Plant foot is literally facing backwards. Bad footwork = bad ball placement. pic.twitter.com/bRcVZk68mQ— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) May 7, 2017It was a lot of fun watching all of these games again, this period of the year is what I call the sports death hole and got me excited about football again. My summary would be that Rudolph is an excellent QB and a really strong candidate to be a good NFL QB as well. I think he needs to shore up some of his footwork issues and work on short/intermediate throws, but I think he’s in line for a big year. At this point I would rank him 4th overall for QBs in regards to the 2018 NFL Draft and pretty much a lock for 1st round pick.One more thing, someone please take the WVU 2015 offensive tape and set it on fire. I have no idea how we won that game. Prob shouldn’t have thrown into double coverage but great touch right in between 2 defenders. Hold on 66, called back ? pic.twitter.com/3XtzK44tq0— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) May 7, 2017This is one of my main knocks on Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who I’m sure most of you have heard rumors on him being a prime candidate for the No. 1 overall pick next year. I’m not on that bandwagon. He has a cannon arm but really only throws fastball and doesn’t show consistent touch. A big arm will only get you so far, just ask Jeff George. Rudolph shows great touch on a variety of throws in the games listed above, being able to diagnose the coverage and drop balls with accuracy into tight windows.One of my favorites. This is NFL throw. Anticipation, Ball thrown before MA clears LB. Big 4th down conversion. pic.twitter.com/lVxyuQKDVi— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) May 7, 2017I think Rudolph has plenty of velocity, this was shown on a few 10-18 yard out routes that were on the opposite hash and was able to get the ball there fine. The issue here is consistency, and I pair this with not being 100 percent confident in all of this throws. You could chart every single out route or hitch in intermediate range (10-18 yards) outside of the hashes and he throws with tremendous velocity and accuracy at an unbelievable rate. Actually I don’t think I recall one throw where he had sufficient time that he missed in that area. Simply put, it’s his best throw.Where you see inconsistencies are on quick passes in the slot and throws over the middle – both in accuracy and velocity. He just doesn’t seem as comfortable here, however there are plenty of examples where he is given time and rips a ball with good ball placement. It absolutely needs to be a point of emphasis this season, more consistency is needed. NOTE: coming into this study I was under the impression Rudolph was really strong in intermediate throws over the middle, I was wrong to a certain extent.There is a lot of discussion on Rudolph’s deep ball, specifically Pro Football Focus designating him as one of the best in this area. This certainly showed up on the tape. He showed consistent ability to throw the ball deep with accuracy and touch. He rarely overthrows deep balls (I believe I counted four in those six games, OSU throws the ball deep a lot), and if he misses he will short arm it a tad.I can live with this because I think it still gives the WR a chance to go up and get the ball. Especially with the back shoulder throws these days and how WRs are taught to look back, it’s an effective strategy. Given the ability of Lacy, Washington and Ateman to go up and high point underthrown balls, it’s not really a huge issue.His mobility will probably be something that will be discussed at length throughout the year. Rudolph has average athleticism, he is better really in more of a straight line running. I think his lateral quickness is actually below average. His pocket presence is solid, but at times is unable to bounce out of the picket and buy more time. A huge part of pocket presence isn’t really running, it’s slight movements up/back/left/right to buy just 1-2 more seconds to get a pass off.He is able to pick up first downs on the ground at times.Another problem is for Rudolph to consistently deliver good balls he really needs to have time and have his feet set, I don’t necessarily think his mobility will enable him to break away from consistent pressure to do this.Rudolph really struggles with short passes, under five yards and at or behind the line of scrimmage. You can clearly see at times that his footwork falls apart here, and like I mentioned earlier shows little/no confidence on some of these throws. A lot of these throws call for him to get set and throw the ball immediately after the snap, and it’s just not his comfort zone. I charted at least nine throws that were high on routes seven yards or less, there were other ones that were wide or short as well. He has a tendency to float some of these balls as well, which supports my theory that he doesn’t feel confident enough to throw the ball with zip. More often than not these balls were so bad they were incomplete or so high they gave the WR no opportunity for YAC. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Friend of the blog Adam Lunt (follow him on Twitter) broke down some Mason Rudolph film recently after all the buzz No. 2 has been getting for the 2018 NFL Draft. Hope you guys enjoy his evaluation of QB1.I recently did a pretty extensive film study of Mason Rudolph, I also did one on what are considered the top six QBs in next year’s NFL Draft – Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Luke Falk, and Lamar Jackson. My hope was this would provide some context on my evaluation of Rudolph, hopefully to shake off any orange-colored glasses that I may or may not have. I have a mild obsession with the NFL Draft, specifically QBs and OL as they are the two hardest positions to scout in my opinion.I think a good starting point with Rudolph is his leadership and “intangible” qualities. I really like the Bill Parcells method of evaluating QBs, I’ve listed the requirements below. He pretty much knocks all of these out of the park. He almost qualifies for all of these with one full season left.Be a three year starter – CHECKBe a senior in college – CHECKGraduate from college – CHECK (assumption)Start 30 games – CHECKWin 23 games – CHECKPost a 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio – CHECKTally a completion rate of 60% or higher – CHECKI’ve seen every snap Mason Rudolph has ever played in college. However most of those games were viewed live after one or two beers (or something around there) so I went back and watched every snap of the following games — @WVU 2015, Ole Miss 2015, Central Michigan 2016, Pitt 2016, Texas 2016, and Colorado 2016.Some things that you will hear on Rudolph all season while getting geared up for the draft next year will be the scheme he plays in and how it doesn’t expand into more complex route combinations and coverage reads. I think it’s a fair assessment, OSU’s offense is quite simple in terms of progressions and also route trees and doesn’t include a ton of anticipation throws.The core routes are go route, hitch, out, smash/corner, slant, seam and dig. There are a few good examples of Rudolph going through proper progressions but only a handful where he makes it to a 3rd option, which is usually some type of check down.These are the types of things NFL teams will hold against Rudolph come April 2018. Personally I don’t put a lot of stock in this, but I know a lot of people involved in draft process will. With the NFL going to more spread-based concepts by the day, I think Rudolph is more than competent enough to pick up on a NFL playbook.One thing that really pops out at you immediately is Rudolph’s touch. One of his best strengths is knowing when drive the ball on a rope or try to put more air underneath it to hit a certain spot, this is a big deal specifically in layered coverage you will see in the NFL. There are some really great examples of this, two throws to Austin Hays actually come to mind from Texas and Colorado games in addition to the dime he threw to McKleskey against Texas for a TD.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. With Day 1 of Big 12 Media Days in the books, we turn our attention to Oklahoma State’s appearance on the second day. Mike Gundy will close out the festivities with his press conference (hopefully a metaphor for the season, yes?) and we will hear from Chad Whitener, Zach Sinor, James Washington and Mason Rudolph as well.Here are a few questions we have for them entering the second day of fun in Frisco.1. How do you run a high-level organization on a start-up budget?Wins in the last eight years: Oklahoma State (77-27) | Oklahoma (81-24)Revenue last year: Oklahoma State ($93.7M) | Oklahoma ($150.4M)How is this possible, and how is Mike Gundy (of all people!) so good at it?AdChoices广告2. Where can Mason Rudolph most improve?The soon-to-be first rounder is the complete package, but I’m curious about where he (and his coach) thinks he has the most room to improve. I have a hunch about what the answer will be, but I’m still intrigued by the question.3. Has Gundy accidentally stumbled onto the cutting edge?Think about all the trends Gundy has been out in front of. From not hitting in practice to satellite camps to uniforms to leveraging social media to creating an app to contorting an offense to fit his personnel to hiring Dana Holgorsen. Gundy, for as conservative as he’s been in play-calling, has been stunningly liberal elsewhere. I’m curious if he had a vision for all of this or if he just sort of fell backwards into it.4. How does Bob Stoops’ leaving affect the way Gundy sees the Big 12?We probably won’t get a straight answer for this one, but I’d still like to ask it. An offshoot of this one would be what he would tell the 33-year-old Lincoln Riley embarking on the toughest journey of his professional life.5. Why does nobody seem concerned about the defense?OSU is operating with corners who have never started at OSU, a safety who has never played the position and a host of new players up front on the defensive line. And yet everyone seems pretty … unaffected by it all. What do they know that the rest of us don’t?
