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Swansea’s decision to fire Bob Bradley defies logic in every capacity

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A day removed from Bob Bradley‘s firing after just 11 matches in charge of Swansea City, things still don’t add up.

Opinions have been wildly hurdled at walls throughout the soccer world, most of which really don’t stick all that well. The ones that do all point to the same conclusion.

What on Earth is the Swansea board thinking?

It’s an acceptable take that the Swans, in 19th place in the Premier League and in a dire relegation situation, did not improve under Bradley. That much is clear. But given all that we’ve seen about this team, could any rational observer really have expected much at all in such a short amount of time? The eye test will tell you the players are just not good enough, with the defense in particular looking comically over-matched.

Francesco Guidolin must be snickering as he watches this all unfold. He had little say as Swansea sold both Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams with the only reinvestment on Borja Baston, a striker even Bradley’s attacking mentality hasn’t been able to light the spark. Now, with a Championship-caliber roster, neither Guidolin nor Bradley have been able to right the ship.

Guidolin – who probably shouldn’t have been let go himself – employed a defense-first tactic, much like a number of other Premier League teams throughout the decades battling against relegation: bunker in, hope for a counter or two, and take your chances. It didn’t work. Enter Bob Bradley, who looked to turn things around by changing the entire fabric of the team. If Guidolin’s hunker down style didn’t work, why not try and play the opposite? Except that didn’t work either; they scored more goals, but conceded a ridiculous amount.

So if neither strategy produced results, does the blame truly fall with the manager?

What the eye test will tell you is the players are just flat out not going to cut it. Whoever comes in will need a complete overhaul in the winter to the best of the club’s financial and recruiting ability. They failed to do so over the summer, and are paying the price. Unfortunately, the board has put themselves at a complete disadvantage; whoever is hired will have days – or less – to prepare for the January transfer window. To make matters even more confusing, the favorite to take the position, Ryan Giggs, has never been a manager before, meaning he’s never been in charge of player recruitment. Ever.

So, to wrap this all up, Swansea provided Bob Bradley with a relegation-caliber roster, expected him to turn it around in 11 matches, and when he inevitably couldn’t despite a clear vision for the pathway forward, they dumped him and are considering turning instead to a completely inexperienced name-hire days before the transfer window opens?

Teams have been here before – recently – and it never ends well. Fulham found itself with a Championship-caliber roster after Mohamed Al Fayed insisted on selling the club with pristine books, and they sacked three managers in the 2013/14 season, none of them able to stave off relegation. Aston Villa last campaign fired both Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde with neither able to keep them from going down. Managers can only do so much when given nothing to work with, and now, could they really attract someone capable of preventing relegation with the position suddenly so toxic?

Bottom line is, if Bradley was the right man for the job 11 matches ago, he’s probably still the right man now, and you could probably make the same argument for Guidolin before him. It’s clear the Swansea board has lost its way, and the club will pay the exorbitant price.

Lippi leads China over SKorea 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Marcello Lippi earned his biggest victory since taking over as coach of China’s national soccer team, leading his squad to a 1-0 victory over South Korea on Thursday in a World Cup qualifier.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

The coach, who led his native Italy to the World Cup title in 2006, was hired by China in October.

Yu Dabao scored the lone goal at Helong Stadium in Changsha with a header in the 34th minute, giving China only its second victory over South Korea in 32 matches.

China spent much of the second half defending with the visitors piling on the pressure. Ki Seung-yeung and Ji Dong-won both went close for South Korea but could not find a way past China goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.

South Korea has 10 points from six matches in Group A and is still on course to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. China, which last qualified for the World Cup in 2002, has five points.

Only the top two teams from the six-nation group qualify automatically. The third-place team will head to the playoffs.

CONMEBOL wrap: Brazil routs Uruguay, Messi guides Argentina past Chile

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A roundup of Thursday’s action from around CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying…

[ MORE: USMNT looks to build momentum against Honduras in WCQ ]

Paulinho‘s hat-trick helped bring Brazil back from an early deficit as the Selecao topped Uruguay, 4-1. Edinson Cavani put the hosts ahead after nine minutes from the penalty spot, but it was Paulinho that answered 10 minutes later for his first of the night. Neymar also tallied for the Brazilians, who continue to lead CONMEBOL qualifying with 30 points.

Lionel Messi scored in the first half to help lift Argentina over Chile, 1-0. The Barcelona attacker scored after 16 minutes when Angel di Maria was taken down inside the Chilean area by José Fuenzalida. Chile was held to just one shot on target throughout, and the loss leaves the reigning Copa America winners on the outside looking in at the top five.

James Rodriguez rescued Colombia on Thursday as the Real Madrid winger capitalized off of his penalty-kick rebound to give Los Cafeteros a 1-0 win over Bolivia. Goalkeeper Carlos Lampe did his best to preserve a draw for the visitors, recording six saves on the afternoon, however, it wasn’t enough to tame Colombia.

Meanwhile, Paraguay knocked off Ecuador, 2-1, behind goals from Bruno Valdez and Junior Alonso. The visitors pulled a goal back in the 70th minute when Felipe Caicedo converted from the penalty spot, but it wasn’t enough for Ecuador.

Peru battled back with two second-half goals to preserve a 2-2 draw against Venezuela on the road. The hosts got out to a 2-0 advantage before halftime when Mikel Villanueva and Romulu Otero scored for Venezuela, however, the Peruvians struck back in the second stanza to knick a point. Andre Carrillo and Paolo Guerrero scored in the 46th and 64th minutes, respectively, for Peru.


Thursday’s results

Colombia 1-0 Bolivia
Paraguay 2-1 Ecuador
Uruguay 1-4 Brazil
Argentina 1-0 Chile
Venezuela 2-2 Peru


Updated CONMEBOL table

  1. Brazil — 9-3-1 — 30 pts.
  2. Uruguay — 7-2-4 — 23 pts.
  3. Argentina — 6-4-3 — 22 pts.
  4. Colombia — 6-3-4 — 21 pts.
  5. Ecuador — 6-2-4 — 20 pts.
  6. Chile — 6-2-5 — 20 pts.
  7. Paraguay — 5-3-5 — 18 pts.
  8. Peru — 4-3-6 — 15 pts.
  9. Bolivia — 2-1-9 — 7 pts.
  10. Venezuela — 1-3-9 — 6 pts.

Ex-Disney CEO Eisner eyes English soccer club Portsmouth

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PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) Michael Eisner, the former chief executive of The Walt Disney Co., is in talks to buy English soccer club Portsmouth.

The fourth-tier club says it has entered into a 70-day exclusivity agreement with Eisner for takeover talks to take place.

Eisner wrote on Twitter: “Exciting times! Looking forward to coming over and meeting you all. Good luck against Newport County on Saturday!!”

Portsmouth, which is based on the south coast, spent beyond its means in the pursuit of glory. The team endured financial turmoil in the years following its 2008 FA Cup win, sinking from the Premier League to the fourth tier.

After entering bankruptcy protection, Portsmouth was rescued by the fans through a trust in 2013.

CONCACAF: USMNT, Trinidad & Tobago seek first points of Hexagonal

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Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]

Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.

For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.

Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.

Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.


Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET

Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET

USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)


1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.