ProSoccerTalk daily soccer re-set

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What we’re thinking, what we’re watching, what’s coming on the blog today and the RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day). Setting up your day in soccer:

Soccer Birthdays:

Normally we honor individuals, but today’s big birthday is actually an anniversary (a birthday for inanimate or imaginary things).

One hundred fifty-two years ago today, the first ever game between clubs took place at the oldest ground in the world – Sandygate Road in Sheffield, England. That’s where Sheffield F.C. played host to Hallum F.C. on what was undoubtedly a frozen and soggy South Yorkshire pitch. Somebody’s boss left them a ball for Boxing Day, and without ProSoccerTalk and four tiers of league soccer to occupy their holiday, the restless of Sheffield took to the field.

Actually, the game wasn’t quite that random. Until 1860, Sheffield Football Club had only played against itself, but when Hallum complemented its cricket club with a soccer team, the stage was set for the first intra-club match. England’s day-after-Christmas holiday was the perfect day. With no offsides but the innovation of free kicks for fouls put in action, Sheffield won a match said to more resemble Australian Rules than Association football.

Today, Hallum sit at the ninth level England’s pyramid. Sheffield F.C. sits one level above in the Division One of the Northern Premier League South.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day:

Jason Moore

Ahead on the blog today … Big Important Story of the Day … AND What you should watch on TV:

Expect a lot of Boxing Day coverage. Save West Ham and Arsenal, who had their match postponed (“proposed industrial action” being our euphemism of the month), the rest of England’s Premier League is in action, as is the entire Football League. Check out our snapshots of the Premier League games here.

We’ll also get you caught up on the stories leftover from the holidays. Between Christmas Eve and Day, we’ve all been away for a while.

Background noise while blogging:

It’s amazing how fast you can get through South Park when you just roll through the episodes. Without commercials, each show’s only 21 minutes long. With 14 episodes per season, it’s pretty easy to blow through a couple of seasons per day … when you have nothing to do but ride a keyboard all day long.

Another amazing thing about South Park: the show’s evolution. You can’t be around for 15-16 years without evolving, but at the beginning, the shock value of the toilet humor was a more central part of the show. Now, the bawdy stuff just breaks up the satire. Which is good.

Twitter daps:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JozyAltidore/status/282569186385989635] [tweet https://twitter.com/GeoffCameron/status/283241309576257536] [tweet https://twitter.com/stuholden/status/283374458473963520] [tweet https://twitter.com/alexmorgan13/status/283765354600222720] [tweet https://twitter.com/laurencheney8/status/283668536583409664]

The picture in Cheney’s tweet:

Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

Liverpoolfc.com
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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

liverpoolfc.com

Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.