As Chris Wondolowski chases the MLS single-season goal-scoring record, here’s something to keep in mind:
All due respect to current record holder Roy Lassiter, but this is a much different MLS than the one Lassiter set ablaze back in 1996.
That was MLS on spindly roots, a league barely crawling, much less walking, jogging or galloping at full pace.
There were some bad teams back then. And some pretty average defenders. And even a few who were aspiring toward average.
So Lassiter exploited the talent gap better than anyone, hitting 27 goals for Tampa Bay in that inaugural MLS season. And we should mention how very much Lassiter did benefit from the splendid midfield offerings of Carlos Valderrama, the Colombian creators who won the league’s initial MVP honor with a league-leading 17 assists.
Today’s MLS is so much better. The individuals manning today’s MLS back lines are better and the collective defending is more highly organized, with more teams that have their you-know-what together.
So we should consider all that while watching Wondolowski hunt for No. 27 tomorrow against Portland. Either way, the Earthquakes striker already has matched the second-best goal scoring total.
Personally, considering the discrepancy in talent and back-line organization between the two periods, and considering what Wondolowski has done over three years in MLS (A total of 60 goals in three seasons!), I’m pulling for him.
San Jose meets the Timbers at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The match is the last of an NBC tripleheader; this one is on NBC Sports Network.
The Earthquakes made a video to help gin up interest on all this. It’s worth a look.
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.