Happy Premier League Eve
Wow, a lot can happen in the soccer world in two weeks. As soon as I post a celebratory bit about Frank Lampard’s move to NYCFC, he’s loaned out to one of Chelsea’s fierce league rivals Manchester City. All I can say is mega boo to that. Not cool.
The MLS All-Stars beat Bayern Munich in the big MLS All-Star game in Portland. The result matters little, but since Pep Guardiola treated MLS All-Stars coach Caleb Porter so jerkily after the match by refusing to shake his hand (Pep was perturbed by a couple poor challenges courtesy of Osvaldo Alonso and Will Johnson) I was very glad Bayern lost. The challenges by Alonso and Johnson were boneheaded for sure, but not worth Guardiola getting his Euro briefs in such a twist over.
Then there was the news tidbit the day after the All-Star game that Landon Donovan is hanging up his boots at the end of the season. I’m disappointed. Donovan’s accomplished a ton – certainly the greatest American player of all-time in my book – but since he’s only 32-years-old I really thought he might still have a late career surge in him. I even maintained a sliver of hope that he might redeem his 2014 World Cup snub and make the 2018 squad. Looks like that won’t happen. It’s been a good run for Donovan and I hope he enjoys his much deserved victory lap during the last couple months of the MLS season. I’ll definitely look forward to his last game at FC Dallas in October.
This week began with the surprising news (to me at least) that the Men in Blazers (Roger Bennett and Michael Davies) are jumping ESPN’s mother ship and heading to NBC Sports Network where they’ll have a weekly TV show. I’m a big Blazers fan, a GFOP as it were, and never miss an episode of their frequently hilarious podcast. I discovered their pod on Grantland a couple years ago and it quickly became a weekly mainstay for me, a required supplement to watching EPL matches every weekend. I was excited to see ESPN give the MiB’s a segment on the net’s daily World Cup Tonight show during their World Cup coverage this summer. The MiB’s took the opportunity and slammed it out of the park. They were terrifically funny during the segments – just the right blend of witty and ridiculous. They even got Michael Ballack to crack a couple smiles, albeit barely. Their segment became a real highlight of every World Cup Tonight episode. It is precisely the success of their segments that makes it so surprising ESPN is letting them go to NBC. Certainly, this deal has probably been in the works for a while, but I still find it curious ESPN failed to keep them. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to a MiB TV show.
Tuesday night FC Dallas lost to Philadelphia Union in their U.S. Open Cup Semifinal match in the most maddening way possible: the dreaded PK shootout. Dallas has been on a rare hot streak in MLS play – they’re undefeated in eight straight games – but trophies continue to elude. I was excited about Dallas potentially hosting the Open Cup Final, alas, we’ll have to hope for an MLS playoff berth instead. The most concerning aspect of the loss to Philly were the injuries to defender Walker Zimmerman and midfielder Mauro Diaz. These guys can’t catch a break. They both seem to have tons of potential but can’t stay injury-free long enough to explore their potential.
Then there’s the little matter of the Premier League kicking off tomorrow. Can it possibly be time for a new season already? It seems to be arriving early this year. Not that I’m complaining. Seemingly every writer/pundit around is picking Chelsea to win the league, which now probably ensures they won’t. I’m hopeful though and examining their roster it’s hard not to like their chances. You can read my Chelsea season preview for World Soccer Talk here.
Finally, the unexpected highlight of my summer came in the form of a tweet from the great football commentator Derek Rae who apparently actually read one of my articles:
Speaking of, I am finally on Twitter now: @nathannipper96. Don’t forget to register for a chance to win a free copy of Dallas ‘Til I Cry: Learning to Love Major League Soccer – only 16 days left until the winners will be drawn. That’s it for now. Enjoy the new EPL season!