowed to make? If it's 15, you're allowed one more.'"

Anyway, Sunderland on the road in today's match. The Liverpool Echo writers offer their guesses on who will be in the starting XI. With so many players on the injury list, there really isn't that much flexibility in choosing a line up. Thus, I think the usual: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Coutinho, Henderson, Can, Lallana, Firmino, Benteke.

Likely used subs: Ibe, Lucas, Allen.

Klopp anticipates a physical contest against the desperation of the relegation likely Sunderland.

UPDATE: Sunderland 0 Liverpool 1! Wasn't near a TV nor the internet so only read the after-match reports. Sounds like it was taking care of business not particularly well played but played well enough for the win and collecting the desired 3 points. Bad news is that Henderson left the match with injury. Not clear how serious and long he will be out. On the good news, Benteke got yet another goal and could have gotten a second.

W4C Bible Study Training Part IV - Colossians 3:1-17



West Coast Chinese Christian Conference 2015 Small Group Bible Study Training Video, Part IV. This year's theme: Be Holy Because God is Holy.
Day 1 study 1 Peter 2:4-25
Day 2 study 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Day 3 study Colossians 3:1-17.

Part IV contents:
Day 3 passage Colossians 3:1-17
Group dynamics
Applications
Final thoughts

W4C Bible Study Training Part III - 1 Corinthians 6:1-20


West Coast Chinese Christian Conference 2015 Small Group Bible Study Training Video, Part III. This year's theme: Be Holy Because God is Holy.
Day 1 study 1 Peter 2:4-25
Day 2 study 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Day 3 study Colossians 3:1-17.

Please note, I found an error in the slide at 20:48 where "Prison Epistles (62-67)" appears. 1 Timothy and Titus was written in the period after Prison Epistles (61-62) but before 2 Timothy that was written during Paul's 2nd Imprisonment shortly before his death AD 66-67.

Part III content:
Textual analysis
Day 2 passage 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Question writing

W4C Bible Study Training Part II - 1 Peter 2:4-25



West Coast Chinese Christian Conference 2015 Small Group Bible Study Training Video, Part II. This year's theme: Be Holy Because God is Holy.
Day 1 study 1 Peter 2:4-25
Day 2 study 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Day 3 study Colossians 3:1-17.

Part II content:
Day 1 passage 1 Peter 2:4-25

W4C Bible Study Training Part I



West Coast Chinese Christian Conference 2015 Small Group Bible Study Training Video, Part I. This year's theme: Be Holy Because God is Holy.
Day 1 study 1 Peter 2:4-25
Day 2 study 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
Day 3 study Colossians 3:1-17.

Part I content:
Overview
Observation
Interpretation

Liverpool Klopp Episode 16: The Wrath of Khan



LFC is in trouble. Out gunned, out manned, and the momentum arrow facing the wrong direction. It is the soccer equivalent of the Kobayashi Maru Scenario for Klopp and the club facing the hottest side in the EPL, Leicester City.

For non-Trek fans, in the words of this Star Trek Wiki,
The Kobayashi Maru scenario was an infamous no-win scenario that was part of the curriculum for command-track cadets at Starfleet Academy in the 23rd century. It was primarily used to assess a cadet's discipline, character and command capabilities when facing an impossible situation, as there is no (legitimate) strategy that will result in a successful outcome.
Am guessing no one is picking Liverpool to get out of the Boxing Day match with three points perhaps some might pick them to get one point. (a draw). Will be interesting to see what the fans and pundits will view as a "passing" grade in terms of LFC team performance?

Although the tie to West Brom was viewed by many as a failure, it was a "success" in the sense that the team didn't give up. Right up to the last whistle they fought to get the equalizing goal and they ultimately got a lucky break and got it. A team that folded its cards would not have even had the chance. Thus, a success in my book would be that the fans have a reason to stay to the final whistle at Anfield on December 26. Teams at the top level don't talk about "moral victories;" however, LFC isn't there right now and so "moral victories" are meaningful to build upon and the club needs that right now.

Later in the film, with their backs against the wall, our heroes found a winning plan ...



Will be interesting to see what the Script Writers have for Boxing Day!

UPDATE: Injury reports ......
Leicester might be without goal scorer Vardy on Boxing Day as he is listed as "doubtful." On the Liverpool side, the list of injured players is rather long with only Mignolet, Lovren, and Sturridge listed as possibly returning by Boxing Day. As such, the following possible starting XI:

Goalie: Mignolet (if indeed he is ready to go) otherwise Bogdan
Defense: Clyne, Moreno, Sakho, Lovren (if indeed he is ready to go) otherwise Toure
Midfield: Coutinho, Henderson, Can, Lallana
Forward: Benteke, Origi
Likely used subs: Sturridge (if indeed he is ready to go), Lucas, Ibe, Firmino

UPDATE: LFC 1 LEI 0!
Saw most of the match (7AM start time here in PST). Great teamwork on defense. If I understood what the NBCSN analysts were saying, Klopp had instructed the two full backs and two of the midfielders to be alert and ready to track back to respond to Leicester City's vaunted counter-attacking speed. Meanwhile, LFC was able to hold possession and eventually broke through at the 63 minute mark with a nice pass from Firmino into the box which Benetke poked into the net.

On the down side, Origi picked up a hamstring injury and had to exit at the 38 minute mark. Don't know how serious it is.

In any case a BIG win for LFC. The race for the top 4 is open with no dominant clubs. The usual suspects like Man U and Chelsea have issues this year. Arsenal and Man City have had some dreadful outings.

LFC is now 8 (wins) - 5 (draws) - 3 (losses) in all competitions under Klopp.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 15: Ticket to Ride



As a Los Angelino, I follow UCLA, Dodgers, Kings, Lakers, and Galaxy. If you ask me about Los Angeles, I could tell you a little bit about the city's neighborhoods and tourist destinations.

As a fan of Liverpool, I can tell you nothing about the city. I only know that the Beatles are from there. So I had to check on Google with the search, "were the Beatles soccer fans?"

