ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

Leave a comment

Soccer birthdays:

What is your all-time lasting Diego Maradona memory? The Hand of God goal, maybe from the 1986 World Cup? Or is it that goal, where he spins out of double trouble in midfield and races into history against England in that tournament?

Is it something darker, maybe the 1991 failed test for cocaine in Italy, or the infamous sending home from the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine?

That man was an amazing soccer player; that can never be in question from any reasonable source. But he certainly was a mess, wasn’t he? Still is. Insiders say that his performances behind the scenes as Argentina’s manager at the 2010 World Cup were as ridiculous as his public performance as head coach.

But never mind all that. Not today, at least, on the date that Diego Armando Maradona, one of the truly great greats of the game, turns 52 today.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

Cup competitions are playing out today in some spots across Europe and South America.

On our shores, we are a day away from Major League Soccer kicking off its playoffs with the first to two single-date “elimination” matches.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day:  Richie Williams

*Ahead on the blog today:

We started our ProSoccerTalk conversations Monday evening on MLS awards. Richard Farley, Noah Davis and I go over the MLS Awards, providing our thoughts on the Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and Most Valuable Player. Coach of the Year is already out. The rest will drop today.

And we’ll have some thoughts on the teams that kick off Major League Soccer’s 17th “tournament,” Chicago and Houston. They meet Wednesday at Toyota Park.

Twitter daps:

source:

What you should watch on TV today:

If you’re into the Capital One Cup, which is the old Carling Cup, which was of course the old Football League Cup,  then you can catch Reading hosting Arsenal from the Madejski Stadium. It’s on beIN Sport at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Also on beIN Sport, Deportivo Alavés meets Barcelona in Copa del Rey tournament play, kicking off at 4 p.m. ET

PST background noise while blogging today:  Just watching the Weather Channel like the rest of the country. And hoping for the best for our friends along the East Coast, like the rest of the country.

We’ll leave you with this: Ugly racism in the game? And now possibly from a referee, of all things, in the world’s most high-profile league? What a mess! People really need to grow up. On the other hand, I suppose every time we get one of these silly, ridiculous, unsavory happenings, it raises awareness and reduces the chances that something similar happens down the road. At least there is that.

*Always subject to change; you know how it is

Rapids hire Patel as director; Highest ranking female exec in MLS

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Colorado Rapids have hired Ena Patel as their new director of player personnel. She becomes Major League Soccer highest ranking female executive, according to the Denver Post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to the Rapids, she’ll report to club GM Padraig Smith and “oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance, and soccer operations protocols.”

The move comes about a month-and-a-half after Sporting KC hired Megan Cameron as an assistant director of player personnel, the first woman hired to an MLS team’s technical staff.

Patel’s resume is outlandishly strong, though this is her first foray into the sports world. Here are some words from Smith, from ColoradoRapids.com:

“Ena’s hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side,” Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. “Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we’re fielding the best possible team. We can’t wait for her to get started.”

Guardiola happy to reach final, knows Man City to be judged by hardware

Nick Potts/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Bristol City made its interesting late with a pair of goals, but Manchester City’s League Cup destiny was never in jeopardy in a 3-2 second leg win at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

That sent the club into the Feb. 25 final with a 5-3 aggregate win, and it’s very difficult not to leap to the story line that is Pep Guardiola‘s chance at a first significant title in his reign at Man City.

The closest City came to hardware last season was being bounced by Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. This time, City is the favorite to win at least three of its four entered competitions: the Premier League, the League Cup, and the FA Cup.

But to hear Pep say it, for now the club is just happy to have earned one final berth. From the BBC:

“We are so happy to be there, to reach this final. We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, these type of games never end until the end. This is a lesson for next weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League.

“It’s not for me, it’s for Manchester City, a club who are trying to reach another level. … I know that we will be judged by trophies we win but we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done, but Chelsea or Arsenal are strong teams.”

Guardiola was serious about not overlooking the Robins, as he rolled out a very similar lineup to the full-strength bunch that beat Newcastle United 3-1 at the weekend. That may have cost City late, but it had already built a 4-1 aggregate lead with two superior away goals.

Yes, Guardiola is a man who measures himself by the way his club plays but also by winning in that attractive fashion. Expect a determined club to stride into Wembley late next month.

Chelsea and Arsenal square off Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium for the right to match up with Man City, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2016. Even year dominance?

Man City into League Cup final (video)

Nick Potts/PA via AP
Leave a comment
  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.