It seems like it was just yesterday that we were cheering on Clint Dempsey and the gang as they took on the Group of Death in Brazil. Fast forward a year later and it's World Cup time once again...only this time we'll be cheering on Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and company.
Obviously you know where to get your Team USA gear (nudge nudge wink wink, you're kind of here already) and so now that we got that plug taken care of....how about some predictions?
Alright, so let's just stick with the group stages for this blog entry, no reason to get ahead of ourselves right?
GROUP A: Canada, China PR, New Zealand, Netherlands
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Canada is my favorite to win this group. With memories of the last Olympics still fresh in their minds, they are going to be chomping at the bit for another go at their neighbors to the South. The question is.....who joins them? This group is actually a pretty decent group when it all comes down to it, so I think it's a bit of a tossup considering New Zealand's grittiness and China's history in the tournament, but at the end of the day, I am taking the Netherlands to move on with the Canadians.
Advancing: Canada and Netherlands
Group B: Germany, Ivory Coast, Norway, Thailand
Although Thailand is in shouting distance....mind you a very LOUD shout of Germany and Norway, I don't think Thailand or Ivory Coast will pose much of a threat at all to Germany and Norway advancing. If it went any other way, I personally feel it would be a HUGE upset.
Advancing: Germany and Norway
Group C: Japan, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador
Once again there are two EASY favorites in this group, as Japan and Switzerland seem to be light years ahead of Cameroon and Ecuador. However, although Japan are certainly the favorites in this group, I am actually going with Switzerland to win the group. I feel like the Japanese may struggle a little early and the Swiss will have a chance to capitalize on that.
Advancing: Switzerland and Japan
Group D: USA, Australia, Sweden, Nigeria
Here is where I call my first upset. This could actually be one of the more entertaining groups and not just because the USA is in it. All of these teams could cause some trouble, even the Nigerians who are definitely the underdogs. Sweden and the USA are both ranked in the Top 5 in the world, but I am actually going to pick the Aussies to move on with the Americans in what could be a crazy group. The Americans haven't been quite as dominant as of late, much of this has to do with the rest of the world catching up. The Australians have a load of talent and I feel like they could really turn some heads.
Advancing: USA and Australia
Group E: Brazil, Korea Republic, Spain, Costa Rica
Group E proves to be interesting as well. Brazil and Spain are the favorites, but I am kind of liking the Koreans as well. I think they'll make it interesting, but in the end, I am going to stick with the favorites.
Advancing: Brazil and Spain
Group F:France, England, Colombia, Mexico
F is for France and I believe they will easily win this Group. England won't have much trouble beating Colombia and Mexico, but I still feel they'll get killed by the French. Looking into the future of the tournament, I actually see France going pretty far. Definitely one of my favorite teams.
Advancing: France and England
Well there you have it, my predictions for the Group Stages of the 2015 Women's World Cup. I have to say, I am extremely excited for it to start and I hope all of you are as well. Please comment with your predictions below!
Can you believe it everyone? This week will feature the last Premier League matches of the 2014-15 season. Although we already know who the champions are, there is still something to be said for the fact that every match of Week 38 will be televised here in the USA. We've come quite a long way huh? Obviously, it would be a little more exciting if we had last minute championship drama, but there are still UEFA Champions League spots to be decided, as well as who's to be relegated.
Since this is the final week of play, I decided to hand out some awards, superlatives, whatever you want to call them, honoring the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2014-15 season.
Most Improved Side: Southampton
Although they only may manage to finish one place above where they were last year, I don't think there is any denying how incredible Southampton's 2014-15 season was. Consistency obviously killed them in the end, but for a team that doesn't have the bank account that the usual contenders do, the fact that they hung in there all season and even upset some of the biggest teams in the league is extraordinary.
An argument could be made for other teams, especially Manchester United, but the Saints take home the title in my opinion. I can't wait to see what they bring next season.
Biggest Letdown: Everton FC
This was a tough one to decide on, since both Newcastle United FC and Aston Villa could fit the description as well. Even Liverpool was expected to be so much better than they actually were this season. However, the hopes for Everton going into this season were pretty high and whether they finish 10th or lower, it really doesn't matter, fans needed much more.
I am sure that during the off-season, Everton will do everything they can to make it right come 2015-16, but as the current season comes to a close, the Toffees will be left with nothing, but shaking heads.
Most Likely To Succeed Next Season: Arsenal FC
We've all been burned by getting to excited about Arsenal's potential, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that I do believe Arsenal will still be in contention for the title going down to Week 38 next season. I think both Manchester United and obviously Chelsea will be there as well, but Arsenal will be just a little more explosive..... Let's see if this prediction holds true when I am making predictions in August.
