I am hearing rumblings of an MLS announcement about David Beckham and a Miami franchise. My sources indicate it will be announced either in December at MLS Cup or in January at the Superdraft/NSCAA Convention. Either way, Orlando City will have been announced as moving from USL PRO to MLS by that time creating an instant Florida derby in the American top flight. I am hearing the Miami team could start play anytime from 2015 to 2017. As more details emerge, we will keep you posted at World Soccer Talk.
The New York Red Bulls under Mike Petke have won their first ever trophy – the MLS Supporters Shield. The resounding 5-2 victory over Chicago in front of a sold-out Red Bull Arena was the shot in the arm the local sport needed in the world’s largest media market. The international game is remarkably popular in the New York media market, but the local/domestic game has been struggling since the early 1980s. The Red Bulls success means so much to developing the market not just locally but nationally.
Tim Cahill has won his first major trophy at the club level with the Red Bulls victory. Cahill has played in two FA Cup Finals and was for a long time one of the biggest impact midfielders in English football. Yet it took moving to America to win a trophy, and you could tell in the dying moments of the match nobody in the stadium was happier than he was.
Speaking of New York, the New York Cosmos clinched the NASL (US second division) fall title this weekend as well. Congratulations to them. They will face Atlanta in the Soccer Bowl final on November 9, a match that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3, only the second time an NASL team has appeared on an ESPN network (the Tampa Bay Rowdies friendly match vs. Orlando City was shown on ESPN3 earlier this season).
Burnley sit atop the Championship table after a convincing 2-0 victory over QPR. Danny Ings fantastic team goal with Sam Vokes at Turf Moor put the Clarets ahead and from that point forward QPR was chasing the game. Given that in recent seasons, Burnley has lost Steven Fletcher, Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin, it could have meant regression for a club of modest economic means, but the Clarets have continued to attract good players to Lancashire and are producing scintillating attacking football. This is especially important for a club whose supporter ethos revolves around playing nicely, with the ball on the ground and a nice passing game.
This season QPR have signed Nico Kranjcar, Charlie Austin away from Burnley, Karl Henry away from Wolves, Richard Dunne away from Villa, Matty Phillips away from Blackpool, and got the “English Xavi” Thomas Carroll on loan from Spurs. They shed few players from last year’s well paid Premier League squad and yet, as of today, sit outside the automatic promotion places. QPR’s squad is bigger than the vast majority the best top-flight leagues in Europe, and their weekly wage bill is estimated to be as high 50 times that of the smallest clubs in their division. Sometimes having too many players and too many options can kill a side. Or maybe given the length of the Championship season, this problem will become a blessing down the road?
Hertha Berlin, who have taken the Bundesliga by storm, played Bayern Munich about as well as possible in a 3-2 loss on Saturday. They used an interesting formation; a 4-4-2 going forward that became a 4-2-3-1 when dropping back. Perhaps this is a formula more sides will employ again Bayern, who right now look like the top team in Europe.
AS Roma keep winning. Not being in European competition at all seem to be help Rudi Garcia’s club when compared to other top Italian sides.
The scenes at the end of the Norwich-Cardiff match were more an indictment of Leroy Fer as the villain, not Ricky van Wolfswinkel. If you watch closely, van Wolfswinkel simply wanted to return the ball to Cardiff City but Fer was asking him for the ball, at which the Dutch striker gave an aghast look before throwing in to his compatriot and teammate.
Manuel Pellegrini has said in relation to his decision to not shake hands with Jose Mourinho following Manchester City’s dramatic 2-1 defeat in West London, “No, I didn’t shake hands. Because I didn’t want to.” Asked why, he said: “I repeat, I didn’t want to shake hands. I don’t want to say more.” As for Mourinho’s celebration, Pellegrini said “I didn’t expect anything else. It is a different way to celebrate from me.”
Pellegrini got his tactics spot on Sunday. But Manchester City, despite what some commentators think, are simply not a good enough side to compete with the top teams in England. The back four is incredibly poor, and too many questions still persist in central midfield. Fernandinho has gotten better, but Yaya Toure’s impact on the tempo of matches this season has been negligible and the side is collectively committing too many lapses in concentration to be considered a contender for honors of any kind this season. I previously blamed Pellegrini’s naivety about English football for City’s woes, but he’s adjusted accordingly and yet the problems continue. This means despite the hype and large amounts of cash spent assembling the side, it is very possible Manchester City are simply not good enough to win a trophy or perhaps even qualify for Europe in competitive Premier League this season.
One under-discussed topic this year in England has been the tremendous impact of Victor Wanyama at Southampton. Sure he was a dominant player at Celtic, but the SPL isn’t exactly the best indicator of success in England’s top flight. Wanyama’s partnership in central midfield with Morgan Schneiderlin, who has been with Southampton since their League One days, has been one of the best combinations at any level of English football this season.
For a long while, Paris Saint-Germain looked especially vulnerable against St. Étienne. But as always the Paris side benefited from timely attacking play, and also a red card to salvage a 2-2 draw.