NBC's lead soccer announcer Arlo White

Manchester United vs. Liverpool, Sherwood’s struggles, MLS mega-match – View from the Booth, with Arlo White

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When watching soccer on TV, have you ever sat there and wondered what the man behind the microphone really thinks?

Maybe this will go someway to helping with that.

In the latest edition of “View from the Booth” we chat with NBC Sports’ lead soccer announcer Arlo White about Tim Sherwood’s future at Tottenham Hotspur, Cardiff’s survival hopes, a massive “Rivalry Sunday” in the Premier League this weekend, which big teams could slip up and much more.

(MORE: VIEW FROM THE BOOTH ARCHIVE)

You can hear Arlo calling live games every weekend on NBC Sports Network and NBC, and watch every single game available live online via NBC Sports Live Extra,

So, let’s get to it.

With Tottenham’s capitulation against Chelsea on Saturday, is that the end of their top four chances? Do you fear for Tim Sherwood’s future… like he does?

I’ll let Tim Sherwood answer your question. After the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea, his response was this; “We’re miles away. You can’t finish top four if you can’t beat the top teams.” Spurs have won at Old Trafford. They also beat Everton at White Hart Lane in a big game recently. But against the true class of the Premier League, they have been blown away too many times. They’ve conceded 11 goals to Manchester City, they conceded five at home to Liverpool and now four at Chelsea. My fear for Spurs is that they’ll finish fifth and end up in the Europa League again.

I thought Sherwood devised a very interesting tactical plan at Stamford Bridge. I’m certain that they felt really good about things at half time. Bentaleb and Sandro were terrific in the center of the park and Kyle Walker was taking up some decent positions on both sides of the ball. But it all unraveled in the blink of an eye, and from a performance that should have been a great source of confidence for Spurs, it became a hammering and soon after, a potentially damaging post-match chastisement from the manager.

source: Getty Images
Is Sherwood’s time up at Spurs after three months? The English manager hasn’t done much wrong, according to Arlo.

Sherwood’s appointment has always had a temporary feel to it, but Tottenham’s results and performances have improved in comparison to the previous regime. It wasn’t Sherwood who sold Gareth Bale last summer, and it wasn’t Sherwood who recruited so many expensive players with the subsequent windfall (none of whom started at Stamford Bridge.)

(MORE: Cracks starting to appear in Sherwood’s leadership at Spurs)

As for the future, the Spurs job will be coveted by some very big managerial names, not least Luis van Gaal. Sherwood himself admits that he couldn’t be a number two at the club, and he’s unlikely to want to head back to the academy. If he is relieved of his duties, he would depart with his head held high, with a years severance money in his pocket and some valuable experience to take to another club. His talents would surely be utilized somewhere.

With Cardiff City beating Fulham in the relegation six-pointer, how important was that result? And has it complicated the fight for survival at the bottom of the table?

It was a huge result. I saw Cardiff lose narrowly at Tottenham in their previous game, and there were signs of life for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side. Their next two games are extremely tough outings against Everton and Liverpool, but it’s the run of five games after that which I think will define their season. They face West Brom, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland. The Barclays Premier League is a tough place. It’s survival of the fittest. For Cardiff City, who have gone through all the trauma and turmoil that they have this season (most of it self inflicted), it is a dream run of games to try and save themselves.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Fulham are clearly struggling whilst West Brom are in free fall. Let’s see how Sunderland, who gave such a good account of themselves in the Capital One cup final, fair against relegation rivals Palace and Norwich in their next two games.

Looking ahead to this weekend, two massive derbies are playing out on Sunday, Manchester United vs. Liverpool and Tottenham vs. Arsenal, how do you see these games going?

source: AP
Liverpool and Manchester United continue their bitter rivalry at Old Trafford on Sunday live on NBCSN.

I bet Liverpool can hardly wait to get to Old Trafford on Sunday. They had a weekend off and must be raring to go. All the talk over the last couple of weeks has been about Chelsea and their new found grip on the title. Liverpool will still have a massive say in that, particularly as Chelsea have to go to Anfield in April.

My formative years following Football were in the 1980’s. Back then, Liverpool were the kings and United simply the pretenders. Then came Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s a long time since Liverpool visited Old Trafford as the title chasers, with United the also rans. The problem for the chasing pack at the moment is that Chelsea always seem to have extra games, and they keep winning them!

