Birthdays of note: Longtime Liverpool marksman Robbie Fowler, who kicked around at some other addresses around his two stints at Anfield, turns 37. And Devin Barclay, the rare Major League Soccer player to go backward on the college athletic track, following his MLS career by kicking successfully for the Ohio State Buckeyes, turns 29.
Ahead on the blog today*: Where Roberto Mancini lost the bid to unseat Manchester United; More talk on Clint Dempsey and his future address; Which teams are in line for Champions League in 2012-13, and: MLS Team of the Week and Player of the Week.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Ezra Hendrickson
What we should all be watching on TV: Chelsea vs. Fulham from Craven Cottage is Clint Dempsey’s next chance to ring the goal bell once again on his landmark season (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Big Important Story of the Day: Not that it matters anymore, but the English FA will rule soon on whether Mario “Why Always Me” Balotelli will be suspended for Sunday’s terrible tackle on Alex Song. The upshot here is this: Depending upon the length of a suspension (if one comes to pass) and whether manager Roberto Mancini is just done with it all, Balotelli could already have played his last minutes at Manchester City.
Twitter dap: Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong (@BigAfrika88), responding to followers who love the team’s creative goal celebrations: “We try 🙂”
PST background noise while blogging today: A little sports radio, to hear what everyone is saying about Bubba Watson’s emotional Masters win.
We’ll leave you with this: Maybe it’s just me, but this practice (that so many professional teams have adopted) of shooting off little rockets on the “rockets red glare” line of the national anthem – it’s kind of cheesy, and it just never feels right. Personally, I wish everyone would cut it out.
*Always subject to change; you know how it is –
Mourinho: Tactics involved targeting young Benfica backstop
That paid off when Svilar carried Marcus Rashford‘s free kick into the goal, the lone marker of a 1-0 loss that keeps United atop Group A and Benfica three points behind second- and third place.
“I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable. We put men around him on corners so he cannot come out. He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal,” Mourinho said.
Svilar looked dejected after the game, apologizing to fans at the Estadio da Luz and getting consolation from a fellow Belgian in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.
“The manager said to us to try and shoot and get some crosses towards their goalkeeper because he is young and playing in his first game. This is football and I know he is a great goalkeeper and I wish him well for the future.
“We had control, some difficulties in the first 30 minuets but then we controlled the pitch. We used our experience. We could not find the second goal but did not make any mistakes at the back.”
Rashford limped out of the game, and Mourinho says he initially thought it was cramps. Instead, it’s a problem with his left knee. Simon Peach of the Press Association quotes Mourinho as hoping the injury is not bad.
United completed more than 500 passes, doubling Benfica’s production. Some have been critical of Mourinho’s penchant to play it safe, and he winked at them after the match in calling his tactics “a crime.”
“We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometime I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.”
According to Wahl, Donovan issued no comment when asked whether he is seriously considering a run for president. Gulati didn’t confirm that he’d run for a fourth term — the maximum tenure — during his post-World Cup failure conference call, but strongly lauded his credentials for another stint.
While Gans would challenge Gulati and perhaps make for interesting debate and a bellwether of the appetite for change amongst the constituency, Donovan’s name would likely be enough to swing some voters regardless.
Without making any judgments about the job Donovan would do, think of it as a big entertainment name like Dwayne Johnson amongst Democrats or Donald Trump amongst Republicans who might upturn eyebrows amongst folks thinking, “Maybe we need something different.” The name value isn’t the same but perhaps it’s less polarizing to compare the runs of Jesse Ventura and Al Franken, or Jack Kemp and Steve Largent instead.
A Donovan run would likely keep U.S Soccer’s cozy relationship with Major League Soccer while perhaps emboldening those who seek big changes within the youth structure (Donovan was part of the U.S. residency program which was recently canceled in a sort of “We did it” nod to academies). His experience is varied and his network exceptional.