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Tag: "soccer"

And In Other News . . .

[ 25 ] June 29, 2012 |

The Europeans are still playing a tournament concerning the soccer.  I managed to watch all of Portugal v Spain Wednesday night, while packing.  That it went to penalties was inconvenient as my bus to Heathrow was departing Plymouth at midnight.  I watched chunks of Italy v Germany during my six hour layover at EWR, where I was surprised to see Balotelli’s finishing prowess the exact opposite of what it was against England.

Sunday, I’ll be able to give the final my undivided attention.  I still suspect it will be Spain who prevail, but Spain have demonstrated some frailties during this tournament, whereas Italy have merely been inconsistent.  I think that their victory yesterday owes more to Germany’s failures rather than Italy’s successes.  Further, allowing England to stay in the match for 120 minutes on Sunday should be scandalous to any top tier international side.

In the words of my friend Niall Ó Murchú, this piece this piece (link corrected) in the Guardian about the tactical questions facing the Spanish is “nerdy but brilliant”, and an excellent read.  Even a non-soccer fan watching Italy would spot the influence of Andrea Pirlo, and the need to close him down.  Xavi can do that, but as the article suggests, this comes with a risk.  The greater risk, of course, is giving Pirlo freedom of the pitch, as England did; it was only Italy’s (especially Balotelli’s) horrendous finishing that prevented Italy from crushing England 3-0.


Euro 2012, Entering the Final Round of Group Matches

[ 13 ] June 16, 2012 |

UPDATE: Oops, and oops.  I quite clearly suck.

Again, the convenient overview can be found here.  I’ve been able to watch a lot more of the second round of matches than I had the first, and that has allowed me to mentally adjust, ever so slightly, my original expectations, which is a subtle way to say “what the hell was I thinking?” once or twice.  The tie-breaking criteria, simplified, are: 1. head-to-head, 2. goal differential overall, 3. goals scored.  It gets a bit complicated if three teams are tied on points, which could theoretically happen in three of the four groups (A, B, C).  (Note: I’ve seen it also explained as simple goal differential as the first criterion, so I could be wrong).

The final matches in Group A are tonight (BST).  The table, first number current position, second my prediction, third goal difference, fourth, obviously, points.

1 (1) Russia  (+3) 4

2 (2) Czech (-2) 3

3 (4) Poland (0) 2

4 (3) Greece (-1) 1

Anybody from the group of life could still theoretically advance to the quarter finals.  I can’t see Russia don’t less than collecting all three points against the Greeks, while the Czech Republic v Poland match could be a bit of a wild card given Poland’s effective home field advantage.  I predict at least a draw, so the table should finish as it stands.

Group B

1 (2) Germany (+2) 6

2 (3) Portugal (0) 3

3 (4) Denmark (0) 3

4 (1) Netherlands (-2) 0

Relatively under-rating Germany was my biggest sin for this tournament.  They are an exciting, young side.  I thought that two summers ago, especially given their demolition of England 4-1 with relative ease.  I was seduced more by the Dutch than I was dismissive of the Germans, but after watching the two play the other day, I was ever so slightly wrong.  Germany wants to win the group, so I see them easily beating Denmark.  The Dutch could still theoretically qualify in second; under head-to-head it’s a simple victory over Portugal.  Under goal differential, it’s winning by two clear goals.  While the Dutch are an older side, and should be starting van der Vaart ahead of the 35 year-old van Bommel (and knowing they need a victory, I bet they do tomorrow), and are, as usual, sniping, whining, and Arjen Robben is as selfish as ever, I think they pull out a win over Portugal.

Group C

1 (1) Spain (+4) 4

2 (3) Croatia (+2) 4

3 (2) Italy (0) 2

4 (4) Ireland (-6) 0

Monday has Croatia v Spain, Italy v Ireland.  Spain and Italy win, and my honor is preserved for the second group.  When Spain are on, they’re the most interesting, fluid, and entertaining side to watch.  They couldn’t be anything but on against a limited Irish side.  It was a depressingly lovely match.  The draw against Italy was not because of Catenaccio, but a rather defensively minded 3-5-2.  Croatia are better than I thought, but their four points flatter.  Spain over Croatia, and it goes without saying that even if Italy only score one goal against Ireland, it should be enough.  Spain and Italy through.