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. .@JTII_25 commits to #okstate on @KFORsports. pic.twitter.com/zl10yR757G— Kyle Boone (@PFBoone) August 5, 2017AdChoices广告Taylor is the 18th commitment of the 2018 class for the Cowboys, and the third at his position. He joins Jarrick Bernard and Kanion Williams among committed incoming safeties.In addition to OSU, Taylor also held scholarship offers from SMU, Memphis and Tulsa. He is the fifth verbal commitment out of the state of Oklahoma for the Pokes 2018 class, which now ranks 25th nationally and fifth in the Big 12. Class of 2018 safety Jason Taylor II has committed to Oklahoma State over SMU and Tulsa.The Carl Albert High School product made his decision on Friday morning and the taped commitment video aired Friday evening on KFOR Sports.“I really came to the decision because it was the best fit for me, it felt like I could really see myself there,” Taylor said while thanking his friends and family who were on hand.
Coach Mike Gundy signed five tight ends in the 2008 recruiting class. He signed zero the following three years.“It’s turned a full circle,” Gundy said at Big 12 Media Days. “Years ago, you never saw an offense without one. Then nobody was using one.”Oklahoma State included.Over the next few years, Zac Veatch moved from fullback/tight end to offensive lineman and back again, and Keenen Brown went from receiver to cowboy back. It wasn’t until 2015 that cowboy back even became a recruited position.Coach Jason McEndoo was pulled on board from Montana State, where he ran the offensive line, and was told to get creative.AdChoices广告Over the three-plus years the cowboy back position has been in existence, players as short as 5-foot-10 Luke Hupp or as tall as 6-foot-5 Baron Odom have been raked onto the roster. This outlines a challenge OSU faces in attempting to bring players to be successful at a position that doesn’t exist anywhere in high school football.As of the 2017 roster, only four of the eight cowboy backs were offered a formal scholarship out of high school, and two of them were in the most recent class.“It’s really kinda of hard to find ’em and come up with enough to recruit,” Gundy said.True and false. There are invariably fewer fullbacks and tight ends than almost every other position out there. But when you look at only the states OSU has pulled these types of players from, there are still 24 uncommitted players of at least a two-star rating, according to 247 Sports. That includes recent decommit Nic McTear from Frisco Heritage and his could-be replacement James Palmer out of Westmoore.That’s not a massive pool, but it’s probably enough. One reason it’s not huge though is because of the allure of the position — or lack thereof.“There’s not a lot of guys who are fired up about playing fullback or tight end in high school,” Gundy said. “If they have the body structure, they’d rather go over and play defensive end.”Case and point: Cole Walterscheid. Tight end was Walterscheid’s primary position at Muenster High School, mostly because he only weighed about 210 pounds at 6-5.That happens a lot and it rarely goes the other way.“James Castleman, of course he was bigger,” Gundy said. “When we recruited him, he was 245 pounds. He ended up being 300, but he was that type of body structure. We didn’t know he was gonna be 300 pounds.”It didn’t matter anyway.Poor No. 9.Gundy said current defensive end Jarrell Owens is that same body structure. He played running back in high school but hasn’t ran a snap of offense, unless you count the one on defense.Wild play alert courtesy of @CowboyFB defense.#Big12FB on FS1 https://t.co/9wNohKypWe— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) October 22, 2016As for those who will own the position this season, Gundy still believes the cowboy back, on its face, brings an entirely new facet to the offense other positions cannot.“You have the ability to run a seven-man running play and a five-man passing play with that guy in the game,” Gundy said. “Part of the success with our running game was because of Justice (Hill), but the other part of it was because of our cowboy backs.” While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Because this is Glenn Spencer, of course, he had to toss in a warning about getting too high on his squad.“We have to get more disciplined in our pass rush lanes, all that’s correctable,” said Spencer. “Nothing schematically really hurt us at all. But it was just the effectiveness of their quarterback running the ball and losing contain a couple of times. (We) had a lot of tremendous stops out there though.”One misconception about Big 12 defense — Oklahoma State’s in particular — is that they have to be great on scoring defense. They don’t. They have to be good at limiting teams in points per drive and creating turnovers. OSU did both on Thursday, and they moved to 72-22 in the Gundy era when creating two or more turnovers on the defensive side.They also held Tulsa to 1.2 points per drive which is a startling number that, if it stays there, will have OSU talking College Football Playoffs deep into this fall. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. There were flaws on Oklahoma State’s defense on Thursday night against Tulsa, for sure. Its pass rush was not as good as you maybe would have hoped, it gave up 16 first downs on Tulsa’s 26 third-down attempts and it didn’t force a turnover in the first half.But defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said after the game that OSU did what it wanted to do against TU, and that was stop the run.TU running back D’Angelo Brewer averaged 5.2 and 5.4 yards per carry respectively over the last two years. He’s a stud, and was part of a 1-2 punch with James Flanders that finished Nos. 1 and 2 in the AAC in rushing yards. Tulsa averaged over five yards a carry in 2016 (No. 34 in the country).AdChoices广告On Thursday, Brewer averaged just 1.5 yards a carry and Tulsa as a team could muster just 4.1 (much of that coming on a fourth-quarter run of 55 yards after the game had long been decided).That’s a credit to Oklahoma State’s deep defensive front and speed at linebacker and in the secondary. Again, Tulsa, but OSU’s team speed seemed a tick or two higher than in years past. They will thrive if they create turnovers, as always, but it appears they’ll also be a little more forceful than normal this time around.“I was pleased at our run defense,” said head coach Mike Gundy after the game. “I thought that was very good and really set the tone for the game.”“We did great stopping the run, did a tremendous job,” added Spencer. “I don’t think they had anything on us. They had a 55-yarder but take that away and pretty good night with a team that fancies itself on running the ball.“That’s what our big concern was because they know how to run the ball effectively … it was impressive how we did against the run game.”
MLS Sounders, USMNT lose Morris for 2018 with ACL tear Ben Valentine Last updated 1 year ago 05:41 27/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Mike Dinovo MLS Seattle Sounders The forward will require surgery after suffering a torn knee ligament in a CONCACAF Champions League match Thursday Jordan Morris’ 2018 MLS season is over before it even began.The Seattle Sounders forward will miss the entire season with a torn ACL, the MLS side announced Monday.”We are going to rule him out for the season,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said in a statement. “We are going to do what is best for Jordan’s career long term. We think he is a Sounder for the long term, he is in the club’s long-term plans. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp “Jordan is part of the Sounders, that has not changed, that will not change. We are going to do what’s best for him long term, which may mean a longer recovery.”Morris was injured in CONCACAF Champions League play Thursday in El Salvador, going down in the 83rd minute of a 2-1 loss to Santa Tecla.The 23-year-old forward was a member of the Sounders’ MLS Cup-winning side in his rookie season of 2016, and also a part of the team that lost to Toronto FC in the 2017 MLS Cup final.Morris’ debut season saw him score 12 goals for the Sounders, though his total fell off in a difficult sophomore campaign that saw him find the back of the net just three times in 23 games.The Stanford product also has scored five goals in 25 caps for the U.S. national team, including the game-winner in last summer’s Gold Cup final against Jamaica.The Sounders will try to overturn their deficit against Santa Tecla in the CCL last-16 clash at home Thursday before getting their MLS campaign underway Sunday against expansion side Los Angeles FC.
Manchester United Mourinho reveals foul-mouthed team talk inspired Man Utd comeback Chris Burton 18:32 6/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Manchester United José Mourinho Crystal Palace v Manchester United Crystal Palace Premier League The Red Devils boss was furious with his side after seeing them fall behind at Crystal Palace, but got the response he was after in a 3-2 win Jose Mourinho has revealed that a foul-mouthed half-time team talk helped him to inspire Manchester United to a 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace.Having seen his side fall behind to an early Andros Townsend effort at Selhurst Park, the Red Devils boss was fuming upon entering the away dressing room at the interval.Some home truths were handed out by the irate Portuguese, whose mood is unlikely to have improved as United then conceded to Patrick van Aanholt within three minutes of the restart. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp They were, however, to come roaring back, with Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic sealing a dramatic victory to put a smile back on their manager’s face.Quizzed on what he had said to his team during the break, Mourinho said: “I cannot tell you half of the things I told my team at half-time because there would be lots of bleeping on television.“There were a few strong words at half-time relating to their attitude and the intensity of the game.“To come back from 2-0 down away from home against a team that is desperate for points, it gives us a great feeling.“It’s a remarkable comeback, but we made mistakes. The first goal is a bad goal. We started bad once more, not pressing the ball or the opponent and giving them much space.“In the second half we were all expecting a direct comeback, and then we concede a goal that is a good goal to show the kids in the academies in the country. It shows top players can concede silly goals.“But then the attitude, the intensity, the quality, the dynamic, the risk were fantastic.”Victory over Palace has allowed United to move back into second spot in the Premier League table.They are still 16 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City, and only two in front of arch-rivals Liverpool, but a runner-up finish and Champions League qualification remains in their hands.The Red Devils do have a testing run of fixtures approaching, though, with the next month set to see them face Liverpool, Sevilla, Brighton, Swansea and City across league, FA Cup and Champions League competition.