By the time Liverpool kick off on Sunday, Chelsea could be ten points clear of them if they win at Villa Park on Saturday, albeit having played two games more. The Reds have lost six consecutive games at Old Trafford in all competitions, but they’ll be hoping for a repeat of their last victory, a 4-1 romp in 2009. Now that would make a statement.

(WATCH: PST Extra – Traditional giants of England tangle this weekend)

I’ll be at the North London derby which follows the game at Old Trafford. Arsenal need a statement victory themselves. A performance that says to their rivals that they are still in the title race. Their response to going out of the Champions League last season was incredible, and they need more of the same this season to challenge for the top prize. It’s been a decent week for the Gunners just when it was all threatening to fall apart. They won through to the FA Cup semi final, saw the Cup field depleted by Manchester City’s defeat to Wigan and then exited the Champions League to Bayern Munich with their pride in tact. The imminent return of Aaron Ramsey could provide a huge boost.

source: Getty Images
Man City’s midweek UCL defeat to Barcelona could see them slip up away at Hull on Saturday.

Perhaps Emmanuel Adebayor holds the key for Spurs. He seems to love the big game atmosphere, having scored 8 goals in his eleven north London derbies. Spurs will need him firing at the Lane on Sunday.

Chelsea and Manchester City both face tricky away games this weekend, which one of these title contenders is more likely to slip up?

Based on pure form, then Chelsea are the least likely to slip up when they travel to Aston Villa. They didn’t play in midweek, and they have the late kick off. Chelsea are purring nicely and must be favorites for the title despite Jose’s repeated assertion that the table isn’t “realistic.”

Manchester City spent a long time chasing Barcelona players around the enormous Nou Camp pitch on Wednesday night and they have a quick turn around at Hull City in the Saturday lunch time kick off. It’s the sort of game that City struggled in earlier this season, but they desperately need to win. The free scoring City of a few weeks ago have cooled off considerably recently. They’ve only managed eight goals in their last eight games. All of a sudden, talk of scoring records and unprecedented thrashings has ceased, but like Liverpool, City are free to concentrate purely on the Premier League run in.

source: AP
With Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley on board, Toronto’s clash with Dempsey and Seattle will be a stunner on Saturday.

Finally, what else are you looking forward to this weekend?

Some MLS action! The Seattle Sounders against Toronto FC on NBCSN on Saturday afternoon. It’s a big day for the league. U.S. national team stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley will be on the field together, and that is a huge deal.

(WATCH: Seattle vs. Toronto FC, NBCSN, 4:30pm ET, Saturday)

Obafemi Martins and Jermaine Defoe playing up top for either side, is a terrific prospect. This game will showcase where MLS is heading as a league.

Have a great weekend everyone…

Mike Francesa rants about Sports Illustrated’s Copa America coverage, Lionel Messi cover

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MAY 11: Copa America 2016 is displayed during the Soccerex Americas Forum Mexico City Day 1 at Camino Real Polanco Hotel on May 11, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Victor Chavez/Getty Images for Soccerex)
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Clueless clown Sports talk host Mike Francesa is known for being a crotchety, opinionated old man who has trouble adapting to changing times.

He’s had plenty of sparkling moments where he displays his ignorance room to grow when it comes to the world outside of New York sports, such as his knowledge of the Catholic hierarchy or his love for synergistic network promotion. He is the Tommy Wiseau of sports broadcasting.

So when Mike’s beloved childhood magazine Sports Illustrated soiled its cover with a picture of Lionel Messi, whom apparently he nor any of his staffers know anything about beyond his last name, the man was enraged.

You can listen to the whole segment here. Let’s break this gold mine down.

I got my SI, and the cover is “Summer of Soccer.” Where is the summer of soccer going to be? I have no idea. Now, I know I get accused of knowing nothing about soccer, because I don’t. I know absolutely zero about soccer, and that’s more than I want to know. Sorry! Just being honest. It’s a little late for me and soccer.

So…uh…why are you talking about it then?

On the eve of ‘Copa America’ SI has how many pages in its magazine this week…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10…11…pages on this event. 11 pages, and I can’t find anybody who’s ever heard of it. 11 pages…you gotta be kidding me! No wonder they can’t give them away. This is a magazine that, as a child, I used to read it from cover to cover.”

So Mike thinks magazines don’t sell because they cover soccer, and he thinks that because he never read about soccer as a child, he shouldn’t have to read about that dang sport now.

He proceeds to then ask his cohost/producer/sidekick if he’d ever heard of Lionel Messi, to which his cohost/producer/sidekick sheepishly says he’s heard of him but only by his last name. Let’s just skip that part.

I’m sure to soccer fans this is an enormous event, which God bless them, I have no issue with. But mainstream America is not paying…doesn’t even know…if I go out and poll the newsroom, no one’s ever heard of this event. My guys in here didn’t even know what it was…nor have I! Nobody’s ever mentioned it. Has anyone ever called you [producer] to promote the Copa America on my show? [he says no]. If you’re going to promote something in sports you’re going to do it on this show. Bottom line is no one’s ever done that.

Guys, we should all just go home, we forgot to promote soccer on Francesa. Fuggetaboutit.

He then stumbled through reading what the Copa America actually is and what it entails, with an overly forced exasperated tone just to prove how frustrated he is with Sports Illustrated. Shame on them! Oh, and in this part he calls FIFA “Fie-fuh,” confuses the Olympics with an actual team that’s playing, and thinks it will be played in France. Yawn. Let’s wrap this up.

To spend 12 pages in SI on that? I mean, listen, I understand there are people here who love soccer, and they’ll be glued to it, and watch it on TV, which I understand, but man, how is that going to be part of mainstream America? I don’t get it.

You know, I don’t get it either. We should all just go home. Go home everyone! Fun’s over, we’ve been found out.

I left out the part where he calls Sports Illustrated “a sad reminder of the of a different world.” Ironic considering who it’s coming from.

For the record, callers lit Francesa up after this, so some justice was served. If you can’t get enough of the Francesa soccer shenanigans, check out this MLS read he attempts to get through, which takes him two and a half minutes and our hero realizes that NYCFC doesn’t have a “nickname” and that David Villa is pronounced like Pancho Villa. Stuff of legends.

Cellar dwelling Houston Dynamo, Owen Coyle decide to part ways

TORONTO, ON - MAY 10:  Head Coach Owen Coyle of the Houston Dynamo smiles prior to an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC at BMO Field on May 10, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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A week ago, Owen Coyle was whispered as possibly leaving the Houston Dynamo to lead Celtic.

With that opening filled by Brendan Rodgers, the Dynamo and Coyle cut ties anyway.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

Coyle struggled to pick up the pieces left behind by Dominic Kinnear in Houston, and the Dynamo are dead last in Major League Soccer after a quarter of the season.

On Wednesday night, the Dynamo announced that Coyle wanted to be closer to his family in England and would be leaving the club immediately.

From HoustonDynamo.com:

“I asked Chris (Canetti) if I could speak with him today and I explained to him the challenge of being away from my family and how we all want the best for Houston Dynamo,” Coyle said. “I want to wish all members of the staff, from owner Gabriel Brener to president Chris Canetti to general manager Matt Jordan, everyone has been such a source of support, along with the players and the technical staff. I’d like to thank the Dynamo supporters, who have been outstanding. We have a brilliant club, and I have no doubt success is just around the corner.”

The Dynamo went 14W-21L-11T during his reign, but have also been severely lacking in talent. The long delay from acquiring Cubo Torres to getting him on the pitch was one of the many things that frustrated progress in Houston.

Coyle is best known for his time with Bolton Wanderers, though that ended early in a Championship season following relegation. Houston is 3W-7L-2T this season, and has Vancouver up next.

Wade Barrett and a pair of Dynamo assistants will lead the club in the interim.

Three things we learned from the late USMNT win over Ecuador

FRISCO, TX - MAY 25:  Frickson Erazo #3 of Ecuador battle for control of the ball against Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States in the first half during an International Friendly match at Toyota Stadium on May 25, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Darlington Nagbe was the star against Ecuador, giving the United States the late 1-0 win in Frisco. There wasn’t much to take away from the match, but one attacking setup certainly performed better than the other, and that was the biggest talking point.

[ RECAP – United States earns late win over Ecuador ]

Three things we learned

1 – When the US plays good defense, it has a creativity problem.

This isn’t anything new, as teams who sit back obviously will have less of the ball. But this isn’t exactly that. The US defended quite well through the first 45 minutes, and they held the majority of the possession, but they failed to do much with it. It resulted in…

That. Yuck. It was horrid to watch, and is frustrating given the level of competition being faced compared to the level of competition to come.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings against Ecuador ]

2 – Does the Pulisic-Wood-Nagbe lineup have more to offer?

