Do not weep for Landon Donovan, for a new star shall be born

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In 2009, scientists couldn’t figure out why star Cassiopeia A, which had gone supernova just 330 years ago, was emitting strange x-rays.

With the help of new data, they finally arrived at the conclusion that the exploding star had actually birthed a baby neutron star, and we were witnessing a brilliant moment in space history.

“It turns out that Cas A may be a gift from the Universe because we would have to catch a very young neutron star at just the right point in time,” said Ohio University scientist Madappa Prakash back in 2009.

America just observed the career of its very own Cassiopeia A come to an end, calling time on one of the greatest gifts to the US soccer Universe, and we’re only just realizing what we’ve witnessed. Of course, he departed a champion, defeating the New England Revolution 2-1 in yesterday’s MLS Cup Final, because we wouldn’t want it any other way.

But there is so much more from his career than trophies.

“I absolutely want to work with kids,” Donovan said when announcing his retirement. “I spoke to (Chris) Klein extensively about working with the Academy. That for me would be a really good way to come full circle. I fully expect that that will happen at some point.”  That circle has yet to completely connect, but it’s well on its way.

The Blond Haired Punk

“Landon Donovan’s ability to run away from defenders, run away from players, and be fit for 90-plus minutes and to play thousands of games in his career and stay healthy,” former USMNT player Taylor Twellman remarked, “I don’t know if he gets enough credit for that.”

Landon Donovan departed the playing field for the last time. He will no longer grace stadiums in the United States and beyond. Goodbye San Jose Earthquakes. Goodbye to Everton. Goodbye to the LA Galaxy. And most importantly, goodbye to the US National team. But it wasn’t always this nostalgic. He began with vigor, but with naivety as well.

“I remember the first time meeting Landon Donovan, with his blond hair and being a little bit of a punk,” Twellman said. “And then I remember my first training with him, and he blew everyone out of the water.”

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A young Landon Donovan led San Jose to the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003 but rubbed some people the wrong way with a brash attitude.

Donovan’s career was the prototypical bell curve. That “punk” kid rubbed many the wrong way in the early going. Bruce Arena discovered Landon while managing DC United, and even he was a bit put off. I asked the 63-year-old to expand on his long-held belief that his first impression of Landon was not a positive one.

“He shot his mouth off, he was a wise guy, but he certainly backed it up with his play on the field,” Arena said. “That was my first impression of him, but not my last impression of him. He was a pretty typical American teenager at that time.”

And that’s what makes his story so magnetizing. Many young people – new, impressionable sports fans watching soccer for the first time – could identify with this kid, with this “punk.” And the American public wanted him to succeed, not just because he is American, but because we wanted ourselves to succeed vicariously through him, to transform with him.

Make no mistake, there will never be another Landon Donovan. One could rattle off all the achievements and numbers he holds that have been hammered into our brains, but records are meant to be broken, and as long as the national team continues to produce and Major League Soccer remains intact, they will eventually be broken.

Records may fall, but there will never be another trailblazer.

“There aren’t that many players that are going to be able to give us what Landon gave us over a long period of time,” Arena said.

But that’s precisely the point.

Ability is given but intangibles are not

Of all Landon Donovan’s great accomplishments for the sport in this country, his greatest is without a doubt the most ironic. For a man who prided himself greatly for his accomplishments on the field, he has left the sport in this country poised to slingshot its next big star – his replacement in the spotlight – to even greater heights than he could achieve. Donovan laid the groundwork for what soccer in the United States can become by priming the nation’s viewers to envision what it can potentially achieve. And a lot of it has to do with his maturation.

“Landon’s done a lot of things off the field as an elder statesman not only with younger players but with other players around the league,” said Arena. “He set the tone for the American player in the league, and hopefully as pay scales improve, he will continue to be a quiet voice behind the teams in collective bargaining on the player’s side. So there’s a lot of things that he’s done as he’s matured as a person and player, and it’s been an important part of growing the sport and growing his legend as well.”

Just look back to how Landon’s miss on the 2014 World Cup resonated through the mainstream American public. It was a huge deal – and rightly so – that US Soccer’s most marketable star was absent from the selection.

Soccer in the United States is by no means a fledgling enterprise. The sport has been smoldering in the shadows for decades, awaiting a moment of true eruption. The catalyst has been provided, and now the stars of tomorrow are tasked with sparking the blast.

