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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

Brad Guzan of Aston Villa



Brad Guzan and Aston Villa never lack for tough challenges, and this weekend is no different, with the Villans facing defending English Premier League champions Manchester City.

Aston Villa is on a two-match losing streak, but still sit just a point behind Manchester City for third place in the EPL, and the Villans will be hoping Villa Park can offer enough support to pull off another upset.

In Spain, Valencia play host to Atletico Madrid in a battle of unbeatens currently tied for second place in La Liga.

The day’s MLS schedule features some key match-ups in both conferences, with the New England Revolution facing the Columbus Crew, and Portland Timbers needing a win at San Jose to boost their playoff chances.

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

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


9:30 a.m. – GolTV USA – Bayern Munich vs. Hannover

10 a.m. – NBC Sports Network – Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion

10 a.m. – beIN Sports USA/beIN Sports en Español – Valencia vs. Atletico Madrid

10 a.m. – Premier League Extra Time – Sunderland vs. Stoke City

10 a.m. – Premier League Extra Time – Leicester City vs. Burnley

10 a.m. – Premier League Extra Time – Swansea City vs. Newcastle

10 a.m. – Premier League Extra Time – Hull City vs. Crystal Palace

11 a.m. – beIN Sports USA – Caen vs. Olympique Marseille

12 p.m. – beIN Sports USA/beIN Sports en Español – Rayo Vallecano vs. Barcelona

12:30 p.m. – NBC – Aston Villa vs. Manchester City

12:30 p.m. – GolTV USA – Eintracht Frankfurt vs. FC Köln

2 p.m. – beIN Sports en Español – Eibar vs. Levante

2:45 p.m. – beIN Sports USA – AC Milan vs. Chievo

3 p.m. – GolTV USA – Danubio vs. Peñarol

3:15 p.m. – Univision Deportes – Penafiel vs. Sporting CP

3:20 p.m. – ESPN3 – Gremio vs. Sao Paulo

4 p.m. – beIN Sports en Español – Malaga vs. Granada

5:30 p.m. – GolTV USA – Cruzeiro vs. Internacional

6 p.m. – NBC Sports Network – New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo

6 p.m. – Univision – Cruz Azul vs. Club America

6 p.m. – Univision Deportes – Veracruz vs. Tigres UANL

7 p.m. – MLS Direct Kick – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas

7:30 p.m. – MLS Direct Kick – New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew

8 p.m. – UniMas – Monterrey vs. Club Tijuana

8 p.m. – One World Sports – NY Cosmos vs. Indy Eleven

9 p.m. – Azteca America – Santos Laguna vs. Morelia

9 p.m. – Telemundo – Pachuca vs. Chiapas

10 p.m. – Univision Deportes – Universidad de Guadalajara vs. Pumas UNAM

10:30 p.m. – MLS Direct Kick – LA Galaxy vs. Toronto FC

11 p.m. – NBC Sports Network – San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers

11:30 p.m. – One World Sports – Kashima Antlers vs. Gamba Osaka



  1. Keane has been his usual legendary self.

    I swear this isn’t very off topic, but…
    I’m not much of a gamer anymore, sadly. I play Civ for a weekend every other month, but it wasn’t very long ago that I was a devout EA FIFA player. Watching how some of the MLS players have been moving tonight–especially Henry, Keane, and Lando–it made me wish that when you created a player in those games, that you were able to choose how your player moved, just like how in other sports games, you can choose your player’s throw style, swing style, shot style, etc. They’ve done a good job of making the real players look and feel different, e.g. Ronaldo moves differently than Messi, but you can’t choose how you look moving of the pitch for a created player. Please correct me if they updated this for 15, btw.

  2. Really impressed by Rubio. I was being a little cautious at first but I can definitely see this kid making the 2018 world cup team.

  3. … and Rubio with another assist. Nice distribution from the center of the field to a teammate in the top corner of the box, which he sends past the keeper.

  4. Rubio Rubin with a nice quick assist with a sliding cross his teammate put in the net. I just turned it on – it looks like he’s in the midfield as far as I can tell.

    • Injuries and Champions league. The new guys are inconsistent too. Immobile is um… a bit of a headless chicken. But really it comes down to injures.

