Author: Richard Farley

Britain Soccer Premier League

Queens Park Rangers set to add Cardiff’s Jordon Mutch


Cardiff City’s disappointing season in the Premier League couldn’t diminished the promise of Jordon Mutch, a 22-year-old midfielder who scored seven goals during his return to the top flight. Now, while the Bluebirds go back to life in the second division, Mutch has been given more time in the first division, with Queens Park Rangers pulling the Birmingham City product into an already deep midfield.

According to multiple sources out of England, the Rs have agreed to terms with Cardiff on Mutch’s move, with reports putting the fee at between $8.4 and $10.1 million. Provided he passes his Tuesday medical, Mutch becomes the second Cardiff player to join QPR this summer, following in the footsteps of defender Steven Caulker.

Capable of playing through the middle or on the left, Mutch joins an enviable collection of midfield talent; at least, enviable compared to the typical talent coming up from the second tier. Between Joey Barton nd Karl Henry, QPR already has a players with Premier League experience to man the middle. Alejandro Faurlín is returning, while Adel Taarabt, Junior Hoilett, and Matt Phillips provide attacking options. The Rs may have been in the Championship last season, but they have a number of options.

What makes Mutch different is his age. Whereas QPR has spent the last few years collecting veterans who’ve trickled down the ladder, Mutch combines hope for the future with somebody who’s already had success at the top-level. Should Barton become a problem or Harry Redknapp want a more versatile player than Henry, the Rs will have options, particularly if tougher competition forces them to play five in midfield.

If anything, the Rangers seem overloaded. With players like Mutch coming in, perhaps Barton or Taarabt are set to move on. Thanks to purchases like today’s, though, QPR can afford to pursue some return on their more established stars.

Sunderland ready to rescue Jack Rodwell from Manchester City


Is Jack Rodwell worth $16.9 million? After two years of neglect at Manchester City, the answer may be “who knows,” but Sunderland’s willing to take a chance. According to reports out of England, the former Everton midfielder has agreed to personal terms on a move north, with City only set to see a small loss on its failed purchase.

The 23-year-old, who has made seven league starts since his $18.8 million move from Everton two years ago, has been unable to win a place in the Citizens’ rotation, with a buy initially made under Roberto Mancini proving useless after Manuel Pellegrini’s arrival. Last year, the three-time England international played only 108 Premier League minutes, his career having stagnated since leaving Goodison Park.

Now Gus Poyet, still awaiting the arrival of Liverpool’s Fabio Borini, is ready to brush off the dust. From The Guardian:

It seems that during a round of talks with assorted suitors last week Rodwell identified Sunderland as his preferred destination …

Barring an audacious late hijacking by another club, Rodwell – 6ft 2in and with three senior England caps – promises to satisfy the Sunderland manager’s desire for a “box-to-box midfielder”. Although Jordi Gómez has arrived on a free transfer from Wigan this summer, the midfield has been weakened by the departures of Jack Colback, Ki Sung-yueng and Craig Gardner.

This could turn into a perfect pickup for Sunderland, with the Black Cats potentially benefitting from a big club’s mistake. Whereas Rodwell, with his sites on more glamorous clubs, wouldn’t have left Everton for Wearside two years ago, the Black Cats now offer a happy alternative. Between the size of the club, a well-regarded coach, and the players already in the squad, Sunderland presents a perfect opportunity for Rodwell to get his career on track.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of time to do so. Though it seems like he’s been around for some time, Rodwell is just entering the prime of his career, something makes playing time crucial. If everything works out up north, Rodwell could yet recapture the momentum that put him in the Three Lions’ squad.

Premier League 2014-15 Preview: Burnley

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Premier League soccer returns to Turf Moor this month, with Burnley, surprise runners-up in the Football Championship, ascending to the top flight for the time since 2009-10. As was the case then, under Owen Coyle, the Clarets’ boss has received the bulk of the credit, with Sean Dyche earning praise for his approach. But whereas Coyle was lauded for a stylish, flowing style, the solidity Dyche instilled led to the Championship’s best defense.

The Premier League will be another matter, of course, part of the reason why Burling has bolstered, bringing in six new players this summer. The hope: Avoid the fate of that 2009-10 squad. Abandoned by Coyle mid-season, the Clarets finished five points short of safety, beginning a life in the second tier that ended finally ended with May’s promotion.

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Matt Gilks (Blackpool, free), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough, $2.5 million), Michael Kightly (Stoke), Steven Reid (West Brom, free), Marvin Sordell (Bolton, free), Matthew Taylor (West Ham, free),

Transfers Out: Chris Baird (West Brom), Kyle Brownhill (Hyde, free), David Edgar (Birmingham, free), Micah Evans (Southport, free), Joseph Mills (Oldham, free), Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth, free)

| Full PL schedule | Watch Burnley via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: The Clarets were one of two teams to win automatic promotion, with a defense that allowed 37 goals in 46 games lifting the team to second place, behind Leicester City. 23-year-old right back Kieran Trippier won a spot in the league’s team of the season, with forward Danny Ings joining him after a 20-goal season. Despite not being part of promotion discussions at the beginning of the season, the Clarets ended up eight points clear of a place in the playoffs.

Star Player: Danny Ings

After a breakout season that saw his goal total climb from three to 20, Ings has been linked with moves to a bigger stages. For now, the 22-year-old has remained loyal, hoping the club he joined three years ago can avoid a quick drop. With some seeing him as a future England international, Ings has a chance to prove himself at the highest level, though it should go without saying success in the top flight will be more difficult.

Coaches corner: Sean Dyche

Only 43, Dyche is on his second managerial job, having previously enjoyed a successful season at Watford. In his second year at Turf Moor, the former Chesterfield defender lived out a young manager’s dream: Taking an overlooked team to the next level.

In the process, Dyche won respect for a straight-forward approach that instilled a prepared confidence in his squad. As the defensive record attests, that confidence let to results, giving Dyche the first major accomplishment of his managerial career.

PST predicts: If last year’s Crystal Palace taught us anything, it’s to approach relegation predictions with caution. Given where Dyche’s strengths lie, he may be able to orchestrate some Tony Pulis-like results. But until we see that on the field, Burnley looks likely to stay near the bottom.

MLS Saturday roundup: San Jose trips Seattle; RSL claims Rocky Mountain Cup

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LA Galaxy 3-1 Portland Timbers

Diego Valeri drew first blood, scoring on an early direct kick, but the Galaxy dominated play, with a great game plan that exploited the middle and right of the Timbers’ defense delivering LA’s second win in a row. Two goals from Robbie Keane give the Galaxy captain 12 on the season, while Gyasi Zardes is two short of double figures.

Montréal Impact 0-2 Toronto FC

Michael Bradley and Dominic Oduro played a part in both goals, with Gilberto and Luke Moore helping the Reds move beyond Wednesday’s disappointment at D.C. United. The three points leave Toronto FC alone in second, while a Montréal team in the middle of a regroup turns its attention to Champions League.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Despite going into half time up a man and a goal, New England left Red Bull Arena empty-handed, with a strong day from Dax McCarty helping the home side maintain 58 percent possession despite Matt Miazaga’s first half sending off. With goals from McCarty and Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York was one of two 10-man teams to earn full points on Saturday, a result that vaulted the Red Bulls back into the East’s top five.

Chicago Fire 1-1 Columbus Crew

Glaring mistakes from both teams accounted for the goals, with Tyson Wahl’s late first half handball offset by Patrick Ianni’s clumsy, failed clearance 10 seconds into the second. With goals from Mike Magee and Federico Higuaín, the teams shared points in Bridgeview, with Chicago relegated to its 13th draw of the season.

Colorado Rapids 0-1 Real Salt Lake

Marvell Wynne’s first half mistake allowed Chris Wingert to set up Javier Morales’s opener, a goal that turned into a winner when Nick Rimando kept his record-tying 112th career clean sheet. Along the way, Aaron Maund received his marching orders, leaving RSL to play a half down a man. Like the Red Bulls before them, RSL still turned 10 men into three points, enough to claim the Rocky Mountain Cup.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Seattle Sounders

In front of over 45,000 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the Earthquakes climbed out of the Western Conference cellar, with Yannick Djaló’s late first half goal holding up for the one-goal victory. Despite close calls for Gonzalo Pineda and Chad Barrett, Seattle was shutout for the second game in a row.

MLS Snapshot: San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Seattle Sounders


One game, 100 words (or less): The game seemed to set up perfectly for one of the late Dempsey-Martins-fueled explosions that defined Seattle’s spring, but aside from a Chad Barrett chance, a Gonzalo Pineda free kick, and some typical late-match drama, that explosion never happened. Though Seattle improved on its Monday performance, the Sounders were again kept off the board, with a late first half goal from San Jose’s Yannick Djaló delivering a 1-0 win in front of over 45,000 at Levi’s Stadium.


San Jose: Djaló 42′
Seattle: None.

Three moments that mattered:

42′ – Chipped right in – Toward the end of a half that had only featured three shots on target, San Jose got their match-winner, thanks in large part to Chris Wondolowski. Lifting a perfect pass over defender  Zach Scott, “Wondo” sent Djaló in alone on goal, with Stefan Frei doing little to stop the game’s only goal from rolling into his abandoned goal.

79′ – Pineda’s bullet – Speaking post-match, San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch said the kick got a piece of the wall, not that that piece slowed it down. With a left-footed bullet for around 34 yards out, Gonzalo Pineda tempted Busch to spill the ball in front of goal. The Earthquakes keeper, up to the challenge, pushed it over and out.

85′ – Chris Wondolowski, again – “Wondo” was responsible for the two biggest plays of the night, the second of which came at the defensive end. On a late corner from Pinedo, Chad Barrett redirected a header just inside Busch’s right post. Unfortunately for the Sounders, Wondolowski was right there, with his clearance preserving a 1-0 win.


San Jose: Jon Busch; Shaun Francis, Victor Bernárdez, Jason Hernandez, Jordan Stewart; Atiba Haris, Sam Cronin, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Shea Salinas (Cordell Cato 87′); Yannick Djaló (Khari Stephenson 65′); Chris Wondolowski

Seattle: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez (Chad Barrett 83′); Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alsono, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Kenny Cooper 65′); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins

Three lessons going forward

1. We can forget collapse – Hey, after last season, you can’t blame  people for wondering if Seattle was going to free fall again (I think we’ve mentioned this one or 50 times in the last week). Tonight, they were fine. They weren’t run away with the Supporters’ Shield fine, but they weren’t Seattle circa Oct. 2013, either.

2. The West is pretty tough – The Sounders didn’t play their best, but they generated a number of chances, and as you saw the urgency pick up in the second half, the Seattle that was able to orchestrate a number of early season comebacks started to come through. The only problem: They were up against a decent team, even if the Western Conference standings say otherwise.

San Jose isn’t going to win any silverware this season, but if what we saw tonight is (was) the last place team in the West, it says a little something about the strength of the conference.

3. More encouraging signs for San Jose, the market – For the second time this season, the Earthquakes drew huge numbers to a game, only this time, it wasn’t for the annual showcase against the Galaxy. Granted, there was something unique about playing at Levi’s Stadium, but the hints of San Jose’s potential were still there. Forty thousand need not be a once-a-year thing in the Bay, anymore.

Where this leaves them:

  • Not in last place! Though San Jose is even with Chivas on points, the tiebreakers go in the team’s favor. They’re now eighth in the Western Conference.
  • Seattle’s lead in the West has been cut to one, and they’re trailing Sporting KC in the Supporters’ Shield chase, but while fans can comfort themselves with a favorable games played column, the reality of a two-game losing streak is defined by doubts.