John Kerry, Joe Biden, Mauro Vieira

US VP Joe Biden: “My Lord, there is nothing quite like the World Cup”


United States Secretary of State John Kerry was known as “The Camel” in his days playing soccer for Yale. The long-striding runner preferred to play direct, would rather dribble than pass.

Vice president Joe Biden isn’t known for soccer at all, but he sure is known for being direct as well. For example, he’s not tip-toeing around the issue of how the USMNT can fare at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Well maybe not this specifically this summer’s World Cup. The vagueness is still a thing there.

From the AFP:

“When it comes to soccer, America is coming on,” Biden said.

“It’s not historically been our game… but 25 million people in the United States play soccer, 80 percent of them are young people who will be players and fans for years to come.

“The world should know, we’re coming ready to play.”

The two American politicians were on scene Monday for the World Cup trophy’s first stop in the US as “part of a global tour before heading later to Brazil.” Biden also served as a walking commercial for attending the tournament.

From The Washington Post:

“You have to attend the World Cup to [understand] what it means. It’s the most unusual sporting event I’ve ever attended, and I’ve attended thousands. … It’s in the air, it’s a palpable sense of energy that I’ve never quite experienced. It’s the most consequential sporting event in the world. … We have our Super Bowl, we have our World Series, the NBA Finals, March Madness, but my Lord, there is nothing quite like the World Cup.”

Politicians don’t generally strike a good tone when it comes to sports, and really what clear space do they have in most sports fans minds? But credit where it’s due: the U.S. has a former college soccer player in its highest ranks and a VP who knows how to stoke the fire for soccer.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.