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Fair Play Edwin Van der Sar: Manchester United Keeper's Magnanimous Moment

Edwin van der Sar is a tall Dutch goalkeeper for Manchester United. Wednesday night, Manchester United met Manchester City in the second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final. The Carling Cup is a knock-out competition for all of the teams in the top four tiers of English football. Upstart Manchester City has been an afterthought in Manchester, playing second fiddle to Manchester United. Furthermore, Cit hasn't won a major competition since the 1970s when they won the Carling Cup but City's new manager, Roberto Mancini has made winning this competition a priority.

To add to the drama, Manchester United opted not to purchase the rights to Carlos Tevez, who had played two seasons with the club. Tevez was snatched up by Manchester City and said that he felt that United didn't appreciate him. Winning the tie with United was a massive priority for him and he came up big in the first game, scoring twice. For most players, scoring twice against the team that rejected you would be enough, but not for Tevez. He decided to head over to the United sideline and make an obscene gesture at United's Gary Neville, who returned fire with a two fingered salute as Tevez celebrated one of his goals. The two exchanged pleasantries through the media ("Neville is a bootlicker") in the week up to the second leg at Old Trafford, United's homefield.

The stage was set for major drama. The first half was exciting but neither team scored. Manchester City pushed into United's end of the field and forced a corner kick. Craig Bellamy went to the corner to grab the ball. As he went to set it up, the United fans started throwing coins, bottles, and other stuff from the stands. Bellamy grabbed his head and went to the ground as more missiles reigned down from the crowd. That was when Van der Sar made his best save of the night. He raced over from his goal and stood between Bellamy and the crowd, shielding Bellamy from the thrown objects and stopped the crowd in their tracks. As quickly as the missiles started, they ended. Bellamy got up and headed back into the field of play as another player took the kick and Van der Sar went back to his goal.

It was a magnanimous moment from the United keeper that is rarely seen. When the US Men's National Team plays in Mexico, guards must hold up shields to protect anyone who has to head to the corner flag. I don't know that Van der Sar and Bellamy are friends but either way, having a highly respected player come to the aide of a bitter rival took a lot of courage and integrity. It is an act that will have positive repercussions because it sets a precedence of respect, even when it is a hated rival in an important game.

It is interesting to contrast Van der Sar with Gary Neville and Carlos Tevez.

Neville initiated things by saying that United were smart not to resign Tevez because his financial demands were too large. Tevez felt disrespected and used Neville's comments to motivate him for the first leg of the trip, in which Tevez scored two goals. While celebrating one of the goals, Tevez made a gesture at Neville as Neville warmed up on the sideline. Neville returned fire with a two-fingered salute (England's equivalent of "the bird"). Then, later in the week, Tevez called Neville a "boot-licker" and a "moron" before his Manager told him to shut up already.

While it makes for great drama, it is all very petty and superficial. There's not much depth to the man who is so easily disrespected or quick to react to petty gestures, however it takes a strong inner compass to stand up to your own fans to protect a vulnerable rival. That's what Edwin van der Sar did in his magnanimous moment. Fair play to Van der Sar.

Here's the video in full. The highlight is at the 11 minute mark.

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A Two Match Ban?

The Cristiano Ronaldo show was in full effect on Sunday. Ronaldo scored both goals in Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Malaga. The first goal is just a beauty. Fantastic team play. The ball moves so fast down the center, then to the outside and then centered for a great finish. I think the combined salary of the 4 players that set up and scored the first goal is somewhere near $100 million. Quite the bargain. It's nice to see Guti, the blonde spaniard, getting some playing time again. The second goal is also pretty. I love the reaction from the bench. For every player on the bench that is going crazy and celebrating, you always have at least one or two that are sulking in the background and mad that they aren't getting any playingtime. At one point they too might have celebrated in order to try and impress the coach and look like a "team player" and someone that cares about the team's success. They have since given up though. They probably didn't even bother to put their shorts on underneath their warm up pants.

Anyways, a Ronaldo show isn't nearly complete without a little drama. Later in the game, Ronaldo does what he does best and gets red carded when the game is already won. Even though he clearly hits the player, I was actually surprised by the straight red card. I understand that Ronaldo hit the player in the face. He was flailing his arms and it does appear that he intentionally swung his arm back at the player. But the guy was holding his jersey. The red card seemed a little harsh. Apparently not though as Ronaldo was given a two game ban for what he did instead of the customary 1 game suspension. Two games?! Real Madrid is of course going to appeal, as well they should. I realize it was a punch to the face, but two games? Plus, "punch" is used loosely here. I'm no street fighter by any means, but Ronaldo doesn't exactly look like he would have a death blow up his sleeve. He looks more like an arm flailer and a cheap shot guy. Kicks people when they have their back turned and things like that. This looks like another example of Ronaldo just being a baby.

Maybe that is why he got a two game ban. Maybe La Liga is sick of dealing with a 3 year old. Which is what Ronaldo basically is. He whines, pouts and full on punches and kicks people when they take his ball away from him or he doesn't get his way. And maybe that is what is going on with the two game suspension. La Liga has realized that Ronaldo, like other 3 year olds is slow to learn and isn't correcting his ways, so they needed to be harsher in their discipline.

Well, whatever the reason is, I'm not a Cristiano Ronaldo apologist and I think he deserves most of the red cards he gets, but I don't agree with this one.

Ronaldinho - Will He Wear the Fabled Yellow Again?

Ronaldinho, according to many Brazilians is one of the best soccer players of all time, just behind Pelé. But will this Gaúcho be suiting up this summer for the World Cup? There have been many speculations as to if he will play. The last time he did play for the national team was over 8 months ago, and the last time he scored for the national team was at the Olympics in Beijing. Many have voiced their opinion about whether Ronaldinho should play this summer. Most feel that, as evidenced by his recent play with AC Milan, he is playing like he used to: flashy moves on the field with some spectacular finishes. Diego Maradona, coach of the Argentina National Team- one of Brazil's biggest rivals- thinks that Ronaldinho should play. Most Brazilians also want to see their superstar on the field.

But even if he does go to South Africa, the bigger question is where will he play?

With Robinho not playing too well at Manchester City, it would make sense that Ronaldinho could take his spot. But Robinho is one of Brazil's leading goal scorers. Robinho could just be bored at City and will regain his form for the World Cup. Then again, his style of play is so bad as of late I wouldn’t be surprised if Dunga left him on the bench, or didn’t even take him at all. That's probably a stretch, I am pretty sure that all famous Brazilian soccer stars starting with “R” will be in yellow this summer (except for Ronaldo who has gained a little too much weight since the last cup.)

On February 14 they will announce the Seleção Brasileira. Will the ugliest, and arguably greatest player of the decade be in Africa this summer? Only Dunga knows.

Lance, our Brazil correspondent, contributed this article.

On the Same Page As Though We Were Related

Fernando Torres came out today and admitted he is infatuated with me just as much as I with him. He didn't quite phrase it like that, but he did say that Liverpool should sign Valencia striker David Villa. Which is exactly what I said a couple weeks ago. So maybe he isn't infatuated with me per se, but we are definitely on the same page. If that page is a mutual understanding of the Liverpool needs, why couldn't it encompass a mutual admiration for each other?

On a related note, one of the comments (that wasn't about another commenter being an idiot) to the ESPN article mentioned how this could all just be part of the Torres exit strategy. And it's a interesting theory. I am skeptical if Torres will even come back this season. He's out until early March at the earliest. With the World Cup this summer, he's not going to risk further injury. He's going to limit himself for the rest of the season. Also, I don't really think Villa and David Sliva are for sale. Not for a price that Liverpool or any team can really afford anyways. Valencia is sitting comfortably in third place and actually only a couple points behind Real Madrid for second. If they hold on, they will qualify for the Champions League next year and boost their revenue.

Basically, this could just be Torres covering his bases. If Liverpool doesn't finish in the top 4, he may want out but doesn't want to seem like the bad guy, yet he wants to play for a contender. He makes these statements now, then he pulls the "I wanted to stay at Liverpool, but they didn't want to spend the money to compete and make necessary changes, so I'm forced to leave for a contender" card later and justifies his way out. Not saying that is what is going on here, but it's possible. Remember that Fernando Torres and I are related. He's my tio. We get each other.

Landon Donovan - Salute Him Again

Well, whether you like the name of our award or not, Landon Donovan was yet again the best American player last weekend and gets our Weekly Salute for his service overseas. Not that he had much competition. Tim Howard is really the only player that you could argue deserved it over Donovan, but he wasn't really challenged in goal (more on this in a bit).

Donovan didn't have an assist like last week or have any direct involvement in any of Everton's 2 goals, but he had a great game. You really needed to see the entire game to appreciate how well Donovan did. Not the greatest player on the field, but definitely proving that he deserves to start and can compete with the best talent in England. Donovan played so well that the Everton coach intentionally subbed him in the 90th minute so that the fans could show their appreciation for his performance and cheer him as he came off the field. The reception was so good that Donovan is already considering extending his stay with Everton to the end of the Premier League season (May) instead of the start of the MLS season (March). Speaking of the fans, after the game Donovan said:

"I've been made to feel so welcome and when you're welcome like that you don't want to let anyone down," he told the Liverpool Echo. It's a sharp contrast to how I felt last year when I was at Munich...

"The atmosphere [at Everton] completely surpassed what I thought, he said. "I guessed if we scored a few goals or were winning they'd be loud, but it was from minute one. They really push you on."

First of all: I'm really curious about his German experience. I still don't understand how it was so bad that he was completely turned off to the idea of playing soccer in Europe.

Second: How did he not know that English fans were this loyal and dedicated to their players? I've never been to a game in England, but I've been to one in Spain and seen a host of games on TV. Even I know that English soccer fans are insanely loyal to their team and that they cheer for their players all game long. Did he really not know this? Did he think that the crowds were the same as the MLS? Doesn't every casual fan of soccer know that the English crowds are this committed? Isn't that half the reason people want to become professional soccer players? To get paid millions, date supermodels and be literally worshiped by the fans?

Anyways, I may never quite understand Landon Donovan, but I am happy to see him playing extremely well and hope that he continues to play at such a high level during the World Cup.

As far as the other team on the field Saturday, Manchester City looked terrible. Everton was playing some of their best soccer of the season, but Man City looked lost for most of the game. It wasn't a good sign when Roque Santa Cruz went down with injury and is out for a month. Robinho came on as his replacement, but his performance was so uninspiring that Roberto Mancini (Man City's coach) subbed out Robinho before the end of the game. A team only gets three subs a game so it's rare that a coach will use a sub on a player that already subbed in. But considering Robinho was invisible for most of the game, bringing on any warm body was an upgrade. No need to worry about Man City though, they recently purchased Patrick Vieira. Despite being in his mid-30s and unable to crack the starting 11 on his previous team, he is the perfect powerhouse to fix Man City's offensive problems (I wish sarcasm was easier in writing).

Anyways, I know the second half of the season just started, but if Man City wants to finish in the top 4, they have to look a lot better than they did last weekend. They got blitzed and overwhelmed by Everton and never really threatened. There is still a lot of soccer yet to be played, but they are on the outside looking in right now and don't have too much room for error.

60 Minutes or 11 Minutes: How Soccer compares to Football - WSJ

As a soccer fan, I can't tell you how many times I've had to argue that the game is as action packed as American football to my friends. While I agree that the scoring isn't quite as high, the constant movement and build up, followed by a goal is one of the best parts of the game. It wouldn't hurt if every goal counted as 6 points. In fact, the Chelsea v Sunderland game today was 7 -2, which is 49 - 14 in American football terms. None of my arguments ever seem to help those who are not inclined to give the game a chance, but I'll keep trying and the Wall Street Journal has given me a great counter argument to the "soccer is boring" argument.

Next time someone says it's boring, your response should be, "11 minutes."

11 minutes? That's how much actual playing time occurs in your average NFL game. A game will air for 3 hours. You'll see 11 minutes of play. How is that possible? Here's an excerpt:

"In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there's barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.

So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast? Not surprisingly, commercials take up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps. In the four broadcasts The Journal studied, injured players got six more seconds of camera time than celebrating players. While the network announcers showed up on screen for just 30 seconds, shots of the head coaches and referees took up about 7% of the average show."

11 minutes or 60 minutes? Soccer wins.

WSJ Article

The Beginning of the End?

In last week’s FA Cup game against Reading, Fernando Torres injured or re-aggravated his groin. Whatever he did to it, he is sidelined for 6 weeks. It’s a tough loss for Liverpool and I see their season going one of two ways:

1. The team plays better without Torres, rallys together because they know their backs are against the wall and they can't depend on their star players, they string together some lucky victories and get some breaks and actually move up in the standings over the next 6 weeks. Torres comes back, regains his form, brings sexy back and Liverpool somehow lands in the top 4 when all is said and done at the end of the season.

OR, and in my opinion more likely:

2. This is the knock-out blow. Liverpool slides in the standings without Torres and Steven Gerrard (also injured). Once Torres realizes the season is lost, he turns his focus to the World Cup. With Liverpool out of contention and Spain a legit contender, if not favorite, to win this summer, he never really comes back because he doesn’t want to aggravate his injury prior to the World Cup this summer. 6 weeks turns into 8 or 9...or 12. In the meantime, things go from bad to worse for Liverpool. They don’t finish in the top 4, Benitez gets fired, Torres and Gerrard flee over the summer for contenders and the city catches on fire. It might not be that bad. The city probably won't catch on fire.

I love Torres and would love to see Liverpool regain their form and finish at the top of the table. And even though that is possible, I just don't see it happening. Is this the beginning of the end? I hope not...but think so.

Landon Donovan of Everton and the USMNT: Salute to Americans Serving (Playing) Overseas

Landon Donovan has arrived in the English Premier League to play for Everton and is the American National of the week (we really need to get a better name for this award). The star of the US Men's National Team (USMNT) started his Everton career off with a nice assist on a corner kick. It seems that David Moyes, Everton's manager, has been watching the film on Donovan. He put him out on the right wing and had him run at Arsenal's defense. Donovan's speed gave the opposition trouble all night. It was an impressive debut for Donovan and after pointing out his missed penalty kick and calling for Clint Dempsey to be the next Captain of the USMNT (by the way, why didn't anyone argue for Tim Howard as the next captain?), all credit to Landon for impressing everyone on the night. A strong showing over the next three months will go a long way toward increasing his confidence as he plays for the USMNT at this summer's World Cup.

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Gonzalo Higuain - The Unexpected Star

Gonzalo Higuain has easily been the unexpected star of Real Madrid this season. Real Madrid's offseason was flooded with the major signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Karem Benzema. With all of the signings it seemed like Higuain, despite his solid play last season, would be the odd man out and yet another young player that was pushed aside at Real Madrid for a star signing. Higuain (can we call him Gonzo? His nickname is El Pipita, but I like Gonzo better), like many players, could have shrunk at all of the star signings and taken his place on the bench until he was sent out on loan or traded once his contract expired. Instead, Gonzo has been nothing short of brilliant this season. He started the season on the bench but made the most of every opportunity. He now is a regular starter and leads the team in scoring with 11 goals - 4 more than C. Ronaldo and 6 more than Karem Benzema - the hot shot young forward Real bought this off season. I have nothing against Benzema, I think he's a solid young player. But the purchase of Benzema shows how flawed Real is. Both Benzema and Gonzo are 22 years old. They already had Gonzo, a superstar young forward who was coming into his prime, but Benzema was a "hot" name on the transfer market, so Real picked him up. A fine purchase since he does contribute, but practically unnecessary. Real doesn't play both Higuain and Benzema at the same time since they play C. Ronaldo at forward because they already have a host of midfielders. If you already had a productive young forward, why spend on another one? Because there is no such thing as logic and prudence at Real Madrid and because you never wait for a young player to develop when you can just buy one instead.

Anyways, I digress. It often happens when trying to make sense of Real Madrid. Back to Gonzo. On Sunday he was once again brilliant. He scored Real's first goal and assisted on the second. Check out the video below (there is a long intro, the first goal comes at the 2:00 mark).

Gonzo is clearly a legit forward. That first goal is just a beauty. He shows that he has an outstanding shot and fantastic accuracy. The second goal (he has the assist and makes the cross) shows off his skill and that he has great touch and can set up players and isn't just a finisher. Plus, he's a big guy and can push defenders around and out-muscle lots of defenders. He was showing flashes of brilliance at the end of last year. Luckily for Real Madrid, he was given another chance this season and was able to prove that he can dominate at the highest level.

So I wanted to post about Gonzo for a couple of reasons:

1. It's always fun to point out examples of how Real Madrid's business model of constantly buying players on the market and ignoring their own talent is terribly flawed;

2. I've been watching him all season and really believe that he is one of the best young strikers in the world and over the next few years will be in the "who is the best striker in the world right now" discussions; and

3. Those discussions will all begin after the World Cup this summer. Argentina has world of talent and loads of issues. They have a crack addict coach and a lack of mullets on the team. They need to fix their issues. If they can/do, with players like Gonzo, they can and should make it to the semifinals, if not finals. We all know that team is centered around Messi, as well is should be since he is the best player in the world and an incredible playmaker. But Messi can't do it alone and despite having other great players, it's a player like Gonzalo Higuain that is the x-factor that turns Argentina from a pretender to a contender. Mark it down and watch for him this summer.

Gonzalo Higuain
might be the unexpected star for Real Madrid with the star-studded, ("galactico" if you will) lineup they have, but that should make him one of the expected stars this summer.

**Post update: Fittingly, just as I finally get around to posting about Higuain and giving him his due, I jinx him as it's reported that he injured his foot in the last game. However, the injury does appear to be minor and he should only be sidelined for 3 weeks. So he will be ready for the knock-out rounds of the Champions League and definitely ready for the World Cup so that he can prove me right that he's the next big thing.

The Flying Dutchman (Part 1)


9 times out of 10, I think Davey “Squid Face” Jones and his gnarly crew win this one but let me paint the 10% scenario for you. I can just see it now, can’t you? Close your eyes and visualize with me for just a minute, I promise this is going to be fun. (I guess you can’t close your eyes, so just imagine and read on.)

“Squid Face” and the rest of his mutated “chicken of the sea” crew on the deck frantically running around in battle mode just off the shore. It’s officially on, battle time. Barrels of gun powder rolling around the gun deck, cannons firing and being reloaded rapidly. Vulgarity blasting, adrenaline pumping, pirate flag at full mass waving, this battle is epic.

Along the shore we find the Dutch national team in despair. Fort Van Basten is a blaze and in shambles. Tattered orange national team jerseys are found inside the fort: there have been casualties and some bodies are on the ground. Of the men left we find the faces Sniejder, Van der Vaart, Van Persie, Kuyt, De Jong, a young faced Huntelaar with a blank stare of absolute despair on this face, he has never seen destruction of this kind. They all look around at one another, each lacking the solution, knowing their destruction is emanate.

Explosions intensify; the end is nearing each passing moment. “Squid face” is enjoying each minute of this total devastation. He opens his telescope to bask in his destruction of a blazing Fort Van Basten and another notch on his victory belt loop. Glowing in his victory he knows it’s just a matter of time before the white flag is hosted up the pole to replace the flag. Suddenly the gates open.

On to the scene steps our unlikely hero: Ruud Van Nistelrooy. War tattered, Van Dutch or also known as the Flying Dutchman is radiating at this point. Ruud only carries a special soccer ball with the pirate logo and a red circled cross through it. He gives it a kiss, places it on the ground, (logo out of course) and takes about 8 steps back. He looks up directly at “Squid Face” one last time, then looks down at the ball and rips a rocket shot off. Of course this is the money shot; hit the main hull, sinking the Flying Dutchmen as well as Davey and the crew.

Ruud immediately like he has done so many other times extends both arms out and runs around celebrating his “golazo”. Not today “Squid Face”, not today.

So the next time you see some amateur sporting the “airplane” thank Ruud, it’s just one of his many contributions to the sport that will live on forever.

Meet Birmingham City

On Saturday Birmingham City tied Manchester United 1-1. Granted, that isn't exactly as difficult of a task as years past. Man United is struggling this year. They didn't score in the game. Their goal was an own goal by a Birmingham player. Regardless, Birmingham City is now tied with league leaders Chelsea as having the longest current unbeaten streak in the Premier League. Which is quite the feat considering that last year Birmingham was in the Second Division. They are currently in 7th place and tied with Liverpool. All the talk is about Tottenham, Aston Villa or Manchester City cracking the top 4 by the end of the season. Well, why not throw Birmingham into that mix?

Admittedly, I know nothing about this club and really hadn't paid much attention to them this season. My apologies to the Birmingham faithful that follow this site. After extensive research on the world wide web, here are some interesting facts about the team for any other readers that may be clueless about this dark horse club:

Name: Birmingham City Football Club (formed as Small Heath Alliance in 1875)

Nickname: Blues. Just "Blues". Not The Blues or Les Bleus. Those refer to Chelsea and the French National Team respectively. Lots of blues out there, but only one Blues.

Fans' nickname: Bluenoses. Good thing their uniforms were blue and not another color.

Mascot: the lovable Beau Brummie. You can't go wrong as a club with a dog wearing high waisted shorts as your mascot. Good things can only come to you.

Fans' anthem: Keep right on to the end of the road. Whether you love or hate soccer, you have to love the passion of the fans and that they all sing together before and during the games. It's really quite fantastic.

Main Rival: Aston Villa

Notable players: Still under investigation. I shouldn't say that. Apparently they do have a quality squad, but few household names outside of Birmingham. None of their players are on the current England National Team. A few of their players are on the Scottish National Team, but Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup. Their leading goal scorers are Cameron Jerome and Lee Bowyer. Both have 5 goals on the season. Which is more than me, but nothing that will get you much recognition throughout the league. Unless all your goals are like this one by Cameron Jerome (it's at the 1 minute mark). Birmingham isn't exactly an offensive powerhouse though. Through 21 games they have only scored 21 goals, far less than the 53 already scored by Arsenal. However, they have only given up 19 goals. So even though they haven't scored a ton, as long as they keep those goals against less than they goals scored, they will remain in contention.

Notable wins/trophies: None. Some lower level championships, but nothing to really brag about. That's all going to change though. Someday Beau Brommie is going to change those uncomfortable shorts and break free and Birmingham City will rise to the top and you'll notice it because you actually knew who they were and saw them coming.

The Times Online Agrees with Fastbreak

Today, the Times Online came out and agreed with our opinion that the Patrick Vieira transfer to Manchester City doesn't make sense in their aptly titled article: "Vieira's move to Manchseter City does not make sense." Now granted, the Times doesn't specifically mention Fastbreak Futbol or say that they are concurring with our post. I also can't really prove that they actually visited our site. But we are both respectable soccer sites and we read their stuff so surely they read ours. I mean, we did publish our opinion on January 7, 2010 and their article came out January 8, 2010. How else could they have reached their opinion? Maybe they didn't use random and weird fast food analogies to make their point as to why the transfer doesn't make sense. Whatever. They have their style, we have ours. Potato, Pot"ah"to. Bottom line is that if you respect and read the Times, you might as well give the same respect to Fastbreak. I mean, it's all the same quality content and we are clearly both on the same side of the fence.

