So the choice has been made, the announcement coming later than most would have preferred.
Denver will be the site of the United States’ national team’s first home match in final stage World Cup qualifying. The Americans will play Costa Rica on March 22 at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.
Even before today’s official announcement from U.S. Soccer, the feet-stomping consternation was already growing to full boil. “Denver? Why doggone Denver? What have they done to deserve such a plum?”
Well everyone really needs to calm down on this one.
No, the Colorado Rapids aren’t setting attendance records. But Denver and Dicks Sporting Goods Park will serve just fine as a U.S. Soccer qualifier destination. In the big picture, U.S. Soccer should basically consider two things when choosing World Cup qualifier destinations:
- Competitive advantages, foremost. This includes, but probably isn’t limited to, field conditions, any edge that weather might create, ability to tweak the crowd balance as much as possible and logistical considerations of the before and after.
- Some degree of diversity and variety in venue selection. That is, geographic diversity across a big land (a game West, a game East, one in the Heartland, one in the deep south, etc.) and some effort to spread the significant U.S. matches among as many communities as possible within the context of the first consideration. (Because, do we really want a see a game in freakin’ New England every year, as U.S. Soccer once seemed determined to provide us?)
Within those two overriding considerations, it would be great if U.S. Soccer gave more weight to the MLS clubs that have spent handsomely to develop their own grounds, a la the choice of Houston as this year’s first U.S. men’s friendly site.
That’s about it. No community should feel any more entitled to a match than the next one – no matter how well the MLS games do or don’t draw.
Play until you hear the referee’s whistle. In theory, so simple. In practice, it only takes a single second of concentration lapse to become an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]
Such is life for Karyn Forbes, member of the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national soccer team. In the above video, you’ll observe Forbes, a 24-year-old midfielder, giving away perhaps the most bizarre penalty kick you’ll ever see. You’ll have to watch for yourself to believe it.
[ MORE: USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with 5-0 victory ]
Unfortunately for Forbes, though the whole of the ball might have crossed the whole of the end line, the referee did not blow her whistle… not until Forbes picked the ball up with her hands and carried it to her goalkeeper.
BERLIN (AP) The German Football League (DFL) has given the go-ahead for the possible testing of video replays in the Bundesliga over a two-year pilot phase.
[ FOLLOW: PST’s Bundesliga coverage ]
The DFL says it will be lodging an application with FIFA to take part if the pilot phase is approved by the International Football Association Board at its next annual general meeting on March 5.
The DFL says video replays could be used by a “team of impartial match officials for the purpose of avoiding any evidently incorrect decisions” and that the pilot phase would be preceded by “intensive preparations.”
[ MORE: 17-year-old American MF Pulisic gets Bundesliga debut for Dortmund ]
These would include the settlement of costs among FIFA, the IFAB, the DFL and German football federation, as well as training for the candidates.
West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.
“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”
Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.
Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.
[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal
Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.