New to soccer (or as the rest of the world calls it - football)? So am I! This is my place to share thoughts about the sport and news and commentary about the clubs I'm following. Who am I following? LA Galaxy, IF Elfsborg, Falkenbergs FF, Liverpool FC, Queens Park Rangers, and LAFC. Send comments to rrblog[at]yahoo[dot]com.
I may not be a West Londoner (I am a West Coast American) but am still rooting for Queen Park Rangers to have a good season.
Of course, good depends on one's expectations!
In my case, my expectations for the Rangers is to be solidly mid-table with the hope in some future season to take a whiff of the promotion playoffs.
My personal connection to QPR is only through the one match I attended when I was in London with a free evening while on a business trip. However, as I learned about the Queens Park Rangers, I have become a supporter for narrative reasons.
I have heard of their efforts to be a community based club. Events like the Game for Grenfell and the moving story below of QPR's efforts to help those with mental health struggles.
And so I'm a fan. Regardless of how they do, I'll be a supporter. I'll keep a check on the score of how they do. If they appear on USA TV, I'll try to see them and so far I've seen parts of …
When you see a 1-0 scoreline you get nervous that LFC would give up the equalizer. And indeed, it happened in the second half. It was so Liverpool!
The incredibly obvious comments:
Magnificent goal by Salah.
Mane should have passed the ball for the tap in and a 2-0 lead.
LFC dominated but didn't get the second, third, fourth goal they needed to put the game away.
Klopp probably switched up the team too much. With Coutinho or Firmino in they probably get those second, third or fourth goal.
Lovren should NOT have pushed the guy for the "soft" penalty. Just don't even give the ref the chance to make that call.
One must remember that just because someone is off contract doesn't mean they can't be re-signed though the expectation is that very few would be resigned. Likewise, those on contract could still be moved by some kind of trade deal.
In any case, here is the list of who is officially still a part of the LA Galaxy. Emmanuel BoatengBradford JamiesonDaniel SteresDave RomneyAriel LassiterRomain AlessandriniHugo ArellanoMichael CianiGiovani dos Santos Jonathan dos Santos Sebastian Lletget Joao PedroGyasi Zardes - rumors he might be dealt awayBaggio Husidic - however contract will expire soonAshley Cole - however contract will expire soon
With this group what does the depth chart look like assuming Zardes gets traded. Goalkeeper Need a serious #1 keeper - Deal maybe for Bingham? (12/16/17) Deal rejected by MLS to move Ousted? (12/16/17)Need a #2 keeper with at least some experiencePick up a youngs…
Liverpool defeats Spartak = LFC advance as group E winners.
Liverpool draw with Spartak
Sevilla defeat Maribor = Sevilla wins group with 11 points and LFC advances as second place with 10 points.
Liverpool draw with Spartak
Sevilla draws with Maribor = LFC advances as group winners with 10 points and Sevilla advances as second place with 9 points.
Liverpool loses to Spartak
Sevilla defeats Maribor = Sevilla wins group with 11 points, Spartak advances as second place with 9 points, LFC has 9 points but finish third on tiebreaker (head to head scores with Spartak).
Liverpool loses to Spartak
Sevilla draws Maribor = tiebreaker scenarios!
LFC would have 9 points
Sevilla would have 9 points
Spartak would have 9 points
First tiebreaker = points in matches among tied teams
Spartak wins the group with 7 points
Sevilla finishes second with 5 points
LFC finishes third with 3 points
Liverpool should advance to the round-of-sixteen. But then again, the USMNT should have qualified for the World Cu…
And so ends the first part of season 1. The show comes back from hiatus in January.
I think they are developing the characters nicely and you can imagine them being a crew for future exploration post-war. However, the plot lines do point to the fact that each may have some serious problems adjusting to life post-war:
Lorca - heroic leadership but also crazed from blowing up his previous crew and being tortured by the Klingons and pushing the rules with the Disco crew. He could be relieved of duty at anytime by the admiralty of Star Fleet.
Ash - heroic soldier but crazed by being tortured by the Klingons and of course the lingering suspicion that he is actually a genetically/surgically altered Klingon.
Stamets - heroic scientist but crazed by having Tardigrade DNA injected into him and having had too many trips into the multiverse with the magical mushroom spores.
Burnham - heroic efforts all around but of course there is still the matter of the life sentence for mutiny.
The LA Galaxy came off their worst season in recent memory. The post-mortem seems to be that it was a combination of injuries and poor construction of the team and toxic locker room culture. The big question mark for LAG's braintrust is who stays and who goes? And is the rebuild going to be to blow up the whole thing or just make a few changes?
Meanwhile, LAFC has a blank slate to work from.
LAFC is slowly adding some talent to their squad.
Carlos Vela was their first big name signing from the Mexico national team and La Liga. He was obtained via the Designated Player (DP) mechanism.
Omar Gaber is coming on loan from Swiss Super League and is arriving using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).
In the past, one had very low expectation of how competitive an expansion team can be. However, with the success of Atlanta United last year, it is possible to make the right picks and field a highly competitive team.
Having pulled off upsets against Wolverhampton and Sheffield United, QPR has dropped three in a row.
Thrashed by Nottingham Forest 4-0, edged out by Aston Villa 2-1, and defeated 2-0 by Derby County.
It is disappointing after two good wins against the #1 and #3 clubs in the Championship.
On the other hand, the defeats came against the #4, #6 and #7 team. Thus, in the abstract, it isn't a surprise since QPR realistically is a top of the bottom half of the table club. Nonetheless, as a fan, you feel bad for the club and wonder what they need to be more competitive and not always play from behind. Of course, the reality is that the club is a community club with more resources than some but much less than others.
3-0 at the half and LFC could have had more.
Second half 3-0 and Sevilla grabs a draw.
This is what it means to be a Liverpool fan the last few years. An offense that makes you stand up and cheer. A defense that makes you want to hide under the table.
Liverpool fans are singing happy days are here again with another easy win!
With Salah, Mane, Firmino, and Coutinho running and passing Southampton had no chance and so LFC is on a roll.
Big test this Tuesday on the road at Sevilla, a team that has been beat Liverpool in the Europa League final in 2016 and snatched a draw in 2017 in the first half of Champions League Group play.
LFC would benefit psychologically with a solid win to prove to themselves they can beat a team they haven't beaten recently.
Who do you put on the line-up card knowing Chelsea is coming up on the weekend - an even bigger test?
The front three fills in itself: Salah, Mane, Firmino.
The midfield three: Coutinho is the only definite starter.
Who do you pick to take the other two spots?
Milner, Can, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana?
I'd go with Milner and Can to provide some rotation with instructions to be defensive minded jumping into the offensive flow cautiously.
After the wipe at at Tottenham, LFC fans were in despair. However, since then, LFC beat Huddersfield Town 3-0, Maribor 3-0, and West Ham 4-1. All of this without Coutinho. It is good preparation for the club as eventually he will make that move to Barcelona and they will have to get by without him. However, these three wins were not exactly A-list competition. LFC and FSG ownership will need to think about how they will fill the hole they will have when Coutinho departs.
But for now, the fans are excited about the return of Sadio Mane. The win in the West Ham match showed what the duo of Mane and Salah can do!
Following LFC is pretty straightforward since there is so much coverage of the Premier League in ESPNFC and in any sports section of UK newspapers online.
One of my favorite sources for news and comment on the commute is the Liverpool Echo's "Blood Red" podcast.
They recently interviewed Raphael Honigstein who has written a book about Jurgen Klopp with the ti…
In the top league, Allsvenskan, Malmo FF has repeated as champions and have a run of 4 in the last 5 years. They now have won 23 times in their history. Malmo goes to 2018-2019 Champions League qualification rounds.
AIK and Djurgardens finish two and three and gain entry into 2018-2019 Europa League qualification rounds.
At the bottom end, AFC United (Eskiltuna) and Hamstad BK were relegated.
Jonkopings Sodra IF will face Trelleborgs (third place in Superettan) in a two-legged play-off with the winner going to Allsvenskan and loser going to Superettan.
IF Brommapojkarna won Superettan and Dalkurd finished second thus, these two teams are promoted up to Allsvenskan.
As for the teams I follow, Falkenberg finished fourth in Superettan which is pretty good considering their poor start. Elfsborg finished eighth in Allsvenskan. They never seemed to get on track this year.
The "below decks" flavor of the party was a departure from the usual and was a good touch for character development. Eventually, as the story unfolded, it became obvious we were in a time-loop story, a staple of science fiction TV shows. I immediately recalled the ST-TNG episode Cause and Effect.
As with any time-loop story, the challenge is how additional information can somehow be passed along to the next iteration. And in this case, Stamet's being the human interface with the spore network allowed him to retain information from cycle-to-cycle. Eventually, he realizes he can't stop Mudd on his own. Thus, he begins to recruit other crew-members figuring out ways to convince them. In so doing, we get to see some character development. Humor has been relatively light in the show but on this occasion, we do get some and it flows naturally from the characters.
First episode so far where there wasn't a glaring nitpick for me to grab onto. All in a…
Sometimes I am able to watch the matches in part or in full on television and can form some opinions based on my untrained soccer watching eyes.
I read the match reports on the sports web pages whether I see the games on TV. One regular stop is LA Times Kevin Baxter who covers soccer providing both match reports and the inside stories to the team. In addition to writing for the LA Times, he also appears regularly on the Corner of the Galaxy podcast with host Josh Guesman who also has access to insiders with the LA Galaxy organization.
In a recent podcast, they discuss that the Galaxy scouting unit isn't a robust as one would have thought in particular missing players from Latin America while focusing on European players.
Baxter suspects that the LA Galaxy ownership group is losing money on a year-to-year operational basis. In the past, they have accepted this as part of building the brand and the asset value of the club. However, Baxter thinks the owners now believe the team needs…
Queens Park Rangers defeat another top part of the table club Tuesday night!
Have to feel badly for goalkeeper Jamal Blackman who got injured on the play that resulted in the goal.
Gifted a one goal lead, the Hoops held on for the win. Can't tell too much from the match report on BBC. From that report, it sound like both clubs had some additional near misses. The stats say Sheffield dominated possession but QPR got more shots but it is hard to know from that stat how high the quality of the shot attempt was.
In any case, two wins for the Rangers and they climb to the middle part of the table1
I was alive when they won it all in 1963 (I was born the summer of 63). I was too young to know when they won in 1965.
The Dodgers had some very good teams in the 1970s but they came up on the short end against the A's (1974) and the Yankees (1977 and 1978).
I remember 1978 game 2 when Bob Welch struck out Reggie Jackson to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the series. But the Dodgers would drop the next four.
The baseball script writers would turn the tables in 1981 when the Dodgers were down 2-0 and went on to win the next four against the Yankees to win the series.
1988. Arguably the most memorable home run in baseball history was hit by Kirk Gibson to win Game 1. The Dodgers would finish off the heavily favored A's in five behind Hershiser and a cast of role players on the field and on the mound.
The Kirk Gibson home run video clip has run since then on one hand invoking great memories but on the other hand a reminder of how hard …
The Premier League and other levels of the English soccer pyramid awards the title to the team with the best record. There are no playoffs for that prize.
However, in the promotion part of the competition, there are playoffs.
For example, in the English League Championship (tier 2), the top team wins the title and promotion to the Premier League. The second place team gains promotion to the Premier league. The third place team plays the sixth place team in one of the semi-finals, while the fourth and fifth place clubs play in the other semi-finals. The respective winners match up in a final with the winner gaining the third promotion slot to the Premier League.
MLS does it entirely differently. There is no promotion/relegation. The regular season winner gets the Supporters Shield (and an automatic bid to the CONCACAF Champions League) but the MLS Cup goes to the winner of the playoffs. The MLS is divided into Eastern and Western Conferences. The top two teams in these conferences are …
LFC easily beat Maribor on the road and should have no trouble at home.
Of course, just saying that is tempting fate with the soccer script writers!
Klopp is a creature of habit and he will use Karius in goal.
As for the back four: Moreno - amazingly, he is number 4 in minutes played for the club after barely playing last season. Alexander-Arnold (Klopp likes to rotate his youth so Gomez rests and AA gets the call) Matip - the man with the most minutes on the field this season
The last spot will be filled with either Lovren or Klavan. Klavin should get the start even if Lovren is largely recovered from injury - update he is not. I think Lovren needs the break from the grind.
Midfield: Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can.
I think, for rest purposes, Milner will be rotated out and Can rotated in. An intriguing option would be to put in Oxlade-Chamberlain instead.
Front: Salah, Firmino, Coutinho (if healthy - update he is not). Sturridge is in if Couthinho isn't ready to go. An intrigu…
Was recently in the UK on business travel. However, did have a little bit of free time in London. On the free evening I had, there was one soccer match in London: Queens Park Rangers vs. Fulham.
Went online and ordered up a ticket on the South Africa Road stand. When I bought the ticket online, I figured I should read up about the club before seeing the match and the big news was QPR's involvement in the Game For Grenfell. In the summer of 2017, a horrible fire engulfed Grenfell Tower killing 80 and impacting the lives of multitudes in the West London area. Some of the leadership of Queens Park Rangers, a club just a couple of miles from the Grenfell Tower, felt the need to do something for the community and the idea of a charity match gathered support from a wide range of people with ties to West London. As it stands, the effort may raise nearly 1 million pounds. I found it easy to like QPR because of their can do community spirit!
After the drubbing taken by LFC last weekend, the team and staff had a week to chew things over.
Am figuring the biggest decision is who gets the call for goalkeeper?
Have seen reports that Ward is injured; thus, does Klopp stick to his stated plan of Mignolet in Premier League and Karius in Champions League? I think this is a coin flip as both have had issues. But it might be time to roll the dice on Karius and see what he can do with a longer run of matches as the keeper.
As for the defensive back four, if Lovren is really taking painkiller routinely to stay in the game, he should be given the day off. As much as fans complain about him, the reality is who on the depth chart is a better or even comparable option? So if he is healthy, he still gets the call but am suspecting he isn't really anywhere near 100%. Thus, am looking to see Matip and Klavan as CB, Robertson at LB and Gomez at RB.
Reports say Coutinho is injured and won't be available. D-Midfield will be Can and Mil…
I think what makes a TV show work is that you find the characters interesting enough to want to find out more about them and to see what happens to them. I think they are doing that. Tilly is no longer one dimensional. The writers are filling in Burnham's backstory in an interesting way. Saru continues to get some great scenes. Lorca remains a question mark to me. Sisko had his "In the Pale Moonlight" episode. However, Lorca, appears to be going farther off the reservation. Is he simply overzealous win at all costs? Or is there something pathological about the guy? Am thinking the writers want us to sit in that tension.
As far as plot points, especially in science fiction, you do accept some things that are implausible. However, if the writers make too many mistakes within the narrative world they have created, it can get pretty annoying pretty fast. Thus, for this review of Star Trek Discovery Episodes 5-6, I have complaints on that front.
ERA is probably the best metric of a pitching staff as it removes the impact of a poor fielding team. Since the fielding ability of the two clubs is pretty even, the ERA stat appears to be informative indicating a Dodger advantage on this.
However, you might think the AL with the DH means higher scoring in the AL thus they may have ERA inflation. The average number of runs in the AL was 763 runs compared to the NL 743 runs. This is only 2.7% more runs. The league ERA differential is almost non-existent (4.37 in the AL 4.34 in the NL). The differential by ERA between the Dodgers and Houston is a whopping 22%.
Thus, strong edge to the Dodgers in pitching.
However, Houston did win 101 games that made them 3rd best…
Of course, there can be some tactical decisions Liverpool could have taken like perhaps playing it safe for the first 15 to 30 minutes to settle into the game before opening things up. Sometimes you can start the game too amped up. But that is 20-20 hindsight.
Lovren has certainly come under a lot of criticism but he is almost certainly playing hurt. It is pretty much personnel malpractice by Liverpool to keep running a guy out there who has to take pain killers to keep playing. The club knew going into the season that fixture congestion is part of Premier League and European scheduling and should have gotten at least one center back of similar caliber to Lovren and Matip regardless of whether they could land Southampton's Virgil Van Dijk.
In the end, though LFC is called part of the so-called big 6 (Man U, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool), it has less margin for error in the open market since they don't have the mega…
With the increasing popularity of soccer, the team at 538 have now included their stats analysis on various leagues in world soccer.
Since teams within a continent can play across club lines in things like the Champions League or Europa League, some head-to-head comparison is possible. However, how strong is a league in one continent compared to another?
The 538 people make an attempt. Not surprisingly, traditional soccer powers and their leagues are at the top of their charts.
Looking further down, you eventually can find the MLS.
One should note that the "market value" of a league is based on salaries. By that metric, the English Premier league is highest due to "wage inflation" that is possible with the rich TV contracts they have throughout the world. The same notion of "wage inflation" is true for MLS in the USA since Designated Player salaries are probably inflated for the level of talent that is obtained.
Yet, despite the monetary strength of MLS…
Been crazy busy. However, still keep my ears and eyes open to the soccer teams I follow.
USMNT - if you can't get a victory or a draw against Trinidad Tobago you don't deserve to go to the World Cup. The men's side of US Soccer is in sackcloth and ashes with calls for sackings. Coach Arena within a matter of days resigned. The question now is whether more changes will occur and what changes would be most helpful to improve the program. The major criticism I have heard is that the team simply didn't play as a team with any sense of urgency. They thought they would just roll the ball out onto the field and show up and win. Once they realized they were in a real match and having to play catch up the team just didn't have the mentality to recover. The other observation is the "missing generation" hypothesis. USMNT has relied on that group that came to prominence about a decade ago with Donovan, Howard, Dempsey, Bradley, and others. This group is now running o…
I’ve seen all the movies. I’ve seen most if not all the episodes of all the flavors of the show. Therefore, when CBS decided to launch the latest edition of Star Trek on their streaming service, I signed up.
