Robin van Persie: Title winner Sky Bet Football Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Football Betting 10 Free Bet Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has spoken about the ‘unbelievable’ team spirit that led them to the Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year in charge at Old Trafford.
Van Persie has played a key role in United’s success this season following his arrival from Arsenal last summer.
The 29-year-old will be crowned Golden Boot winner for the second season running on Sunday, barring Gareth Bale smashing the Premier League record for most goals in a game on the final day.
But the Dutchman insists United’s campaign has been based on a strong team ethic rather than individual excellence.
“This team is unbelievable,” Van Persie told MUTV.
“Every team of champions starts with a good atmosphere and the idea that every single person wants to share success and everybody wants to play their part in it.
“That is how you achieve big things and win trophies.
It is like a puzzle that needs to add up so that in the end, the final puzzle means trophies.” It has not been plain sailing for United, though.
Defeat on the opening day to an Everton side inspired by United’s next manager David Moyes was not in the script, losing at Norwich was also an unexpected setback and, yet again, United were beaten on home soil by Manchester City in the derby.
The latter loss did not matter though.
For United’s form was largely superb, with Van Persie scoring a succession of key goals that allowed them to build an advantage over their main rivals that left them so far in front it was impossible to pull back.
“It is a long road,” said Van Persie.
“You do not win it in one week, it is over a whole year when you have to overcome lots of difficulties in games.
“We work day-in, day-out on stuff you want to achieve in the game.
If, in the end, you win the Premier League it is a massive feeling.
“It is not a tournament.
You play 38 games, so to win it after 34 says it all.
It shows that we were the ones who deserved to win it.”
Andrew Hall’s first century in two years helped Northamptonshire reach 355 before Leicestershire closed day two at Wantage Road on 89-1.
South African Hall hit 113 off 235 balls to make sure the hosts – who had reached 91-4 by the end of a rain-hit opening day to the Division Two fixture – claimed four batting bonus points.
Rob Newton played his part in a fifth-wicket stand worth 143, contributing 81 from 150 deliveries before he was well taken at slip by Leicestershire captain Ramnaresh Sarwan off Jigar Naik.
Naik also dismissed Rob Keogh for eight while first-class debutant Ben Duckett departed for five when he edged Ollie Freckingham to West Indian Sarwan.
But Hall went on to complete his 13th first-class ton.
It was also his first since May 2011 when he reached three figures against Kent at Canterbury.
Impressive His innings eventually came to an end when he was bowled by the impressive Freckingham, who then sealed the first five-wicket haul of his professional career when Steven Crook (four) was taken by Naik at gully.
David Willey blasted a career-best 77 from 76 deliveries before he was the final wicket to fall, Freckingham getting him caught as he ended with figures of 6-125.
Niall O’Brien was given a reprieve on eight when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Duckett off the bowling of Trent Copeland, though the Australian paceman did get his man 21 runs later after a short rain break.
Greg Smith and Ned Eckersley then saw out the remaining seven overs and will resume on 36 and 16 respectively on Friday morning.
Liam Plunkett claimed 5-32 as Yorkshire dismissed Division One champions Warwickshire for just 128 on the opening day at Edgbaston.
The Bears managed their lowest total since their last home defeat in the LV= County Championship in 2011 before the visitors reached the stumps on 11 without loss.
Plunkett removed three top-order batsmen in the space of 18 balls without conceding a run before coming back to take his final two wickets in successive deliveries.
Captain Jim Troughton was the only Warwickshire batsman to stand firm against the Yorkshire seamers, the left-hander battling away for three hours to make an undefeated 65.
Returning Lion Ryan Sidebottom soon vindicated Andrew Gale’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss by dismissing Varun Chopra, back with his county after England Lions duty, courtesy of a slip catch by Adam Lyth.
Plunkett came on as first change to remove Wlliam Porterfield, Darren Maddy and Tim Ambrose in quick succession, the latter pair both failing to trouble the scorers.
Troughton did his best to launch a counter-attack, hitting some pleasing shots to get 10 boundaries, but he received little support from the rest of his team.
Sidebottom had Rikki Clarke (14) leg before and after hanging around for 40 deliveries, Tom Milnes departed for a determined 11 to Steve Patterson (3-46).
Lyth and Joe Sayers made sure the visitors – who could yet draft Tim Bresnan into their XI if he’s not included in England’s side to face New Zealand at Lord’s – survived five overs without any damage before close.
Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding are among several familiar faces on the new BT Sport channel.
Photograph: David Parry/PA It usually begins with dry ice, unbridled optimism and the drawing back of a curtain to unveil the front-of-screen talent and ends with failure to break Sky’s dominance and the significantly more circumspect disposal of the broadcaster’s remaining rights.
Veterans of the launches of onDigital, Setanta Sports GB and ESPN at Thursday’s BT Sport event will recognise the drill and some of the faces but will have also noted the bullishness of a company with its own delivery and distribution system through its Infinity broadband packages and the willingness to exploit some of its enormous 10-figure annual profits to rival Sky.
Twenty-seven years ago an episode of Yes, Prime Minister, the Ministerial Broadcast, nailed the techniques used to dress announcements.
The producer, Godfrey, played by John Wells, tells Jim Hacker that a “dark suit represents traditional values, a light suit looks businesslike” and that you use the opening music as a weapon of reassurance, the common perception of the composer running contrary to your message, so it’s “Bach for new ideas and Stravinsky for no change”.
The most obvious example was Setanta’s use of vivid primrose to suggest a radical approach while the substance of its coverage was not revolutionary at all.
BT has opted to emphasise its bold approach in its pricing structure and pledge to undercut Sky in its deals with pubs, while the programming is manifestly more conventional and the faces remain familiar.
While onDigital used ITV’s existing roster of presenting and punditry staff, Setanta brought in Des Lynam to front one hour-long interview a week with Angus Scott, and a certain James Richardson to host the live coverage and magazine shows.
Steve McManaman, who retired as a player at the end of his two-year contract with Manchester City in 2005, joined as the principal co-commentator for the launch of the two channels two years later, and was joined by Les Ferdinand, Tim Sherwood, Emmanuel Petit and Craig Burley as pundits.
When ESPN began showing its tranche of Premier League matches at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, Ray Stubbs was enticed from the BBC to host and his first panel had Kevin Keegan as its designated lead analyst, with Martin Keown and occasionally Guus Hiddink as support.
Chris Waddle handled the co-commentary but over the past four years the team of regular pundits has been supplemented by McManaman, Burley and John Barnes.
It is no surprise, then, to see the great survivor McManaman, his campaign medals from Setanta and ESPN on the chest of his oyster suit, record his hat-trick as a member of BT Sport’s team.
Continuing the vogue for the former Liverpool players’ association as the first port of call for punditry’s casting experts Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, McManaman, Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Carragher, Phil Thompson, Jim Beglin, Graeme Souness, Keegan, Barnes small wonder that BT has gone back to the well for Michael Owen, rather boldly installed as lead co-commentator, and David James.
What Balliol College, Oxford, is to the Foreign Office and Trinity College, Cambridge, was to the KGB, Anfield is to the trade of football opinionators.
Owen’s elevation has not been greeted enthusiastically but it remains to be seen whether the guardedness that has inhibited him as a guest on MOTD2 will be jettisoned when he retires at the end of the season and feels less bound by the dressing room code and feelings of professional loyalty.
The real Alan Shearer, we were told by his friends when he was still a player, is the one they saw in private, not the wary platitudinous guise he opted for post-match interviews.
That “real Shearer” hasn’t been much more apparent on Match of the Day, so it is to be hoped that Owen, by contrast, can find or reveal a voice that matches the character and verve with which he played at his peak.
Rio Ferdinand as interviewer and irregular pundit, Owen Hargreaves and the referee Mark Halsey, who is hanging up his whistle at the end of the season, complete the team headed by Jake Humphrey, alumnus of Rule the School, Formula One and Football Focus.
All in all it’s a lineup exuding competence and experience and may well blossom into something, if not quite matching Eamon Dunphy/Johnny Giles/Liam Brady/Souness then one that can excel on the established UK template.
BT did manage one controversial commission, however, the return of the former Soccer AM producer and co-host Tim Lovejoy to a Saturday morning football programme after an extended sabbatical in TV cookery and chat.
For many supporters of a certain tartan, the magnificent evisceration of the vapid “Lovejoy on Football” by Taylor Parkes in When Saturday Comes, was a rallying cry against Clash T-shirts as a fashion accessory and the portrayal of football as a lifestyle choice, a leisure option where banter was the native language, hipster cardigans and Rick Parfitt shoes de rigueur and you could unashamedly profess to support two different clubs.
