You can prepare all you want for a team like Manchester United, but some things are unstoppable. Sure, Queens Park Rangers may have been able to prevent some of the events that led to this shot, but when Rafael hits this kind of ball from 20 yards out, all you can do is throw your hands up and ask why.
Why do soccer gods who already create teams with United’s resources than endow them with strikes like this?
But it goes hand-in-hand, doesn’t it? If you’re Manchester United, you so many great players that even the player who’s arguably 11th out of 11 starters can beat you.
That’s what QPR was left with in the 23rd minute after a Robin van Persie shot had been blocked clear of the box by Julio Cesar. Rafael accelerates away from his man and hits his shot first time, one of those screaming tries that seem to curve in midair as they approach goal.
Unfortunately for QPR, that curve meant Rafael’s shot dove right into their goal. Courtesy FOX Soccer:
The goal put Manchester United up 1-0 at Loftus Road, a lead they’ve maintained late into the second half of what’s played out as a typical Manchester United game. Up early, the Premier League leaders have been in control. But playing to type, they’ve also been unconvincing.
It’s hard to say who’ll score the next goal, if there’ll even be one. QPR doesn’t look willing to test what’s been a leaky United defense.
For Rafael, it’s the third league goal of what’s turning into a breakthrough campaign for the 22-year-old Brazilian. Coming into this season, he’d never started more the 15 league goals. Today was the 21st start of a season that’s proved his most consistent.
More Premier League fun:
A Richmond Kickers striker will hopefully be able to credit a back injury with saving his life.
Matthew Delicâte has been with the USL side for 10 years, and picked up a knock in training that required an MRI.
[ EURO 2016: England squad released | Germany, too ]
That scan revealed a mass on his kidney, and Delicâte is now set for 8-12 weeks on the sidelines and major surgery.
“I was frustrated after hurting my back and not being able to train and feature for the team, but in hindsight, I am very fortunate to have caught this at an early stage,” commented Delicâte. “I hope the team continues to work hard in my absence and I am aiming for a full recovery as quickly as possible.”
“Events such as this immediately put the importance of winning soccer matches into perspective,” added Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “We wish Deli a successful surgery, speedy recovery and look forward to having him score more goals for the Kickers in the months to come.”
The 34-year-old English forward played at Virginia Commonwealth University before embarking on a pro career with Richmond and the Rochester Rhinos, briefly heading home to England for a spell with National League side Ebbsfleet United.
All our best to Delicate, his family, and the Kickers.
No surprise here: the most famous footballer of all-time has acquired a wide variety of extraordinary items, many of them as unique as Pele himself.
The 75-year-old Brazilian is going to auction a lot of those items come June in England, with at least part of the money going to a pediatric hospital in his come country.
[ MORE: Marcelo giving away UCL medal via Facebook ]
Some of these items are going to get crazy money. Consider: He’s selling a one of a kind Jules Rimet Trophy given to him after the 1970 World Cup, and the boots he wore in “Victory”.
Here’s what Pele says of the sale, expected to fetch at least $5 million, according to a BBC Business story:
“It was a difficult decision to make but it takes a lot to properly care for these artefacts, and I felt I could do much more good by sharing these items with the world, as well as helping my causes that are important to me.”
Less expensive items, like a match-worn New York Cosmos jersey, are still expected to have purchase prices as high as $8-10,000. So, yeah, a lot of us are going to be left out of the process.
Then again, they’re just Earthly possessions, no? If Pele doesn’t need them, I can be content in also being shut out.
Andros Townsend and Danny Drinkwater are not going to France as part of the England national team for Euro 2016.
That means both Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford have been included in Roy Hodgson’s squad, putting five strikers in the mix.
[ MORE: Reus left out of Germany squad ]
Rashford, 18, is the youngest player on the roster, with Tottenham’s Dele Alli second (20).
Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson have overcome fitness concerns to get into the squad.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).
Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).
Comparing it to the 2014 World Cup opener against Ghana, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called Friday’s Copa America Centenario opener against Colombia “starting a tournament with a final”.
While Costa Rica and Paraguay are far from slouches, Colombia is the best team in the United States’ group.
[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D ]
A win would set the tone for the group stage and, historically speaking, winning the first game gives teams a tremendous chance to advance to the knockout rounds.
In a Facebook live chat on Sunday, Klinsmann implied that his Yanks wouldn’t play for a draw against Colombia.
“We are going to go for it. We are going to do that and we are going to try and make it happen on Friday night because it would give us a big, big boost towards the game against Costa Rica and then finishing off the group with Paraguay. Similar to the World Cup, we need a good result in the first game.”
There’s no denying a win would be massive, putting Colombia up against the wall for both of its remaining games. Los Cafeteros have not kept a clean sheet in three matches, but all of those were wins. Their only losses since mid-June 2015 came against Uruguay and Argentina.