Monday, October 6, 2014

Posted on Monday, October 06, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Posted on Friday, August 15, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014



Jack Megaw joins the podcast today to discuss the Top 10 clubs in Europe ahead of the domestic campaigns. We make some prediction a

Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


When Didier Drogba left Stamford Bridge, he left a note on the Cobham dressing room white board. The note read “Blue till I die” with his signature below.  Rumors of Drogba’s Chelsea reunion with Jose Mourinho and Chelsea began as early as April 2013, after an embrace following a Champions League match between Real Madrid and Galatasaray.  The Drogba transfer speculation lasted for over a year before Drogba was reunited with his beloved Blues.

After a two year departure, Didier Drogba has returned to Stamford Bridge. His last term at Chelsea ended with his kick of the ball that earned the Blues their first ever UEFA Champions League title. Last year Chelsea’s weakest position was striker, now it is almost an embarrassment of riches at the front of attack.  Drogba is now the latest addition to go along with the fresh intensity of Diego Costa, the return of Romelu Lukaku, and Fernando Torres, who once upon a time was the greatest striker in the world.

The internet is awash in rumors that Romelu Lukaku will soon depart Chelsea for Everton, but the signing of his idol Didier Drogba likely signals that he will stay with the club. Lukaku scored 15 goals in his previous Premier League campaign with Everton, a total greater than any player accomplished at Chelsea last season. Internet rumors also have Fernando Torres linked with a return to Atletico Madrid, but until either of these rumors are proven true, Chelsea will boast a depth in the position they have lacked for the past two seasons.

Diego Costa should absolutely be considered the first choice striker. His considerable skill and trademark intensity should serve him well in the league, where Chelsea lacked a consistent goal scoring threat. Costa is one of the five best strikers in the world and is coming off a season with Atletico Madrid, where he scored 27 La Liga goals. In his last campaign he fell just short of Champions League glory, with Chelsea he seeks to contribute to a growing dynasty. He has already displayed his lethal finishing ability, running onto a through ball from fellow new signing Cesc Fabregas, during Sunday afternoon’s friendly with Slovenian club Olimpija.

The friendly match also displayed the mercurial talents of Torres, who impressed all with an incredible flick, and followed it up with a monumental miss from 6 yards out. Torres is an incredibly interesting tale of glory and decline that coincided with his switch from Liverpool to Chelsea three years ago. He has not been able to return to the form that once made him the greatest in the world. As El Nino grew into a fully matured footballer, he only showed flashes of brilliance, thankfully for Chelsea some of those moments earned them a Champions League title. As Torres enters the second to last year of his contract, he seeks one more chance at glory before the club will be forced to consider his ongoing status.

Romelu Lukaku enters this season with a lot to prove to his manager and teammates. His contributions to West Brom and Everton were tremendous over the past two campaigns. He scores goals with an alarming frequency for a player only a few years into his career. Now with the chance to work with his idol Drogba at Chelsea, Lukaku could learn from and compete alongside some of the most experienced and cultured strikers of our time. Some critics have argued that Lukaku has an attitude problem, rather than a belief that he can immediately contribute to a squad that has not had a player match his goal totals from the last two seasons. The influence of veterans like Drogba and Torres will teach him how he will be expected to operate under Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho has made no suggestion that he will stray away from the 4-3-3 formation that has brought him so much success in the past. In Mourinho’s system there is usually only one striker on the pitch at a time. The wide positions in the attacking three will be made up of some combination of Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle, Willian, and Mohamed Salah. Diego Costa will likely feature in most matches at the center of attack, while Lukaku should serve as the second striker in the pecking order. This arrangement would mean that Torres and Drogba would feature in roles coming off the bench or starting matches of lesser importance. It is a role that both are already accustomed to and one that could preserve the fitness of Diego Costa, who played a total of 58 matches for club and country over the last season.

As we rapidly approach the beginning of the English Premier League season, Chelsea’s depth at striker is almost unparalleled. The combined career goals scored by the Chelsea quartet is a massive 760 goals. With over 1,850 matches of experience at the striker positon, there is a tremendous wealth of footballing knowledge for Lukaku and Costa to continue growing from. Mourinho is the greatest squad building manager of the current era of football and is also one of the most savvy man mangers in the beautiful game.  The Premier League title is up for grabs and with the death of tiki-taka, the Champion’s League competition will be wide open. Chelsea should be considered favorites for both.

Didier Drogba has said that he returned to Chelsea in order to win more trophies. A club like Chelsea is accustomed to the demands of fighting on multiple fronts. The depth that they enjoy at the striker positon will help give them a great advantage in their campaign. The ability to play legends like Torres and Drogba in Cup competitions will give them a leg up on almost every other team they will face. With the youth and desire to win that Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku bring to the table, Chelsea can stand toe to toe with any club in the world. By bringing back Drogba and holding onto Lukaku, Jose Mourinho has already gone a long way to making this a Blue decade. 

Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


Soccer in the United States is on the rise, there is no denying this. The US Soccer Federation has been recognized by FIFA for over 100 years. It has done an excellent job fostering the sport in our nation for the past 20 years. Thanks to their efforts we have multiple leagues on the rise, one of the largest youth player populations in the world, and a loyal fan base for both the Men's and Women's national teams. Despite this, there are still areas where our countries lag far behind.

Coaching is not up to the standard of many of the European and South American countries we are competing with. Domestic clubs have no incentive to build academy systems within their communities. Our nation squanders our numbers advantage in youth player population, with only a few players that could be considered international superstars coming from a population of millions. The USA also has a tremendously confusing league structure with a bizarre system of player transfers. 

As the manager of the USMNT, Jurgen Klinsmann is in a unique position to push through reforms to bring America into 21st century football. He has already breathed life into the squad by selecting a youthful World Cup squad that rekindled American public interest in the sport. Under his tutelage he led the United States to their most successful year ever in 2013. He was part of the reform effort in Germany that ultimately led to World Cup triumph just a week ago. Klinsmann is at his heart a reformer, there is no better man to overhaul the American system. With that being said, here are reforms Klinsmann should push through in order to take American soccer to the next level.

1. Encourage Unification of American League Structure

As it currently stands, American professional soccer is divided into three tiers comprised of 50 teams. Expansion efforts will increase this number over the coming seasons, with the top tier Major League Soccer being the 3rd most attended sport in North America. These indicators signal that American soccer at least at the top tier is healthy and solvent. For this reason, America now needs to transition that success down the league structure and unify the leagues, utilizing a system of promotion and relegation. This system would give MLS clubs an added incentive to perform at a high level, give USL and NASL clubs rewards for their success, and add excitement at all levels for the fans.

2. Encourage Professional Talents to Forgo Collegiate Soccer

The NCAA is a cartel that profits from free labor and it harms the development of American youth soccer talent. Currently the majority of high school talents are playing for a college scholarship, not to become a professional footballer. By the time American soccer players expend their collegiate eligibility they are at least 21 years old. 21 is considered by most professional clubs to be too old to relearn the skills and benefit from professional training they should have received during their teenage years. At European and South American clubs, professional prospects are groomed from the age of 13 by top youth coaches. They receive training from an early age in order to develop the instincts and discipline necessary to become a professional. 

Players are in America are motivated by the hope of receiving a college scholarship and diploma, a worthwhile investment, but a short sighted one. As a student-athlete it is difficult to take full advantage of either opportunity when you are forced to sacrifice academics for training or vice versa. Tying academics to football not only harms college institutions, but the players that are involved in them. Now, I'm not saying every prospect should give up college in order to chase the dream of being a professional footballer, but for elite teenage talents it is something that should certainly be considered. 

3. Require Clubs to Develop Academy Systems

American clubs do not take advantage of the youth player populations within their areas of influence. Professional clubs should be motivated to develop talent within their locales. By developing talent locally they foster new generations of fans, can create unique club identities, and perhaps most importantly, avoid excessive transfer fees and profit off the sale of these players. Also by improving and developing academy systems, the national team can better keep track of elite talents in different areas of the country. This would decrease the number of youth players that fall through the cracks. America is a unique country so there will always be players like Clint Dempsey that succeed without club academy involvement, but these should be rare occurrences, not the norm. 

4. Pay Professional and Semi-Professional Players a Living Wage and increase the Minimum Wage

The average salary for MLS players in currently $207,831 per year, however 76% of players make less than the league average. In 2013, 62 players were paid the league minimum of $35,125. Compare this to the English Championship, the second tier league of England, where players make 211,068 per year. Salaries for leagues such as USL Pro are significantly smaller, with players make on average between $20,000 to $40,000 per year. How can professional players be expected to succeed when they could make more money being an accountant? Players must have an economic incentive to continue their careers, giving them something beyond the entry level salary for most careers. Without a living wage, players could be forced to take off season jobs, which can cause them to sacrifice fitness and training opportunities. The future of US Soccer depends on players being able to make a living playing domestically.

5. Win the CONCACAF Champions League

Despite having a solvent league, the MLS still performs poorly in CONCACAF's continental competition. The best ever performance by an American club came from the 2010-11 Real Salt Lake squad that finished runner up to Monterrey. Without a club establishing itself as a dynasty in this competition, American club football will struggle to find itself taken seriously in the world of football. Winning this competition opens the doors to the Club World Championship, which pits the champions of each continent against each other. On this stage, an MLS club could face European giants like Real Madrid and display how far the league has come.

In closing, America is a sleeping giant in world football. Taking action on these reforms would not be easy and may require sacrifice. However if they are implemented, America could begin to wake the beast from its slumber.

Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014


At the end of the World Cup final on Sunday, Manuel Neuer cemented his place as the greatest goalkeeper in the world. Over the last month he displayed how he has earned that label and his exemplary play earned him the coveted Golden Glove as the tournament's best keeper. Neuer tracked down virtually every ball played within his end. He set a record for most touches in a match outside the penalty area by a keeper with 21 against Algeria. He even boasted a higher passing completion percentage than Lionel Messi. 

Manuel Neuer was the keystone of success for Germany, just as he has been for Bayern Munich for some time now. His considerable skill, dribbling ability, and distribution allow Germany's full backs to press higher up the pitch, creating more pressure on the opposition. This allowed Germany to attack with eight, while the center backs could play wider and Neuer scooped up any loose balls in the middle. This tactical advantage allowed Germany to attack with lethal force against Brazil, while remaining stable at the back against Algeria and Argentina. His heat maps for the World Cup cover almost an entire third of the field, something no other keeper at the tournament could boast.

Manuel Neuer possesses the skills set to be an outfield player, yet his body dimensions, jumping ability, and reflexes make him a perfect goalkeeper. Standing at 6'4'', 200lbs, he has a body similar to Jon "Bones" Jones or Richard Sherman. He is a super-athlete wearing a goalkeeper's kit. With almost every performance he spectacularly refutes Twitter critics who clamor for him to stay within the penalty area. He is calm under pressure, capable of making the big saves, as he displayed in the dying moments against France when he denied Karim Benzema with a palm of defiance. 

As time goes on, and the tactical advantage that Germany and Bayern enjoy grows more apparent, we will begin to see the sweeper keeper role utilized more commonly. Children will grow up wanting to become goalkeepers, so they can dance around defenses and deny attackers in the same fashion as Neuer. Players will want to emulate him because he is involved in buildup for attacking play. Few things in football are more impressive than Neuer starting a counter attack. He is the model goalkeeper for the future and possibly one of the best of all time. He is a treasure for our time.

Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Monday, July 14, 2014



Post World Cup Depression is a medical condition that I invented to summarize the feelings of emptiness, boredom and depression that can be felt by football fans following the end of the world's greatest tournament. PWCD sufferers may have begun to show signs of symptoms as soon as their rooting interest has been eliminated from the tournament. Others may not experience symptoms for days to come, while German fans should be immune to this fictional malady following their success. For those of you suffering, this simple five step program should help bridge the gap between the bliss of the World Cup and the beginning of the European domestic campaigns.

1. Go play football

When I was six years old and the World Cup came to the United States, I could not get enough soccer. Following the USA's elimination and Brazil's ultimate success at the tournament, I found myself wanting more. In the days before Major League Soccer began operating, I decided to join my local club team. This began my 20 year love affair with the beautiful game. There are not many better feelings than running with the ball at your feet and this simple pleasure remains one of the greatest joys in life. So find a group of friends and play five aside or go practice your juggling for a half hour or so. One thousand touches later and you should be feeling a bit better.

2. Support your local club

No matter where you live, odds are you are within driving distance of your local professional soccer club. There are hundreds of professional and semi-professional clubs around North America and if you haven't had a chance to check out your local club, now is the perfect time. Whether your club is riding high at the top of the table or sitting at the bottom of the league, they would love to hear your voice and have your support. Your patronage allows the sport to continue to grow and fosters curiosity among younger generations of football fans. As time goes on the league structure in North :America will strengthen and the quality of play will improve, allowing your initial attention investments to pay dividends.

3. Get wrapped up in the "silly season"

One of the best things about being a football fan is witnessing the ongoing soap opera of the transfer season. The transfer window does not close until the end of August, so there are still six more weeks of drama for players to move from club to club. So far during this silly season we have seen Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas move to Chelsea, Alexis Sanchez move to Arsenal, and Luis Suarez chomp his way through transfer embargo to Barcelona. Several big names are still rumored to be in the market for transfers to big clubs including midfield maestro Toni Kroos, French talent Paul Pogba, and PSG striker Edinson Cavani. There will also be dozens of other signings and transfer request submitted, so get your popcorn ready because these will be an exciting six weeks.

4. Begin or continue your Football Manager career

There is perhaps no better way to familiarize yourself with the beautiful game than to play Football Manager. In this computer game you can select your squad from virtually any club in the world and choose almost any player in the world to join your team. It offers a great introduction to the tactics and strategy of the beautiful game, while giving gamers one of the most immersing experiences in all of gaming. *Warning* Do not do this if you value your free time, close relations, or have an addictive personality. Hours will seem to disappear, but if you're looking to fill the void until the beginning of the Premier League season, this is a great way to spend a month.

5. Take a deep breath and wait it out because the Barclays Premier League returns on August 16.

Posted on Monday, July 14, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014


The 2014 World Cup has been the best World Cup of my lifetime, but until yesterday it had yet to see a transcendent performance. When the Germans struck with brutal record-setting efficiency, they set numerous World Cup records, including the record for most goals scored in a semifinal. Miroslav Klose set the career record for goals scored at the World Cup. Tony Kroos scored the fastest brace in the history of the World Cup. Germany became the first team to score 5 goals before the 30th minute. The match also ended Brazil's 62 match unbeaten streak that stretched back to a 1975 loss to Peru in the Copa America. It was Brazil's worst ever home defeat. 

The list of records was not only reserved to the pitch, it also was the most talked about event in Twitter's history. In Germany, the match received an incredible 87.8% of the market share. Within hours the match had it's own Wikipedia page to list the records broken and collective reactions of fans and experts alike. Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter overflowed with memes and quips capitalizing on the schadenfreude enjoyed at the expense of Brazil. 


Brazil's fans lamented openly, providing one of the most surreal atmospheres I have ever witnessed at a sporting event. An elderly fan, Clovis Fernandez was pictured clutching a replica World Cup Trophy as he wept, but was later photographed handing it to a young German supporter. Fans wept through face paint, while players were virtually inconsolable following the final whistle. A nation usually known for their enthusiasm and exuberance fell quiet and demure. It was a moment when the beautiful game displayed how fickle and cruel it could be to those that love it. 


At last this tournament saw a transcendent performance from an elite team. It also saw a very talented Brazil squad self-destruct in front of the world. A nation that had been filled with so much hope, even during the early stages of the match, fell silent as the goal total rose to seven. Even Oscar's consolation marker barely drew a cheer. At the end of the match, the world witnessed a usually jubilant David Luiz weep as he apologized to his beloved country. The match will remain in the record books because of the incredible performances, but it will be the sorrow of Brazil that the world remembers.

Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Monday, July 7, 2014


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I’ve had quite an eventful week since I last left you. We were evacuated off of Hatteras Island because of Hurricane Arthur. I enjoyed the 4th of July by supporting my local club the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who won their first home USL PRO match of the season. Going back to Tuesday, the United States unfortunately fell to Belgium in extra time, but Tim Howard set a record for saves and really inspired our nation. America has a knack for producing world class goalkeepers and Tim Howard might have just sealed his place as the greatest American player of all time. His performance earned him phone calls from President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. I thought the majority of the reaction to the match was positive, with the exception of the assholes out there who used it as an opportunity to say “sawker sucks.”

Aside from these detractors, this truly has been the greatest World Cup of my lifetime. Teams have attacked and not held anything back. Dynamic performances from unexpected places have made this a truly special tournament, however the cream has risen to the top. We are left with our final four that consisting only of giants, the Netherlands will face Argentina and Brazil will see Germany. These teams all had to fight for their place in the semi-finals.

