Eighteen players represent less than a full MLS roster. It’s about three percent of the league, though depending on who Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reached out to for these posts at SI.com (here and here), this could work. If you get the right people, your sample could reasonably reflect the population.
I’ll leave the rest of that to Nate Silver.
More likely, this is just the view of 18 dudes. Is it random? The people at the top of Wahl’s speed dial? Those who happened to be in New York recently to help the league’s preseason promotions?
Who knows, and it probably doesn’t matter. Parse it too much and you lose the fun of this exercise, where Wahl asked his sample a number of hot button questions about the league.
Here are some of the more conclusive outcomes:
- Thierry Henry got six votes for player with whom you’d most want to start a team. Nobody else got more than two.
- Players voted 15-3 to ban “artificial turf,” though it should be noted no Major League Soccer team plays on artificial turf. This insane discussion continues. So glad we’re making progress.
- Best atmosphere: Seattle 9, Portland 8. Which venue got the other vote? Somebody please tell me what I’m missing.
- New England got 12 votes for worst quality field. Next highest: Vancouver’s carpet with four. No surprises there.
- Columbus and Dallas both got six votes for least fun city in the league. No other destination got more than two.
- Fourteen players said retroactive punishment is necessary. Good. I think we saw the positive impact this had last season.
- Seventeen out of 18 said a gay player would be accepted. These seem like optimistic response, but I really hope it’s true.
- None of those surveyed knew of an instance of a player being approached by gambling interests.
- Sixteen agreed with Don Garber – MLS would be a top league by 2022.
Wahl’s survey is 25 questions long and worth your time (it won’t take more than a few seconds to skim it). It may only reach out to 18 players, but where there’s consensus, we get a good idea of where players stand. On some of the issues — retroactive punishment, gay players — that viewpoint’s enlightening.
Mostly, it’s just a fun exercise. There have been some early attempts to glean insight from it, but as Wahl intimates in his intro, this is a fun way to do a preseason preview. Some results were informative, but it’s not necessarily scientific.
It’s just a good snapshot.
It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.
Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.
As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.
The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.
Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.
Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.
At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]
“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”
It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.
But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.
Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?
If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.
And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.
PRAGUE (AP) Sparta Prague says it has signed France midfielder Rio Mavuba to a three-year contract.
The 33-year-old Mavuba comes from French club Lille, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he played for Bordeaux and Spanish club Villarreal.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Mavuba was on the France team at the 2014 World Cup.
He is the 10th player signed by Sparta after Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni took charge in May.
Mexico had little trouble dispatching Honduras as El Tri won 1-0 in Glendale, AZ and eased into the Gold Cup semifinals.
Just four minutes into the game, Mexico took the lead as they got Honduras on its heels, with Rodolfo Pizarro sticking the ball in at the far post at the end of a scramble. Jesus Duenas carved a ball through the defense, and while Elias Hernandez whiffed on the tap-in, Pizarro was right behind him to finish the chance.
Mexico settled in after scoring, while Honduras tried to out-muscle El Tri, with the latter receiving a pair of yellow cards in the first 45 minutes. There were precious few other chances throughout the first half, with Honduras completely incapable of creating anything in the attacking half.
Mexico continued to dominate out of the halftime break, but they lost Monterrey midfielder Jesus Molina in the 65th minute with discomfort, replaced by Chaka Rodriguez. The best moment for Honduras as they chased the game late came in the 78th minute as Jose Corona made a spectacular save when substitute Alexander Lopez nearly scored directly from a corner. They came close again in stoppage time after a set-piece as Alfredo Mejia scuffed a shot agonizingly wide.
Honduras ended their Gold Cup without a single goal scored. They technically defeated French Guyana 3-0 in the group stage, but that came on the typical forfeit scoreline, whereas the actual game played ended in a 0-0 draw.
Meanwhile, Mexico will take on Jamaica in the semifinal in a rematch of last tournament’s final.