AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

FIFA denies solidarity payments for Dempsey, Bradley

2 Comments

If you’re looking for a sentence that will enrage and stun you for a second, even if you think FIFA is the most crooked thing on Earth, just wait a few paragraphs.

FIFA has denied solidarity payments to two clubs for the development of USMNT players Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, according to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle. That’s not the shocking part, considering that U.S. Soccer has a long history of not aligning with the transfer rules followed by most of the world.

[ RECAP: Bayern 1-3 (1-3 agg.) Liverpool ]

No blood, no foul. Well, at least no surprise.

But what FIFA said in denying the money to the Dallas Texans and Sockers FC Chicago is, frankly, wild even for them (The DRC in the drop quote is FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Center). From ESPN.com:

The documents didn’t specify why the cases involving Sockers FC Chicago and the Dallas Texans were turned down. One of the letters from the DRC stated that if a club wants a full explanation for its decision, it must pay FIFA a fee of nearly $10,000.

I suppose I could write a lot more simply by riffing on that facr, but I’m not going to do that. That’s enough for one night.

But the ESPN report, citing an expert, speculates that Bradley and Dempsey’s unkempt player passports — a U.S. Soccer problem now rectified with current youth players — is the reason for denial.

Sterling hat trick leads Man City rout of Brighton

Brighton - Man City recap
Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Raheem Sterling finished his hat trick in goofy fashion as Manchester City cruised past Brighton and Hove Albion 5-0 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday to seal second place in the Premier League,.

A falling Sterling saw a looping ball bound off his head and roll over the line late in the contest, as City became the second team this season to break the 70-point barrier with 72.

WATCH BRIGHTON – MAN CITY FULL MATCH REPLAY

Gabriel Jesus had a goal and two assists for City and Bernardo Silva scored City’s other goal as the runners-up clinched second place and moved 21 points back of Liverpool.

Brighton remains eight points outside the bottom three, not safe (but pretty much safe). The Seagulls did not get a single shot on target.


Three things we learned

1. Sterling makes personal history: Sterling’s 25th, 26th, and 27th goals give him a new career-high in all competitions after scoring 25 in last season’s marquee run. He’s done it in six fewer outings, though his eight assists are a far cry from his usual pace. That said, the English winger still has three PL matches and at least one each of FA Cup and Champions League matches. It still could be his best season yet.

2. De Bruyne shows a quieter greatness: The Belgian is the favorite to win Premier League Player of the Year and could’ve had a couple more assists on Saturday. While his window to break Thierry Henry’s single-season assist record is becoming tighter, he’s still catching the eye with remarkable shows like his 7-of-7 performance on duels versus Brighton. De Bruyne is so well-positioned, so often, that he rarely puts himself in a position to fail.

3. Another zero: City kept a clean sheet away from home for the first time since Feb. 22 and the shutout gave Ederson back-to-back blanks for the second time of Project Restart (City blanked Arsenal and Burnley in its return to life in the PL).

Man of the Match:

Jesus — The Brazilian’s goal and two assists were part of a day that he completed six-of-seven dribbles despite taking less than 40 touches. He also won six of 11 duels and was credited with two interceptions. His 20 goals in all competitions is one away from the personal best set last season.


Brighton – Man City recap

City really found its footing around the quarter-hour mark and Raheem Sterling fed Benjamin Mendy for a blocked effort and corner kick. Eric Garcia just missed the back post on the ensuing set piece.

Sterling put CIty on the board in the 21st, taking a Gabriel Jesus flick of a Riyad Mahrez cross and rolling a classy low shot beyond the reach of Mat Ryan.

Mahrez then fed Mendy into the left of the box and the Frenchman lashed a shot off the outside of the net.

Kevin De Bruyne fed Jesus for a header popped over goal and Jesus cranked a deflected shot off the cross bar in the 36th.

Jesus danced in the box to lay off for Mahrez, who blazed wide of the far post.

It was another corner that made it 2-0, Rodri flicking the set piece to the back post for Jesus to knife into the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

De Bruyne cranked a free kick off the goal post after halftime, and the third goal came soon.

Mahrez curled an invitation to the back post and Sterling leant into the header for a 3-0 lead in the 53rd.

Bernardo got City’s fourth off a Ryan error, as the goalkeeper couldn’t handle the player’s first shot and saw the rebound spill back onto the path of the Portuguese.

Lampard reveals Chelsea lessons; discusses Pulisic

Leave a comment

Frank Lampard will not forget this defeat at Sheffield United in a hurry, and probably not at all, as he revealed the lessons Chelsea learned and discussed the display of Christian Pulisic.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – Analysis ]

Lampard said repeatedly that he has ‘learned a lot’ about his players and suggested the Blades, who ran out 3-0 winners, were more motivated than his Chelsea said.

ProSoccerTalk spoke with Lampard after the game via Zoom and asked him if this thrashing confirmed the problems he already knew he had in certain areas of the pitch.

“It’s not just one game. I am always analyzing daily and game-by-game about us. I learned a lot today, about the players,” Lampard said. “You tend to learn more in tough moments in tough games. That is for me to work with and deal with going forward. The most important thing is that collectively it’s not one to cry our eyes out for days. We are in a situation where the games are coming very quickly and we know where are are at.

“We have the opportunity to fight for the top four, which is not something many expected of us earlier in the season and you will take knocks in the Premier League like this. Particularly with the situation of where we are at. The phase we are in. We are nowhere near the finished article. I know that. I never get over excited. Days like today you have learn from and improve.”