Villa, er, Vieira to Manchester City

Manchester City made a "dollar-menu" move today and signed Patrick Vieira. I just made up that term. It's the best I could come up with to describe a transaction where no one really benefits. Sure, with the dollar menu you get a meal for $3, but in the end, it's really just cheap fast food you are putting into your body, and you aren't really benefiting from that meal. It's a somewhat meaningless transaction. It makes sense at the time and there is usually a short term benefit, but otherwise you are not much better off than if you had just skipped the meal.

The Vieira signing is confusing to me. I don't understand why it works for either side. Vieira is struggling for playing time at Inter Milan. In 18 games this year he has only started 7 of them and come in as a sub for 5 others. He has 1 goal and 1 assist this year. Vieira is 33 years old. He's past his prime, but still feels like he can compete. He wants more playing time so that he can impress the coaches of the French National Team and earn himself a spot on the France team that goes to the World Cup this summer. That's all fine. I understand that he wants a spot on the national team and feels he can still compete. But can he contribute?

Manchester City is currently in 5th place, two points behind 4th place Tottenham. They have had a good first half, but they need an extra spark or missing piece to help them stay strong for another half season and not fade away like most wannabe contenders. I just don't know that Vieira offers that spark or gives City something that they don't already have. City only starts three midfields so I guess that Vieira can come in off the bench for Stephen Ireland or Nigel De Jong. He might start at City as De Jong isn't the greatest player, but again, I don't see how Vieira is much of an upgrade. Perhaps this will benefit Vieira as he may get more playing time, but how does City really benefit?

In an earlier post I argued that Manchester City should sign David Villa. Supposedly Valencia is shopping David Villa as they are hurting for cash. I say "supposedly" because there were various rumors over the summer about Valencia needing and wanting to sell Villa but nothing happened. The rumors have continued right before the close of the transfer window, but again it doesn't look like Villa will actually go anywhere. I thought Villa was perfect for Manchester City and I still think they should have tried to sign him. Maybe they still will. Robinho has been struggling and wants out of City. City has the money to buy him and Villa is an excellent striker that could immediately make an impact and be the help Manchester City needs to get over the hump and finish at the top of the standings.

Who knows, maybe Patrick Vieira will be perfect for City and I'll be wrong. Were this transaction three years ago and a younger Vieira was involved, it would make more sense. As it is, I don't see the reason for the move. I think it's a meal that Manchester City didn't need and could have skipped.

Clint Dempsey of Fulham and the USMNT: Salute to Americans Serving (Playing) Overseas

Clint Dempsey playing for his club team Fulham and a star of the US Men's National Team (USMNT) hit an amazing goal this week in Fulham's 3-2 loss to Stoke City. Fulham found themselves 3-0 down after only 36 minutes of play but clawed back two goals in the second half and looked poised to score more. In the 85th minute, Dempsey picked up the ball about 25 yards out, let it bounce once and then smacked the ball with his right foot. It sailed into the back of the net for a golazo. See it here.

Dempsey is well known by Americans but takes a backseat to Landon Donovan when it comes to the USMNT because of Donovan's scoring record and longevity playing for the US. Dempsey has gone to the best league in the world and turned into a key figure in Fulham's midfield, scoring 19 times in the past four seasons. He has played in 21 games this year and now has 6 goals. He handles pressure well and has matured greatly in England. Many talk of Donovan becoming the next USMNT captain, however, Dempsey is the man who has taken the bull by the horns in the world's biggest league and come away a starter. Clint Dempsey should be the next captain for the USMNT.
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