Donovan-Keane 2

Landon Donovan + Robbie Keane = getting it done


File this under “Clearly no coincidence.”

Landon Donovan has played two five-star rated matches since his return to the Galaxy lineup. Both of them happened to be matches in which Robbie Keane started alongside.

No offense to the young men filling here and there for the Irish international who meant so much to last year’s MLS Cup defense, nor to Mike Magee. But none of them are Robbie Keane.

So when we consider Donovan and his place in the U.S. game – And aren’t we all spending significant time these days biting into the gooey center of that one? – that part needs to be part of the equation. So far, he’s been all that and a Big Gulp alongside Keane … but perhaps just a small glass of water without the veteran Irishman.

Donovan had a goal and an assist as the Galaxy put a proper ground and pound on Sporting Kansas City on April 20. Keane’s iffy ankle kept him from starting again until Wednesday, when Donovan had a goal and two assists in a splashy 4-1 win at Philadelphia.

(MORE: Donovan should be past U.S. national team litmus tests)

If you identified the champs’ best pair of wins this year, those would be it. One dominant win over in-form (but a bit tired, in all fairness) Sporting KC, and a three-goal victory on the road, at a decent, if young Union side? Yep … that’ll do.

Those are the two matches in 2013 in which Donovan and Keane have both started. We’ve said it time and again, but it deserves to be noted yet again … Keane’s astute movement off the ball is about the best in MLS, or the best this side of Thierry Henry, at least.

Donovan certainly recognizes it … and then some:

I think everybody can see the difference [when Keane is on the field]. It’s not just the goals or the passing, but he occupies people. So when he’s not on the field, it’s easier for teams to key on a few of us. But when he is on the field, they have to worry about him, and that opens up a lot of space for the rest of us. And then if we’re good in the attacking third, we’re going to score goals.”

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
Leave a comment

Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
1 Comment

A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia