Czech Republic Press Conference - Quarter Final: UEFA EURO 2012

ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays:

I was in the stadium the day Tomas Rosicky (pictured) scored two goals in the Czech Republic’s huge 3-0 win over the United States to open both teams’ account at World Cup 2006. A little later that summer, I was sure the man was going to set England on fire, having signed on with Arsene Wenger and esteemed Arsenal. And that first year: not too bad at all, with six goals in 37 appearances. After that, however, Rosicky pretty much went averaged on us, underwhelming us to death over a series of so-so seasons.

But never mind all negativity. Let’s be good fellows about it and raise a glass to the man, who turns 31 today.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

Americans in Europa League? Yeah, we’ve got a few. Start with Brad Friedel and Clint Dempsey, who will be available to feature for Spurs in a match against Greece’s Panathinaikos.

Veteran U.S. right back Steve Cherundolo and his German club Hannover takes on Spain’s Levante.

Rising American forward Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna take on Metalist from Ukraine.

Others in action include Alejandro Bedoya (Sweden’s Helsingborgs IF), midfielder Mikkel Diskerud (Nowway’s Rosenborg) and goalkeeper David Yelldell (Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen).

The complete Europa League schedule is here:

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day):Chris Armas

*Ahead on the blog today: The curiously elusive Panic Quotient makes a return; look for it in the afternoon. We’ll dig into Europa League and keep a watch out for MLS news. Plus, look out later in the afternoon for Noah Davis’ “Overlooked and Underloved” feature, which is anything but. Overlooked and underloved, that is.

Twitter daps:


What you should watch on TV today:

A great Europa league doubleheader is listed for Fox Soccer Channel: Up first is Panathinaikos against Tottenham from Greece, kicking off at 2:50 p.m. ET.

That’s followed by Liverpool-Udinese from fabled Anfield, kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

If the MLS playoffs started today (following 28 rounds):

Eastern Conference

(Wildcard round)

  • Houston at D.C. United

(Second round)

  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Wildcard winner
  • Chicago vs. New York Red Bulls

Western Conference:

(Wildcard round)

  • Vancouver Whitecaps at Seattle

(Second Round)

  • San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
  • Real Salt Lake vs. L.A. Galaxy

PST background noise while blogging today: Catching up on DVRed Daily Shows; you just know that former forward from William & Mary will have a little something to say about the debates and such going on.  (You do know Stewart played soccer in college, right?)

*Always subject to change; you know how it is…

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.