Seattle Sounders Introduce Clint Dempsey

Warm reception for near-hometown hero Clint Dempsey tonight?


It will be interesting to watch the reaction tonight during introductions at sold-out BBVA Compass Stadium, where U.S. international Clint Dempsey will make his second MLS appearance of 2013, likely starting for Sigi Schmid’s Sounders against Houston.

Dempsey is from the East Texas town of Nacogdoches, about two hours and change from the Houston Dynamo’s orange-washed downtown ground.

Early reports indicated Dempsey and his massive asking price may have been dangled before the Dynamo. The Dynamo, under partial ownership of boxer Oscar de la Hoya, don’t generally have the big money trees growing around the facility the way Seattle and Los Angeles seem to. So that was never going to happen.

In fact, Dynamo management quickly said that if Dempsey was ever available for the Orange, that’s news to them.

Still, you wonder about the reaction of Dynamo fans, about whether any hard feelings linger? (Unfair though they may be; maybe the Dynamo fans don’t read ProSoccerTalk as much as they should?)

It will also be interesting as we continue to watch what the Dempsey Delirium does to impact road attendance. It’s a big myth around MLS that namey names like Dempsey’s will move the attendance needle in a significant way. David Beckham did – but he’s a fairly unique figure, a true global icon. A few others have, but even then in mostly underwhelming measures.

Tonight’s match at BBVA Compass Stadium is sold out, but that’s not exactly unusual. Houston averages 19,916 per match this year, about 2,000 under capacity.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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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
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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