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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

London, Madrid Derbies and MLS’ First All-Canadian Game Eh!

Written by on March 18, 2011 | 11 Comments »
Posted in General

Barclay’s Premier League

The action this weekend is heavily weighted to Saturday. The early game featuring Spurs and West Ham is a no-brainer given that there is nothing else to choose from – other than staying in bed.

This one must constitute a potential banana–skin for a Spurs side that must find a way to fight on two fronts.  Spurs cannot afford to drop points particularly as a win guarantees that they will narrow the gap on one of or both of their closest challengers for 3rd or 4th this season, Chelsea and Manchester City who play on Sunday.

Both sides have identical records over the last 6 matches of three wins, 2 draws and a loss. White Hart Lane has been starved of Premier League goals this season with only 29 scored so far – only Blackburn fans (28 goals) have seen fewer goals this season.

This will be one of 5 remaining matches against relegation threatened sides for Spurs.

Conversely West Ham has a scheduled heavily weighted to the top of the Barclay’s Premier League. For West Ham this is one of 6 games out of 9 remaining against teams currently in the top 8 – the others are against Aston Villa then finish the Hammers finish the season with Blackburn (h) and Wigan (a).

Needless to say West Ham needs the points just as much as Spurs – perhaps more so. To get all three points they will have to do something they have not done at WHL since 1999 – win.

Other Premier League games on Saturday

Aston Villa v Wolverhampton

Blackburn v Blackpool

Manchester United v Bolton

Stoke v Newcastle

West Brom v Arsenal

Everton v Fulham, (late game)

Wigan v Birmingham

LA LIGA

The top two teams both play on Saturday with Barcelona at home to Getafe while the Madrid derby takes place at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Only ten games remain and Barcelona enjoys a 5 point pad on Real Madrid. What is more the schedule looks more favourably on Barcelona than their rivals. (Just to make sure that there is no misunderstanding I am not saying the schedule makers have favoured Barcelona just that they have already faced the more difficult fixtures).

As well as facing their city rivals on hostile territory Real Madrid still have away games to Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal. When you consider that Real’s soft spot has been road form this season you can see how difficult their task is.

A ray of sunshine this weekend is that their opponents are Atletico – a traditional whipping horse. Atleti last beat Real in October 1999 when the late Jesus Gill dominated the Spanish football headlines by just being his obnoxious self.

On the other hand of their last ten opponents Barcelona only have to play against three that are currently in the top eight of La Liga.

MLS

The season kicked off on Tuesday with the LA Galaxy winning 1-0 away to Seattle Sounders despite being outplayed for much of the match.

By the end of this weekend the other sixteen teams in the league will all see action.

This includes both expansion sides, the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps. As did the Seattle Sounders, both the newcomers opted to enter the league using the same moniker that they left the NASL with so many years ago.

The Timbers start off against the MLS Champions Colorado Rapids in a game that can be seen on Fox Soccer in the US. Colorado looked at have added some extra depth with the signing of Joseph Nane (TFC), Sanna Nyassi and Tyrone Marshall (Seattle) and Ireland international striker Caleb Folan. The first two offer younger legs while the latter offer some added experience. What is interesting about the signings is that they do not necessarily offer additional variety but have been made with an eye to covering existing strengths.

In 2007 Toronto FC was an expansion side and Canada’s first entry into MLS. Four years on they are joined by the Vancouver Whitecaps and next year by Montreal. The bad news is that you can argue that the Whitecaps enter MLS in a stronger position than Toronto.

Over four years inept and generally clueless leadership in the TFC organization has led them back to where they started but with a significantly diminished level of fan goodwill. The Whitecaps may have their challenges this season but expectations of a first year team are substantially less that a team with great support but with a dysfunctional organization.

Don’t be surprised if the Klinsmann makeover turns out to be a far easier sell conceptually than it does in actually turning the team around.  The Whitecaps – TFC match is on TSN – Canada’s sports leader Eh! – now that is a better tag line.

