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Showing posts from May, 2015

Sterling to request transfer from Liverpool

It is messy complicated. Coming upon the heels of the farewell to Gerrard who stayed with Liverpool even when presented with greener (in dollars and trophy opportunities) pastures, Sterling's demand for departure are fingernails to a chalkboard.

The issues are nicely covered in the ESPNFC piece.

Excerpt:
As for Sterling himself, he's been very disappointing, but it's harder to play well when you're no longer surrounded by great players. He could have demonstrated that he is more than just potential this year, and he fell short. But when he looks around the dressing room, is it any surprise he thinks he could do better elsewhere? On this season's form, how many members of the Liverpool team could play for Chelsea? Two, for sure. Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, though only one at a time. Jordan Henderson might make the bench. And that's it. That's not enough quality for a team who aspires to win major trophies.
..........
What FSG have to decide now is wheth…

LA Galaxy off to a slow start, Part II

Time to panic yet?

The 4-0 mauling of the Galaxy at Orlando was not good.

Two analysispieces over at MLSSoccer.com put the LA Galaxy troubles under the microscope and into perspective.

In this piece, it is a "show me the numbers" analysis that the problem off poor passing accuracy by the team overall and the midfielders specifically are a major source of concern. The drop off is most striking in the final third passing accuracy and creation of chances in open play.

In the other piece, the focus again was on the poor passing and lack of consistent activity in the final third. Additionally, there was the reality that the Galaxy fielded a make-shift line up with no designated players and some regular role players were out with injury.

So no time to panic yet, but the Galaxy braintrust will have to find a way to keep afloat and not fall too far behind as they await Keene's return and Gerrard's arrival.

Liverpool defeated by Crystal Palace in Gerrard's last home game

What can you say?

The soccer script writers have not been kind to Gerrard's final season.

It is remarkable how the same team that was pretty much beating everyone before now finds itself struggling to stay competitive.

I suppose one part of the problem is that the season is very long. Between Premier League matches, Champions League, Europa League, League Cup, and FA Cup competitions, this team's legs have logged lots of miles. If they are 100% they win today's game. But lately they are probably playing 94 to 97% and that means struggles and ugly defeats. The team just seemed to be slow in reacting on defense and only occasionally had bursts of speed in the offensive half.

Another problem appears to be explainable with the cliche that "the team doesn't know how to win the big game."

I've only been actively following the team since November 2014. During that time, when there were pressure situations, they haven't been able to get the win. Facing the en…

Should he stay or should he go? Manager Rodgers and the final two games

I had previously wrote:
"If Liverpool were to take 3 losses in this stretch, the ownership group may look to sack Rodgers. Clearly, unless the team falls to a rash of injuries, they should get 4 to 5 wins over the next 6. Failure to do so would represent a failure to motivate the team which would be a firing offense."

I had forgotten that draws were likely outcomes. But my view of 3 losses still stands.

How have they been doing?
Draw to West Ham
Loss to Hull
Win over QPR
Draw to Chelsea

Tomorrow, Liverpool play Crystal Palace at home with a Stevie G send off and the final game of the season is at Stoke.

Both opponents are in safety from relagation so they don't have to win except for pride. Don't know if their managers are going to use the final two games to test out younger players in which case getting a win or draw might be easier for Liverpool.

On the Liverpool side, their number 5 spot is relatively safe as Tottenham and Southampton who could catch them ha…

LA Galaxy off to a slow start

No time to panic ..... yet.

The LA Galaxy aren't playing well. The experts at ESPNFC have them 11th in the MLS.

If you look at the MLSSoccer.com stats page, on many parameters the LA Galaxy is middling, very middling: 10th in goals scored, 9th in goals given up, 10th in shots-on-goal....

But no time to panic as they have been without their top player Robbie Keane who has missed 6 out of 10 games, Steven Gerrard doesn't arrive until August, and they definitely miss Landon Donovan.

Key will be the continued development of their younger players like Jamison, Villarreal, and Zardes, etc.

Also, will need to keep on eye on their 30+ year-old role players like Gordon, Vayrynen, Ishizaki, and Gargan. Want to get good effective minutes out of them in their respective roles without over-taxing them.

If all goes well, by the second half of the season Keane will be back at 100%, Gerrard will fit in doing what he can do from midfield, Zardes continues to improve, Gonzalez anchors the defe…

It is Soccer Night in Sweden - What you need to know in 59 seconds

The top soccer league in Sweden is the Allsvenskan.

The strongest team historically and recently is Malmo having won the league crown 21 times since the founding in 1924. If one looks at recent history (since 2008), Malmo has won 3 of the last 7 titles and are currently vying to win their third in a row.

Tonight, Elfsborg, the last team other than Malmo to win Allsvenskan (in 2012), has a showdown with Malmo.

UPDATE: It is a final, 2-2! Sadly, the high profile game was marred by disruptive fans late in the second half. Elfsborg fell behind 1-0 but leveled before the half. Malmo got a 2-1 lead late (76 min) in the second half. Unfortunately, some Malmo fans set off fireworks in the stands and the game was halted while officials decided how to proceed. After a lengthy stoppage, the game was resumed and 20 minutes of extra-time was added. Elfsborg got the equalizer at 90+16 minutes.

Sadly, fan misbehavior remains an occasional issue in Swedish soccer. I do hope someday to see a match in …

More on Association and Separation within the Church Community

Am continuing to think about this issue more intently ever since I started to put some initial thoughts onto my blog space with this previous post.

Within the church community, there have been two major historic separations. There was the break between the Western Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church in The Schism of 1054. And then there was the Reformation that began in 1517 when Protestants and Catholics divided. Since then there have been many smaller breaks over various issues.

Today, churches in the USA divide over a wide variety of issues. Here is a list off the top of my head that are the source of conversations, debates, potential and actual division:
Adult or infant baptism
Continuation or cessation of certain spiritual gifts
Role of women in church leadership
Calvinist or Arminian understanding of salvation
Specific details in one's understanding of Jesus as the Christ
Details of the End Times
Young or old earth
Forms of church government
Role of Scripture for…

How good is the MLS?

I've watched MLS games over the last few years but not European league play since I didn't have any team to follow and our cable package didn't have the channels that carry them on a regular basis. Have also watched World Cup and it is good to see that some MLS players are on National Teams competing for the World Cup. Of course, it is pretty clear that many of the players in the teams advancing far in the World Cup competition are from European leagues.

Have only become a Liverpool FC supporter in the later part of last year. Conveniently, recently, our condo association was able to upgrade the cable plan to include NBC Sports Network with Extra Time that current carry English Premier League matches. Perfect timing for me as a new fan!

Having watched some Liverpool contests and LA Galaxy matches in close proximity of time, it is pretty clear there are differences between the two leagues. With Liverpool, it has been amazing to watch Philip Coutinho and Raheem Sterling move…

Ross Douthat - Interview with a Christian

Saw this interesting item over at the New York Times.

The premise of the essay is what would happen if Ross Douthat were interviewed by a typical reporter in regards to religious freedom.

He tackles the question of whether discrimination is ever permissible.

Excerpt:
Seriously? Shouldn’t businesses have to serve all comers? 

I think they should be able to decline service for various reasons, religious scruples included. A liberal printer shouldn’t be forced to print tracts for a right-wing cause. A Jewish deli shouldn’t be required to cater events for the Nation of Islam. He goes on to address most criticisms raised in the same-sex marriage vs. religious freedom debate.

Read the whole thing.

On a related note, I heard that the Oregon bakery that refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding has been fined $150,000 essentially putting that baker nearly out-of-business.

My gut feeling is (1) is the discrimination in this particular case truly illegal and (2) if so, does the punishme…

For this fan 3 acts to the LFC season so far ...

Started following Liverpool when they were torn apart by Real Madrid 3-0 in a leg one match of the Champion's League.
Act 1: L-D-W-L-L-L-L-D-W-W-D-D-L, ick! 
Everyone knew they were going to miss Suarez and Sturridge but what happened to all those summer signings?
The 3-0 loss to Man U turned the page for a magic carpet ride in ... Act 2: W-D-W-W-D-W-W-W-D-D-L-W-W-D-W-W-W-W-L-W-W-D-W, wow what a turn-around!
BR plugged in the right players into a formation to capitalize on their speed and they started winning.
But then Man U and the ill fated red card started the current tailspin of ... Act 3: L-L-W-W-L-D-L, six goals in the last seven games, one goal in the last three, and no goals in the last two.
Its probably a combination of teams figuring out how to neutralize Liverpool's speed, players worn down from the long season, and injuries that have caused a lot of line-up juggling.
Hopefully, the team will come out with a fresh mindset and put QPR away with a 2-0 or 3-1 home win!

LFC v QPR

Time for our favorite game of pick the line up!

I'm not sure I believe all the talk about starting Lambert. But then again, BR started Balotelli the last two matches!

Mignolet in goal as usual.
Defense: Lovren, Skrtel, Can
Midfield: Ibe, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson
Forward: Coutinho, Lallana, Sterling.

You get speed with Ibe, Coutinho, Lallana, Sterling.

Subs:
(G) Jones
(D) Toure, Manquillo
(M) Markovic, Allen
(F) Borini, Lambert.

I'd imagine Markovic and Borini would be first off the bench for energy boost at the 60 minutes mark. Lambert at 75 minutes if the team needs more offense. Allen at 75 if they are holding onto the lead.