PST Roundtable: 2018 in Review

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ProSoccerTalk continues its Best of 2018 by taking our staff on a trip down (around) memory lane with the final Roundtable of the calendar year (unless Pele unretires between now and Midnight ET).

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1) You can only save one Premier League memory from 2018. What do you choose?

Joe Prince-Wright: I am going with Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Man City at Anfield in January 2018. What a game between two teams going at it and playing very different ways to the highest possible level. It was a precursor for some epic Champions League battles between Liverpool and Man City.

Nicholas Mendola: At the risk of cloying this space, Arsene Wenger‘s “send off series” was special, especially when Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho came together to salute the long time Arsenal boss at Old Trafford. The final matches in charge of the Gunners was an emotional and refreshing storyline for both Arsenal and those who like to see an under-fire legend get his just desserts.

Kyle Bonn: Has to be Manchester City’s dominance and Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut. I absolutely loved watching that team, especially given how much of a mess it was when Pep first got there. He turned around so many players, namely John Stones and Raheem Sterling, and that’s always something special.

Dan Karell: It was from last January but it’s got to be Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City. Man City wrapped up the title early and recorded a record amount of goals and points, but this was arguably the game of the season. Terrific action for all 90 minutes.

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

2) Remember the World Cup? That was just this summer! What was your favorite part of the tournament? How about the USMNT’s efforts in it?

Joe Prince-Wright: I obviously enjoyed England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals and I honestly believe they would have matched up very well against France and would have had a great chance of winning it all. The way Gareth Southgate’s young side made an entire nation believe again and changed the mood around the Three Lions completely was truly remarkable to see. Also, LOL about the USMNT. What a debacle that should never be repeated. Simple.

Nicholas Mendola: Not the Lionel Messi sub plot, as even his fine performances couldn’t overcome the hype about whether it was enough for his legacy. Also, not Serbia getting the short end of the officiating stick on multiple occasions.

There were some great matches! The final was special, as was France 4-3 Argentina in the Round of 16. But Belgium and Japan turning a 0-0 halftime into a 2-0 Japanese lead en route to a 3-2 Belgium win, with Nacer Chadli scoring in stoppage? Holy smoke what a game.

Kyle Bonn: I think my favorite part of the tournament was appreciating the parity that came along with it. Germany bombed out in the group stages, Argentina looked pedestrian, and Spain looked fallible, all while Croatia built a juggernaut, Peru looked competitive, and Sweden won a group. This was the world’s World Cup and that was fascinating.

Also, the USMNT didn’t lose a single game all tournament, so I’ll give them an A-

Dan Karell: Ugh, stop! I think England’s run to the semifinals was a lot of fun, along with Croatia’s constant wins in penalty kick shootouts and them overcoming the odds again and again. Ultimately, France was too talented to be stopped, and Didier Deschamps did a masterful job keeping them tight defensively and letting his side’s speed and counter-attacking ability steal the show.

(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

3) Which player do you hold in higher esteem than you did entering 2018? Who’s much lower?

Joe Prince-Wright: David Silva. I always knew he was good. But I didn’t quite appreciate how good. He is essential to Pep Guardiola’s style and will probably go down as one of City’s best-ever players, if not the best.

Lower… I am going with Daniel Sturridge. Perhaps a little harsh, but I thought he would be able to work his way into this Liverpool attack as the first back-up. He hasn’t achieved that at all.

Nicholas Mendola: I knew Christian Pulisic was good before Jan. 1, 2018, but how much of a factor he’s become in every match is beyond compare on an American level. There’s Clint Dempsey in 2011-12 at Fulham for the gold standard of Americans Abroad, and the question of whether he matches it, improves on it, or does it again and again.

As for lower, and I know this is heavy territory, but pretty much the way everyone associated with Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus dealt with the rape accusations against him. Allegations are allegations until proven true, but showing a modicum of class to the victim (and all victims) would’ve been nice.

Kyle Bonn: If this is possible…Mohamed Salah. I always love seeing players go from one-hit wonder to actually good player, and while only the ultimate of cynics believe the Liverpool star would ultimately fade as just a flash in the pan, I enjoyed seeing it proven on the field.

Less, I have to go with Alvaro Morata. I thought he would be a slam dunk at Chelsea, and his disastrous tenure has led to rumors of a quick exit. I am quite disappointed in his performances there and his inability to find the scoresheet despite a wealth of talent around him. It’s a shame, because he showed so much promise at Real Madrid, and I hope he finds success either with a second chance at Chelsea or someone else who gives him an opportunity after Stamford Bridge.

Dan Karell: Anthony Martial. His second half of 2018 has been tremendous compared to his previous 18 months in Manchester, which all led to him missing out on the World Cup. A player who’s stock has dropped for me is his teammate, Alexis Sanchez. After joining Man United in January. Sanchez has been invisible this season and it’s unclear if Man United will ever recoup its investment in Sanchez.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

4) Who is the soccer world’s person of 2018?