According to this item in the Guardian:
"Paul was (and maybe still is) definitely an Evertonian, as was his dad. He attended the 1968 FA Cup final - there is a photo of him outside Wembley. His brother Mike is a massive Red - and part of his band The Scaffold's promo film for Thank You Very Much was filmed in front of a packed Spion Kop at his behest (fellow band member Roger McGough, a Blue, refused to attend and is missing from the clip). George and John were not keen football fans, although George's son Dhani is a big Liverpool fan. But the biggest fan of all the Beatles' extended family is Neil Aspinall, the former Beatles road manager who attended Anfield regularly before the band left Liverpool for London and has attended games when possible ever since."
Here is an item over at the Liverpool Echo about Paul McCartney's feeling about the two soccer clubs:
He said: “My dad was born in Everton, so I’m an Evertonian. Yes, I’ll cheer Liverpool on too. People say you can’t support them both but I got a special dispensation from the Pope. But if it comes down to a derby match I would have to support Everton.” But wherever he plays around the world he says there’s always someone in the crowd wearing a Liverpool shirt or scarf. He said: “At first I thought they were Scousers who’d travelled to see the gig. I’d say ‘hey, where are you from?’ and they’d be from whatever country we were playing in. “The other night we played Moscow and we had it there. It gets me every time.”
So there you go.

Lots of road matches ahead:
@ Watford 12/20
Leicester 12/26
@ Sunderland 12/30
@ West Ham 1/2
@ Stoke 1/5 1st leg of League Cup
@ Exeter 1/8  FA Cup

Watford was one of three promoted clubs and they are doing the best of the three (Bournemouth and Norwich are the other two) thus this is by no means an automatic win for Liverpool. In fact Watford is higher in the table than LFC!

Klopp will need to make some changes in the lineup. Lovren is out with injury but Sakho maybe ready to return. But is he ready for a full 90 minutes? Would guess Toure would backstop Sakho. Though Mignolet took a lot of heat for the match against West Brom, don't imagine Bogdan will get the start at goal so no change there. The midfield trio of MilnerLucas-Henderson-Can looks about right. The open question is the three forwards. Coutinho is probably the only sure pick. But who will fill the other two spots? Klopp can choose from Benteke, Lallana, Firmino, Ibe, and Origi. How about Firmino and Ibe? Time to see if pairing the two Brazilians (Coutinho and Firmino) can yield some on field magic as it did against Man City. Would be good to give Ibe some prime time play to help him develop. We shall see!

UPDATE: Well that was a clunker. A great team plays at an A/A- level consistently and can bounce back from a early mistake with talent and mental toughness. Alas, LFC is not yet a great team. They have the talent to play A-/B+ level and for a stretch they did. But it appears the team is settling back B/B- level of play. Against Watford, they suffered a howler early putting them down 1-0. And soon after were down 2-0 and chasing the game. Credit Watford for capitalizing early. But these recent performances with LFC players that aren't all that different from the good run of form just a while ago was simply disappointing. In their defense, Mignolet was out with an injury and Bogdan, his stand-in got off to a bad start. Sakho was rusty from injury. Skrtel got at hurt and had to be subbed out at the 41 minute mark. Thus, three players in the defensive end were not in recently line-ups. LFC got possession but unfortunately weren't able to do much with it which has been a problem since the downward spiral at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

Coach Klopp is going to have to find some tactical moves and motivational ploys to get the team playing as a team again and with some belief. However, his line-up options are getting depleted with injuries. It is going to be a tall mountain to climb as the Boxing Day match up is against EPL leaders Leicester City!

Leicester is known as a fast paced attacking team. Thus, will Klopp try to match their speed? Unfortunately, LFC's speed players might not match up and the Reds might get run out of their home pitch! Maybe they will need to play a more possession based game and loop the ball into Benteke and/or Origi to get goals? Maybe the midfield might have to sit further back to address Leicester's attackers? On the other hand, LFC opted to run against Man City and beat them. Will be interesting to hear the pundits play arm-chair manager and then see what Klopp and his brain trust come up with for Saturday.

LFC is now 7-5-3 (all competitions) under Klopp.

GOP nomination race as of now .....

The race for the GOP nomination is quaking under the twin shocks of the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shootings. The atmosphere of fear, understandable but overstated, has shaken up the race solidifying the Trump supporters who think the rest of the GOP isn't tough enough. Carson's support is dropping fast as he is perceived as too mild mannered for these "dangerous times." Cruz and Rubio are the two "mainstream" candidates who seem to have gained some ground while more "traditional" "mainstream" candidates like Jeb, Kasich, and Christie are still afloat but have divided that part of the GOP pie amongst themselves.

Trump has oscillated between 20 to 30% support depending on the poll and current events. There is a poll that has his numbers up to 40% but I'd like to see that result detected by another poll before I believe it. The current terrorism crisis has tipped his support up because people are angry and fearful and Trump is "speaking his mind."

Cruz and Rubio are about 15% in national polling (Cruz has scored higher in recent Iowa polls) meaning 30% of the GOP voters are looking for a younger articulate candidate. Add together the governors (Jeb, Kasich and Christie) they probably total 20% of the GOP voters who want someone with executive experience. Carson is at about 10% reflecting the GOP voters who don't trust the mainstream and think Trump is NUTS. There is probably about 10% that is undecided or very loyal to one of the other candidates in the field.

So in sum:
30% are mad as h@#$ and aren't going to take it anymore supporting Trump
10% don't like the Washington insiders and think Trump is nuts (Carson voters)
30% are looking for a younger face for the GOP (Cruz and Rubio)
20% are looking at governors with experience (Jeb, Katich and Christie)
10% are loyal to a low level candidate or undecided.

The key polling will be January after the holidays are over and the reality of actually casting votes in Iowa and New Hampshire begins to set in. I'm hoping Trump's 30% dips down to 20% and the GOP begins to look seriously at 2 of the 5 "mainstream" candidates. Carson will get 10% I think from sheer loyalty of his supporters.

Scenario #1 Worst Case
Trump holds at 30% Carson gets 10% The remaining 60% of the voters divide among 3 or more "mainstream" candidates leaving Trump still ahead.

Scenario #2 Best case
Trump dips to 20%
Carson gets 10%
The remaining 70% of the GOP begin to rally around 2 of the mainstream candidates such that Trump drops to 3rd place in the polling

Anyway, that is where I think things stand.

We shall see!

At the Movies: Peanuts Movie and the Martian

Loved both those films!

