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Sunday, March 02, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014

Lots of great games this month and a lot of good mid-week action. Make or break time for Arsenal, Barcelona and Napoli.

March 5th: Ukraine vs USA
March 8th: Seattle vs Sporting KC as MLS gets started, Chelsea vs Tottenham, Arsenal vs Everton in the Cup
March 9th: Man City vs Wigan in the Cup and in Italy Juventus begin have the first of their three battles in the span of two weeks and Napoli host Roma
March 10th: CONCACAF CL begins with Alajuense taking on Arabe Unido. Feel the excitement!
March 11th: Bayern v Arsenal and Atleti v Milan
March 12th: Barca v Man City and Rangers v Airdrie United
March 13th: Spurs v Benfica, Napoli v Porto and Juventus v Fiorentina in some good looking EL matchups.
March 15th: Seattle v Toronto in the battle of American stars, the battle of the Borussias in Germany, Bayern v Leverkusen
March 16th: Derby Day! Liverpool vs Man U and Spurs vs Arsenal
March 17th: Torino v Napoli
March 18th: Chelsea v Galatasaray and Crawley Town v Wolverhampton
March 19th: Borussia Dortmund vs Zenit and Man U vs Olympiacos
March 20th: Europa League return legs
March 21: Freiburng vs Werder Bremen
March 22: Chelsea v Arsenal, Monaco v Lille
March 23: Spurs v Southampton, Real Madrid v Barca, Napoli v Fiornetina
March 25: Manchester Derby, Roma v Torino
March 26: Liverpool v Sunderland, Sevilla v Real Madrid
March 27: Inter v Udinese
March 29: Arsenal v Man City
March 30: Liverpool v Spurs, Barcelona Derby, Athletic v Atletico, Napoli v Juventus

 

 

 

Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 02, 2014 at 11:12 AM | 1404 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   601. ursus arctos Posted: April 07, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4681368)
Quite a few people think that there is a Madrid-specific release clause in Suarez' contract that obligates Liverpool to sell if the price is met. Speculation that I've heard from people without any reason to know the truth have put that number at anywhere between 50 million sterling and "Gareth Bale money" (i.e, roughly 83 million sterling).

If such a clause exists, I would expect it to be closer to the top of that range.
   602. Bull Pain Posted: April 07, 2014 at 05:37 PM (#4681405)
I know I'm the resident Jozy hater, but he may very well have been the worst striker in the PL this season and one of the worst in PL history. 2 goals in 53 matches. It doesn't matter how bad your team is, that's a horrific strike rate. Even Kenny Miller scored 4 for Derby County in 07-08. Sunderland are well finished now, Poyet's system was easily figured out by the better PL managers in the lower half of the table and he was too clueless to change tactics until it was too late, but there was a stretch in the middle of the season where they were playing decent and picking up points against good sides and Jozy was playing every game and still couldn't make an impact. There wasn't one facet of his game that made him worth playing, other than Sunderland not having other healthy strikers. He was slow, couldn't win headers in the box, and his control was awful. When they played him against Carlisle and Kidderminster in the FA Cup to try and boost his confidence, he was a non-factor and booed by the fans. Now Sunderland is playing some disastrous 5-4-1 formation with a midfielder in the "attacking" role and Jozy can't even make the bench despite Fletcher being out for the season. Sunderland will be lucky to get 25% of their purchase price for him. Returning to the Dutch League is a huge step backwards and he certainly won't be coveted by any PL team. MLS is his only hope to salvage his career.

That being said, Giacherrini was an even worse signing. His signing led to them selling Sessegnon, who was their best player. Turns out the PL isn't the place for a 5'6" midfielder with no pace, even if he an Italian international. He still managed 3 goals in the PL though.
   603. Manny Coon Posted: April 07, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4681447)
Altidore exiled to Sunderland's U-21 team.

What a disaster that move has turned out to be.


Banishing him seems to have fixed at everything for Sunderland at least, a fine performance today.
   604. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 07, 2014 at 07:32 PM (#4681498)
Jeez louise Sunderland are terrible. They didn't even try today.
   605. Swedish Chef Posted: April 07, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4681510)
I was right to not be worried about Sunderland.
   606. madvillain Posted: April 07, 2014 at 08:30 PM (#4681529)
He was slow, couldn't win headers in the box, and his control was awful.


He was pretty damn good against NFC and then inexplicably he was dropped for the next game and was in and out of the lineup after that. It's clear that Poyet was/is just as clueless as Di Canio about how to get anything out of the squad.

Altidore missed a couple decent chances this year (including one against NFC) but for the most part he was just another Sunderland player flailing around. At times he would be wide open begging for the ball and a Sunderland mid would take a crack from 30 yards and miss wildly. All of their field players are garbage except Johnson IMO. Ki is the Beckerman of the EPL he never met a backpass he didn't like. At least Beckerman has some punch in his tackles. That they felt they didn't need Sessègnon in their midfield boggles the mind.

I watched way too much of them this year, wasting quite a few Saturday mornings here on the West coast. They can rot in the Championship for all I care. Their fanbase does them no favors either. Buncha wankers.
   607. Spivey Posted: April 07, 2014 at 10:55 PM (#4681591)
As for the price of Suarez, I think that there isn't an amount they should accept another team would be willing to pay. Which is to say, I think he's a player that a team like Liverpool should be willing to pay top wages in the world. As long as they can keep him wanting to stay there, I don't think they should accept a 150mil offer. His quality is not replaceable, and they should be favorites to be in CL every year here's there. If he's not there, then they're just another Tottenham or Everton.
   608. frannyzoo Posted: April 07, 2014 at 11:50 PM (#4681612)
Having watched Steven Fletcher help Wolves achieve relegation, I was puzzled by Sunderland's 12 million Pounds for him. I see Fletcher's Whoscored Profile has his strengths as:

(Player has no significant strengths)


I like having more non-London EPL teams. At least Sunderland will be replaced by Leicester, Burnley and, hopefully, not QPR.
   609. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:09 AM (#4681684)
Sid Lowe on Valencia's decline

Dan Quayle is trying to buy the club!
   610. J. Sosa Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:36 AM (#4681707)
Keith regarding your comment on the last page about the unforeseen improvement of players, I totally agree. I know it is fashionable to nitpick and be skeptical regarding managers (something I'm guiltier of than most) but at this point I am willing to say in all sincerity that I would give a great deal to witness what a training session with Brendan Rodgers is like. You mentioned Sterling, Henderson, and Flanagan and there are many other examples. With my own eyes a week ago I witnessed Martin Skrtel launch an inch perfect 40 yard diagonal through ball on the outside of his boot. I'm sure there are many factors in the club's resurgence (Peters, Suarez's brilliance, home run purchases like Sturridge and Coutinho, maybe a little bit of good fortune after a period of a bit of bad fortune) but to me the main one is Rodgers.
   611. J. Sosa Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:52 AM (#4681721)
Regarding Altidore, I'm also pretty firmly in the "he's been terrible" camp. There are things that a man of his skills can do to help a club even if he's starved of service. Those skills are presumably why the club bought him in the first place. I was surprised a few weeks ago when I went through how many strikers in the PL I would rather have this season. I would say he has actually been sub replacement level. That's a big statement, but I think it is true. I don't know what's going on with him, whether it is mental, physical, or whatever. But it has been a disaster.

Regarding Suarez, I would be surprised if he is sold at this point. I don't think the situation is all that comparable to Bale. I'm not sure what wages Bale was on, but with Suarez making 200+ a week and the club competing for the title I don't think he will view it as a pressing concern to move. The list of potential suitors is pretty short, maybe even as short as Bayern, PSG, and Madrid. He's not a Pep player, PSG has Zlatan and Cavani, and I can't see Madrid bringing him in a year after Bale. I could be wrong of course, but his wages after the new deal are pretty competitive for a player of his level and I don't see him leaving this year. The instant they don't make CL he's gone, but for right now I think it is ok.
   612. Manny Coon Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4681836)
There are things that a man of his skills can do to help a club even if he's starved of service. Those skills are presumably why the club bought him in the first place.


What skills are those? He's never been too good of hold up player or aerial player, so if they bought him to do that they bought the wrong guy. He's always been a guy who does well when he gets service on the ground, which is something he basically never gets a Sunderland. Sometimes I get the feeling that perhaps someone decided that because he's big and black he must a classic power target man up front, but he's not and he never has been.
   613. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4681935)
Sunderland is crap. Rooney and Aguerro would probably struggle on this team. Maybe a striker like prime-Drogba or Luis Suarez could "thrive" on this team. Regardless, Jozy has been terrible and from what he has shown does not belong in the Premier League. The only "skill" I have seen from Jozy this season is the ability to draw some fouls. Manny is right in that because he's big and strong everyone thinks he should be a target man when he's clearly not. Ultimately, Jozy needs to be on a good team (relative to league) to play to his strengths. However, he's not going to get that chance in any of the big leagues.
   614. DA Baracus Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4681945)
Before the season started we all said Jozy going to Sunderland was a stupid move because they don't have anyone that can get him the ball. Sure, he could play better, but when you're relegated with 7 games left to play there's a lot of blame to go around.
   615. J. Sosa Posted: April 08, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4681953)
My basic impression of Altidore is that his work rate isn't high enough. That sounds trite, but there is a reason he's been given the moniker Dozy. He doesn't make runs, he doesn't get into promising positions, and he doesn't hold the ball up. That doesn't mean he can't. I do believe Sunderland thought they were getting a target man. And he can do it when he's fussed to try. He was a load in the first LFC match going up against three center backs. He can do that kind of work, he took a beating that match. But he doesn't. Maybe he has exercise induced asthma or something (I'm not being flippant, just attempting to come up with some reason a man that big and strong can't seem to win a ball). He can do hold up work, he proved it in the LFC match. But if he thinks that balls played into his feet with no defense like he faced in the Eredivisie is typical for the type of clubs he's going to have to play for to make money, he's out of his mind, because to be blunt, he's not that good at that either.

I maintain that Altidore does have skills, which is why he keeps getting chances. He just doesn't show them on a consistent basis. Which is why he stinks compared to what I would think his ability merits. I don't think that is an unfair assessment. Sunderland does stink, but a guy like Borini came in and played and had an impact on matches. Borini didn't hang his head or complain about playing out wide or anything else. He just went in, made runs for teamates and worked hard. Altidore showed he can do hold up play. He just won't (or can't, if there is a medical issue of which I am unaware). And if that's his attitude, he deserves to get shipped to the U21's. If anything Sunderland has been too patient.
   616. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 08, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4681964)
I maintain that Altidore does have skills, which is why he keeps getting chances. He just doesn't show them on a consistent basis. Which is why he stinks compared to what I would think his ability merits. I don't think that is an unfair assessment. Sunderland does stink, but a guy like Borini came in and played and had an impact on matches. Borini didn't hang his head or complain about playing out wide or anything else. He just went in, made runs for teamates and worked hard.


I think this is a pretty good assessment. Altidore can't (or more accurately won't) be that guy who gets a team that's being overwhelmed a 30-60 second respite by holding the ball after not being involved for 25 minutes. We hear all the time about keepers needing to stay focused when they aren't involved well the same is true of strikers. The job Drogba did against Barca in the CL a couple of years ago the gold standard in my mind. Barca had a LOT of the ball that night but the few times Chelsea got it away Drogba did a great job of just getting the backline a little break.

For whatever reason Jozy doesn't seem able or willing to do that.
   617. Manny Coon Posted: April 08, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4681982)
I do believe Sunderland thought they were getting a target man.


Then they are idiots who have never watched him play. He wasn't a target man in the Eredvisie, he isn't for US national team. Using him as one sets him up for failure, even if he looks the part.

It's not about receiving the ball on the ground with no defense around him either. It's about getting it on the ground with someone to play off of. At the international level he combines with guys like Donovan, Zusi and Fabian Johnson, guys move the ball quickly on the ground and run off him, he doesn't do as well with someone like Dempsey. It is why he gets a good amount assists despite not a being a great passer. About the only other guy who plays like this on Sunderland is Giaccherini, but he's also struggled for a lot of the same reasons; Giaccherini has had better results Jozy, but Giachherini is also a better player.
   618. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 08, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4682111)
The CL games are suddenly interesting...And Bournemouth remains rampant!
   619. jmurph Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4682138)
Chelsea is definitely going to score a late winner, right? Followed by lots of Mourinho celebrating?
   620. jmurph Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:31 PM (#4682154)
Oh, those irrepressible bastards.
   621. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4682189)
You hit that pretty well jmurph. Man that was some finish. PSG got a couple of pretty decent late chances too with Cech making one terrific save and a few nice clearances on corners.
   622. JuanGone..except1game Posted: April 08, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4682202)
That is why I spend so much time dedicating myself to sports. I might have pulled my hamstring in my own personal goal celebration. Thanks jmurph for your assist on that one.
   623. Sean Forman Posted: April 08, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4682210)
Based on my reaction to PSG vs. Chelsea. I definitely hate Russian Petro Barons worse than Middle Eastern ones.
   624. Mefisto Posted: April 08, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4682323)
Anybody else think Ba was offside? Watch here (esp the 2d angle) and tell me if I'm crazy.
   625. frannyzoo Posted: April 08, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4682363)
Today's CL was exactly like that time I called Jennifer Connelly for a date and she was saying "yes" when she suddenly remembered a PTO meeting she had to attend that night. So close...in both games.

   626. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4682404)
Anybody else think Ba was offside? Watch here (esp the 2d angle) and tell me if I'm crazy.

That's just the camera angle. Cameras on ground level behind the goalline are useless for offside calls. The overhead shot shows him very clearly onside.
   627. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:50 PM (#4682417)
####### Chelsea.
   628. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:52 PM (#4682422)
I prefer #### Chelsea.

Very disappointing set of outcomes on the day.
   629. JE (Jason) Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:04 PM (#4682437)
From the Daily Mirror:

Former Arsenal footballer 'joins Jihadi fighters waging war in Syria
A former Arsenal star is thought to have joined a band of ruthless Jihadi fighters waging war in Syria.

The gun-toting fanatic is said to have grown up playing with Real Madrid galactico Cristiano Ronaldo.

The militia man turned his back on a footballer's playboy lifestyle after becoming radicalised two years ago, it is claimed

He is filmed wielding an AK47 and proclaiming holy war in two terror videos on an extremist website.

Fellow jihadists say the fighter - who now calls himself Abu Issa Al-Andalusi - was brought up in Portugal before signing for the Gunners.

In the footage he appears in a mask calling on Muslims to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - an al-Qaeda off-shoot group behind murders and beheadings.

The faction has been blamed for extreme violence against other Islamist groups, Kurds and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime.

The fanatic says: “It’s very important for you to protect your children from these animals, from these dirty people; Allah says they are the worst of creatures.”

One of the videos acts as a recruiting call for supporters in the Ukraine.

The ex-Premier League footballer says “we are in need of all kinds of help in fighting the enemy”.

He boasts: “We have conquered many cities and we are now implementing the sharia. We have areas where the kaffirs [non-Muslims] are paying us the tax.”
   630. Mefisto Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4682478)
The overhead shot shows him very clearly onside.


Thanks. I looked for another angle, but couldn't find one.
   631. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 08:19 AM (#4682647)
Based on my reaction to PSG vs. Chelsea. I definitely hate Russian Petro Barons worse than Middle Eastern ones.


Even though they're not exactly a Cinderella story, I was just hoping for a team from outside of the big 4 leagues to progress. Oh well.
   632. frannyzoo Posted: April 09, 2014 at 08:42 AM (#4682663)
This is almost like that Steve Martin joke about how to make $1,000,000 and never pay taxes, but here's what I want:

1. Atletico advances v. Barca (I hear Howard Webb is the ref today...whoo-hoo! mayhem ensues!)
2. Atletico draws Chelsea
3. The Chelsea vampire finally has a stake driven through its Jose heart.
4. Whatever happens, happens in the Final.

I may have trouble getting much work done this afternoon.
   633. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:29 AM (#4682701)
If you're rooting for Liverpool, you can take some solace in the fact that the CL semi-final legs sandwich the Chelsea/LFC game at Anfield.
   634. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 09, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4682784)
I am just rooting for those plucky underdogs Manchester United. It's about all I have left at this point...
   635. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 09, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4682827)
I am just rooting for those plucky underdogs Manchester United. It's about all I have left at this point...

Atletico or bust.
   636. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 09, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4682830)
I want ManUtd to get to the final but lose. They may be plucky underdogs now compared to Bayern Munich and Chelsea and Man City, but they shouldn't be in the Champions League again next year.

This makes me realize the horrors of thinking that finishing fourth makes you a more appropriate entry in the "Champions League" than actually being the Champions of the Champions League. But, you know, whatever.
   637. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 09, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4682881)
If United were to somehow to advance this has to be up there with one of the great upsets in recent Champions League history, right? Schweinie, Martinez and Thiago are all out, but Bayern's midfield will still be so much better. I'll be looking forward to watching Fellaini losing more headers to Lahm.
   638. Randy Jones Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4682897)
Fellaini didn't travel with the team, apparently due to some injury. Rafael and Evans also.
   639. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4682904)
   640. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4682917)
I suppose on paper I want the MLS to succeed and grow, though I don't watch/follow it at all. But I really don't understand the need for 22-24 teams in a country that doesn't much care about the sport, by and large.
   641. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4682920)
With the caveat that it's tough to speak in such broad strokes, I think the country does care about the sport. It's just that a large percentage of that subsection doesn't care about MLS.
   642. Swedish Chef Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4682930)
But I really don't understand the need for 22-24 teams in a country that doesn't much care about the sport, by and large.

Every little two-bit country in Europe has a pro league, often with 16-18 teams in the top tier. I'm sure you can handle a few more teams.

Also, the population in those countries are often more into the bigger leagues. Just see Scandinavia's insanely costly PL TV deal (still bigger than the one for the US).
   643. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4682932)
Every little two-bit country in Europe has a pro league, often with 16-18 teams in the top tier. I'm sure you can handle a few more teams.


Another way to phrase this is that the most soccer-mad countries on the planet have decided that 20 teams is (usually) the right number. "Yeah, but the U.S. has more people" isn't necessarily a great argument.

With the caveat that it's tough to speak in such broad strokes, I think the country does care about the sport. It's just that a large percentage of that subsection doesn't care about MLS.


You're right. I overly simplified it, your version is more accurate than mine.
   644. Manny Coon Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4682934)
A lot more people care about MLS than 15 years ago. It's been a slow process buy they are making gains. If you told someone 20 years ago a soccer team in Seattle would bring 40K people a game they would think you're crazy.
   645. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4682936)
Focusing on stocking a 16ish team league with actual talent seems like it would be the way to go, rather than going to 22-24 and hoping to somehow fill out the quality over time.
   646. Swedish Chef Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4682941)
If they weren't so afraid of recreating the New York Cosmos, MLS could always let the talent flow freely towards the biggest wallets.
   647. J. Sosa Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4682944)
re Altidore:

I don't really get the point that he does well with players that can play off of him, as Sunderland does have some players that are willing runners. If Altidore is not able to be a physical fulcrum for his team his ability to impact the game in that way is limited, even setting aside that hold up play is a basic part of a striker's job. A team would be better off playing an advanced midfielder if that is what he is going to hang his hat on.

re: Chelsea

I was rooting for Chelsea in unabashed fashion for the reason Keith mentioned.

re: MLS

A recent conversation between my wife and I:

-----

"Hey, is that Defoe?"

"Yes."

*Defoe scores twice in the span of 2 seconds*

.....

"The MLS isn't very good is it?"

*Click*

-----

I can't get into MLS although I've tried because of the standard of play as well as the team ownership structure. I would love for the MLS to grow, but I haven't been able to get into it. Out of the maybe 500 or so youth and academy players I come into contact with from time to time only a handful follow a MLS team. The vast majority of them solely follow the PL and La Liga. That is purely anectdotal, but it does support Keith's point that there are many people that love the sport but don't care about MLS.
   648. Swedish Chef Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4682946)
Another way to phrase this is that the most soccer-mad countries on the planet have decided that 20 teams is (usually) the right number. "Yeah, but the U.S. has more people" isn't necessarily a great argument.

That doesn't take the pyramid into account, there are 92 pro teams in England, and there are tiers and tiers of teams under them. All of them can dream of moving on to bigger and better things.
   649. Sweet Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4682948)
Focusing on stocking a 16ish team league with actual talent seems like it would be the way to go, rather than going to 22-24 and hoping to somehow fill out the quality over time.

That might be right, but I think expansion might actually be the optimal strategy for MLS. Seem like, roughly speaking, people follow particular sports leagues/teams for one of two reasons:

1. Personal connection (e.g., geography, college affiliation)
2. Because they offer the best viewing experience, which usually means the highest-quality play

So, I happily still follow my alma mater's teams, even though they mostly don't compete at the highest levels. But where I don't have a local or personal affiliation, I seek out the best product. If I'm looking a for basketball or hockey team to follow, I'll look to the NBA or NFL, not to a Turkish or Russian league. If it's soccer, I'll look to a European league.

MLS won't compete on reason #2 anytime soon -- and wouldn't even if they collapsed to 16 or even 8 teams -- so reason #1 is all the league has for the time being.

I think this distinguishes MLS's strategy from some other past unsuccessful expansion efforts, like the USFL, into cities or regions that are already well served by top-quality options in the same sport. That's not to say it will work, but it seems to me like (slowly) building local affiliations is at least a rational approach.
   650. Manny Coon Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4682949)
Focusing on stocking a 16ish team league with actual talent seems like it would be the way to go, rather than going to 22-24 and hoping to somehow fill out the quality over time.


That assumes their goal is build the best top to bottom teams, but I don't think that is one of their main goals right now. Growing the number of markets means more people have local teams to root for; I think local trumps quality in a situation like MLS, where even if there are less teams, it is obvious they aren't the best of the best and won't be anytime soon.

More markets also likely makes their TV deals more appealing by having teams and audiences in more parts of the country.
   651. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4682958)
That assumes their goal is build the best top to bottom teams, but I don't think that is one of their main goals right now. Growing the number of markets means more people have local teams to root for; I think local trumps quality in a situation like MLS, where even if there are less teams, it is obvious they aren't the best of the best and won't be anytime soon.

This makes a lot of sense.

It does seem like for years and years they had a goal of getting up to 18 or 20 teams and staying there. The new flurry of expansion ideas probably comes from the encouraging local TV numbers combined with dismal national TV numbers. I've been watching a lot of Philadelphia Union games, but not really any others unless it's a big rivalry.
   652. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4682961)
That doesn't take the pyramid into account, there are 92 pro teams in England, and there are tiers and tiers of teams under them. All of them can dream of moving on to bigger and better things.


I understand that, but I'm not sure how much the lower tiers really matter in this context, especially when we're talking about teams that aren't on TV and aren't exactly drawing a lot of people. But sure, it's fair to point out that in England, you have the Premier League plus at least 10-15 lower league teams that are also quite large.
   653. Manny Coon Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4682966)
I don't really get the point that he does well with players that can play off of him, as Sunderland does have some players that are willing runners..


They run but they can they pass? And if Jozy does pass them the ball will they pass it back? I'm not saying Jozy hasn't been poor, he has, but they are using him way in which should have been obvious he would struggle to start with, any time he's been used as a traditional target man he's not done well his entire career.

It's also worth noting that even though Jozy hasn't scored Sunderland as a team has scored a lot more per minute with him on the field than not; they've been terrible with him playing, but like the game against Spurs they've often been even worse without him. If he was as shockingly dreadful as he's made out to be, you would think they would actually do better without him.

Either way though it's probably best of him and Sunderland to part ways at this point, it's clearly not working for either side.
   654. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4682967)
Good points on the local interest vs quality approaches in posts 649-651. I'm still skeptical, though. Wikipedia has these TV revenue numbers from (I think) 2013:

NFL: $5 billion
MLB: $1.5 billion
NBA: $930 million
NHL: $200 million
MLS: $40 million
   655. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4682973)
I know this is somewhat simplistic, but the Premier League not only has the obvious talent edge, they're also my only option at 8:30am on a Saturday morning. If DC United wants my eyeballs they have to compete with multiple MLB and NBA games as well as the heaps of non-sports stuff on. So the argument that expansion will lead to more local following will lead to more revenue will lead to overall leaque-quality makes sense, but I'm not sure the ceiling on all of that isn't quite low.
   656. DA Baracus Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4682989)
Another pro team for Atlanta to ignore. Minneapolis on the clock...


The Silverbacks draw well all things considered. Why Orlando and Miami are getting teams makes no sense. Florida is the worst sports market.
   657. Manny Coon Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4683000)
I know this is somewhat simplistic, but the Premier League not only has the obvious talent edge, they're also my only option at 8:30am on a Saturday morning. If DC United wants my eyeballs they have to compete with multiple MLB and NBA games as well as the heaps of non-sports stuff on. So the argument that expansion will lead to more local following will lead to more revenue will lead to overall leaque-quality makes sense, but I'm not sure the ceiling on all of that isn't quite low.


They can always shift their strategy over time, if more teams have success similar to the Sounders and Galaxy then they can start to throw more money around.

I think the biggest key for them longer term is whether the USA starts to develop more good players fill out the teams. Some no name playing in Spain or Italy is about the 100 times better than whoever is filling out the roster Chivas USA. I do think we've already seen a good jump in the quality of that type of player from 1993 to now, but they still have a long way to go.
   658. Manny Coon Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4683016)
The Silverbacks draw well all things considered. Why Orlando and Miami are getting teams makes no sense. Florida is the worst sports market.


Having a minor league team drawing in the area seems like a good sign for a team; the Timbers, Whitecaps and Impact all had roots as locally popular minor league teams and seem to be doing ok. Orlando City seems to be doing pretty well also, they drew over 8000 as game in the USL this past year. Miami seems like a favor to Beckham.
   659. Textbook Editor Posted: April 09, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4683067)
I know this is somewhat simplistic, but the Premier League not only has the obvious talent edge, they're also my only option at 8:30am on a Saturday morning.


This is the whole of the reason why TE, Jr. is an avid fan of the Premier League--he can wake up, eat breakfast and (if he wants) take in 1 to 3 high-quality soccer matches before he eats lunch. He can't stay up until 10pm to watch a Sounders game, and even 7pm games for baseball/hockey/basketball are problematic (in terms of watching one from start to finish).

Add in the Champions League games that are in the afternoon after school (when he can watch), and European soccer timing is almost perfect for kids to take in as much as they want (should they want to). TE, Jr. now knows more about the rosters of various EPL teams than he does about MLB teams... Simply because he watches far, far more EPL games.
   660. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 09, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4683078)
The time of the games is the #1 reason I watch Euro soccer instead of MLS. I don't mind that MLS quality isn't as good--it's not great, but it's good enough--it's just that the timing of the games doesn't suit my life right now.
   661. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 09, 2014 at 02:58 PM (#4683091)
So Kroos is the most "defensive" midfielder for Bayern today. That's unexpected. Not sure why Lahm wouldn't move to the middle (Rafinha is on the bench). If United can withstand the attacking barrage, Munich should be open to the counter.
   662. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4683093)
Athleti!!!
   663. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4683102)
Sounds like the woodwork is the only thing keeping Bards in this tie. Athleti better hope they don't come to rue these chances not taken ...
   664. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4683168)
The commentary during the first half of the Macnhester United/Bayern Munich game was perplexing to me. Wynalda was so effusive in his praise of United's extreme defensive tactics and kept talking about how Bayern must be getting frustrated, while mostly ignoring that a 0-0 would suit Bayern fine and lead to United's elimination. He pointed that out in more certain terms at the beginning of the 2nd half, but it still kind of ruined the first half for me a bit. "Oh, they're going to go through if this keeps up, how frustrated they must be!"
   665. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 03:51 PM (#4683172)
Sounds like the woodwork is the only thing keeping Bards in this tie. Athleti better hope they don't come to rue these chances not taken ...


To be fair, they scored on the same attack one of the times they hit the bar so it was kind of double counting when the announcers said they hit the bar 3 times.
   666. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4683187)
HOLY #### PATRICE EVRA!
   667. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4683189)
I really want Man U to beat Bayern, and now I think they could.
   668. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4683191)
Wow, that was a quick response. Bayern levels it!
   669. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4683193)
Nice goal! For both teams.
   670. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4683201)
Rooney used the putter when he should have used the driver.
   671. Baldrick Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4683202)
Great game!
   672. Baldrick Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4683204)
Were the Fox announcers instructed to intentionally mispronounce all the players' names? That's the only theory I can come up with for how they could get so many of them so wrong.
   673. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4683209)
Well, that's probably it for Man U.
   674. Howling John Shade Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4683211)
Hell of a response from Bayern.
   675. sardonic Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4683212)
Interestingly the goal for BM doesn't actually change things that much for MU... next goal still wins for them, and they were not going to win without scoring another goal.
   676. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:12 PM (#4683216)
Goddamnit, every time I see Franck Ribery I want to cut his ####### balls off.
   677. DA Baracus Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4683219)
Orlando City seems to be doing pretty well also, they drew over 8000 as game in the USL this past year.


I did not realize they drew that well. I stand corrected.
   678. sardonic Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4683220)
Hell of a day to be unemployed with two TVs... A's and Twins in extra innings on one screen, Champions League quarters on the other.
   679. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4683227)
Looks like that'll do it, probably.
   680. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4683228)
How does no one get that Arjen Robben is always going to cut in that way? It's like clockwork.

eta: Rather, they do, obviously, so I guess that makes his ability to create shots even more amazing.
   681. jmurph Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4683234)
All is good in the world! Oh, right, it's Bayern Munich winning.
   682. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4683236)
I hate you all.
   683. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:23 PM (#4683242)
Am I misremembering or wasn't Robben on the verge of being dropped midway through last season? At least, that's what the ESPN commentators at the time were saying. They made it sound like he'd soon be getting the Sneijder treatment. What a rehab job he's done on his reputation.
   684. DA Baracus Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4683245)
wasn't Robben on the verge of being dropped midway through last season?


Maybe that drop was a fake too. #Rimshot
   685. Howling John Shade Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4683263)
What a year for Atletico.
   686. nick swisher hygiene Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4683265)
they redraw the semis, yes?
   687. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4683268)
I just hope the semi is not Bayern/Real. That in my opinion is the two best teams and should be the final and I think it would be a great final.
   688. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4683271)
Wow, Barca had 71% possession? Every time I checked in, possession seemed a bit more even than that. Ateltico had more shots and shots on target though. Contrast that with the other game, where Bayern had 65% posession, as well as 4 times as many shots.

Exciting games today.
   689. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4683275)
God that was fun. Tried my best to watch two screens.

-Pep spent most of a knockout quarterfinal workshopping a formation best described as a 2-3-2-3. He had both of his fullbacks tucking in to play central midfield alonside Toni Kroos, two attacking mids ahead of them, and a three-man forward line. God bless that beautiful madman. (Here's a good tactical piece by Rene Matic (German) on Pep's use of "false-backs" this season.

-1-0 for Atléti looks like it significantly understates their superiority. They squandered a small fortune of one-on-ones with the keeper. Their counterattack is certainly direct, but the players see the space so brilliantly that it maximizes the quality of their chances time and again. Koke's combination of workrate and guile is like my favorite thing in world football right now.

-I would absolutely love to see Bayern-Atleti in the semifinal. Two of the world's most interesting sides, playing radically distinct styles. That would be so much fun. And you'd get Jose against Real Madrid too.
   690. JuanGone..except1game Posted: April 09, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4683359)
If you're rooting for Liverpool, you can take some solace in the fact that the CL semi-final legs sandwich the Chelsea/LFC game at Anfield.

The FA has confirmed that either Chelsea's Sunderland or Liverpool match will be moved.

they redraw the semis, yes?

Yes. I'd actually prefer Bayern or Athletico to Real at this point. There is so much bad blood for Jose there and the fact that they play somewhat similar to Chelsea, that it would likely be our toughest draw.
   691. I am going to be Frank Posted: April 09, 2014 at 06:57 PM (#4683395)
How does no one get that Arjen Robben is always going to cut in that way? It's like clockwork.


Finishing up watching the second half. Wynalda was harping Evra on the second goal for playing Robben to go to his left (I guess it was partly his fault, but sometimes crosses go in between your legs). You got to give something up when someone is that good running at you. Lo and behold a couple minutes later, Robben scores because they let him go to his left.
   692. frannyzoo Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:12 PM (#4683486)
Such a perfect day after the c*ck block that was yesterday (so close, but...). Which is another way of saying that I hate MUFC even more than Bayern. Sometimes you don't realize these things until you face the fact that you'd even like Arjen Robben to do well against a team. That is the ultimate question.

Personally, I'd rather not have Atletico v. Bayern in the semi, but at the same time...it's just cool having them in the tournament at this point. Oh, and #### Chelsea.
   693. Sean Forman Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:49 PM (#4683506)
I assume Courtois would have to sit out if Atleti draw Chelsea?
   694. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:52 PM (#4683508)
[693] Interesting question.
   695. JuanGone..except1game Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4683514)
I assume Courtois would have to sit out if Atleti draw Chelsea?


Apparently the loan contract for Courtois allows him to play against Chelsea for 6million Euros, which I doubt will be paid. Smart move by Chelsea mgmt, though I doubt anyone is going to appreciate that forethought.
   696. Sean Forman Posted: April 09, 2014 at 10:03 PM (#4683520)
6m per match or tie? :)
   697. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 09, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4683532)
There's apparently no known UEFA rule on the issue of loans between clubs in the Champions League. So it's entirely up in the air.

World football!
   698. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 11:23 PM (#4683559)
If it's Six-and, Yes!

If it's Six-per, No!
   699. Textbook Editor Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:03 AM (#4683572)
If it's in the final you pay the $, right? Because the upside $ potential for the win might be worth the cost of paying the fee... Flags/Trophies fly forever and all that...
   700. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:07 AM (#4683573)
Flip.
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