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Soccer Wednesday: Your Running Commentary

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Sixty-six days after Manchester City lit up Tottenham for six goals in a rout last November, the two teams face off once more at White Hart Lane.

The last outing proved to be the catalyst for Andre Villas-Boas losing his job, but this time around, Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham come into the match knowing that a win could book them a place in the top four. On the other side of the coin, a win for Man City could lift them to the top of the English Premier League over Arsenal and Chelsea.

Chelsea are also in action today as they host a London derby against reeling West Ham United. In addition to Sunderland vs. Stoke, Bayern Munich travel to the nearby Mercedes-Benz Arena for the Südderby (South Germany derby) with Stuttgart. Bayern will be without Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben in addition to the already injured Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Elsewhere in action on Wednesday, Barcelona host Levante in the Copa Del Rey, Lazio visit Napoli in the Coppa Italia, and Deportivo Quito host Clarence Seedorf’s former club Botafogo in the first round of the Copa Libertadores. Capping off the evening is a friendly match between Mexico and South Korea from San Antonio, Texas.

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 schedule is after the jump):

2pm – Stuttgart vs. Bayern Munich – GolTV USA

2pm – Athletic Bilbao vs. Atletico Madrid – beIN Sports en Español

2:45pm – Tottenham vs. Manchester City – NBC Sports Network

2:45pm – Chelsea vs. West Ham United – Premier League Extra Time/NBC Sports Live Extra

2:45pm – Sunderland vs. Stoke City – Premier League Extra Time/NBC Sports Live Extra

2:45pm – Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion – Premier League Extra Time/NBC Sports Live Extra

2:45pm – Napoli vs. Lazio – beIN Sports USA

4pm – Barcelona vs. Levante – beIN Sports USA

7pm – Deportivo Quito vs. Botafogo – Fox Deportes

9pm – Mexico vs. South Korea – ESPN News/UniMas


  1. Korea’s backline is awful tonight. Too much ball watching, not picking up runners, disorganized. I’m hopeful the US can get some goals on them on Saturday.

      • It’s because beaners like yourself watch it. Don’t get a hard on frijol, because it will be three and out for your mexiculos. The only reason they beat Costa Rica 1-0 was because Costa Rica had 9 players. you little beaners are ridiculous. You guys think you are going deep in the Wold Cup??????? LLOOOOLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to see you guys get reamed up the butt. I bet the girls would get a good laugh at looking at your little frijol, just pathetic. But first yu need to wet your little bean. Try it with an ant. It would still be too small .

      • Exactly. Beaner isn’t exactly a friendly term you know, but then again, I don’t know why Ives allows $hit like that to be posted on his site.

      • You seem angry at the world, and after projecting your personal issues to us, I think that I know why. Poor guy.

  2. What Sunderland fans are saying.
    Because we all need this:

    “I’m backing Altidore again tonight but for me this is his last chance #safc”

    “The_12th_planet: Last chance saloon for Altidore tonight. Haway lad your time is now #safc”

    “We got 2 get behind @JozyAltidore and think 2 nite is goin be his nite #safc”

    “Steven fletcher actually looks like a Sunday league player at times #lazy #safc”

    “So many average performances. Fletcher isn’t hungry”

    “Ki was unusually poor tonight, Celustka/Fletcher were dreadful, Altidore’s best game for us so far, Mannone – the Don #safc”

    “Altidore much better than Fletch today, still go with Scocco for the derby #safc”

    “Another piss poor Fletcher performance that man isn’t doing it for me Altidore for all his criticism was far better. #safc”

    “if Jozy would have stayed on, you have the power & movement & maybe you would have another goal. Why he’s a better option #sunvstk #safc”

    “Well played tonight Jozy, the goals will come. Keep the faith #SAFC”

  3. in terms of talent moving forward and the season as a whole, if Poyet would put perhaps borini and altidore up top (borini as CF maybe), with Ki and Giac controllin middle and AJ and Larsson out wide, that would give SuNDerland the best chance IMHO. AJ should be on the left side since he is incapable of crossing with his right foot……. larsson is good at crossing (usually). Ki and Giac are good at possesssion in midfield and borini and Jozy can score, problem solved…. colbeck, fletcher, cattermole, gardner (he’s OK) and the rest can ride the bench …

      • I did not see the full game, but did watch the first 35 and then parts after that. And Sunderland was cookin’ for the first 35 minutes, Stoke did not know what hit them. Sunderland was bossin’ Stoke and Jozy was bossin’ Shawcross. But Jozy’s miss. Yeah. Jozy’s miss. I already saw the ball in the back of the net…Sigh.

  4. Well, Sunderland and Fulham switch places. I’m not sure how I feel about that after a decade of supporting yanks there. I guess Al-Fayed DID sell and they DID pull down Michael Jackson’s statue… Bottom line is that they can go down, as long as Stoke and Sunderland stay up.

    • Did you see that play by Eto? Childish. Has done things like that multiple times this season. I have decided I don’t like the fellow at all.

      • +1, I am not a fan of his either, trouble-maker wherever he goes, including his national team. And after the game running to the ref complaining that his silly act goal did not count. And how can 4 minutes of added time end up being nearly 7 minutes?

      • Apparently Fergie time is now Jose time. Just magic some extra time on the clock to let the favorites win.

      • Agreed. And Eto’s silly stunt actually prolonged the game and the game should have been called, and Eto should have seen a yellow card for interfering with a goal kick. Unbelievable.

      • Wasn’t a goal kick. I’m not sure eto’o was wrong. That ball could have been live.

        Similar to nani’s goal against spurs a few years ago following a clear handball from the united player. Ref never stopped the play (chose to play advantage), spurs gk set the ball down as if to take a free kick, nani tapped it into the open net.

  5. Wow, I don’t think Fletcher touched the ball since coming in for Altidore and nobody says anything. Sutherland is awful. They couldn’t beat DC United.

    • exactly, people just watch Jozy to hate on him yet dont realize there are plenty of terrible players playing poorly on Sunderland. Jozy is, fairly, middle of the pack. Borini, Giacc, Ki, AJ (at times), larrson (occasionaly) and Jozy are the only birght spots for Sunderland. and Wes Brown for the most part. the rest of the team is completely replacable…

      by the way, Dman, if you’re watching these post game highlights: do you really think Jozy is flopping, all of these are clears fouls. quit being a pointless hater-drone

      • Giacc hasn’t done much recently. It’s odd he never gets to play. Although, he did as much vs Kiddminster as Jozy did.

      • true but in terms of talent moving forward and the season as a whole, if Poyet would put perhaps borini and altidore up top (borini as CF maybe), with Ki and Giac controllin middle and AJ and Larsson out wide, that would give SuNDerland the best chance IMHO. AJ should be on the left side since he is incapable of crossing with his right foot……. larsson is good at crossing (usually). Ki and Giac are good at possesssion in midfield and borini and Jozy can score, problem solved…. colbeck, fletcher, cattermole, gardner (he’s OK) and the rest can ride the bench …

      • Dman,

        Tugging on a shirt can get you a yellow and for Nzogi that was his second yellow and you know of course that means red.

        So in a sense you were right. That particular foul was not red worthy but hey, two yellows, you got to draw the line somewhere. I mean, in baseball, it’s three strikes and you are out not four correct?

        You do protest overmuch. None of the Brit sites found the red particularly noteworthy.

        Feel what you want but you are in a minority.

      • Getting tugged can cost you a step of half a step. That’s why people do it because sometimes that little bit of distance is important. No he didn’t need to go down, but if he didn’t go down that doesn’t get called and the defender gets why he wants by cheating. You could say both played unfairly but one doesn’t get noticed without the other.

      • fair observer,

        Obviously Jozy’s form is the big issue here but they might want to think about the bigger picture and how that relates to the oft critcised lazy diver.

        Jozy plays for a team in trouble and Poyet’s job is to get the team going not necessarily individual players. Poyet is well aware of what Jozy can do and what Fletcher can do. He has made that pretty clear in various interviews.
        He is also in a relegation battle and while he has said he would love to pair the two of them up his first priority was to find some way to get the team going in the right direction.
        O’Shea and Brown have stabilized the back four and Ki has proven to be his best player and catalyst for the offense.
        Borini and Johnson appear to have gotten the scoring bug.
        Jozy has been charged with leading the line i.e. serving as target man, beating up the opposing defenders, pulling them wide with dummy runs, tiring them out; get them red carded, score if possible. etc., etc.
        In baseball they say when you are in a slump you can still play good defense and help your team.
        Joyz’s scoring form is off a bit for any number of reasons but he can still be very valuable by using that big body that everyone comments on and do all that stuff I just described because that just takes guts, commitment and hard work, no “touch” required.
        Later on when Sunderland is safe, maybe Poyet will play around with pairing up Jozy and Fletcher,
        But for the moment, whatever they have been doing is working. Sunderland has been on a good run that has taken them out of the relegation zone and they need to stay the course until they are assured of safety.
        Poyet is paid to guide Sunderland to safety not prep Jozy for Brazil. However, I happen to think this run, if Jozy continues to play well, will be very good for him because he is certainly going to be in some very tough games in Brazil.

