In one of those British headline writer’s dream (England’s Daily Mail called it an “embarrassment of epic proportions”), Arsenal bombed out of the Capital One Cup quarter-finals, losing to … wait for it … fourth-tier Bradford City.
Fabled Gunners fell in penalty kicks to the small club from West Yorkshire.
Getting right into it:
- It really is ashamed that so much of the talk here will be about Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, etc., because it really was a monumental effort, as esteemed NBC colleague Arlo White called it on Twitter. By most accounts, Bradford City was better Tuesday and fully deserving of its first Carling Cup semifinal appearance. Underscoring that sentiment is the fact that …
- Arsenal played a strong side, with only a couple of non-regulars.
- This will add yet another hardy layer to the ongoing debate on whether Wenger remains the right man for the job around the Emirates. On the one hand, he has the Gunners back in their most familiar of spots, in Champions League knockout stage. It really is an impressive run, competing now in the elimination phase of the world’s best club competition for a 13th consecutive season. On the other hand …
- Wenger’s trophy drought will continue, and that means something to a club like Arsenal. Last hardware for Gunners: the 2005 FA Cup. The Carling Cup may not approach the FA Cup (and certainly isn’t in the same stratosphere as an EPL title or a Champions League crown), but it carried the distinction of being the best route to a title around the Emirates this year.
It isn’t Dortmund, but that’s a good thing for Liverpool.
Our own Joe Prince-Wright was on the scene for Jurgen Klopp’s unveiling as the latest Reds manager, and the 48-year-old German had a lot to say.
Perhaps most poignant for Liverpool fans are Klopp’s words on the talent he inherits from Brendan Rodgers. Sure there are quips that will hit the headlines, but how about Klopp’s assertion that success shouldn’t take nearly as long as his dramatic work at BVB.
From JPW on Merseyside:
“We did in Dortmund what we had to do, to improve the players, to work for a common idea of play. That is what we did and its the same thing we want to do here. They are not the same players of course,” Klopp told NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk. “These players from Liverpool are better, more experienced in some ways and younger in other cases. Everything is okay, I am here. I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders is really good, defenders experienced and very young, goalkeeper is really good. Everything is there.”
Everything. A powerful word and one that doesn’t get lost in translation. Liverpool has a batch of world class talent, and Klopp’s is anxious to organize it in world class fashion. Strap in, Anfield.
So here we go: the biggest rivalry in U.S. Soccer, the one that sends fans racing for the stadia for a glimpse of history.
It’s the U.S. and Mexico for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, and it will play out at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
National pride is on the line, and national jobs may rightly be in jeopardy. Let’s swing through our coverage, and what’s at stake in just over 24 hours time.
Who is the key to Saturday’s match? Is it Michael Bradley? Fabian Johnson? Andres Guardado? Will Klinsmann opt for players with Liga MX experience, stay Euro Heavy, or appease the domestic set? Read more here.
So how will Klinsmann line ’em up? JPW has his preference, some options, and a prediction of what the manager will do.
What are the chances this one finds its way into the upper echelon of matches in the Mexico/U.S. rivalry? This is the company it could join.
The folks in the anti-Klinsmann brigade seethe with pure detestation of the USMNT boss. Any quote from him is self-serving and dishonest, any success accidental. Beat Germany or the Netherlands in friendlies on the road? Coincidental and Unimportant. Lose a friendly to Brazil? The worst thing ever.
[ MORE: The case for firing Klinsmann after a loss ]
So this match, being meaningful and testing his unbeaten mark vs Mexico, is going to be a clarion call for U.S. Soccer fans. Barring a cataclysmic loss in horrific blowout fashion, he won’t be canned. But a win will be validation for his supporters while a loss would cue a genuine hot seat. And for his detractors, already foaming at the mouth from the words of icon Landon Donovan? Kablammo.