Drogba headshot

Didier Drogba’s coming to Seattle this summer? Quick thoughts on a thin rumor

4 Comments

Tuesday’s Major League Soccer rumor mills erupted, spewing enough fire to burn down the rest of the factory that churns out all the rumor mills. From the resulting flotsam, a Seattle Times beat man was able to collect the particulates of a story, though with the team refused to treat it as anything other than rumor.

That didn’t stop Sounders fans from indulging their fantasies. Didier Drogba may be coming to Seattle, which means people are getting excited on the Internet.

And who can blame them. Given the certainty behind some of the talk (see the tweets linked in the Times’ story), this looks like either a very strong rumor or an incredibly huge whiff. If you’re inclined toward one camp or the other, just remember last year. Remember the rumors that had Kaká, Frank Lampard, and Diego Forlán arriving on these shores. Major League Soccer’s definitely in the midst of a good run, having landed players like Jermain Defoe, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley, but as one of the most recognizable soccer players in the world, Drogba is more Kaká than Defoe.

There’s also the nature of the tweets Joshua Mayers (as good as they come on MLS beats) links in his post. One person is in media with beIN Sports, but he’s also speaking like a regular fan. It can often be confusing, but when media isn’t posting “breaking,” “can confirm,” or “this is not a joke” with their tweet, they should be allowed to speculate like normal people. Ultimately, it’s only Twitter, and although people do break stories on that platform, most of the time they’re just engaging the conversation.

The other tweet is less ambiguous, but it’s not exactly Woodward talking to Deep Throat. It is essentially saying ‘I know a guy who knows a guy who says Drogba’s going to Seattle.’ Another guy who knows a guy:

But you know what? Sometimes a guy who knows a guy is right. So for the sake of this post (Not Gonna Lie®), I’m going to fully embrace it. I’m going to suspend disbelief, accept this as a legitimate rumor, and consider what a world with a viable Drogba-to-MLS rumor would look like.

Let’s go Full Internet on this one (insert: whimpering puppy riding an orca into Isengaard dot gif). And when you go Full Internet, you make a list:

1. We’re beyond scoffing at this stuff, especially as it concerns Seattle

We live in a post-Dempsey utopia. What 1980s were to Quaaludes and stock fraud the 2010s will be to MLS spending with The Price Is Right’s oversized checks. Any day now, Don Garber will drag himself out of country club on his face before playing giant slalom with his Lamborghini. Keep it together, Commish.

This era of relative largesse means a whole new level of player is within MLS’s reach. It’s not just glamour sites like New York that can acquire an Henry. In MLS’s Quaaludes-driven binge, spenders like Seattle, Toronto, and Portland will be able to lure the Drogba-esque talents of the world. And when New York and Miami come in? David Justice will not pay for his own soda!

This is MLS’s new world order. You remember Breaking Madden? Well, this is MLS’s latest attempt to Break Football Manager. (And just like MLS, it’s a lot more modest.)

source: AP2. Can you imagine how people will react if Seattle DOES get him?

Prediction: Not well. Seattle already is still dealing with the backlash of their quick rise to prominence, with every retread national media story about Soccer Mecca met with eye rolls from the rest of MLS’s collective fan base. We get it, they scream every time an editor assigns 1500 to the annual ‘This Is Why Seattle Rules’ piece. After five years, a lot of fans are tired it. (But please, still read my annual Seattle piece.)

Here’s the problem, for those growing tired of Seattle: It’s not going away. In fact, if you’re annoyed by the Sounders getting so much love, it’s probably going to get worse. General manager/owner Adrian Hanauer is ambitious. The team is going to go after people. And when they snare somebody like Dempsey or Drogba, the national outlets are going to cover them. It’s not just that it’s a story. It’s a story people seem to want to hear. Again and again and again …

Just imagine how much time they’ll get if they ever made an MLS Cup. Or win it? I’m telling you, come to grips with it now. The Seattle Sounder story is not going anywhere soon. So let’s all lotus position and ohhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

3. Obafemi Martins would probably be gone

Obafemi Martins was one of the highest paid players in Major League Soccer last year, and he didn’t play like it.

That’s okay. It took Tim Cahill a little while to come around, too, but Tim Cahill didn’t spend his first offseason dropping hints he wanted to move back to Europe. With a résumé detailing a vagabond’s past, Martins has yet to quell doubts in Seattle.

If Drogba’s coming in, Martins will almost certainly be gone. Dempsey and Osvaldo Alonso occupy the team’s other two Designated Player spots, and one of those contacts is unmovable. If Drogba is coming in, expect Seattle would almost have to allow Martins to kind another home.

Then again, Matíás Laba’s still a Red.

source: Getty Images4. Didier Drogba will probably wear down

Drogba wasn’t exactly a pillar of health during his last days with Chelsea. Since then, at stops in China and Turkey, his workload has decreased, but during last year’s African Cup of Nations, we saw what happened when the Ivorian was faced with a series of important games. His time had to be closely monitored, and he didn’t have an effective tournament (scoring once as Les Elephants were eliminated in the quarterfinals).

Drogba turns 36 in March, and while he still has the quality to succeed when playing, he doesn’t have the ability to avoid being worn down. Playing on CenturyLink’s turf would only compound that, as will the demanding nature of MLS’s fall schedule.

Perhaps Sigi Schmid and his staff would manage Drogba as effectively as Roberto Di Matteo did in Chelsea’s 2012 run to the Champions League title. Then again, Drogba was two years younger.

5. And if there’s one team that should avoid  another mid-season shakeup, it’s Seattle

Slotting in a striker mid-year isn’t as traumatic as bringing in a new midfield focal point, but if you’re Seattle, why would you even entertaining the idea of repeating 2013? Granted, a talent like Drogba’s can justify a lot of risk, but less than one year after the Dempsey shakeup was seen as a major factor in Seattle’s 2013 fade, they might bring in another big personality? Somebody who provides a defining presence on the field and off?

Special talents require special consideration. But still.

6. Didier Drogba is going to HATE Major League Soccer officials.

Potentially disgraceful, even:

(Warning: NSFW, language at the end.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toTx8wet820]

WATCH, STREAM: Premier League schedule, Week 22

Leave a comment

Week 22 of the 2016-17 Premier League season is here.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Liverpool host Swansea City (7:30 a.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) at Anfield looking to grab a win which would close the gap on leaders Chelsea, while Swansea are scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table.

Stoke City host Manchester United (10 a.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) with Jose Mourinho’s men aiming to extend their unbeaten run to 13 games in the Premier League. At the same time Crystal Palace host Everton (10 a.m. ET live CNBC and online via NBC Sports.com) as Sam Allardyce looks to grab his first win as Palace boss in the PL against the in-form Toffees.

[ STREAM: Premier League “Goal Rush” ]

Rounding off Saturday is a big game at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur (12:30 p.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com). Pep Guardiola has already conceded the title but Spurs have a real chance of Chelsea as Maurico Pochettino’s side are chasing a seventh-straight PL win.

On Sunday, Leicester visit Southampton (7 a.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) with both the Foxes and Saints in real danger of being sucked into the relegation battle. Then Arsenal welcome Burnley to the Emirates Stadium (9:15 a.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) with the Gunners hoping to stay in the title hunt, while the Clarets seek a first away win of the season.

Rounding off Week 22, leaders Chelsea welcome Hull City to Stamford Bridge (11:30 a.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) as Antonio Conte had Diego Costa back fit and available but the Blues will be wary of new Hull boss Marco Silva after a positive start to his spell at the KCOM Stadium.

You can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App, plus you can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday for all the goals as they go in. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App,

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here. They are available soon after the final whistle, but rights limit us to a certain number each week. Looking for game highlights? Try this. Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. Swansea City – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Stoke City vs. Manchester United – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Everton – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Watford – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Brom vs. Sunderland – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Middlesbrough vs. West Ham – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur – NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
7 a.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
9:15 a.m. ET: Arsenal vs. Burnley – NBCSN [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. ET: Chelsea vs. Hull City – NBCSN [STREAM

Guardiola has “said goodbye to title”; praises Spurs, Pochettino

Leave a comment

Ahead of Manchester City’s home game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) Pep Guardiola has no hopes of his team winning the Premier League title this season.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live

Guardiola, 46, looked dejected after City’s 4-0 defeat at Everton last weekend — his heaviest league defeat as a manager — and with City losing five games already this season and trailing league leaders Chelsea by 10 points, he reiterated his belief that any title chances are over.

[ VIDEO: Spurs’ stunning new stadium

Speaking to the media against of the clash with Mauricio Pochettino‘s in-form Spurs, Guardiola has given up on winning the PL trophy.

“We already said goodbye to the title. I expect it to be similar to the first game against them,” Guardiola said.

So what are Spurs’ biggest strengths under Pochettino?

“Tottenham are a good team,” Guardila said. “They are really playing good. As a fan of football, I love to see them. They are brilliant. It is the third season there; they play how he wants. His positional game is really good. It is quite similar to Chelsea but they have some different movements. They move a little bit more sometimes – Mousa Dembele goes left. The players are in good positions; the ball goes there.

“It is a really good team – strong physically, with good build-up and good quality between the lines with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. They can use long balls with Harry Kane. They are strong enough but they have the quality.”

