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World Cup 2018

Who is going to win?

Show me the numbers!

The stat heads over at 538 say Brazil, Spain, and Germany are the favorites.

The FIFA world rankings have Germany, Brazil, and Belgium as the top three.

If the Bovada odd's makers know anything, they have Brazil, Germany, and Spain listed 1-2-3.

If history is any guide:
2014 winner Germany (no one has defended a title since Brazil won 1958 and 1962)
2010 winner Spain (won 1 time so far)
2006 winner Italy (they didn't qualify this year)
2002 winner Brazil (won 5 times so far)
1998 winner France (won 1 time so far)

Looking further back into history, the only other nations to ever win a World Cup:
Argentina (1986, 1978)
England (1966)
Uruguay (1950, 1930)

From listening to sports people, Brazil, Spain, and Germany are the clear favorites. But in breaking news today, the manager of Spain has just been sacked.

Getting some mention are Belgium and France for having a collection of solid top level players.

Also mentioned are Portugal and Argentin…

California June 2018 Elections, part I: State Wide Elective Offices

In the California governor's race, it is shaping up to be a North vs. South race of the Democrats.

Newson, former SF mayor holds a slim lead in the polls over Villaraigosa, former LA mayor.

Not surprisingly, the SF Chronicle has endorsed Newson while the LA Times has endorsed Villaraigosa.

The two Republicans, Cox and Allen are behind in the Top Two primary system.

UPDATE (6/5): When I posted this originally (5/22), Cox and Allen were somewhat behind but Cox has picked up some ground and Villaraigosa has lost ground while Newson seems to be holding steady. 

UPDATE (6/8): Newsom (D) 34% Cox (R) 26% Villaraigosa (D) 13%

The respective state parties did not offer any endorsements for governor.

For Lt. Governor, SF Chronicle has backed Jeff Bleich. I didn't see an endorsement in the LA Times as of yet. The California Democratic party did not endorse while the Cal GOP endorsed Cole Harris.

UPDATE (6/8): Kounalakis (D) 24% Hernandez (D) 21% Harris (R) 18%

In the Secretary of State race…

California June 2018 Elections, part II: Ballot Measures

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Relatively sparse on the ballot measures this election.

Here is a chart of the positions taken by the two major parties (Republican and Democratic) and two of the better known minor parties (Greens and Libertarian) and two newspapers (Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle).


For a quick summary of the propositions see this item from Southern California Public Radio.

If you are curious, the latest party registration details can be found here.

In brief:
Democrats 44.58%
Republicans 25.27%
No Party Preference 25.11%
Libertarian 0.74%
Green 0.48%

It should be noted that "independents" or "no party preference" in this survey do lean Democratic (43%) compared to Republican (29%) while 28% claim no leaning either way.

UPDATE (6/8)
Prop 68 passing with 56%
Prop 69 passing with 80%
Prop 70 trailing with 36%
Prop 71 passing with 77%
Prop 72 passing with 83%

California Elections June 2018, part III: local judges

Voting on the judges in the county is an unusual exercise in that there is relatively little advertising and news coverage compared to other positions. Unless you know people in the legal profession, it is hard to get any input on who to vote for.

One can go to the internet to find some sources and here are some I have checked: the Los Angeles Times (LAT), the LA County Bar Association (Bar), LA County Democratic Party (Dem), and Judge Voter Guide (VG). Suffice to say, each entity has its own approach so take it for whatever you will.

UPDATE (6/8): County Judge elections posted at LA County Registrar web page scroll down to find results.

Office No. 4:
Alfred A. Coletta (LAT, VG3star, Bar-Qualified) 42%
Veronica Sauceda (Dem, Bar-Well Qualified) 46%
Matthew Schondrun (Bar-Qualified) 12%

Office No. 16:
Sydne Jane Michel (LAT, VG4star, Bar-Qualified) 38%
Patricia “Patti” Hunter (Dem, Bar-Qualified) 39%
Hubert Yun (VG5star, Bar-Qualified) 23%

Office No. 20:
Wendy Segall (LAT, Dem, VG2star…

LA Galaxy: How the mighty have fallen

Call me spoiled.

Started following the LA Galaxy in earnest after the 2010 World Cup when Donovan scored that last last gasp goal for team USA to advance past the group stage. So it was easy enough to follow him and the LA Galaxy when the World Cup ended and the MLS season continued to its conclusion.