      • sounds like you were trying to disagree with you yet i pretty much agree with you. simply put, my point was that Jozy is in fact playing decent (not horrible as some say) but the rest of the team’s cohesion isnt always there. Thus i was really just giving my suggestions to a lineup that would be their strongest: best scorers up top (borini, altidore), best crossers with curve out wide (AJ, Larsson), best (talent) possession/passing mids in the mid (Ki, Giac) and yes oshea, brown and whomever in the back 4. Im not saying the rest of the team are terrible just that Poyet does tend to play certain players out of position( AJ should always be on the left…..yet he plays on the Right usually, he refuses to EVER cross with his right foot- thus never giving service in the air). Ki is really an attacking minded CDM (think Fellaini), Giac can play both ways, off/def, so team them up in the middle with borini as the creating CF and jozy continuing to do as you say, decoy basically. the only change would be to actually pass it to him at the top of the box which they never do once a proper build has occured.

        But yes, i agree, Jozy plays how Poyet asks, strong decoy drawing attention. his haters fail to realize this and scrutinize him too much

      • true but regardless, its the players that fail to create in the final third, not the coach, ya know? back in the second Man U game that Sunderland lost/won (haha) there was a particular play in the second extra time. sund had the ball around the top of the box, Jozy was open by about 10 yards, sitting right in the semi-circle, Ki had the ball with 2 defenders on him to Jozy’s left, Ki looked up and thought about doing the right thing which was teeing Jozy up for a wide open crack, Jozy was completely unmarked, facing the goal, waiting….. drooling…….. Ki decided to stare at jozy, look back down and take not 1 but 2 more touches moving right in front of jozy and took a crappy shot that had no chance…… Jozy just stopped and threw his hands up. I like Ki in general but the principle is the point there. the decision making is what’s hurting Sund. Ex: how many times have we seen AJ dribble down the wing and just pointlessly make 3 or 4 back and forth cuts while the rest of the team is just sitting in the box thinking ” does he want us to make a run towards him or is he gonna cross it, i have no bloody idea……” 5/10 times AJ just passes it back to Ki who back passes to the GK, Manonne, for a reset……. Sunderland are decent-to-great in the middle third to an extent but the decision making on the attack in the final third are usually terrible. too many CMs just having a go from 40 out (gardner, ki, AJ after cutting to the inside along 18′ line) instead of simply having the patience to play a crisp pass directly to the feet of whomever is up front (jozy, borini, even fletcher).

        AJ has found success usually when finding an open spot on the far side and the team successfully switches play (or off a ricocheted shot)

        Chef Borini literally has to cook up his chances from scratch (although he is more of that type of player, thus the CF/Cam position suiting him best)

        Giac hustles the most (like Barkley at everton) but just gets frustrated his teamates tend to ball watch as if they’ve never seen a good player before.

        Larsson get screwed when Poyet plays him as a CM (he has probably the best curve on the team…let the lad send in crosses….. rocket science….)

        colback……. i dont hate the guy but really is he the best option at doing anything but passing to the open man… he does nothing usually.

        Jozy is the type of player who ideally just wants to get a pass, play it back to someone and then as the Defense shifts to guard that second man, play it back to Jozy in the box (once he’s FACING THE GOAL) and he can shoot and generally finish….. instead he’s forced to retreat to the midline on the attack (is that really where you want your strong ST to have to come EVERY time???….) sure, hold up play is important but its what happens after he lays it off that gets frustrating to watch, the other player genearlly makes a poor decision, causing Jozy to appear like a useless ST rather than one who can thrive of a succession of (gasp!) more than just one pass.

        So while i actually applaud Poyet’s system (simple possession) which they’re doing a better and better job of each game, it comes down to the players actually using their brains.

    • Yeah, Sutherland would get creamed by DC United, his age alone makes it a mismatch.

      Sunderland, on the other hand, is at a much higher level than DC United.

      • Yeah, DC was really bad last season, but I can’t see how an 80-year-old actor can compete against an entire professional soccer team, no matter how poor they are.

      • Sutherland, Sunderland. Whatever they’re called, they stink. These bottom EPL clubs are no better than the bottom MLS clubs. Jozy rolled the dice by joining Blunderland and they are certainly doing him no favors. From the 5-6 games I’ve seen, he’s one of the hardest working players out there but is the constant source of scorn. Fletcher is absolutely useless, gets a ton of money, and I’ve never heard him criticized. Bah.

    • yep…… although jozy manages to get involved yet people think he’s terrible. ( as i type, shot right at GK by colbeck…… people would have killed jozy for doing that…… as they did earlier….)

    • I’ve said it a number of times but go back and look at all of Jozy’s goals for the US over the summer. They come from quickly getting the ball into wide positions and having players create chances while the backline is still recovering. That just doesn’t happen at Sunderland at all as Jozy is flanked by two forwards who just want to cut in and get a shot off.

      • Most of the commenters knocking Jozy are seriously lacking context and perspective. They write as if they have never seen Jozy play before this season at Sunderland. When judging a player it kind of helps to see him for more than half a season, dontcha think? For those who forgeot or didn’t know, Ives picked Jozy’s play in the Bosnia friendly as the outstanding game by a US player in 2013. When you can outshine Dzeko in his own country, you gotta have some talent.

    • Prolly touched the ball 5 times in half an hour.. But apparently 8 passes 3 headers. So 11 times?

      Also is Chelsea the new Manu? They had an extra magic 2:45 to score past the injury time. I hate Eto. I hope someone else saw what he tried to do at the end of the game. That’s just so childish to run up and act like the Keeper kicked the ball. That’s like the 3rd time this season he has decided to ignore the rules of the game and put the ball in the net then pretend he deserved it.

      • That’s not what he did. Often times on injuries when the ball is in the gk’s hands, the referee won’t officially stop the play. He’ll just let the gk gather himself.

        If there’s no official stoppage, then there’s no drop ball (for an injury) or direct kick (for a foul) so the ball is simply live. Eto’o was hoping that was the interpretation. Savvy play.

      • I was under the impression a foul had been called… I admit though that I was distracted around the time I thought a foul happened.

        Still Childish though. Just like when Luiz Adriano scored on Anderlecht.

      • Yeah it’s definitely a gray area, sportsmanship-wise. The argument in eto’o’s favor is that it’s not his fault west ham’s gk is unaware of the situation or rules.

        They obviously gave him plenty of time to recover from the injury, but he chose to put the ball on the ground.

  6. nice defense m alonso…….had positioning then just let his man go by him and almost get possession back. i really hope marcos alonso isn’t realated to Xavi alonso…. he’s ruining the family name. haha

      • Though they’ve got Seb Larsson and John O’Shea as Sunderland’s top two players, sooooooo. Wow. That algorithm needs some serious tweaking.

      • There’s one section that’s an algorithm based on stats and that’s where they have Seb #1. If you’re into stats, you may want to check out an article on Roker Report about Sunderland’s passing stats. It shows how Jozy is much better passer than Fletcher. It’s pretty interesting. Just google Roker Report By The Numbers: The Facts And Figures Behind Sunderland’s Passing

  7. I think i’ve found the problem with Sunderland. They may all be color blind. I’ve never seen an 11 man team so anxious to give the ball away to a 10 man side as soon as they get it.

      • I don’t think so. They are not that good with the ball, and having Jozy playing hold up provides a nice outlet for them. Fletcher doesn’t hold up much. He just lurks off the back shoulder of the defender and looks to make poaching runs.

      • TomG and Chris are two of the only sane people on this page today. Jozy is no C Ronaldo but he’s no freddy adu either…… hahahaha. He’s a 23 year old striker that’s strengths are, well, Strength, Passing (to team mates that actually make good runs off of a hold up ST) and Shooting. the problem is he has to back track with back to goal to play holding ST and never gets a simple pass to his feet near the inside top of box where he wants to shoot from (Watch his goals for USMNT to see). If he gets the ball anywhere from the top of box to the PK spot while facing the goal he usually gets a good shot off.

    • As I was watching I was thinking that if someone just tuned in they would think it was Sunderland that was playing a man down. A really shocking display of ineptitude considering that Stoke isn’t that great themselves.

    • I remember about 3 seasons ago when Fulham played Arsenal and Mannone played goal as the Gunners had GK injury issues. Mannone made one great save after another and Fulham kept peppering away at the goal and Arsenal kept a clean sheet and won. It was the first I had ever heard of him and he was wonderful. I could never figure out why he wasn’t starting somewhere. Now he is finally getting a chance to show his ability. Kind of like Guzan. A lot of times there are good players who just need a chance.

  8. oh man, Cameron preventing Fletcher from getting on that. then makes a great pass up field. then wins the ball, dribbles nicely around the defender and gets taken out right at the top of the 18. free kick.

    • Cameron – best US field player in Europe. If he’s not in the starting XI at the WC then Klinsy’s got some player selection issues.

  9. I can accept that Jozy is not having much luck, and is actually playing much better than his numbers suggest, I can accept that stoke is a Crap team that make the wrong decisions 80% of the time, and therefore Jozy sees very limited chances. But I cant accept jozy’s pathetic falling down all over the pitch whenever he gets touched, it disgraceful. If he is seen as a diver in the World Cup it will set soccer back in the states at least 4 years because one things Americans cannot stand is faking cheaters.

    • the funny thing is….. if you watch when he draws fouls he’s using his large body to gain positioning, then the opponent on multiple occasions just wraps up his arm (a common EPL move but still a foul). So where is Jozy “diving”. They even showed the second yellow on nzonzi from multiple angles to prove it was a take down, u must’ve run to the bathroom tho.

      as i type: colbeck with an amibitious but terrible ball up to Fletcher who is too slow to get to it…. then colbeck with a lazy fould 10 seconds later……… insert Jozy in any of these sentences and the net would be ablaze with hatred for him

      • Your right I didn’t see all the replays, From the front shot it looks like jozy is in fine position to attack, gets a very very soft hand on his shoulder, and proceeds to fall on his face. He falls down much more easily than a big strong guy should. I want Jozy to do well, and I think he can be a great striker when his confidence is high, but his flopping is becoming distracting.

      • to reiterate… you should actually watch the game and replays…. he’s not flopping, he’s getting pulled down by the shoulder or arm on all of these fouls, pretty sure you need 2 monocles……

      • Because jozy won the position battle, the defender’s only option was to slow him down with a tug on the shoulder. That’s not allowed.

        Jozy goes to ground to communicate to the referee that there’s no advantage. That’s how soccer works.

        If jozy had rolled around on the ground holding his face, we might have something to talk about.

      • the defender barely touched him…Id rather see him stay up be one-v-one with the keeper and finally put one away scoring a proper goal., but that’s just me, I like the guys I root for to attempt to score rather than game the ref.

      • It’s not “gaming the ref.” It’s performing a split second calculation that the defender who illegally impeded his progress, however slightly, now has the advantage.

        Obviously scoring a “proper goal” would have been the optimal outcome, but nzonzi changed his course enough with the contact that it wasn’t really 1v1 anymore. More like 1v1.5 as nzonzi could continue leaning on jozy throughout the play.

    • yeah, pretty much everyone hates lebron james and tom brady/every qb of the last decade.

      i can’t stand any kind of embellishment, but honestly, if we do well in the world cup (especially with this group), no american’s gonna care that one of our guys was diving.

      • We seem to expect Jozy to stay up just because of his frame. If Johannsson was pulled from behind like that everyone would be saying of coarse its a foul.

    • After having watched this game and all the replays on that play and watching soccer as much as possible for the last 40 years (the first 20 very little but World Cup on TV), I have to disagree completely and conclude you have no idea what you are talking about.

  10. Poyet’s words to Fletcher: “get in the box, get in the box.”
    Why do I feel that if Fletcher gets in the box he actually gets some service?

    • I think they have different roles. Poyet wants Jozy to run the channels, hold the ball up and distribute the ball. He wants Fletcher to get on the back shoulder of the defender, look to make a poaching run, and nod in a header on a cross.

  11. Jozy with a nice applause as he exits the game. Decent game by him. Unlucky to not get that goal with a great save by the keeper.

  12. quiet surprised to hear the commentator actually praise jozy for his play today, that’s gotta be a first, they usually unfairly scrutinize him while saying NOTHING about any other players terrible play, can anyone say larrson, johnson, M Alonso, or Colbeck have played well today?….

  13. i just wish they’d leave 2 strikers in (jozy and fletcher), but of course he’s gonna take off jozy now………. such a shame.


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