Brazil defeated Colombia in one of the dirtiest matches I’ve ever seen. It set a World Cup record for fouls and the referee never displayed even a semblance of control over the match. The captain Thiago Silva opened scoring from a corner kick, giving Brazil an early advantage. Brazil then proceeded to kick lumps out of Colombia, while they returned the favor. James Rodriguez was fouled 6 times, but was not only the receiving end of any true brutality. Unfortunately for Silva and Brazil he will miss the semi-final because he picked up a yellow card when he attempted to imitate George Best by poaching the keeper when he went to punt. The yellow card is being appealed by Brazil. In the 69th minute Brazil struck gold on a picture perfect free kick which didn’t make a single rotation as it knuckled into the net.

James Rodriguez then finally got his marker when he converted from the penalty spot. Following the match he was in tears as his nation was defeated. Dani Alves and David Luiz consoled the young superstar, he even swapped jerseys with David Luiz. It was a touching moment following a brutal match, which saw Neymar leave with a spinal fracture after Juan Zuniga delivered a flying knee to the back of Neymar. As a result he will miss the remainder of the World Cup. The medical team that stretchered him off displayed a horrible lack of professionalism by not immobilizing his spinal column. Neymar is reported as saying he couldn’t feel his legs, which should have been an immediate dead giveaway. So now Brazil will be forced to take on Germany without their captain or talisman, it looks like it’s up to the Geezer.

Germany earned their place in the semi-final thanks to a goal from Mats Hummels. Tony Kroos played a beautiful set piece ball that found the head of the German defender. That goal was the match’s lone moment of brilliance, it was enough to see Germany through. In truth, it wasn’t an ugly dirty match like we say with Brazil and Colombia, but rather a pretty boring match between the European giants. France did have an opportunity to equalize right at the death, but Karim Benzema was denied by the defiant fist of Manuel Neuer. Neuer was once again excellent and earned the praise of Hugo Lloris who declared the German to be the most complete goalkeeper in the world.

Argentina squeaked past Belgium thanks to an early goal from Gonzalo Higuain. He pounded on a giveaway and fired home on a beautiful side volley. It was an instinctive finish and a singular moment of brilliance in a match where both teams failed to perform up to expectation. Eden Hazard believes he did not perform up to his abilities in the tournament and I’ve got to agree because I really thought that Belgium had an advantage in the midfield. Axel Witsel was fantastic in this tournament and the emergence of 19 year old striker Divock Origi should have allowed them to achieve more than a quarterfinal appearance. However, they did not produce the result necessary, while Messi and Argentina fought through their opponents rightfully securing their place in the semis.

In our last quarterfinal match, the upstart Ticos from Costa Rica gave the Netherlands everything they could handle. They managed to hold out for 120 minutes and took the game to penalty kicks, just like their previous match, however this one had a much different outcome. Keylor Navas was fantastic over the 120 minutes, but he was upstaged at the end by Tim Krul. Krul was substituted on in the final moments of the match in order to face the Costa Rican penalty takers. He made it a point to intimidate them from the start. He claimed to know which way they were going to shoot, and he was right. He dove correctly on all five penalties, and managed to stop two in between banging the crossbar and shouting at opposing penalty takers. Meanwhile the Netherlands were perfect with their penalties and bucked the trend that the Dutch never win in penalties.

Well now that we’ve caught you up with how the semi-finalists earned their spots, we’ve got some news from over the weekend to catch you up with.

Ashley Cole has agreed to a deal that will see him move to AS Roma. He is still in my opinion one of the ten best left backs in the world and should be a great addition to that club. Roma has also signed Salih Ucan who will be loaned back to Fenerbahce.  Roma was very busy over the weekend because they also are interested in signing USMNT talent Deandre Yedlin, who would remain at Seattle for the remainder of their MLS season.

Angel Di Maria has been ruled out of Argentina’s semi-final matchup with the Netherlands with a thigh injury. Argentina fans will be happy to hear that Sergio Aguero is expected to be fit for the semifinal.

Barcelona have completed a €12 million move for goalkeeper Claudio Bravo from Real Sociedad. He has signed a 4 year contract with a €40 million buyout clause after an impressive World Cup with Chile.





In a truly bizarre rumor, Stoke City are rumored to be favorites to sign Ronaldinho, yes that Ronaldinho. I don’t think that is going to happen, but this has to be the pinnacle of silly season rumors.




Posted on Monday, July 07, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014


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I said it last time, but it holds true again, today is the most important day in the history of our footballing nation. Today we face off against Belgium, it has been declared American Outlaws day in Pittsburgh, and most importantly Jozy Altidore has been declared fit and ready for action. That should be a huge boost to the USA because we’ve looked sort of listless without the big man up front. Playing with a true striker will give us some structure and we all know that Jozy can provide those moments of brilliance that are so crucial at the World Cup. Jurgen Klinsmann has spoken out against FIFA selecting an Algerian match official for today’s game. I’m sure bias won’t have anything to do with his refereeing decisions, but I do question them selecting an official that doesn’t regularly officiate matches of this importance.

Either way, that match kicks off at 4PM today, so by 3:30 I expect all of you to be standing with your fellow USA fans at whatever venue you feel appropriate. The American Outlaws are hosting watch parties at the Claddagh and Lattitude 40 for those of you in the Pittsburgh area. The atmosphere will  be spectacular and I really can’t wait for this afternoon.

In yesterday’s matches, France ran out 2-0 winners over Nigeria. Nigeria had a goal taken away in the first half for a dubious offside call. I think that one could have gone either way, but the referee blew the whistle and Nigeria were unable to mount much of an attack following that. After a scoreless first half, the second half began with Blaise Matuidi earning a yellow card for an ugly challenge on Ogenyi Onazi. The challenge broke both the tibia and fibula of Onazi and probably could have earned a red card for Matuidi, but he escaped dismissal. Vincent Enyeama was an absolute monster in this match, he played spectacularly, and unfortunately his performance wasn’t enough. He batted a ball away from his goal, but it fell onto the head of Paul Pogba who smashed it home. In the closing moments of stoppage time, a French corner kick was taken short and a cross sent into the box, which Joseph Yobo sent into his own goal for the match’s final goal. It was a heartbreaking and legbreaking way for Nigeria to crash out of the tournament, and I think that Enyeama’s performance deserved better.

In yesterday’s second match, Germany required extra time to break a scoreless deadlock with Algeria. The match ended 2-1 with all the goals coming in the extra periods. Manuel Neuer was doing his best sweeper keeper routine throughout the match and displayed his considerable skills to the world. It only took two minutes into the first extra period for Andre Schurrle to break the scoreless deadlock, Schurrle flicked in a perfect Thomas Muller cross with his left foot. In the 120th minute, Mesut Ozil scored his first goal of the tournament, by pouncing on an Andre Schurrle rebound and smashing it home. Algerian keeper Rais M’Bolhi really deserved better after making 10 saves in the match, earning MOTM honors. One minute later Algeria managed to scrape back a goal thanks to Abdelmoumene Djabou who hit home a spectacular cross from Sofiane Feghoul to make things respectable for Algeria.

Trivia segment:
Before we get to our results from the weekend and upcoming matches for tonight, here’s a new trivia segment sponsored by Ruffneck Scarves and Who Are Ya Designs. They make a tons of great shirts and scarves and sent me their #Murica shirt, so you should check them out at www.ruffneckscarves.com orwww.whoareyadesigns.com . That brings us to our trivia question for the day which is: Who is the most capped player in USMNT history? If you think you know the answer, Tweet me @IamSchaffer, respond on the Full Time Football Facebook Page, or comment on the blog. We’ll select the winner from the correct responses and send them a gift card so they can pick up some new gear. If you don’t know the answer, still go to ruffneckscarves.com or whoareyadesigns.com and buy a shirt for yourself or the football fan in your life.

Scores from the weekend:
In MLS action:
Chris Barrett’s first half strike was all that Seattle needed to beat DC United. They ran out 1-0 winners in their return to MLS action.

The Phialdelphia Union defeated the New England Revolution 3-1. Sebastien Le Toux opened scoring for the Union just before the halftime break. They went up 2-0 thanks to a Danny Cruz goal that was assisted by Michael Lahoud. The Revs then managed to peg one back thanks to Saer Sene, but Philly put things out of reach with Sebastien Le Toux earning his brace.

The Columbus Crew and FC Dallas played to a scoreless draw on Sunday after the match was postponed on Saturday after lighting struck an off duty firefighter in the parking lot.

The Montreal Impact ran out 3-0 winners over the Houston Dynamo. Jack McInerny had two goals in this match with Marco Di Vaio adding the third.

Gyasi Zardes scored the only goal of the game for the LA Galaxy during their clash with the San Jose Earthquakes.

Erick Cubo Torres scored in Chivas USA’s win over Real Salt Lake. Despite the win they remain in last place.

The Colorado Rapids were 2-0 winners over the Vancouver Whitecaps thanks to goals from Dillon Powers and Vicente Sanchez.

Moving on to NWSL action from the weekend:
Carli Lloyd scored both goals for the Western New York Flash in their 2-1 win over the Boston Breakers. Ezurike Nkemjika earned the Breakers’ goal in that match.

Lauren Holliday scored the match’s only goal for FC Kansas City in their win over Portland Thorns FC.

The Washington Spirit defeated the Houston Dash 1-0 thanks to a goal from Jodie Taylor.
In the final NWSL match from the weekend the Seattle Reign and Sky Blue FC played to a scoreless draw.

Headlines for today:

Adam Lallana has completed his move to Liverpool. He says his wish has been granted to compete in the Champion’s League and for Premier League titles.

Orlando City has completed their move for Ricardo Kaka. He becomes the second Ballon D’Or winner to play in MLS.

Germany defender Shkodran Mustafi will miss the rest of the World Cup after he picked up a muscle tear in his left thigh.

The Cameroon FA has launched an investigation of seven players in match fixing allegations that were made by notable convicted match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal. The match in question is their 4-0 defeat against Croatia, where Alex Song was sent off for elbowing Mario Mandzukic. Betting industry sources have not reported any irregular betting on this match or any other World Cup match.





Luis Suarez issued an apology to Georgio Chiellini and the world football community and Chiellini has said that all is forgotten.


Coming up at noon we’ve got Argentina taking on Switzerland followed by that monumental clash between Belgium and our brave United States Men’s National Team.

Posted on Tuesday, July 01, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Monday, June 30, 2014


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Show notes:

When I last left you, we were preparing for the United States’ crucial match against Germany. Well things didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, with Ze Germans defeating the United States 1-0 thanks to a Thomas Muller blast off of a corner kick. Although we suffered defeat in this match, we were rescued from our doom by Cristiano Ronaldo, who broke a 1-1 deadlock with Ghana by blasting in a shot in the 83rd minute to give Portugal a 2-1 win. That result meant both Portugal and Ghana would crash out of the World Cup.

They were soon joined in the ranks of the eliminated teams by Russia and South Korea, who were knocked out in Thursday’s 4pm matches. Belgium managed to steal a 1-0 win thanks to a late goal from Jan Vertonghen. Once again, Belgium did not look their best, and never made it out of second gear, but have earned three wins in their World Cup matches. Russia and Algeria drew 1-1, with Algeria getting a goal from Islam Slimani to get them the result that sends them to the knockout stages for the first time in the history of their footballing nation. They also became the second African team to move to the knockout stages in this tournament.

Friday was mercifully an off day, but on Saturday the drama continued with Brazil squeaking by Chile on penalties. David Luiz pounced on a ball in the box in the 18th minute and sent in the game’s opening goal, while Twitter critics around the world clamored for it to be ruled an own goal. Their lead only lasted 14 minutes before Eduardo Vargas pounced on a turnover by Hulk, passed to Alexis Sanchez who made no mistake with the finish. The match then settled into a contentious affair, which lasted through the rest of regulation and extra time, sending the match to penalties. It was then when Julio Cesar showed up with two spectacular saves, making up for some questionable penalty taking from Willian and Hulk. His performance gave Brazil the 3-2 win on penalties and sent them through to the quarterfinals.

