The Oz Blog View about stuff while living in the Land of Oz

20Feb/12Off

40 Days of Dedication!

    The 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday is going to be a trying time for this individual. I am huge soccer fan. I follow Sporting KC, Manchester United, and Bayern Munich. I have coached my daughters soccer teams for the past three seasons. I have to the ability to wear a different soccer t-shirt or jersey on each of the day week. For those 40 days, I am going to give up soccer to bring balance to my life. I will be giving up all things related to soccer, except for this website. This website will be a place for me to chronicle my adventure. I will be giving up wearing soccer t-shirts and jerseys, watching soccer shows or games (which also means not being able to get information on the sports tracker; so no Fox Soccer Channel, GOLTv, or ESPN channels), no soccer video games, no soccer web-sites or web-sites with soccer information (Facebook and twitter, included). I have a feeling that is going to be very hard.

Sporting KC is getting ready to start the season and I am super excited about that. I would love to go to the first game and get the limited edition scarf. Or Keep track of both ManU and Bayern as they compete for titles down the stretch run of the season. Yet, I think that this is about finding balance for myself and becoming healthy. A person just needs to have the ability say 'no' sometimes, and not overload. I am looking for that in this coming 40 days and will be posting all about it. You too have the ability to take some time to walk away from something that is taking control of your life. There is no time like the present to take back control of your life.

 

Red Beards

**To the Ends of the Earth**

5Jan/12Off

MLS Schedule Ideas

In my previous blog I posted about the lengths of break that MLS teams take compared to other teams from across the world. Now coming up with a list of complaints and no solutions is useless and annoying to me. Below are two solutions that I have come up with that anyone would help the MLS. For any solution the first question raised is going to be the weather problem in MLS cities compared to Europe. (We will use the same teams as last time: MLS Teams: LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC; Manchester United, English Premier League; Barcelona, Spanish La Liga; AC Milan, Italian Serie A; Nottingham Forrest, English Championship; Tigres UANL, Primera de Mexico) As you can see below for most of the cities it is not that big of a difference in the winter months.

 

Monthly Average Temperatures:

 

TEAM

H/L

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

ManU

H

43

43

48

52

59

64

67

67

62

56

48

44

L

34

34

36

39

45

50

53

53

50

45

38

35

Bar

H

55

57

60

62

68

75

81

82

78

70

62

57

L

40

41

44

47

53

60

66

67

62

54

46

42

AC M

H

40

46

55

63

71

79

84

81

75

64

50

41

L

28

32

37

44

52

59

63

62

56

47

38

30

NF

H

40

45

50

54

60

65

70

70

64

57

49

46

L

34

34

37

39

43

48

52

52

50

45

39

36

Tigres

H

67

72

81

86

90

94

94

95

89

83

75

69

L

48

51

58

65

70

74

74

74

71

64

56

50

KC

H

39

45

56

67

76

85

90

89

80

68

54

42

L

22

26

36

47

57

67

72

70

61

49

37

26

SEA

H

47

50

54

59

64

70

76

76

71

60

51

46

L

37

37

39

43

48

52

56

57

53

47

51

36

LA

H

68

69

70

73

74

78

83

84

83

79

73

68

L

48

49

51

54

57

60

64

64

63

59

52

47

 

Now there are also some traditional MLS teams that play in colder weather cities. Below are two that I consider to be the worse for temperature to play soccer in.

 

TEAM

H/L

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

COL

H

45

46

54

61

71

81

88

86

77

64

52

43

L

18

20

26

34

44

53

59

57

48

36

25

17

MTRL

H

22

24

36

52

65

75

79

76

67

55

41

37

L

04

07

19

32

43

53

58

55

47

37

27

11

 

The two cities above, plus possibly more, make it very hard for the MLS to change their schedule to match that of Europe and the FIFA calendar.  That being said there are options available that can make the MLS more competitive in keeping the US talent and also bringing in foreign talent.

 

The first solution that I came up with was to stretch out the season a couple more weeks on each end.  This year MLS is starting around the second weekend in March.  If you move that forward to the end of February then you can add a game or two at the front end.  Now on the back end if you had the finals on the second weekend of December this would give you almost another month of playing time.  With the top five teams making the playoffs and a total of six needed game days.  Even with the added amount of time needed for the playoffs you can still add regular season games.  The whole purpose of stretching out the season would be to make the regular season a little longer and so that you can play a complete balanced schedule.  This will just add two regular season games but also give more time to play a few friendlies, take an off week every so often, and take a break when National Team tournaments come around, i.e. World Cup and Olympics.

 

The second solution that I came up with is the creation of a winter league in either Florida or Southwest or both.  This would be primarily for players that are not injured, able to secure a loan or transfer to Europe, or players invited to National Team camps. Just thinking about this off the top of my head you could start a week or two after the finals and run for about six to eight weeks, ending about the end of January.  Then take another week or two off and come back for preseason training.  This would allow teams to continue to be together and train together while giving the coaches a chance to look at their younger players in game situations that don’t count for the regular season or playoffs.  You can have a staggered start for teams also.  For teams that don’t make a playoffs (plus the loser of the first game) on one date then after the finals the playoff teams.  Play a total of just 10 games or so. Enough to keep the rust off but not so much that it hurts players and keeps them out of the regular season.

 

Major League Baseball has used the Arizona Fall League and Caribbean Winter League for years as chances to get younger players more playing time and help them work on their development.  Another good thing about this is that the coach would be able to see their players and know what players need a break here and there.  They know how hard the players work during the regular season.  If a player goes on loan or training with a European team then the coach does not know how much work they were able to get in.

 

For the long run I think the idea of a winter league in the US would be more beneficial. It will give the coaches and players more time together and improve the quality of play.  Even if two teams would like to combine forces and just produce one team then it would help all parties involved. The main idea is to keep the players playing and not taking such a long break between the end of their season and the beginning of the next.

31Dec/11Off

MLS Length of Season

On October 10, 2011 US Men National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann made comments about the length of the current MLS season.  I didn’t think too much about it until news keeps coming out about MLS players going on training stents with European teams or just working out on their own.  Sporting Kansas City’s own CJ Sapong said as much during his interview with Yanks Abroad about his call up to the USMNT.  Now why is Sapong working on improvements taken from the USMNT coach own his own or at the max with just a few people?  For the development of the league and US players something needs to be done.  I did some comparisons of MLS Teams (LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting KC), European Teams (Manchester United, English Premier League; Barcelona, Spanish La Liga; AC Milan, Italian Serie A; Nottingham Forest; English League Championship) and Mexican Team (Tigres UANL, Primera de Mexico).

 

Below you can see how much difference the number of games and length of breaks taken throughout the world is and why it seems that MLS players take so much time off. The first thing that many people know is that FIFA’s world football calendar runs August/July to April/May. MLS does not run this way but they are the only major league. Mexico runs two separate seasons with the top eight teams going into a home and home aggregate playoff.  They take a small break in winter and a longer break in summer.

 

Calendar year 2011

 

TEAM

GAMES PLAYED

LEAGUES

DAYS BREAK

LAST GAME/ FIRST GAME

ManU

62

Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Community Shield

70

UEFA Champions League/FA Community Shield

Nott Forest

53

English League Champions,  FA Cup, Carling Cup

87

English League Champions/English League Champions

Barcelona

60

La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

77

UEFA Champions League/Super Cup

AC Milan

50

Serie A, UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, Coppa Italia

75

Serie A/Super Cup

Tigres UANL

42

Primera de Mexico

76

Primera de Mexico (Clausura 2011)/ Primera de Mexico (Apertura 2011)

 

FIFA Season 2010/2011

 

TEAMS

GAMES PLAYED

LEAGUES

DAYS BREAK FROM 2009/2010

DAYS BREAK TO 2011/2012

ManU

60

Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Community Shield

90

70

Nott Forest

53

English League Champions,  FA Cup, Carling Cup

87

81

Barcelona

60

La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League

104

77

AC Milan

51

Serie A, UEFA Champions League, Coppa Italia

105

78

QPR

49

English League Champions, FA Cup, Carling Cup, Barclays Premier League

96

97

 

