Showing posts from July, 2015

Soccer round up

Falkenberg is hanging in there just staying above the relegation zone! Will they be able to stay in the top league for a third season? This is going to be exciting to follow. Last year, they were right on the edge but they hung on!

Elfsborg took leg #1 of round 3 in Europa Cup 2-1 at home. They go on the road to Norway for the second leg and a 1-0 loss would boot them out of the competition on away goals. However, the nice Europa league run they have had so far has not been matched by Allsvenskan play where they have slipped to fourth place. Fortunately, they do have a game in hand and if they were to win that game they would be in third place and only 1 point behind the leaders.
The LA Galaxy can't seem to win on the road. They were soundly beaten in Houston and this Saturday they are in Colorado. With players back from Gold Cup duty, we should be seeing something closer to their full strength team this Saturday. Will be interesting to see how the Galaxy fare with the departure …

Is the Middle Class Really Falling Behind?

Run a Google search with that question.

From the hits, you would think it is a slam-dunk that the middle class is falling behind.

Are there any voices offering a counter narrative to what is taken as a blatantly obvious truth?

One can count on Cato to have a contrary opinion which is one of the reasons why I like to check their web page now and then to get a different spin on what is the "conventional wisdom" offered by the media.

I am not an economist nor play one in the movies but here is what I think are the key points from the Reynolds' article.

1.  The White House Council of Economic Advisors used the average household income of the bottom 90% to define middle class. Reynolds' argues that this may not be a good measure of how the middle class is doing. If one uses that number, the middle class has been stuck since 1968 an assertion almost no one would make.

2.  He argues that if one uses after-tax median income, the middle class is making progress. However, thos…

Politics: the 20% who think their party is too wimpy

The rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump says something about party politics.

According to RCP, Sanders is polling around 18% while Trump is getting 21%.

Does anyone really think either of these guys will become President?

The noise these two are making reveals the reality that within the two parties there are about 20% in each party who feel their party just doesn't get it and somebody needs to slap people around and shake things up.

On the Republican side, 79% want somebody other than Trump and unfortunately (or fortunately) depending on your political views that 79% is spread out among a whole bunch of relatively mainstream candidates who have won elective offices in their respective home states at some point of their political careers. Unless Trump totally self-destructs sometime soon, he will continue to bleed the party as an all too happy media covers him making a mockery of the GOP. At some point, some of the candidates will have to consider dropping out so two or three …

USMNT finishes fourth in Gold Cup

Well, that was a disappointment.

Though the US was tied after 120 minutes with Panama, the stats showed that Panama dominated the game.

Don't know if the USA defenders were too slow or they were out of position too often but Panama was consistently threatening to score. On offense, US passing was wretched. Bradley, usually, pretty reliable had many passes go awry some short and some long.

Anyway, it clearly looked like Panama was the highly motivated team and the USMNT looked disinterested. Nonetheless, despite mailing it in, they got the game to PK where they finally were put out of their misery and rightly defeated.

Oldest Copy of Koran Found In UK

A couple of days ago, there was the startling headline of the oldest copy of the Koran found in the collections at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The carbon dating of the item placed the date somewhere in the range of 568 and 645. This puts the document within a couple of decades of when Muhammad lived. Call me a nerd, but I think it is always exciting to hear about ancient documents!

In the article, Prof. Thomas, professor of Christianity and Islam, said, "These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Koran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed."

It would be interesting to hear if his view is shared by other scholars. However, it isn't a surprising assertion as the same conclusion was made about the Jewish Scriptures after finding the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is also the conclusion from comparing t…

Jamaica 2 USA 1: Two steps forward one step back

Expectations for teams grow with success. At one point, team USA was simply proud to be in the competition, win or lose. Eventually, it grew to the point where wins were more common than losses and losses were viewed as learning experience. Now, we have reached a point where losses are viewed as learning experiences and significant disappointments.

The loss to Jamaica is a learning experience for the team. But it is also a huge disappointment because it was a game the team should have won: they dominated possession and put the shots on goal.

Instead, they suffered a high profile defeat due to a lapse in concentration by the goalie in how he handled the ball that set up the second goal from a free kick. It will be argued that the central defenders were not marking properly on the set piece leading to the first goal. And finally, on offense, the USA had its chances but close doesn't count as the ball has to go into the net. What separates the top level teams from the wannabes is cas…

LA 5 SJ 2: Gerrard debut in MLS

It was a team effort but frontmen Keane and Gerrard headlined the game.

San Jose capitalized on some early sluggishness and jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Anyway, the Galaxy began a comeback when Gerrard took a hit in the penalty box and Keane took the PK to make it 2-1. Shortly after that, Gerrard received a deflected entry pass and put it in the net for his first MLS goal and leveled the match 2-2.

In the second half, Gerrard fed a low to the ground free kick that Keane beat the defender to and poked in to make it 3-2. Gerrard slapped in a loose ball into the net but the goal was waived off due to a foul in the box just moments prior. Keane took the PK and made it 4-2. Late in the game a dejected SJ could not keep up with the scramble in front of the goalkeeper and Lletget headed in to make it 5-2.

When the Galaxy players at Gold Cup duty return and Gio dos Santos gets added, the team has the potential to make a run at another MLS title. Of course, will all the pieces fit together? And…

Galaxy starting XI

Big news with the signing of Giovani dos Santos. Coach and GM Arena talks about dos Santos in the video below.