Later that afternoon, two spectacular goals from James Rodriguez earned Colombia a 2-0 win over a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay. His first goal was really a thing of beauty, he chested the ball and smashed a left footed volley off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal. It was the goal of the tournament, I’ve watched it hundreds of time and I will probably be trying to replicate that goal for the rest of my life. His second goal was a simpler smash from the center of the penalty area. Colombia really is a team to watch in this tournament and James Rodriguez is becoming one of the most searched men in the world.

Yesterday in the early match, the Netherlands snatched a victory away from Mexico in the final moments of the match. Mexico jumped out to a lead thanks to a beautiful goal from Giovanni Dos Santos, who muscled through Dutch defenders before smashing a left footed finish across his body and into the net. Wesley Sneijder equalized in the 88th minute after El Tri grew increasingly defensive through the second half. He smashed in a shot off a corner kick to level things up, really spoiling another spectacular performance from Guillermo Ochoa, who became a free agent today. The Netherlands then snatched a victory before the end of regular time, thanks to a bit of a flop from Arjen Robben who capitalized on a stupid, stupid foul by Mexico captain Rafa Marquez. Klaas Jan Huntelaar, the Hunter, then smashed in the penalty, karate kicked the corner flag and sent all of Holland into babymaking mode as they advanced to the quarterfinals.

In yesterday’s final match, Costa Rica managed to escape in penalties after falling to 10 men and conceding to the Greeks in the 91st minute. In the 52nd minute, Bryan Ruiz rolled a perfectly placed shot into the right side of the net. The Ticos then dropped to 10 men after Oscar Duarte earned his second yellow card of the match, I must say that both of them were deserved, but the referees were truly awful in this match. Missing a crucial handball in the box among other dubious decisions. Then in second half stoppage time in the 91st minute, Sokratis Papastathopoulos smashed home the crucial tying goal for the Greeks. I kept thinking throughout extra time that the Greeks were going to steal another result, but their offensive efforts in extra time were absolutely awful. They didn’t capitalize on their advantage and the match went to penalties, where Costa Rica were perfect. They smashed in five consecutive penalties and goalkeeper Keylor Navas continued his spectacular performances in this tournament with a crucial save on Theofanis Gekas to earn the Ticos their spot in the quarterfinal. Giorgios Karagounis retired from international football following the match.

Trivia segment:
Before we get to our results from the weekend and upcoming matches for tonight, here’s a new trivia segment sponsored by Ruffneck Scarves and Who Are Ya Designs. They make a tons of great shirts and scarves and sent me their #Murica shirt, so you should check them out at www.ruffneckscarves.com orwww.whoareyadesigns.com . That brings us to our trivia question for the day which is: Who is the most capped player in USMNT history? If you think you know the answer, Tweet me @IamSchaffer, respond on the Full Time Football Facebook Page, or comment on the blog. We’ll select the winner from the correct responses and send them a gift card so they can pick up some new gear. If you don’t know the answer, still go to ruffneckscarves.com or whoareyadesigns.com and buy a shirt for yourself or the football fan in your life.

I promise that we will get to the restart of MLS action and NWSL results from the weekend during tomorrow’s episode, but here are our headlines from over the weekend:

Adam Lallana has completed a medical examination and will complete a £25 million move to Liverpool later this week.

Southampton will also have to deal with the departure of Luke Shaw, who completed a £30 million move to 
Manchester United over the weekend. I will be really interested to see how Southampton spend this transfer money after issuing hands off warnings for their young talents. It looks like they really only meant, you better meet our asking prices. In my Southampton Football Manager save, I bought Axel Witsel and Andre Ayew with the proceeds from Lallana, I am curious to see what happens at St. Mary’s.

Kevin Prince Boateng has taken his dismissal from the Ghana squad by calling the FA, shambolic. He claims that he was dismissed from the squad for asking where the money went. They were forced to fly economy, making multiple stops in their preparation for the World Cup. Forced to fly from Miami to Washington DC for 24 hours before returning to Miami, just to shake the hands of “important people.” Their flight to Brazil was 12 hours, with players sitting in economy class. The airport also lost his bags which contained his football boots. Then the squad stayed in a motel in Natal, which flooded.

Chicharito has submitted a transfer request to Manchester United.



Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Thursday, June 26, 2014




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Coming to you from Pittsburgh on the biggest day in American football history. The last match signaled our arrival as a footballing nation. We were disappointed with a 2-2 draw against the world’s best player. Now that everybody wants more, there’s no reason we can’t beat Germany. I am certain that Jurgen Klinsmann still has some tricks up his sleeve and he will certainly use them against his former squad and protégé Joachim Low. It’s going to be a huge match, I will be at the Claddagh on Pittsburgh’s Southside if you want to join me. The atmosphere has been incredible there for these matches. I really encourage you all to check it out.
Let’s move onto what happened in yesterday’s matches.

Lionel Messi put on a fantastic display as he scored two goals in Argentina’s 3-2 win over Nigeria. It took him less than three minutes to strike, pouncing on an Angel Di Maria blast that went off Vincent Enyeama and the post before Messi blasted it into the net. Nigeria responded immediately with a goal a minute later, 
Ahmed Musa blasted a right footed shot from the right side of the penalty area on a counter attack. Nigeria refused to shy away from this game and they really made Argentina work for this win. Right before halftime, Messi struck again with an unstoppable free kick, truly a thing of beauty. There was nothing Enyeama could do about it and Argentina went into the break, up 2-1.

