Joey Barton

Longest bans in EPL history… Suaréz is up there

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After Luis Suaréz was given a 10-game ban by the English FA today, many agreed with the FA’s decision to come down hard on the Liverpool forward.

The ban will see Suaréz out of action until next September and seriously hampers his future at Liverpool and in the EPL.

But where does this rank in the longest bans the FA and English Premier League have handed out, all-time? It is certainly not the most severe, but not by much.

Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable bans:

1. Eric Cantona – 9 month suspension
Manchester United’s French wonder lost the plot on a chilly evening at Selhurst Park back in 1995, as the Red Devils No. 7 was sent off against Crystal Palace. As he walked to the changing rooms, a Palace fan seemed to shout abuse at Cantona from the stands. Then all hell broke loose, as Cantona launched himself into the crowd and kicked the fan in a kung-fu style attack. The Frenchman was stripped of his national team captaincy and was banned from playing for United for nine months.

2. Rio Ferdinand – 8 month suspension

Another United player embroiled in a scandal, Rio Ferdinand missed a routine drugs test at the clubs Carrington Training ground back in 2003. Ferdinand was banned for eight months, as a missed test was treated with the same severity as testing positive. The defender would also miss England’s Euro 2004 campaign in Portugal after his bizarre oversight.

3. Joey Barton – 12 game ban

Joey Barton’s antics have been forgotten by some. In case you don’t remember, Barton went on a rampage during the final day of last season, as his QPR side faced Manchester City. But Barton’s red card and subsequent outburst helped City to defeat QPR and lift the EPL crown. Barton, like Suaréz, is certainly no stranger to trouble on the pitch and he was charged with two counts of violent conduct against City’s Argentinian duo of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. He has not played in the EPL since, after being loaned out to French side Marseille.

4. Paolo Di Canio – 11 game ban

Sunderland’s Italian manager is perhaps remembered by most fans of English soccer for pushing over referee Paul Alcock back in September 1998. Di Canio was sent off while playing for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal, as he reacted in disgust by pushing Alcock to the ground. It has to be said, the referee did make a meal of it, however the charge was enough to end Di Canio’s time at Wednesday, as he later moved on to West Ham United.

5. David Prutton – 10 game ban

One of the lesser known incidents, but almost identical to Di Canio’s. The only saving grace for Prutton was that referee Alan Wiley stayed on his feet, as the Southampton midfielder shoved the ref while trying to apprehend the linesman to protest his innocence. I remember sitting at St. Mary’s during that game, scratching my head as to why Prutton reacted in such a shambolic way.

Many people will be doing the same when they recall these moments of madness, along with the bite that could cost Suaréz his future in the EPL.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.