XI: The Weekend of August 24th

photo credit: Calciomercato24 via photopin cc

photo credit: Calciomercato24 via photopin cc

-The slow start continues for Manchester United, as Louis van Gaal’s side managed only a  draw at Sunderland. Robin van Persie returned to action for the first time since the World Cup, but it was Juan Mata who scored the Red Devils’ lone goal. The good news for United is that they’re expected to sign Angel di Maria. The bad news is that he isn’t a defender, might not have a place in van Gaal’s system, and costs about as much as Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas combined.

-The most impressive performance of the weekend came from Tottenham, who demolished QPR—and former manager Harry Redknapp—4-0 on Sunday. QPR’s 3-man back line was constantly under assault in the first half, and Spurs broke through three times before the break. The third might have been the most impressive; Erik Lamela dragged the defense out of position, before hitting Nacer Chadli with a beautiful ball to culminate a 48-pass move.

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Soccer on US TV: 8/22-8/24

Friday, August 22

2:30 PM: Evian vs. Paris Saint-Germain, BeIn Sport

4:30: Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid, ESPN3.com, ESPN Deportes

The first leg of the Spanish Super Cup was deemed worthy of television, but ESPN has decided otherwise for the second leg. Atletico managed a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in the first leg, and so they have the edge heading into the second.

8:30: Morelia vs. Tigres, ESPN Deportes, Azteca America (Spanish)

9:00: FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake, NBCSN

RSL just needs a point to go atop the Supporters’ Shield race, but it won’t be easy in Dallas. The hosts have won five of their last six in MLS, and haven’t lost since before the World Cup break.

Saturday, August 23

7:10 AM: Ipswich Town vs. Norwich City, BeIn Sport

7:45: Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United, NBCSN

10:00: Chelsea vs. Leicester City, NBCSN, Mun2

Leicester began their Premier League campaign with a hard-fought draw, but Stamford Bridge is probably too much to ask. Jose Mourinho certainly doesn’t mind that his side’s season begins with two newly-promoted clubs.

12:30 PM: Everton vs. Arsenal, NBC, Mun2

When these two sides met at Goodison Park last season, Everton won 3-0 and seemed to have the edge in the race for the final Champions League spot. But the Toffees stumbled down the stretch, and as usual, Arsenal finished 4th. How important my this match be in this year’s race?

3:00: Sevilla vs. Valencia, BeIn Sport

5:00: Almeria vs. Espanyol, BeIn Sport

6:00: Cruz Azul vs. Queretaro, Univision (Spanish)

6:00: Veracruz vs. Guadalajara, Univision Deportes (Spanish)

8:00: Monterrey vs. Puebla, Univision Deportes (Spanish)

9:00: Pachuca vs. Atlas, Telemundo (Spanish)

10:00: Jaguares vs. Club America, Univision Deportes (Spanish)

Sunday, August 24

8:30 AM: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Queens Park Rangers, CNBC

Spurs needed a stoppage-time winner to deal with West Ham last week, and yesterday came from behind in a Europa League playoff in Cyprus. On Sunday, they have another London derby, this time against their former manager Harry Redknapp and QPR.

11:00: Sunderland vs. Manchester United, NBCSN, Telemundo

United lost the first game of the Louis van Gaal era, last week against Swansea. They’ll be hoping for better against relegation candidates Sunderland.

1:00 PM: Pumas vs. Tijuana, Univision (Spanish)

1:00: Eibar vs. Real Sociedad, BeIn Sport

3:00: Barcelona vs. Elche, BeIn Sport

Barcelona begin their season with a new manager, new talent brought in before the transfer ban, and a highly-priced striker who cannot play until October. Expectations are as high as ever, and they’ll have to come home with more silverware than last season.

5:00: Levante vs. Villareal, BeIn Sport

5:00: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

These two rivals meet for the third and final time this season. Some of Portland’s squad made a mid-week trip to Guyana as the club began its first-ever Champions League campaign. Seattle, meanwhile, managed only a draw at home against San Jose on Wednesday. Despite just 4 points from their last five games, the Sounders still hold the best record in MLS. The Timbers will need to finish better than they did against New England as they try to climb into the playoffs.

8:00: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Philadelphia Union, Univision Deportes

 

 

XI: The Weekend of August 17th

-The Louis van Gaal era at Old Trafford began with a thud. Manchester United came out flat against Swansea City, and despite a second half surge, the Swans left with a 2-1 win. For United, the loss continues a trend of home defeats begun  under David Moyes, and it will temper expectations that may have been raised after a steamrolling preseason. I still expect United to have a good season under van Gaal, but he himself admits that it usually takes him a couple months to settle at a club.

-At St. James’ Park, the champions survived a tough test from Newcastle and came away with a 2-0 victory. David Silva  opened the scoring thanks to a backheel assist from Edin Dzeko. Newcastle produced several chances in the second half, but finishing eluded them. Sergio Aguero came on as a substitute, and scored in stoppage time to seal the three points for Manchester City. After a weekend of close games, the two-goal margin has City right where they ended last season: atop the table.

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Soccer on US TV: 8/15-8/17

Friday, August 15

8:30 PM: Queretaro vs. Veracruz, ESPN Deportes, Azteca America (Spanish)

9: Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, NBCSN

DaMarcus Beasley and the Dynamo currently sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but only five points separate them from the Union, who hold the fifth and final playoff spot.

10:30: Tijuana vs. Jaguares, ESPN Deportes, Azteca America (Spanish)

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Welcome Back, Premier League

photo credit: proforged via photopin cc

photo credit: proforged via photopin cc

It’s hard to claim these days that the Premier League is the most talented league in the world. Not when the past two summers have both seen the reigning player of the year sent off to Spain. At the very least, England’s top clubs have been eclipsed by the juggernauts of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and even Bayern Munich.

But.

Year after year, the English Premier League produces magic and entertainment. Last season’s title race was one of the wildest in some time,  a story with enough twists and turns to make Lewis Hamilton’s head spin. There is a reason we keep coming back for more every season, and it isn’t just the television coverage. From top to bottom, the Premier League is a competition where seemingly anything can happen. I can’t wait to see it all unfold again.

Continue reading to find my predictions for the upcoming season.

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A Guide for new Soccer fans

So, the World Cup ended, and you’re craving for soccer. If you’re wondering “what’s next;” here’s a brief runthrough:

I want to watch something as soon as possible. Like, tonight, if possible. 

Major League Soccer is going on as we speak, with a full slate of games this upcoming weekend. MLS is our league, with many members of the U.S. national team, and worth paying attention to. There are 19 teams, 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada. Below MLS, there’s an assortment of minor league soccer, including the North American Soccer League and USL Pro. Between the three leagues, there is probably a team near you. Continue reading

2013-14 Premier League TV Ratings on NBCSN

Chelsea didn't win the title, but they were the most watched club on American TV | photo credit: proforged via photopin cc

Chelsea didn’t win the title, but they were the most watched club on American TV | photo credit: proforged via photopin cc

In their first season covering the league, NBC Sports Network aired 160 Premier League games, with another few dozen games being shown on other NBC channels. Of the NBCSN games, the Premier League averaged 395,000 viewers per game. This is a massive increase over last season when games were on ESPN/2 and Fox Soccer. The Premier League averaged just 220,000 viewers per game in 2012-13, with similar viewership in 2011-12. For comparison, Major League Soccer’s first seven games on NBCSN this season have averaged 216,000 viewers. About half of these matches have had the benefit of being preceded by Premier League coverage.

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