Red Bull Arena facade

Heads up on New York Red Bulls-D.C. United series …

1 Comment

UPDATE: The conference call is done and the solution’s been announced. As fallout from Hurricane Sandy, D.C. United and New York have swapped home legs of their Eastern Conference semifinal. Saturday’s opener, originally scheduled for Red Bull Arena, will take place at RFK, with New York now hosting Wednesday’s second leg. Steve has more on the implications, below. -rf

According to The Washington Post, officials from the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United will hold an afternoon conference call to discuss this week’s playoff match scheduled for Saturday in Harrison, N.J., one of the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The Red Bulls issued this understandably vague statement yesterday, essentially saying the arena emerged without major damage but that not much else had been decided.

Wednesday, just after 1 p.m. ET, Steven Goff reported in his Soccer Insider blog at The Post that officials would huddle today, and he suggested that a decision would need to be made this afternoon if schedules were to be altered.

The teams could switch game days in their two-leg, home-and-away series, with Saturday’s game being played at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and next week’s contest going to New York.

(MORE: full MLS playoff schedule and post-season explainer)

But that would remove a small, competitive edge that D.C. United earned by virtue of being the higher (No. 2) seed in the East:  If the aggregate score is tied after both matches, a 30-minute extra time will decide the series (followed by penalty kicks if necessary.) If the series venues are reversed, New York would get the home-field advantage in the 30-minute extra time should it come to that.

There are also network TV concerns; Saturday’s match is scheduled for NBC Sports Network.

Suffice to say the choices aren’t easy, because there are a lot of moving pieces – and a lot of them don’t involve a soccer game. What D.C. United president Kevin Payne told Goff:

They were originally told they might not get [electricity] back until Monday, but I would obviously be concerned if the PATH train service isn’t running and you have to think about the emergency service workers and what they are going through right now. Do they really want to now deal with a special event on the weekend where they have to dedicate half of the police force of Harrison to traffic control? It’s a tough situation.” 

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
Leave a comment

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.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
Leave a comment

Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.