Ahmed Musa again answered the call shortly after halftime, playing a 1-2 with Emmanuel Eminike and finishing past Romero with ease. Marcos Rojo responded three minutes later with the match’s final goal which he scored by rising above the defense to head down and into the goal. It was a great performance from both teams, which sees both of them move on to the knockout stages. That happens because…

Bosnia-Herzegovina earned their first World Cup Finals victory in the history of their footballing nation. They ran out 3-1 winners over Iran, who managed to score their first goal of this World Cup as well. They never really gave Iran a chance in this match, they jumped out to a 3-0 lead with goals from Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic, and Avdjia Vrsajevic. Reza Ghoochannejhad scored the Iran’s first and only goal of this World Cup, with a tap in finish on the far post. Both of these teams go crashing out of the World Cup, but both do come away from this match with something to celebrate.

In our 4pm matches from yesterday, France and Ecuador played to a goalless draw. That result sees France go through and Ecuador crash out of the World Cup.

France will be joined by Switzerland in the knockout stages, who were lifted to a 3-0 victory over Honduras thanks to the efforts of Xherdan Shaqiri who scored a hat trick in this match. He started things off with a beautiful left footed curling effort from outside of the penalty area in the 6th minute. He struck again in the 31st minute, running onto a pass from Josip Drmic and finished home with authority. Drmic then had an assists on the third goal in the 71st minute, he skinned a defender on the left side and slotted a perfect pass to Shaqiri, who fired it home. A great Swiss performance, they could be a very dangerous team in the knockout stages of this tournament. First Swiss player with a hat trick at the World Cup since 1954.

Trivia segment:
Before we get to our results from the weekend and upcoming matches for tonight, here’s a new trivia segment sponsored by Ruffneck Scarves and Who Are Ya Designs. They make a tons of great shirts and scarves and sent me their #Murica shirt, so you should check them out at www.ruffneckscarves.com orwww.whoareyadesigns.com . That brings us to our trivia question for the day which is: Who scored the fastest goal in World Cup history? If you think you know the answer, Tweet me @IamSchaffer, respond on the Full Time Football Facebook Page, or comment on the blog. We’ll select the winner from the correct responses and send them a gift card so they can pick up some new gear. If you don’t know the answer, still go to ruffneckscarves.com or whoareyadesigns.com and buy a shirt for yourself or the football fan in your life.

Pittsburghers stick together... and so does Pittsburgh's soccer community.
At tomorrow's watch party at Latitude 40 we are going to be running a raffle to collect funds for the memorial fund of Matt Hegeman. He was one of the climbers that was killed in the avalanche on Mount Rainer a few months back. We are doing this because he was a Pittsburgher, and was a fellow soccer player, playing at Baldwin High School in the 90s. So if you’re at Latitude 40 tomorrow watching the USA vs. Germany match please donate whatever you can. A link to their YouCaring page can be found in the show notes for today’s episode.

In yesterday’s NWSL match of the day, Sky Blue FC were 2-1 winners over the Portland Thorns. Katy 
Freels scored a beautiful chipped shot from distance in the 8th minute. Christine Sinclair responded with an equalizer in the 54th minute, but it was not enough for the Thorns. In the 65th minute, Lindsi Cutshall struck by heading home a set piece from Jonelle Filigno.

Manchester City has completed the signing of Brazilian midfielder Fernando from Porto. The 26 year old will wear the #6 shirt for them next season.

According to Sky Sports, Adidas are holding a meeting to consider whether they will continue their relationship with Luis Suarez in the wake of the superstars latest biting incident.

Kevin Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari have been dismissed from the Ghana National Team squad. This likely signals the end of Prince’s Ghana career. He had previously retired from the national team to avoid the travel rigors of the qualifying campaign. Sulley was ineligible for today’s match because of suspension and allegedly chased a member of the Ghana FA around the hotel with a broken bottle. You’ve probably heard stories of Ghanaian president John Dramani Manama arriving in Brazil with a briefcase of $3 million in cash for player bonuses. Defender John Boye has been pictured kissing his share of the $3 million.

Pirlo has changed his mind about international retirement and said if the new Italy manager needs his services, he would meet the call.




Upcoming matches for today:
Of course we have the United States taking on Germany at Noon today. Ghana vs. Portugal will also be taking place simultaneously. The United States will advance with a win or draw. Low scoring in the Ghana vs. Portugal match should be encouraged.

At 4PM, Belgium will be taking on South Korea in a match in which they will be missing their captain Vincent Kompany, who has a groin injury. Belgium have already secured their place in the knockout stages.

Algeria faces off against Russia and would advance with a draw. Russia can go through with a win. 

Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014




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Show Notes:
I’m sure you’ve all heard at this point about the Luis Suarez incident and that possibly as a result, Italy has been knocked out of the World Cup. It was a shocking affair at the Estadio Das Dunas in Natal. Mario Balotelli picked up a yellow card in the first half. This meant that Balotelli would miss the next Italy match, but for some reason Cesare Prandelli decided to substitute him following the halftime break in a decision that made absolutely no sense to me. Immobile’s contribution to the Italian attack was almost nonexistent in the first half, and taking off Balotelli signaled that Italy were playing for a scoreless draw. Just before halftime, Gigi Buffon made a spectacular double save that kept the match level.

The game was always a contentious affair, Italy managed 19 fouls, while Uruguay bettered them with 20. The match took a turn in the 59th minute when Claudio Marchisio delivered a studs to knee standing challenge to Arevalo Rios. He did this right in front of the match official and received a straight red card for it. I was a challenge deserving of a red card, especially because of the proximity to the referee. Italy were now down to 10 men, but continued to fight on. The match continued for 20 more minutes, with Uruguay entering the ascendancy.