2010: Lost in Conference Finals
2011: Won MLS Cup
2012: Won MLS Cup
2013: Lost in Conference Semi-Finals
2014: Won MLS Cup

Thus, in the first 5 years of my following the team regularly, they won THREE MLS Cups!

Under GM and Coach Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy were the mighty ones astride the MLS landscape.

However, with MLS salary rules and improvements across many clubs in the league, the final two years of Bruce Arena were more modest. Nonetheless, they made the playoffs.

2015: Lost in knockout round
2016: Lost in Conference Semi-Finals

The USMNT collapsed and Klinsmann was fired and Arena was hired to rescue the World Cup qualification campaign and thus, left the LA Galaxy. Ultimately, team …

Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1

It was a good run for the Reds. My feeling was that Liverpool would only have a chance if they could smash and grab an early lead and hang on for dear life.

When Mo Salah went out in the middle of the first half, the air was out of the balloon. But the team hung tough and got to halftime 0-0. However, you just had the feeling that Real Madrid would eventually breakthrough.

Sadly, the break came off an error from Liverpool goalkeeper Karius. Yet, Liverpool had one last gasp left as they gamely got the equalizer. However, goal number two for Real Madrid was a top 10 all-time highlight goal from Bale. Goal number three was icing for Real Madrid and sadly came off another error from Karius.

As a Los Angeles Dodger fan, the 2017 World Series was lost for a variety of reasons but the most public face of the defeat was the pitching collapses of Darvish (game 3 and 7),  Kershaw (game 5), and Jansen (game 2, 5). Pitchers get the outs or give up the runs and are easily defined as heroes or scap…

Liverpool back in the Champions League

Today, Real Madrid v Liverpool, in the Champions League Final in Kiev!

Check out the wonderful promo video from Liverpool FC recapping the entire campaign through Europe.

Part of following sports is the scores and stats but its pleasure is the narrative. In this case, as a Los Angelino on the west coast of America, I'm rooting for the team from the northwest of England, a place I've never been and likely will never visit (it is a bucket list trip though!). Liverpool's story of past glories and mostly middling results in recent memory now trying to reach one of the high mountains of the soccer world is a compelling one. The team is composed of players who are almost exclusively outside the realm of the A-listers but a passionate and capable coach has helped them play as a team. Combined with the on field work with a fanatical home fan base and international following, this is the stuff of great screenwriting and novelistic storytelling. Win or lose it has been a great ride …

LA Galaxy 1 SJ Earthquakes 0

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Attended in person last night the Cali Classico. In years past, the two clubs were higher up in the table and the match would have more energy on the field and in the stands.

A few quick observations:
Chances were few and far between as both clubs didn't seem to be fully in sync. MLS match report put it this way: "Those were the only shots on goal in an energetic but largely incoherent clash between the California Clasico rivals."

LA won the possession stat (52.6 vs. 47.4) and the corner stat (7 vs. 3) confirming my overall impression that LA was slightly more on the front foot. However, it seemed on many occasions LA was kicking the ball sideways before attempting to move forward that then resulted in a Galaxy midfielder being dispossessed of the ball or sending to nowhere in particular.

The defense looked good as they tended to be in the right places when SJ was moving in attack. Bingham got a huge save late in the game to preserve the win by getting a finger on the ba…

QPR - what next?

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The English Championship season is done with the exception of promotion playoffs.

Wolverhampton and Cardiff City have won promotion.

Barnsley, Burton Albion, and Sunderland have been relegated.

Fulham has defeated Derby County to advance to the promotion finals.

Aston Villa plays Middlesbrough tomorrow to determine the other finalist.

Meanwhile, QPR finished 16th.

The club's realistic aspirations at this point in their life-cycle is mid-table with hopes of being at the higher end of the mid-table. However, that didn't happen this year with a mix of injuries hampering team cohesion. There weren't too many matches where they were kicked from one end to the other but with 20 losses to 15 wins, they were a sub "0.500" team a sign of modest talents and consistency. The team simply didn't have the level of quality and consistency to make a serious push. Most revealing was how the team frequently would fall behind and scramble to make a game of it. In a handful of o…

Montreal vs. LA Galaxy: line-up options and guesses

What is a team to do when everything seems to be going the wrong way.

In the first 7 games, LAG endured 3 shutouts, 2 where they scored one goal, 1 game where they scored 2 goals and the one crazy game against LAFC where they scored 4. In this stretch, the feeling was the defense makes mistakes but was tolerable but the offense wasn't in sync.

In the last 3 games, the offense is still out of sync but has gotten 2 goals per match. The problem, the defense has turned into Swiss cheese yielding 3 goals per match.

So what next for the guys drawing up the starting line up?

Do you go back to bunkering like they did in the 0-0 road trip to Vancouver with an eye to counter-attack to steal the win?

Or do you double down on the attacking line-up and hope the team defense improves?

Standard line-up (4-2-3-1)
Back 4: Skjelvik, Ciani, Steres, Romney
Defensive-mid: Jonathan dos Santos and Carrasco
Attacking-mid: Alessandrini, Lletget, Kamara
Forward: Ibrahimovic

Planned subs:
Boateng
Kitchen fo…

Wide World of Soccer - weekend April 28-29

Liverpool FC 0 Stoke City 0. Nuff said.

High drama on Wednesday for leg 2 against Roma. 5-2 lead looks good but Barcelona collapsed to Roma and were eliminated so Roma is not to be underestimated.

QPR takes care of business with a 3-1 win over bottom of the table Birmingham City.

LA Galaxy woes continue coming out on the short end 2-3 to NY Red Bulls. A couple of questionable calls went against LA Galaxy that took a goal off the LA tally and added a PK that was the Red Bull's winner.




LA Galaxy got some more offense but unfortunately their defense cost them.  One of the MLS analyst says that LA's 4-3-3 might be better for them. I speculated about that possibility back on April 13 though at that time I didn't anticipate Zlatan would start which he did.

LAFC in dramatic fashion defeat Seattle 1-0 with a stoppage time free kick!


Elfsborg falls 2-1 to Sundsvall.

Falkenberg plays on Tuesday on the road at Halmstad.


Wide world of soccer: weekend of April 21/22 2018

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Hats off to LAFC for rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat Montreal on the road. If you had said that LAFC would get 4 wins against 2 losses to open season entirely on the road, fans would take it. They have their home opener next weekend.


Liverpool was on the road at West Bromwich cruising with a 2-0 lead only to surrender 2 goals late. The problems of defense reared its head once again!



QPR lost to Brentford 2-1. Not surprising for a road game at a team at the top half of the table.


LA Galaxy fall at home to Atlanta 2-0. Saw the second half of the match on TV. Atlanta had the lead so they were probably not as aggressive on offense. Nonetheless, it seemed they were always more threatening to score while LAG only got weak "half" chances at goal. LAG simply looked inferior to Atlanta.


Falkenberg (FFF) is off to a 4 game win streak with a 3-1 victory over Frej Taby.

Elfsborg plays Monday against Stockholm based Djurgarden.


LAG thus far

LA Galaxy stand at 3 wins 1 draw 3 losses.

Have seen parts of several matches on television.

The 4-3 victory over LAFC highlighted the best and worst of the LA Galaxy: the worst, a defense that always looks on the edge of calamity, the best, an offense that, on this occasion, lived up to the hype.

However, in most other matches, it has been the offense that hasn't shown much life. Aside from that 4 goal explosion against LAFC, LAG has been shut out 3 times, scored 1 goal 2 times (one for a win and one for a loss), and scored 2 goals in the season opening victory.

Thus, at an anemic 8 goals for the season, only 4 clubs have scored less.

Meanwhile, the defense has allowed 10 goals which is middle of the pack.

On paper, their problems appear more on the offense side of the park than the defense side.

However, by the "eyeball" test, it looks like there are problems on both sides of the game.

The defense always looks to be on the edge of being overwhelmed. One would have thou…

Elfsborg wins!

In their fourth match of the season, Elfsborg finally got a victory with a 2-0 win on the road against Brommapojkarna!

Lot of ball watching on that second goal by the defenders, eh?

Below is the CMORE highlight package.

"We are Liverpool: this means more" LFC's latest promo video

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Sports is partly about scores and stats but it is mostly about narrative.

"We are Liverpool: this means more" is LFC's latest promo video with great moving images of past and present and the narration of current manager Jurgen Klopp.

Fantastic and moving and I've only been a fan since 2014 and have never been within a hundred miles of Liverpool.


