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Premier League (Week 10)

Posted on October 29, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

I have been watching and playing this sport since I was a child and so I should know better than to try and predict scores, as  I am abysmal to say the least. However, maybe it's the masochist in me that loves to subject myself to the potential of looking like a complete noob who hasn't watched a soccer match since the 1994 World Cup.

Moving on though. One of our readers who commented on last week's blog post did resoundingly well with their predictions. "Ferg" called the draw between Chelsea FC and Manchester United (only was off by a goal on each side), nailed the Everton/Burnley match and was only off by a goal for the Leicester/Swansea match. So with all that said, I tip my figurative cap to you Ferg on a job very well done.

10 weeks in and the Premier League still has an uneasy feeling to it. Chelsea has seemed like an unstoppable force as of late, while Man U floundered about near the bottom of the table, yet the match didn't really reflect that at all. I am not sure if the Red Devils are finally getting things figured out or if the Blues are plateauing after a red hot start.

Perhaps the most interesting story as of late though has been Southampton. They currently sit just four points behind Chelsea in second place and honestly their wins have looked pretty good. We're not talking about a team who has had a few luck bounces and squeaked out a couple crazy wins, Southampton actually looks like a team that belongs near the top of the table. Mind you, their two losses have come against Liverpool and Tottenham, which may suggest they have had a soft schedule to start out, but their win against Arsenal is still a standout match.

Then of course you had that Monday match....a match that I would think had Aston Villa fans salivating given their rough go lately. Finding someone who believed the one win Queens Park Rangers could pull out a victory against Aston Villa would be about as impossible as a Fernando Torres open net attempt, but hey....that's why we play each match right? QPR did manage to get their second win against Villa (which makes this USA soccer fan feel really bad for Brad Guzan) and yes there were reports from hell of snowballs knocking the devil unconscious for a period of time. What.A.Week.

So now that I have recapped last week, why not do a little pick em' once again this week? Sound good? Hopefully this week I will fair a little better, but if Ferg participates again, I highly doubt that. So here goes nothing.

 

 

Match #1: Everton v. Swansea City

 

Everton and Swansea City are both coming off of wins against teams that they were expected to beat for the most part. Both sides fared very well against their recently promoted counterparts and are looking to continue with the good vibes this week.

Obviously Everton has Tim Howard between the pipes which is almost always an advantage, but where Everton has underachieved so far this season, Swansea has overachieved and could very well provide an upset against Everton, if you can even call it that.

However, since I am boring and a coward, I predict that Swansea will be en route to a 2-1 win when Everton scores a stoppage time goal to tie the match up 2-2.

 

Match #2: Arsenal v. Burnley

So many Arsenal fans out there that I decided to include this match this week even though it should be a walk in the park for The Arsenal. Although Burnley never seems to give up and I give them a ton of credit for pushing the attack often this season, it's no secret that the team has a little ways to go before becoming relevant in the Premier League. 

Obviously it's easy to pick a winner here, but the score could be a little harder. I don't expect a Germany/Brazil style blowout, but I do expect a buzz-saw nonetheless. I predict a 4-0 win for the Gunners.

 

Match #3: Manchester United v. Manchester City

How could I not include the Manchester Derby right? The reigning champs have been hanging out in familiar territory near the top, only behind Chelsea and Southampton, while the Red Devils have been slowly clawing their way up the table, now finding themselves in eighth place after last week's draw against Chelsea. 

The best part about a rivalry match is that you can basically throw any sort of statistics out the window. Although Citeh should be favored to win this match, nothing is certain when so much pride is on the line. 

I do feel that Man City will pull out a win though come Sunday and although I believe it will be late, it will be a decisive one. Man City beat Man U 3-1.

 

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So to recap...I have Everton and Swansea City drawing 2-2, Arsenal beating Burnley 4-0 and Citeh winning the Manchester Derby 3-1 over the Red Devils. Now it's time for you to give me your predictions in the comment section! 

 

 

Posted in Arsenal, Burnley, Chelsea, EPL, Everton, FIFA, Football, Futbol, Man U, Manchester City, Manchester United, Predictions, Premier League, Soccer, Swansea, USA, USMNT

Premier League Matches of the Week (Week 9)

Posted on October 22, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 2 Comments

Alright so this week we're going to try a little something different. I am going to list my Top Three Premier League matches of the week and give you my predictions on all three. My challenge for you is to comment with your score predictions and at the end of the weekend/Monday, we will see just how smart you all are and how dumb I am. Sound like fun? Well it would be a lot more fun if you all would participate, so let's get crackin'.