Joe Prince-Wright: Luka Modric. What he managed to achieve with both Real Madrid and Croatia, plus win multiple top awards as the best player on the planet, was exceptional. The Croatian midfielder was a total team player and made his teammates better due to his hard work, vision and delivering in clutch moments. His role to lead Croatia to the World Cup final was reminiscent of Diego Maradona and Pele leading their respective nations to glory in the past. Modric was Croatia’s talisman as they just came up short by losing to France in the final.

Nicholas Mendola: Kylian Mbappe. At the age of 20, with club turmoil caused by Neymar and Edinson Cavani and the pressure of an entire country, Mbappe led France to a World Cup title and Paris Saint-Germain to plenty of wins. But even better than that is the example he sets at such a young age, donating his World Cup winnings to charity and admitting that footballers are paid an “indecent” wage.

Kyle Bonn: Great – and tough – question. So many good options. Jurgen Klopp has to be my choice though, as he’s finally seeing his Liverpool project come to fruition. The Reds made the 2018 Champions League final and have shaken their inability to perform against bottom sides in Premier League play. It’s always fun to see a years-long project not only committed to, but completed. The Reds are a scary team to play for anyone in the world, and that’s down to the revolutionary tactics and recruitment of Jurgen Klopp.

Dan Karell: If it’s a manager, it’s got to be a tie between Didier Deschamps and Pep Guardiola for everything they succeeded. Perhaps it’s even Zinedine Zidane, who took the bold move to resign as Real Madrid manager after a third-successive Champions League title.

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

5) What topic are you extremely happy to leave in 2018: the USMNT coaching search, Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, or a third option?

Joe Prince-Wright: USMNT coaching search definitely. Quite why that took so long was outrageous. Berhalter could have been appointed months sooner than he was to start building the identity of the team. That would have been a smarter move. Southampton’s 2018 was also woeful, so I am happy to leave that there as the squad they have should be pushing for a top 10 finish, not battling against relegation for a second-straight season. I actually think that history will be kind to Jose Mourinho’s reign at Manchester United, but it just became so boring and predictable towards the end and we have already seen the gloom has lifted at Old Trafford. It worked out well for everyone, even Mourinho.

Nicholas Mendola: The USMNT coaching search. At some point we were speculating on David Moyes taking the job because he was on the train to a friendly. Cool. Real cool.

Kyle Bonn: I was happy to see the USMNT coaching search finally come to an end, but disappointed in the result. I was glad to see Jose Mourinho leave Manchester United for the health of the club, but not for those of us covering the team (what a ride!). Honestly, I’m happiest to see the World Cup cycle leave, because the USMNT gets to start from scratch looking forward to 2022. While many have predictions and reservations about the US National Team at this juncture, it will be for the team to prove on the field, and Gregg Berhalter has a chance to lead an emotional redemption for the group.

Dan Karell: Jose Mourinho for sure. The constant moaning to the media, throwing players under the bus, and holding his players back got really old, really fast. Yes, the opposition in the last couple of games isn’t as good, but you can see that the Man United players have the shackles removed and are starting to look as if they enjoy their profession again.

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

6) Free skate: Any other thoughts about 2018?

Joe Prince-Wright: Watching Man City’s record breaking season up close was amazing. They made history and have set the bar incredibly high for the rest of the Premier League.

It was a reflective year for many Premier League teams who took steps towards long-term progression. Liverpool finally bought world-class defensive players, Man United sacked their manager, Arsene Wenger left Arsenal and Chelsea moved on with an exciting tactical project. Man City have leveled off a little but are still incredible to watch, while Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham are still defying the odds and will actually move into their new stadium soon. The top six have been fascinating to watch in 2018, and given four of them are in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, it seems like English soccer has had a real resurgence on the European stage too.

Nicholas Mendola: I don’t want to be a downer and I know Leicester City happened just a few years ago, but it seems like it’s the end of non-giants making charges toward the Top Four. It’s not Liverpool’s fault for joining Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Man City in spending ungodly amounts of dough. It’s not just about the money, because those arguments are also annoying and look at Everton and West Ham, but it is frustrating.

Kyle Bonn: 2018 was a great year of soccer, but the failures of the USMNT certainly bring it down from our perspective. There needs to be growth there moving forward, or it will be tough to build on the growing fanbase in this country.

Dan Karell: Regarding the U.S. men’s national team, it was an empty year that should have had a World Cup appearance to go with it. We saw a lot of new players make their debuts and other youngsters receive more minutes, but the team felt like the Israelites wandering for 40 years searching for the Land of Israel, with no direction. Hopefully now, with Gregg Berhalter (Moses?) in charge, the USMNT can find the promised land.

Another note: Atlanta United’s incredible success can’t go unnoted. To create a title-winning team in two years is incredible difficult, and the organization has raised the bar for MLS even higher. 2018 was a huge step for the league. Let’s see what 2019 brings.
(AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

FIFA research says 3.5B people viewed some World Cup action

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says more than 3.5 billion people viewed some of the 2018 World Cup, with 1.12 billion watching at least one minute of France beating Croatia 4-2 in the final.