Wide world of Soccer - how the six clubs I follow did

Friday April 13
LAFC beat Vancouver 2-0 on the road
LAFC bounced back from two prior defeats and continue to show the acumen of signing Rossi and Vela who got the goals in the victory.

Saturday April 14
Liverpool defeated Bournemouth 3-0
The three headed front line get a goal apiece in a taking care of business win.

Elfsborg downed by Sirius 1-0 at home
That is now three straight losses for the boys from Boras but no time to panic yet as there are still 27 more matches. For historical context, Elfsborg have been in the top league since 1998. From that time onward, they won the league in 2006 and 2012. They finished second in 2008. They won the Svenska Cup in 2001, 2003 and 2014. Hopefully, they can get their season going real soon!

QPR lost at home to Preston 2-1
Preston is higher up in the table so a loss isn't too surprising.

Chicago 0 LA Galaxy 1
Zlatan has appeared in 3 games and now has 2 game winning goals! Wound up watching the match on the phone via the live stream on Twitter fo…

Chicago v Los Angeles Galaxy

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The LA Galaxy and Zlatan take their show on the road to Chicago.

How many minutes will Zlatan play? 

He was in about 20 minutes against LAFC and 30 minutes against SKC. Some speculate 40 minutes in which case, might as well go 45 for a full second half. My "guts" tell me to look for 30 minutes again. This is his first road trip and the weather is likely to be miserable in Chicago so I'm thinking they play it safe with 30 minutes.

Any changes to the line-up that was used against SKC?

That line-up played SKC got their chances and played them pretty even with the exception of two defensive lapses in the early part of the second half which cost LAG the two goals. Thus, I don't see any line-up changes. The only two that could perhaps be considered is putting in Ciani for Steres but I think that unlikely. The other would be to start Lletget instead and have Boateng enter as his sub. But I think that unlikely as well but more possible than Ciani starting.

4-2-3-1 or something…

It is Big-ly: Man City v. Liverpool, Leg Two

Tonight's side...#MCILIV#UCLpic.twitter.com/4zO1pE2SuB — Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 10, 2018
The starting XI is pretty much as expected. Admittedly, the bench is depleted; however, hopefully, they won't be called into service other than to provide some fresh defensive energy to close out the match. If they have to call up on the reserves to chase the game, then it would mean Liverpool is in serious trouble!

And here is the starting XI and the bench for Manchester City.
How we're lining-up tonight! 🙌

City XI | Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva (C), Sane, Sterling, Bernardo, G Jesus

Subs | Bravo, Aguero, Kompany, Foden, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Delph#cityvlfc#mancitypic.twitter.com/rdWCEYwniX — Manchester City (@ManCity) April 10, 2018
Currently, LFC has a three-goal edge.

If at the end of regulation the aggregate is:
3-0 LFC advances
3-1 LFC advances
3-2 LFC advances
3-3 goes to Extra-Time
3-4 Man City advances
4-4 LFC advances on away goals
4-…

The weekend in soccer

Saturday started with the Merseyside Derby.

Everton v. Liverpool 0-0 (draw) 

The Reds with an eye toward the second leg of the Champions League semi-final played a weakened side so a draw was a reasonable outcome.

Hull v. QPR 4-0 (loss)

Ugh. QPR isn't a top level team so don't expect them to win all the time but they are usually at least competitive and they weren't today.

Falkenberg v. Eskilstuna 2-0 (win)

Off to a good start with two wins. Can they keep it up and get back to the top tier? "Laget vid havet!"

Atlanta v. LAFC 5-0 (loss)

Did the stunning loss against LA Galaxy last weekend leave the team still out of sorts? Or perhaps Atlanta is simply too much for LAFC to deal with? In either case, Bob Bradley and the brain trust will need to look at their situation after the glossy start.

Sunday provided two matches for me to follow

Kalmar v. Elfborg 1-0 (loss)

Ooofff .... off to a bad start with two losses. 28 matches to go. Hopefully, they will get their feet under …

Wide world of soccer - LA Galaxy v LAFC

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Complete craziness!

IN any language, exciting ....... video compilation of the Zlatan goal call from announcers from around the world!


LAFC made LA Galaxy defenders look like they had concrete shoes on and bang, 3-0 lead!

But the LA Galaxy woke up in the second half and LAFC started to get a little tight.

3-1, with the Lleget goal. Good to see him on the way to full force after so many months of rehab from his foot surgery that could have been career ending.

Zlatan comes into the game!

Boateng crosses and Pontius scores on a diving header, 3-2.

Free kick by LAFC goal keeper and Steres heads it upfield. Zlatan sees that the LAFC goalie is too far from his goal and the properly gauges the flight of the header and on the bounce strikes a swerving shot into the goal, 3-3!

LAFC realizes they could lose this thing and they wake up and start to attack and get shot that hits the post.

As the game appears to be winding down to a draw, LAG pushes forward as the ball goes toward the open space …

Wide world of soccer - LFC v Man City, leg 1

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Champions League quarter-finals!

Am guessing Man City is favored but leg one is at Anfield.


The KOP should be loud tonight!

In reading around the various media outlets in the build up, there is concerns at LFC about injuries.

The Echo reports that Gomez, Matip, Klavan, and Can are not available for selection.

Line-up guesses:
GK: Karius
Defense: Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson
Midfield: Henderson, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Frontline: Mane, Firmino, Salah

Liverpool take a 3-0 lead in leg 1. Here are the highlights!

Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane score in the first half!

Wide world of soccer - QPR!

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QPR bounce back from their loss to Redding with a 4-1 victory over Norwich.

I had mentioned in my last blog post that I would go find fish and chips if QPR would win a match!

So now, I will need to look around the part of town I live in to see who has them on the menu.

Sheffield Wednesday is another club like QPR and Norwich occupying the middle-ish part of the bottom half of the table.

Come on you R's!

Wide world of soccer - Sweden

Swedish soccer leagues that I follow, Allsvenskan (tier 1) and Superettan (tier 2) have kicked off.

Elfsborg fell 2-1 to historic powerhouse Malmo.

According to Transfermarkt.com, Malmo, AIK, and Ostersunds are the top-three in terms of "market value" of the clubs. Elfsborg is fifth.

According to one odds-maker site, Malmo, AIK, and Djurgarden are front-runners. Elfsborg is seventh.

Last season Elfsborg finished eighth.

In the Superettan, Helsingborg, Halmstad, and Jonkopings are the favorites according to the same odds-making site. Falkenberg is projected fifth.

On the basis of "market value," Helsingborg, Eskiltuna, and Jonkopings are the three strongest. Falkenberg comes in eighth.

Falkenberg kicked off their season with a 3-2 victory over Landskrona.

Falkenberg has punched above their weight the last few years winning the Superettan in 2013 and staying in tier 1 for three seasons. Last season they came up short to making it into the promotion playoffs.

The world of LA soccer

It is an exciting time for soccer in Los Angeles with the spectacular start of LAFC and the arrival of Zlatan, hashtag #zLAtan. His signing with trumpeted with a simple yet over-the-top one page ad in the LA Times.

The marketing minions of the LA Galaxy have trotted out this promo video!



Have been a follower of the LA Galaxy on and off and mostly on since 2010. The club definitely goes for the off-the-field sizzle and has produced a lot of on-the-field steak (5 MLS cups). We shall see how this pans out.

I was excited about the Steven Gerrard move to LAG but it soon became apparent that he had reached a point in his career that he was too injury prone and so the on-the-field performance didn't live up to the hype.

Below is a video of some highlights from his career and so if he can stay healthy and do 1/2 of what he did in his prime, he will have an impact!



In financial terms, it was a pretty reasonable move considering it is only for $3 million over 2 years.

In practical terms, wh…

QPR - looking safely out of the relegation zone?

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Have been wearing my R's baseball cap periodically and I've said that I'll go find some Fish and Chips if someone recognizes the cap as a QPR cap. People do ask what team the hat is from occasionally and I explain it is an English soccer club in the Championship.

When I was in London asking directions in the Underground to go to Loftus Road to see the Queens Park Rangers, people didn't seem to know what I was talking about! So I guess it isn't surprising that no one so far has recognized the cap in and around Los Angeles.

Perhaps, I should change the Fish and Chips to the next time QPR wins a match?

###

QPR has picked up 7 points on 3 matches!

3 points against relegation bound Sunderland is what you expect.



Getting 3 points from an Aston Villa that is looking at promotion via playoffs was an unexpected surprise!


Getting a draw from Fulham that is aiming for promotion via playoffs was an unexpected surprise after going down two goal.



It has been lots of fun follow…

Liverpool FC: what is next for them?

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If you had said LFC would be in the Champion's League quarterfinals before the season started, fans would take that.

