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Showing posts from 2017

How does MLS compare with other leagues?

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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…

The life of a sports fan - victory or misery!

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…

Star Trek Discovery episodes 1-4

Yes, I am a Star Trek fan.

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.

(spoilers ahead) 

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.

Enjoyed the opening title sequence and music!

In the episode 1-2 …

Ooofff - LA Galaxy season hits bottom, Elfborg in the middle, FFF with still something to strive for

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 …

What it feels like to be a fan - LFC struggles

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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…

Playing catch-up - USMNT struggles

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Been away from blogging for a bit.

To catch up some ....... there was quite a stir over the defeat of the US to Costa Rica and then the late rally to snatch a point in Honduras.

As a result of the bad results, Alexi Lalas went on an epic rant.


Hey #USMNT, @AlexiLalas has a message for you. pic.twitter.com/xzXfOywU22 — FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 11, 2017
Craig Burley on ESPNFC also went on a rant about the USMNT.


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 …

FFF has an epic fail against Gefle

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…

Old news (a couple of days old) Galaxy Win!

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:
Central defense
1. Ciania
2. Steres
3. Romney
Wide defense
1. Cole
2. Romney
3. Diallo

Game 4 Grenfell - UK Guardian photos, BBC article and report from QPR

Some photos from the charity match at Loftus Road, home of Queens Park Rangers, one mile from the terrible Grenfell Tower fire.

Game4Grenfell at QPR's Loftus Road – in pictures https://t.co/VcKXyrC28D — RF Chun (@a4theroad) September 5, 2017
To read about the BBC report on the event go here.

Text report and photos from the Queens Park Rangers site can be seen at this link.

Well done by all involved!

Game4Grefell - Hats off to QPR

While catching up on European soccer news, came across the charity match that will be televised in the UK to raise support for those who suffered so much loss as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire.

ūüíö This lot have signed up for a #Game4Grenfell. Have you?

Get your ticket from https://t.co/VDjHyW54SN! pic.twitter.com/XgE5M8WFEr — QPR FC (@QPRFC) August 30, 2017 QPR, Queens Park Rangers, are the soccer club very closest to the site of the terrible fire. The club and its non-profit charitable foundation arm has teamed up with a number of other organizations and concerned individuals to host this event. If you follow the links, there is one that leads to an online donation page. I've made a small contribution and hope you will consider doing so as well. Thanks!

Hats off to QPR and all involved!

Transfer deadline day - Liverpool picks up Ox from Arsenal, Origi out on loan, ........

Rumors continue to fly around but so far the only confirmed transfer in for Liverpool is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The current midfield depth chart:
1. Henderson
2. Can
3. Wijnaldum
4. Milner
5. Grujic

Lallana is injured and probably won't be back until late 2017 and early 2018.
Coutinho's status remains unknown until the transfer window closes.

Thus, where on the depth chart does AOC fit?

At this moment, I would guess AOC would be #4 on the chart. Because of Milner's age and Klopp's high energy offensive system, Milner has fallen a bit out of favor. He will still have a key role for certain types of opponents and as a wise veteran substitute when Liverpool is trying to see out a match for a victory. Thus, AOC's youth and energy and skill may be what Klopp wants. Perhaps, Klopp sees AOC (age 24) as being a bit further along in development than Grujic (age 21). With Premier League and Champions League, LFC needs some squad rotation and AOC helps with that. He will pr…

LA Galaxy, you be the general manager?

I think pretty much everyone agrees the LA Galaxy season is "over" and that what they need to be doing is sending out the players they are certain to use next year so they can develop more chemistry with each other. They should also audition players they think may play a role in next year's squad.

Went over to Corner of the Galaxy to look up the 2017 salaries for the team. From this, you can piece together what was probably the key players at the start of the campaign. If you rank the salaries, you will find 15 players picking up 6 to 7 digits in base salary. There were 12 with 5 digit salaries.

So let's play the game of the typical pajama wearing blogger, "You be the general manager."

Looking at the list, the "depth chart" probably looked something like this at the beginning of the 2017 season.

Goalkeeper:
Rowe as the #1 with Diop and Kempin as backups

Defense:
Van Damme, Cole, Rodgers, Steres as the main stay of the back 4
Plugging in Romney most …

Can the teams I follow go 4 and 0 today?

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Falkenberg, scrambling to get into third place, went on the road to league leading Brommapojkarna. Was hoping for a point on the road to keep Falkenberg in the hunt. Instead, a stunning 5-1 victory over the top dogs! With the help of Google Translate, got the league press office summary of the match. For the moment, Falkenberg is in third place but Trelleborg plays Helsingborg this week and with a win could jump into third. Helsingborg with a win jumps into fourth tied on points with FFF but in fourth on goal differential.

Elfsborg isn't mathematically eliminated from European football (Europa League) but it would be very difficult to climb that many spaces. Nonetheless, playing to be higher up on the table remains a reasonable goal for the club. Today, they got a much needed 1-0 victory at home against relegation bound Halmstad after 5 matches without a win.



Meanwhile, Liverpool dismantled Arsenal 4-0!



Behind the scenes murmuring was raised by the starting of Karius in goal and…

European Night at Anfield

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Transfer rumors continue and speculation of the starting XI in the Echo.

There are rumors that Barcelona will make a fourth offer for Coutinho .......

As for the starting line-up speculation, probably the same line-up that played to a 2-1 lead at Hoffenheim will be selected. Possible changes: Robertson slotted in for Moreno at left back and Milner taking Wijnaldum's spot in the midfield.

If Robertson's fitness level is high enough, I'd say it is 50/50 he starts. Klopp rested Moreno and Alexander-Arnold with the intent they be fresh to run at Hoffenheim tonight.

Am less certain about Milner and his 31 year old legs getting the start over Wijnaldum. If LFC is protecting a lead, Milner may well be one of the first substitutes to come in.

Will be interesting to see how Mane holds up as he has started 3 straight games and does a lot of running out there. Solanke would probably come in to take Mane's spot as a substitute, hopefully, due to the fact that LFC has the lead and …

LA Galaxy - are they done for the season?

Van Damme was a vital veteran presence last season but has struggled this season. The Galaxy front office has been open to family circumstances. Previously, they allowed a before the contract was up transfer for Stefan Ishizaki back to Sweden in anticipation for the birth and raising of his twins. Van Damme has expressed his desire to go back to Belgium to be closer to his children. And so the management fielded offers and made a deal happen. Thus, the Galaxy bid farewell to Jelle Van Damme by completing a transfer to Royal Antwerp FC in the top Belgian League.

Here is the highlight farewell video prepared by the LA Galaxy media team:

There is reporting but nothing official that says the LA Galaxy will be bringing in Michael Ciani from France. Looks like he played a number of minutes at first division French league for many years but fell out of contract after the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season and has been looking for a club to play for in the 2017-2018 season.

Mathematically, t…

40 years of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2

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Looking forward to seeing the documentary this coming week at PBS August 23, 2017 9/8c!



Read more about Voyager at the JPL-NASA web page.



image source: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/voyager/assets/images/news/planets-16.jpg

Eskilstuna 3 Malmo 1 - huge upset in the Swedish top league

In a stunning upset, number 16 of 16, relegation bound Eskilstuna defeated Malmo, the top dog of the league by a wide margin.

Let's go to the CMORE highlight package:



With such a stunning result, I went to a Swedish newspaper and did Google Translate to see some commentary about the match.
Excerpt:

"I'm really disappointed. I hate to lose. It's the worst thing there is," says Safari and continues: "There are no easy matches so I do not understand if we ever underestimate a team. You can not do that." [......] Midfielder Franz Brorsson, who was tough at Buya Turay, was equally cursed. - We are not included. We think it will be easy. That it should only work by itself, but it does not work even if they last. Brorsson also questions the attitude of the team. - We are too bad simply. When the referee is blowing we are not there. We think you can only stand the shoes. It does not work.

I suspect some of the phrasing was "lost in translation" but I …

LFC 1 Crystal Palace 0

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With the huge match against Hoffenheim on Wednesday, Klopp exercised some squad rotation for the starting XI.

Mignolet remained in goal but 3 of the 4 of the back four were rotated in with starts for Robertson, Klavan, and Gomez. 2 of 3 midfielders were the same with Milner slotted in for Can. Of the front 3, Sturridge started in place of Salah.

Salah came in for Sturridge at 60. Solanke for Wijnaldum at 71. Sadio Mane broke the deadlook with a goal at 73. Lovren came in for Firmino at 90 to help see out the match.

Liverpool dominated play through out getting the lion's share of possession and shots at/on goal. Given past struggles against Crystal Palace, any victory will be happily taken. In particular, keeping a clean sheet must have felt very good for the defensive corp. Certainly, can complain about not getting more goals but that is the nature of soccer: sometimes one good shot is all you need and other times you can pelt the goalkeeper and get nothing. Take the three points …

You make the call - were the two PK's fairly given? Jönköpings 2 Elfsborg 2

The first PK was awarded (see at 9 seconds into the clip) for a tripping in the box by the defender. The second PK awarded (see at 1:40 into the clip) for a handball by the defender when a shot taken in the box struck the defender.

Under what circumstances is a PK awarded?

If any of the following 10 fouls that result in a direct free kick occurs in the penalty area then a kick from the penalty spot is awarded.

Excerpt:
A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force: 
kicks or attempts to kick an opponenttrips or attempts to trip an opponent jumps at an opponent charges an opponent strikes or attempts to strike an opponent pushes an opponentA direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offences:
tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before tou…

Third bid for Coutinho reported to total 118 million pounds

Liverpool Echo reports that Barcelona has offered 82.1 million pounds plus 36.5 million pounds based on performance.

LFC has rejected the offer.

I think the USAnfield.com guys are right that pretty much everything rests on what happens against Hoffenheim next Wednesday on the 23rd. With that issue squared away, both LFC and prospective recruits will know where LFC is at.

With a victory and assurance of more Champions League play, LFC will have more revenue coming in (thus may be willing to spend more) and will make LFC more attractive to players they are trying to bring in. If LFC can bring in a top level defender and midfielder, they maybe willing to part with Coutinho for the right price - what that number is who knows!

On the other hand, maybe LFC and FSG wants to bring in a couple more top tier players AND keep Coutinho for a run at the Premier League title and a good showing in the Champions League. In this scenario, they tell Coutinho, you help us pull this off in 2017-2018, Bar…

Revised LFC Depth Chart

Goalkeeper
Mignolet - appears to have won the #1 spotKarius - probably will see him in League Cup and FA Cup competitionsWard - may see him in League Cup and FA Cup competitionsCentral Defense
LovrenMatipKlavanGomez - central or wide defense? Or what ever is needed?Southampton is playing hard ball so VVD doesn't appear to be transferring to LFC. Southampton's business model is to sell the players they develop so the posturing is probably to drive up the price. But it is a high priced game of chicken if they overdo it they could get stuck with an unhappy player. In all likelihood, they will probably sell him to the highest bidder NOT named Liverpool. It seems there is some animus against LFC specifically because of all the talent LFC have raided from Southampton. Wonder if Klopp has another player or two they have been looking at. I think central defense could use a little more support and competition for starting spots.

Wide Defense
Alexander-Arnold - the start he got for Champion…

Laget vid Havet - GO FFF!

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image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falkenberg#/media/File:Grand_Hotell_Tullbron_Falkenberg.jpg

With a victory, FFF can leap to third!

It is a road match against Degerfors so we shall see.

UPDATE: Degerfors 1 FFF 1. There are apps that track soccer scores from around the world. From those, I can get the bare bones of the story. In this case, Degerfors got the lead with a PK. FFF was able to equalize in the second half to snatch a road point. They are 1 point behind Trelleborg and the 3rd position with 11 matches to go. Can they do it and give themselves a shot at returning to the top tier league! Go FFF!

LFC needs to show up today against Hoffenheim

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image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhein-Neckar-Arena#/media/File:Rhein-Neckar-Arena_Sinsheim.JPG

All that work last season to finish fourth comes to fruition today in leg one of the Champions League qualification.

Last year's squad faced fixture congestion even without European matches and this year's squad isn't much bigger with only three transfers (Salah, Solanke, and Robertson). All three are available for selection with Salah having established himself as a first team pick. Solanke and Robertson are second team for substitution and for selection to the first team during fixture congestion.

Definitely miss having the ability to select Coutinho, Lallana, Clyne, and Sturridge for today's starting XI and VII on the bench.

From my reading around various Liverpool FC web pages, the feeling is that the XI will be more or less the same as the XI from the Watford match with the exception of Milner swapped in for Moreno. Others have voiced concerns that Alexande…

IF Elfsborg 2 IFK Goteborg 1

The opportunity for a top end of the table showing for Elfsborg is slipping away. If they had managed a home victory they would have had 29 points and be in the top half of the table. But as it is, they sit in 10th place seven points out of third and a slot in the Europa League.

Speaking of the wide-world of soccer, the LA Galaxy at one time recruited Stefan Ishizaki who was a key figure at Elfsborg. The ownership group of the LA Galaxy also owns Hammarby a historic club in Stockholm. On the current LA Galaxy, one of the bright spots in a dismal season has been the play of Emmanuel Boateng who was recruited from Helsingborgs IF.

Soccer, truly, it is a global village!

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

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On the weekend, had the opportunity to visit the Malibu Lagoon State Beach. The lagoon exists during the summer months and fills in as water flows in from the Malibu Creek. During the fall/winter season when it rains heavily enough, the water is strong enough to break through the sandbar that helps form the lagoon. With the sandbar breeched, the lagoon's water level fluctuates with the tides.

The location is home to many birds and fish. In particular, at the moment, there are two endangered species breeding in the lagoon: the Western Snowy Plover and the California Least Tern.





image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_plover#/media/File:Snowy_Plover_srgb.jpg


image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_least_tern#/media/File:California_Least_Tern.jpg



Heron taking flight!



Egrets sitting on branches.



Had some fish, cole slaw, potato salad, and clam chowder at Malibu Seafood. Yum!



Walked across PCH from the restaurant and took a little snooze on the beach.

LA Galaxy Playoff Hopes?

Previously, I estimated that the San Jose Earthquakes would beat Philadelphia, RSL, DC United and Minnesota getting them 12 more points. Of the other seven matches, I figured they would lose four and draw 3. Thus, by the end of the season they will have 47 points.

They kept their part of the bargain this week by getting shut-out by Houston 3-0.

Under this scenario, LA would aim to get 48 points by the end of the season and to do that they needed to pick up 25 points by some combination of wins and draws in their remaining games.

LA lost 0-2. Saw the game on TV and LA looked good and put some good shots against NYCFC. However, when a team is struggling it seems they don't get any lucky breaks as those good shots by LA got saved by the goalie or bounced off the crossbar. Meanwhile, a team doing well like NYCFC can take some difficult shots and get the ball into the back of the net.

Here is the highlight package


To get to 48 they have to do some combination that gets them 25 more poi…

Premier League Week 1 - Watford 3 Liverpool 3

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Up at 4:30AM PDT - new season - same old story - Watford 3 Liverpool 3.

Right off the bat, Watford scores a goal off a corner kick - LFC fans have seen this movie before. Watford scores a goal off a corner kick in stoppage time to equalize.

A lot of credit goes to Klopp for the spirited offense of the Reds but he has not been able to turn around the defense and in particular defense against set pieces. In a recent ESPNFC article, there are many wonderful sketches of "the many faces of Jurgen Klopp" by Aaron Dana.

Well, today's face is obvious:



Can the LA Galaxy Sneak into the Playoffs?

In MLS, the clubs are divided into Eastern and Western conferences. The top two avoid the one-and-done knockout stage where #3 plays #6 and #4 plays #5 within the respective conferences.

At the moment, the San Jose Earthquakes are sixth in the West with 32 points and 11 games left.

The LA Galaxy have 23 points and 12 games left.

Looking at the SJ schedule I can see them beating Philadelphia, RSL, DC United and Minnesota. This gets them 12 more points. Of the other seven matches, let's be optimistic and predict they lose four and draw 3. Thus, by the end of the season they will have 47 points.

Technically, one can be tied in points and then go to goal difference to determine who gets the spot. But 48 points would out-right exceed the hypothetical 47 points of San Jose.

LA has 12 games left. There are only two scenarios that gets them 25 more points: 8 wins 1 draw 3 losses or 7 wins 4 draws and 1 loss. That is a very tall order given their current track record.

Can they do the follo…

Wide world of soccer: Coutinho chase, Carabao Cup, FFF on the rise

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Sources report that Liverpool FC rejected a 100 million pound offer for Coutinho. Thus, for now, Coutinho remains with the Reds. Fans at both Liverpool and Barcelona will be waiting to hear if Barcelona's owners will up the ante with a third bid.

UPDATE: Coutinho has upped the ante by placing a transfer request. From my learning about world soccer, South American players dream of someday reaching the level of being able to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid. Coutinho believes that time has come for him. In fairness to him, he has been quietly making that known without social media blasts or walking out of training sessions. The question now is how the high priced game of "chicken" will play out. Barcelona has a maximum number in their minds they are willing to go to to get Coutinho. Fenway Sports Group (FSG) the owners of LFC have to decide if there is a dollar amount that is "an offer they can't refuse." If Barcelona don't bid that number, LFC keeps Cou…

And so it begins: LAFC signs first designated player

Next MLS season, LAFC joins the league.

A few weeks ago, they named Bob Bradley as their coach. If you are new to soccer, you should know he was most notably the US Men's National Team (USMNT) coach from 2006-2011. His resume is long with various stops at MLS clubs prior to his USMNT gig. He followed his USMNT tenure with some globe trotting to leading the Egyptian national team, club managerial posts in Norway, France, and England.

Now, according to Kevin Baxter, LAFC has put down the first piece of the foundation of their team by signing a top Mexico national team member and La Liga club player Carlos Vela.
First Bradley now Vela. #LAFC is on a roll https://t.co/T2aG38TSP4 — Kevin Baxter (@kbaxter11) August 9, 2017 Time will tell what LAFC puts together but the opportunity for them is great as their in-city rivals LA Galaxy are in the midst of a meltdown season.

The Coutinho Chase - Whose sources are correct?

Jordi Blanco of ESPN Deportes says this morning, the deal is done for 90 million pounds + bonuses.

On Monday, UK Guardian said Liverpool FC plans to hold onto Coutinho.

Liverpool Echo sources say ...
The ECHO understands that Coutinho would accept the chance to join Barcelona if a fee was agreed between the clubs. However, he has been informed by Klopp that won’t happen and has since shown no signs of agitating for a move.

We shall see ...

Falkenberg and Elfsborg Update

The Swedish domestic competition

Week 31 is in the books in the top league of Sweden, the Allsvenskan.

Elfsborg is eighth with 26 points. Malmo is running away with it and will likely win yet another league title. The battle is for second and third and thus a ticket to the Europa League. AIK an Djurgarden have 31 and 30 points respectively.

Elfsborg has 12 games left in their season to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, in Superettan, the second level of the Swedish soccer pyramid, Falkenberg is in fifth with 27 points.

The league champs and the runner-up get promoted to the Allsvenskan. Third place teams gets a playoff with the 14th place Allsvanskan club for the chance at promotion. Currently, Helsingborg hold third with 30 points. Falkenberg has 13 games left to close the gap.

European club soccer scene for Sweden 

The Allsvenskan winner gets a ticket to the Champions League. Thus, 2016 champion Malmo entered 2017-2018 Champions League at the 2nd qualifying round. Unfortunately, the…

Portland 3 Los Angeles 1

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No Alessandrini in the lineup today. But would he have made a difference? I'd like to think so.

Sometimes the best defense is a strong offense and without enough offensive threats, the Galaxy's defense is put under pressure. Thus, it is the same old story: toothless attack and eventually the defense surrenders goals.

Pedro and Boateng linked up for the Galaxy's only goal today.



What is LA's "best" XI currently?

Obviously, you want the Dos Santo's brothers on the field and Alessandrini as these three Designated Players are costing the team almost $6 million (?) in salary and are the most talented players. But who do you put around them?

Boateng and Zardes give the team a lot of speed on the wings though their final touch isn't always there. The goal by Boateng is an example of how their speed can be effective as he put away the shot for a goal on this occasion.