The Peanuts movie is nostalgic to a simpler time. How many movies are rated "G" these days? The characters are as comfortable as a well worn sofa for people of a certain age who grew up reading the comic strip and catching the occasions special film. The Charlie Brown Christmas has become iconic of the season here in the USA.

The update is in the technology of the animation (3D look even in non-3D projection) and some of the music. Overall though, the production team still kept it connected to the old style with its general look and feel and the heart warming story line.

Will this revive the franchise and thus more films?

I don't know what the financial figures are from the film and I do wonder if the new generation of film goers brought up on much more sophisticated animation and "darker" and "complicated" characters will welcome the earnest simplicity of the Peanuts gang. As for me, I enjoyed it.




The Martian is a wonderful adventure, survival, science-fiction/fact film!

Love that the "nerds" get to be on center-stage as the heroes of the story.

I had to check on google about whether one can really grow potatoes on Mars. Perhaps so according to this item!

The film does highlight how technically demanding going to Mars would be and how harsh an environment it is. Going to the moon in a decade was the challenge of the 60s and quite the feat. In fact, a feat that hasn't been repeated in over 40 years. I suspect going to Mars is going to be the challenge of the 21st century and without some significant technological breakthroughs not likely to happen in my lifetime.

In addition to the science of the film was some of the human dimensions of the story.

Commander Lewis' (Jessica Chastain) collection of disco music was probably used to be able to have the chance to play "I will survive" in the film. For some I'm sure it was a groaner but for others it was the right type of humor and connection to audience members who grew up following the NASA manned program (NASA has not directly launched people into space for a few years now and aren't likely to for a few more years). Though Matt Damon is clearly the star of the film with lots of screen time, I'd say most anyone would be happy to have Lewis in charge of any mission.

Some of the action in the film does remind me a bit of Gravity in terms of straining credibility but it is the movies so some suspension of belief is required. Nonetheless, it was a good attempt at trying to keep as much of the film grounded on plausible technology.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 14 - Patton



No one would ever mistake Gen. Patton for a warm and fuzzy hugging care bear.

Klopp has been described in those terms by many observers. The enthusiasm he shows on the sidelines make that pretty clear!

However, it is also pretty clear that Klopp has a drive to win and wants to instill that drive into his players.

LFC has gotten some nice wins but mixed in have been a couple of dreadful losses (to Palace and Newcastle) and in sports, the sting of the defeats seem to last longer than the exuberance of victories.

Liverpool returns to EPL play this Sunday against West Brom. Tony Pulis is sure to have the club ready to play hard nosed football against the Reds at Anfield. On the other side Klopp and his brain trust needs to figure out a starting XI.

The goalie plus back 4 picks itself. The question mark is the remaining six.

In the midfield, Klopp will need to choose from Milner, Lucas, Can, Henderson, and Allen. Since Henderson is still recovering from injury, I think you have to go with Milner/Lucas/Can with Henderson off the bench around the 75 minute mark.

The biggest question mark is the LFC front three. Select three from: Coutinho, Lallana, Ibe, Benteke, Firmino, and Origi.

Is it time to go with the Coutinho/Firmino line that did so well against Man City?

The problem is Coutinho is recovering from a hamstring injury and might not be ready to go full throttle for 60-90 minutes. Firmino hasn't done much since that game.

Can't call on the Origi/Sturridge line that demolished Southampton since Sturridge is on the injured list once again.

The Firmino/Ibe/Benteke line didn't generate many serious threats against Newcastle and the Firmino/Lallana/Origi line didn't score against Sion. In fairness though both LFC and Sion were really looking for a draw.

If there was a full week of rest between games, I'd go with Coutinho/Firmino plus one and run at West Brom. But since it is a short turn around and Coutinho is still regaining fitness from the hamstring injury, I'm thinking Klopp has no choice but to go back to Benteke as Origi is still probably too raw to be the solo point of attack in what is close to a must win game if LFC is to compete for the top four.

So who alongside with Benteke?

How about Ibe and Lallana?

Look for Coutinho to sub in around the 60 minute mark and Origi later on if offense is needed.

UPDATE: Coutinho and Henderson got the start! Only saw part of the 1st half. Great goal by Henderson. Unfortunately, West Brom equalized on a set piece and had a goal ruled off-side just before the half. LFC dominated possession but West Brom got 2 goals and LFC was scrambling to equalize which late sub Origi delivered. Thus, LFC salvaged a point in what was close to a must win game. And then there was a post-match controversy involving Klopp and the West Brom coaching staff and handshakes and the team lining up to salute the Kop. To read one view of the controversy see this item over at ESPNFC.com in both article form and in the roundtable of the TV panel. Meanwhile, a defense of the salute over in one analysis piece at the Liverpool Echo.

Time will tell if the salute controversy will turn into a motivational stroke of genius to engage the players and the fan base or an oddly discordant moment in what may yet turn out to be another middling season for LFC. Certainly, the team has shown potential with some great victories and this year's collection of teams in the EPL does not appear to have a dominant club that will lead wire-to-wire so LFC has an outside shot at the top 4. On the other hand, LFC still has gaps in its play and injury woes sapping their vitality. I'd say Klopp is trying to motivate using methods consistent to his personality. General Patton probably wouldn't do it that way but both have the drive to win and will use whatever methods they can to motivate those they lead.

LFC under Klopp: 7-5-2.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 13 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Europa League match against the Swiss club FC Sion today. USA TV coverage at FS1. Online at ESPN3.com (in Spanish) and don't know if there will be audio feed at LFC.com or TalkSports.com.

Solid XI with one youngster tabbed to be part of the back four. Also, Henderson is set to start. Will see if he can go a full 90. Origi up front. Coutinho is in the subs which is good news! Am sure Klopp will try to work him in for the last 20-30 minutes to work out the rust.

Since LFC has clinched a spot in the next round of Europa League, will see how strongly they press FC Sion and whether at some point they may pull back and play it safer to get a draw. Ideally, press early and get a goal and sit on the lead. We shall see!

Until the game and the post-match reports are in, go ahead and enjoy some 007 ski scenes filmed in Switzerland ....



Update: Not surprisingly a 0-0 draw which allows both clubs to advance to the next round.

Record:7-4-2.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 12 - Jaws



You can't get too high, you can't get too low. That is a classic sports adage.