Asked specifically about what he learned Lampard said “he learned a lot of things but wouldn’t even start on that because it will be a long answer” and he didn’t hear his players communicating on the pitch because “Sheffield United had more voice, more personality, and that reflected in the way they played.”

Ouch.

Lampard added that he “didn’t want to get into the analysis and details of the game today because it is only going to be negative, and we need to be positive.”

ProSoccerTalk asked Lampard about the main positive recently, Christian Pulisic, who was clattered early on, looked a little jaded throughout and was subbed off with 25 minutes to go by the Chelsea boss. Lampard had stated that Chelsea couldn’t get their wingers in the game due to Sheffield United’s 3-4-3 system and didn’t get Pulisic and Willian involved enough.

Was the USMNT winger feeling the impact of his impressive, energetic displays over the last 10-14 days and did that early challenge knock him back?

“I don’t think so. The tackle early in the game, it was a strong tackle but I don’t think that had any effect on it,” Lampard said. “There are games sometimes when they are difficult for you individually and Christian has affected games really well individually recently, so I certainly won’t be looking at him. Everybody who has played in that game should want more, from the Chelsea side.”

For Chelsea, all is not lost. They have three games left and if they win them all, they are guaranteed to qualify for the Champions League if fifth-place is a UCL spot. It is as simple as that.

That said, the same defensive issues continue to crop up and there’s no doubt the Blues have to improve their personnel at the back. Lampard has tried everything when it comes to defensive combinations, systems and playing different people across the back four. Nothing has worked.

If Chelsea are still a mess defensively after bringing in new players at the back this summer, it’s safe to say the blame has to lie with Lampard.

Like he told us, if Chelsea finish in the top four, this is still a big step forward this season and not one many expected. However, with Liverpool and Wolves to play in their final two games of the season, Chelsea will have to defend so much better if they’re going to end their largely positive season on a high.

Bournemouth – Leicester City preview: How to watch, start time, stream, odds

Bournemouth - Leicester City preview
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bournemouth – Leicester City preview: Bournemouth’s desperate to keep its Premier League safety hopes alive with a visit from third-chasing Leicester City on Sunday at the Vitality Stadium (Watch live at 2 pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

The visitors will be dreaming of the top four again after Chelsea was battered by Sheffield United to open up the door to third again.

STREAM BOURNEMOUTH – LEICESTER CITY LIVE

Bournemouth, meanwhile, saw relegation rivals West Ham and Watford both win Saturday to pull six points clear of the 18th-place Cherries. They need a win and nothing less versus the Foxes.


Team news

Leicester will again likely be without James Maddison and Ben Chilwell, with manager Brendan Rodgers saying the duo could also miss a Thursday tilt with Sheffield United.

David Brooks and Steve Cook could miss out for Bournemouth, who is set to give Jack Stacey a start at full back.


What they’re saying

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe on Stacey“I have been very impressed with his ability to step into the Premier League and perform at a very high level. He’s been very creative for us, very good in the final third. He’s the modern-day full-back, very aggressive with his attacking. I was very pleased with him on Thursday because it’s not easy to come on in a game like that – adapt to the pace of the game but I thought he did it really well.”

Rodgers on Leicester City (and everyone else’s) fixture congestion“The games are so close and obviously you don’t have a long time to prepare for the games. The players’ professionalism has been first class, and the recovery strategies we’ve had here with the sports science and medical team have been brilliant. We’ve been able to get players recovered, and then physically and tactically ready for the games.”


Odds and ends (Full matchweek odds)

The host Cherries are a significant underdog at  +410, according to DraftKings, with visiting Leicester a -148 favorite.

Leicester beat Bournemouth 3-1 at the King Power Stadium in late August, getting two goals and an assist from Jamie Vardy.


Prediction

Depends how you feel about Leicester’s performance without Maddison and Chilwell against Arsenal, which finished 1-1 but required a Gunners red card to acquire the equalizer. We think both teams will leave soured by a 1-1 draw.


How to watch Bournemouth – Leicester City stream, start time

Kickoff: 2 pm ET Sunday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Lampard fumes with Chelsea: ‘All I could hear was Sheffield United’

Frank Lampard reaction
Photo by PETER POWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Frank Lampard is steamed.

The Chelsea boss saw his side out-worked, out-fired, and out-muscled at Bramall Lane on Saturday as the Blues managed just one of six points against the newly-promoted Blades this season following a 3-0 loss.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Lampard didn’t mince words: Sheffield United deserved all three points.

“They were better than us, physically, in the mind and with the ball,” Lampard said on television after the game. “So you lose the game. They were stronger than us. You feel and hear every noise and all I could hear was Sheffield United voices. They are a good team. If you come here and perform below par this is what will happen.”

Chelsea handed control of the top four back to Leicester City and Manchester United, but also wasn’t too bothered by the big picture as much as the performance of his Blues on Saturday.

“I am not concerned about top four today,” he said. “All I do is sit and watch the games you broadcast and consider what we want to do. But today I am concerned with how we performed. We will see where we are when we approach Norwich. But we can’t approach Norwich or Manchester United or Wolves like we did today.”

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch v. Sheffield United ]

Lampard was also asked about a substandard day for Christian Pulisic, who was targeted by the Blades and looked merely average for the first time in weeks.

“There are games which can be difficult,” Lampard said in the post-match press call. “He has affected games really well recently.”