They call the final day of the English Premiership Survival Sunday, and wow, it wasn’t for the faint of heart. Sitting comfortably in my living room 3,000 or so miles away from the action, yelling at my television, it was great.
The images unfolding on Fox and ESPN depicted fans in various states of ecstasy and agony. Manchester City fans, were understandably expecting their world all-star team to roll over Queens Park Rangers to end their years of also ran status to the mighty United. Then suddenly it was all slipping away as 10 man QPR went ahead 2-1 without their fool of a captain Joey Barton.
So while Manchester United fans were getting ready to celebrate, away at Sunderland, two stoppage time goals from the noisy neighbors pulled the rug out from under them and City fans finally had the title. Many who remembered 1968 had long since given up hope of ever seeing their team, City, as champions again. For the younger fans, they must have felt a championship was a dream that could never be.
But yesterday that dream became real.
At the same time Bolton were fighting for their Premiership lives, needing a win and a QPR loss. American center back Tim Ream was in the thick of it all day for Bolton, and his header at the death nearly saved the Wanders. Poor officiating cost Bolton the games first goal, another case for goal line technology, and so down go Ream and Stuart Holden along with Bolton.
QPR survived, despite the thuggery and stupidity of Barton, who picked this day of all days to assault three opposing players in one sequence. If manager Mark Hughes has any standards Barton will be long gone before QPR begin take the field again.
Also on Survival Sunday Arsenal gave Tottenham a glimpse at third place when they fell behind West Brom. But it would be just a glimpse, as Arsenal secured a Champions League place for the 15th year in a row. It seemed so unlikely early this season, when the Gunners poor play made Arsene Wenger’s job status a topic for debate.
So now Tottenham find themselves with more cause than usual to root against London rival Chelsea when they take on Bayern Munich in Saturday’s Champions League Final. Chelsea would get the EPL’s last Champions League spot if they can topple the German giants, consigning Spurs to the lesser Europa Cup.
Yes, it was a thrilling days soccer in England and while the stakes weren’t as high, MLS provided some excitement this weekend too.
Montreal fans set another record when 60,860 turned out to watch the home side draw 1-1 with the star studded L.A. Galaxy. It took a bit of “Bend it Like Beckham” magic from the man himself to salvage the draw for Bruce Arena’s troubled side.
Houston finally came in from the road when the Dynamo opened their fine new home, BBVA Compass Stadium, with a 1-0 win over DC United. After seven road games to start the season Brad Davis christened the new park with a 67th minute goal that would be enough to take the points.
In Philadelphia Freddy Adu reminded everyone why some still care. In less than a half Adu put on a display of passing and ball control that threatened to tear New York’s defense apart. It was only a half because overreaching referee Jorge Gonzalez hit Adu with a second yellow card for diving. Adu had picked one up earlier for a bad tackle. Adu went down with little or no contact, but it didn’t look like a dive. I thought it was too close, but if Adu can play like that a bit more often he may get another shot from Klinsmann.
Klinsmann should be announcing the roster for the upcoming friendlies and World Cup Qualifyiers this week. 29 players will be called in. I made my predictions for the 23 man roster last week. Sascha Kljestan should make this expanded group. Geoff Cameron and Michael Parkhurst will likely be added to the defense.
Some players recently back from injury are starting to perform well, but it may be soon for an invite. Juan Agudelo has been exciting in limited time, Benny Feilhaber may not be in the national team frame, but he has been coming along recently. His skill on the ball and field vision remain impressive.Chris Pontius is garnering a lot of support on the back of some very fine play for DC United this season.
It will be interesting to see if any wild cards make the cut. Maybe Freddy Adu or Josh Gatt. Gatt is back scoring goals for Molde, and the speedy winger was missed when he was recalled before the Olympic Qualifyiers.