So what will the team look like when he is available for the line-up sheet in August?

Gargan, Leonardo, Gonzalez, Rogers
Central midfield:
Gerrard, Juninho
Wide midfield:
Lletget, dos Santos
Keane, Zardes

DeLa Garza, Dunivant
Husidic, Walker
Gordon, Villarreal

What do you think?

Will our DPs match up with other MLS club's DPs?

A lot of other teams have picked up DPs as the MLS is continuing to lure more high level talent.

Perhaps, the LA Galaxy competitive advantage is identifying solid mid-price and lower priced-young talent on the rise.

Barring injuries, the Galaxy should make the play-offs! Of course, six teams per conference make the playoffs so that isn't a huge accomplishment. But then of course, will all the pieces come together for them to make a deep run in the post-season?

Go Galaxy!


Liverpool Starting XI for 2015-2016 Season?

Will Liverpool land any more signings?

Which players will be sold off to raise cash?

We shall see.

With the signings so far plus the selling of Sterling, the team is about even in terms of cash. Liverpool does have a log jam of players they are paying that they aren't sure they want to keep: Lambert, Borini, Balotelli leap to mind. In the end, they may keep at least one of them in case of injuries to starters and for squad work in the hectic schedule.

Will they splash out cash for a star player?

Benteke is often mentioned but until some exec is standing next to a player holding a Liverpool shirt in a press conference all the rumors are just that -- rumors!

But as it stands, who would be the starting XI at this moment?

My guesses:
Goalie: Mignolet
Defense: Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Sakho/Moreno
Defensive midfield: Henderson, Milner
Offensive midfield: Coutinho, Lallana/Markovic
Forward: Firmino, Ings/Origi

UPDATE: Benteke has signed!
Defense: Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Sakho (More…

Galaxy 2 Club America 1

Yup, it was only a friendly. But Club America was not in the mood to be beaten and so they did not use the liberal substitution policies available for friendlies and they picked up a few yellow cards. Meanwhile, the LA Galaxy did an "A" team for the first half and a "B" team for the second half.

Here are the highlights from the game.

Keane's goal was the result of an incredible pass and then Keane snagged it down and put it in the net!

Meanwhile, in the words of the FS1 announcer, "Gordon rising like a salmon" put the header in the net for the winning goal!

The LA Galaxy PR machine has put out episode 3 of From Liverpool to Los Angeles:

And episode 4 .......

Next up is a US Open Cup match against Real Salt Lake on Tuesday. Am guessing Gerrard maybe used in the first half as he was in the friendly against Club America to continue the effort to get him familiar with his teammates and the MLS game. Gerrard made some nice long passes against Club America …

Ingmar Bergman - The Seventh Seal

Photo is of the beautiful rocky beaches at Hovs Haller (May 2015) where some scenes from the Seventh Seal were filmed.

In the continuing effort to become more acquainted with Swedish culture, went to iTunes to rent the classic film The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman. There are spoilers below!

The film was a vehicle to touch upon the modern (and timeless) angst felt by Bergman and many people in regards to the intersection of the harshness of life and (un)belief in God.

The Knight is a believer who is facing doubt and his squire side-kick has long since abandoned faith. The Knight meets Death and offers a game of chess as a "delaying tactic" that permits the rest of the story. Along the way, these two comment from their perspectives about the various people and situations they encounter. The film catalogs examples of the bad side of the Christian faith: the discussion about fear as a motivator in the artist's drawings in the church, the hypocritical seminary graduate, th…

USWNT win the 2015 Women's World Cup!

Congrats to the USWNT! A strong start put the game away.

Here is episode 7 of Behind the Crest.

Look forward to episode 8 to give a window into that final match.

UPDATE:  Looks like no episode 8 but there is this montage video recapping all the matches uploaded by a fan!

Galaxy 4 Toronto 0

Earlier in the season things were looking bleak for LA. But it was not the time to panic, as the cliche in sports is that one must not get too high or too low. This is especially true if your club has a history of getting things organized as the season goes on. Definitely, this is the case with the LA Galaxy. The management team has an eye for spotting and developing young talent and they have the savvy to bring in international veterans.

And so, now, it is the don't get too high part of the season!

Beating Toronto 4-0 is a good thing but let's not get too big headed as Toronto is missing six players to Gold Cup duties compared to LA sending four. Additionally, some of their other western conference rivals have two (Seattle, Vancouver, Portland) to five (Kansas City) games in hand.

Nonetheless, the trend arrow is up for the Galaxy as they continue to blend new talent (Zardes, Villarreal, Lletget, Maganto, etc) with the veterans (Keane, Gordon, Gonzalez, etc). And, of course, L…

International vs. Club Soccer?

Being relatively new to watching soccer, one thing I did figure out was that in the men's game, the best clubs could probably beat the best national teams.

Reason #1, the highest levels of the top clubs have hoards of cash to buy the best players from around the world and are essentially forming something of an international all-star team. The national teams can only draw upon, obviously, only those who are passport holders of that nation so the talent base is simply not as big.

Reason #2, the clubs play a long schedule and get good at playing together while national teams train in fits and starts so they never get totally used to each other.

This item over at ESPNFC by Michael Cox gives those reasons and more.

I wonder if that is true for the women's game?

I suspect not.

1) The international competitions probably hold higher prestige value than club level achievements at this time.
2) I am guessing that club level women's soccer just doesn't have enough cash in it to…