Best Players of the 2014-15 Premier League Season:
Eden Hazard and David De Gea
Not like these picks are really out of the box or exciting and there is that added dark cloud looming over both of them regarding where they will be playing next season. As for this season though, Eden Hazard and David De Gea stood out in my opinion as the best in the league.
"Promoted" Team Who Will Make The Biggest Impact Next Season: Norwich City
Ok, so I know this is going out on a limb, since Middlesbrough could beat them this week and then this prediction will have completely gone to trash, but I don't care, I am making it anyway.
Truth is, AFC Bournemouth actually look like they could make some news as well after a brilliant Championship season, but Norwich's recent history with the Premier League leads me to believe they will be prepared this time around.
Most Impressive Moment This Season: Chelsea FC Securing the Title Early
Pretty obvious right? When it all comes down to it, there may only be a few teams who are legitimate title contenders in a league that doesn't just make it rain, but makes it monsoon if a team thinks it will help them lift the trophy. However, it's tight among the elite and yet Chelsea got out and front and very, VERY rarely looked back.
Securing their Championship with a few weeks to spare was just the cherry on top for the Blues. "Boring" has never tasted so good.
Over here in the states we don't get to see nearly enough German soccer and when we do, it usually involves Champions League. The truth is though that we're missing out on not only some awesome football, but also some of the best fans around the globe.
In honor of our three new German inspired designs pictured below now available at the store, I thought I would feature the three clubs and their amazing fans in this blog post.
FC St. Pauli
FC St. Pauli is a phenomenon. It doesn't matter which division they are in or how the club is playing, their fans are die hard and the club itself has been called by such monikers as "Freibeuter der Liga" (Buccaneers of the League), as well as other nicknames celebrating their free spirited ways.
During the 80's, the club made the transition from a traditional club into a "Kult Club" which opened the doors for a new type of fan base. Not only a football loving fan base, but fans who brought the party before, during and after every match and were also very active in the political and social scenes around Reeperbahn.
To this day, the fan support stays rabid and although St. Pauli could face being relegated from 2. Bundesliga after a disappointing 2014/15 season so far, there is little doubt that their fans will continue to follow them regardless of which division they end up.
Easily the most recognizable German club outside of the country itself, Bayern Munich has enjoyed international success for quite some time now and have established themselves as THE team to beat in Bundesliga.
The FC Bayern Ultras travel well and are represented around the globe and even consider the aforementioned FC St. Pauli Ultras "friends" of the theirs. That doesn't mean that they still don't know how to rub it in when either team wins though. An upset win for FC St. Pauli over Bayern Munich in 2001/02 did lead to St. Pauli's faithful creating "Weltpokalsiegerbesieger" shirts which translates to "World Champion Beaters" as Bayern Munich were reigning World Club Cup Champions at the time.
Perhaps the second most recognizable German club around the world, Borussia Dortmund also happens to be one of the most exciting teams to watch with their "Never Say Die" attitudes in recent German Cup and Champions League tournaments.
No doubt that it has stung the club and their fans watching some of their best players like Robert Lewandowski and Mario Goetze leave for the powerhouse that is Bayern Munich, but the resilient team continues to fight and even after a rough start to their 2014-15 season, Dortmund has managed to climb back into the Top 10 in Bundesliga and worked their way into a German Cup Final against Wolfsburg after defeating the current Bundesliga Champs, Bayern Munich in the semifinals.
Borussia Dortmund's fans are pretty special as well. They play their home games at Westfalenstadion which happens to be the biggest stadium in Germany and their average attendance is the highest of any association football club in the world.
These are just three of the special clubs and their amazing fans that you will find in Germany. Here's to hoping we get to see a little more of them here across the pond in the future!
A few weeks ago I featured my Dark Side FC Starting XI and since then have also included lineups for both the heroes and villains of Gotham. It only seemed right that on National Star Wars Day, I would give you my Rebel Alliance Starting XI.
So many characters to choose from, but obviously I only have 11 spots, so I am sure you guys will have differing opinions on who they should be and I welcome those opinions in the comment section below!
Rebel Alliance FC, Starting XI:
Obviously Yoda is a tad bit smaller than the average Goalkeeper, but we've all seen his moves and for a guy pushing 1,000 years old, he can definitely compete with the best and more than likely be better than most of them.
The Dagoba resident will also possess the wisdom to keep his back line running like a well oiled machine.
Defenders: Wedge Antillies, Jar Jar Binks, Lando Calrissian, Han Solo
Yoda's going to have a bit of a mix bag in front of him, but they should make up a decent back four. Defending is in Wedge Antilles blood, but can bring on the offense as needed as well, so Right Back is the perfect position for him.
I know, I know, this will by far be the most controversial decision, but I just had to. Jar Jar Binks is over 7' tall and although he might be a little on the clumsy side, most of the time it works to his advantage. With a little bit of practice, nobody will be able to beat him in the air on both sides of the ball.
Lando is crafty and tough as nails, although he probably won't be thrilled working with Jar Jar to start, he'll slowly get used to it and having his pal, Han Solo by his side at Left Back will help as well.
Nothing beats a blaster by your side. It's going to be tough for any other team in the galaxy to deal with Han Solo who is as blue collar as they come.
Midfielders:Obi Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, Mace Windu
Two Jedis and a Princess who breaks down all the stereotypes that title comes with...not to mention she's also strong with the force. Obi Wan is a no brainer as a holding mid, while Leia will be in a perfect area to link up with her husband and get the ball to the forwards. Mace Windu's size and skill will make him a nightmare for other teams, I definitely see him as someone who is going to move the ball up field quick and effectively.
Forwards: Luke Skywalker, Padme Amidala, Chewbacca
The possibilities are endless with this trio. Can you imagine a buildup starting with Han Solo in the back to his wife at midfield and then finally a pass to her brother up top who finds the back of the net? Of course Luke Skywalker won't be the only one making waves though. After Padme Amidala lost the Queen's garb she proved to be quite the badass and there is no doubt she'll be breaking hearts and ankles when she gets the ball.
As for Chewy? Sure he might seem like a more natural center back, but I love how hard he'll be to knock off the ball, not to mention the absolute fear he will strike into any back line. This team could go undefeated.
So there you have it! Like I said, leave your opinions below, we'd love to hear them! May The Force Be With You, Always!
Once again the UEFA Champion's League has given us some great action and although the final four isn't entirely surprising, their paths to the penultimate round have all had their fair share of drama and surprises.
As we approach the start of the semifinals, I decided that I would give me predictions for both matches and both legs. Please chime in with your predictions as well in the comment section below!
Juventus vs. Real Madrid
It could be argued that the one surprise for the final four this year is the presence of Juventus. Although Juventus has been dominant in Serie A as of late, they haven't won a European Championship since 1996 and the last time they were in the final was in 2003. This UEFA Champions League season though, "The Old Lady" has pragmatically worked it's way through the tournament and now finds themselves in a showdown with the reigning champs.
I do see Juventus getting a first half goal against Real Madrid in Leg 1 and I see them holding onto that lead and defending for most of the match. However, my prediction is that Real Madrid will get that all important away goal late in the match and will head back to Madrid with an away goal advantage.
But how much will that away goal matter? I actually don't think it will matter at all, because once again in Leg 2, I see Juventus hitting Real Madrid early and negating Real Madrid's away goal. Once again Juventus will fall into a defensive shell and finally Real Madrid will break through with a late goal that will send the match into extra time. Much like Real Madrid's final last season against Atletico Madrid, I predict that they will score not just once, but twice and will send the Italian side home.
My final prediction: Juventus 2 - 4 Real Madrid on Aggregate
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich
This series is intriguing given Bayern Munich's latest battle with FC Porto. It seemed as though Porto awoke a sleeping giant after going ahead in Leg 1 and well....we all know what happened after that.
Barcelona on the other hand didn't get quite the wake up call that Bayern Munich did, but they seem to be slowly rising out of a slumber as well and are looking more and more like the dominant Barcelona side of old.
Bayern will benefit from Leg 2 being in Germany, but I do see Barcelona taking a 2-0 lead at home. Once in Munich, Barcelona will stumble a bit out of the gates and give up an early goal to Bayern Munich, but after a coming up with a few more chances to tie the match, the German side will give up an away goal to Barcelona. Bayern Munich will get a late goal that will make things interesting, but ultimately Barcelona will move on to face Real Madrid for another all La Liga final.
Final Prediction: Barcelona 3 - 2 Bayern Munich on Aggregate
I have given it a few days to really think about the last friendly match the USMNT had against Mexico. It was an odd version of the rivalry considering the names who were out on the pitch for both sides, but it could possibly be one of the more important battles the two teams have had in a while.
Now I know from a distance this looks like I am backtracking on my "friendlies aren't about winning" sentiments, but I assure you, I am not. It's just that in this case, both sides caught a glimpse of their not so distant futures and whether he meant to or not, Klinsmann actually created a side that gives us a lot of insight into what we will need going into both the Gold Cup and The 2016 Olympics.
I obviously am a fan of the USMNT, but I do have a lot of respect for the absolute love for the game that the country of Mexico has. If it wasn't for them putting their all into El Tri through thick and thin, this rivalry wouldn't be what it is. However, the "we had our B and C team out there!" stuff doesn't hold a lot of weight, since the US certainly didn't have their A team out there either and well...it was an amateur player who ended up with the game winning goal against the Mexicans, so that pretty much nullifies that discussion right there. We didn't have Dempsey, we didn't have Jozy, instead we had guys like Morris and Agudelo out there and they were the ones that showed up.
Morris being involved in many of the attacks while he was on the pitch, to me was the biggest highlight of the match. He could very possibly be the go to guy when it comes to the Olympics in 2016 and he showed that he is capable of playing beyond expectations on the big stage in a hostile environment. I don't want to say I am completely sold too soon, but I mean in my whole life of watching soccer, I feel like he could be one of the more promising all around players we've seen in a while. At some point, somebody is going to have to take the place of greats like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and even Jozy and so far, we haven't really seen anyone who really fits that bill. Zardes has had his times, but when he really had a chance to show something in the last two USMNT matches, he - in my opinion - fell short. Now I realize I was singing his praises at one point, so hopefully Morris won't disappoint me in the same way, but given his soccer intelligence, I feel like he is less likely to disappoint.
Get our limited release USMNT and USWNT designs for this summer's Gold Cup and Women's World Cup before it's too late!
In the end, it was still a friendly and people will find one way or another to be negative about it. Friendlies are always damned if you do, damned if you don't, but besides beating our old rivals by the legendary "Dos A Cero" scoreline, this match was meaningless, just another training drill as we head into the Gold Cup. It's up to guys like Morris to carry the flag for this country and I hope that he can answer that call. We need guys like him who pair well with the movement that has happened over the last few years in the USA. Homegrown fans, homegrown players, homegrown traditions, homegrown soccer.
So last week inspiration struck in the form of who the heroes of Gotham City may be facing on the pitch, so this week
I decided that in honor of our LIMITED RELEASE design that's preorder has been extended just through today (4.12.15), I would do a post on Gotham City FC's Starting XI heroes.
Before you read on, I highly suggest you head on over to the link below and order yourself this design, I personally am completely stoked to get mine. Gotham City FC LIMITED RELEASE Click Here!
Like I said, this design is only available through today, so what are you waiting for?
Now that you have ordered your shirt, time to check out my Starting XI for Gotham City FC.
Goalkeeper: Lucius Fox
Don't let the gray hair fool you, you never know what Gotham's best Manager has up his sleeves. Consider the goal his "Bat Cave" and Lucius will stop at nothing to protect it.
Defenders:, Allan Scott (Green Lantern), Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne (Batman), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl)
Having Allan Scott out on on the flanks might be borderline cheating, but I suppose some rules would have to be implemented (Red Card for taking flight perhaps?).
Once again having Gotham's most loyal Butler at center back is definitely choosing experience over youth, but we've seen Alfred handle himself without any issue and sometimes he even comes out of it with less bruises than the man who he's protected throughout most of his life...Master Wayne.
Speaking of Bruce, it might seem crazy to have a "Star Player" playing defense, but let's be honest, that is where Batman belongs, obviously we see him getting in on the scoring as well, but Batman himself may end up being a one man wrecking crew for the majority of Gotham City FC's matches.
Now that Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl has her mobility back...the girl wants to run! It's going to be hard for people to look past her good looks (thanks mom), but the way she'll be moving the ball, it will be hard for most opponents to focus at all.
Midfield: Detective Gordon, Lady Shiva, Zatanna
Detective Gordon is going to have to hold down the midfield with two of the most kickass girls in the universe, but that's a roll he will fit very well into, using his combination of grit and brains to solidify his defensive midfield position.
Ok, so maybe Lady Shiva blurs the lines of hero or villain just a tad, but as a free agent of sorts, her allegiance will be with the heroes.....at least for this season. Lady Shiva is both quick and brutal and you can thank the League of Assassins for that. The only trouble she will have is holding back....I mean she was trained to kill people with her bare hands after all...... As long as she stays out of the books, she will be a force to be reckoned with.
Zatanna Zatara and Bruce Wayne go waaaaay back and as long as Bruce can get over the fact she's altered his mind a few times....all will be ok. Zatanna is an real magician off the pitch and we can't see any reason why she won't be one on the pitch as well.
Forwards: Robin, Catwoman, Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
Everybody loves to hate Robin, but isn't that how it is with many strikers? Regardless of how fans feel, Robin will be continually trying to impress Bruce and we have this feeling that will result in goals.
Catwoman's stealthy ways and her agile attack will be perfect in getting the ball to cherry pickers like Robin, of course she will also benefit from the accuracy that belongs to Oliver Queen.
Speaking of the Green Arrow, the former Seattleite turned Star City, California resident has soccer in his blood, but how does that land him in Gotham FC? Well until Star City gets their own club, fellow Justice League hero, Bruce Wayne knew he'd have to recruit someone who was just as accurate a passer as he was a shooter. There is a zero doubt that Oliver Queen aka The Green Arrow is that man. We see a lot of Golden Boots in his future.