América v León Club America vs Club Leon: Live stream, starting lineup, kickoff time & match preview Jon Arnold Click here to see more stories from this author @ArnoldcommaJon 05:16 9/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Refugio Ruiz América v León Liga MX América León Club America looks to go back into first place while Leon hopes to build off a successful week to get back in the Liguilla hunt Club America enters the 11th weekend of the Liga MX regular season undefeated but in second place. Such is life in a sport where draws are possible.Las Aguilas have been rolling along in both league play and the CONCACAF Champions League but a recent run of draws have them sitting just behind Santos Laguna.Leon envies that position, sitting in 11th and out of the playoff places. After a victory last weekend in league action and a blowout win during the week in Copa MX play, there’s a buzz around the Camp Nou that hasn’t been there yet this season. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Will America flex its muscle and move back to the top or can the visitors spring a surprise and push into the playoff places? Game America vs. Leon Date Saturday, March 10 Time 10 p.m. ET Stream (U.S. only) fuboTV (7-day free trial) LIVE STREAM Watch America vs. Leon live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.SQUADS & TEAM NEWS Position Club America players Goalkeepers Marchesin, Pineda, Jimenez Defenders Vargas, Alvarez, Aguilera, Valdez, Aguilar, Cedillo Midfielders Rodriguez, Da Silva, Uribe, Dominguez, Corona, Arce, Orrantia, Ibarguen, Paredes, Ibarra, Lainez Forwards Romero, Menez, Marin, Diaz, Martin, Peralta, Quintero Miguel Herrera looks to have settled into a preferred starting XI when his squad is fit, as it is ahead of Saturday’s match barring Emanuel Aguilera, who likely will be replaced by Edson Alvarez as he was in Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match. While Herrera used many first-choice players against Tauro FC in CCL play, he utilized attackers Oribe Peralta and Cecilio Dominguez and midfielder Mateus Uribe sparingly.Potential starting XI: Marchesin; Aguilar, Valdez, Alvarez, Vargas; Uribe, Rodriguez; Ibarra, Menez, Dominguez; Peralta Position Leon players Goalkeepers Rodriguez, Yarbrough Defenders Burdisso, Piris, Navarro, Torres, Herrera, Cornejo, Rodriguez, Mosquera, Gonzalez Midfielders Burbano, Hernandez, Montes, Andrade, Mejia, Cecchini, Lainez, Cerato, Rodriguez Forwards Ramos, Boselli, Gonzalez, Barnes, Donovan Landon Donovan wasn’t in the squad for Leon’s cup win with illness, though the team hopes he will travel to Mexico City. Center back Juan Ignacio Gonzalez underwent surgery on his injured knee last week and will miss the rest of the season.Potential starting XI: Yarbrough; Navarro, Mosquera, Herrera, Rodriguez; Rodriguez, Cornejo; Hernandez, Montes, Andrade; BoselliGAME PREVIEW Miguel Herrera’s America team is the favorite to win the league and the CONCACAF Champions League. America is yet to suffer defeat in league play, yet sits second after a recent spell of draws. The most recent was a 1-1 result against Chivas in the Clasico Nacional.That’s acceptable, even for a club that Herrera is fond of reminding reporters wants to win the title every season. He’s aware, though, that the team does need to start winning again at some point.The opportunity presents itself this weekend with Leon coming to the Estadio Azteca. Not only has America been strong at home this season, Leon has lost its last three road matches.Even so, enthusiasm is on the rise in Guanajuato about Gustavo Diaz’s side. Leon rolled past Pumas last weekend in a 3-0 victory that put Diaz’s charges into 11th place in the table, just one point out of the playoff positions.The question marks are in defense where Miguel Herrera (not that one, obviously) has stepped in for the injured Juan Ignacio Gonzalez. Herrera has struggled to get up to speed in the top division before, and against a front line that includes Oribe Peralta, Renato Ibarra and Jeremy Menez, it could be a long day for the center back.For America, it’s about preventing an early goal. The last three weeks, Las Aguilas have gone behind and had to battle back to get a point. If they can start stronger, they should be back on top of the table with a little help this week.