I wasn't near a TV nor an internet connection so I had no idea how the recent EPL game went until reading the post-game reports.

A tale of two matches: Newcastle 2 LFC 0. Southampton 1 LFC 6.

Was LFC really 6x better than Southampton?

No.

In soccer, matches are often quite close but a goal or two as a result of a moment of offensive brilliance or a defensive miscue changes the match completely. Liverpool got the lead and Southampton had to chase the game and it snowballed against them.

Liverpool and Newcastle were evenly matched until Newcastle got a goal... an own goal off LFC defenseman Skrtel. After that, LFC had to chase the game and only surrendered the second goal in stoppage time.

Stat wise (you don't win games with stats!) LFC had the possessions (60/40), corner kicks (7/2) and shots (10/6). But you got to put it in the net and they didn't.

The starting XI had changes from the Southampton game (6 changes of which 5 were in midfield/forward) but that is to be expected as there are too many games right now and some rotation of players is needed for the big picture of a long campaign.

LFC's next match is against Sion in Europa league play and since LFC has clinched to the next round, am looking again to see wholesale changes in the Liverpool XI probably to include younger players to rest the A team members.

One wonders if Coach Klopp is telling the LFC brain trust, "We are going to need a few more players."

How much cash are they willing to splash in the next transfer window to make a move or two. Though the team has improved, they aren't ready for the top four. There are players with question marks: (1) it isn't clear Sturridge is ever going to be able to play consistently for them as he is out again with another injury and (2) continued doubts about Beneteke in the style of play LFC has going right now. The number of games to play in Europa League, League Cup, FA Cup and EPL is a strain on a team that has collected injuries. Don't see them being able to "press" and "out run" every team over the long haul. Will they have the players to employ a mixture of tactics to crack the top 4?

Sometimes they will need to scratch out one goal against a team that will park the bus. Other times they will have to respond to teams that will match their running/pressing game. And still other times, opponents will get physical and try to rough up LFC's speedy finesse players to throw them off the game.

LFC under Klopp: 7-3-2.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 11 - Titanic

Wednesday is Southampton vs. Liverpool in a League Cup quarter-final.

The Titanic reference in this case has nothing to do with on the field matters for either club or expectations for the match!

Rather it is to mention the historical fact that the Titanic set sail from Southampton on April 15, 1912 and the ship's port of registry was Liverpool.

Who is going to play... Klopp gave no hints other than some injury updates.

So how about this starting XI?
Mignolet Bogdan
Clyne, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno
Milner, Can, Lucas
Lallana, Firmino, Ibe.

Likely utilized subs:
Benteke, Sturrridge, Henderson.

All the writers at Liverpool Echo seem to think Firmino needs a break, Coutinho will be ready and Benteke should take the front man spot. Apparently, Klopp has already said Bogdan will get the start in goal to give Mignolet a break.

Indeed, if Coutinho is fit, then plug him in for Ibe. Hamstring injuries are tricky things so it could be a game day decision unless he has clearly improved in the most recent training session. And if Firmino is to be rested then Benteke is the logical choice at the top because no one can see Sturridge  (fitness for full match) or Origi (talented but still raw for a big match) getting the start at this point.

UPDATE: Well Klopp has made a few interesting moves here with his starting XI!! Both Sturridge and Origi in there making me look clueless. Hopefully, on-the-field results will bear out Klopp's confidence in them. Heh, that is why they pay him the big bucks; suffice to say Klopp is a genius: Sturridge 2 goals and 3 goals for Origi!!!!


And here is the bench, as I suspected, no Coutinho. Those hamstring injuries need to be well taken care of or they become nagging problems. As much as LFC would love to advance in the League Cup they are keeping the eye on the prize of a top 4 finish in the EPL.



UPDATE: Match is on in the USA through BeIn Sport TV and on radio via TalkSport.com where I've checked in periodically to see what is happening. The skinny: LFC surrendered a goal within the first minute but have bounced back to net three goals of which two came from Sturridge! Now, it is half-time and hopefully LFC is 45 minutes away from the League Cup Semi-Finals. Below a screen capture from UK Guardian's live blogging commentary.


LFC under Klopp: 7-3-1 (11 matches)

Last 11 matches of Brendan Rodgers:
3 wins. 6 draws (won the PK shootout with Carlisle). 2 losses.

Essentially the same players but what a difference in the results!

Liverpool Klopp Episode 10 - The Swarm



Another match came and went without me being able to catch it on TV (EPL matches can be seen at NBCSN and other NBC channels) or internet radio (EPL matches can be heard at TalkSport.com here in the USA).

A 1-0 win for LFC over Swansea!

Don't know if there is enough data yet, but it looks like Klopp likes to give Benteke more minutes in home games and has him come off the bench on the road.

It could be that at Anfield, the opponents play more conservative thus making it harder for Liverpool to get out into an open field running match. In those situations, scoring off a set piece (corner or free kick) might be more crucial and that is where Benteke could be a handful for the defender marking him. Also, there could be scenarios when the defense is packing it in and again, you like the option of lofting a ball into Benteke from the sides who can snag down the ball inside the box and overwhelm a defender with his strength and size permitting him a shot on goal or drawing a penalty.

On the road, Liverpool likes to get out and run and use their Gegenpressing style as much as possible and so Benteke is on the bench until the second half when the opponent might be tiring or LFC changes tactics to utilize Beneteke's skill set.

In any case, LFC wants to "swarm" people but if the defense is packing it in, they might not have that option. So it is really good to see that Benteke is available.

The other bit of good news for LFC fans is that Sturridge had an appearance. Will be interesting how Klopp utilizes these two players within the Gengenpressing which didn't include these two players in the Manchester City match. Given Benteke and Sturbridge history of injuries, I would imagine the Gengenpressing won't be on all the time when one or the other are in the game. I wonder if there will be situations when both are in the game?

LFC is on the road for a League Cup match with Southampton mid-week. We shall see what the line-up is and the tactical approach.

LFC under Klopp: 6-3-1

Liverpool Klopp Episode 9: Goldfinger

Okay, trying to find movie titles and Beatles songs to use as hooks to hang posts on is going to be an ongoing challenge of highly tangential thinking!

