Tag: sports

Week 1 Fantasy Premier League Standings

Here is an overview of the current standings for our Fantasy Premier League:

Week 1 93rdminute Fantasy Standings

 

As you can see, we had some very good scores in the first week of play that were largely aided by Chelsea and Aston Villa’s multiple fixtures this week. Currently, the 1st place squad managed by Mikko Linnamaa looks like this :

Week 1 #1Will that be the team that can carry Mikko to victory? I’m not sure. There is a lot of season to be had.

 

Star forwards of the week: Benteke, Welbeck and Aguero

Star midfielders of the week: Lampard, Oscar and Joe Cole

Star defenders of the week: Ivanovic, Coleman and Shaw

Goalkeeper of the week: Mignolet

Week 1 Dream Team looks like this:

week 1 dream team If you somehow managed to pick this squad and didn’t enter our fantasy league. Shame on you! You could be on your way to a personalized jersey!

Good luck in this week’s fixtures!

 

 

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The Art of the Back Heel

Everyone loves well-executed, beautiful looking play. Everyone also loves a bit of eye popping wildness that is as unexpected as it is brilliant. As ineffective as many back heel attempts are, there are moments when the opportunity arises and those with enough confidence and bravado make those opportunities into the futboling entertainment we have all grown to love. Take this back heel for example:

Let me say that Ronaldinho is a ridiculous player. His quality and technique are incredible and what is even more impressive is the longevity of his ability. As much I would love to see Ronnie back in Europe, he has found himself back in form and potentially in line for a spot with the national side. But I digress, the degree of difficulty here is very high. To pinpoint a pass with your heel in your own half? That’s just nuts! But Ronaldinho is in a league of his own.

What about this goal:

I’d like to say I was capable of doing this but I would be a filthy liar if I did. Yes it was a friendly and yes Spain is awesome. But do you ever expect things like that from any single player? Not really. Negredo showed the world how to look pretty and how to score goals during it. The degree of difficulty here is just plain absurd. A chipped heel flick over a goalie and outstretched defender? Thank you very much! If i was him I would find a way to get the gif framed and put on my wall in the bathroom just so every morning I can see what I am capable of. But that’s just me. This goal is pure class.

Seeing any goal gets me excited but nothing more than a bit of flair and creativity. We all expect the Premier League season to bring us goals of class, technique and brute force that take any fans’ breathe away. Get ready for it and if you haven’t already sign up for our Fantasy Premier League and Premier League Prediction Contests! What a great chance to win free stuff

Will NYCFC Be A Success Story?

And then there were twenty. And I foresee it dropping to 19 again within the next five years but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

And here we go, Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, Don Garber, MLS commissioner, and Ferran Soriano, Manchester City CEO caress a symbolic MLS power teat and are smiling wide with the creation of a “true” New York City soccer club.(Garber more so because of the $100 million pay day) There are many positives and negatives involved in this jump. Let’s have a look:

Pros: Manchester City has unlimited funds. Oil money doesn’t dry up overnight, especially when that money is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Manchester City has global reach and has turned around its fortunes in the premier league. The team’s global fan base is growing largely due to the team’s recent successes and its community outreach programs, many of which are located throughout the United States. The New York Yankees are one of, if not arguably, the biggest sports name in sports. In America, the Yankees are synonymous with three things… 1) Money 2)Championships 3) Steroids (wait, I meant silly wages for all players involved with the club.) What does this mean for the NYCFC? Easy, it means that things will done right. It means that when a stadium project is agreed upon they will not ask for state funding. Private funding will mean less hoops to jump through, less red tape and ultimately, a fast-tracked construction job for the new home of New York’s only true MLS franchise.

All this money is great. And I mean that is a serious way. Think about the MLS as a whole. Growing fan base, growing youth and academy systems that are slowly reaching out to every part of the United States soccer players. NYCFC will instantly have one of the best academies in the country. I promise that they will buy the best coaches, set-up the best facilities for not only the first team but the youth teams as well. Manchester City isn’t overly well-known for developing youth players but with proper funding and an excellent soccer school set-up, NYCFC could be on top of the academies and the MLS before 2017.

Competition is what the MLS thrives on. This adds to Don Garber’s mission of financial/skill level parity among all teams in the MLS. Will this team be able to afford multiple max-salary designated players? Yes. But other teams can to. NYCFC will create a massive cross-town rivalry with the New York Red Bulls. The Philadelphia Union are also close by and right up route 95 are the New England Revolution. We all know Boston and New York love their sports’ rivalries. Could this be another one in the making? I certainly hope so.

