Paul Lambert plays up competition between Brad Guzan, Shay Given

Leave a comment

Could Brad Guzan be fighting for his job? The U.S. international has been one Aston Villa’s best players since becoming the team’s starting goalkeeper two years ago, but with former number one Shay Given apparently in resurgent form, the former Chivas USA star is facing new competition. Could the former Ireland international potentially reclaim his spot?

According to one outlet, that’s a possibility, though perhaps playing to its audience, the Irish Examiner has put a decidedly pro-Given spin on Paul Lambert’s words. In a report headlined Given in line to end two-year wait for Premier League start, Lambert lauds the club’s depth at goalkeeper, but falls short of saying Given’s actually going to play this season:

Given has not made a Premier League appearance since the 3-1 defeat against Everton in August 2012, but with Jed Steer loaned to Doncaster Rovers he is now back fighting it out with Guzan to be the Villa number one.

Lambert said: “I have got two really, really top goalkeepers in Shay and Brad. They will be pushing each other and come the Stoke game I will select what I see as the strongest possible team.”

Later in the same piece, Given concedes he’s merely a backup (“I know Brad is the number one”), with more words from Lambert, printed elsewhere, showing the club’s manager is of like mind:

Guzan, who travelled to Brazil with the US World Cup squad, was at fault for two goals in Villa’s 3-1 friendly defeat at League One new boys Chesterfield.

But Lambert was not worried by the former Chivas USA man’s blunders.

“I said to him he better get them out (the errors) before the start of the season,” Lambert said light-heartedly.

“On a serious note, though, he only joined up with us in Houston and has not done much before that.

“The two years I have been here he’s been absolutely brilliant.

“He can make as many mistakes as he likes in pre-season games but when it’s for real I’m sure he’ll be right up for it.”

In fairness, we’re a U.S. site, we know people are interested in Guzan, so like our Irish colleagues, we may be letting our biases show. But Guzan’s playing time, as well as his coach’s words, suggest our biases may be pointed in the right direction, on this one.

MLS Playoff bracket, dates set: Chicago, Vancouver host Tues.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Major League Soccer’s playoff bracket is set. Our staff predictions are coming Tuesday before the first round match-ups, but here’s what we’ll be watching…

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

The chase begins with Chicago and the Red Bulls, and San Jose heading to Vancouver. The Quakes drew the ‘Caps just over a week ago, on Oct. 15.

First round
(E3) Chicago vs. (E6) New York Red Bulls — 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday
(W3) Vancouver vs. (W6) San Jose — 10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday
(E4) Atlanta vs. (E5) Columbus — 7 p.m. ET Wednesday
(W4) Houston vs. (W5) Sporting KC — 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Conference semifinals
(W1) Portland vs.  San Jose, Houston, or Sporting KC
(W2) Seattle vs. Houston, Sporting KC, or Vancouver
(E1) Toronto vs. New York Red Bulls, Atlanta, or Columbus
(E2) New York City vs. Atlanta, Columbus, or Chicago

Conference finals
Eastern Conference — Nov. 21 and Nov. 28 or 29
Western Conference — Nov. 21 and Nov. 30

MLS Cup Final
At finalist with best record — 4 p.m. ET Dec. 9

Follow @NicholasMendola

Who will replace Koeman at Everton?

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Where will Everton turn in search of their next manager?

U23s coach David Unsworth is the front-runner to take over, according to several betting sites — not that we’d partake in such madness — and the 44-year-old boasts 312 career appaearances for the Toffees.

[ MORE: Everton sacks Ronald Koeman ]

As for who else could be in frame for the gig, there are names (quite) familiar and new.

David Moyes — This one is an eyebrow-raiser, as Moyes has had little if any success since leaving Everton and ended his time at Sunderland with a sexist takedown of a journalist. But the 54-year-old Scot spent more than 11 years at Everton before leaving for Manchester United, and it’s not like the Toffees wanted him to skip town. He was thrice League Manager of the Year at Goodison Park.

Sean Dyche — The Burnley boss has overachieved time and again at Turf Moor, and the Clarets are one of the smallest outfits the Premier League has ever seen. A move to Everton could be a big and safe enough step to warrant his affection.

Carlo Ancelotti — He’s said he’s not returning to a manager’s seat this season, but the Italian may relish the chance to take a skillful team and organize it into its rightful potential. And we think he’s do a magnificent job.

Chris Coleman — He’s waffled on staying in his position at Wales, and the club’s absence from this summer’s World Cup must have him eyeing the club scene. He’s hasn’t led a club since 2012, having led AEL, Coventry City, Real Sociedad, and Fulham.

Phil Neville — The Manchester United and Everton playing legend doesn’t have first chair experience, but may be able to rally the troops. His latest stint was as an assistant in brother Gary’s tough, short campaign at Valencia.

Although… his recent prediction record isn’t hot.

Longshots: Mikel Arteta, Luis Enrique, Eddie Howe, Thomas Tuchel, Sam Allardyce, Manuel Pellegrini, Frank De Boer.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Three seriously injured, 120 detained in Bruges hooligan riot

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BRUSSELS (AP) Authorities are investigating a hooligan riot which seriously injured three people and forced Brugge police to detain 120 following the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy ]

Local police chief Dirk Van Nuffel says one policeman was among the seriously wounded as authorities sought to contain a brawl between Belgian fans reinforced by others who had come from the Netherlands.

By Monday morning all were released but investigators were still seeking to see who was at the core of the fighting. Van Nuffel says such hooligan fighting “hadn’t been seen for years.”

Everton fires Ronald Koeman

2 Comments

A 5-2 home loss versus Arsenal sent Everton into the Premier League drop zone, and that’s apparently a bridge too far for the Toffees when it comes to their managerial position.

Ronald Koeman is out at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Who will replace him? ]

Everton sits 18th in the Premier League with eight points, it’s minus-11 goal differential second-worst in the top flight. Its 18 goals conceded are third-worst, and only three clubs have scored fewer goals than its seven.

The Toffees won two rounds in the Europa League, beating Ružomberok and Hajduk Split, but have lost to Atalanta and Lyon while drawing Apollon Limassol in Group E play.

Everton faces Chelsea in League Cup play on Wednesday before a critical early season match at Leicester City on Sunday.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

Follow @NicholasMendola