And yet for all the distaste he inspires among some football fans, he has 570,000 Twitter followers, a currency whose value whoever employs him recognises as priceless.
The exceptional innovation announced on Thursday by BT Sport is its pricing structure, while its actual offering is more conventional and built on established faces and formats.
Theme tune by Stravinsky may have been the advice of an old school producer.
| Jordan Rhodes underlined his importance to Blackburn as his equaliser ensured Rovers brought the curtain down on a troubled season with a point at Birmingham.
The striker, an 8million signing last summer, headed home his 28th goal of the campaign at St Andrew’s to ensure Blackburn – all but mathematically safe going into the final day – finished the npower Championship season four points and five places above the drop zone.
And with the Lancashire outfit only managing 55 goals in total, Rhodes’ exploits have proved pivotal to their bid to avoid back-to-back relegations – a fate which Wolves have failed to avoid.
On target again: Jordan Rhodes scored his 28th goal of the season as Blackburn Rovers stayed in the npower Championship Match facts Birmingham: Butland, Caddis, Davies, Robinson, Ferguson, Burke, Elliott, Gomis (Reilly 73), Morrison, Zigic, Redmond.
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Caldwell, Mullins, Arthur, Asante, Lee.
Goals: Morrison 42.
Blackburn: Sandomierski, Kane, Dann, Grant Hanley, Morris, Williamson (Stewart 46), Jones, Pedersen, Goodwillie (O’Sullivan 76), King, Rhodes.
Subs Not Used: Urwin, Givet, Nuno Gomes, Rekik, Bentley.
Goals: Rhodes 66.
Att: 18,979 Ref: Andy D’Urso (Essex).
Latest Championship results, fixtures and table The draw ends a season to forget for Blackburn, who have gone through an astonishing six managers since the opening day.
On-loan West Ham midfielder Ravel Morrison’s neat skill and finish had put Birmingham into the lead just before at half-time, with Rovers momentarily out of the bottom three merely due to their beneficial goal difference.
The Blues, who have endured a difficult year themselves, ended the season just about in the top half with a mid-table 12th-placed finish and a final record of results which says very much about where they currently stand – 15 wins, 16 draws, 15 defeats.
Recalled midfielder Morgaro Gomis whistled a long-range left-footed effort narrowly wide for the hosts within the opening minute but that was the only real moment of excitement inside the opening stages.
Paul Caddis forced Grzegorz Sandomierski into a routine save before Morten Gamst Pedersen, in plenty of space on the right, fired off target at the other end soon after.
Nikola Zigic found himself in a good position for Birmingham midway through the first half but could only hit the side-netting.
Opener: Ravel Morrison opened the scoring for Birmingham just before half time Caddis’ terrible back pass then put Butland in all sorts of trouble with Rhodes closing in but the England goalkeeper, making his final Blues appearance before his departure for Stoke, cleared the danger.
Sandomierski got down well to his right to tip Nathan Redmond’s low shot around a post as the home side continued to look more likely to break the deadlock, Chris Burke firing narrowly wide.
And Birmingham finally got the goal they deserved just before half-time as Morrison showed neat skill before converting into the bottom corner from just inside the penalty area.
As in the first half, there was very little to get excited about at the start of the second period.
But all that changed, especially for the the travelling contingent, in the 66th minute.
Pedersen’s long throw was flicked on by Grant Hanley and Butland did well to save from David Jones but Rhodes was on hand to head home the rebound.
Birmingham, below par after the break, huffed and puffed as they looked to retake the lead but were let down by poor decision-making and a lack of quality in the final third, with manager Lee Clark an animated subject on the sidelines.
And as the game petered out, it was difficult to see anything other than a third successive 1-1 draw between the two sides.
Going for goal: David Goodwillie shoots for Blackburn Battle: Blackburn and Birmingham players battle for possession
This is now attempt number 329 of writing an opening sentence of this weekend’s previews attempts written in the knowledge that the first listed game of the weekend is a Columbus Crew home game, and attempting not to make a really bad pun about teams being on fire, or rising from the ashes, or finding their spark, or…
Columbus Crew’s scoreboard caught fire last week, delaying the start of their game with D.C.
When the game got underway, Columbus smoked beat DC 3-0.