What about the cons:

I previously mentions the rivalry that will be created with the New York Red Bulls. That is all well and good, but what about the fan base of the Red Bulls who already struggle to sell out its home matches? What about the LA Galaxy/NY Red Bull, “BIG DAWGS” rivalry? Will the fan base disappear overnight? Will the big name players the Red Bulls have been able to commandeer fly ship because of the newly formed true New York team?

Could he jump ship? I think so.

We all know these players like the bright lights and New York has them all. I know New York City has a ludicrous amount of people in a tight area, many of which are soccer fans. Will they commit themselves to creating a real “footballesque, hooliganistic” atmosphere for the new club? It is yet to be seen, but the next year will certainly help clear up a lot of our questions.

NYCFC will not play its first MLS game until 2015. We have until then to wait and wonder.

Last question, Claudio Reyna has said that he wants to be  a professional coach. He has ties with New York City and Manchester City. Could this be his first go at a professional coaching career?

Let us know your thoughts by reaching out to us on twitter @the93rdminute_.

Champion’s League Quarterfinals Round Up and Predictions

Soccer is surprising and as far as professional sports go, unusually unpredictable. Yet, we all have our prediction full of sureties and overzealous supporter’s grandeur. These very thoughts are what make soccer so enjoyable to watch. So it brings me much joy to say that yesterday’s Champion’s League matches were massive tests for each side involved. None of which could let their concentration fall because if they did, it was within any of these sides, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and PSG, to strike at its opponent’s weakest moment. And that is exactly what happened.

PSG vs Barcelona

A game of intercontinental giants that thwarted the oil-rich Parisians and world-beating Catalans. A tie that Barcelona is always expected to win only because Barcelona is always expected to win, no matter who the opponent may be. And this night did not disappoint, although some might say it was not a typical night for Barcelona.

What an exciting game it was. At times PSG looked like the dominant side, a side capable of pulling off the unthinkable at a stage where Barca is expected to be there best. Just when you thought PSG was on the verge, the Argentinian maestro, Lionel Messi scores, largely thanks to a brilliant ball from the fiery and oft dangerous Dani Alves. Going into the half, PSG was smiling, they were only down 1-0 after squandering many chances and Messi was off with a hamstring injury. As good as Messi had been, Thiago Silva and co. had done a great job containing him. The loss was not as massive as you might think.

But what did PSG do? What did both teams do? They came out flat. The first quarter-hour of the second half lacked the liveliness of the first 45. But the last half hour provided some serious entertainment. And for PSG’s first goal is a comedy show, a flicked header from arguably PSG’s best player on the day, Silva, to the one of the worst on the day, good old Zlatan. Zlatan found himself a few yards offside but a sideline ref blinded by some oil money(or maybe a roundhouse kick from Zlatan) found it in his heart to throw PSG a bone and keep his flag glued to his hip. In every replay from every angle, Zlatan was offsides by enough to piss off all of the tv pundits, but not enough for that ref. So there it is, Zlatan gives the ball away with every touch and now, after a gift he is involved and interested in the game again. But still, Valdes kept himself composed and PSG could not break through again. The score remained this way until PSG’s keeper, Mr. Sirigu we’ll call him, shut off his brain and gave away a penalty in the 89th minute. Xavi stepped up and calmly passed the ball into the right corner and that was that, the game was a wrap. But no, the previously commended Valdes was left in a seemingly ligament tearing body contortion after a deflected shot from Blaise Matuidi found its way through. Valdes couldn’t recover and with the last kick of the game PSG knotted it at two.

The takeaways from this game are:

1.) that PSG will not go through. They will not go into Camp Nou and win. Even with Messi out of the team Barcelona will run circles around PSG in the return game.

2.) Beckham still has some juice left, albeit slower than ever, he covered some decent ground and was a calming factor in PSG’s midfield

3.) If PSG wants to win, Thiago Silva will have to once again be brilliant in the back and Zlatan will have to show up from the start. These two guys are massively important to PSG’s chances

As for today’s predictions:

Dortmund vs Malaga – Something tells me Coach Klopp will have Dortmund raring to go. This is the only competition Dortmund can still win so I expect a powerful statement-making performance from the Germans. I see this one ending 2-0 in Dortmund’s favor.

Real Madrid vs Galatasaray – In an earlier post, I had mentioned how Galatasaray could be a dark horse in this tournament. I failed to mention that dark horses are easily dumbfounded and conduct electricity well. The white lightning that is Madrid will confuse and befuddle a lack luster Galatasaray back seven and will leave no doubts about their goals in the Champion’s League. I expect this one to be in the 3-0 or 4-1. There is always a chance, even when he is out of form, that Didier Drogba could tuck one away.

