Diego Chara

Quickie MLS review of Week 6

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Oddest situation: Who knows Law 4 from the FIFA set of rules that stodgy old set of game governances? I bet everyone around San Jose does this morning.

It’s all explained in yesterday’s post, but here is the super-short sum-up: Two players went off to change their shoes. The referee refused (correctly) to let them back on until a stoppage in play. Exploiting the 11-on-9 advantage, Vancouver nailed the game-tying goal in a 1-1 draw in Northern California. San Jose players and coaches humbly copped to their schoolboy mistake.

Hottest coaching seat: Who would have thought we would say this? It’s in Seattle, where Sigi Schmid’s Sounders are Major League Soccer’s only winless team. And things promised to get a little rockier still this week as Seattle completes the “away” leg of its two-game CONCACAF Champions League semifinal set with Mexico’s Santos Laguna. It don’t look good. Meanwhile, Chicago’s Frank Klopas  turned down the heat on his situation, at least for now.

Best tactical adjustment: Manager Caleb Porter made a wise adjustment in the Portland Timbers breakthrough win over Houston, the first victory for the Timbers’ first-year head coach. With Darlington Nagbe looking ill-suited as a playmaker in a 4-2-3-1, Porter shifted the team into a more conventional 4-4-2, and Diego Chara (pictured) proceeded to the run the show, and run Houston out of town with a 2-0 loss.

Best tactical tweak, Part II: In Chicago, Klopas pushed Joel Lindpere out wide, away from his holding role alongside Jeff Larentowicz. It worked out OK – this was mostly Lindpere’s spot during previous years with New York – but things clicked even more in the second half. In the second 45, Klopas encouraged his Estonian midfielder to actually stay out wide along the left, rather than working inside as much.

Trouble with penalty kicks: Chicago and Real Salt Lake both missed spot shots over the weekend. Chris Rolfe took a short run-up and pushed his shot wide left in the Fire’s win over New York. And Alvaro Saborio saw his shot from the 12 saved quite nicely by Colorado Rapids rookie Clinton Irwin. That was real justice, too, because the penalty decision in that one was pretty weak sauce.

Best individual performance: Whoa! Not so fast there, cowboy! Check back later today when we drop our ProSoccerTalk Player of the Week and Team of the Week.

Best goal: Had to be Darel Russell’s stunning, out-of-nowhere, laser-guided stinger in the closing minutes. Not only was it a great strike from the Toronto FC man, it was the late equalizer that punctuated a two-goal rally for the Reds in a 2-2 draw. Watch it here:


Ancelotti rules himself out of Liverpool job

Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid CF
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Carlo Ancelotti will not be the next manager of Liverpool, if you’re not so cynical that you don’t believe Mr. Ancelotti himself, that is.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Ancelotti, who this summer was fired one season after winning the UEFA Champions League at Real Madrid, has been widely reported a top-two candidate for the Premier League club’s vacant managerial position ever since Brendan Rodgers was fired on Sunday.

While he may very well have been one of Liverpool’s top choices, to hear Ancelotti tell it, he’s not interested in taking the job, nor any other job anywhere in the world this year.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

Ancelotti, speaking at the National History Museum in London on Tuesday — quotes from the Guardian:

“I enjoy my time now but, of course, I want to come back to manage – to work – because it is my passion. I want to take my time to rest, but next season I am ready.”

“Why not [return to Paris Saint-Germain]? I have very good memories of Paris, PSG, I have good relations with everyone, with Nasser [al-Khelaifi, the PSG president].

“But I’m thinking about other things and PSG has a very good coach in Laurent Blanc. I hope he will continue and shine in the Champions League.”

Of course, with Jurgen Klopp reportedly all but officially announced as Liverpool’s new manager, Ancelotti is probably doing two things by ruling himself out until next season: 1) saving a bit of face, given that he was pretty clearly not Liverpool’s first-choice candidate; 2) letting every Ancelotti-sized club know that he’ll be available come this spring and summer, just in case they’re considering firing their current manager and need a bit of assurance an elite candidate will be available.

[ MORE: Klopp expected to be named new Liverpool manager this week ]

For instance, the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG and Juventus immediately come to mind. A manager of Ancelotti’s quality will always have options and offers, and that’s something he clearly understands. Ancelotti has earned the right to enjoy a year-long sabbatical and to be picky when choosing his next job.

Report: FIFA provisionally suspends Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

Sepp Blatter could, finally, be frozen out by FIFA.

The 17-year leader of world soccer’s governing body has reportedly been suspended for 90 days after FIFA’s ethics committee met on Wednesday to discuss allegations against both Blatter and his close ally Michel Platini.

[ MORE: Chung to sue Blatter ]

Reports suggest that the decision to suspend the Swiss official still needs to be formally ratified by the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, but it is highly likely that Blatter will be suspended until January 2016.

Blatter, 79, has been at FIFA for over 40 years but under his stewardship the organization has been riddled with allegations of corruption as current investigations from both the U.S. and Swiss authorities continue. The longtime FIFA official is suspected of “criminal mismanagement or misappropriation” by the Swiss authorities after a payment of over $1.9 million is linked to Blatter and the current president of UEFA, and FIFA presidential candidate, Platini.

[ MORE: How will USA line up vs. Mexico? ]

Klaus Stoehlker, who formerly advised Blatter, has told Sky News that the ethics committee “made the ruling pending further investigations by the Swiss attorney general” and the verdict was “pending”  but that “no negative finding had been made against the head of world football’s governing body.” It is believed that the 90-day suspension is the maximum amount of time the ethics committee can suspend any individuals while an investigation is ongoing.

It has been reported that the head of FIFA’s ethics committee, Judge Hans Joachim-Eckert, has told Blatter of his suspension.

The leader of FIFA, who will stand down following the next presidential elections on Feb. 26, 2016, has been defiant in recent weeks despite growing pressure from corporate sponsors of FIFA for him to resign.

On Wednesday he spoke out and denied he will quit, while at the Leaders’ in Sport Summit in London another presidential candidate ,Chung Mong-joon, declared that he will sue Blatter for “at least $100 million” and believes the FIFA president and his “cronies” are deliberately sabotaging his own presidential campaign.