MLS

 

TEAMS

GAMES PLAYED

LEAGUES

DAYS BREAK FROM 2010

DAYS BREAK TO 2012

Seattle

49

MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup

127

126

LA

46

MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup

120

107

Sporting KC

39

MLS, US Open Cup

146

131

 

As you can see from this small sample size the MLS teams play a significantly fewer games then their European counterparts and take a much longer break in between their seasons.  Even if a team is playing in the MLS Playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League their break is still long.

 

What is there to do about the significantly long breaks for many players? Is this something that the MLS should be worried about? Does it affect the players that are off for 140 days or so? Does it ultimately hurt the League in the way of prestige, talent, competitiveness? There are so many questions that can be asked and solutions that can be guessed on.  Some of the more fortunate players are afforded the opportunity to train with a European club or even go on loan to a European club.  But are those few players getting the most for their time or would it be better spent with their club here in the MLS?  This is a problem that MLS will need to look at sooner rather than later.

 

11Nov/11Off

Veteran’s Day – 2011


Veteran's day is upon us and it is time for those to honor veterans whether they be young or old.

It has seem that people the last decade have really taken an appreciation for veterans and given them the respect that they deserve. It would seem like it should be that way but it hasn't always been that way for some reason. Yeah more then half the veterans might not of actually put their life on the line but 99% of people don't even serve in the armed forces, so take that into consideration when you might see someone who did serve but didn't do much and you jus blow them off or show them disrespect.

When I was was younger it just always seemed like the only veterans I possibly knew we're my grandpa's age when in reality they are all over the place and as I get older I find that out more and more each year but a lot of them don't always go on and on about it. They figured they were just doing their job and why should they receive praise for that.

I am a lot like that. I personally served six plus year in the Marine Corps Reserves with a year of that being activated during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I didn't do hardly anything besides what was asked of me and I tend to not go out seeking rewards or praise for what I did. I most times don't really know what to do when somebody finds out I was a vet and thanks me for my service because as soon as they do my mind immediately goes to the men and women that actually gave their lives for our country.

Even people like my great uncle who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor when he was stationed on the U.S.S Oklahoma and was thrown from the ship during the attack as he was headed towards church service. He was also later involved in the Midway Conflict. he survived all that was just recently passed away this year.

It is people like him that all of us, even other veterans, that I think we should be celebrating and honoring the most. But that isn't the way things work and it is still a great honor to be recognized on days like this.

14Oct/11Off

Wayne Rooney gets a 3 match ban, really?

Welcome back! The International break is over and there is a controversy coming out of the break. Wayne Rooney lashes out during a match and gets a three match ban, but were his actions worthy of a three match ban? The English Football Association have already said that the ban will be appealed. I think that Rooney was correctly red carded during the match, but the three match ban is too much.
After reviewing the highlights of the play in question, I could easily see Rooney get elbowed before lashing out. As a result of the elbow Rooney received, he retaliated with a kick to the back of the leg of the player who elbowed him. Then the player flopped on the ground and acted like he was in pain. This was a case of very back acting by the player, but still does not change the fact that Rooney kicked him.
Even though Rooney was elbowed by another player does not give him the right to kick the player. Rooney need to learn to control part of his emotions. Yet, being an emotional player is what helps make Rooney such a great players. The key is to learn how to use that emotion to help you and your team, not hurt you and your team. Rooney is still has time to get help with those skills and I am confident that Sir Alex will help him.
I will give credit to Rooney for taking his punishment and walking off the pitch. He knew the mistake and honored the call the ref had made. With that said, the player was not hurt; there was no blood; Rooney was not cursing at anybody. The three match ban is way over the top in this case. I would understand a one match ban and probation for Rooney for the rest of the Euro 2012 tournament. The English Football Association are justified in appealing this three match ban on Wayne Rooney.

29Sep/11Off

Barclays Premier League Preview for 1-3 Oct.

Most of the top teams in the Barclays Premier League had midweek Champions League games. Although, most of the teams did not get the results that they were expected from those games. Manchester United and Chelsea, both ended their matches with draws. Although, Manchester United's match was worse, because the Red Devils were playing at Old Trafford and allowed three goals. Manchester City went to Munich to play an in-form FC Bayern Munich squad and had more problems than Bayern Munich while there. Arsenal was the only club that had a great week in the Champions League.
The weekend opens with Everton playing host to Liverpool at 7:45am ET on EPSN2/ESPN3.com. This is our first major derby of the season in the Premier League. Last season Liverpool was not able to beat Everton, finishing the season 0-1-1. Which means the Liverpool players and fans have been hearing about those matches all year. Liverpool will be looking forward to this match-up and Kenny Dalglish will have his players ready. Liverpool will be more than Everton can handle even at Goodison Park. Liverpool 2-1, with goals from Suarez and Carroll.
The next match is Manchester City away to Blackburn Rovers. Manchester City is in such turmoil right now after the revolt in the Munich. Carlos Tevez refused to come into the match as a sub, Edin Dzeko was cursing at Roberto Mancini for being taken out of the match. Manchester City is imploding while sitting second in the table of the Premier League. I guess the pressure of the Champions League is the great. Blackburn does not have the class of Manchester City, but will the off the field problems follow City onto the pitch? I say yes, in a very close match Blackburn pull the upset and beat City, 2-1. Causing further turmoil for the club and Roberto Mancini.
Manchester United did not have a good weekend last weekend or play well midweek in the Champions League. Wayne Rooney missed both matches, while Javier Hernandez miss a majority of the Stoke City match after getting injured. Then Hernandez missed the Champions league match. While Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen played the Stoke match, both players sat the bench for the Champions League match. Ashely Young and Danny Welbeck both played outstanding during the Champions League match while the defense decided not to show up. Manchester United should be able to easily handle Norwich City on Saturday, but the same was said about United playing FC Basel. I wonder which version of United will show up to play this game? I do not doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson will have the club ready to play. Manchester United will come out ready to play and win big, 4-1 United. Look for Danny Welbeck to start and score the first goal for United in this match.
On Sunday, 2 Oct, Chelsea travel to the Reebok Stadium to play Bolton. Chelsea played very well for a majority of their Champions League match, but gave up a late goal to allow the three points to slip away. Chelsea will be agitated that they let a lead slip away. Bolton is playing Chelsea at the wrong time. Andre Villas-Boas will have the club ready to play and play well. I expect Fernando Torres to have two goals in the match for the first time at Chelsea. Chelsea will win 3-0 and prove a point in doing so.
The last match of the day on Sunday is the Match-up of the Weekend. Tottenham is playing host to Arsenal in another derby. This derby is a North London derby and involves teams that are starting to play better. Arsenal is finally starting to look better with two wins in a row and Tottenham after some early season troubles are looking good. This match will be a test of just how far Arsenal has come in just a couple of weeks. Tottenham will test Arsenal will Gareth Bale and Luka Modric. Yet, Robin van Pursie is in such great form right now and was rested for part of the Champions League match. I expect the match to be very exciting, but the score to be 2-2.
One of the best parts of the Premier League is derby matches. Those rivalry matches between clubs that are located in the same town and sometimes only a few miles apart. The soccer this weekend is going to be exciting. Get yourself something to drink, a great place in front of the tele, and enjoy!

26Sep/11Off

Barclays Premier League Weekend Recap for 24-26 Sept.

   The soccer was amazing too watch on Saturday, all but one of the top clubs was able to pull off the win. The biggest match of the weekend was Manchester United traveling to Stoke City. While Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal were all playing matches at their home fields on Saturday. With Liverpool having the toughest test of the top clubs besides Manchester United.

   The match results were as follows Manchester City defeated Everton, 2-0 at the Etithad.  The match was tied 0-0 at the half, which was a surprise to me. I know that Everton normally plays very well against City, but this is not your father's City team. In the second half, this year's City team came out to play with goals by Balotelli (68') and Milner (89'). Although those are not who you would think would score goes for City. Missing from the score sheet is their new rising star Sergio Aguero. City with the win moved to first place in the table and were awaiting the late game to see if they would keep their new place.

    Arsenal has had a very tough season to this point and was in need of a great effort from the club. Arsene Wenger has seemed to have lost his team, with players leaving the club and players not playing hard during matches. As of the start of the match on Saturday, Arsenal was only one point out of the relegation zone. Arsenal played the perfect club to help get their confidence back, Bolton. The Gunners played on the front foot the whole match, while Bolton look dazed and confused out on the pitch. Special congratulations to Robin van Persie for scoring his 10oth goal with Arsenal on Saturday. Arsenal controlled the match from the beginning and won 3-0 over Bolton. Sadly, I picked Bolton to go into the Emirates and beat Arsenal (good thing I did not have any money on this game).

      At Stanford Bridge there was some controversy over the red card shown to Fernando Torres. But regardless of being down to ten men in the 39th minute of the game, Chelsea still nets two more goals and wins 4-1 over Swansea City. Chelsea showed no ill effects of the loss to Manchester United from the week before. And Fernando Torres has now scored a goal in two straight games, compared to the 10 hour scoreless stretch before the goal against Manchester United. Torres is regaining his form that cost Chelsea a transfer fee of 50 million pounds. I expect Chelsea to only get better as the season progress and I give the credit to Villas-Boas the new manager.

    Liverpool were looking to rebound after the embarrassing lose and the sending off of two players from a week ago. In front of their supports at Anfield, the Reds played well and Luis Suarez put in the goal of the week in the 38th minute of the game. With the middle field players at Liverpool, Suarez will be in the top three of the Golden Boot competition at the end of the season. The ref was yellow card happy in this game, seven total yellows shown. Four shown to Wolves and three to Liverpool, sure did make for a lot of free kicks. Glad no one was shown red for a second yellow though. The game was close, but Liverpool at home was too much for Wolves.

    The match of the week in the Premier League, Stoke City playing host to Manchester United at the Britannia. Manchester United had done nothing but win on the season, their record coming into the match is 5-0-0. Stoke City is unbeaten at the Britannia this year, with a record of 3-2-0 in all competitions. The match was very exciting from start to finish. Both clubs were moving the ball very well and countattacking quickly. Manchester United stuck first with a terrific goal from Nani in the 27th minute. But shortly after half-time Stoke City's new player, Peter Crouch, did what he does best. Crouch went up and headed a ball past De Gea in the 52nd minute of the match. Manchester United made some last chances, but we not able to put the ball in the back of the net. Stoke City's defense came through and ended the 100% record of Manchester United.

    This was another great weekend of soccer in the Barclays Premier League. Fans of all of the top clubs should be satisfied with the results of weekend. The top of the table looks like this: 1- Manchester United with 16 point (goal differential - 17), 2- Manchester City with 16 points (goal differential 14), 3- Chelsea with 13 points, 4- Newcastle - with 12 points, 5- Liverpool with 10, points, 12- Arsenal with 7 points. The race at the top of the table is tight already, this is going to be another great season!

Red Beards

*To the Ends of the Earth*

23Sep/11Off

Barclays Premier League Preview for 24-26 Sept.

images[4]

The top clubs get a weekend off from playing each other, but will still be tested with playing solid clubs. Liverpool and Manchester United have to play teams that have started the season well. Liverpool will have the comfort of being at Anfield. While Manchester United will have their real first road test of the season. Chelsea will play host to Swansea City at the Bridge, Arsenal will host Bolton at the Emirates, and Manchester City will play Wolves at the Etithad stadium. Most of the top clubs are looking to just keep the momentum going or looking to find that form that their clubs does not have.
The first game of the weekend is Everton at Manchester City. Manchester City last weekend had their 100% start to the season ended by a 2-2 draw against Fulham. Manchester City will be looking to get those points back as the club is now two points below cross town rivals Manchester United in the table. Everton has played middle of the road to start the season. Tim Howard has played well, but there is not much else on the team with him . I don't think that Everton has very much to offer against Manchester City at the Etithad Stadium. I think that the score will be 3-1, with Aguero scoring a brace. This match will start at 7:45 ET and be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.
Liverpool will play host to Wolves at Anfield on Saturday. Liverpool is coming off a loss last week in which two player were shown red against Spurs. The club did not play well at all against Spurs and Charlie Adam had two bad tackles that were causing him to see red. Liverpool has had moments this year when the club looks brilliant and other times were the club has looked terrible. The question is which group will show up for Kenny this Saturday? Wolves on the other hand had a wonderful start the season and has since started to drop off. Wolves has played great soccer at times this season, but which team will show up for them? This game is a toss-up. I will give the game to Liverpool, because of home field advantage and Suarez. The final score will be Liverpool 2-1 and Suarez will score 1.
Chelsea is coming of a tough loss to Manchester United last Sunday. Fernando Torres is almost back to his form of old, even though he had an epic miss in Sunday's loss. The goal Torres scored was an amazing chip of United's keeper De Gea. Chelsea is playing very well under new boss Villas-Boas. Although, I do not like the fact that Villas-Boas blamed the loss to Manchester United on the officials. Chelsea had plenty of chances to score and just did not take advantage of those chances. Chelsea will have no problem with Swansea City. Swansea City is coming off their first win of the season and scoring their first goal of the campaign. Actually, Swansea scored their first goal and then proceeded to score two more goals on the day. Swansea may not score a lot of goal, but the club can play defense very well. Swansea has keep three clean sheets this season. I do not think Swansea will keep a clean sheet this week, Chelsea will win this match 3-0. I am also glad to see Peter Cech back in goal for Chelsea. Torres will score again for Chelsea.
This is a tough match-up to cover, Arsenal v Bolton. Arsenal is having serious problem this year. I thought that Arsene Wenger had the club somewhat fixed after their Champions League performance and win against Swansea City. But then Arsenal goes on the road against Blackburn and loses 4-2. I realize that two of Blackburn's goals with own goal's against Arsenal. If Arsenal continues to play this way, I do not think that Wenger will be the manager by Christmas. I know the team is building for the future, but there has to be some winning now. Arsenal is close to the relegation zone. Bolton has played very well against clubs at their level and lost to the top clubs. I think that Bolton will go to the Emirates and easily handle Arsenal. Life will continue to get tougher for Wenger and the Arsenal fans, 2-1 Bolton.
Manchester United had what was suppose to be a tough road test against Bolton on 10 Sept. Manchester United went to the Reebok Stadium and beat Bolton 5-0. So this Saturday is suppose to be another road test for Manchester United against Stoke City. Stoke City is unbeaten at the Britannia this season and plays outstanding defense. Stoke City was the best defensive team in the Premier League last season. Stoke City is a very physical team and will look to pack in the defenders. Manchester United has the top scoring team in the Premier League this season with 21 goals. Wayne Rooney leads the Golden Boot race with nine goals scored through five games. I think that Manchester United's 100% ends this Saturday against Stoke City. Manchester United was not a very good team on the road last year and Chicharito is dealing with an injury from the Chelsea match. The game will be a 1-1 draw.
I hope that everybody has a great weekend of watching the Barclays Premier League. Manchester City will draw back even on points with Manchester United, but will be in second based on goal differential. Chelsea will gain back some points with the Manchester United draw. Liverpool and Arsenal are going to need to find dependable form week after week. The season is young and the drama is already starting.