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It’s the Champion’s League. Expect Controversy.

Soccer is an incredibly subjective sport. Soccer has always been laden with controversial decisions made by refs who are expected to get every call right. (They are professionals right?) Soccer will always have situations and moments that outweigh a game’s results and carry endless banter arguments for years after the game’s final score is forgotten. So let me ask you this…In any futbol world is this a red card?

ib2BsbUFyoZpqQ Nani red card v Real Madrid: Right or wrong?

For me, it is an obvious decision but I am not in front of 80,000 raucous fans. I don’t have a million other things to be aware of and a million other decisions to make. I am solely focused on this play. IS THIS A RED CARD?

Let me settle the controversy for you. In no world is this a red card. Nani unmaliciously went up to trap a ball in a controlled motion with his sole focus on the ball. In no moment did he glance forward and see Arbeloa flying in to bring the ball down. It’s not a red, not on this stage, not when so much is riding on this game, not in my coed league on Thursday nights. It is a yellow. It’s done, we can move on with the game.

But alas, dreams are not reality and I was not privy to an even match yesterday afternoon. Still, it was an exciting game to watch. (At least for the first hour) Real Madrid dominated possession as was expected and the game took on an eerily similar look to that of the first leg i.e. Real Madrid keeps possession and looks to be in control and BAM! Manchester United strikes against the run of play and takes a 1-0 lead. It could have happened sooner than it did. Vidic had a fantastic header denied by the woodwork.  United were home. You knew they would eventually break through and they did, in the form of a flubbed Varane clearance and well placed cross the the malicious man Nani which Sergio Ramos unluckily tapped into the net after a vital flick from Danny Welbeck. Some will say that the 1-0 lead was undeserved. I will say that it was. The organization and discipline United showed in the back was impressive and it thwarted every Madrid attack. Madrid might have had the bulk of possession in their own and middle thirds but once they entered United’s third there were no answers and no winning ideas. Sir Alex Ferguson had it right until the ref didn’t. He ruined the game. This would be my reaction too

That being said, it is not the first time a team has gone to ten men while holding a lead in the Champion’s League. From the card United were under constant pressure. There was no relief, no outlet for the mighty Reds. Real Madrid found an equalizer from a brilliant strike from none other than super-sub Luka Modric. Still, he never would have had that much space if the teams were even strength. I can’t take away any of the excellence of that strike though. De Gea had no chance as it bent from outside the frame onto the inside of the post and into the far side netting. 1-1 and game over for United. Three minutes later Real Madrid would take the lead for good and who other but former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo to make it happen. Higuain slotted a ball across the front of goal that Ronaldo was able to latch on and slyly finish. A tough finish but a man of Ronaldo’s skill had no problem with it. There was no celebration for Ronaldo but he was just saving that for after Madrid won.

Manchester United vs. Real Madrid

Manchester United would not lie down though. The last fifteen minutes were more exciting than I expected and provided multiple chances for United to equalize. None more apparent than another free header from Nemanja Vidic. But this time,  goalkeeper Diego Lopez was up to the task.

All in all it was a thrilling game I couldn’t look away from. It was exciting and controversial and I only hope that some of the remaining Champion’s League fixtures bring the same kind of entertainment. Just to be clear, I don’t want to see another game decided by a referee’s poor judgement. I want adventurous and open play with clinical finishing. Barcelona and AC Milan is definitely one to watch!

Can Toronto FC Right the Ship?

Toronto FC has been an easy scapegoat for analysts and critics. If the past season’s five wins and twenty-one losses were not enough to draw negative attention, the off-season’s theatrics provided more than enough news to bring up even more questions about the club who came into the league as a promising, superbly supported franchise.

So let’s start with the end of last season. TFC capped off an awful year with angry supporters, awful play and upper management without any true direction or guidance for the club. And BOOM! Upper management gone, half the team released, and no head coach or team staff left standing. That does not exactly bring any confidence to the Original 109, the Red Patch Boys, the Tribal Rhythm Nation, and U-Sector fan groups for Toronto FC. Toronto goes out and hires someone who has done it. Someone who has brought a club from utter meaninglessness to national prominence, who has created a culture around a club, something TFC has really lacked. Kevin Payne becomes TFC’s new president and immediately begins a search for a new head coach. For reason’s beyond knowledge he decides on a coach who is still playing in the first division of English football, with Queens Park Rangers in the Barclay’s Premier League. Fine, I can handle that. Ryan Nelson wants to coach; he has a wealth of knowledge and experience that he can share with his team. If nothing else, Nelson will show the boys how hard work and proper body management can extend professional careers and bring success to Toronto. Still, Nelson was absent for the MLS Superdraft and for the start of Toronto FC’s preseason. I can’t comprehend how anyone thought that was the right message to send to the players. Still, with the selection of Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman TFC did make positive picks that will help solidify the midfield and attacking options for the team. What it didn’t do was sure up the backline, something that TFC has lacked consistency with over the past three seasons.

Absent coach, absent central mentality to a team without an identity, absent  discipline for a team that cannot show up to preseason fit. This is where it gets good. TFC’s preseason began with a select crew of players showing up completely unfit to train. How is the team expected to progress on the field without being fit? Fitness is at least a crutch to lean on before the intricacies of a team’s philosophy and playing styles can latch onto each other. Payne said this of the unfit players,” It just won’t happen, or you won’t be here, end of story.” I agree with what he said but why did it happen in the first place. Why were these professional soccer players not monitored during the offseason? Why are they being let off the hook this time? For me, this was a great change for Payne to show that there a zero tolerance policy for unprofessional behaviour. Still, Nelson wasn’t there so it wasn’t Payne’s place to throw them out. I’ll give him an out there.

Player/Coach? I only wish

Fast forward a bit and here we are. Nelson is done with QPR and has finally assumed his role and head ambassador for a fledgling organization. And BOOM! the best player (and highly overpaid), Torsten Frings retires. This is a massive blow to TFC’s midfield but not one that cannot be recuperated with the smart purchasing of a new, younger, healthier, more deceptive designated player. Personally, I’d just double Nelson’s salary, make him a player-coach, have him sure up the back four and give a little bit of freedom to the front three. That could be a great recipe for success!

View image on Twitter
Frings announcing his retirement after 18 years of service!

But I digress, the bottom line is Nelson has a lot to prove. He has never been a coach. He has never been the head coach of a franchise in need of saving. He has never been put in charge of commanding a ship that has no clue where due north is on a compass. He needs to step in here and save TFC. The fans have had enough, the league laughs at them. In the first few weeks of the season any bad result will be magnified and over analyzed by anyone with an ounce of Toronto blood in them. My only hope is they give Payne, Nelson and the new crew a chance. TFC has finally turned in the right direction. Frings plans on being an ambassador for TFC in Germany. Any link with the Bundesliga is a good one. Things are going the right way. I’m looking forward to watching this season unfold.

 

 

Is it Time to Fear Galatasaray and Porto?

It is obvious that Galatasaray wants to win. They were the big spenders and the headline makers during the January transfer window. For me, big names aren’t always the way to a sudden victory. That being said, drawing Shalke in the Champion’s League Round of 16 is a good start towards a deep run in the tournament. The question comes down to whether or not Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder can bring the team to glory. According to a FoxSoccer.com post, management is confident Galatasaray can win it all, “We have added Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba to an already very strong team,” enthused sporting director Bulent Tulun. “I think we can go all the way to the end of the Champions League and win it, I really do.”

Might be more of this in the coming weeks!
Might be more of this in the coming weeks!

This duo can certainly change a team’s dynamic but can they lead the Turkish giants to a Champion’s League triumph? This tournament is the team’s priority so I could see them making a run, but I give them a 3% chance of making the final and a .00045 chance of winning the thing. There is too much talent elsewhere for these two to bring this team to glory.

Fear Factor on a scale of jigglypuff to el diablo = Batman, you always think he is going to go for the kill, but he never does. That will Galatasaray in the coming weeks.

Porto is an interesting case.  They are tied atop the Portuguese first division and they play an exciting style of football. High pressure, with quick attacks at times and decent build up at times. Yesterday vs Malaga they proved how good of a side they can be. It was a comprehensive win. The scoreline was only 1-0 but it could have been five.  Porta was smart and decisive in the team’s movement and play and if they bring that same resolve to each remaining game it would not surprise me to see them in the semi-final round. A key role is played by Joao Moutinho who was linked with some big Premier League clubs during the past few transfer windows.  This play-maker was the best player on the pitch during Porto’s Champion’s League victory and he will be key to the team’s continued success.

I have love for this man... Can he carry Porto to Champion's League glory?
I have love for this man… Can he carry Porto to Champion’s League glory?

Still, Porto has a long road ahead and who knows if that same style of football can or will be successful in future rounds. (Malaga has no shot recovering a win out of this tie)

Fear Factor on a scale of jigglypuff to el diablo =Roadrunner. Roadrunner is good at escaping and evading its attackers but the attackers always find a way to make things very very difficult. Porto is in a similar light, the only question is who will finally end the team’s run?

Only time will tell. It will be exciting to watch the tournament unfold.