Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spector Completes Return from Injury

Jonathan Spector completed his return from injury this past weekend, entering the game as a second half win during West Ham Utd.'s 2-1 win over Stoke City. Most of the headlines though were reserved for Stoke's Ricardo Fuller, who slapped his teammate and got sent off. Yup.

Highlights: Everton 3, Sunderland 0

BBC Match Report and Tim Howard talks about being impressed by Everton's fighting spirit during the recent injury crisis

Sky Sports Match Report

Highlights: Fulham 2, Chelsea 2

As you have probably heard, Clint Dempsey scored two goals this past weekend in Fulham's 2-2 draw with London rivals Chelsea. The Blog was vacationing in Mexico (though it did manage to catch the game alongside some goofy Chelsea fans) so now we'll get you caught up:

BBC match Report

Sky Sports match report and an article where Dempsey discusses Fulham going forward.

Fulhamfc.com's match report

Pictures from Fulhamfc.com

Gooch Rumors

The January transfer window is fast approaching, which means everybody should get ready for a month of ridiculous speculation and rumors being thrown about with less regard than a Mitch Williams fastball.

Stepping into the batter's box today is Oguchi Onyewu who, according to The Sun, is linked with four clubs. Fulham is set to do battle with Borussia Monchengladbach, Marseille and Paris St. Germain for Gooch's signature. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dempsey Double Earns Fulham a Draw

Clint Dempsey scored twice as Fulham came from a goal down to earn a draw with Chelsea at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The London derby was a back-and-forth affair, with the home side taking the lead first. Dempsey was in the right position at the far-post for a Simon Davies freekick, and Clint shook his marker and cleverly flicked the ball home from close range.

Chelsea took awhile to respond, but eventually they did through Frank Lampard.The England midfielder scored twice in the second half, and second place Chelsea looked to be heading for all three points.

Fulham was having none of it, and Dempsey capped a late push by grabbing his second goal of the game in the 89th minute.The game finished 2-2 at Craven Cottage.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Action

- Clint Dempsey and Fulham fought out a 0-0 stalemate with London-rivals Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. The Cottagers' London derby weekend continues with a match agaisnt Chelsea on Sunday at Craven Cottage.

- Tim Howard and Everton overcame injury problems to snatch. 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium. A goal from make-shift forward Tim Cahill was enough to outpace a sloppy 'Boro side that is slipping further down the table. Up next for Howard and Everton is a match with resurgent Sunderland on Sunday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Everton Draws Chelsea at Goodison Park

Everton and Tim Howard tied Chelsea 0-0 on Monday night. The home side couldn't make the most of a man advantage, after John Terry was sent off for visiting Chelsea in the first half. Next up for Everton: Middlesbrough on Friday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Late Fight Back for Rennes

Rennes are up to third place in Ligue 1, after two second half goals gave Carlos Bocanegra's side the comeback win over Lorient. Carlos started in his usual position at left back, played the full 90 minutes and earned a yellow card for his troubles.

Freddy Adu came on as a sub for AS Monaco but the team conceded two late goals to fall 4-3 to Bordeaux.

Fulham vs. 'Boro Highlights

Highlights from Fulham's 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough this weekend (Clint Dempsey scored the 3rd goal in the win):

Oguchi Onyewu and Liege Beat Gent 2-1

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege are consolidating their 2nd place position in the Belgian League table, helped by this weekend's 2-1 win over KAA Gent. Liege are off until mid-January, when the Belgian League reconvenes.

Everton Set for Chelsea

Everton are set to host Chelsea in Monday night's Premier League fixture. Well, that's Monday afternoon for those of us in the States, and the game can be seen live on Setanta starting at 2 p.m. ET (kickoff is at 3 p.m.)

The holiday schedule is notoriously busy in England and the Premier League is one of the few countries that loads up a full slate of game for the festive period. Everton took time out from the hectic period to visit a children's hospital in Liverpool, you can read about their visit here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fulham Climb to Eighth as Dempsey Scores in Victory

Around here we've talked a lot about Rennes unbeaten run over in France but check out Clint Dempsey and Fulham putting together a little run of their own.

With today's 3-0 victory over hapless Middlesbrough, the Cottagers stretched their streak to seven games without a loss and moved up to a respectable 8th place in the Premier League table.

Clint Dempsey started for Fulham and grabbed his second Premier League goal of the season when he finished a move in the 59th minute to seal the game for his club.

Picture from Fulhamfc.com

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Liege Ready to Finish Group Stage

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege are already through to the next round of the UEFA Cup, but tonight's game against Stuttgart still has its importance. If Liege win or draw, they'll be assured of first place in Group C, a crucial bonus when it comes time to draw opponents for the next round.

