Britain Soccer Premier League

The day’s best from Opta Joe; going behind the Premier League numbers

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Opta Sports provides the numerical insight for today’s Premier League action, and we provide the context:

Where the “cause” begins and where the “effect” ends, or vice versa, is hard to say. But one thing is sure: none of this is one bit good for Jozy Altidore. He either missed a sitter today, or he got unlucky on a ball that caromed in too quickly for him to get a good look at it. Either way, he’s stuck on one goal for Sunderland this year.

It’s tempting to still see Rooney as a striker, but those who watch a lot of Manchester United recognize how much more he can be when asked. Just like earlier this week, when he fell into a more defensive role in the midfield. Either way, Rooney’s passing and instincts in playmaking positions are surely useful.

And people wonder why there are Manchester United conspiracy theories! (Seriously, Manchester United has good defenders, and they work hard around Old Trafford on the defensive side of the ball. But 76 matches? Come on!

So City remains on pace to topple Chelsea’s record for most goals in a Premier League season. Chelsea’s 2008-09 side, driven by Didier Drogba, holds the record at 103 goals.

I mean, Michael Bradley could not possibly hurt, right? Bradley is a thinking man’s midfielder, one also blessed with plenty of ability to maximize that sharp eye and keen sense of where to be on the field. He’s a terrific midfield organizer, and that means a lot in preventing goals – by turning back opportunities before they ever get the chance to become goals.

And think about how close Tony Pulis’ team came to shutting out Manchester City at home. This is the same City side that smashes team regularly by multiple goals at the Etihad. Yes, City had about 106 percent of the possession today, but Palace limited the home team’s quality chances.

And yet, the debate rages on about whether he has the stuff to play for Manchester City. See this post from earlier today.

Hilarious “Friends” spoof video ‘starring’ Messi, Ronaldo (video)

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Given the rivalry surrounding the two megawatt superstars plying their trade in Spain, you may be surprised to learn that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best of friends.

[ MORE: Top USMNT-Mexico rivalry moments ]

At least that’s what this spoof video conveys, as the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars help each other navigate tax season and toilet troubles.

Brilliant stuff, from FootbOle:

Top USMNT-Mexico moments: Looking back ahead of Saturday

PASADENA, CA - JUNE 25:  Landon Donovan #10 of United States celebrates his goal with teammates Carlos Bocanegra #3 and Alejandro Bedoya #22  against Mexico during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Championship at the Rose Bowl on June 25, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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You could argue its the biggest match between the U.S. and Mexico outside of the 2002 World Cup’s Round of 16, and there would be few arguments against you.

The United States and Mexico will tangle on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, with the winner advancing to the 2017 Confederations Cup finals in Russia.

It’s only so often that these rivals match up in a “do or die” match. Sure World Cup qualifiers carry critical import, but they don’t always become the decisive moment in the qualifying cycle.

[ MORE: Spurs’ teen shining at center back for U.S. U-23s ]

Aside from the aforementioned World Cup match and the first match in the rivalry — see 1934 below — no other match has carried as much international weight as Saturday.

So with anticipation high, let’s dance backward in time to the Yanks’ best moments in the rivalry. And let’s also imagine what would have to happen to put Saturday in the mix.

(Of course, our apologies to Mexican fans. We aren’t including the times you slapped American soccer in the face).

2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 — “Dos a Cero” to the fourth power

There is no more celebrated score line in USMNT history than the 2-0 hurting it put on Mexico in four successive home World Cup qualifiers.

2002 — World Cup Round of 16

Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan prodded an upset of the world’s then-No. 7 ranked nation, as the USMNT carried a feel of destiny through its best World Cup.

1934 — World Cup qualifier

Aldo Donnelli scored all four goals as the States won the first recorded match against Mexico, and it was a big one. The winner would go on to the 1934 tournament in Italy, while the loser would go on a tour of European friendlies. The States won, and wouldn’t win again until the qualifiers for the 1982 tournament.

2012 — First win at Azteca

It may’ve been a friendly, but Michael Orozco’s finish will go down as the Yanks’ first ever winner in the fortress of Mexico City.

1980 — World Cup qualifier

Though it meant little to the Yanks’ fate in the 1982 tournament — the U.S. finished last in a group with Mexico and Canada — it was the first win over El Tri in 46 years.