Pedro needs to be on the field as he can help distribute as seen in the lone goal for the Ga…

The Big 5 in the Last 10 Years in European Soccer - Who are the best teams? Who are the best leagues?

In the soccer world, the big leagues are La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany), Serie A (Italy), Premier (England), and Ligue 1 (France.)

In the last 10 years:

La Liga has been won by Barcelona (6), Real Madrid (3), Atletico Madrid (1)
As you can see between Barcelona and Real Madrid, they have dominated the competition. Not surprisingly, these two clubs probably have the largest international following

Bundesliga has been won by Bayern Munich (7), Borussia Dortmund (2), Wolfsburg (1)
Even more extreme than La Liga, is the record that Bayern Munich has run up in the Bundesliga. Currently, Bayern has won the last five in a row.

Serie A has been won by Juventus (6), Internazionale (3), Milan (1)
However, Juventus has an even stronger monopoly with six in a row currently.

Ligue 1 has been won by Paris Saint-Germain (4), AS Monaco (1), Montpellier (1), Lille (1), Marseille (1), Bordeaux (1), Lyon (1)
At first glance, it looks like this league has some parity. However, four of the last fiv…

Liverpool FC 2017-2018 depth chart?

Haven't seen any of the pre-season matches so am basing opinions on what I have read and heard from podcasts.

Goalkeepers
1. Mignolet
2. Karius
3. Ward 

Defenders
1. Lovren
2. Matip
3. Clyne
4. Milner
5. Robertson
6. Gomez
7. Alexander-Arnold
8. Klavan
9. Moreno
If LFC can sign Virgil van Dijk, he would jump to #1 on the depth chart

Midfielders
1. Coutinho
2. Lallana
3. Henderson (hope he can stay healthy)
4. Wijnaldum
5. Can
6. Grujic
If Naby Keita gets signed, he would jump to #2 on the depth chart

 Forwards
1. Firmino
2. Salah
3. Mane (wonder how well he has recovered from injury?)
4. Sturridge (if he can stay healthy)
5. Origi
6. Solanke
7. Ings (wonder how well he has recovered from injury?)

Observations of a LA Galaxy supporter

Went to the LA Galaxy vs. Manchester United friendly on July 15. As a Galaxy fan since 2010, I know that these friendlies are for the European clubs to show the flag and pump up their USA fan base. I was a Galaxy fan in a sea of red!

Within a matter of minutes, LA was down a goal on a defensive turnover. The Galaxy got beat 7-0 by Manchester United in 2014; thus, this looked familiar! By half time it was 3-0 and the Galaxy had maybe one rush against the United.

Coach Onalfo played the “B” team in the first half and the “A” team in the second half. It really is a tough situation for the Galaxy as this match takes place in the middle of the season. The team is tired overall and some players are in various stages of injury – some recovering while others clearly not at 100% but playing through them.

For the “B” team, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be on the same field as players they watch on TV and in FIFA video games. For the “A” team, there is some pride on the line to not b…

LA Galaxy off-season

Post started on November 17, 2016 and will update as more news comes in.

Who is going to stay and who is going to go?

Here are team stats at the LA Galaxy web page and below are the players with significant minutes and would be in the conversation about who is staying and going:

Contracted exercised and on roster (updated 12/12/16)
* Protected from expansion draft (updated 12/12/16)
Goalkeeper
Rowe*
Kennedy
Diop*
Defense
DeLaGarza* - going to Houston
Rodgers*
Cole*
Steres*
Romney
Van Damme* - LAG looking to re-sign the veteran defender - his has signed as a DP.
Midfield
Garcia
Husidic
Lletget* - contract extended
Mendiola*
Boateng*
Forward
Jamieson IV*
Villarreal*
Lassiter
McBean* - returns from loan
Dos Santos*
Zardes*

Out of contract:
Defense
Leonardo - goes to Houston via re-entry draft
Sorto*
Midfield
De Jong - released mid-season
Gerrard - has confirmed he is moving on
Donovan - plans to retire; rumors of RSL interest
Larentowicz - signed with Atlanta
Forward Keane - has confirmed he is m…