A FIFA-commissioned review of World Cup viewing says the final’s television audience was 516.6 million by the traditional measure of “global average in-home audience.” More watched on digital devices and out-of-home screenings in public spaces, bars and restaurants.

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The global TV audience for the 64-game tournament in Russia averaged 191 million per game – up from 187 million for the 2014 edition in Brazil.

FIFA says “each game was a global televisual event in its own right.”

FIFA’s research suggests most viewers also watched for longer than they did four years earlier.

FIFA reveals how much it paid each club for 2018 World Cup

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FIFA has revealed how much it has paid each club around the world for releasing its players for the 2018 World Cup.

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World soccer’s governing body said it paid 416 clubs from 63 different countries, with a daily rate of $8,530 for each of the 736 players selected.

Premier League clubs Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United are all in the top 10, while the likes of Real Madrid, PSG and Barcelona all feature.

Here is the full list of payments made to each club around the world, while below we take a look at the top 10, how much each current PL club was paid and what payment MLS teams received.


Top 10 club payments worldwide:
1. Manchester City, $5 million
2. Real Madrid CF, $4.8 million
3. Tottenham Hotspur, $4.4 million
4. FC Barcelona, $4.1 million
5. Paris Saint-Germain, $3.9 million
6. Chelsea, $3.8 million
7. Manchester United, $3.6 million
8. Club Atletico de Madrid, $3 million
9. Juventus FC, $3 million
10. AS Monaco, $2.9 million


Premier League club payments:

Arsenal FC $2.2 million
Brighton & Hove Albion FC $331,000
Burnley FC $628,260
Chelsea FC $3.8 million
Crystal Palace FC $618,355
Everton FC $824,945
Fulham FC $182,535
Huddersfield Town FC $611,280
Leicester City FC $2.17 million
Liverpool FC $2.58 million
Manchester City FC $5 million
Manchester United FC $3.6 million
Newcastle United FC $123,105
Southampton FC $1.11 million
Tottenham Hotspur FC $4.3 million
Watford FC $415,302
West Ham United FC $1.09 million
Wolverhampton Wanderers FC $437,942


Notable clubs paid more than $1 million:
Al Ahly (Egypt)
Al-Hilal FC (Saudi Arabia)
Al-Ahli FC (Saudi Arabia)
CF Pachuca (Mexico)
CA Boca Juniors (Argentina)
FC Copenhagen (Denmark)
Celtic FC (Scotland)
RSC Anderlecht (Belgium)
AFC Ajax (Netherlands)
Feyenoord Rotterdam (Netherlands)


MLS payments:
Houston Dynamo $212,250
Los Angeles FC $338,892
Los Angeles Galaxy $481,100
Minnesota United FC $287,245
New York City FC $451,385
New York Red Bulls $382,050
Orlando City SC $158,480
Portland Timbers $304,225
San Jose Earthquakes $591,470
Seattle Sounders FC $530,625
Montreal Impact $115,322
Toronto FC $127,350
Vancouver Whitecaps $411,765


 

Russia says it thwarted drone attacks at World Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Russia says it thwarted attempted drone attacks at this year’s World Cup.

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, says his officers “took measures to detect and foil attempts by terrorists to use drones during the preparation and hosting of various major political and sports events, most of all during the soccer World Cup.”

Bortnikov gave no further details in comments reported by the Tass state news agency.

Russia used thousands of police and cutting-edge surveillance technology to guard the World Cup. However, four Pussy Riot protesters managed to run onto the field during the final.

In April, Russia said “extremists” and nationalist soccer hooligans had planned to attack World Cup events in the city of Samara but were foiled.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Activist, World Cup final pitch invader in hospital

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A prominent member of the anti-Kremlin movement is seriously ill in hospital, according to protest band Pussy Riot.

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Pyotr Verzilov, who helped organized the pitch invasion with Pussy Riot during the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow, was taken to hospital suffering from a lose of eyesight and he couldn’t walk or talk.

Members of Pussy Riot believe he could have been poisoned.

Below is more information from our friends over at NBCNews.com.

“Our friend, brother, comrade Petr Verzilov is in reanimation. His life is in danger. We think that he was poisoned,” Pussy Riot said on its official Twitter feed.

Sergei Smirnov, editor-in-chief of Mediazona, struck a more cautious note however, confirming on social media that Verzilov was in hospital but saying nobody knew his diagnosis, making it difficult to understand what was going on.

Online news portal Meduza cited Veronika Nikulshina, who it said was Verzilov’s girlfriend, describing how he had been rushed to hospital on Tuesday night after he started to lose his eyesight and ability to talk and walk.

After running on the pitch dressed in police uniforms during the final between France and Croatia at the Luzhnkik Stadium on July 15, Verzilov and others were handed a 15-day prison sentence.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin present for the final, and their stunt, Verzilov and Pussy Riot said they wanted to promote free speech in Russia.