The United States began with Clint Dempsey isolated up front, supported by Gyasi Zardes and Graham Zusi, with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones sitting deep. That lineup was utter trash in the attacking half, producing one good chance in the first half which Zardes flubbed. When Klinsmann switched things up soon after halftime, bringing on Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, Darlington Nagbe, and Alejandro Bedoya, the attack began to show life. It certainly helped that all those substitutes were placed in their natural positions, something not always a given for Klinsmann. This may give the US manager a good look at the more creative setup, and could bode well for the aforementioned players heading into the Copa America. There are obvious downsides to this lineup, such as lack of experience, but it might be worth the risk, especially with those players much more likely to be contributors in 2018 given their age.

3 – Christian Pulisic can actually be a useful piece this summer

On for the final half-hour, the young Borussia Dortmund winger provided positive touches along the left flank. He created a few opportunities for Bobby Wood and Graham Zusi, a promising development to push back against the “he’s not ready” crowd. Pulisic was electric down the left, and was vital in the push the last 20 minutes. It’s just 20 minutes, but it’s a promising small sample size.

Player ratings from the USMNT’s late win over Ecuador

FRISCO, TX - MAY 25:  Brad Guzman #1 of the United States blocks a shot against Ecuador in the first half during an International Friendly match at Toyota Stadium on May 25, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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“Fits and starts” is a good way to describe the United States friendly against Ecuador in Texas on Wednesday, a match that ended 1-0 to the hosts after a controlling second half.

The Yanks took more than 20 minutes to get their act together, and then had a bit of trouble penetrating La Tricolor’s back four.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

The second half, however, was straight-up dominant. The lack of finish was troubling, but Darlington Nagbe took care of that. The Portland Timbers man not only scored, but also piled vindication on supporters who couldn’t wait to see him up high, and Michael Bradley deep.

And Christian Pulisic, well, he’s a swoon-worthy talent.

STARTING XI

Brad Guzan — 8 — Didn’t have a ton to do, but did it very well. A welcome improvement from the Aston Villa keeper.

Fabian Johnson — 6 — Probably deserves a 7, but that missed trap of a Jermaine Jones cross was just so ugly.

Steve Birnbaum — 6 — Very shaky early, but settled into the game.

FRISCO, TX - MAY 25:  Christian Noboa #6 of Ecuador takes a shot against John Brooks #6 of the United States and Brad Guzman #1 of the United States in the first half during an International Friendly match at Toyota Stadium on May 25, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
 (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

John Brooks (off 78′) — 7 — Played very well after a weak opening 10 minutes or so. Still takes chances like the center back version of Jermaine Jones, but those chances came off well on Wednesday.

DeAndre Yedlin — 6 — Hit and miss from the right back, who had a heck of a task in dealing with Jefferson Montero. Still, the defensive improvement is impossible to ignore.

Kyle Beckerman (off HT) — 6 — Might’ve picked up an injury. Hard-nosed as usual, but feels like he’s a single lost step away from not fitting the bill.

Jermaine Jones (off 64′) — 6 — Playing as an attack-minded mid with some defensive responsibilities may be the role he was meant to play, and his early second half was promising before subbing off for Bedoya.

Michael Bradley — 7 — No surprise that he — and the States — thrived once Klinsmann moved the Toronto FC man deeper in the midfield.

Gyasi Zardes (off HT) — 5 — The effort was there, as were the runs. The kid works hard and has a brain for the game, but his first touch betrayed him once again. Should’ve been 1-0.

Graham Zusi (off, 88′)– 7 — You know what you’re getting with Zusi, and the Sporting KC man was one of several players who played an assist-worthy ball in this one. Bedoya tapped his 72nd minute pass just wide of the far post.

Clint Dempsey (off 63′) — 5 —  Will be kicking himself for a poor first touch on an early second half cross from Bobby Wood. Didn’t get much service in the first half, but did play a great ball to Zardes.

Substitutes

Darlington Nagbe (on HT) — 8 — This guy. We all knew he had it in him, even Klinsmann after a long enough wait. He was the best player on the pitch in the second half.

Bobby Wood (on HT) — 6 — Missed a few key chances, but set up Nagbe’s winner.

Christian Pulisic (on 63′) — 7 — Dangerous, lively, and that touch. More of him, please.

Alejandro Bedoya (on 64′) — 6 — Should’ve scored, but didn’t. Also probably should’ve started, so we’ll cut him a bit of slack.

Matt Besler (on 78′) — 6 — Totally fine, but Ecuador rarely tested during his tenure.

Michael Orozco (on 88′) — N/A