What we’re thinking, what we’re watching, what’s coming on the blog today and the RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day). Setting up your day in soccer …
Big Important Story of the Day: Remember how everyone said Monday’s Manchester derby was for the Premiership pot of gold? Well, it was … mostly. There’s still some important business ahead as City preps for its second huge clash in seven days, this weekend at Newcastle. Lose this one and Monday’s achievement may be rendered sadly worthless.
What you should watch on TV: Playoffs to get into England’s top tier may not have the grace or grandeur of EPL contests, but talk about a place where pressure meets heartfelt desire! Cardiff faces West Ham in an English Championship semifinal first leg. Kickoff is 2:45 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer Plus or FOX Soccer 2Go.
Ahead on the blog today*: The MLS Panic Quotient (held for a day due to a legal issues; this thing gets more contentious than you might expect), and a commentary on why Roy Hodgson faces an impossible slog ahead in his new job as England boss.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Esse Baharmast
Twitter daps: New England Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph ( @ShalrieJoseph21) on his team’s win Wednesday over Colorado: “Not the prettiest game to watch but we got the win. Thxs for the support revs fan tnite. We appreciate each n everyone of u.”
PST background noise while blogging today: Most recent two episodes of the The Killing … but somebody had better solve this thing soon, or I’m out.
We’ll leave you with this: Dear anyone who produces or directs an MLS game on TV: If you continue to show replays while the ball is moving, you and I will have words. Very strong words.
*Always subject to change; you know how it is
Bojan Krkic will be a Potter for plenty of years to come.
On Thursday Stoke City announced that Bojan, 25, has signed a contract extension keeping him at the Britannia Stadium for another four-and-a-half years.
[ MORE: New-look Stoke to progress ]
Since arriving from Spanish giants Barcelona at the start of the 2014-15 season the playmaker has been a revelation in the Premier League.
Despite suffering a serious knee injury midway through his debut season in England, Bojan has battled back this campaign and has scored five times in 23 outings for the Potters.
Speaking to the club website, Bojan revealed his delight in signing the contract extension that will see him stay with Stoke until the summer of 2020.
“I am very happy and motivated. Stoke City gave me the opportunity to play in the most competitive league in the world, the Premier League, and I have only words of gratitude for their trust and for the way they have treated me since the first day I arrived to England,” Bojan said. “Mark Hughes convinced me to come to Stoke, he has helped me and showed his trust in me from the beginning, he followed closely the recovery process from my injury and there is no doubt I have signed an extension of my contract thanks to him.”
With Mark Hughes’ side battling for a top six finish, being knocked out agonizingly on penalty kicks by Liverpool in the League Cup semifinal and still in the FA Cup, it’s been another stellar season for Stoke as their progress continues.
Bojan’s presence has been central to attracting top names to join him at Stoke, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Mark Arnautovic all part of a new-look attack which in-turn has provided a much more attractive team to watch on the pitch.
Amid interest from plenty of other teams around the Premier League and Europe, Stoke have kept hold of their main creative hub and fans will be delighted to see the Barca academy product progress with the Potters over an extended period of time.
What a first touch.
The U.S. women’s national team beat Costa Rica 5-0 in the opening game of their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying campaign on Wednesday and USWNT forward Christen Press scored the pick of the bunch after she teed herself up with a superb first touch.
[ MORE: NBC to stream every Olympic qualifier ]
Click play on the video above to watch the World Cup winner control the ball with a deft outside-of-the-foot touch before spinning and striking home in a mesmerizing movement.
Press and the USWNT face Mexico on Saturday in their second Group A game (Watch live, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
Manchester United have announced that revenue levels for the three months leading up to December 31 rose by 26.6 percent.
The Red Devils released the figures on Thursday which show revenue of $192.4 million, with commercial revenue up a massive 42.5 percent but matchday revenue was down 1.6 percent.
[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired” ]
The overall profit for the quarter was $26.7 million and over that period club debt fell by 6 percent but still stands at an eye-watering $463.6 million. That said, in a recent review of the finances of the top clubs on the planet Deloitte believes United will top the rich-list next season.
Despite Louis Van Gaal‘s future being questioned, United being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage in December and being six points off the top four with just 13 games of the current Premier League season to go, the strength of their results off the pitch continue to show just how successful a business they’ve become.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors that: “Our solid results off the pitch help contribute to what remains our number one priority – success on the pitch.”
Woodward has also vowed to continue United’s “strong commitment to investing in our squad, youth academy.”
[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United ]
Van Gaal, 64, will need a strong finish to the season on the pitch to help United to success and in turn improve those financial figures for next season. Failure to finish in the PL’s top four and qualify for the UCL will substantially impact United’s financial results next season, and the pressure remains on him and his players to claw back the deficit.
With speculation mounting that Jose Mourinho could be appointed as United’s new boss there also seems to be a surplus of cash which Rob Harris from the Associated Press speculates could be used for a new manager…
The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.
Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.
[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]
The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.
The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.
With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.