Chelsea, Everton both charged by FA but nothing for Ivanovic

11 Comments

Chelsea and Everton have both been charged by the FA for “failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behavior,” but said players who may have conducted themselves in said provocative behavior have not been punished.

That is directed mostly towards Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, who put his arm around the neck of Everton’s James McCarthy during a stoppage of play, and some speculated he may have attempted to headbutt or even bite McCarthy as well.

Gareth Barry was sent off by referee Jon Moss for his second yellow-card offense, a backheel trip of Willian, in the 85th minute. A melee ensued, with both teams coming together. Ivanovic appeared to be trying to hold McCarthy back rather forcefully, wrapping his elbow around the Everton midfielder’s neck from behind in a chokehold-style move, and video replays showed a potential attempt at a headbutt, albeit slight.

The sides have until the evening of February 17 to respond to the charges. However, the FA has determined, while both teams should have conducted themselves better, that Ivanovic ultimately was not in the wrong.

“Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic will not face any further action in relation to an incident involving Everton’s James McCarthy in the 86th minute,” the FA said in a statement. “In Premier League matches, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel of former elite referees will be asked by The FA to review it and advise what, if any, action they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time. For an FA charge to follow, all three panel members must agree it is a sending-off offence. In this instance, the panel did not believe the conduct was worthy of a dismissal.”

It’s hard to believe that, had the referee seen the incident, he wouldn’t have given a red card for such a chokehold, even with the headbutt and bite questions tossed aside. Had the FA determined he was deserving of a red for violent conduct, he would have been given the standard three-match ban for a sending off.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho initially laughed off questions of Ivanovic’s conduct postgame, saying in his press conference, “Did Branislav Ivanovic go in with his head? Don’t make me laugh. Don’t make me laugh.” Later, after BT Sport asked him a similar question during a one-on-one, Mourinho threatened to walk out on reporters if he was asked about the situation again. When the BBC asked him about it during their one-on-one later, he followed through on that threat, walking out completely.

Everton, meanwhile, was unhappy with Barry’s sending-off. Captain Phil Jagielka claimed, “I’m not sure the tackle warranted a second yellow but the ref is surrounded by five or six of their players and is put under tremendous pressure and, unfortunately for us, wilted and sent [Barry] off.”

Manager Roberto Martinez chipped in with the same sentiments, saying, “Every time a player loses a challenge it feels like the weight of the world is on the referee’s shoulders and he feels he needs to react. To give Gareth Barry a second yellow card because of the reaction from Chelsea’s players is disappointing. They surrounded the referee and their conduct was a real shame.”

Study: MLS improves racial hiring, slides in gender hiring

Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

A diversity report shows improved racial hiring practices for Major League Soccer but also highlighted a continuing decline in gender hiring efforts.

The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida on Wednesday gave MLS an A with 93.9 points for racial hiring in 2019 for its highest score in 15 years.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

But the gender score of 72 points for a C grade fell for the third straight time, down from 76.8 points in 2018 and 81 points as recently as 2016.

The overall grade for MLS was a B at 82.9 points, falling from a B-plus and 85 points in 2018.

TIDES director Richard Lapchick, the lead report author, called lower gender hiring numbers across men’s professional sports a “systemic problem.”

Online: http://tidesport.org/

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

Medel: Chile players decline friendly over civil unrest

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chile had already canceled a home friendly with Bolivia this international break, and now the players will not play Tuesday in Peru either due to unrest in their country.’

A nationwide strike and protests against the government, spurred by a rise in metro fares, have Chile on edge.

[ MORE: USMNT-Canada preview ]

La Roja stars Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal both posted lengthy messages on their Instagram accounts, saying that the decision was made “in response to the social moment in our country.”

They urged both protestors and law enforcement to turn away from violence.

From Mega.CL:

“We are soccer players, but above all people and citizens. We know that we represent a complete country and today Chile has other priorities much more important than next Tuesday’s game.”

Chile is ranked No. 17 by FIFA and 22 in Elo Ratings.

Slumping USMNT big favorites v. Canada

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Let’s start with two statements which might be a bit controversial given the tone and tenor of the United States men’s national team program.

  1. The CONCACAF Nations League very much matters to Gregg Berhalter’s era and the program in general, even if the coach’s job is not in jeopardy and the tournament is in its infancy.
  2. The USMNT are the oddsmakers’ heavy favorites to win (nearly +500), even given the current injury problems, and it will be shocking but not surprising if they lose to the Canadians.

Point No. 1 might be a bit surprising, but this is a competition with silverware and Berhalter hasn’t won any of it yet in his tenure as USMNT boss. It’s also relevant because losing to Canada twice in a month after not losing to them since the Billboard No. 1 single was the sensual “One More Night” by Phil Collins.

And even without Christian Pulisic and a raft of injury excuses, plus taking into account Canada’s sincere re-emergence on the CONCACAF scene, the USMNT has no business losing a meaningful match at home to a team that, while improved, has far more holes than the hosts.

If you remember from October, Berhalter didn’t call upon his men to press an inexperienced Canadian back line (I just realized I’m still angry about this). There is literally no way he’ll do that at home.

If John Herdman keeps his backs the same as the one that shut out the Yanks at BMO last month, he’ll have Kamal Miller, Derek Cornelius, Steven Vitoria, and Richie Laryea out there. Three of the four aren’t full-time starters for their MLS clubs (Vitoria is an every week man in Portugal’s top flight). Goalkeeper Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade) is capable of stealing a result, but shouldn’t have the chance if the Yanks pressure the ball on Friday.

The midfield and attackers are where the U.S. will have its hands full. Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David beg speedy and/or smart defenders. John Brooks being in the mix should help in both counts, plus he’s the best passing back in the pool right now.

Whether the match is cagey or comfortable will come down to the midfield. Scott Arfield is going to make it difficult on the Yanks, but Alfredo Morales plays with a nasty streak and will not be as bullied as his peers were in Toronto.

The one thing to fear is how bamboozled Berhalter was by Herdman’s plan in Ontario. This isn’t to pile on the coach, who is known for his tactics but hasn’t seen them deliver against too many opponents of quality. Herdman may be the novice in terms of overall club experience, but he’s got a better handle on the international game.

If the Yanks look out-foxed and unprepared on Friday, that’s a big problem.

How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

TIM VIZER/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

No Christian Pulisic.

No Tyler Adams.

No Timothy Weah.

No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.

Ugh.

[ MORE: NYCFC teen signs for Gladbach ]

Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.

How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.

After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.

Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:

Guzan

Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest

Yueill

Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola