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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

The Barclays Premier League 2013 trophy decked in the colours of Manchester United

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After what has felt like three long months for many fans, the English Premier League is back in action with seven matches on this first Saturday of the season.

Liverpool and Stoke City will kick the 2013-14 schedule off with an early match at historic Anfield. Reds manager Brendan Rodgers will still be without star striker Luis Suarez, but he still will have several quality attacking options to choose from, including Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and new signing Iago Aspas. His opposition, manager Mark Hughes, will look to start his Stoke tenure off with a quality result away from home.

A battle between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium highlights the second round of Saturday EPL matches. A banged-up Arsenal squad will try to defend their home turf against an Aston Villa side that is led by breakout striker Christian Benteke.

The first EPL Saturday will close with Manchester United’s road trip to Swansea City, which will be nationally televised on NBC here in the States. It is the start of a new era for the defending league champions, who will be under the direction of David Moyes after the retirement of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

In matches outside of England, Bayern Munich hit the road to face an Eintracht Frankfurt squad that is still stinging from last weekend’s 6-1 loss to Hertha Berlin in Bundesliga play. Meanwhile, two clubs that narrowly missed Champions League qualification, Valencia and Malaga, help kick off the La Liga calendar with a match at the Mestalla.

If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (Today’s TV schedule is after the jump):

7:45am – NBC Sports Network – Liverpool vs Stoke City

9:30am – GolTV – Eintracht Frankfurt vs Bayern München

10am – NBC Sports Network – Arsenal vs Aston Villa

12:30pm – NBC – Swansea City vs Manchester United

12:30pm – GolTV – Borussia M’gladbach vs Hannover 96

1pm – beIN Sport en Español – Real Sociedad vs Getafe

2pm – Univision Deportes – Nice vs Rennes

2pm – beIN Sport – Toulouse vs Bordeaux

3pm – beIN Sport en Español – Real Valladolid vs Athletic Bilbao

5pm – beIN Sport en Español – Valencia vs Málaga

5:30pm – ESPN Deportes – Cruzeiro vs Vitória

6pm – Univision Deportes – Veracruz vs Querétaro

6pm – Univision – Cruz Azul vs Atlante

7pm – MLS Direct Kick – Montreal Impact vs DC United

7:30pm – MLS Direct Kick – New England vs Chicago Fire

7:30pm – MLS Direct Kick – Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

8pm – NBC Sports Network – New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union

8pm – UniMás – Monterrey vs Tijuana

8pm – Univision Deportes – Pachuca vs América

9pm – MLS Direct Kick – Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders

9:30pm – MLS Direct Kick – Colorado Rapids vs Vancouver Whitecaps

10pm – Univision Deportes – Chiapas vs Toluca

10:30pm – MLS Direct Kick – Los Angeles Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake

11pm – MLS Direct Kick – Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas


  1. Summary of Sunderland’s tactics today: Long ball forward / shoot off target from 30 yards
    Hopefully PDC can change the team’s mindset. All that said, I thought Jozy’s performance was very positive when he found the ball. Held the ball up well, drew fouls in dangerous areas, challenged the defense and keeper on a couple of different occasions. Solid debut for him.

    • I felt the long ball approach came as the game wore on. At least in the beginning it seemed Sunderland had a possession mindset that fell apart maybe due to frustration at the lack of chances. The team had 10 new starters on the field so you couldnt expect much since they clearly need some more time to play together. I dont think theres a reason to think Sunderland will rely on the long ball going forward. However like you said, solid outing for Jozy he definitely stood out while a lot of his teammates looked sloppy at times.

  2. Klinsmann was in a private box today in Stuttgart vs Bayer Leverkusen watching with none other than Jogi Low. Wonder if John Brooks was discussed?

    • I support MLS wholeheartedly but I also get excited for the start of the EPL season. As a true fan of the sport you should be excited for all of it.

      • the EPL should follow the NFL. They need divisions with playoffs and wild cards. The NFL is the most successful sports league for a reason.

  3. Sunderland needs a creative mid fielder player to come in in order to get going. The long balls to Altidore will only work once in a while, Man City released Johnson because he is not consistant and waste too many chances himself. My two cents!

    • Agreed. Service from the wings wasn’t great, but I think what really let down Sunderland was the total lack of creativity in the central midfield. It doesn’t help when Cabral blasts 4 shots from 35 yards out and every other pass is a hopeful long ball. Watching this game, I realized Sunderland could really use a stronger presence at CM…too bad the deal for Huddlestone didn’t go through.

      I think when Fletcher comes back, they could pair him with Jozy and have Sessegnon be more of a creator and less of a target. We’ll see what happens.

      • I agree. Josy was not getting much in the way of service. He was terrific at holding up ball and feeding team mates.

  4. Swansea plays some pretty football. Too bad they can’t put it together at the end.

    Another thing…I don’t see how Chicharito gets much PT for ManU this season. I know he is injured now, but I just don’t see him playing a big part in their plans.

    • A 6 is alright, but Sunderland’s problems weren’t on Jozy. A slew of terrible crosses and too many long balls. Jozy drew fouls, played some great passes, held up play, and made a few great runs without the ball. I think Jozy is setting himself up for a big year.

      You could really tell that Sunderland is full of a ton of new players. It didn’t seem like they had much chemistry or identity.

      • Missed it today.

        Good to hear about that last part, since chemistry can be developed. The worst would be if they end up unable to create anything for him. Of course, matured Jozy is much better at creating things for himself/others these days, but he can’t do all the heavy lifting by himself. Hope to tune in for his next one.

      • Seemed like Jozy was the only truly dangerous player for Sunderland. Very possibly MOTM for them. Black Cats dominated the ball while Cottagers packed the middle, leaving wingers Johnson and Giaccherini miles of space And time on the ball. Unfortunately, they had no ability to make anything of that space, consistently being out maneuvered 1v1 on the outside. Black Cars were also pretty deliberate on the ball, moving it too slowly and allowing Fulham to regroup. That’s not so surprising considering all the new players who will need time to gel. I was v disappointed with the wingers, though. If your wingers can’t deliver service with loads of time and space, that doesn’t bode well for the future.

      • Sky loved Johnson and sessegnon. Had a bit of a hard on for Johnsons long shots.

        Not to say I believe them, and I didn’t watch, so… But as I said BBC reviewed jozy well, saying he was continually dangerous and a handful for the defense.

      • Sess was terrible. Didn’t do a thing. Lots of English fans still rate player for running around a lot even if they don’t do anything.

    • MOTM from the big Suderland blog, The Roker Report:

      “Man Of The Match – Jozy Altidore

      He could have quite easily taken a huff having had no help at all from his supposed striker partner, but he did really, really well. A beast when on the ball and hard to shake off, he also did very well winning the ball up field with tackles and interceptions. Sure to be more to come, and a bright light on a dull day.”

  5. Watching the Hannover-Gladbach game.Have to say Han’s Japanese RB Hiroki Sakai doesn’t look the most explosive going forward but he’s solid defensively.Plus hes only 23, I wonder if Dolo will get his place back.I know he’s the cap but still a good run of form from a younger back might knock him to the bench.

  6. I am going switch from Time Warner to Att Uverse because they apparently have the Extra Time channels for NBC Sports Network so all games can be seen. First no Padre Games and now no Extra Time EPL. Bye Bye Time Warner

  7. I saw the Sunderland game. Joey looked good, but he needs service. Wether it’s a 4-4-1-1, a 4-3-3 or even a (more preferred) 4-4-2, somebody need to get the ball to him. On the other hand Fulham played a great defensive game.

  8. Jozy better get used to the lack of service. If’s he’s going to succeed at Sunderland, he will have to convert more often than not on the 1-2 chances he’ll get per game.

    If Howard ever gets injured he can forget about his #1 spot on the USMNT. Guzan is better at this point and Klinsmann needs to rethink his position. BTW great crotch save by Gooz today.

  9. Fabian Johnson played LB for Hoffenheim in their 5:1 win. Assist on the first goal.

    If he gets more time back there, maybe we can indeed shift him back.

    • ‘if he gets more time back there’?

      that’s where he’s played the vast majority of his professional career. he IS a left back; he’s been playing out of position for the usmnt.

      • Good thing it didn’t show. He helped spark Jozy’s goal scoring run with the service he provided down the left side.

      • yep, he’s been doing alright at left mid. it’s just funny how he provides just as much service when he’s playing left back.

      • yes, he has played some in mid (on the right as well). incidentally, he was awful in those games last season.

  10. Managed to catch the 2nd half with a good feed given by someone on this board. Thanks for the Sweden feed!

    Well, it blows Suderland lost. Jozy imo had a great game overall. Created chances on his own and passed accordingly to the situation. With that said, Suderland blows offensively! Good possession but can’t seem to establish any danger inside the box. Crosses were horrible and a little tiki taka passing was nowhere to be seen.. Suderland midfielders are lacking offensive skills imo

    • They got a couple of new players including Jozy. Hopefully they figure it out. Seems like Jozy realized at the end of the game that if he was going to score he’d have to do it himself and started looking for his own shot.

      His hold up play in this game was masterful, drawing lots of applause from the Sunderland fans.

      • I agree. He was fantastic. Even if Jozy does not get that much service, he will get his goal this year. If the team can jell well, he will get a lot more.

    • Di Canio has Sunderland playing a 4-4–1-1 with Altidore alone up top. Apparently he has not been watching the USMNT or AZ Alkmaar tapes as, as, discussed before, again and again; JA best play comes when he is paired with another striker, or better two others strikers. JA has not yet mastered the art of the lone forward and the EPL is not the place to learn it. AZ only played him at that position when the wanted extra defenders at the back or midfield to hold up a game.

      I feel it’s going to be a long season and not as productive as people think should Di Canio hold on to that formation.

      It took Klinsmann more than a few games to discover this and it helped not only Jozy, but the whole USMN team.

      Coaches hold on to the lone forward as its a security blanket. Let’s hope Di Canio grows a pair and puts another forward up top with Jozy

      • I disagree. Jozy played as lone forward almost exclusively for AZ and played it well. Just as he did today, he was responsible for winning balls at the top and laying them off to the wide players.

        I wouldn’t make a sweeping generalization about Sunderland’s system after one game. They didn’t get the bounces and Hangerland dominated the air. Give them some time to figure it out.

      • Verbeeck was quoted in the Dutch press that ; to paraphrase’ “He was never a fan of a single forward and uses it only on certain occasions” About 70 percent of the time AZ used a 2 or even three player front line, and JA enjoyed his most productive run in this formation. Yes he did play up top alone on occasions and he did score, but it was NO comparison when he is paired, he is way more effective.. One only needs to look at the Bosnia Game to see this. JA played essentially alone up top in the first half. Result: 0 goals. Klinsmann moves Johnson up top with Altidore, Result; 3 goals, i assist

        This observation was made countless times in the Dutch Press, luckily, I can read some Flemish and Dutch. But yes, I am criticizing after the first game because Di Canio, believes. Like Klinsmann does, that Altidore has all the attributes to play upfront alone. He’s big fast, technical and strong. But he also likes to run with his face to goal, and scored most of his goals in the Eredivisie this way. The difference here is that Klinsmann was astute enough to figure out JA is a better player with players around him, to pass and give and go, rather than hold up and distribute. Let’s see how long Di Canio take to realize this.

  11. Was not impressed with Sunderland’s attack today. Let’s hope it’s simply because of a lot of new players have come in and need some time working together.

  12. Well, looks like most of us were on the spot about this.

    Jozy will get little service.

    It’s sink or swim for him. He will either turn into Drogba or Hull-City-Jozy. Let’s hope for the former.

    • Yeah…I don’t know about those extremes. Can’t he just get double digit goals and keep Sunderland in the middle of the table?

    • Way to draw a conlcusion from one game. You could be right, but it’s a little premature to crown yourself a prophet after 90 minutes.

    • Jozy will not be Drogba(Does not have the supporting cast) nor will he be Hull City Jozy(he is so much more a complete player than he was at Hull). That said, Stephen Fletcher (sp?) Sunderland’s top scorer last year is out injured, when he returns Di Canio will put him up top with Jozy and Segsson (sp?) who played as a withdraw forward will move back into central midfield where he belongs. If Sunderland can get some consistent wing play from Adams and their other winger (cannot remember his name) then Jozy will get the service…i.e 10-15 goals…..I do not know what Fletcher’s injury is but I hope he comes back soon!!!!!

    • i saw one of his saves at the 75th minute that incredible. Guzan, IMO, is as good now as Tim Howard. We are in good (goalkeeping) hands…

      • Howard had a piss poor season for Everton last year (I am an Everton fan and watched every game), but I think the arrival Robles and the pressure on him from Guzan have helped him lift his game again. He was brilliant in all our preseason fixtures this summer and solid today against Norwich.

  13. Id like to thank the ref for robbing us of the chance to watch a fair game. Completely ruined the game and basically gave it to Villa, good job.

    • yes, officiating was suspect, but you must hand it to Villa (especially Guzan) for playing a great game. And Arsenal simply did not get it done in the transfer market yet. Would make me angry too if I were an Arsenal fan.

      • Officiating was suspect? The 2nd penalty simply was not a foul and the second yellow for Kos wasnt a foul either. To call it suspect is to undermine just how awful it was. Also if you want to get real technical the first PK shouldn’t have been given either, the ref let a Villa player shoot then called it back which shouldn’t happen. You either call it the moment the foul happens or if you let the guy shoot the play is over.

        I do think Villa is going to be a decent side this year but they were given this game on a silver platter.

      • You are in for a long and stressful season. Arsenal was outplayed and you need to take a long hard look at the mediocrity that is your team and quit whining.

      • Do not really think they were outplayed at all but it will be a long and stressful season, anyone with a brain could have said that. They have done nothing to improve. Also any fan would whine after their team was robbed by officiating, stop targeting

      • I’m a fan of good football/soccer, with no major stock in this game. One would have to BLIND to think that Arsenal was completely outplayed. However, I do agree that it will be a nail-biting season. The officiating was HORRIBLE. Neither penalty should have been given nor the 2 yellows. Arsenal still had 60/65% possession.

        Additionally, although Arsenal scored more goals that anyone at home in the EPL (47), they should get another forward (I’m not sold on Giroud). Anzhi is having a fire sale and Eto’o is available and wants to leave.

  14. Sunderland is really frustrating to watch. For as much possession as they’ve had, very little has been dangerous. So many very poor long balls and the service into the box has also not been good. Jozy has looked solid but he’s had to create virtually everything himself.

    • Wish we could get Hangelabd to file one time switch. Can’t believe fellow Texan Dempsey wasn’t able to convince him to go American when they played together.

      • And Bruce Arena was in charge when he was rising to International level, and he only wants real Americans. I’m just kidding, but yeah he made his debut while still in the Norwegian league, probably would have been very unlikely to consider USA if the option was there, but who knows! What if Hangeland did though? Just a thought.

      • Maybe since some point during last season, but not “awhile” if that is supposed to mean longer than a season.

      • To be fair, I think Guzan has not been especially impressive in his few chances in the USA kit. It’s about nerves vs. comfort. With all his experience — and his #1 status — Howard is more comfortable when he’s in the pipes for the USA. Guzan’s time will come…but, barring an injury to Howard, it will be after this Cup cycle.

      • Re Howard vs Guzan

        What matters is that the US always gets a great game from the keeper regardless of who it is. The US needs a great keeper performance to have a the kind of World Cup JK wants to have.

        Howard was erratic in the 2010 World Cup. In my view it was because he had no competition and became inconsistent.

        Guzan’s emergence helps correct this. Howard usually responds well to a challenge. My theory is he has been playing well for the US lately in some part because he is under pressure from Brad.

        I suspect JK named Timmy number 1 because I suspect Timmy would deal badly with being a backup, while Guzan is used to it.

        So barring injury and an unforeseen loss of form, Howard will probably be #1 all the way through the World Cup.

        Then Brad Guzan will take over.

  15. Ref in the Arsenal game is awful. On the second penalty Koscielny clearly got ball and was given a yellow. Then like 2 mins later gave a second yellow when Koscielny doesn’t even touch the player, Villa being gifted this game with 2 PKs, although first was clearly deserved.

    • First one was definitely deserved. But it should never have been given after the official played advantage and the other Villa player got a free shot on an empty net that he inexplicably missed.

      To go back and give the penalty after that was a clear indication of bias.

      • Agree with the first part of your statement, not so much the second. I just think was incompetence by the ref more than anything.

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