Along those lines, an individual can be a pioneer without being the first. Christopher Columbus was by no means the first European explorer to discover the New World – that would be Leif Erikssen, nearly 500 years prior to Columbus’s voyages. But the Italian was the most successful at popularizing the influx of exploration and growth to the region that would follow.

source: Getty Images
Bob Bradley spent years coaching Landon Donovan and saw him grow and change throughout his career.

“Growing up and seeing where he’s at today, I think the most important thing is to know that anything is possible,” said young US talent Greg Garza.

“We have an American guy that maybe in the beginning the US wasn’t that soccer-based, we didn’t have that much ‘umph’ about ourselves in the soccer world, and he’s really raised the bar for so many people around the world, and he’s really set a standard for all of us.”

Thing is, Garza’s not exactly right.

Building a foundation

When it comes to results in the World Cup – the only measuring stick that truly matters among the populous – the US national team actually hasn’t improved all that much since Landon took the field.

Before Donovan’s first World Cup in 2002, the US had made it out of the group stage once in the previous three years. In the next three with Landon, the US made it out twice. But the country never got past the quarterfinals, and were eliminated in the first group stage match once with Landon and once without.

But perception is reality, and he was able to achieve what no one else could in this country: open the floodgates of mass appeal. To put it simply, Donovan put butts in seats. More importantly, he put butts on couches. In front of televisions.

“When you look at everything that goes into growing a league, it’s incredible how far things have come [in Major League Soccer],” said former MLS and USMNT manager Bob Bradley. “That includes better TV packages, better visibility, and Landon certainly deserves a big mention because he was always committed to Major League Soccer.”

And it wasn’t just in the United States. Landon went abroad to play with Everton hoping to exorcise some early European demons, and he was an instant hit with Toffee fans despite playing just 22 matches for the Blue of Goodison Park. And it all started with his play on the field.

“He arrived at the perfect time in the 2010 season. With Baines and Pienaar, the team papercut opponents down the left flank,” said Roger Bennett, Men in Blazers co-host and die-hard Everton supporter. “Landon gave them a right side threat for the first time and forced opponents to worry about both sides of the field. His impact was immediate and evident for all to see. Landon was the perfect fit tactically for them. He grabbed the opportunity with a tremendous zeal and the fans responded in kind.

“The two cameo loan spells were fleeting but their intensity negated the charge that Landon could not hack it at the elite level. To this day, Everton fans harbor fond memories of Landon.  They talk about him with full-throated praise in a way I believe far more Americans will with the healing perspective of time.”

Donovan’s time in England was nice, but it didn’t define him. As Bradley said, he was committed to MLS.

The ultimate assist

Finally, Donovan has been dedicated to ushering in new talent in any way he can. He’s been doing it all along, and the recipients of his guidance are taking notice.

source: Getty Images
Landon has played his best ball in the MLS Cup, and that was no different this year, even though it’s his last.

“My first big call-up was against Holland in Amsterdam,” said Alejandro Bedoya of his first experience with Landon Donovan, “Before the game I remember him coming over to me and putting his hand over my shoulder and telling me ‘hey you’re here for a reason, go out there, prove yourself, just play your game, and most important just have fun and enjoy it. It’s going to be a great game.’ I’ll always remember that, it spoke volumes about him.”

“For me when I first started on the national team,” Jozy Altidore remembered, “being a young guy he always gave me confidence and was always quick to try and make sure I was focused and when I wasn’t focused he’d let me know. That was important…that’s important for any young player, to have a player that has influence in the team to help bring you along.”

But just when we thought the end might be here, Donovan returned to that brash kid who had the confidence of a Navy SEAL on a mission, and told the world “not just yet.” Just a month ago in the MLS Cup – where Donovan had arguably played his best soccer through the course of his career – the US legend scored a hat trick at home (because, of course he did) plus an assist in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals against Real Salt Lake in a game where coming in the Galaxy needed a win to move on. They won. By a lot.

With the retirement of a legend, the growth of Donovan’s career and parallel growth of the sport in the country will allow the next big US soccer icon to become a mainstream star athlete within the fabric of sports in the United States.

Donovan was once the brightest beacon of hope guiding MLS ships to safety on the rocky and treacherous shore of American sports. Now, as his bulb burns for the final time, he can be content in knowing the waters are becoming safer. Many will come after him and bring soccer to new heights, but for Landon, his greatest gift was one he couldn’t help but give.

