San Jose Earthquakes v FC Dallas

Lessons from FC Dallas’ fast 2013 start

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Are we seeing what FC Dallas could have been in 2012?

Dallas of last year looks a lot like Colorado of this year – too many of the important pieces are on the injury shelf to make any real assessments of what the talent the coaching could do under better circumstances.

This is more or less the same team; manager Schellas Hyndman and the organization’s somewhat curious “competition committee” didn’t overhaul last year’s group despite a failure to make the playoffs. (That remains something still statistically harder to do than not to do; that is, 10 of 19 teams qualify for the post-season.)

Dallas’ lastest win, 2-0 at home Saturday over Vancouver, has Dallas running away with the Western Conference leadership. It’s a long season, clearly, but the eight-point margin after just eight weeks is impressive. (The MLS standings are here.)

So did Hyndman and his crew from North Texas nail the formula this year? The team is wearing its new 4-2-3-1 so well, with plenty of cover behind creator David Ferreira.

Or did they have it right a year ago, only to get undone by a litany of injuries to its most important parts. The struggles with health and fitness stripped playmakers Ferreira and Ricardo Villar, striker Blas Perez, winger Brek Shea and center backs George John and Ugo Ihemelu. That set of six important men combined to miss an average of 18 starts.

John says the chemistry is better in 2013, and others around the FCD locker room have agreed. (By the way, the team still has room to grow; communication with goalkeeper Raul Fernandez still needs to improve as he learns more English and defenders work to gain a better hold on Spanish.)

Whatever the reason for big stuff in 2013, Hyndman just passed an important milepost.

Hyndman, closing in on his fifth anniversary in charge around FC Dallas Stadium, has accumulated 219 points was head coach. The weekend win over Vancouver pushed Hyndman past Dave Dir, the club’s original coach, in terms of points earned.

Ferguson still being asked about Moyes: “We chose a good football man”

David Moyes Alex Ferguson
AP Photo/Martin Rickett/PA
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In some ways absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it seems Sir Alex Ferguson‘s life after Manchester United has been filled with second guessing.

Whether the sales of Paul Pogba and Gerard Pique or the appointment of David Moyes, “Fergie” apparently can’t rest on his title-winning laurels.

[ MORE: Tax evasion charges dropped against Messi, but not his father ]

One thing that seems to bug him more than anything, though, is the idea that he hand-picked David Moyes to be his successor, and should be responsible for his failings.

In a new documentary, Ferguson both defends the appointment of Moyes and explains the process behind his choice.

From the BBC:

“I don’t think we made a mistake at all. I think we chose a good football man,” Ferguson says. “Unfortunately it didn’t work for David.

“Jose Mourinho was going back to Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti was going to Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp had signed a contract with Dortmund, Louis Van Gaal was staying with Holland for the World Cup.”

The article also makes another key point, according to Ferguson: the manager claims he only gave United a few months notice that he’d be stepping down. That certainly didn’t provide a lot of lead time to secure a big boss.

What do you make it of it? If your answer is, “When can we stop talking about Moyes and United?” I tend to be with you, but it’s a talking point.

Tax evasion charges against Messi dropped; Case vs father continues

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2013 file photo, Barcelona F.C. star Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court to answer questions in a tax fraud case in Gava, near Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona prosecutors are calling for the arrest of Messi's father in a tax fraud case. Prosecutors have cleared Messi of wrongdoing but are seeking an 18-month prison sentence for his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, for allegedly defrauding Spain's tax office of 4 million euros ($4.5 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
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Lionel Messi will not face charges that he and his father defrauded the government in millions of unpaid taxes, though his father is not so lucky.

Messi’s father, Jorge, could face 18 months in jail and an approximate $2.25 million fine despite a voluntary payment of $5.5 million in 2013 to “correct” the missed taxes.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

The Barcleona star had plead ignorance to the charges, something that failed to impress prosecutors. But, it apparently worked out in his favor on Tuesday.

From the BBC:

Prosecutors allege that Jorge avoiding paying tax on his son’s earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009.

Messi’s lawyers argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts, El Pais newspaper reported.