Other MLS games on Saturday

DC United v Columbus

New York Red Bulls v Seattle Sounders FC

FC Dallas v Chicago

Houston v Philadelphia Union

Colorado v Portland Timbers

Chivas USA v Kansas City

San Jose v Real Salt Lake

While we are on the subject of MLS I am looking for some assistance and guidance. I vote each week on the MLS Player of the Week but it is often difficult to watch more than two or three games.

So, I am looking for help. If you watch or attend a MLS game this weekend can you post a quick comment and nominate a player of the game. I can then take that under consideration when I vote bright and early on Monday morning.

Thanks in anticipation

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11 responses to “London, Madrid Derbies and MLS’ First All-Canadian Game Eh!”

  1. soccercrave says:

    Exciting weekend! Chelsea have improved lately, but should they win this game, they will finally put their recent troubles behind them. It would be a great morale boost because they have never beaten City under Anceloti. Carlo will most likely start Anelka and Torres upfront, but I think it is a mistake. Torres should have started the Copenhagen game in midweek, he would have had a better chance to score against lower opposition. Against a powerful and strong side like city, Drogba should start upfront, as his strength and hold up play would most be needed.

    As for la liga, I expect a tight game from Athletico. Madrid have struggled recently in domestic games following champions league action. Mourinho won’t rotate players much for this game either, and with the game being at the Calderon, I think Real will either drop points or register a very close win.

    Great job as always Bobby, you consistently offer some of the best soccer analysis.

  2. Soccercrave – thank you for the kind words and for posting.

  3. Gbenga says:

    Bobby,

    Excellent analysis on Man City… I also think Mancini giving the captain-ship to Tevez may have been to much for him to bear.

    Excellent show tonite and wish you and Eion had more time to talk about Bin Hammam’s announcement for the FIFA top post. I was looking forward to it. You brought up a key point about support from the same English FA and media who were the same ones accusing him and others of buying votes and running different stories on how Qatar bought the 2022 World Cup hosting rights. The same goes for Chuck Blazer who kept going after Qatar and Bin Hammam during the World Cup bidding process. Some dots are not connecting on this announcement for the FIFA post.

    A lot of things he is proposing are already in place and the FIFA Goal Project which he is in charge of, has benefited many countries in the FIFA family… I hope he is not walking into a trap, similar to how the English and others led Hayatou to believe he would win until election day when everything went sour… Time will tell…

  4. Soccerlogical says:

    For someone who gets praised for attacking football, Owen Coyle sure did blow it by sitting back and defending against a 10 man United there for the taking.

    Can we officially begin to view Newcastle as flirting with relegation…. HILARIOUS!

  5. Gus Keri says:

    Three Northern Europeans (Solli, Tainio and Lindpere) in the starting line up for NYRB with one from the Great White North (Sutton).

    Marquez is in the central defense with Ream.

    Agudelo with Henry in the attack

  6. Gus Keri says:

    The other three pl;ayers for NY are Miller, Richards and Balluchi

  7. Gus Keri says:

    It is 0-0 at the half in NY.

    NYRB dominated the first half with more opportunities in goal.

    Seattle had few very dangerous chances to score, but were not able, thanks to Sutton who had few good saves.

    It seems that NY wanted to score only spectacular goals, escpecially Henry who tried to be flashy to the point that he forgot how to score a very simple PK.

  8. Vancouver Whitecaps win their first MLS game with a lot to spare despite the scoreline of 4-2.

  9. Gus Keri says:

    Agudelo gives the NYRB the lead: 1-0

  10. Gus Keri says:

    Bobby:

    This is a great result for Vancouver. It looks like Toronto didn’t benefit from Klinsmann

  11. Gus Keri says:

    Very good win by NYRB: 1-0

    They played very positive offensive soccer. They dominated on both possession and opportunities. They deserved the win. The new faces, Tainio and Solli did well, I thought. But the player of the game has to go to the goal scorer Agudelo.

    Seattle played a high pressure defense and gave the NYRB very hard time. It looked like they watched how Barcelona defended agaisnt Arsenal and tried to copy it to some success.

    As for the player of the week, Bobby, I wouldn’t single out any player as above the rest. It was a team effort.

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