At the moment, after the demolition of Manchester City by Liverpool, Coach Klopp is viewed as "the man with the Midas touch."



Nonetheless, the team did suffer a dreadful loss to Crystal Place at Anfield just before the international break. And so it is with a little bit of dread that fans await the Europa League match on US Thanksgiving Day at Anfield as Liverpool's best moments under Klopp have been on the road.

The injury bug continues to rear its head and take a bite out of the line-up options for Coach Klopp. Coutinho is out and now it is reported that Skrtel is out as well. The Liverpool Echo item suggests that Beneteke is likely to start and Sturridge will be brought on as a sub. Usher at ESPNFC offers some thoughts as to why Liverpool has to play differently at home and what options might be available for Klopp to consider. Am guessing the Klopp will go for the win to clinch a spot to continue in Europa competition. Thus, what is the line-up likely to look like?

Goalie: Mignolet.
Defense: Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Moreno
Midfield: Can, Lucas, Millner
Forward: Firmino, Benteke, Lallana

Likely to be used subs: Sturridge, Ibe, Allen.

UPDATE: Ran various errands on this day so wasn't able to see any of the match. Was good to find out that the team pulled out the 2-1 victory over Bordeaux despite falling behind 1-0.

LFC under Klopp: 5-3-1

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.

excerpt:
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 Talksport.com 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.

LFC under Klopp: 4-3-1

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.




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?

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.

Excerpt:
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.

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 TalkSport.com 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.

LFC under Klopp: 3-3-1

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!

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 ESPN3.com or you can get LiverpoolFC's audio feed from LiverpoolFC.com.

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.

LFC under Klopp: 3-3-0

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:
Won THREE MLS Cups
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 TalkSport.com. 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.

LFC under Klopp: 2-3-0

Liverpool Klopp Episode 4 - Rocky



Check out the incredible story of AFC Bournemouth!

The club was on the edge of disappearing from League Two and going entirely out of business just a handful of years ago. However, in a dramatic finish that season, they stayed alive in the League Two (4th tier of English Football). And then, they begin an fairy tale rise to League One, then the Championship and last season promotion to the top of the mountain, the Premier League.

Suffice to say probably the only people rooting for Liverpool tomorrow are Liverpool fans considering the storyline of AFC Bournemouth.

It would be easy for the Script Writers to make Bournemouth the underdog Rocky and Liverpool the heavily favored Apollo Creed. And indeed, in the movie Rocky Balboa fought Apollo to the final rounds. Is that what will happen in tomorrow's match up?

Coach Klopp is still in search of his first win working with something less than a full bag of arrows. Looks like it could go the distance and maybe even extra time? Even PKs?

UPDATE: And they are off ..... not near a TV but am following with the occasional refresh of the ESPNFC live updates. A mixed unit for LFC with some of the reserves and three youngsters.

After some mouse clicks, did find an audio feed from LiverpoolFC.com and heard the final handful of minutes. The announcer ended the game time play-by-play by exclaiming, "The kids are alright!"

Thus, Klopp gets his first LFC win in a League Cup!

LFC under Klopp: 1-3-0

Liverpool Klopp Episode 3 - Moneyball



Southampton has been cited as the English Premier League's prime example of applying MoneyBall to the operation of their club.

Liverpool, owned by Fenway Sports Group (FSG), has the advantage of deeper pockets and the history and international brand of Liverpool but are unwilling or unable to spend the kind of money of the big 4 (Man City, Man United, Chelsea, and Arsenal). Thus, from what I have read, FSG has tried to apply some MoneyBall thinking to bring Liverpool back to its glory days.

In the end, sports has its share of unfortunate turns of the tide. For Liverpool, the Script Writers gave them a nice start with two wins and a competitive draw against Arsenal. But then the wheels fell off with injuries to key players and listless draws and a couple of ugly losses. After 11 mostly listless matches, Rodgers was released from duty and Klopp brought in.

Thus far, Klopp has now presided over three draws. However, the fans seem to realize the club on the field right now is not what was expected to be on the field at the beginning of the season. Benteke is not back to full fitness (entered at the 2nd half) but made his powerful presence felt today with a header that put LFC up 1-0. But Southampton was able to tie it late.

Next up, Bournemouth in the League Cup. Would expect a fairly strong line-up from Liverpool as Klopp would like to get a win sooner rather than later. Maybe one or two changes for resting weary players and plugging in one or two younger players for experience either in a starting role or as substitutes.

UPDATE: Kelly at ESPNFC think Klopp might need to prioritize the EPL and play a weaker line up in the League Cup. Rodgers played weaker line ups for Europa Cup where draws were possible in regular time. However, League Cup can't end in draws leading to extra time and in the match against Carlisle a PK shootout.

Stay tuned for episode 4.

LFC under Klopp: 0-3-0

Potus 2016 - revisiting old posts, part II

On the Democratic side not much has changed.

At that time, I thought the "establishment" candidates would be Clinton, Biden and Cuomo. Only Clinton got in and just this past week Biden official decided not to get in.

In the "left wing/socialist" part of the party, I saw Warren, Sanders and O'Malley as probables. Warren opted out of the race while the other two did get in and Sanders has gathered some support while O'Malley hasn't gained any traction.

Finally, the only national defense democrat at that time who was making noises of running was Webb. He appeared in the debate and was pretty much marginalized by his cranky personality and relatively hawkish national security views.

The Democratic party is going "all-in" with Clinton. They are hoping the Clinton brand name hasn't exceeded its shelf-life and the "magic" of electing the first woman president will be enough to get her across the finish line. Hillary has all the baggage of Bill and none of his charm. Thus, her supporters are the loyalists + those who would never vote for a Republican + those who want to vote for the first woman president.

Is that enough to get to win in 2016?


Liverpool Klopp Episode 2 - From Russia With Love

Pre-game thoughts:

The LFC script-writers have Klopp's home debut through a Europa League contest with Rubin Kazan, a club from Russia.

Overall, the EPL, in recent years have not done particularly well in European competitions (Champions League and Europa League). One wonders if the EPL's claim that their league is the "best in the world" is true in the sense that on any given day a bottom half of the table club could give a top half of the table club a real contest. In which case, the EPL squads are worn down when lining up for the mid-week European contests.