“When it’s all said and done, we only get one life – some careers are long, some careers are short – Landon can say he did it his way,” said Twellman. “And very few athletes can say that. I’m not saying it was easy for him by any means, he took some heavy criticism. But when it’s all said and done, I don’t think Landon will have any regrets, and you have to respect the hell out of that.”

By the way, this is Cassiopeia A:

source:

From a kid whose mother, in his first soccer game as a child, was hoping he wouldn’t “get his feelings hurt” we have been lucky enough to witness an extraordinary career. Sometimes when you step back and look at the big picture, the result is pure beauty, even if complicated.

It’s not over for number 10. He told ESPN’s Wayne Drehs that he’ll be coaching soon. But in true Donovan fashion, he was quick to clarify what he meant. “Youth soccer. The pros? I can’t deal with the egos.” Obviously.

Thanks Landon and congratulations on the win, you sure are a LegenD. Now the United States will look for someone new to fill the void in their own way.

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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Premier League injury news, 2022-23 season

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Premier League injury news: It’s time to take a look at which players might be unavailable for matchweek 8 of the 2022-23 Premier League season, due to injury.

[ MORE: How to watch the Premier League on NBC ]

Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.


Arsenal injuries

OUT: Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf),, Kieran Tierney (head), Cedric Soares (knock), Reiss Nelson (thigh)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Matty Cash (hamstring), Cameron Archer (adductor)

Bournemouth injuries

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford injuries

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles), Keane Lewis-Potter (knock) | QUESTIONABLE: Ethan Pinnock (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Enock Mwepu (illness) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Lallana (calf)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (knee), Marc Cucurella (illness), Carney Chukwuemeka  (illness)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT:  Jack Butland (hand), Nathan Ferguson (foot), James McArthur (groin) | QUESTIONABLE: James Tomkins (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Ben Godfrey (broken leg), Yerry Mina (ankle), Nathan Patterson (ankle), Mason Holgate (knee), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Harry Wilson (knee), Joao Pahlinha (suspension), Manor Solomon (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Rodrigo (shoulder), Stuart Dallas (thigh) | QUESTIONABLE: Adam Forshaw (ankle)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Patson Daka (illness)

Liverpool injuries

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Curtis Jones (calf), Calvin Ramsay (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Newcastle United injuries

OUT: Aleksander Isak (leg), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Matt Ritchie (calf), Emil Krafth (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Chris Wood (ribs)

Nottingham Forest injuries

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Orel Mangala (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Emmanuel Dennis (knock), Morgan Gibbs-White (knock), Scott McKenna (knee)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (quad), Dejan Kulusevski (undisclosed), Ben Davies (knee), Lucas Moura (achilles)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee)

Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved from South to North London?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved across London?

Based in Woolwich in south east London, the club was originally founded in 1886 as a group of workers from the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to set up a club.

They were originally called Dial Square because of a sun dial atop the entrance to the factory. Seriously.

As for the factory itself, it served the British Army with ammunition and explosives research and 80,000 people worked there during the First World War.


Red jerseys and stadium struggles

Dial Square then became Royal Arsenal and players from Nottingham Forest joined the club, hence the now famous Garibaldi red jerseys which Forest, established 20 years before Arsenal, gave them.

After moving around several stadiums in Plumstead, which was based on the outskirts of London at the time, Arsenal then became Woolwich Arsenal and it stayed that way until 1913.

Struggling financially due to Plumstead being in an isolated area and not easy for people to travel to compared to other London clubs, Woolwich Arsenal were looking for other locations to move to from their Manor Ground home.

Arsenal vs Liverpool at the Manor Ground in Plumstead


Bombing accelerates move

During the suffragettes battle for equality for women in the UK, targeted bombings were carried out at high profile venues.

One such bombing occurred at Arsenal’s home stadium, destroying the grandstand at the Manor Ground in 1913 which would reportedly cost over $1,220 to repair.

With a significant bill to pay to repair the stadium and the club once again teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the largest shareholder of the consortium who bought the club in 1910, Sir Henry Norris, decided to move the club to Highbury in north London in 1913 after a failed attempt to merge Fulham and Arsenal, the two clubs he was chairman of.

Arsenal moved to Highbury Stadium


Controversial 12-mile move from South to North London approved in 1913

Amid uproar from fans in Woolwich and north London, it still happened and famed stadium architect Archibald Leitch built their home ground at Highbury.

That is when the Arsenal we know today was truly born.