      They still play pretty well but when teams sit deep they dont quite have the quality to get through. Arsenal was open so they got torched but even then the goals almost didnt come.


  5. its so funny how people jump to hate even on a day Jozy didnt even play….. Jozy’s MOST RECENT GAME he scored. Today he didnt play and people decide to put a negative spin on it towards jozy? if he scores 9 goals this season people will say he’s a bust for not hitting double digits….. haha

      • That’s kind of what makes it so silly. The US doesn’t even have an important match until the Gold Cup next summer.

    • Right!!!! So None of the Sunderland forwards score for 5 games, and it is Altidore who “can’t cut it” in the Premier League? If anyone bothered to notice, even the Sunderland fans were complaining that Fletcher and Wickham were too isolated in their positions and not receiving enough service. Poyet went back to the two forward system today, and it paid off.

      That being said, it seems Sunderland fans (and Poyet) have greater comfort levels with Wickham and Fletcher, regardless of whether they are scoring, which means Jozy should be looking for options elsewhere. I wouldnt be mad at a move back to MLS. If it is good enough for Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley, its good enough for Jozy. In my opinion, hes at his best for club (Metrostars/AZ) and country when he is valued and confident.

      • Please. Just. Stop.

        This isn’t about 5 games.
        This isn’t about a manager.
        This isn’t about Wickham.
        This isn’t about Fletcher.
        This isn’t about everyone else.
        This IS about Jozy.
        This IS about Jozy not producing.
        This IS about 60+ league matches.
        This IS about 2 goals in 60+ league matches.
        This IS about what Jozy is not.

        The single dynamic everyone agrees on is obvious: He needs a change of scenery.

        Jozy can be a good player in the right environment. This is not the right environment. Therefore, Jozy is not a good player right now. Simply put, that’s where the discussion starts and stops. Anything else within the realm of emotions and not facts.

      • “Anything else within the realm of emotions and not facts.”

        As you say it is early yet.

        Wickham and Fletcher are not exactly Suarez and Sturridge or even Ching and Donovan..

        Poyet is not going to kill his depth and loan Jozy out so the soonest he is likely to get any kind of scenery change is January which is a long time from now.

      • Isn’t it possible that Jozy simply is what he is? An off the bench option for a lower half Premiership club, or a solid starter for a second tier league club. I don’t see that as a knock against him really. It’s enough to make him the USMNT’s no. 1 option up top.

      • Sure it is possible but if you are Jozy is it a good enough situation that you want to settle for it?

        Do you want players on the USMNT who are always trying to get better or guys who are happy to just settle for status quo?

      • Points taken, and well made old school.

        I agree with you that Jozy would do well with a change of scenery. Disagree with your implied statement that for a player to be evaluated as “good” in the BPL, the player needs to be scoring goals. Not based on “emotion” but rather statements made by experts. Exhibit A, Gus Poyet, as quoted in the Sunderland Echo, when speaking yesterday about Wickham’s failure to score in 5 BPL appearances: “I actually think he’s playing better than he did last year, but he is scoring less goals…there is a big difference between a striker who doesn’t score because his team is not creating chances, and one who has chances but is missing them.”

        BTW, in Wickham’s BPL career, he’s got 7 goals in 50 apperances. Certainly better than 2 in 60, but enough to say one player “can’t cut it” but the other can? I guess so, but its certainly not the strongest of cases.

        And, while you made the points in bold quite forcefully, it was you, who at 10:09, justified Jozy’s place on the bench by comparing his goal tally to that of another player (Wickham).

        Big picture wise, if I were Poyet, (and I think this is where you and I agree again) and had to choose between Altidore and Wickham, I’d choose Wickham, because he’s playing more confidently right now, and shown more dimensions to his game. Not so sure about Fletcher, as he’s missed some favorable chances leading up to today, but he clearly rewarded Poyet’s faith with two good first time finishes. Jozy’s lack of a track record with those types of finishes at Sunderland is I think one reason why Gus trusts Wickham/Fletcher over him.

      • eeexactly. I’m chucklin at the 10:09 reference. i caught that too.

        as the original poster, after reading all this, i think its funny that my comment wasnt about whether or not Jozy is good or bad…… i just said its funny how he didnt play today (his last game having scored) and yet people STILL wanna “blame” or “hate on him etc. then i made a comedic hyperbole.

      • Old S it’s really about Jozy not playing. If Jozy stays with Sundlerland for another 200 games and doesn’t play then people will say he’s played in 260 games and has only scored two goals. The goals scored are less important than games or minutes played

      • that is false….. please learn the sport.

        games that a player does not enter do not count for them. Jozy’s 60(ish) games in the BPL does not include games in which he was an unused sub. it does, however, include his prior stint with Hull City ( a terrible team back then), at which time Jozy was 19, i believe; that’s julian green’s age… do you think Green would score a ton of goals for Sunderland right now…..?

        but the main point was that your statement: “If Jozy stays with Sundlerland for another 200 games and doesn’t play then people will say he’s played in 260 games and has only scored two goals.” — is completely incorrect. a player must play in the game to get the “appearance.”…… seems pretty obvious…

      • Ok then make it 260(ish) I find it hard to believe he has played in 60 EPL games but I guess ten minutes here and ten minutes there you can get to 60(ish) if I am wrong then prompts to you.

        Fwiw has he started a EPL game this year?

        Also I was thinking about Hull City when I posted, but I still believe he has a lot of late game subs to even come close to 60(ish)

      • the “60 games” refers to his games at Sunderland AND his games at Hull. That’s why the stats can deceive. His time at Hull he was a young 19yo player. he played in 28 for Hull and has played in 34 for Sunderland (all league games) with i believe 2 league goals. i estimate he has about 10 more cup matches with perhaps 2 or 3 more goals.

        he has not started a EPL game this year. he did last year but so far this season he has been used as a third sub, occasionally second sub, and has started in a cup game or two.

        the main point is that generally players dont play EVERY game in a season. you get an “appearance” if you get ANY mintues logged in a game. if you remain on the bench you dont get an appearance. so if sunderland plays 200 more but jozy only plays in, say, 125, he would earn 125 appearnces, etc…

        and btw, its “props to you” not “prompts to you”………….. smh

      • I liked this post. Not even sure I agree 100%, but I think it’s well done. I believe deeply in Jozy’s ability, but this is no

        It seems clear that the exit can’t come soon enough– it’s a shame to think that 3 months (at minimum) may pass with Jozy rotting in this situation…. but that’s the reality.

        I almost have mixed feelings about Jozy getting in and stealing the occasional goal at this point…. On one hand, playing time will keep his form and fitness higher, and goals will improve his confidence and make him more attractive to potential suitors.

        But it’s a long-term bad situation and (meaningless though my own perspective may be) I have no interest in any false dawns prolonging the relationship. Jozy doesn’t fit w Sunderland, and Sunderland doesn’t fit with him. It’s never looked close to a good match. If Jozy somehow poaches a couple during the congested Christmas/NYears fixtures, I would hate to see Sunderland hang on to him on a whim or illusion.

        In closing, I worry too much.

  6. I think Jozy needs to cut his losses and get out. I understand what Ernie Stewart said about making it work at Sunderland but it ain’t happening in the EPL. The teams he needs to be on won’t touch him and the Sunderlands and Hulls are no good for him.. Go to Germany, Italy or Spain again. It did wonders for Rossi…

    • I think Jozy is just not meant for the English game. He has the body, but plays with a much different style than what is expected of a forward in the EPL, particularly for a club like Sunderland. The best thing for him to do, as far as I’m concerned, is to try to find a place in a team like Ajax or PSV. It’s not that I don’t think he could succeed in the EPL, but I just thing for his own happiness, regular minutes, and a style more suited to his playing preferences, he should move on.

    • Joe,

      Rossi was just starting out when he was at Manchester United and under the circumstances did quite well.

      Jozy is a different case.

      • And again, read my post… We all know Manchester United is a MUCH different animal than Sunderland, Hull, Newcastle…

      • Rossi was loaned to Newcastle and then loaned to Parma not “transferred”.

        Rossi’s problem was having Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Louis Saha in front of him, not being in the EPL. Those guys are a bit better than Wickham and Fletcher. That’s why he was loaned out.

        In those loans he showed enough for Villarreal to come for him.

