If ever a team was going to be distracted – check that, had a right to be distracted – it was the New England Revolution on Saturday.
Sure enough, Jay Heaps’ team had given up two goals in the first 10 minutes. That was as many as the defensively sound Revs had given up in five previous matches of 2013. It finished in a 4-1 Red Bulls win — although New England made a far better account than a three-goal margin would indicate.
So much had happened in and around the Revolution over the last several days, all of its connected to the terrible events in and around Boston. Even on Friday, the Revs travel into New Jersey was impacted.
The Revolution players and coaches talked before Saturday’s contest at Red Bull Arena about getting back onto the field, getting a little break from the heaviness of bombings, manhunts and teammates in the middle of it all, as goalkeeper Matt Reis was.
But it had to be tough, and it seemed to be as the Revolution gave up goals in the 4th and 8th minutes.
New England did get one in the middle, and most of this match played out as a 2-1 New York lead.
Heaps’ side applied pressure though the second half, especially after the introduction of Juan Toja and Saer Sene. They pushed the Red Bulls through about 30 minutes of the second half as the home team sat back in a strangely reactionary pose.
But the Red Bulls did get two late goals to make this one seem lopsided than it was.
The full highlight pack is here, including Fabian Espindola’s game-winning goal early from Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.
Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:
“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”
That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”
[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]
There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?
Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.
Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.
[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]
Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:
“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.
“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.
“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”
Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.
[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]
The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.