Now that that dignity snare has been safely negotiated, I can tell you that the Crew host New York this week, with the Red Bulls coming off a last minute victory over Toronto courtesy of a Tim Cahill brace.
And since there are no possible jokes involving Australians and barbecues, or bulls/cows we’re safe to proceed to the next game.
It’s a less busy schedule than usual this weekend, owing to a fairly full midweek program.
New England and Portland got the weekend underway early last night and aren’t in action over the weekend, so after the Crew vs NY game the next listed match up is a lunchtime kickoff on the West coast, with San Jose facing Montreal .
The Impact have been pretty undaunted in their West coast travels so far, opening their season with a very effective raid on Cascadia, and coming into this game having just put six past a hapless Toronto team in midweek.
Meanwhile San Jose are slowly playing into form without getting spectacular results.
Speaking of which, Seattle are back in action this weekend, having finally ended their winless streak on the road in Colorado a couple of weeks ago.
Perhaps they’re hitting Philadelphia at the right time, with the Union losing at New England last week.
Vancouver had a heartening comeback against Western frontrunners Dallas (also resting this weekend) last week and now they visit Rio Tinto, where Salt Lake will be hoping not to repeat either the warm up injuries that saw them lose two players (including the vital Saborio) before last wek’s game against LA, or indeed the 2-0 loss in that game.
That game kicks off on Saturday evening, at the same time as RSL’s Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Colorado kick off against a Toronto team still trying to iron out familiar late game woes under Ryan Nelsen (or “entire game woes” if you count Wednesday’s game in Montreal).
That does it for Saturday night.
Two games on Sunday.
Sporting KC were pushed off their game by a willing Portland Timbers side last week, and there may not be much rest on the horizon as Chivas and their pressing game come to town on Sunday afternoon.
Then the Galaxy and Houston restage last year’s MLS Cup final in Carson, with the Dynamo a little indifferent in keeping their impressive home streak going against Colorado last week, and LA’s kids looking impressively mature in seeing off RSL last week.
Speaking of kids, young Atticus Lane-Dupre got four goals in midweek as his side Green Machine won a 10-9 thriller over the Timbers in front of some 3,000 fans at JELD-WEN.
And from that heartwarming story, on to several more from our fan reps and writers representing each MLS team in action this weekend.
Find out what they think are the big stories at their clubs going into this weekend’s games, have your say in the comments, and we’ll be back on Monday morning with our regular five things we learned column.
All kick off times listed are ET Sat 4:00PM, Columbus Crew Stadium (NBCSN) Ben Hoelzel , Crew Union, Columbus Crew: Well, the big news in Columbus last weekend was the scoreboard literally bursting into flames during team warm-ups.
The game was delayed an hour while the Columbus Fire Department put it out, moved fans from the area, and gave the all clear to resume the game.
But as bad as a scoreboard fire is, it doesn’t compare to the dumpster fire that is D.C.’s team right now.
is bad, but the Crew looked like world beaters last week.
Coach Warzycha finally read this column, took my advice, and decided that Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta, Eddie Gaven, and Dominic Oduro all needed to be on the field at the same time.
Three first half goals and the best offensive display seen in Columbus in quite some time proved the decision to be a good one.
The other talking point around Crewville this week is about how bad this week’s opponent, the Red Bulls, have been on the road this season.
Last week’s game at Toronto was New York’s first away win this season.
In six away games, NY has managed just one draw while picking up four losses and have given up 10 goals.
Meanwhile, the Crew are coming off their best home win in a while.
Hopes are high going into the weekend, hopefully the scoreboard won’t be the only thing on fire in Crew Stadium this weekend.
The New York Metro Stars went dim, but the Crew are burning bright! Dan Ryazansky , editor, Metrofanatic, New York: A New York designated player midfielder with Premier League pedigree, who seems to do all the little things, but never scores…
We’re talking about Claudio Reyna, why do you ask? Of course, a week ago we might have been talking about Tim Cahill.
The Australian finally broke through in the scoring column, tallying both goals in NY’s 2:1 victory over Toronto.
The second came as regulation was winding down, minutes before a wandering gaffe by Luis Robles gifted the home team the equalizer.
Juninho will return from suspension this week, and it will be interesting to see how Mike Petke fits him into the lineup.
As good as the Brazilian has been moving the ball forward, on defense he is anything but alert, and seems misplaced in the middle of the field.
The fate of Robles also seems to be in the balance, as Kevin Hartman is getting closer to making his MLS return.