My impressions thus far after 4 episodes: production values are very high, characterizations show great potential, story line is wait and see what they will make of it since it is serialized storytelling.
Episode 1 begins with the “4th act” of a previous episode that has Burnham and Georgiou bantering while going about saving an indigenous species by restoring their water supply. Hard core Trek fans might cry foul as it would be a violation of the Prime Directive. However, in various flavors of the show, the Prime Directive rule was often set aside in these kinds of situations. Clearly, the writers wanted to establish a mentor/mother figure in Georgiou which they did well.
It has been a rough season with many low points and it seems the season has hit yet another low with a 4-0 defeat.
I had a prior event commitment so I was not able to watch the match.
However, from the post-game report from Corner of the Galaxy, it looks like Coach Sigi Schmid had seen enough and was at wits end. Excerpt:
The normally talkative Schmid appeared worn out and frustrated after a 4-0 drubbing by Toronto FC. His hand was pressed against his face as he struggled to find the right words to express his anger at the events without yelling at reporters.
And some of the fans had seen enough such that the Angel City Brigade (one of three official supporter groups) demanded a response from the club. Excerpt:
Meanwhile, back at field level, Galaxy supporters group Angel City Brigade still was singing nearly 45 minutes after the final whistle. Those fans were determined to stay in section 121 at the north side of the stadium until either a player or Galaxy President Chris Klein talked …
After the initial teeth grinding of the Watford 3-3 draw, LFC went on a pretty good tear: winning on the road against Hoffenheim, winning against Crystal Palace (a team that has always caused trouble), closing out Hoffenheim to stamp their ticket to the Champions League, and then the demolition of Arsenal.
Fans were dreaming of a serious run at the Premier League title and in the Champions league.
The wheels came off the band wagon with the crack up at Manchester City when Liverpool went down to 10 men and gave up five unanswered goals. This was followed by getting only a point against Sevilla when Liverpool had three points well in hand. And to top off the stretch of matches, Liverpool fired shotgun pellets against Burnley (35 shots) but only came up with only 1 goal. Meanwhile, Burnley got 5 shots of which 1 went in, 1 was headed away by an alert Matip right at the goal-line and 1 blocked away by Mignolet again right at the goal-line. LFC fans ground their teeth down breathing a si…
The USMNT still controls its own destiny. They need to beat Panama and Trinidad Tobago to finish third which they should. If they don't, they don't deserve to go to the World Cup, it is that simple
I think USMNT has the players to make it through. However, there is the feeling the team is less than the sum of its parts. How much of it is players not being alert on the field - losing concentration at the wrong moments? How much of it is picking the wrong combination of players to match up against the opponents? How much of it is the coaching staff not preparing …
Falkenbergs FF fans witnessed a total collapse in the home match against last place, relegation bound Gefle.
Using google translate, here is how the reporter at the Hallands Nyheter put it.
It was Saturday night, there were nine matches without loss. It was sunny and hot in September. It was Gefle's last placed on the other side of the board, a team that lacked three suspended punches (players).
Everything set for celebration; tjo and tjim (idiom for making sounds of celebration) and much more.
It ended in embarrassing silence at the Falcon Alcohol Free Arena and crowds who left far before the end signal.
Final score: 0-4
The result leaves FFF in fourth place in the table two points out with 8 matches to go.
FFF goes on the road to take on Dalkurd in the next match.
Swedish soccer is unpredictable. Brommapojkarna and Dalkurd are sitting respectively at 47 and 46 points and in solid position for promotion. Nonetheless, FFF beat Brommapojkarna 5-1 on August 27. Dalkurd has been on…
Galaxy 3 Rapids 0.
A win is a win even if the Rapids are below LA on the table!
Below is the highlight package from MLS Soccer.
In transfer news, LA had been rumored to be interesting in bringing in French Ligue 1 veteran Michael Ciani to provide some experienced cover at center back. Well, it appears that the deal was finally inked. He would be available to play in the next match. I would think he would need a week or two to acclimate to his teammates before he takes the field so at most perhaps a late sub next week. But the week after, if fully fit, would see him starting.
Would envision the depth chart would look something like this: