round up #17

damn these winter olympics. they’re so freaking distracting.

despite the fact that there are more games in going on within a week either direction of today than in recent memory (premier league games were midweek last week, FA cup games and la liga games this weekend, champions league coming up this week), the festivities in vancouver this weekend has certainly caught my attention. for those who know me well, you won’t be surprised by this revelation. while soccer is my first love, skiing is my second, hence my ADD with respect to football at the moment.

the sounders look set to smash attendance records for the second year in a row.

however, i haven’t had my head completely turned by the world of winter sports. i’ve watched some games (notably the tottenham-bolton and portsmouth-southampton f.a. cup ties), and have kept my ear to the ground for an interesting happenings. maybe it would suit me best for another round-up. ok, let’s do an that to make up for my laziness lately.

injury-hit barcelona beaten by atlético –
finally, yes finally: barcelona have finally dropped all three points for the first time all season, after losing to inconsistent atlético madrid 2-1. this is fantastic news for those of us who are fans of los merengues, as real’s 3-0 win away to xerez means they move within two points of league leading barça. since i count myself among the madrid faithful, i have no doubt that the favor that our cross town rivals atlético provided real is of far greater importance than they provided themselves. it’s especially important to hear good news concerning the whites at the moment, as i’m crushed to be hearing that the enemy are drawing nearer to pulling of a big splash in the summer… now will someone go get me a beer, please?

why do brits wilt abroad? –
to answer the question asked by this link’s title, i always assumed it was because brits were candy asses that get too uncomfortable when they aren’t around people that serve tea every day. only kidding, but the author does pose a serious, if not often pondered, question. it’s always been astounding to me how few british players have even just attempted to ply their trade abroad, let alone how many have been successful when they’ve risked it. in recent memory, only owen hargreaves (at bayern munich), david beckham and steve mcmanaman (both at real madrid) have held their own for an extended time in a top continental league. it is postulated that brits tend to do a horrible job of assimilating into their foreign squads, which means they don’t form any solid bonds/understanding with their teammates, which means they end up being lonely and ineffective on the pitch. maybe that’s it, maybe it’s not. whatever the reason is, i would venture to say that the english national team’s failure to land a major trophy in the last 40 years has to do with the lack of varied experience the team has had in it’s ranks.

seattle sounders fc nears season tickets near cap –
it wasn’t a fluke folks. for the second year in a row, the enthusiastic fans of neon green and blue in the pacific northwest are on pace to sell out their season ahead of time. as of last week, the sounders had sold 31,000+ season tickets out of 32,000 (for a comparison, the columbus crew stadium seats 22,500). this is a giant middle finger to any of the doubters out there –ahem, jim rome— that say that soccer will never be a legitimate sport in the states. keep in mind that they intentionally limit seating in the stadium built for the NFL’s seattle seahawks, as is the case with all NFL stadiums used by MLS. i guarantee that if the bigwigs that own the team would open the entire stadium, they would sell even more season tickets than they do now.

how i was conned at notts county –
for the first time ever, i feel a little bad for sven-göran eriksson. the sweedish manager, formerly in charge of benfica, roma, fiorentina, sampdoria, lazio, england, man city, and mexico (what a mouthful, and i left off his home country clubs!), has finally spewed his anger in the direction of his last job with the world’s oldest football club, notts county. lured by the promise of limitless funds and the desire to raise the historic club from the depths to premier league, sven was left stranded trying to steer a ship abandoned by it’s phony owners. now that he’s finally abandoned ship himself (and i don’t blame him), after it was sold for literally £1, he’s launched a scathing attack at the ownership group that deceived him. trust me, it’s worth the read.

MLS academies look to set the standard –
i think they’re finally starting to get it. as i said back in september of last year, the USMNT is never going to be successful until we start nurturing out best young talents in a professional environment. MLS must have heard my cries, as a nearly league-wide effort to set up youth clubs has sprung up at just about every MLS franchise. what’s great about this is that by creating these youth academies, MLS clubs are helping themselves develop better talent at less cost and eventually making themselves more competitive. and if i were a kid, i can assure you that i would have wanted to play for an MLS club team. my sister works as a coach, and she can attest that the best players flock to play with a club associated with a professional team. needless to say, i’m excited to see how this will pan out.

premier league plans play-off for last champions league place –
in attempt to block the big four’s vice grip of the english champions league places, the EPL are contemplating a controversial play-off format to decide the fourth champions league spot. akin to the play-off format used in the english league pyramid’s promotion system, we could possibly see teams as low as seventh place competing to land the last lucrative spot in europe’s big dance. not shockingly, the big four are completely against the idea (you would probably be a little hesitant too when someone was threatening your millions of dollars annual funds), while some of the smaller clubs are obviously keen to give the idea a go. as a tottenham fan, i would like to see them finally get a crack at the champions league, and i’m sure that aston villa and everton fans are nodding in agreement with me right now. however, i also worry that this play-off system could be nothing but a money making scheme for the premier league.

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