With last night's defeat against Hamburg, Brad Guzan and Aston Villa missed out on that bonus. They will now face a team coming in from the Champions League in the next round.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bundesliga Highlights from Last Weekend

Gladbach vs. Dortmund

Hannover 96 vs. Arminia Bielefeld

Guzan and Villa Travel to Hamburg

Brad Guzan and Aston Villa are taking their UEFA Cup campaign to Germany tonight, when they take on Hamburg at the HSH Nordbank Arena. Kickoff for the game starts around 3 p.m. ET, and you can see the game live on Setanta Sports.

Hamburg and Villa are both assured of their spots in the final 32 of the tournament, with Ajax also booking their place from Group F. However, there is much on the line in terms of the upcoming draw. Here's why, according to UEFA:

"Group winners will be paired with third-placed sides from other UEFA Cup sections, while second-placed finishers will be drawn against one of the eight sides who finished third in the UEFA Champions League groups. The UEFA Cup group winners and runners-up will play the second leg at home."

So lots to play for still for Guzan and his team, we'll be back with highlights later.

Pachuca Eliminated by LDU Quito

Jose Torres and Pachuca were ousted from the FIFA Club World Cup by South American champions LDU Quito. Quito jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first first half and never looked back, becoming the first team into the final. Their opponent will be determined tomorrow, when Manchester United meets Gamba Osaka.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Highlights: Stoke City 0, Fulham 0

Highlights: Manchester City 0, Everton 1

Brad Friedel Interview

A few weeks ago we highlighted Brad Friedel's record breaking appearance against Fulham. This week, the former MNT goalkeeper sat down with Premier League World to talk about his career in England:

Interview with Spector

Jonathan Spector is coming closer to first team football. He spoke to West Ham Utd.'s club website here about his road back for injury. Said Spector:

"I need at least one more reserve game before I feel fit enough to be in with the first team but I will certainly be pushing myself to be back as soon as possible...I am certainly happy to be back after being out for such an extended period of time and we got the result as well with a 3-2 victory [last week over a visiting team comprised of MLS players]. It was nice to score. That doesn't happen too often either. It was great to get a goal but more importantly I am just happy to be back playing. I really enjoyed it"

Read the full article here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Highlights from this Weekend

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege defeated Club Brugge 4-1:

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes tied Lille 0-0:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday Results

  • Taken down by a late winner last week, it was Everton's turn to inflict injury time pain on another team this week, with Tim Cahill's headed goal giving the Toffees the 1-0 win at the City of Manchester Stadium. Tim Howard made three saves in the victory.
  • Fulham drew again, fighting out a goaless snoozer with Stoke City. Clint Dempsey went the full 90 minutes for the Cottagers.
  • Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes continued their unbeaten run, but missed a chance to go just one point behind Lyon. Their 0-0 draw with Nantes leaves them fifth in the table.
  • Eddie Johnson came on as a first half sub as Cardiff City beat Ipswich Town 2-1.
  • Steve Cherundolo and Hannover96 tied 1-1 with Arminia Bielefeld.

Pachuca On to the Semis

Pachuca defeated Al Ahly 4-2 on Friday, scoring two goals in extra time to just get by the African champions from Egypt. The Mexican side moves onto the semifinals to face LDU Quito on Dec. 17. Jose Torres started the match before making way early in the second half.

Watch 1st First Half Highlights

2nd Half Highlights

2nd Half/Extra Time Highlights

Friday, December 12, 2008

Let's Catch Up on Highlights:

Dec. 6 - Caen vs. Rennes:

Villarreal vs. Getafe:

Fulham vs. Manchester City:

Dec. 7 - Everton vs. Aston Villa:

Long Break for Gladbach

Borussia Mönchengladbach fell 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund today, in a tough away loss that concluded the first half of the season. Michael Bradley started the game before being subbed out about midway through the second half. Gladbach will go into the long winter break on the bottom of the table, and they don't play again until January 31st when they meet VFB Stuttgart. The good news: just two point separate 14th from 18th place in the Bundesliga...

Pachuca Ready for World Club Cup

Pachuca and Jose Torres have traveled halfway around the world to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup, which kicked off in Japan last night. The Mexican side qualified for the tournament thanks to their CONCACAF Champions Cup victory and tonight they take on the African champions, Egyption side Al Ahly. You can see the game live, starting at 11:30 p.m. ET on FSC.

In the other quaterfinal match, Adelaide United takes on Asian champions Gamba Osaka for the right to meet Manchester United in the semfinals. The winner of Pachuca/Al Ahly will face LDU Quito in the other half of the draw.

Spector Nears Return

Jonathan Spector has been out of action for awhile but he's now making a welcome return to the West Ham squad. Yesterday he went the full 90 minutes in a reserve match against an MLS Select side during a 3-2 victory for the Hammers. Spector even scored in the victory, heading home from a Matthew Ethrington corner.

Howard Ready for Manchester City

Tim Howard and Everton were on the tough end of a 3-2 loss to Aston Villa this past weekend, but him and his teammates are eager to move on and take the positives from what was an excellent fight back by the Toffees. This week Everton faces Manchester City, here's Sky Sports with a preview of the game, which also features an interview with Howard:

As the video mentions, Howard was accepting the award for Everton Player of the Month for November. He also talked about Everton's ability to break into the top four in the Premier League, a feat that they achieved when they finished in fourth place in 2005:

"It [the top four dropping points] gives us hope, inspiration and motivation to keep plugging away and keep getting results. We said all along we want to be in the thick of it - sixth, seventh or eighth - so we can push on."

Next up for Everton is a visit to Manchester City on Saturday. You can see the game live on FSC starting at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Official U.S. Soccer Bar Welcomes Roman Abramovich

Nevada Smiths, the December U.S. Soccer Bar of the Month, got a special guest for their Saturday morning screening of the Chelsea-Bolton match when Blues owner Roman Abramovich dropped in to catch the action.

In the city for a shopping excursion, the Chelsea boss heard that Nevada Smith’s was the bar affiliated with the New York based Chelsea supporters group, New York Blues. In fact, Nevada Smith’s is affiliated with over 25 supporters groups, and has spent the past 10 years developing a “bar for the fans.” All supporters groups are welcome at Nevada Smiths.

Abramovich isn't the only celeb who has come through the 'round ball' bar. Sir Alex Ferguson, Sting, and former Man-U striker Dwight Yorke are just some of the luminaries who have joined the fans to get their football fix.

Nevada Smiths is one of the bars nominated for the 2008 Best U.S. Soccer Bar award. The winner for that and all of the Best of U.S. Soccer awards will be announced next week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Parkhurst Moves to Denmark

MNT Defender Michael Parkhurst has signed a contract with FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark, and he'll join up with the team in January 2009 when his current deal with the Revolution expires at the end of this year.

FC Nordsjaelland is currently 8th out of 12 teams in the Danish top flight. The league is on a winter break until March, when play resumes for the second half of the season.

Picture from FC Nordsjaelland's official website.

Highlights from Liege's Loss this Weekend

That about sums it up:

Championship Midweek Update

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday Results

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Aston Villa Lose but Still Advance

Brad Guzan and Aston Villa lost to Zilina 2-1 on Thursday but the English club but still advanced to the final 32 of the UEFA Cup. Guzan made 3 saves for Villa in the loss.

Up next for Aston Villa is a big matchup with Everton on Sunday in the Premier League.

Carlos Bocanegra on Rennes' Recent Run

We sat down with Renes defender and U.S. MNT captain Carlos Bocanegra to get his thoughts on Rennes' good form in Ligue 1. Rennes are up to second in the French top flight, and they will look to keep up the pace with Lyon when they travel to face Caen.

Listen to the full podcast with Carlos here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Onyewu Scores as Liege Go Through to Last 32

Oguchi Onyewu scored the second goal in Standard Liege's 3-0 victory over Sampdoria in the UEFA Cup on Wednesday and the Belgian side qualified for the final 32 of the tournament with the win.

There's still one more matchday left, but Liege is safe atop the Group C standings, and they're joined in the last 32 by FC Metalist Kharkiv, FC Twente, Galatasaray AŞ, and Udinese Calcio.

Liege rounds out the UEFA Cup group stage with a match against Stuttgart on the 18th, but the Belgian champions already have their sites set on the knockout round, which begins in 2009.

Picture courtesy of UEFA.com

Watford Felled by Spurs

Jay DeMerit and Watord came up just short against Carling Cup holders Tottenham tonight. Watford took the lead against the favored visitors, but couldn't hold on as Spurs came fighting back for two goals to advance to the semfinals.

watford v spurs

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Watford Ready for Carling Cup Quarters

Jay DeMerit and Watford are enduring a tough time in the Championship this season, but they look to be turning things around just a bit. The Hornets are unbeaten in three games, including this weekend's draw against Doncaster. Perhaps the recent reversal has to do with the team's support of the Movember campaign which, as you can see from the picture, appears to be going quite well.

Next up for DeMerit and company, is a Carling Cup quarterfinal date with Tottenham. Harry Redknapp's team has been enjoying a rejuvenation of late, and they're the holders of the cup, having defeated Chelsea earlier this year. The game can be seen live in the U.S. on Setanta starting at 2:00 p.m. ET.

And speaking of Tottenham, The Mirror says the London club is lining up a bid for Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.

Highlights from Villarreal against Recreativo

Jozy Altidore started in his first La Liga game this weekend as Villarreal moved up to second in the Spanish table. Highlights from the game below:

Rangers to Continue Cup against St. Johnstone

Rangers, holders of the Scottish Cup, will travel to St. Johnstone in the fourth round of this year's tournament. The draw was made today for the next set of games, which will take place on January 10 or 11.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rennes Move into Second with Win

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes beat PSG 1-0 on Sunday to move into second place in the Ligue 1 table. The win also stretches Rennes' unbeaten run in the league to 14 games.

Everton Earn Three Points in London

Tim Howard and Everton traveled to London to take on Tottenham on Sunday, and the Toffees came away with all three points.

Howard made three saves in the victory, and Stephen Pienaar's goal was enough to separate the sides on manager David Moyes' 300th game on the touchline for Everton. The win did not come without cost, however, and it has been learned that striker Yakubu will be out for the rest of the season after rupturing his achilles during the match.

Everton are up to 7th in the Premier League table, just three points behind 5th place Aston Villa. The two sides will meet next Sunday at Goodison Park in a battle of American goalies, when Howard takes on record-breaker Brad Friedel (with backup support from Brad Guzan).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Liege Ties

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege tied KV Mechelen 0-0 on Sunday. The point keeps Liege 3rd in the Belgian league table. Up next for Liege is a quick turnaround for the UEFA Cup - they face Sampdoria on Thursday. Last week Liege went top of Group C with a 1-0 win over Partizan Belgrade.

Today's highlights: KV Mechelen 0, Standard Liege 0

Thursday's highlights: Partizan Belgrade 0, Standard Liege 1

Altidore Starts as Villarreal Win

Jozy Altidore got the start and went 78 minutes for Villarreal as the Yellow Submarine defeated Recreativo Huelva 2-1. Goals from Santi Carzola and Ariel Ibagaza were the difference as Villarreal moved back into 2nd place in La Liga with the victory. Next up for Villarreal is a match against Getafe next weekend.

Rennes vs. PSG Live on Setanta

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes host PSG in a Ligue 1 clash on Sunday. Rennes put their 13 match unbeaten run on the line against the resurgent side form France's capital, themselves unbeaten in their last three.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Rennes manager Guy Lacombe is the former gaffer for PSG. He left in January before coming to Rennes. Since then, PSG has turned around significantly, and they currently lie in 6th in the table, level with Rennes on 26 points.

You can tune in to see Bocanegra and Rennes in action, as the game kicks off at 3 p.m. ET live on Setanta.

Fulham Grab Another Away Result

Fulham stoically held on for another road draw on Saturday, digging in to earn a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa.

The tie marked Fulham's second consecutive away draw against tough opposition, after the Cottagers tied Liverpool last weekend.

Clint Dempsey went the full 90 minutes for Fulham, and earned a yellow card in the fourth minute. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan was in his customary position of backup for the hosts, though he could be back on the field in midweek when Aston Villa take on MSK Zilina in the UEFA Cup.

Another American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, added another award to his already storied career thanks to his appearance in Saturday's game. Friedel broke the record for consecutive starts in the Premier League, when he took the field for the 167th consecutive time against Fulham.

For Nancy Armour's article on both Brads (Friedel and Guzan) at Aston Villa, click here.

Next up for Fulham is a return to Craven Cottage to take on Manchester City next Saturday.

Picture from soccernet.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

San Luis Down after One Leg

Despite ending the season at the top of the Primera División table, Michael Orozco and San Luis was unable to hold off reigning champions Santos Laguna in their first match of the 2008 Apertura quarterfinal series at Estadio Coronoa in Torreón, Coahuila. Santos was without injured Christian Benitez, and replaced him with Cuauhtémoc Blanco, on loan from the Chicago Fire. Santos scored first, on an own goal that went off Oscar Mascorro’s head in the 17th minute. Santos scored again in the 34th minute and San Luis cute the lead in half in the 44th, but was unable to come back as the Guerreros sealed the 3-1 scoreline in the 78th minute.

Next, the San Luis will host Santos, and they will do it without head coach Raúl Arias on the sidelines. Arias as suspended for two matches for arguing with the referees. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Wigan 1, Everton 0

Tim Howard and Everton were defeated by Wigan on Monday night, with a Henri Camara goal separating the two sides at the JJB stadium. You can see first half highlights here, and second half highlights here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Timmy on TV

Tim Howard and Everton take on Wigan this afternoon in Monday's Premier League action. If you're looking for a reason to take a long lunch, well now you have it. The game is being shown life on Setanta, so head over to your nearest Official U.S. Soccer Bar to catch the midday action.

Rennes Extend Unbeaten Run

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes extended their unbeaten run in France to 13 games, courtesy of a 1-1 draw away to Bordeaux. Next up for Carlos and Co. is PSG. The teams are in 4th and 5th in Ligue 1, separated by just a point, and both teams are in excellent form. PSG just dispatched league leaders Lyon 1-0 over the weekend.

Liverpool 0, Fulham 0

Fulham traveled to Anfield this weekend and came away with a 0-0 draw.

Clint Dempsey played 85 minutes in the match, as Fulham spoiled Fernando Torres' return to the starting lineup for Liverpool.

In other Fulham news, Eddie Johnson, on loan to Cardiff, played 90 minutes in Cardiff City's 2-1 loss to Plymouth in the English Championship.

Next up for Fulham is a trip to Villa Park to meet a tough Aston Villa side with Brad Guzan.

Picture courtesy of fulhamfc.com

Liege One Point Back

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege beat Mouscron 3-1 over the weekend to keep pace with Club Brugge in the Belgian League. Up next for Liege is a trip to Serbia to take on Partizan Belgrade in the UEFA Cup.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Results

Friday, November 21, 2008

San Luis Set to Begin Playoffs

On Saturday, Nov. 22, at 5 p.m. CT, Michael Orozco and San Luis will travel to Torreón, Coahuila, to face off against Santos Laguna in the first leg of the 2008 Apertura quarterfinals. San Luis heads into the quarterfinals, not only at the head of Group 3, but also at the top of the overall Primera División table, with 29 points at the end of the regular season. San Luis and Santos have met only once in Apertura 2008, resulting in a 2-2 draw in the second to last regular season game.

As a defender, Orozco may face off against a new face in the Santos attack, as Chicago Fire midfielder Cuauhtémoc Blanco has been loaned out to Santos for the Liguilla. San Luis will host the return leg at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday, Nov. 29.

If you haven't noticed yet, Orozco is nominated for U.S. Soccer's Young Male Athlete of the Year Award, along with Robbie Rogers, Maurice Edu, Stu Holden, Marvell Wynne, and Sacha Kljestan. Head over the 2008 Best Of Blog to cast your ballot.

Picture courtesy of isiphotos.com

Back to the Grind

The international break is over, which means the Global Blog is back in operation! Here's what's going on this weekend:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Freddy and Carlos Face Off in France

Over in Ligue 1 today, Rennes inflicted a 2-1 defeat on visiting AS Monaco. Carlos Bocanegra went 90 minutes for Rennes, who extended their impressive unbeaten run in Ligue 1 to 12 games. They're also up to third place in the league, five points behind leaders Lyon. Freddy Adu entered the game in the 68th minute for Monaco, who face Le Mans at home next weekend.

Pachuca Ties Atlas, Needs Help to Make Playoffs

Pachuca and Jose Torres tied Atlas yesterday, which means that qualification for the playoff is out of Los Tuzos' hands. They need Santos to lose by more than two goals today, so stay tuned to see what happens...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dempsey back in Starting Lineup as Fulham Win

Clint Dempsey was in the starting lineup for Fulham as the Cottagers defeated in-form Tottenham 2-1 at Craven Cottage. Dempsey was inserted into the starting 11 and made an impact early as Tottenham goalkeeper Gomes was forced to make a save from Clint's long range drive.

Later in the first half, Tottenham's Gomes was at fault for some shocking goalkeeping to let Fulham open the scoring. In the second half, the Cottagers continued to have the better of the exchanges, and the home side extended its lead through Andy Johnson in the 70th minute.

A late Tottenham consoloation goal was not enough to trouble Fulham, who moved up to 9th place in the Premier League with the win. All five of Fulham's wins in the league have come at Craven Cottage. Watch manager Roy Hodgson talk about Fulham's win here.

Elsewhere in England, Marcus Hahnemann and Reading defeated Sheffield Utd. 2-0, Eddie Johnson played 90 minutes in Cardif's 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, and Jay DeMerit and Watford fell 2-1 to Barnsley.

Bradley on the Mark in Germany

Michael Bradley opened his Bundesliga account as Borussia Monchengladach fought back for a 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

Bradley started the game in midfield for 'Gladbach, who went behind early to a Luca Toni goal. Bayern added to their lead in the 65th minute courtesy of a penalty from Frank Ribery.

'Gladbach fought back though, and Rob Friend halved the deficit in the 79th minute. Just two minutes later the score was level with Bradley nodding home the equalizer from close range. Bradley got forward well throughout the game, and his goal marked his first for 'Gladbach.

The result keeps 'Gladbach in 14th place, while Bayern slip three points behind Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen.

Here's what Michael had to say about the game:

"The team has earned a point and we have really worked hard today. At the end to come back and get that tie was a great feeling. We never stopped running, working or fighting and it was a good result in such a great atmosphere"

In other German action, Steve Cherundolo and Hannover tied Bochum 1-1 on Friday.