Rodgers this season played mostly reserve squad players in the two Europa League matches yielding draws. I would expect Klopp to do the same in terms of selecting mostly bench players and giving younger players minutes to see what they got. Hopefully, he can motivate them and provide the tactics to get an elusive Europa league win.

LFC played a full throttle game against Tottenham on the 17th, face Rubin Kazan today on the 22nd, play a tough Southampton on the 25th, Bournemouth on 28th and then Chelsea on the 31st. That is five matches in fifteen days!

Currently, the honeymoon with Klopp is still going strong and may even be somewhat over the top. However, these next 5 matches will be a real test of his leadership and how he is able to get the most out of a squad that has some talent but also has a history of under performing and picking up injuries. Will the fickle fans turn on Klopp if LFC only manges a bunch of draws?

On the other hand, if he is able guide the team to some victories, the Kop will being singing the praises of Klopp!

UPDATES

Well, well, well, Klopp has filled out a strong-ish line-up card!



More to come after the match ......

I was able to watch a handful of minutes at the end of the first half via ESPN3 online streaming in Spanish. Saw Can's equalizer goal (looks to be thriving under Klopp) and figured with Rubin Kazan down to 10 men, LFC should have gotten the winner in the second half. Alas, when I got to check in on the game again about an hour later when it was nearing the end, it wasn't meant to be. LFC has enough talent to dominate possession (73%), get shots (35) but in the end, the quality of the finishes wasn't there with only 6 actual shots on goal of which 1 went in. Rubin Kazan got 5 shots of which 3 were on goal.

So by the numbers:
Possession 73% to 27%
Shots 35 to 5
Shots On Goal 6 to 3
Goals 1 to 1.

With Firmino and Benteke hopefully heading toward full fitness (what is the latest on Sturridge?), will be interesting how Klopp will plug the two in the next few matches and whether it will make a difference. After all, these two were the big signings this past summer and having them in at full speed and for majority of the minutes will be a truer test of LFC's abilities this season.

Stay tuned!

LFC under Klopp: 0-2-0

POTUS 2016 - revisiting some old posts ....

Here was my first post regarding the 2016 campaign.

Then and now .....

One obvious thing since the time of my old post was the unexpected run and current popularity of Donald Trump.

The other surprise was the fast flameouts of Governors Perry and Walker.

Romney and Ryan not running was anticipated and indeed they both opted to stay out of the race.

I had higher expectations for Jindal but he clearly hasn't caught on.

Theology: What is God's Timetable to Reach All the Nations?

Let me say at the outset that we should try to get our theology correct. I believe there is theological truth out there. However, there are times when there is mystery and uncertainty and I want to be honest about that when I am puzzling over it. Holding comprehension and mystery in tension isn't easy but I take comfort in the fact that it would appear that transformation of life by God takes place often in spite of our theological muddleheadedness.

As a blogger, I put ideas out there and they are not always fully baked; you might say, I'm thinking aloud by typing! That is what this post is about. So with those disclaimers out there, here we go ...

Aside from enjoying the unique scenery and visiting family and friends, I am always thinking "theologically" about the places I visit.

Sadly, like many European countries, Sweden today is nominally a "Christian" nation with many occasions of the liturgical calendar marked off as national holidays but in practice many of the historic churches are nearly empty.

I find it amazing that Christianity began in Jerusalem and in a few centuries became the dominant force in the Roman Empire and eventually the "barbarians" of Northern Europe and all of Scandinavia became "Christianized."

However, the Gospel's eastward movement found a harder path. There are reports that Christianity got to India with the Apostle Thomas. There is one bit of evidence that the Nestorian variant of Christianity made it to China before 1000 AD.

Thus, one might say that Christianity "converted" the "pagans" of Europe but seemed to have been unable to convince the Hindu and Buddhists of India and Asia.

Meanwhile, Christianity continues to grow in South America and Africa such that when Pope Benedict resigned there was talk the next Pope would be elected from one or the other continent. And, indeed, the new Pope Francis is from Argentina.

Why has Christianity succeeded in some places and not others?

And in the case of Europe, after many centuries of dominance, why has Christianity faded from the consciousness of so many?

What is God's Timetable to Reach All the Nations?

Elfsborg and Falkenberg win!

Elfsborg is playing only for pride. Even if they win out they aren't going to be champions nor will they qualify for Europa league. Thus, the match against Norrkoping, who is trying to win the league championship, all the motivation was on the Norrkoping side. Yet, Elfsborg got the 3-2 win!

Meanwhile, Falkenberg is fighting to stay in the league and avoid relegation. Position 15 and 16 is an automatic relegation while position 14 means a playoff against position 3 from Superettan.

At the moment, Falkenberg is at #14. They took care of business and crushed Atvidaberg 6-0!

Kalmar is at #13 two points ahead. However, making up those two points won't be easy as Falkenberg has matches against Djurgarden (#6) and Elfsborg (#4). Meanwhile, Kalmar faces Gefle (#10) and Goteborg (#3). Falkenberg's opponents are solid mid-table clubs while Kalmar has one "easier" game in Gefle where they could sneak a win. It is one thing to look at the table, yet it always come down to what happens on the field. Certainly, it is preferable to capture the #13 spot and avoid the relegation playoff. Go FFF!


LA Galaxy Chopped Down to Size in 5-2 Defeat

A tale of two halves.

While possession and shots were pretty even in the first half, the opportunities for the Galaxy were better. Unfortunately, it only yielded one goal and two shots that hit the woodwork. Thus, instead of going into halftime up 3-0, they only had a 1-0 lead.

In the second half, it seemed as if the pitch was tilted toward the Portland attack. Don't know if it was greater urgency on the Portland Timber side or the Galaxy deciding to play defensive to hold the 1-0 lead. In any case, Portland was buzzing around the net constantly and eventually they broke through with the equalizer. And shortly after, the go ahead PK was followed by a third unanswered goal.

Keane brought some excitement to the Galaxy supporters making it 3-2 but then LA gave up a howler a minute later and the fans were heading out the doors.

With one game left in the regular season and teams jockeying for seeding in the playoffs, the Galaxy have not been playing well raising questions about their prospects in the playoffs.

How is it possible that the team that was running roughshod over opponents in the Summer of high expectations get to this low point in the Fall of disappointment?