 

Match #1:

Swansea City vs. Leicester City

 

Off-season daydreams suddenly became early season hopes when Swansea City came out swinging over the first few weeks of this Premier League season. Recent stumbles however have brought the Welsh side back down to earth as of late as the team currently holds a 3-2-3 record. 

Leicester City on the other hand has performed just a tad bit above what many would expect from a newly promoted team. The Foxes have had some hard fought battles so far, many of which were against very strong opposition. Their 2-3-3 record isn't anything to write home about, but it isn't anything to be ashamed of either. 

Given the fact this match will be played at Liberty Stadium in Swansea, most of the week I have been leaning toward Swansea winning, but as I continue to study (and more than likely over think) each of their records so far, I am going to predict that this one ends in a 2-2 Draw.

 

Match #2:

Burnley vs. Everton

 

The newly promoted Burnley side is still without a win in Premier League play this season, but don't let that statistic fool you. The Clarets only surrendered one goal over four games after their opening week 3-1 loss to Chelsea FC and one of those matches was against Manchester United. However, on the other side, Burnley hasn't exactly been an offensive powerhouse, only scoring multiple goals in one match this season so far (two against Leicester City).

Everton is straight off of a dominating win over Aston Villa and you could only imagine they are ready to keep the train rolling after a somewhat lackluster start to their 2014-2015 season. Tim Howard looked like he was in top form against his countryman, Brad Guzan and we all know what happens when Howard gets on a roll.

This one has all the potential for a blowout, but I am still not convinced that Everton has a consistent enough attack to put up a ton of goals. My prediction for this one is a 1-0 win for Everton.

 

Match #3:

Manchester United vs. Chelsea

Normally this would be a battle of heavyweights and there is still that chance it will be. However, with Chelsea's dominance so far this season and a Man U start that had some dreaming of better days with Moyes (ok maybe that's a stretch), it hardly looks like much of a match at all on paper.

That said, I am not convinced this won't be an entertaining match. The Red Devils have looked better as of late....well I mean relatively and given the storied past of these two taking on each other, that rivalry element is always going to be hanging over both sides which means you can all, but throw statistics out the window. 

With the way guys like Diego Costa have been playing, I still believe Chelsea is the far better team here, but I will go as far as to predict that Manchester United will get on the board first. After that Chelsea will settle in and break the hearts of Man U fans eventually winning by a score of 3-1.

 

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So to recap, I have Swansea and Leicester drawing 2-2, Everton beating Burnley, 1-0 and Chelsea coming back to claim victory over Man U 3-1. Now it's time for you to give me your predictions and we shall see who comes out on top. 

 

Posted in Burnley, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester, Man U, Manchester United, Predictions, Premier League, Swansea, Week 9

Rookie of the Year

Posted on October 15, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 1 Comment

Last week I concentrated on who should be the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and following in line with end of the season awards, I choose to focus on the newbies to the MLS this season this week. 

As the MLS continues to grow, it is fun watching players like DeAndre Yedlin and Bradley Wright-Phillips take off and this year was no exception. With that said, I bring to you my 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year nominee.

 

 

Patrick Mullins : New England Revolution

The 22 year old New Orleans native has made a name for himself in his first year playing in the MLS helping add depth to a once struggling New England Revolution side. The Revs are back in the playoffs for the second season in a row and this year was no fluke. The first round draft pick has found the back of the net four times in 19 caps and consistently been a threat with 16 shots on goal. It's safe to say with guys like Mullins around, the Revs will continue to be MLS Cup contenders for years to come.

 

Harry Shipp : Chicago Fire

Following down the same path as players like DeAndre Yedlin, Harry Shipp signed with the Chicago Fire as a homegrown player in 2014. The Illinois native has easily been the silver lining to the otherwise gloomy cloud that has been Chicago Fire's 2014 season. His six goals and six assists over 31 caps shows a level of maturity that you don't always find in rookies. Mix that with a high level of discipline (only nine fouls committed and no cards) and you definitely have the makings of a future star. 

It's exciting to imagine what the young midfielder could have done if he was surrounded by a better team, but on the other hand, the lack of talent in Chicago has also given Shipp more of a chance to shine. I definitely can't wait to see what is in store for Shipp next season.

 

Tesho Akindele : FC Dallas

Leading rookies most of the year in goals, Tesho Akindele was the early favorite to take Rookie of the Year honors with just about everyone. FC Dallas has had a streaky season, much like every FC Dallas season, but one thing that has remained constant is Akindele's poise as a forward whether he starts the game or comes off of the bench. 

The Calgary, Alberta native who was drafted sixth overall has managed to tickle the twine seven times this season while assisting on three goals as well. There is no doubt the youngster has given Big D hope and now will have a chance to help his squad to an MLS Cup after clinching a berth this month. 

 

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So who is my pick for Rookie of the Year? For me it is Harry Shipp, he has shown a ton of maturity on the pitch all season and I really do believe he has the brightest future out of the three. He's a hard working midfielder who makes great choices that keep him out of referee's book and what is not to love about that? 

 

Goalkeeper of the Year

Posted on October 08, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

As we near the end of the regular season for the MLS, I decided to give my opinions on some of the end of the season awards starting with Goalkeeper of the Year. Obviously there are still a few weeks left in the season, so I am going off of what has happened so far. It's been quite the season, especially for those who play between the pipes. Let's see who did the best with the world on their shoulders.

 

Jaime Penedo: LA Galaxy

 The Galaxy almost always put out a stellar team, so one may think that the goalkeeping job in the City of Angels would be a little easier compared to most other teams. When it all comes down to it though, the Panamanian born keep still has to have a lot of pressure on him playing for a team that could very well be referred to as an MLS Dynasty.

Penedo has proven to be an exceptional athlete and I can recall numerous times that I watched him bail out his defense, including a couple in person. He's only let in 27 goals over 26 starts and made 77 saves. Now don't get me wrong, I know that 77 saves does point toward having a pretty solid back line in front of you, but at the end of the day, I have a lot of faith in this keeper's abilities.

 

Bill Hamid: D.C. United

 Besides the Portland Timbers last season, it's hard to remember a bigger zero to hero story than D.C. United has been this season and Bill Hamid deserves a large slice of the credit for that. 

The 24 year old American (who in my opinion will start for the USMNT in the not so distant future) has repeatedly bailed his team out this season and been one of the key components in taking the team from last place in the MLS last season to having a shot at first place this season. Hamid has allowed 31 goals in 27 starts and made an astounding 102 saves, many of which were highlight reel caliber. At only 24 years old, it's incredible to think of how good he will be as he gets older.

Steve Clark: Columbus Crew

 When you are naming off some of the best goalkeepers in the MLS, it's not that often that you'd hear the name "Steve Clark" come up during the conversation. However, after Clark's 2014 season with the Columbus Crew, it very well should.

The 28 year old Wisconsin native has made a handful of standout saves including several that were nominated for "Goal of the Week" honors. Just to top it off, he's also batting .500 when it comes to penalty kicks, saving two of the four he's faced this year. He's let in 38 goals over 31 starts and made a whopping 98 saves. Although the Crew haven't exactly been dominant, Clark's heroics currently have them gunning for a final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Something tells me, the name "Steve Clark" will be coming up in conversation a lot more in the future. 

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So who is my pick for Goalkeeper of the Year out of these three? Honestly all of them are deserving of the title for one reason or the other, but when it all comes down to it, I have to give it to the guy who has done the most with the least surrounding him and that is definitely Steve Clark. Not only is he solid, he's also flat out fun to watch.....unless your team is playing him. 

 

 

 

Posted in Bill Hamid, Columbus Crew, DC United, Football, Futbol, goalkeeper, Jaime Penedo, LA Galaxy, Soccer, Steve Clark, USA, USMNT

"We": Are We Really Part of the Team?

Posted on October 01, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

There is this funny stereotype that American sports fans tend to get labeled with. Many people in the country and especially those outside of the country like to laugh at the fact that us Yanks use the term "We" when referring to a team. I can recall numerous times where I have come back from an MLS game and said "Boy did we play our hearts out" only to be met with the response "we? I didn't see you out in the field". I get it....I am not a professional athlete, but for some reason that opinion has always struck a nerve with me. 

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I realize this isn't just a soccer thing, it's a sports thing, but I have to admit, I do run into it more with soccer, especially with my European family and friends. It surprises me too, because the culture surrounding football in Europe, as well as other sports like cricket, rugby and such, is ravenous. At the end of the day though, they always seem to separate themselves as fans from the actual team. Who knows? Maybe that is why supporters clubs are such an important part of soccer.

I don't know if it's because people like me had dreams of being a star athlete growing up and it is our way of living vicariously through the athletes who are living out the life we had hoped we would or if it's just the fact that we as a nation starve for an all encompassing feeling of unity, it's just in our DNA. Regardless, I am one of those people who says "we" and I am not ashamed of it and refuse to let anyone tell me why it is ridiculous that I feel that way. 

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You see the majority of us are aligned with the teams we love from the time we are born. We don't get traded, we don't get transferred and us true fans aren't out there in free agency land looking for the next team to support.  We aren't driven by money like the athletes are, in fact we all to often spend more than we should just to show how much we love our team. It is arguable that in the long run we are much more a part of the team than most of the actual athletes will ever be. You may watch your team go through multiple star strikers and a handful of top keepers, but nobody ever replaces you. As a true fan you are there from day one until the end. Sunshine, rain, tears of joy or tears of pain, success and defeat, the one thing that stays constant is you, the fan.

So the next time someone gives you guff when you say "oh my God, we won!" or "man, we played well today!" just remember how much truth is in that small little word, "we". Maybe it's that they have never known what it is like to really be a part of something or maybe they just take things a little to literally, but a world where that sort of pride is deemed ridiculous seems like a really boring world to me. 

Show it when you cheer, show it when you chant, show it with your style (obviously we can help with that) and show it without any shame!

 

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Top 5 MLS Kits

Posted on September 19, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 1 Comment

Sometimes it can be a little annoying when a soccer “fan” becomes obsessed with what a kit looks like or even worse when they pledge their allegiance to a team simply based on their kit design. However, we also know as a t-shirt company with some awesome designs (shameless plug)….when you look good, you feel good, thus resulting in playing good as well.

So let’s start this week with a league that is heading into its post season and countdown the five best kits in the MLS. Let me know your favorites as well.

 

 5. Vancouver Whitecaps Primary Kits

Green mostly dominates the Northwest, but Vancouver decided to pay tribute to their seaside locale rather than the evergreens that grow along their shores. The Whitecaps have managed to find the perfect balance between keeping up with nostalgia and also remaining modern.

 

 4. Colorado Rapids Primary Kit

When the Rapids added the Colorado state flag to their kits, it really tied everything together. Personally I am a fan of their secondary blue kits as well, but I don’t think many will argue that the Burgundy version stands out in all the right ways. Colorado’s kits represent the beauty of the state and it’s personality to near perfection.

 

3.Portland Timbers Home Kit

In the Northwest it’s all about which shade of green you rock. The Timbers have been sporting their forest inspired green for years now and the upgraded chainsaw accents really take their kits to the next level. It’s been a bit of a rough go for the Timbers this season, but we know with guys like Valeri on your squad…anything is possible.

2. Seattle Sounders Third Kit (Pitch Black)

After multiple seasons featuring third kits that some fans couldn’t even stomach, the Sounders finally hit it out of the park in 2014 with their Pitch Black Kits. The neon green accents pop right out of the gloomy black kits that are meant to represent the mood of the rainy state. Take a trip to Seattle and you will see almost as many of these kits as you do Seahawks jerseys on a daily basis.

1. Sporting Kansas City Primary Kit

It’s all about the blues in Kansas City, but the Reigning MLS champs have nothing to be sad about. KC’s reinvention could be one of the best in sports, retiring the comical “Wizards” moniker for a much classier update complete with one of the sharpest, cleanest kits in soccer.

 

 

Honorable Mention. Sacramento Republic FC (USL PRO)

Sacramento wants an MLS team bad and they have made a great case as to why they should get their way. Their fan base is larger than many MLS teams already and they are currently enjoying a playoff run at the moment as they look for their first USL PRO title. Their ode to the California flag represents the state perfectly and the colors are perfect. Not only are Sacramento putting a quality product out on the pitch, but they look good as well.