Group D

1 (2) France (2) 4

2 (1) England (1) 4

3 (4) Ukraine (-1) 3

4 (3) Sweden (-2) 0

England v Ukraine will be an interesting match on Tuesday.  The English are excited because they only need one point to qualify!  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  I’ve lived hear nearly nine years, and in the past, especially WC 2002, Euro 2004, WC 2006, the media and fan base always naturally assumed that they would win any major tournament that they entered.  I found it smug and annoying (and inconsistent with the empirical reality that they are, especially from a technical perspective, a second tier side).  Then came the failure to qualify at all for Euro 2008, and the debacle of the 2010 WC (not to mention finishing second to the USA in the group).  What was rarely mentioned, but when mentioned correctly so, in the fall out from last night’s match against Sweden is that if they merely finish second in the group, their quarter final match is likely against Spain.  Tournament over, come home.

Hodgson, regardless of the criticism he’s already receiving after only one competitive match in charge (this is England, after all), is doing a solid job with what he has: one of the least gifted England sides in a generation or two.  England will not play like Spain, Germany, or even Holland in a long, long time.  He’s tactically nimble, a trait not possessed by his three predessors: shifting from his formation used against France to putting Andy Johnson Carroll (yes, I knew that, but I had both my daughter and step daughter nagging me whilst writing this) up front against Sweden obviously paid off (even if that sort of Soccer is precisely what England have been doing for decades: big target man, superb Gerrard cross to the head of said big target man, goal).  When, as usual, England let the opposition back into the match, Hodgson took off the ineffective Milner for Theo Walcott (my man of the match; until Walcott’s arrival it was Ibrahimović), which changed the attack.  (I also question Ashley Young’s contributions, but I’m in the minority here).  I’d bet that Hodgson knows that the chance to top the group is vital, so will go for all three points.  He’ll start Walcott, and of course a well rested Rooney is back.  I predict an England victory over Ukraine, even against the effective home field advantage. England will concede a goal, don’t worry about that, but they score 2. In the other match, I suspect a France victory as well, so it will come down to goal differential to see who wins this group.


Euro 2012 Thus Far, and Other Soccer Musings

[ 11 ] June 12, 2012 |

A convenient overview of the state of play of the European Championships can be found here.  My typically ill-conceived predictions can be found here.

I watched three of the matches, and listened to a further two on BBC Radio 5.  The results from the first set of matches don’t make my predictions terribly embarrassing, only marginally so.  Two matches stand out: Russia 4-1 Czech Republic, and the Netherlands 0-1 Denmark.  The latter is egregious in that I predicted the Dutch to win the group and Denmark to finish last.  The Dutch did out play the Danes on almost every metric, aside from the small matter of goals scored.  That said, qualification suddenly looks in doubt: They’ll need to pick up four, and likely all six, points from their matches against Germany and Portugal.  Four is possible: three second place finishers qualified out of the groups in the past two Euros with four points.  Italy in 2008 (finishing second to the Dutch on nine points), both the Dutch and Greeks in 2004.  However, given the dynamics of the group, it’s a long shot.  I could be wrong, but they’d need to beat Germany and draw Portugal, hope the Danes run the table, and even then there would be a tie breaker involved (I very well might be missing something).  Easier just to win out.

The former, while I predicted Russia top and the Czechs second, losing 4-1 doesn’t seem to be what a group runner up should be all about.  That and I wish Arshivin looked that good while wearing an Arsenal shirt.

The other two groups didn’t have any stunning surprises.  Perhaps one could argue that Spain should have beat Italy, and it is possible that Spain’s time is over.  Croatia hammering the Republic, sadly, was not a surprise.  Ukraine pipping Sweden last night maybe, but I essentially have those level on chances.  England were unfamiliar to me: they were . . . organised.  Against a France side that I obviously underrated.

Today we have two more matches in the scintillating Group A, which are of interest to me only for the political overtones attached to Poland v Russia.

In other news, the embarrassing circus that is Rangers F.C. took a bad turn today: they’re dead certain to be liquidated now.  Given the news that HM Revenue and Customs will not vote for a Company Voluntary Agreement, liquidation is unavoidable; the only path back is through the formation of a new company that itself purchases key assets from liquidation.  I don’t see how a new company running the club will be justified its spot in the top tier of Scottish football (or, for that matter, even a position anywhere in the top four professional leagues.)  Chick Young indirectly predicted this over a month ago on the BBC.  As a Celtic supporter, it might strike readers as unlikely (and is definitely not an opinion universally shared amongst my fellow Celtic minded fans) but losing Rangers, even for a few years in the lower divisions, would not be good for Celtic.

