Britain Soccer Premier League

Premier League Roundup: Arsenal, Man City, Newcastle, Palace and Norwich all win

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Seven big games in the Premier League took center stage on Saturday, and there were plenty of ups and downs.

Arsenal stayed top with a clinical win over Fulham, while Man City once again racked up some goals as Cardiff were the latest victims at the Etihad.

Southampton blew a 2-0 lead at Sunderland in a 2-2 draw, while Aston Villa did the same away at Liverpool in two tremendous adverts for PL soccer.

Elsewhere there were some big wins for the teams at the bottom (Crystal Palace and Norwich) leaves plenty of sides in the mire as the relegation battle heats up.

Anyway, let’s get to it as we unravel a real treat of a Saturday in the Premier League. Recaps, views and videos coming your way.

Arsenal 2-0 Fulham

The Gunners were frustrated for large swathes of their match against Fulham but eventually came good in the second half as Santi Cazorla scored two goals, one with either foot. Arsenal stay top but the pressure of the title race is telling.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Stoke City

From zero to hero, Jason Puncheon scored the crucial goal against Stoke on Saturday after horribly missing a penalty against Tottenham last week. The man on loan from Southampton drilled a low shot into the goal past Jack Butland, as Palace are up to 16th.

Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa

Liverpoool rescued a point at home after falling 2-0 behind to Aston Villa at Anfield. Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke stunned the home crowd as Villa surged into a first half lead, but a goal from Daniel Sturridge before the break and a Steven Gerrard penalty saved the Reds blushes. Good point for Villa as Liverpool slip up.

Manchester City 4-2 Cardiff City

Another week, another four goals for Man City at home. The Citizens have bagged 103 goals in 34 games this season after Edin Dzeko, Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero all scored against Cardiff. The Bluebirds were better than the scoreline suggests as Craig Noone drew them level in the first half with a superb individual goal, but Fraizer Campbell’s goal in stoppage time was nothing more than a consolation.

Norwich City 1-0 Hull City

A massive, massive win for the Canaries as Ryan Bennett’s late goal sealed a priceless three points for Chris Hughton’s men. New Hull City striker Nikica Jelavic hit the post on his debut in a dull game that neither side really took control of. Although Norwich’s fans won’t care about that at all..

Sunderland 2-2 Southampton

A pulsating clash at the Stadium of Light, as Saints were 2-0 up within the opening 30 minutes after Jay Rodriguez and Dejan Lovren gave them a dream start. But a goal from Fabio Borini in the 31st minute gave Sunderland hope, and Adam Johnson equalized with 20 minutes to go. In truth the Saints should’ve won this, but a vital point for the Black Cats.

West Ham United 1-3 Newcastle

More misery for the Hammers, as Newcastle strolled into Upton Park and took all three points back to the North East with them. Two goals from Yohan Cabaye and a Loic Remy strike saw the Magpies ease to victory, despite Mike Williamson’s own goal putting the Irons back in it, as Sam Allardyce was left scratching his head.

Crew SC announce MLS Cup 2015 sold out 15 hours after qualifying

Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew SC
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The building formerly known as Crew Stadium has hosted its fair share of famous soccer games since it opened in 1999 — dos a cero, anyone? — and Sunday’s MLS Cup 2015 looks set to rank right up there among them.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Roughly 15 hours after advancing to this year’s MLS Cup, which they will host this Sunday (4 p.m. ET), Columbus Crew SC announced on Monday that MAPFRE Stadium is officially sold out.

Crew SC president of business operations Andy Loughnane addressed the fanbase in a blog post on the club’s official site Monday afternoon and said, “As of late this morning we are sold out of the extra capacity seating that was created for MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium. While there is a small chance that additional seats could be released for purchase as a result of MLS holds being returned, we are sold out of all known available seats.”

[ MORE: Beckham group abandons yet another stadium plan, site in Miami ]

Crew SC, making their second MLS Cup appearance in club history (2008 champions), will host first-time MLS Cup contestants, the Portland Timbers, on Sunday.

PL clubs combined to pay out $200 million in agent fees in 2015

Liverpool Unveil New Signing Christian Benteke
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What a time to be an agent in the footballing world, eh? The rich just keep getting richer and richer and richer.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The steady increase in transfer fees being paid for players — bad, good, great and amazing alike — has made quite a few “selling” clubs rich reach over the last decade or two, to be sure, but it’s also made another group of people obscenely rich: player agents.

As the soccer world has gone crazy with its “now, now, now” approach — managers must win now, or they’re fired; new signings must become stars now, or they’ll be sold; etc. — agents are the ones making out like bandits — no losses to be sustained on players who turn out to be flops; no future loss of wages due to taking “too long” to settle in and being labeled a flop — at the expense of clubs and, most cruelly, the players.

More than $195 million was paid out agents by Premier League clubs across the January and summer transfer windows, with Liverpool — ever the club in constant change — paying out $21.5 million in agents fees to remain top of the table for a second straight year. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were the four other clubs to top $15 million.

[ MORE: Premier League Payback — The Diego Costa era over at Chelsea? ]

Agents not only receive a fee when players change clubs through transfers, but can only be compensated again and again when one of their clients signs a new contract with their current club.

For instance, Wayne Rooney has signed at least four new contracts since joining Manchester United in 2004, the latest of which came barely three years after he was given a new five-year deal in Oct. 2010 upon handing in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Manchester City. Rooney’s current weekly wage is reported to be in the neighborhood of $450,000. His agent, Paul Stretford, will have received a sizable payday upon negotiating the deal in Feb. 2014.

At the end of the day, sports are little more than a business, and it’s the ones who play the game — the political game, that is — the best, and most ruthlessly, who are making out like bandits.

Puksas Award finalists: Somehow absent is USWNT’s Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd, USWNT
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FIFA announced on Monday its three-man list of finalists for the 2015 Puskas Award, handed out each year to the player who scored the “most beautiful” goal of the past calendar year.

[ MORE: 2015 Ballon d’Or finalists ]

The three men up for this year’s honor are Alessandro Florenzi (WATCH HERE), Lionel Messi (WATCH HERE) and Wendell Lira (WATCH HERE) — all scorers of fantastically beautiful goals this year.

That means Carli Lloyd, who made the original list of nominees before being whittled down to just three, is shockingly tragically scandalously criminally not a finalist for this year’s award. Reminder: This is the goal we’re talking about.

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

So, here’s the case for Lloyd:

  • She scored from midfield
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick in the 16th minute

How in the world is Carli Lloyd’s midfield goal to complete a 16-minute hat trick and win a World Cup final not a top-three goal of the year? You got some (more) explaining to do, FIFA.

Beckham group abandons latest plans for Miami MLS stadium

David Beckham
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All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.

Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:

“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”

“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Eastern Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”

MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.