The personnel might have changed, but it looks like the vibe is very similar to a year ago: NY can get results against the weaker teams, but struggles against stronger ones.
Nevertheless, the first winning streak of the season gives hope heading into Columbus.
Sat 4:00PM, Buck Shaw Stadium Robert Jonas , Center Line Soccer, San Jose: The hits keep coming for the Earthquakes as news broke this week that bruising forward Steven Lenhart had been suspended by MLS for two matches following “violent conduct” against Chivas USA defender Mario de Luna last weekend.
The Quakes were already without fellow target man Alan Gordon, halfway through a four match suspension for using inappropriate language, meaning head coach Frank Yallop will have a thinned roster to choose from for upcoming home matches against Montreal and Toronto.
So who does Yallop choose to pair star striker Chris Wondolowski? Rookie forward Adam Jahn, who rescued a point for San Jose against Portland a week ago, could be the best complement for Wondo.
With size similar to teammates Gordon and Lenhart, Jahn can provide the target play in the opponent’s area that is required in the Quakes set-up.
The Stanford University product has already impressed in the start to his career and has the confidence to help a flagging Earthquakes offense.
The other option for Yallop is Mike Fucito, the former Montreal Impact that was Wondolowski’s striking partner to open the season when Gordon and Lenhart were out with injuries.
An intriguing third option is Marcus Tracy, an athletically gifted forward who has yet to make his MLS debut.
Tracy seems more likely to make an appearance off the bench, but this might be the right time to get the exciting forward on the field.
Whoever makes the line-up, the Earthquakes will need productivity.
Winless in their last five matches, San Jose has not regained the scoring touch that led to a franchise record 72 goals last season.
With a quarter of the 2013 season already in the books, the club can’t afford to keep giving away points in an ever increasingly competitive Western Conference.
Sofiane Benzaza , Mount Royal Soccer, Montreal: Injuries and Canadian Championship craziness would describe the Montreal Impact week.
The sweet taste of victory against the Chicago Fire (2-0 win) turned sour with a scene that Impact fans have seen again and again since joining Major League Soccer.
Alessandro Nesta limped off the pitch early in the second half as another Gladiator goes down.
The good news is that youngster Wandrille Lefevre got some precious minutes, filling out the shoes of the Serie A legend.
A historical 6-0 win vs Toronto FC could be a great milestone in the club’s history if they make it all the way and take the Voyageurs Cup home.
Marco Schallibaum fielded a much more experienced squad for the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship.
Six goals later, the Reds of Toronto go back home with a hangover and a bruised ego.
On the flip side, another player joins the list in the infirmary.
Daniele Paponi limped off 30 minutes into the game with a hamstring injury (out 4-6 weeks).
What have we learned from this week? The seed of victory has taken root in Montreal Impact from the players to the coaching staff.
The winning mentality, that the club was known for, is stronger now than ever.
And they will need it as Les Bleu de Montreal take on the San Jose Earthquakes in San Jose.
Sat 4:00PM, PPL Park Dan Walsh , Philly Soccer Page, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Union left New England last weekend with a 2-0 beating and a reminder that they are a very ordinary team right now.
The Union sit in sixth place at 3-3-2, but they have been little more than a functional, no-frills squad highlighted by striker Jack McInerney’s torrid start.
Philadelphia’s three wins have come against seventh, eighth and last place teams.
They have lost to second place New York, fourth place Kansas City and now seventh place New England on the road.
And they have drawn with ninth place Toronto and fifth place Columbus.
Effectively, they’re doing no more than was predicted in preseason and no less than can be expected of a team playing very conservatively.
Philadelphia’s primary problem has been their weak midfield play.
Right midfielder Danny Cruz has proven one-dimensional, taking very few touches compared to his midfield compatriots while consistently looking for deep runs behind defenses.
Center midfielder Keon Daniel has been dropping so deep that he adds little to the attack.
Meanwhile, 2012 all-star Michael Farfan has been moved out of his comfort zone to play wide left, while his twin, Gabriel, has been relegated to the bench despite impressing more than Cruz and Daniel.
Recently acquired loanee and designed player Jose Kleberson has yet to see major minutes.
If Union manager John Hackworth starts playing his best midfielders in their best positions, the Union could be an impressive team.
Right now, they’re just functional, and some fans even question that.
Sam Chesneau , Gorilla FC, Seattle: Sat 9:00PM, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Richard Bamber , Centennial 38 Supporters, Colorado Rapids: A familiar story for the Rapids this week, as we’re talking about injuries…
We got a 1-1 draw away to Houston last weekend which a lot of fans were happy with.
Granted Houston are very good at home, but perhaps people being happy with that says more about current standards and expectations than anything else.
The game saw us lose Hendry Thomas to a left hamstring injury for a couple of weeks, even as Mastroeni and Riveros both came back to make substitute appearances.
On another injury related note Matt Pickens, the “number one” goalkeeper (though Clint Irwin may have other ideas…), was seen training without a cast, so there may be an interesting debate soon as to if and when he comes back into the team.
It won’t be before Toronto on Saturday obviously.
We’d want to get a result there though it may be a little more difficult as they’ll probably be hurting after what happened in the Voyageur’s Cup in midweek.
One other nice little aside is that the play-in rounds for the 100th US Open Cup next week will feature Colorado Rovers, a local amateur side coached by Erik French, who’s a regular at Rapids Supporter tailgates.
If they negotiate their play-in round they’ll be playing Real Colorado Foxes, who are the local PDL side.
If that happens, the Rapids fans will probably show up to watch what’ll definitely be a winning Colorado side…
Sonja Missio , 90 Minutes of Hopp: Does anyone else ever wonder if Ryan Nelsen is starting to get suspicious that he may be party to an elaborate hoax? Like a Just For Laughs: Gags , where he is set up to coach a soccer team that, unbeknownst to him, is actually just set up to fail each time, with the sole purpose to see the reaction from the poor, unsuspecting coach.
God, I wish that were true; unfortunately, Toronto FC is really just that terrible when it comes to results.
Take Wednesday night.
TFC met with Montreal Impact for the second leg of The Canadian Championship.
Having beat Les Bleus 2-0 at BMO Field a week earlier, Toronto arrived with high expectations, as did their fans.
The last few games for Toronto had ended in dropped points from late minute goals; before the match began it was already decided: there was no way Toronto could let that happen against the rival Quebec city.
The good news: they didn’t.
Not a single late minute goal was scored that would have an impact (pardon the pun) on the final score.
However, the bad news: that’s because The Impact scored six goals, winning 6-2 on aggregate, so any late goals didn’t really matter much.
Coincidentally, the Twitter hashtag for the game was #MakeItFive to rally what would hopefully be TFC’s fifth straight Championship win.
Who would have thought Montreal would answer with their own, #WeMadeItSix.
The silverlining: Toronto can now come back to focus on the league.
We’re going to make playoffs for sure now, baby! Sat 9:00PM, Rio Tinto Stadium Denzel Eslinger , RSL Perspective: Real Salt Lake was left reeling after two quick goals scored by the LA Galaxy on Saturday and despite 20 shots including a couple of crossbar and pole hits, RSL was unable to get anything past Brian Rowe who was making his first MLS start.
There is little time for RSL to look back at what might have gone wrong, as they now have to prepare to host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
These two sides faced off just a couple weeks ago at BC Place, a match the ended in a 1-1 draw on a cracker of a goal by RSL rookie Olmes Garcia, and a controversial PK converted by Camilo.
Real Salt Lake will have to figure out how to get back to their winning ways without Alvaro Saborio who is out for a few weeks with an injury, the team could also be without Robbie Findley and Olmes Garcia both of whom suffered injuries last week, but are still listed as questionable for Saturday.
The injury issues have been something on the mind of RSL head coach Jason Kreis, who even recently mentioned that the team may need to tinker with their formation given the injuries.
I expect that they will find a way to stick with their more traditional 4-4-2, but don’t be surprised if you see rookie forward Devon Sandoval in the starting lineup, to provide some size and strength to the RSL attack.
After watching a few Whitecap matches so far this season, I am very fearful that their tactic of dropping at even the hint of contact could be something we see a lot of on Saturday, if the play is left to the players, I expect a sound 2-0 RSL win.
Brenton Walters , @CapsOffside: We’re in a cup final! Yes, it’s a tiny group of teams that compete for it, and yes we expected to get to the final, and yes we’ve been in the final the past two years so it’s nothing new for us, but it’s still a bit exciting.
The Voyageurs Cup (contested by the four professional Canadian teams) has eluded us over its eleven year history.