Full highlights of 'Gladbach taking on Bayern Munich:

Picture via soccernet.com

Mexican Apertura Enters Tense Final Weekend

It's the final weekend of Apertura 2008 in Mexico, and only three teams - Michael Orozco's San Luis included - have qualified for the Liguilla. It's coming down to the wire, as 11 teams still have a shot at reaching the playoffs. The top two teams from each of the three six-team groups qualify, along with the two best third-place teams.

San Luis qualified for the post-season two games ago, and currently lead the league table with 29 points, three ahead of second-place Pumas. A win against Toluca would solidify their place at the top, ensuring home field advantage in each post-season series. Their biggest task will be to overcome the apparent "Curse of the League Leader," as the team that has finished in first place during the regular season hasn't won the league title since Mexico switched to the short tournament format in 1996.

Jose Torres and Pachuca, however, are playing for all the marbles in their match against Atlas (which kicks off at 8 p.m. et), as they currently sit in third place in Group 1 with 20 points behind the already qualifed Atlante, who has 26 points, and Santos Laguna, who has 21 points. Right at their heels in fourth place is Indios of Ciudad Juarez, who have 19 points and are also trying to qualify. In Group 2, Cruz Azul are on the doorstep of claiming one of the two best third-place spots as they lead Jaguares in their final match. Over in Group 3, Tigres are in the driver's seat for the other berth as they sit in third place with 23 points.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Preview in England

Clint Dempsey and Fulham host resurgent Tottenham at Craven Cottage. Fulham have won their most recent two games at home, and a win this weekend would give them three home wins on the trot for the first time in two years. The Cottagers are unbeaten in their last six home games against Spurs and last year's 3-3 game in the corresponding fixture featured Clint Dempsey opening the scoring for Fulham.

Tim Howard and Everton put their four match unbeaten streak on the line against Middlesborough (also unbeaten in four) at Goodison Park. For the ambitious ones among you there are still some seats available.

Jay DeMerit and struggling Watford host Barnsley in the Championship. Watford managed a 1-0 win over Swansea in the Carling Cup midweek, but their league form has been poor and they'll look to get back on track with an important away game on Saturday. In other action, Eddie Johnson and Cardiff host Crystal Palace, while Marcus Hahnemann and Reading face off with Sheffield Utd. in a match between teams placed three and four, respectively, in the Championship table.

Gooch Goes on in Cup

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege needed a shootout to see off KV Courtral in the Belgian League Cup. Next up for Liege is KSC Lokeren in the Belgian League on Sunday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pass the Time on Thursday

The Global Blog knows that you're just trying to grind out the hours until Friday so here are a few things to pass the time:

- Landon Donovan is still in Germany training with Bayern Munich. Here are a really long video taken from training. Really long.

- Speaking of Bayern Munich, they're playing Borussia Monchengladbach this weekend as one of Germany's biggest rivalries gets renewed for the first time this year. Back in the 1970s, these two teams dueled for Bundesliga supremacy on more than one occasion so Saturday's match could make for an interesting throwback. Michael Bradley could be in line to play for 'Gladbach, who jumped out of the relegation zone with last weekend's win.'Gladbach meanwhile got a boost with players returning from injury.

- In cup reults, Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes were eliminated from the French Cup by Le Havre. Villarreall and Jozy Altidore met the same fate over in the Spanish Copa del Rey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Midweek Cup Action

There's league cup action around Europe today, which means a few of our guys are suiting up for some games. Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes look to keep up their fine form of late with a Round of 16 game against Le Havre.

In the Copa del Rey, Jozy Altidore and Villarreal have lots to do as they try to overturn a five goal first leg deficit against Club Polideportivo Ejido.

In Scotland, Rangers are playing a midweek SPL game against Motherwell at Fir Park Stadium. In cup news, the draw for the semifinals of the Scottish Cup have just been made, and the Old Firm has been separated in to different halves, with Rangers taking on Falkirk and Celtic facing Dundee United.

Recent Highlights from Germany

Michael Bradley and 'Gladbach earned a 2-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld this weekend, here are some highlights from the game:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Season Done in Sweden

Hammarby concluded their Swedish Allsvenskanliga season with a 5-2 loss to IFK Norrkoping on Sunday. Despite two quick goals from Charlie Davies, Hammarby eventually capitulated and gave up five unanswered goals to mark a disappointing end to a season where they finished 9th in the league.

On the bright side, Davies finished with an impressive 14 goals, tying him with Henrik Larsson of Helsingborg (yes, that Henrik Larsson) for fourth best in the league. While we couldn't find video of Davies' goals from this weekend we did find this really sweet video somebody made of Charlie in FIFA 09. Big props for the soundtrack choice too.

Donovan in Deutschland

Landon Donovan is keeping busy in the offseason by heading over to Germany for a 10-day training period with Bayern Munich. "I know Landon from my time with LA Galaxy," said Bayern head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to the club's website.

Klinsmann calls Southern California home and famously took the job coaching the German national team while still living abroad in the States. Donovan, who will use the visit to keep in shape during the MLS offseason, joins Bayern as they are in the midst of preparing for the traditionally busy buildup to the holiday period. The German giants next face Michael Bradley and Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday Nov. 15.

Picture courtesy of Bayern's official website. You can also read the full article about Donovan's arrival (in German) here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

100 Games and a Record for Howard

Tim Howard's appearance in Everton's 3-1 win over West Ham on Saturday marked his 100th game for the Merseyside club. In addition to achieving the century mark, Howard also wrote his name in the record book with an interesting achievement for his club: he's the first Everton goalkeeper to average less than a goal a game over his first 100 games.

As you can see from this nifty chart (from Everton's official club website) Howard just comes in under the 1 GAA mark and he's even done a few better than Wales and Everton legend Neville Southall. Below is a list of the top Everton keepers over 100 games with appearances followed by (goals conceded).
  • Tim Howard - 100 (99)
  • Neville Southall - 100 (102)
  • George Wood - 100 (108)
  • Gordon West - 100 (113)
Of course, Howard would be the first to tell you that he still has a long way to go, especially if he wants to come anywhere close Southall's amazing tally of 750 games for Everton, a club record.
"Neville is a legend and the reason he's a legend is because he did it over a long period of time," Howard told Everton's website. "I've got a long way to go, I know that. But I hope that I can stay consistent, stay here for a long time and do it with this club."

Premier League Highlights

Tim Howard played 90 minutes in Everton's 3-1 victory over West Ham United:

Clint Dempsey came on as a second half sub in Fulham's 2-1 win over Newcastle:

Weekend Results

In England, Tim Howard and Everton earned a 3-1 win over West Ham. Clint Dempsey came on as a second half sub to help Fulham grind out a 2-1 win over Newcastle at Craven Cottage.

Over in Germany, Hannover 96 and Steve Cherundolo fell 2-1 to FC Köln on Friday but it was better news for 'Gladbach this weekend, as Michael Bradley's club earned a 2-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld.

In France, Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes are up to fourth after a 3-0 win over St. Etienne on Sunday. Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege got back to winning ways in Belgium with a 3-1 win over GBA.

We'll be back later with more weekend highlights from around the world...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Weekend Preview

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes look to continue their climb up the Ligue 1 table when they face St. Etienne this weekend. Storied club St. Etienne are in the midst of a shocking season, and their coach has been given two games to effectively save his job. For Rennes, times are good and they're unbeaten in five consecutive Ligue 1 games. Carlos Bocanegra took time to talk to FIFA.com about the transition at his new club and the U.S.' good start to World Cup qualifying. You can read the full article here.

Borussia Monchengladbach are without seven players ahead of this weekend's game against Arminia Bielefeld. Fortunately Michael Bradley is not one of those injured players and he is fit for 'Gladbach, as they look to stop a two game skid on Saturday.

In England, Everton and Tim Howard travel to London on Saturday to face struggling West Ham. Across the city, Clint Dempsey and Fulham play host to Newcastle on Sunday.

UEFA Cup Roundup

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Sevilla. Gooch played all 90 minutes for Standard, who next face Germinal Beerschot in the Belgian league on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa battled for a 1-0 victory over Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic. Brad Guzan started for Villa, making nine saves in the win. It was Guzan's first appearance in the UEFA Cup for Aston Villa and his first clean sheet for the club. Martin O'Neill praised the team's performance, and Guzan chipped in with some comments of his own to SkySports.com. "We did a great job in terms of commitment and defending as a unit," said Guzan. You can read the whole article here.

Following the win, O'Neill spoke to the BBC about Guzan's potential, you can read that article here.

Aston Villa next take on Middlesbrough on Sunday in the Premier League.

Picture courtesy of avfc.co.uk, Aston Villa's official website.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Enter the Worm

Brad Guzan has been given the start tonight in Aston Villa's UEFA Cup game against Sparta Prague. Guzan makes his second appearance for Villa - his only previous game came in the League cup. At halftime, Villa is leading Sparta Prague 1-0, and you can follow live text updates here.

UEFA Cup Thursday

Lots of UEFA Cup action today, with Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege hosting Sevilla in Group C action. It is an interesting time for both teams: Sevilla are enduring their worst run in over a year, having lost their last three games in all competitions. For Gooch and Standard, they've slipped to fourth place in the Belgian Jupiler League, a position of unusual depth for last season's champions. Both teams are looking for a result tonight, Follow the match live from 2:30 ET on UEFA.com.

Pachuca Ties Tecos

In Mexico's Primera Division, Pachuca played Tecos to a 2-2 draw. Jose Torres started for Pachuca, who next face Chiapas on Nov. 8.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Howard Talks Long Throw-Ins

In case you've missed it the past few weeks, Rory Delap's long throw-ins for Stoke City have been taking the Premier League by storm. Stoke, promoted from the Championship last year, overthrew Arsenal this weekend, beating the Gunners 2-1 at the Brittania Stadium.

Tim Howard and Everton learned about Stoke City's not-so-secret weapon earlier in the year, with Delap's throw-ins leading to two goals when the teams met in September. Everton came back to win that game 3-2, and Tim Howard took time to talk to Everton's website about how tough it is to deal with the long throw. Read the whole article here.

High Level Competition

Thanks to Steven Goff's blog, we were made aware this morning that English magazine FourFourTwo is publishing their list of the top 100 players, and revealed their top 10:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
3. Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
4. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
5. Kaka (AC Milan)
6. David Villa (Valencia)
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan)
8. Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid)
9. Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)
10. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

("I'd take them on my team," is what Carlos Bocanegra told the Global Blog this morning.)

The list got our intellectual curiosity stirring, and we were able to determine that eight of these ten players have at least one thing in common. We'll save you the suspense.

Since Aug. of 2007, the U.S. national team has played against eight of the players on the list in international competition. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) has not suited up against the U.S., while David Villa served as an unused sub in the match against Spain on June 4 in Santander. In the last two years, the U.S. has played against four teams that were ranked in the top 10 in the world at the time of the matches.

"It's great for us to be playing against such high quality competition," said Bocanegra. "When you get a chance to test yourself, you get a reality check about where you stand, and it provides a great challenge. The fact that we are getting quality games against the best teams around the world also speaks well of the United States and the respect that our team is earning."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beasley and Rangers Looking for More

DaMarcus Beasley, who came on as a sub in the 5-0 victory over Inverness on Saturday, spoke to Sky Sports yesterday, and you can read the full article here. Beas noted that, while Rangers' demolition of Inverness reflected a good performance, gaining points will always the most important goal in any game. Rangers are in SPL action tonight, taking on Dundee Utd. at Ibrox.

Picture courtesy of SkySports.com

Longer Highlights from Villarreal's Win

Here are some longer highlights from Villarreal's win over Atl. Bilbao this weekend. Jozay Altidore came on as a late second half sub to score his first goal for his club.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rennes Climbing up the Table

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes are up to sixth in the Ligue 1 table, after 1 -0 defeat of Sochaux this weekend. Bocanegra went the full 90 minutes for his club, and was booked in the 16th minute. Rennes take on St. Etienne next.

Everton vs. Fulham Highlights

Here are some highlights from Everton's 1-0 win over Fulham on Saturday. In case you missed it as well, former Everton and Fulham player Brian McBride offered his thoughts up to evertonfc.com ahead of Saturday's game.

Bundesliga Results

In Germany, Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 pulled off a big 3-0 upset over Hamburg. Cherundolo played the full ninety minutes for Hannover who take on 1.FC Köln on Friday.

Michael Bradley and Borussia Monchengladbach succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Bradley entered the game as a second half substitute. Next up for 'Gladbach is Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday, Nov. 8.

1-2 Borussia Mgladbach vs. Eintracht Frankfurt Goa… - MyVideo

In the 2.Bundesliga, Heath Pearce entered the game as a second half sub for Hansa Rostock, but his club eventually lost to RW Oberhauson.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Results

Tim Howard and Everton continued their good run of form with a narrow 1-0 victory over Fulham. Howard made three saves in the victory, while Clint Dempsey came on as a late sub for Fulham.

In Spain, Villarreal bounced back from their midweek loss in the Copa del Rey, beating Athletic Bilbao 4-1. Jozy Altidore entered the game as a second half sub, and put the finishing touches on Villarreal's win by grabbing his first goal in Europe. Altidore entered the game in the 90th minute, and just seconds later he popped up in the area to finish a good attacking move.

In action from last night, Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to SC Charleroi in the Belgian top flight.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clint Dempsey Checks in from London

We caught up with Clint Dempsey of Fulham today and recorded a podcast with the Fulham midfielder from his house in London. Clint talked about his club's next game with Everton this weekend, scoring a goal earlier in the week, and the progress that the U.S. team has made in World Cup qualifying so far. Listen to the full podcast here.

Howard's End and Fulham's Good Run

Tim Howard kept his first clean sheet of the season as Everton earned a 1-0 victory over Bolton in the Premier League last night. The shutout ended a run of 17 consecutive games in which Everton had conceded a goal, a streak that Howard admitted had him a bit nervous. He spoke to Everton's website about getting his first clean sheet of the season; read the full interview here.

Up next for Everton: A date with Clint Dempsey and Fulham. The two sides will meet at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking of Fulham, their recent revival continued with a 2-0 victory over Wigan yesterday. Dempsey came off the bench in the second half of the win, as Fulham jumped up to 14th in the table.