A few observations:
Dos Santos has picked up some injuries and I do wonder if he was really 100 percent on Sunday. He didn't have the impact on the game one would have expected. The reality is Dos Santos at 80% is going to be better than the options Coach Arena can call up from the bench. But without him at 100%, the Galaxy attack is going to have problems.

Is Zardes also short of 100%? He has had a lot more international duties this year and one has to wonder if he is getting worn down. Also, is the wide-midfield really his best position on the field? Over at LAG Confidential, they speculate why Zardes is playing wide midfield instead of up front.

Lletget was tearing up opponents a couple of months ago but hasn't scored since. As the season wears players down, is he also now a half-a-step slower and thus no longer able to blast past defenders like he was during his hot start?

Gerrard had a great free kick that hit the post, in the first half. He also had some nice passes but in the second half some of them were very errant. Again, you have to wonder if those 35 year old legs have too many miles on them. MLS isn't EPL but it is still a grind. Currently, Gerrard has 2 goals and 3 assists. Somehow, I think the Galaxy brain trust was expecting more. Keane is clearly the number one option in goal scoring but I think Coach Arena and company were anticipating a little more goal scoring and certainly more assists from Gerrard.

One might think, the long season wears out other teams also. However, I think the season long grind will impact finesse teams more. Keane and Dos Santos are wily forwards rather than guys who will clobber the defenders out of the way. During the summer when they were rampaging over opponents, they did it with speed and passing capitalizing on their mobility and skill in the open field. In some matches I've seen, it looks like the opponents are trying to be more physical to throw off the Galaxy players from their game. Thus, the combination of the weariness of a long season and more physical approach of opponents seem to have "closed the gap" between the wide open high powered offense we saw in the summer and the muddle we see now from the Galaxy.

For the Galaxy to make a serious run in the playoffs, they will need to somehow find that faster gear again or find some tactics to allow them to thrive in slower more physical matches. Am not really sure they have the personnel to make a go of the latter style of play.

UPDATE: Was listening to the MLS Extra Time Radio podcast of 10/22/15 and their analysts think the LA Galaxy problem is that Dos Santos and Keane are too similar in attack style so defenders can slow them down. Additionally, they thought all three DPs (Dos Santos, Keane, Gerrard) don't play enough defense. Am not entirely convinced that is true since many of the matches during this muddled period for LA have been low scoring affairs suggesting the defense isn't Swiss Cheese. One might make the case for the Portland blow out but part of that was also having to chase the game. The "Decision Day" match with Sporting KC will be an indicator of where the club is at. Taking a road win there means the Portland game was an anomaly. On the other hand, another blow out loss is definite signs of trouble.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 1: Star Coach - a New Hope

The script writers at Liverpool FC have given the club a reboot with a new manager in Jurgen Klopp. Prior manager Rodgers was hired on potential while Klopp has had success in the Bundesliga by leading Borussia Dortmund to two league titles as well a finals appearance in the Champions League.

So with great fanfare and expectation, LFC took the field at White Hart Lane (Tottenham’s home pitch) with new hope tempered by the reality that several key players were still in various stages of recovery from injury and the team was getting used to the new boss.

The result: 0-0.

With a 4:45AM PDT kickoff, I saw only the final 10 minutes of the match. Amazing how players on both club were still running with such vigor even at the end of the match. From post-game analysis, it sounded like it was a fairly even match. LFC’s Origi hit the woodwork early but that Tottenham eventually had more and better chances but were stopped by often maligned LFC goalie Mignolet.

The next match comes through Europa League competition on Thursday.

LFC under Klopp: 0-1-0

Do Managers Make a Difference?

We shall see if Jurgen Klopp can turn around the future of Liverpool!

Below is the screen capture of the last 11 matches of Brendan Rodgers.

3 wins.
6 draws (won the PK shootout with Carlisle).
2 losses.


The next transfer window opens up in January 2016 so LFC's roster is not going to change with the exception of losing players to injuries and players recovering from injuries.

Can Klopp get more from this group than Rodgers?

How well will Liverpool do over the next 11 with the new manager?

Improving on Rodgers' record is the least the fans expect so the baseline is 4 wins. But if Klopp really is the motivational and tactical genius people say he is, how many wins would be considered a success given the personnel he has on hand?

What if he improves in the win column but also takes more losses?

Best guess: 5 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses.




LFC Rodgers is out

Rodgers has been a lightening rod since I started following Liverpool in late 2014.

The team was going nowhere and there were calls for Rodger's firing.

But then he switched to the 3-4-3 and the team went on a great stretch of play only to collapse at the end of the season. 

The blowout loss to Stoke to finish the 2014-2015 EPL season would have been a reasonable time to have fired Rodgers with a summer to find a new coach and make some moves in the transfer market.

However, FSG decided to keep Rodgers. One wonders if that was their plan or they just didn't have any realistic manager candidates at that time. In Rodgers favor was the magic carpet ride of 2013-2014. The FSG braintrust probably felt that maybe Rodgers could catch lightening in a bottle again and should be given some more time.

But with the bland performances to the start of the 2015-2016 season, the fan base was getting restless. One also wonders what was the mood of the clubhouse. Certainly, the players were making the "right" public statements of support for Rodgers. But one wonders if that was just for the public consumption?

With the international break, FSG will try to get someone on board and see if the season can be salvaged. 

The question is simply this: can the current group of players rise to another level under a new manager? Does LFC really have the pieces to be better than a mid-table club?

Last years club finished sixth. This year's team has many new pieces compared to that unit.

Certainly, with a healthy Sturridge and Benteke, they could cause a lot of havoc. Having Ings to plug in will also be helpful.

Coutinho, Lallana, and Firmino on paper all have the potential to be A-/B+ caliber players who can make a real difference on the field. But all three have had injuries or just don't seem quite 100% yet.

Milner and Lucas are solid players who will give good minutes.

Sakho, Skirtel, and Clyne is a defensive unit to build upon.

LA Dodgers 25 Man Roster for NLDS - my guesses

Time to play armchair manager.

The NLDS rosters are due the morning of the first game which will be Friday 9 October.