Nor the whole of the SPL.  The problem faced by the other 11 SPL sides who are to vote on admitting a “new Rangers” is outlined here.  While it’s in the interests of the companies running the teams to admit Rangers, there is considerable disagreement among the fan support of all 11 sides:

In recent weeks clubs have expressed the dilemma they face: Rangers’ presence in the SPL brings revenue through the turnstiles and from broadcast deals, but many fans have said they will not return if “sporting integrity” is not seen to be upheld.

These supporters have been in contact with their clubs to demand that they vote against Rangers playing in the SPL next season. Their preference is for Rangers to apply to join the Scottish Football League and to start again in the Third Division.

That won’t happen.  The clubs will vote to re-admit (admit?) the new Rangers, and assume the fans will return.

And there’s the small matter of the USMNT away to Guatemala in the third round of the interminable CONCACAF qualifying system for the 2014 World Cup.  This is the most difficult match for the USA in the third round, and based on the sedate performance against Antigua & Barbuda the other day, optimism doesn’t prevail.

A Brief Appreciation

[ 89 ] March 29, 2012 |

Watching last night’s Barcelona-Inter Milan draw reminded me, that for many people on this planet, the most frightening sight in the world is a 5’4″ Argentinian–born the year after the Mets won the ’86 World Series–charging right at them:

See how his eyes are already looking at your feet? They’re not. They’re really on their way up to your belly-button, meaning your center-of-gravity’s betrayed you and he knows what lies your feet have told. And that move he’s making? It’s calculated to humiliate you five seconds after you realize its purpose, so there’s only one alternative, and given that Italians are famous for the volumptuousness of their gravity, they chose it with gusto:

You would think this tactic successful: share the Jovian gravitational force of 2.58 g that yanks Italian players to the pitch every time the wind considers blowing, but it’s to no avail! The tiny Argentinian spits in the face of Italian-alien gravitational alliances, pauses to shoot a look of shame at his “competitors,” then continues moving toward goal as if he’s bounding over Martian fields. Having no resort, the Italians do what they can:

Which entails trying to rip his face off. Anyone who wants to complain about the dirtiness of Italian football is welcome to in this thread. Keep it clean, though, my friends, as some players know what best to do when there’s nothing to be done:

“Keep your distance, lads,” you can almost hear one of them say. “And hope an Italian shows up.”


If only you knew the pain I fought through to write this post.

[ 60 ] February 19, 2012 |

Thanks to a deep desire to nap and a DVR that’s threatening to delete everything I want to watch, I spent a few hours this afternoon watching the Heat and Barcelona win sometime in the past week, and I was struck by how casually brilliant LeBron James and Leo Messi look. When you think of Michael Jordan, you invariably think of the image he cultivated, which looks something like this:

He was a winner, no doubt, but he always played up his own struggle. It was never enough for him to be great: he had to sprinkle the floor with Kryptonite just to remind everyone how incredible Superman is on Tuesdays. James and Messi? They’re content to be great. Neither of them is going to pull a Kobe and leak his every bump and bruise to the media in order to score a “heroic” twenty-one points. They’ll leap and weave around the children like the gods they are and that’ll be that. Consider Messi at 1:33 in this video:

Restraint is a talent, I know, but it doesn’t always manifest itself as disdain, and that shot? It mocks the sport. It asks “You want me to do this?” and shrugs its shoulder in consent. Is it as manly a display as Jordan’s? Absolutely not. But I’ll take it or its sibling — The Kid‘s perpetual “I just did what now?” expression — over the now-conventional displays of aggressively false modesty plaguing major American sports.


[ 47 ] October 23, 2011 |

Manchester United 1 – 6 Manchester City.

In the past, I would have absolutely delighted in this result.  However, the cynic in me observes yet more evidence that in order to challenge for the title, one needs ownership with deep pockets and no business acumen.  Arsenal were forced to sell Samir Nasri to Man City because there was no chance in hell Arsenal could match the wage offer of City, which I’ve read as four to five times what Arsenal offered in their contract extension.

And Nasri started on the bench against United.


