Man City, Man United, Spurs Pull Away in Premier League

When we look back on the 2011-2012 Premier League season, we’re going to realize that these past few fixtures of games separated the men from the boys. Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have pulled away from the pack in England, leaving Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal fighting for the final spot in Champions League football.

Manchester United easily took down Wigan Athletic 5-0 this week even with Wayne Rooney starting on the bench. That’s the same Wigan squad that drew with Liverpool 0-0 last week and drew 1-1 with Chelsea the week before. While the Reds squandered two points against Wigan, United lay waste to Fulham by a 5-0 scoreline. Guess who played Fulham this week? Chelsea. The Blues took just a point in a 1-1 draw while playing at  Stamford Bridge while the Red Devils were able to take the full three points at Craven Cottage.

Manchester City mustered just a weak draw at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day. However, City defeated Arsenal in a pivotal showdown the previous week that kept them at the top of the league. They are now tied with United (ahead on goal-differential) after this week’s draw and United’s victory. Continue reading “Man City, Man United, Spurs Pull Away in Premier League”

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The MLS All-Star Game is Unfair

The MLS All-Stars lost to Manchester United 4-0 last night in a scoreline that doesn’t reflect how the game went. The MLS’s stars played well in the first half, sticking with the Red Devils for the full 45 minutes but found themselves down 2-0 at the break. In the second half, United took control and outplayed the MLS, leading to a 4-0 final scoreline.

But my issue isn’t with the final score. Yes, the MLS deserved better, but that’s how soccer – and sports – work. United took their chances very well and the MLS missed a couple of golden opportunities. What is a problem is that this game is seen as a referendum on the state of soccer in America.

The MLS All-Stars get to practice for a couple of days and then are tossed on the field together and expected to compete with the top teams in the world. You can compare individual players at each position around the field and Manchester United will generally have the better players, but the gap is closing.

However, if you just look at the scoreline or even watch the game, you wouldn’t notice that. Many of United’s players have been playing with each other for years and the team has been playing friendlies around the U.S. for the past month. They are in preseason mode, but are finding their form. And they are used to playing with each other.

Rooney and Berbatov play off each other well. The defense holds the backline and communication around the field is significantly greater for the Red Devils. Continue reading “The MLS All-Star Game is Unfair”

FIFA Lets the Corruption Continue

FIFA officially banned Mohamed bin Hammam for life today after he was found guilty of bribing CONCACAF officials. It’s not that this outcome is bad. Bin Hammam deserved to be banned for life. However, the real crime is that Bin Hammam is just the fall guy in a sport full of corruption.

Corruption in soccer is the worst kept secret in sports. Bribery is commonplace and every major FIFA figure turns a blind eye to it. And it stayed this way until Bin Hammam recently decided to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA Presidency. Bin Hammam had won Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup and had the greatest chance of beating Blatter.

Blatter has been president since 1998 and won reelection in 2002 and 2007 unopposed. While rumors of bribery existed in 2002, they were not pursued as no country or individual had any incentive to challenge Blatter, the most powerful man in the sport.

Bin Hammam entered the race this year and was determined to unseat Blatter, who has become more and more unpopular. And in order to win, bin Hammam needed to be the better candidate – aka offer more money. This is where the story gets interesting. Two corrupt candidates running against each other with incentives to rat each other out: Continue reading “FIFA Lets the Corruption Continue”