But then in the 79th minute, Luis Suarez decided that it was feeding time. He bore down on the back of Giorgio Chiellini and dug hit teeth into the shoulder of the Italian defender. It was an absolute moment of madness, Suarez’ Zidane moment. I don’t know what it is with Italian defenders, but they tend to bring out the absolute worst in their opposition. Football is a game of emotion, environmental and oppositional factors fray at the nerves of players, and sometimes these emotions get the best of players. We’ve seen these moments come from enigmatic talents like Zinedine Zidane, Eric Cantona, and now most recently with the third biting incident of Luis Suarez career. Ever the villain, Suarez must have listened to that voice in his head that said if he did this now, he would go down in football lore forever. Which he will. He could also face up to a 24 match ban for this incident.

Chiellini attempted to show the referee the bite marks, but Suarez received no punishment in the course of the match, although the incident is now under FIFA investigation. Two minutes later, Diego Godin capped off his incredible, dominant performance by rising above the Italian defense to meet a Gaston Ramirez corner kick to head home the match’s only goal. He had a great performance, he shut down the Italy attack and scored his second massive goal of the last two months. Italy wasn’t able to mount any offensive attack in the late stages of the match and they were doomed to a World Cup exit in the group stages, meaning Uruguay and Costa Rica would go through to the knockout stages.

Costa Rica managed a scoreless draw against England in their final group stage match. The Tico’s sealed the group with that result. In truth, it was a boring 0-0 draw that saw England go out of the World Cup with a whimper. Roy Hodgeson took the opportunity to play Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley in the starting lineup. Frank Lampard took the captain’s armband, but this was an already defeated squad that didn’t really mount much during the match. Both teams had three shots on target, and all three saves were made by Keylor Navas and Ben Foster.

Colombia ran riot over Japan yesterday, signaling the Japanese exit from the World Cup. They won by a final score of 4-1, after the teams went into the halftime break level at 1. Konno was given a yellow card for a bad foul and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Juan Cuadrado slotted the penalty down the middle for the conversion to open the scoring. Japan fought back just before the halftime break in stoppage time, Keisuke Honda sent in a beautiful cross, which Shinji Okazaki then manipulated his body to score a fantastic header to level the match.

In the second half, Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez took over, he finished off a spectacular bit of interplay from Columbia which ended with a James Rodriguez pass which Martinez dunked home for the finish. Japan managed an impressive number of shots, with 13 on target for the evening, but were never able to find another goal. Jackson Martinez struck again in the 82nd minute, James Rodriuez found Martinez with a through ball and Martinez cut back and finished with ease. Finally in the 90th minute James Rodriguez added a goal to his two assists, he ran onto a ball in space, danced around the defender and finished with a beautiful chip. He has been everything for Colombia and the 22 year olds stock is rising, definitely remember that name. Also in this match, backup keeper Faryd Mondragon became the oldest player ever at the World Cup, earning a CAP at the age of 43.

Finally yesterday, C’ote D’Ivoire crashed out of the World Cup in the absolutely cruelest fashion, losing 2-1 to Greece. Didier Drogba did start the match for Les Elephants, but was substituted in the 78th minute. Greece opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, Cheick Tiote squandered possession in midfield and Georgios Samaras led the counter attack which finished with Andreas Samaris slotting a shot into the back of the net. The Greeks held their lead well for over a half hour before Wilfried Bony struck in the 74th minute. Gervinho received a pass in the left side of the penalty area and passed along the floor to Bony who made no mistake with the finish. The draw would have been enough to see C’ote D’Ivoire through, but it was not meant to be for them. In the 91st minute, Giovanni Sio conceded a penalty by fouling Georgios Samaras in the area. Samaras then placed the penalty inches out of the outstretched hands of Boubacar Barry, giving the Greeks the win and their spot in the knockout stages. As always the Greeks seem to perform for only one match in the group and it was enough.

Trivia segment:
Before we get to our results from the weekend and upcoming matches for tonight, here’s a new trivia segment sponsored by Ruffneck Scarves and Who Are Ya Designs. They make a tons of great shirts and scarves and sent me their #Murica shirt, so you should check them out at www.ruffneckscarves.com orwww.whoareyadesigns.com . That brings us to our trivia question for the day which is: Who scored the fastest goal in World Cup history? If you think you know the answer, Tweet me @IamSchaffer, respond on the Full Time Football Facebook Page, or comment on the blog. We’ll select the winner from the correct responses and send them a gift card so they can pick up some new gear. If you don’t know the answer, still go to ruffneckscarves.com or whoareyadesigns.com and buy a shirt for yourself or the football fan in your life.

Pittsburghers stick together... and so does Pittsburgh's soccer community.
At tomorrow's watch party at Latitude 40 we are going to be running a raffle to collect funds for the memorial fund of Matt Hegeman. He was one of the climbers that was killed in the avalanche on Mount Rainer a few months back. We are doing this because he was a Pittsburgher, and was a fellow soccer player, playing at Baldwin High School in the 90s. So if you’re at Latitude 40 tomorrow watching the USA vs. Germany match please donate whatever you can. A link to their YouCaring page can be found in the show notes for today’s episode.

News headlines:
Samuel Eto’o continues to be one of football’s best humans, there’s a Youtube video of him leaving a facility and a child shouting his name. The same kid he gave a Cameroon jersey too previously, Eto’o hugged the kid and it was a really special moment. Both ended up shedding a few tears. Now I really don’t want Eto’o to leave Chelsea.


Barcelona and Real Sociedad have reached an agreement for goalkeeper Claudio Bravo which will see him playing at the Camp Nou next season.




Upcoming matches for tonight:
Sky Blue FC takes on the Portland Thorns tonight at 10PM

World Cup matches kick off today at noon, featuring Bosnia-Herzegovina taking on Iran and Nigeria facing Argentina. As it stands, Nigeria and Argentina are going through. If Iran can manage a win and overcome the goal differential, they can overtake Nigeria and qualify for the knockout stages.


In our second round of World Cup matches at 4PM, Ecuador takes on France and Honduras will face Switzerland. Switzerland can go through with a draw and win from this match and an Ecaudor loss against France. 

Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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