Showing posts from October, 2017

MLS playoffs

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 …

Anfield European Night - Maribor

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!

Starting XI:
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.

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.

Salah, Firmino, Coutinho (if healthy - update he is not). Sturridge is in if Couthinho isn't ready to go. An intrigu…

Queen Park Ranger Defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1

Well done by the Hoops!

I read the match reports and see the highlights on the QPR site. Sometimes I'll watch sections of the full match replay if there is one posted at the QPR site.

Anyway, the team is always putting forth an effort. But in so many matches it is just a mistake or two and they get defeated or they miss some good chances and get only a draw.

Well, today, they got it done!

Late goal by the big man Smith at 81' to get the victory 2-1!

I wonder how many R fans are there in Los Angeles?

Below is the short highlight package without commentary at the QPR You Tube site. A longer version with commentary can be seen at the QPR page with registration.

Los Angelino visiting West London's Loftus Road

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!

In terms of QPR's on-the-field efforts, they…

Liverpool vs. Huddersfield Town

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…

Star Trek Discover Episodes 5-6 (contains spoilers)

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.

The narrative arc of episode 5…

Dodgers vs. Astros by the numbers

Looking at the statistics from the regular season ......

Dodgers 88 errors = error ever 1.84 games
Houston 99 errors = error every 1.63 games

That is not a large difference spread out over 162 games. Very slight edge to Dodgers.

Pitching (ERA):
Dodgers 3.38
Houston 4.12

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…

Tottenham 4 Liverpool 1

Sometimes, the other team is just better.

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…

How does MLS compare with other leagues?

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 …