Here are my guesses:

Catchers: Grandal, Ellis (easy choices there)
Infield: Gonzales, Kendrick, Rollins, Turner, Utley, Seager
(the challenge is how much does Seager play and under which situations)
Outfield: Crawford, Hernadez, Ethier, Ruggiano, Pederson
(just don't think Puig is fully fit and ready to go)

Pitchers:
Left hand: Kershaw, Anderson, Wood, Howell, Availan
Right hand: Greinke, Garcia, Frias, Jansen, Hatcher, Baez, Peralta

Go Dodgers!

LFC injury woes - next up Aston Villa

Henderson is expected to be out 2 months.

Benteke is expected to be out 2 weeks.

Lovren is expected to be out 2 months.

Firmino is listed as day-to-day.

Aside from the tepid goal scoring (Liverpool has either scored 1 or 0 goals per game since the start of the ELP season and including Europa Cup and League Cup competitions), and weak defending, the injuries to key players are piling up.

Who will they trot out onto the pitch this Saturday?

As a "bigger" budget club (though not big 4), LFC is not without options but clearly the club has been searching for some line-up that has some cohesion.

Mignolet back in goal.
Defense: Sakho, Skrtel, Clyne
Midfield: Can, Moreno, Lucas, Allen
Forward: Coutinho, Sturridge, Ings

Subs with likely minutes: Lallana, Ibe, Origi
Subs: Bogdan, Milner (he needs a rest), Gomez, Rossiter


Out of league play for Galaxy and Liverpool

Liverpool have a match in the League Cup tonight against Carlisle. Since Carlisle is a mid-table League Two club, we would anticipate that Liverpool will rest most of the starters. Of course, that could wind up making the game more competitive!

I would guess Rodgers will use the opportunity to give some players a test as they comeback from injury. For instance, Sturridge is back but not fully fit. As is Lallana who is working his way back to fitness. Don't think that Benteke will be risked tonight however. Benteke is out for at least two matches. Will be interesting to see if Firmino gets a start as he hasn't had so many minutes considering how highly recruited he was. Perhaps feasting on a weaker club might build his confidence. Ings did so well against Norwich so expect he will get more time as he will be needed while Benteke is out. Would anticipate some of the younger guys like Rossiter and Brannagan to get either starting roles or substantial substitute minutes. The Echo writers take their guesses.

My guesses:
Up top - Sturridge, Ings, Firmino
Midfield - Rossiter, Milner, Lallana, Can
Defense - Lovren, Gomez, Clyne
Goalie - Bogdan

Off the bench: Origi to rest Sturridge in the 2nd half, Brannagan to rest a midfielder, and Ibe.

UPDATE: LFC wins during PKs. Lovren and Firmino injured. Lots of shots, shots on goal, but just 1 goal by Ings. The fans are getting restless. But I'm guessing the owners at FSG will stick with Rodgers until they get see how a team with a fit in form and healthy Sturridge and Benteke perform.

As for the Galaxy, they head on the road for the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) match without any of their designated players. They won their first two CCL with mostly the B-team on the field. So expect the same.

UPDATE: Galaxy got the equalizer at the 82 minute to get the draw and advance to the next round of CCL.

UK Guardian Ruthven: Gerrard source of Galaxy defensive woes

Interesting analysis piece over by Graham Ruthven at the UK Guardian.

Excerpt:

With Gerrard in the line-up Juninho is pushed up the field into nosebleed territory, where he is not at his best. Besides, without the Brazilian’s mobility across the halfway line and in front of the back four LA are often left exposed through the middle, with Gerrard no longer the marauding, Captain Everything figure he once was in his pomp. Such deficiency was evident in the defeat to RSL, as the Galaxy’s backline suffered an overload in Utah.

If this is the case, what adjustment will need to be made? Is it just a matter of moving Juninho toward the back and having Gerrard play more forward?

I suppose one might also ask how consistently the Galaxy attacking players (Keane, Dos Santos, Lleget, and Zardes) track back and help with defense since the club is so offense minded.

Anyway, CONCACAF Champions League road game mid-week. Am guessing almost all the starters will be rested. Big showdown against FC Dallas at the weekend coming up. Will Arena make any personnel changes in the starting XI or shifts in tactical formation or both?

Liverpool v Norwich

Good to see Lallana back in there and get a nifty goal. Would anticipate he is in the XI for Norwich.

Minoglet in goal as usual.

Defensive 4 or 3? And has Sakho won a spot in the starting line-up?

My guess is that Rodgers sticks with his usual 4: Clyne, Lovren, Skrtel, and Gomez. With League Cup and Europa Cup games coming up, will see Sakho in those matches. If Lovren has any more howlers than Sakho will be plugged in.

Midfield three: Milner, Lucas, Firmino/Can/Moreno?

Firmino didn't play in the recent Europa league match. Is he in the doghouse? Or was he being rested for Norwich? Am figuring Firmino is going to start but he would be one of the first to be substituted in the 2nd half if he looks tired or is ineffective. Who do you put in? Can or Moreno? Am not sure Moreno has surpassed Can in the depth chart so Can probably gets the call when Firmino goes out. If Lucas is slowing down, Moreno gets in the game too.

Front three: Benteke, Lallana, Coutinho.

Ings comes in if they need fresh energy on the attack; however, might Sturridge get in? Maybe. From the article, seems Henderson might be need a little more time.

UPDATE: 1-1 was the verdict on Sunday against Norwich. In reading game accounts, the team missed opportunities and the equalizer from Norwich was a goalie blunder. Will be interesting to see who the Brodge sends out for the League Cup match this week as Carlisle is a League Two (4th tier of the pyramid) club. Obviously, it is too soon to make any final verdict on the 2015 summer signings but here is where we are at now:
James Milner - giving them good minutes but maybe getting worn down
Danny Ings - with the goal against Norwich, he may have won the opportunity for more minutes
Adam Bogdan - haven't seen him in action, maybe he will get the start against Carlisle
Joe Gomez - has gotten a lot of minutes early but has shown some of his youth and inexperience and so maybe moved to the substitute's bench and get starter minutes in League Cup/Europa Cup matches
Roberto Firmino - so far hasn't lived up to the expectations
Nathaniel Clyne - doing well
Christian Benteke - doing well but needs more support up top

Heading into the October international break

LA Galaxy have dropped two in a row and in both cases their defense was the culprit. As a result, they go into the MLS playoffs in fifth pla...