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Lichaj Scores First Premier League Goal

Eric Lichaj and Gareth Bale - Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Last season Eric Lichaj had a world class performance at right back marking one of the Premier League’s greatest, fastest, and strongest players in Gareth Bale.  He had a strong 2011 Gold Cup for the United States as well and looked to find his place in Villa’s starting 11 until a hip injury put him out until recently.  He then played this past weekend against a rising Chelsea and again put in a memorable 90 minutes.  He scored his first Premier League goal making the game 2-2 with less then 20 minutes to go as well as took a long throw in that lead to the first goal.  Unfortunately, Villa could not hang on and lost 4-2 when Ivanovic and Torres scored late for Chelsea.  Keep your eye on this young right back, he has a bright future ahead of him. 


Check out this strike! Milan vs. Juventus from Tuesday, March 20th. 

Worst Stadiums To Play In

As a result of the feedback we got on our twitter (click the jump and follow us) as well as our recent blog post, we decided to compile a list of the top five stadiums as an opposing player, you’d hate to play in. We did our best to sift through the responses and pick the stadiums that provided the most hostile atmosphere and craziest supporters. So, without further ado, here’s our list, in no particular order…

1. Luzhniki Stadium - CSKA Moscow

The stadium has been used in the UEFA Europa Cup Final as well as the Champions League Final, while playing host to numerous Russian clubs. The environment is known for being hostile, and in 1982, sixty-six people were killed in a stampede during a UEFA match which went down as Russia’s worst sporting disaster in its history. Along with the freezing cold, honestly, what could be worse than thousands of screaming Russians, spitting while they talk, and eating their kholodets (some sort of jellied chopped pork or veal meat). I mean, let’s be real here people, anyone in a fur coat and hat with a burly mustache is intimidating. Who wants them in the crowd while you’re on the pitch, doing this: 

and causing a ruckus. It’s all fun and games until you get hit by a Russian firework (which I hear are 10 times more powerful than the ones here in the United States). I’ll just take the forfeit. 

2. Estádio do Dragão - Porto FC

Not only is this one of the coolest stadiums I have ever seen, it’s also pretty hostile. First of all, we’re talking Portugal here people…and everyone knows the Portuguese are just seen as the little brother to Spain, a premeditated slap in the face. Second, this place is home to FC Porto, and with the supporter groups of the squad placed at each end behind the goal, opposing players are going to hear it, no matter which end their in. Third, the stadium literally means Stadium of the Dragons. Come on, not many stadium names get cooler than that. With 70 total titles in their history, Porto has the best record of any club in the land, and their fans certainly never live it down. If you don’t believe me…check out this video (Click the jump)

3. Estadio Azteca - Club America and Mexico National Team

This place is just flat out awesome. So much history behind the stadium, including hosting the 1970 and 1986 World Cup Finals, playing host to the infamous Hand of God" goal and the "Goal of the Century" (Check out the links to view the goals). It has also been the host of plenty international friendlies as well as hostile club matches. The stadium is huge, with available seating for 104,000 screaming Mexicans chanting and yelling at opposing players and fans. This one just about speaks for itself, unless you’re not fluent in Mexican…or awesome. 

4. Fratton Park - Portsmouth FC

Now this one, I had to throw in from personal experience. I witnessed Portsmouth play Manchester United a few years back, defeating United 2-1. This place is just something different from all the others, and honestly one of the most incredible stadiums I have ever been in (and yes, I’ve been in quite a few). The stadium is surrounded by rows of housing, bars, and narrow alleys. The walk in is less than pleasing. If you’re anywhere but the main entrance, you’ll walk down a tiny allow filled with graffiti and barbed wire, while walking through a small gated door to enter the ground. Just too cool. Not only is the stadium itself just rugged, but the fans are extremely hostile. You’ll hear chants of Play Up Pompey (Click to hear the song) and screams for their Blues. It’s a blue-collar, small scale stadium, that packs a lot of noise.

5. Azadi Stadium - Iranian National Team

Touted as one of, if not the most, hostile environments in football, Iran’s Azadi Stadium has a capacity of 100,000. It plays host to numerous Iranian club teams, but is most recognized for it’s home for Iran’s National Team. Riots are frequent, and crazy fans seem to come by the thousands, as this place ranks as one of the most feared stadiums by opposing players. Not only are the fans crazy…

but from what I hear, Iran’s nuclear missile warheads are stationed around the pitch, aimed at opposing players and fans, for any of them who act out of line (scoring a goal against their beloved Iran, yelling at the ref, etc.). Personally, this is no place for me…please and thank you. 