If you had said LFC would lose Coutinho and still be competing for a top four finish in the Premier League, fans would take that.

But of course, now that expectations have been raised, fans want more!

The Champions League showdown against Manchester City will be interesting as the two teams split their meetings in the Premier League with Man City winning the first time 5-0 but LFC taking the second meeting 4-3. Am figuring the odds makers have Man City as favored in the two-legs of the quarters. If I had to guess, I would say 60/40 in favor of Man City. A check on the stat heads at 538 says 57/43 (as of 6:12pm March 18, 2018) for Man City.

The remainder of the Premier League schedule looks favorable to LFC. The difficult matches: Everton (away) and Chelsea (away). Liverpool should beat relegation zone Crystal Palace (away), West Brom (away), and Stoke (home). They s…

Homelessness and Hunger in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a series of editorials on the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles.

Excerpts:
Homelessness burst its traditional borders several years ago, spreading first to gloomy underpasses and dim side streets, and then to public parks and library reading rooms and subway platforms. No matter where you live in L.A. County, from Long Beach to Beverly Hills to Lancaster, you cannot credibly claim today to be unaware of the squalid tent cities, the sprawling encampments, or the despair and misery on display there.
[.....]
Today, we are paying the price: The economically homeless are now estimated to make up more than half of L.A.’s unhoused — and it is their rising numbers that are fueling the unprecedented growth in that population. More than half of the people surveyed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority last year said they were homeless because of an eviction, foreclosure, unemployment or “financial reasons.”
[.....]
Until the mayor and the members of…

NYCFC v LA Galaxy line-up guesses

Alessandrini is definitely out. Pontius is day-to-day.

What is the starting XI?
Defense picks itself: Bingham/Cole/Skelvik/Ciani/Feltscher
Simply want the unit to get used to playing together. Might see some rotation during fixture congestion and when the training staff identify players who need a break. However, barring any injury issues, we should be seeing this line-up most of the time.
Forward: Kamara
Don't have any idea who they will rely upon if Kamara gets injured or needs a break during the season!
Midfield: Defensive: Kitchen/Carrasco Offensive: JDS/GDS/Boateng
Will assume Pontius is going to be rested. Lletget isn't ready to start. He will probably get subbed in around the 60 minute mark to continue stretching out his minutes and testing out his surgically repaired foot.
Bench: vom Steeg Steres/Romney/Hillard-Arce Husidic/Lletget/Alvarez
Lletget should be first off the bench around the 60 minute mark. Husidic could get in around 70-75 minute mark. Alvarez may get his…

Cardiac kids of Queens Park Rangers: QPR 1 Derby County 1

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QPR dominated possession, got the shots but as is often the case, were down by a goal and almost out.

On this day, Luongo got the header across the line on a set-piece at the 87th minute!

QPR sit fairly safely in the lower part of the mid-table 10 points above the relegation zone.

The front office has serious financial constraints but they do have some solid players and hopefully in the next transfer window they can spot some overlooked talent and up-and-coming players to bring in.

Am not enough of a fan to know the contract situation of the existing players and who could be let go for cost reasons. As for selling players on at a profit, I don't know if any members of the current roster has had such a dramatically good season such that QPR could do a Southampton.

Historic day for LA Soccer!

There are, once again, two soccer teams in Los Angeles!

Seattle 0 LAFC 1

Click here for the video highlights.

LAFC's first match as a club and they got the win. Diego Rossi the 20 year old young phenom from Uruguay got the pass from Carlos Vela, the DP from Mexico, and fired the shot into the goal!

Meanwhile, LA Galaxy aim to put behind the dreadful 2017 season.

LA Galaxy 2 Portland Timbers 1

Click here for the video highlights.

Ola Kamara was signed to get goals from the striker spot and he delivered at 32 minutes. Allesandrini got the second in short order at 34 minutes. LA defense held on just giving up one goal.

When I started following LA Galaxy routinely (2010), the stadium was shared with Chivas USA. However, at that time Chivas USA was already in bad shape and eventually went under after the 2014 season. Will be interesting to see if the front office at LAFC will do a better job. So far, they have made a lot of good moves: new stadium, top notch manager in Bob Bradley, …

Market Value of Players and Clubs

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It is very hard to compare soccer clubs from different leagues and by extension players in one league versus players in another league.

