Upcoming Club World Cup: Now with more vanishing spray

5 Comments

Remarkably, there are still people who don’t like the vanishing spray – the product commonly used by officials throughout North and South America to mark off distance from a free kick. I encountered this attitude while watching a game two weeks ago (though the good “journalist” I am, I’ve already forgotten which one it was). In a voice almost too crotchety and archetypal to be sincere, the commentator waxed nostalgic about a time when players would just ‘get on with it’ themselves, perhaps not realizing the irony: Vanishing spray is so effective because players didn’t used to just get on with it themselves. Since it began being used in Major League Soccer a few years ago, the only controversies about wall distance are where the referee draws his line in the wrong spot (see Will Johnson, earlier this season).

Thankfully FIFA, for all their faults, seem unwilling to live in the 1960s when it comes to soccer technology, which is why we’ll have vanishing spray at next month’s Club World Cup.

From the world governing body’s release:

After a successful trial during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey in July 2013 and very good overall feedback from the participating referees in the FIFA U-17 World Cup United Arab Emirates 2013, FIFA has decided to use the vanishing spray during the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco in December 2013 …

For FIFA Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca the vanishing spray is an important tool for the referees. The feedback that he received from his match officials was largely positive, as Busacca explained. “A large majority of the officials considered the spray as a useful and helpful tool,” he said. “The spray has a clear preventive effect: The distance was always respected, so no yellow card for not respecting the distance had to be given throughout the two tournaments played so far. After the Club World Cup in Morocco further evaluations will be made. We will review the results and discuss if the spray will be used also in future FIFA competitions.”

Between the lines: If everything goes well in Morocco, we’ll probably see the spray at Brazil 2014. Grumbling pundits bemoaning the namby-pamby world we’ve created won’t like it, but there really is no reason not to use such an obviously beneficial solution.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

(more…)

League Cup wrap: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

(more…)

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET