Not all the chit-chat and buzz Wednesday at the Home Depot Center was over Omar Gonzalez, the vital defender who returned from winter injury.
There was also a significant flutter about a certain England international who watched the contest from the AEG suite, alongside David Beckham (who was suspended for Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia):
Frank Lampard had the Twitter monster a stompin’ with his surprising appearance in Southern California.
The 34-year-old midfielder has been linked to the Galaxy for some time. He may not be quite the midfield presence of the Chelsea squads from a few years ago, as he made a record 164 consecutive Premier League appearances for the Blues. Still, he’s a quality midfielder who can still do the business in one of the world’s top associations. That means he could surely get the job done in MLS.
Trouble is, one of the Galaxy’s three biggies (Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane or Beckham) would have to leave in order to absorb the longtime Chelsea man (who is no longer an automatic starting selection at Stamford Bridge, which is one of the reasons he may be in for a change of professional addresses.)
Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.
Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.
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Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.
Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.
The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.
McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.