Soccer birthdays: You gotta like a man who knows how to keep it real, who knows how to “bring it on home.” Jaap Stam began his career at the smaller Dutch side FC Zwolle. His playing days wound through some bigger Dutch clubs in addition to Manchester United, Lazio and AC Milan. Today, as the big center back turns 40, he’s back at Zwolle as an assistant coach.
Born on this day: Kenneth Wolstenholme, who died in 2002, would have been 92 today. If you’re into soccer history, you’ve heard the voice. Wolstenholme was a BBC TV football commentator who called the 1966 World Cup final from Wembley Stadium. Perhaps you heard him say, “Some people are on the pitch…they think it’s all over….it is now!” about the time Geoff Hurst put the game out of reach with England’s fourth goal. If not, now is a good time:
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): John O’Brien
Ahead on the blog today*: MLS team rankings, where it’s getting tougher to decide who belongs on the bottom. Plus, a little more on Michael Bradley’s transfer to Roma and some significant extensions of the story.
Big Important Story of the Day: Well, I think we had just better let the day play out a little.
PST background noise while blogging today: Today is a day where the music matters. That’s what they say on KXP out of Seattle.
*Always subject to change; you know how it is
Transfer rumor roundup: Schurrle to Newcastle, Spurs
Newcastle United reportedly leads the pack for the former Chelsea scorer, who is struggling to get time at BVB thanks to a glut of fantastic wingers including Christian Pulisic.
Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has a good relationship with the Westfalenstadion set, having taken Mikel Merino off their hands in August. Newcastle currently uses Christian Atsu on the left wing and Matt Ritchie on the right, but Schurrle can play center forward and Benitez may prefer to use the 27-year-old in the middle of his trident.
But they’ll face competition, and HITC says BVB is willing to pay half of his wages on an 18-month deal to keep him reasonable for some clubs. This could be a boon for Spurs.
Newcastle and Stoke City have also been linked with Galatasaray midfielder Papa “Badou” Ndiaye, with the Magpies said to have bid just a bit higher than the Potters but still under Gala’s buyout clause.
And here’s a wild one, according to ESPN: Chelsea’s rumored pursuit of current Premier League scorers now includes Marko Arnautovic. The audacious Austrian attacker cost West Ham around $35 million when his head was turned from Stoke City in the summer.
He didn’t perform well but Slaven Bilic, but David Moyes has been able to get some fine performances from the powerful Arnautovic. Chelsea has previously been linked with West Ham teammate Andy Carroll, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch as it attempts to find a center forward to ease the burden placed on Alvaro Morata in his first Premier League season.
Voted “the best right back” in Europe between 1962-64, the former England and Blackpool captain also had a successful management and broadcasting career.
Armfield was a member of the 1962 and 1966 World Cup squads, though a toe injury kept him from his place in the starting lineup when England won the tournament.
He spent his entire playing career with Blackpool before managing Bolton Wanderers to promotion and Leeds United to the European Cup Final, righting the ship after Brian Clough’s infamous spell in charge of the club.
There’s a statue outside Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, and the club legend has a stand named after him inside the venue.
While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.
The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.
For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.
Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.