  7. No PT for Jozy… 2 goals for Fletcher… out of the League Cup. Not much to be excited about …. except January.

  8. As I was writing how LFC is again playing uninspired soccer, Lallana buries his 1st after some nifty build up. Now how about we press the attack rather than just sitting on the lead like last week.

  9. Is anyone else not getting stoke vs sunderland on tv? All the extra time channels have games save the one supposedly showing sunderland!

  10. if you get a chance, read poyet’s comments on espn about wickham, who he says is playing better this year than last, even though he hadn’t (before today) scored any goals.

    • it’s almost as though a striker’s performance (in certain systems) doesn’t depend on them actually scoring the goals.

  11. Yes 1 goal in a cup game after almost a year not scoring means he should start. Just admit Jozy is not cut out for the big leagues and your saturdays would be much more pleasant.

  12. Jozy on the bench again. Naturally. After all, Sunderland scored the whopping 1 goal in the last 3 matches, and that goal was scored by Altidore, so why have him on the field?

    • Quite simple, actually. Because Jozy doesn’t score goals enough, if at all. Also, Wickham just scored…so there’s that.

      • I was waiting for you to post this as Wickham scores in BPL play for the first time this season (think it is the first BPL goal for a Sunderland forward this season). And, yes, there is no disputing his output for Sunderland is much better than Jozy since coming back from loan in the second half of last season.


      • I’d love to be wrong and would prefer Jozy get the chances. Don’t get me wrong. Wickham is just more ideal for Sunderland and has proven such.

        Unfortunately, our American boy just can’t put together a full body of work consistently enough (while showing some flashes) and is proving to be out of his depths at this level. Collectively as US supporters we need to stop blaming the manager, midfielders, the selection opportunities, the weather, Vladimir Putin, and any other irrational excuse.

        You can be a US supporter but call a duck a duck.

      • well, i agree with your first paragraph, but then you go a different direction in the next.

        i think wickham (and even fletcher) is much better for sunderland. they have a godawful midfield, and what they need is for someone to get on the end of long balls, and play cleanup in the box. jozy is not good at either of those things.

        but that doesn’t mean he’s “out of his depths at this level”. i still think he could thrive in a quick ground attacking system. we’ve already seen this change work for him at the national level.

      • i believe nate is. jozy like 2 st ground passing attacks, he’s not an aerial guy, he can suffice with good service but he’s not a deadly header guy. he wants a soft cheeky thru ball setting him up for a shot (dont we all…. haha), but he plays better when his teamates work the ball around quicker with ground balls near top of box and find the unlocking pass. he’s a team player that is being judged on how selfish he can be which isnt his style………. blah blah blah im done

      • Agree. It’s past the point of analyzing the system Sunderland plays and other factors as you suggest. Hopefully he’ll continue to get chances and find (and) create opportunities to make selection more difficult.

      • “It’s past the point of analyzing the system Sunderland plays”

        why? the only time they’ve changed the system (to two forwards up top) is toward the end of last season when jozy had already been displaced.

      • Hey Nate D,

        In terms of earning playing time … Then yeah IMO Jozy needs to create and take chances in (and provide better hold up play, pressure the opposition, etc.) whatever limited time he gets regardless of Sunderland’s crappy midfield, formation, etc (and it’s not that I disagree with you).

        My comment is in the context of Jozy not being selected, the point of the original post at the top of the Saturday RC thread.

        And, yes, concede that the switch to 2 forwards was after Jozy was benched. But where we are today, has he shown consistently he should get more minutes in whatever formation? It’s reasonable to assert he hasn’t and at this point, regardless of “fit” at Sunderland, he needs to prove it in his body of work.

        All this said, I hope he *does* and then goes to a club where he has better set up to thrive.


      • @Citronomics

        yeah, i get what you’re saying. i guess i’m in the same boat: i hope jozy does well, but my expectations are zilch at sunderland, and ultimately, i hope he gets the hell out of there asap.

      • citro,
        the point is that sunderland is a team that does not generate chances for ANY forward. Take Jozy out of the mix, and would anyone be raving about Wickham or Fletcher relative to other BPL forwards? No, they wouldn’t. While Wickham deserves credit for creating the last goal with a nice run out of the midfield, the other two goals where off crosses to dangerous areas in the box, which, even Sunderland fans will tell you, has happened far too rarely this season, regardless of which striker is on the field.

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