AG


Ronaldo Back Heel Goal: When you think he has done it all.


GREAT GOAL: Lua Lua’s Free kick vs Liverpool

Fan Binds Himself to Joe Hart’s Goal

Protest: Stewards were too slow to get to the supporter as he handcuffed himself to the post

This past week a new record has been set.  Longest time shackled to a premier league goal post during the middle of a game.  5 Minutes is the new time to beat.  Apperantly the man seen above was protesting Ryanair for firing his daughter.  He knew that Michael O’Leary, owner of Ryanair, would be in the stands so with a little bit of time left in the first half he ran on the field and threw on a pair of handcuffs.  “Bold strategy cotton!  Lets see how that pays off for him”.  After a few minutes all they needed was a pair of bolt cutters to free the protestor since he would not give the teams security the key.  My opinion?  Target practice for guys like Kolarov and Gibson to line up thunderbolt shots at him from short range…just a suggestion.
RM

What To Make of LD vs CD

For the first time since Clint Dempsey still played in the MLS the two strongest offensive players for the United States National team played against each other this past weekend both teams looking to advance to the round of 16.  Donovan on loan from the LA Galaxy to Everton was the stronger of the two players on this day. He finished the game with two assists while Dempsey only managed to create a few half chances.  Dempsey has a chance to put one header on goal during the first half, but caught it off the top of his head and it sailed over the crossbar.  He struggled to get on the ball and loose his man on multiple occasions and often found himself double teamed with no Fulham player to pass too. The only other chance he really had in the second half was a shot from the top of the 18 yard box that was blocked with relative ease.  Dempsey looked isolated and even though fellow striker Andy Johnson looked good on the ball when he had it, he often did not open up space for Dempsey to attack and with Bobby Zamora coming on with only ten minutes remaining had little time to have an effect on the game besides chance down balls around midfield with his fresh legs. 

Donovan on the other was a real danger when on the ball.  For a player that usually plays better in open space and with the ball being played into him in that space, he was very composed on the ball and delivered two stellar crosses that led to the two goals.  He dealt with pressure from the Fulham defenders well and set up the free kick that was played quickly back to him before the second goal.  His crosses were pinpoint and even let a rocket fly from just outside the box that Stockdale was not able to hold that resulted in a dangerous rebound, but with no Everton player crashing the net nothing resulted from it.  This was the Donovan that Everton was familiar with last in 2010 when he went on loan.  In conclusion, this win does not mean that Donovan prevails as the best American player.  Everton was the better team on the day and given the free space and lack of closing down on Donovan had compared to the quick collapsing type defending on Dempsey it is not a shock that this was the result.  This does however give another reason for Dempsey to play with a chip on his shoulder which he has proved to be a real strength. 

For example, what would have happened if when Jozy Altidore crossed the ball to Dempsey in the 91st minute of the Algeria World Cup game, he scored instead?  What if instead of the goalie coming out and sliding to block his shot low, Dempsey just chipped it over him and he was the one sliding on his chest into the corner flag?  Don’t forget that in that game he scored a goal in the first half that should have counted after a bogus offside call was made as well as striking the upper 90 section of the crossbar/post midway through the second half of that game.  What if that goal had counted or if that shot had hit the underside of the bar and went in…
The final chapter of this book is yet to be written.

RM


It’s only January…but this one will hold up as one of the goals of the year. And the dance will go down as one of the worst of the year. Nevertheless, enjoy!

A Decision for Wenger

The great boss of the Gunners had a questionable decision this weekend.  With the game tied 1-1 and the 18 year old, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, still running the game, the gaffer replaces the Ox for Arshavin.  Van Persie did not hide his emotional reaction to the substitution as he was shown on camera looking incredulously at Wenger for the substitution.  Since then, Van Persie has spoken out saying he respects Wenger’s decisions in what he’s doing.  Clearly, his face did not match his words.

To make matters worse, Arshavin did not provide any spark to the game.  He failed to follow his man and was at fault for United’s game winning goal.  What would lead Wenger to take off his most dynamic player of the game? His reasoning was Oxlade-Chamberlain was fatigued, but with the scores tied in the last quarter of the game to play, you shouldn’t fix something that’s not broken. The Ox was clearly still capable of performing.  

TW


Don’t know what language that is, but sweet sweet goal by Bale.  Fantastic finish from outside the box.