They soon became known as ‘The Arsenal’ in 1914 and then dropped ‘the’ to become known simply as Arsenal in 1919 as football resumed in England following the First World War.


Feud with Tottenham begins

In-between then a feud had already bubbled up with Tottenham. Of course it had.

Arsenal were promoted to the first division at the expense of Tottenham amid huge controversy and after a league vote, Arsenal took Spurs’ place in the first division.

Hence a bitter rivalry was born and Tottenham’s fans like to remind Arsenal to, shall we say, ‘head back to Woolwich, please, because north London is ours.’ The real version is obviously less polite.


The Gunners have never looked back

Financial success, being close to a London Underground station and improved facilities were the main reasons Arsenal moved 12 miles across London to north London in 1913 and it is where they have remained ever since.

London’s most successful team (in terms of the number of major titles and top-flight titles), the decision to move Arsenal across England’s capital city is still bearing fruit over 100 years later.

They’ve come a long way from a team set up in a factory which made explosives for the British Military.

Fantasy Premier League Week 9: Who to captain, top transfer targets

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The return of the Premier League from international break brings, as usual, injuries, intrigue, and a load of, “Who’s good at dealing with travel?” to our Fantasy Premier League discussion.

Rather than delve deep into stats that analyze the last part of that, let’s take a look at the first several weeks of the Premier League season and ask: Who’s piling up the points?

[ MORE: Premier League odds, predictions ]

And let’s also look deeper than the obvious answers; Erling Haaland and Gabriel Jesus have been the genuine article for Manchester City and Arsenal, respectively, but who else is consistently dropping decent numbers?

We’ll also ignore some penalty takers, as surely Alexis Mac Allister won’t spend his season heading to the spot with the same regularity he has for Brighton early in it.

Here’s the “All-Fantasy Premier League XI” heading into Week 9, but before that, how about a couple of captain and transfer options?

This week is highlighted by some Bees, who seem to have people forgetting both how unlucky they’ve been and how fortunate their hosts have been in recent weeks…

Add and/or captain Week 9: Ivan Toney, Brentford at Bournemouth, 7.3M

Add, Week 9: David Raya, Brentford at Bournemouth, 4.5M

Add, Week 9: Kyle Walker-Peters, Southampton vs Everton, 4.5M

Add, Week 9: Lucas Paqueta, West Ham vs Wolves, 6.0M

Captain, Week 9: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool vs Brighton, 12.9M

Captain, Week 9: James Maddison, Leicester vs Nottingham Forest, 7.9M

Goalkeeper

Nick Pope, Newcastle (5.2 million, 38 points): After not facing a single shot in Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Opening Day, the Burnley transfer has made 30 saves over six more matches. He’s twice claimed bonus points

Defenders

William Saliba, Arsenal (4.9 million, 44 points): Almost as many goals (2) as clean sheets (3) for the CB.

Joao Cancelo, Manchester City (7.2 million, 42 points): A goal, an assist, and three times earning bonus points for his managers.

Kieran Trippier, Newcastle United (5.4 million, 35 points): Same as Cancelo, but with Newcastle.

Midfielders

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City (12.3 million, 45 points): Two matches with multiple goal contributions, the same number as the mere two times he’s been held without one (and one of those was a 21-minute appearance).

Pascal Gross, Brighton (6.0 million, 42 points): Can he keep it up? Seems unlikely, but the midfielder was essentially playing forward for Graham Potter. Will it stay the same under Roberto De Zerbi?

Marcus Rashford, Manchester United (6.6 million, 40 points): Still trading under 7.0 million and listed as a midfielder. Please and thank you.

Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal (6.6 million, 39 points): The quiet gem of Arsenal, he’s showing us why Mikel Arteta kept trotting him out last season.

Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton (5.6 million, 39 points): Pens won’t last forever.

Bernardo Silva, Manchester City (7.0 million, 39 points): And to think he could’ve left for Barcelona…

Forwards

Erling Haaland, Manchester City (12.0 million, 73 points): An actual monster.

Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur (11.4 million, 50 points): Derby day looms.

Ivan Toney, Brentford (7.3 million, 47 points): How long can Brentford hold onto him? A complete center forward.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.9 million, 41 points): Can he keep this up in the Premier League as the focal point for Fulham with a stint as Serbia’s focal point in the middle.

Gabriel Jesus (8.0 million, 39 points): His heroics have been well-covered.