[ 20 ] July 29, 2011 |

It took less than a day, but LGM called for his hiring, and the US FA took note and duly responded.  Correlation, or causality?  You be the judge.  And for our next trick, we’ll solve the manufactured debt ceiling crisis.

Considering how swift the appointment was made, especially in light of the past difficulties the US FA have had with negotiating with Klinsmann, it’s safe to assume that this hiring was a done deal before Bradley was fired.

What I like about this hiring, as I implied in yesterday’s post, is that Klinsmann is more likely to give the next generation a solid look.  Bradley was in stasis, and we were left wondering how the next generation would be discovered, let alone develop.  Plus, Bradley let Giuseppe Rossi get away.  Klinsmann is a solid tournament manager, as evidenced by Germany’s 2006 run with an sub-par side — my German mate in Plymouth during that tournament predicted that they wouldn’t get out of the group stage, and yet they finished third.  His brief tenure with Bayern was largely successful, and he’s credited with revamping their youth academy.  Consistent with his negotiations with the US FA, he demanded considerable control at Bayern, and was eventually sacked for not getting along with the directors.  Hopefully the US FA have given him acres of space to just get on with his job.

What I don’t like about this hiring: Klinsmann scored 30-odd goals for Spurs.

While Bradley’s career with the USMNT is over, and I believe his replacement is a superior choice, he should be lauded for the run in the 2009 Confederations Cup, especially that match against Spain in the semi finals, which I posted about here at LGM at the time (I’d link to the posts, but I can’t seem to make the archive work that far back.)

Bradley Sacked

[ 10 ] July 28, 2011 |

Bob Bradley has been sacked as head coach of the USMNT, allegedly because of the performance of the side during the CONCACAF (could somebody please rename the regional association?) Gold Cup.  This has been long in coming, and Bradley has had his share of detractors since replacing Bruce Arena following Germany 2006.  Of course he was always second choice; and the then first choice, Jurgen Klinsmann, is without a job at the moment.  The side is going to go through a fallow period over the next five years or so as a solid generation ages with no visible replacements playing with decent European clubs, which makes the gig less attractive than it was in ’06.  However, we require a top shelf manager who knows the game at the highest level, which, I’m sorry to note, rules out any extant MLS managers.

Give Klinsmann what he wants, and get him in now.


France 1 – 3 USA; USA to face Japan in the World Cup Final

[ 23 ] July 13, 2011 |

We watched France v USA at a friend’s house this morning, and while not quite the dramatic classic that was Brazil v USA, it did have its moments.  Our main concern was stamina; while both France and the USA played full 120 minute matches plus penalty shootouts, France had the advantage of an extra day of rest.  We were hoping that the Americans’ superior fitness training would pay off, but it didn’t.

The US seemed to control the match for the first 15 minutes.  France was incapable of retaining their shape, which gave the US the odd opening.  After the first goal at nine minutes, the Americans pulled back; I’m not sure if this was a tactical decision or simple tiredness, but France spent the next 60 minutes firmly in control, superior in technique, passing accuracy, and critically, possession.  Where the French failed was in peppering Hope Solo’s goal from range, but eventually something was going to sneak through.  I don’t fault the American keeper for the equalizer.  Bompastor’s nice cross was directed towards Thiney, hence Solo had to concentrate on the direct threat Thiney provided.  Whether Thiney missed, or as I believe, cleverly feinted, Solo couldn’t be expected to protect the far post; that’s what defenders are for in this situation.  None was there, and the goal was scored.  Around this point ESPN had flashed a shots on goal stat, and it was something like 26 for France to 4 for the USA, and tellingly the last American shot on goal was the Cheney goal at 9 minutes.

The US would find its way eventually, and this was a result of substitutions and a change in tactics.  While Carli Lloyd’s lovely back flick to Heather O’Reilly allowed the latter to feed Cheney for the first goal, that was Lloyd’s only decent touch of the game.  Replacing her with Megan Rapinoe at the 65th minute (provider of that sublime cross to Wambach against Brazil), placing Rapinoe on the left wing thus allowing Cheney to move inside along Boxx subtly changed the American’s shape and ability to go forward.  Combined with forward Alex Morgan’s substitution of the perennially invisible Amy Rodriguez, suddenly the US looked like team capable of finding the opposition final third of the pitch again, even, possibly, scoring (and that they did, twice, at 80 and 82 minutes).