 

 

Posted in MLS, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Soccer

Three Most Intriguing Stories of this Premier League Season So Far

Posted on September 05, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

Well it’s only been three weeks and we have already reached a break this weekend with the Premier League. The good news is that Manchester United can’t really disappoint anyone; the bad news is that we have a week to wait for more Premier League action. 

Now don’t get me wrong, the season is still very young, but even still there have been some interesting storylines popping up and I thought I would list my Top Three so far starting with…..

 

 

Number 3: Mario Balotelli Signing With Liverpool FC

Mario Balotelli hasn’t bitten anyone yet, but that hasn’t stopped a large portion of soccer fans from hating him as much as (sometimes more than) the King Biter himself, Luis Suarez. That said, Balotelli does have a large enough group of fans to go along with the “haters” and we all know what he is capable of as a striker, but is the risk worth the reward for a team like Liverpool who is likely a top contender this season?

He’s only been a Red for a few weeks and the convoy of controversy that seems to have a habit of following the Italian international has already caught up to him. It was alleged that Balotelli headbutted a Wolverhampton player this week during a friendly with the Wolves which has brought attention to the striker in all the wrong ways.

Personally, I think signing Balotelli was a terrible idea. Sure he has talent, sure he’ll sell some tickets, but let’s be honest….he becomes the show and nothing good can come out of that. Time can only tell, but at this point, I have little faith in this move.

 

Number 2: Manchester United FC Winless Against Limited Opposition

It’s funny because in an earlier article I wrote, I think some readers reached the assumption I was a Man U fan who was terribly partial with my predictions. I rarely state my personal favorite teams or my least favorites for that matter, but in this case I will make an exception and state that I am NOT a Manchester United fan, not even in the slightest! I try to have a nonpartisan respect for all teams (even when it’s extremely hard to do so), but personally the only time I talk about the Red Devils is when I am giving my friends who are fans a hard time about them.

So with that all said, back to being nonpartisan/professional. I was drinking the offseason Kool-Aid, I won’t lie. I figured Van Gaal would right a ship that Moyes ran into an iceberg with an arsenal of explosives inside. Looking at Manchester United’s roster, they still have a reasonable amount of talent. I understand many find Rooney overrated, but I mean the guy can still score and with other names like Fellaini, Mata, Van Persie and Young, it doesn’t seem that off the wall to think of Man U as a title contender, even if there defense is a bit suspect.

However, so far Man U has looked like anything, but a top Premier League team. There troubles have included an opening week loss to Swansea City, a draw with last year’s cellar dwellers, Sunderland and another draw with newly promoted Burnley FC. Three matches that Manchester United should have at the very least, one win out of.

There was a lot of fanfare surrounding Van Gaal being named manager and as I stated earlier, even I got caught up a bit in it, but if things keep going the way they have been, the Red Devils of 2014-15 might be even more of a mess than 2013-14’s squad.

Recent deadline acquisitions like Di Maria and Falcao could very well give Man U the jolt they need, but even those headlines came with some comedy that only seemed all too fitting for the way this team is headed.

Who knows what the rest of the season will bring. I made a bold prediction based on hype at the beginning of the season and I now look stupid. Perhaps now that I have lost all faith in Van Gaal and the gang, they will find a way to make me look stupid again.

 

 

Number 1: Swansea City

Take one look at Swansea’s roster and you’ll be hard pressed to find a name that you’ve heard thrown around the pubs back here in the states. The Welsh based squad finished 12th last season and it is still likely they will find themselves back in that area by the time this season ends. But for now the team is one of only two who has a perfect nine points on the season so far.

The other team who has gone three for three this year is none other than Chelsea FC which isn’t a total shock, but what’s so exciting about this is that the two teams will meet next week in a battle of perennial favorites and a potential for a Cinderella story side.

A result of any kind against Chelsea would be huge for Swansea. Sure they beat Man U which was big and a 1-0 win against Burnley was great, but relatively expected, 3-0 over West Brom was impressive regardless of the opposition, but holding Chelsea to a draw or better yet beating the Blues? That would be something. Especially since Swansea has a date with Sunderland the next week which should be a walk in the park in comparison.

I don’t know how long it will last, but while it’s happening I am going to enjoy it. Swansea is making noise and their fans are lapping it up. I say? Good for them.

Posted in Balotelli, Football, Futbol, Liverpool FC, Man U, Manchester United, Premier League, Soccer, Suarez, Swansea

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