Many of us feel that this is our year to win.
Which matters, right? Meanwhile in MLS, we’re still struggling.
A draw against Dallas felt like a win after we came back from two goals down, but it was still just a point at home.
And it means we’re winless in six.
Over that period Martin Rennie has benched some starters, experimented with various line-ups, and generally shown some dissatisfaction with the team.
We do have some depth in attack, but with Kenny Miller still out and Darren Mattocks seemingly unable to get any dangerous shots on net, it’s uncertain whether we can compete with the best teams in the West.
If we get a point in Utah we should be happy, especially with Saborio potentially out.
Fingers crossed, but I’m not too optimistic.
Sun 5:00PM, Sporting Park (UniMas) Malena Barajas , co-founder, Women United FC, Sporting Kansas City: After last week’s heartbreaking 2-3 loss at home in front of a sellout crowd against the Portland Timbers, Sporting KC faces Chivas USA at home this weekend.
Coming off two consecutive losses, Sporting KC will have to prove it can maintain its composure against the goats.
Against the Timbers, Sporting gave up the reigns, succumbing to several giveaways and allowing a goal off of a set piece.
It was great to watch defender Chance Myers score the first two goals in his MLS career in that match but disappointing to watch the team fall short on defending counters.
With that in mind, expect Chivas USA to come in knowing Sporting is vulnerable to pressure from an all-out attack and, now, capable of giving up goals at home.
If Chivas USA coach El Chelis is serious about preferring a 5-2 loss over a 1-0 loss, then count on that attack to come.
Chivas USA defender Mario De has played almost every minute of every match and is critical to the Chivas defense.
De Luna was named to the MLS Team of the Week and will be key to keeping Sporting KC at bay.
Sporting KC will need to come in rested, refocused and ready for a fight.
Alicia Ratterree , The Goat Parade, Chivas USA: Chivas USA had two main stories of the week.
First, they got over their losing streak with a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes last week.
While the Goats came from behind to take a lead in the game, their weakened lineup essentially had to defend on a wing and a prayer to keep the Quakes to just two goals and the draw is a decent result.
With this week’s game coming up against Sporting Kansas City, a very tough opponent, they will be welcoming back some of the absent players, but there are still considerable injury concerns, and coach Chel’s will likely have considerable improvisation to do in that game as well.
The other big story this week was the announcement that Chivas’ starting goalkeeper, Dan Kennedy, has signed a contract extension through 2016.
Unquestionably the team’s best player over the past two years, Kennedy’s status was very much uncertain heading into the season, but the news this week hopefully puts any future rumors to bed.
Now, hopefully Kennedy and his teammates can work together to continue to get results on the field! Sun 11:00PM, The Home Depot Center, (ESPN2) Josie Becker , Editor, LAG Confidential, Los Angeles: With the LA Galaxy’s 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on the road last weekend, the main story at the club has been the sudden emergence of competent depth.
Bruce Arena has a noted history of restocking the cupboard with the good stuff, Tommy Meyer starting MLS Cup in place of an injured A.J.
DeLaGarza being perhaps the most storied example.
Now the Galaxy got a goal from Charlie Rugg in his first MLS appearance, assisted by reserve squad veteran Hector Jimenez.
It was a good time for the depth to show its breadth with Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Todd Dunivant, and Carlo Cudicini all on the mend.
Another recent draft pick Greg Cochrane has done a solid job stepping in for Dunivant, and Brian Rowe (who was drafted by Chivas USA last year in the Supplemental Draft and passed on, became an MLS pool keeper, then signed by the Galaxy) made eight saves in relief of Carlo Cudicini.
Up top, the aforementioned Rugg started with Jack McBean, who is now out for over a month with a fracture collarbone suffered in the match against RSL.
It’s another chance for the Galaxy to show off its depth, cause even if Keane isn’t ready to go this weekend one of Jose Villarreal or Gyasi Zardes will get to show off their stuff.
Landon Donovan should be good to go on Sunday, while Houston will be without Brad Davis.
That has to be an advantage LA situation.
Stephen Eastepp , Dynamo Theory, Houston: The big topic for the Dynamo this week is what the road will bring for the orange.
Houston’s good start to the season is mostly attributed to their success at home, but Houston has a tough few games ahead.
It’s no secret that the Dynamo are a different team depending on whether they are playing at home or away.
On Sunday, the Dynamo travel to the Home Depot Center to face off against the LA Galaxy in an MLS Cup Rematch.
The Galaxy look a bit different in 2013 than last year’s Cup Final, but they are just as dangerous.
The Galaxy are coming off of two shutout wins over tough competition and have only allowed four goals this season.
The Dynamo lost their first two road matches this season, but pulled out a draw against Toronto FC last week on the road for their first road point.
Houston would love to walk out of HDC with a point or the full three on Sunday.
Just three days later, the Dynamo will fly across the country to face Eastern Conference foe D.C.
United on Wednesday.
DCU hasn’t had a lot of luck on their side of late and most Dynamo fans would naturally expect a win but they’re on the road and it’s tough to tell which Dynamo team shows up.
Either way, the Dynamo have a tough week ahead with a packed schedule for games and travel.
It should be a fun week for Dynamo fans.
Hurricane Fly: Aiming for a fourth straight Champion Hurdle Willie Mullins has confirmed his big guns on course for the Punchestown Festival later this month.
The Irish champion trainer has enjoyed another spectacular season, highlighted by five winners at the Cheltenham Festival – including an opening day treble.
Champagne Fever claimed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Hurricane Fly regained his Champion Hurdle crown and Quevega raced into the history books with a remarkable fifth win in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
With that trio set to be joined by the likes of Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs at Punchestown, Mullins looks set to dominate once again.
“All our top horses appear to have come out of the big meetings at Fairyhouse and Cheltenham in good form,” he told At The Races.
“We’ll be working them on Tuesday and maybe again later in the week and then we’ll decide their targets, although the likes of Hurricane Fly have obvious targets.” Hurricane Fly will be aiming for a fourth straight win in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle on April 26, while Quevega will be aiming for her fourth win in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle 24 hours earlier.
Sir Des Champs will be lining up in the Bet Online With TheTote.com Punchestown Gold Cup on April 24.
Sebastien Ogier: Extended his lead after day two of the Rally of Portugal Sebastien Ogier showed his return to rude health after he stretched his lead in the Rally of Portugal to over half a minute on Saturday.
There were doubts over whether the Volkswagen driver would be able to compete at the event as he had been suffering from a virus.
But the Frenchman performed well on the second leg in Portugal, impressing in his Polo R over some difficult gravel stages.
The world championship leader won four of the stages in the hills above the Algarve to extend his lead over VW team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala to 34 seconds.
Latvala also enjoyed some success though, after claiming the day’s opening two stages as the German manufacturer dominated proceedings.
Mikko Hirvonen is in third place for Citroen, 68 seconds behind Ogier, with Evgeny Novikov fourth ahead of fellow Fiesta driver Nasser Al-Attiyah, while the VW of Andreas Mikkelsen currently lies sixth.
Meanwhile, ex-F1 driver Robert Kubica had another frustrating day on his World Rally Championship debut.
The Pole suffered tyre problems on Friday that were compounded by hydraulic issues with his Citroen on Saturday that forced his second retirement from the event.
“I started to feel a bit better this afternoon.
Physically I’ve given everything I have but it’s going better and better.
I’m okay,” said Ogier.
“I think I saved my tyres better than the others.
It was a good day but tomorrow has two long stages so it’s going to be tough as well.” Latvala took over second place after Ogier’s opening-day challenger Dani Sordo was forced to retire after his Citroen suffered a damaged rear wheel and the Finn admitted he was delighted with his performance behind the wheel of the new VW.
“It’s the first day this year when I have been smiling,” he said.
Younes Kaboul: Tottenham defender returned to action on Monday night Sky Bet Football Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Football Betting 10 Free Bet Tottenham Hotspur’s senior professional phase coach Chris Ramsey was full of praise for Younes Kaboul after the defender’s return from injury on Monday night.
Kaboul played for an hour for Spurs’ U21s against West Ham at Upton Park having been out since aggravating a knee injury on the opening day of the season at Newcastle.
“He did well, had no problems really,” said Ramsey.
“He wanted to play an extra 15 minutes as well, showed a fantastic attitude and wanted to push his fitness a little more.
“Tom Carroll showed a great attitude as well, as he always does.
All the senior professionals have set an example when they’ve come into the squad.
“Overall, when you look at the fact that a player like Younes returns to action after eight months out and the experience the younger lads gain playing alongside him, it’s another great exercise for us.”