To my mind, Cheney and Boxx work together in central midfield than do Lloyd and Boxx; starting Rapinoe on the left wing in the final seems the wise move.  Of course, she was largely invisible in the match against Sweden, and it’s plausible that the spark she added in both the Brazil and France matches was illusory, coming on as a substitute around the 60th minute against a backdrop of 21 other tired players can’t hurt, but the central midfield combination of Lloyd and Boxx doesn’t work, and their inability to retain possession and thwart the opposition did as much to make France look technically superior as the French.  Something also has to be done about Amy Rodriguez.  It’s not a talent, but a confidence issue, but I wouldn’t want her to start the final.  Alex Morgan looked good indeed, and perhaps that’s the player who should start the final.  In reality, this was probably going to be the injured Lindsay Tarpley’s role.

And what about Japan in the final?  They looked very strong against the Sweden side that defeated the USA in the final group stage match, winning 3-1 (with something like 65% of possession).  They finished second in their group to England, to whom they lost 0-2, but beat Mexico 4-0, and impressively, Germany 1-0 in the quarter finals.  They’re ranked fourth according to FIFA.  Japan have only made it out of the group stage in one World Cup (1995), losing to the US 4-0 in the quarter finals.  Their Olympics record is slightly better, finishing fourth in 2008.  In 2008, the US knocked Japan out in the semi finals by a score of 4-2.  Two months ago, the USA and Japan played two friendlies in the US, both of which were won by the US 2-0.

While their run has been impressive (and the Americans’ uneven), I have to go with the USA to win over Japan in the final on Sunday.  Note, this is not patriotic wishful thinking; in my preview of the World Cup on June 23, I predicted a Germany v Brazil final.  However, I like our chances against Japan, chances that could be improved if both Rapinoe and Morgan start in place of Lloyd and Rodriguez.

Random Soccer Notes: 2011 World Cup, US Open Cup, and Relegation

[ 8 ] June 28, 2011 |

USA 2-0 North Korea.

I watched the first half on line, then the ESPN page crapped out on me.  The US did not look great in the first half, but according to what I’ve read, they settled down in the second and took control of the match.  The Koreans have a ready excuse of course; part of the side were struck by lightening on June 8, which allegedly caused this 2-0 defeat three weeks later.

The US Open Cup (the American version of the FA Cup) has its third round proper beginning tonight.  It’s a misnomer to call it an “open” cup, however.  Whereas the English FA Cup is a true open competition, including all teams from the top nine tiers of the pyramid as well as selected teams from the 10th tier, the US Open Cup has a complicated qualifying system based on leagues / tiers in the American “pyramid“.  To wit, the MLS only has eight entrants in the Cup, with the top six sides automatically qualifying based on the league table, the rest go through a mini-tournament to qualify for the remaining two slots.

In effect, the tournament is limited to 40 teams (contrasted with the 762 who entered the 2009-10 edition of the FA Cup).  While there are also four qualifying rounds for the English cup, they’re not seeded nor based on a number of slots per league / division, although the higher divisions enter the competition in later rounds.

That said, the competition still does produce interesting matches, like tonight, the Seattle Sounders (who are the current cup holders and have won it the past two seasons) face the Kitsap Pumas of the USPDL, the fourth tier of American soccer.  They don’t have to travel far, as the Kitsap side are based in Bremerton, WA, just across the Puget Sound from Seattle.

Finally, River Plate were relegated from the Argentinian top tier for the first time, breaking a 110 year string in the top league.  They have more top flight championships than any other team in Argentine soccer; it would be analogous to the New York Yankees being relegated to AAA.  (I’d say Manchester United, but they were relegated in 1974).  This has not quite been met with the approval of their supporters.

Pointless Provincialism, Olympic Soccer Edition

[ 20 ] June 22, 2011 |

I briefly flirted with writing about this, but what’s the point?  By all accounts, including that of the PSNI, the UVF started it, and the “dissident Republicans” shot back.  Whatever.

London (and England, and even a bit of Wales) is hosting the 2012 Olympics.  Normally, this wouldn’t pose a problem to the host nation aside from bleeding out vast amounts of cash for limited material benefit.  The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland aren’t a normal nation, however, when it comes to soccer.  For historical reasons, FIFA recognize the “home nations” of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as independent entities for international purposes.  This extends to the rule-making body; with eight votes, the International Football Association Board sets the rules of association football.  The home nations have four of those votes, FIFA the other four, and six votes are required to effect any rule change.