In continental competitions, there can be some indicators of relative strength. For instance, the top Spanish teams have dominated European Champions League so they are regarded as the strongest. However, how does the 3rd and 4th place Spanish League teams compare to the top 4 in other leagues? Head-to-head competition gives clues but it is hard to be sure. Anyway, it is this concept that drives the "UEFA club coefficients" which is the soccer analog to NCAA basketball's RPI. From those stats, one can see that the 3rd and 4th place Spanish league teams compare very favorably to the rest of Europe.

But when you get beyond the handful of top teams in the top leagues, it gets harder to compare. And it is even tougher to compare MLS in the USA relative to what is happening in Europe.

One attempt to rate strength is "market value" o…

Star Trek Discovery - Episode 15 Season Finale spoilers and opinions about season 1 overall

The breakneck pace of episode 13 was going to be hard to top and indeed episodes 14 and 15 seemed almost a let-down yielding a somewhat muddle-headed finish in episode 15, "Will You Take My Hand?"

First off, hats off to the actors.

Doug Jones and Mary Wiseman are clear fan favorites and I would second the vote to declare them the break-out stars of this flavor of Star Trek.

Anthony Rapp, Shazad Latif, Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh have been very solid especially Yeoh who got to play BOTH a very admirable and good Georgiou and a deliciously very evil Georgiou.

Sonequa Martin-Green has also been very good. Thus, I hesitate to detract from her fantastic performances but unlike other editions of Star Trek, the story lines rested very heavily on the singular character of Burnham and her choices. Yes, the Original Series was mostly Captain Kirk but Spock and McCoy had their own stories that were quite substantial and Kirk's development as a character rested very heavily on hi…

Star Trek Discovery Episode 14 - relationship status: "Its complicated" and other things

Episode 14 was a break from the shot-em up action of episode 13 and soon to drop season finale episode 15 on Sunday that will probably have a fair amount of shot-em up.

Thus, it was a time for some heart-to-heart talks among the cast and crew.

At the center of it all was Tilly. She talks to Tyler and others join in. She talks to Burnham to get Burnham to talk to Tyler.

Meanwhile, Saru continues to grow as a character as he is now the captain of the ship and shows his blend of getting the job done in the opening when he quickly sized up the situation in the transporter room. He also exhibits compassion as she filled Burnham in on Tyler's condition. He continued to display his generosity and firmness in the sickbay conversation with Tyler.

Stamets took center stage for a scene with Tyler and his response was what you would anticipate from the character we have seen develop through the series. Well done by Rapp. He also steps in with his engineering acumen with the terraforming the d…

Liverpool at a Crossroads

Liverpool FC plays Southampton (Liverpool South!) on Sunday and then Porto on Wednesday in Champions League.

LFC wants to stay in the hunt for a top 4 spot in the Premier League and beating a relegation zone Southampton would be very helpful. On the other hand, you want a fresh squad for the Porto match on Wednesday.

So one suspects Klopp will not play his strongest 11 on tomorrow but how many of the usual players will get the start? How many will be available on the bench? How many won't even be named to the 18 to rest them entirely?

Karius now appears to be the #1 goalkeeper for Premier League matches and for Champions league games.
As for the back 4 for Sunday?
Probably Virgil van Dijk and Lovren are in to face their old club?
At left back? Moreno? With Robertson for Porto?
At right back? Alexander-Arnold

What about midfield?
Is Can, Henderson, Milner the "A team" for Porto?
Thus, Wijnaldum, Chamerlain, Can for tomorrow?

And what about the front three?
No question Man…

Zlatan to Galaxy? Yea or Nay?

The rumors have been going on for a couple of seasons already and so it was no surprise they have popped up again. With Zlatan now relegated to the bench and maybe not even to the game day 18 at Manchester United, he is looking to his next destination.

How much is he worth to the LA Galaxy? To the MLS?

The downside is that he could be injury prone and simply not play many minutes and his salary would be on the bench or not even in the game day 18. That could be okay if the marketing madness he provides brings fans to the stadium. The worst case scenario is that he is a headache in the locker-room.

Certainly, he is no longer DP worthy as his injury was pretty serious and he simply hasn't shown signs he is anywhere near what he was before. From a strict "what does the LA Galaxy need perspective," he could serve as a backup for Ola Kamara and perhaps in some circumstances the two of them could be up at the front together.

One could envision some scenarios where you might ha…