That quality has seen Spurs win six games on the spin in the Premier League and they haven’t won seven league games on the spin since May 1967.

With the criticism coming Pep’s way, he deflected the attention away from goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who continues to have a tough debut season in England. Guardiola instead said both he and his players need to improve if they’re at least going to finish in the top four of the Premier League.

In the big games this season City have steeped up for their manager, beating Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, plus Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League. However, they were easily beaten 2-0 by Tottenham back in October at White Hart Lane and Pep is under no illusion that Saturday’s clash will be one of City’s toughest of an increasingly tough season.

Confidence is not high at the Etihad but City certainly has the quality to beat any team on their day, especially if they can eradicate the defensive mistakes which have cost them dear in recent weeks.

Premier League Preview: Man City vs. Tottenham

Leave a comment
  • Spurs aiming to win seven-straight PL games
  • Man City 10 points off leaders Chelsea
  • Tottenham beat City 2-0 in October

A massive clash between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur takes place on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ]

Pep Guardiola has all but conceded the Premier League title following City’s humbling 4-0 defeat at Everton last time out, but Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino are on a roll with six-straight PL wins under their belt and are seven points off leaders Chelsea.

Guardiola and Pochettino clashed as both players and managers during their time living and playing in Barcelona (Guardiola at FC Barcelona and Pochettino at Espanyol) and after Guardiola’s dominance in Spain and Germany as a coach, it is Pochettino who goes into this game as the favorite with Harry Kane and Dele Alli in superb form for in-form Spurs.

[ VIDEO: Spurs’ stunning new stadium

In team news City will be without the suspended Fernandinho but Gabriel Jesus could make his debut, while Spurs will be without the injured duo of Jan Vertonghen and Erik Lamela.

What they’re saying

Pochettino on Spurs’ improvement since he took charge: “It’s true that now we are in a very good period and all that is related to Tottenham is exciting – you can see here, the new stadium, the squad – all that is happening is very positive. It is true that in two-and-a-half years before I arrived here, you related Tottenham some good, some not so good and today it is looking like we are the best team in the world. That is very good. The hard work is to keep that feeling. It will be difficult but we will try.”

Guardiola on Tottenham’s style of play: “Tottenham dominate really high and are one of the best teams in the Premier League. They are quite similar to Chelsea but they move a little bit more. They know exactly where the other players are. They have the quality to move in small spaces.”

Prediction

Somehow I just think Man City will come out flying after all of the recent criticism and put in a big performance. In the big games this season they’ve stood up, beating Manchester United and Arsenal and leading against Chelsea before collapsing in the second half. Call me crazy, but I think Pep’s men will bag a big 2-0 win to momentarily close the gap to Chelsea to seven points.

Klopp says Liverpool have “had things harder” than title rivals

Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp is happy with the resilience shown by his Liverpool side as they’ve won just once in five games in all competitions so far in 2017.

[ VIDEO: Spurs’ stunning new stadium ]

Klopp’s men have drawn two Premier League encounters, while a weakened Reds side also drew with lower league Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round (before beating them in a replay) and lost at Southampton in the first leg of their EFL Cup semifinal.

Ahead of their clash with Swansea City on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Klopp believes his team are battling through well after having four games in 10 days.

“In recent weeks we’ve had things harder than any of the other top teams and I’m really pleased with how my team has coped,” Klopp said. “We’re really looking forward to this game. I don’t know when it happened but in England every game now is like a final. Swansea are trying to survive. I don’t know when the title run-in will start, maybe now and we’re in the race. I hope for a special atmosphere tomorrow.”

Klopp has come under criticism for fielding weakened teams against Plymouth and Southampton in the cup competitions, but surely Liverpool’s focus has to be on the Premier League and challenging for the title? If they beat bottom of the table Swansea on Saturday then Klopp’s side will momentarily go four points behind leaders Chelsea who play against Hull City on Sunday.

Still, Klopp complaining about the amount of games Liverpool has to play is nothing compared to what the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal will face in the coming weeks. With European action starting back next month, plus all four of the aforementioned sides still in the FA Cup (Manchester United are also in the EFL Cup too), Liverpool won’t be the club complaining about a fixture backlog.

The Reds may be struggling to stay on top of things right now but this time next month Klopp can have no complaints as Liverpool’s competitors battle with severe fixture congestion. That said, there are plenty of theorists out there suggesting that Klopp’s Gegenpressing methods often leave his teams tired towards the end of the campaign. If that is the case then Liverpool must get as many points on the board as soon as possible, starting with what looks like an easy home win against Swansea on Saturday.

There is never an easy game in the Premier League and it seems like Klopp knows his players are feeling the strain after a busy few weeks.