Showing posts from October, 2015

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:
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 Seattl…

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 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 …

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?

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…

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 wh…

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 p…

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 Europ…

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 mak…

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)

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

Go Dodgers!