This anachronistic arrangement would be analogous to the Basque Country and Catalonia having their own international sides, or Quebec, or Bavaria, or Utah.  Furthermore, unfortunately for the UK, the IOC doesn’t play by those rules.  For the UK to have a representative soccer side at the Olympics, it has to be under the rubric of “Team Great Britain”.  Team GB want to have a side at the Olympics for the first time since 1960, and will draw players from England, Scotland, Wales, and NI.

Which, logically, has pissed off three of the four home nations.  Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are fearful that their inclusion in an aggregate Team GB could, possibly, cause FIFA to question their autonomy.  It doesn’t matter that FIFA have repeatedly stated that this would have no effect on the virtual independence of the home nations according to FIFA; these wee nations are jealous of their footballing autonomy.

I have no problem with this quaint arrangement.  David Goldblatt argues in his excellent The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer Football, nations, especially small nations, expressed themselves in an international context via soccer.  International soccer became a symbol, and identity, of the nation.  Goldblatt uses Uruguay as one of several examples, arguing that Uruguay as a nation-state had little logic beyond great power machinations (analogous to Africa) thus it relied heavily on success in soccer as a symbol of the nation (and some success it was: World Cup winners in 1930 over Argentina and 1950 over Brazil).  This can be readily generalized to the home nations.  Lacking any of the institutional infrastructure common to the nation state (until 1998 not even a “national” legislature), Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland look to soccer (and with the former two, rugby union) as symbols of their ersatz independence.

I understand why they’re jealous of this autonomy, and I don’t want my Welsh, Scottish, or Irish friends back in the UK to read this as an argument against said autonomy.  It’s not.

That said, not participating in the Olympics under a unified Team GB is just silly.  FIFA have made it clear over the past three years that a one-off Olympic team will not undermine the autonomy of the home nations.  The squad itself, consisting of 18 players, will be a U-23 squad save for three players without age restriction; in other words, not a full international side in any event.  Soccer matches will be hosted in Scotland and Wales in addition to England.  The English FA have the written approval of the three other home nations to select their players, which itself is meaningless, as legally according to the IOC the English FA have the right to choose any player eligible to play an Olympic sport for Great Britain regardless.  Furthermore, in rugby union the four home nations combine quadrennially to form the British and Irish Lions, who tour southern hemisphere nations.  Last I checked, the autonomy of neither the English, Welsh, Scottish, nor Irish RFU has been questioned as a result.

Finally, for the players from Wales, Northern Ireland, and even Scotland, the 2012 Olympics might represent the only opportunity that they have to play in a serious international tournament.  Scotland on occasion have a chance to qualify for tournaments, and nearly did so for Euro 2008, but the last tournaments Scotland participated in were the 1998 World Cup and the 1996 European Championships.  Northern Ireland has only participated in the World Cups of 1958, 1982, and 1986; the only ever appearance of Wales in a major tournament was the 1958 World Cup.  In qualifying for Euro 2012, Wales are doomed already, while Scotland and Northern Ireland find qualification highly unlikely.  Indeed, the current bright hope of Welsh soccer, Gareth Bale, said last month:

“I want to play in the Olympics. I think it would be a great experience.  You see it with the British and Irish Lions in the rugby, they come together as a unit and play against other countries. It’s great and there’s no reason why that can’t happen with the football.  At the moment Wales haven’t qualified for a major tournament in I don’t know how many years so it would be nice to play in one against the best countries in the world.”

Or, one might adopt the attitude of former Scotland manager Craig Brown, who said in 2009:

“If there is an insistence on having UK representation, why not allow all four teams to compete?  Football is already a special case in the Olympics because it discriminates by only allowing players under 23 to compete, so why not allow the four sides from the UK?”

Because, until Alex Salmond passes a referendum on Scottish independence, Scotland isn’t quite a real country, yet?

USA v Spain

[ 11 ] June 4, 2011 |

For something a bit lighter.  It’s good that the USMNT are playing Spain immediately before the Gold Cup campaign, which is of far greater importance.  As the ESPN article suggests, the US will be rotating and resting their key players in this friendly, thus do not expect a result similar to the last time the US played Spain, the stunning 2-0 victory in the Confederations Cup from two years ago.

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