Red Beards
*To the Ends of the Earth*

19Sep/11Off

A Quality Match Between ManU and Chelsea

    The match was the first major test for United. United's defense looked really sloppy at times during the match. Chelsea was allowed plenty of chances on goal. Lucky for United that Chelsea's best striker is a washed up Fernando Torres. Torres had a chance at an open goal and missed. Chelsea has not seen 50 million pounds worth out of Torres. He continues to press and his play is not getting any better. Torres only has two goals in 11 matches for Chelsea.

     Chelsea had too many chances to stay in the match. De Gea played in goal awesome to limit Chelsea to just one goal. I feel though that if Drogba would have been the striker that the score line would have been different. Anderson had a terrible game for United in the middle-field. While Evans, Jones, and Smalling were stable for the most part. Fletcher was making his first start of the year for United and played well. Smalling scored his first Premier League goal, but he was off-side.

     Young and Nani continue to do a brilliant job of delivering the ball from the wing. Young took the free kick that set-up Smalling for United's first goal. Young's speed has been a welcome element to the team. Nani had an outstanding goal, in which he struck the ball from outside the penalty area. Wayne Rooney set a club record for the most goals scored in the first five match with he strike in the first half. Rooney has 9 goals so far this season and is in great form.

     The incompetent moment of the match was, the tackle that injured Chicharito and sent him out of the game was ridiculous! The Chelsea player can sliding in with studs up and with no chance to get the ball. That challenge was uncalled for and makes Chelsea looks bad for no reason. The laughable moment of the match was, Rooney's penalty kick. I don't think that I have ever seen anyone fall like that while taking a penalty. Although, he did handle himself well after the crash landing.

     I think the score line of the game is miss-leading though. The match was closer than 3-1 and that Chelsea will give United a real challenge for the Premier League title this year. The return match at Stanford Bridge should be very excited to watch and will probably be 1-1. With both of the clubs in the top two spots in the Barclays Premier League. We can only hope that Chicharito, Cleverly, and Drogba will all be healthy for that match.

Red Beards

*To the Ends of the Earth*

16Sep/11Off

Manchester United-Chelsea have Sunday Showdown.

    Last weekend Manchester United played at Bolton and had no problem putting the ball in the back of the net. Wayne Rooney had a hat-trick for the second game in a row. Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored a brace in his first start of the season. One huge problems for ManU is the lose of Tom Cleverly to a terrible tackle by Davies from Bolton. Davies tackled Cleverly from behind and injured his foot. Cleverly will miss at least a month. He has started every game for ManU to this point in the season. I will be interested to see who Sir Alex chooses to take Cleverly's place in the starting 11.

    Mid-week was the start of the Champions League and the toughest game for the ManU during the group stage. ManU was away to Benfica. The match ended in a 1-1 draw and was a satisfactory ending for ManU. The only thing that ManU could not do was going on the road and lose. Benfica was on the score board first with outstanding play and finish by Cardozo in the 24 minute. Benfica out played ManU for basically the whole match. A crafty move by Giggs in the 42 minute saved a point for the club. In this game, Sir Alex started seven players for the first time this season. Although, Dimitar Berbatov did not get a start and has not started a game this season.

   This Sunday is a major showdown between to Barclays Premier League title contenders, ManU and Chelsea. The Theatre of Dreams will play host to this match up for the second time in a row. Chelseas traveled to Old Trafford at the end of last season on 08 May. In this match Chicharito scored a goal after just 36th seconds and Nemanja Vidic added second goal for ManU in the 23rd minute of the game. Chelsea was able to pull one goal back with a Frank Lampard strike in the 68th minute. Old Trafford was a great place for ManU to play last year, never losing and only drawing once.

     I expect ManU to keep playing with the kind of form that they have had so far this season. The team will pass the ball well and play outstanding defense. Rooney and Chicharito are in outstanding form with Nani and Young feeding the ball in from the wings. De Gea is getting more and more comfortable in goal. He is learning to play with the pressure of the big stage and hold together mentally. The little mental errors are leaving the youngster, just as Peter Schmeichel said would happen. I do not think that the an even older Chelsea club from last year, has anything to offer for ManU this year. I expect the score to be 3-1 ManU, with Young scoring the first goal for ManU.