Manchester City Guardiola dismisses Man City contract extension claims Matt Dorman 22:57 9/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Manchester City Premier League Stoke City v Manchester City Stoke City Guardiola Rumours had spread that the Catalan coach was on the verge of signing a new deal, rumours he has flatly denied Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has rubbished speculation suggesting he could sign a contract extension in the coming weeks.Recent reports in Spain claimed Guardiola’s agent, Josep Maria Orobitg, had flown to Manchester to complete the negotiations.But the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, whose initial three-year contract started in 2016, flatly denied the rumour that a deal new is imminent. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp City would understandably be eager to tie down the 47-year-old as he looks to guide the Premier League leaders to a hat-trick of trophies this season.”Sometimes journalists receive bad information,” Guardiola said on Friday.”My agent is not in town. Was not, is not, will not be in town for the next six weeks.”Guardiola’s side visit struggling Stoke City on Monday as they seek to mount an immediate response to Wednesday’s surprise, albeit inconsequential, Champions League loss to Basel.Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho could both return from hamstring injuries, while Fabian Delph is also in contention to feature at bet365 Stadium.”Some of the players are better. Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling are much better,” Guardiola said.”We have one or two training sessions until the game. We are going to decide on Sunday. Fabian Delph is [uncertain].”The players are off today so I do not know the exact situation.”David Silva is expected to be in the squad after missing the Basel match for personal reasons. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Barcelona v Chelsea ‘Chelsea can surprise Barcelona’ – Zola backing Conte’s Champions League cause Dom Farrell 17:23 13/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Barcelona v Chelsea UEFA Champions League Chelsea Barcelona The Blues legend suffered heartache at Camp Nou during his playing career, but he believes the class of 2018 have every chance of prevailing Chelsea great Gianfranco Zola is backing his former club to spring a surprise against Barcelona in the Champions League.Antonio Conte’s side travel to Camp Nou with their last-16 tie all square at 1-1 – Lionel Messi having levelled matters at Stamford Bridge after Willian put the Premier League champions in front.Zola scored in a 3-1 win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals back in 2000 before the Catalan giants matched that score line in the second leg and prevailed on home turf in extra time. Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp This time around, Zola is hopeful Chelsea will not suffer Camp Nou misery and believes Conte and his players can make life difficult for Ernesto Valverde’s La Liga leaders.”It’s not going to be easy. Playing in Barcelona is a tough game. But Chelsea are a strong team, with good players,” Zola told Omnisport .”I think they can go there and surprise Barcelona, they have the ability to do that. Chelsea have the type of players Barcelona don’t like very much, so in my opinion, it’s still an open game.”They will have to defend well. The first leg was 1-1, Barcelona will want to try to win the game [and not rely on the away goal advantage].”I’m sure they will want to be safe. If Chelsea defend well first, then they can use the counter as they can do really well. I think they stand a very good chance.”Gianfranco Zola was speaking at the Geneva International Motor Show, on behalf of Yokohama Tyres, the principal partner of Chelsea Football Club. For more information, visit: http://www.yokohama-online.com
Besiktas 1 Bayern Munich 3 (1-8 agg): Heynckes’ men cruise into quarter-finals Jamie Smith Last updated 1 year ago 02:47 15/3/2018 Twitter/@FCBayern Bayern Munich remain on track for another treble under Jupp Heynckes after easily coming through a Champions League tie with Besiktas. Thiago Alcantara scored but was substituted due to injury as Bayern Munich won 3-1 at Besiktas to cruise into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.A 5-0 victory in last month’s first leg in Munich had put Bayern in a commanding position and there was never any sign of a miraculous comeback in Istanbul on Wednesday.Thiago finished from a Thomas Muller cross to extend Bayern’s advantage and score their 100th goal of the season, but the Spain international was withdrawn before the break, coach Jupp Heynckes perhaps wishing he had rested more key names after picking a strong side. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Gokhan Gonul’s own goal in the first minute of the second half appeared to settle the tie for good, before Vagner Love scrambled home his first Champions League strike since 2011 to spark Besiktas’ best period of the tie.Sandro Wagner, though, restored Bayern’s two-goal cushion with his first strike in the competition in the 84th minute.Heynckes’ men could claim the Bundesliga title at the weekend if results go their way and they remain on track for another treble, the veteran coach having won the Champions League among three trophies before departing Bayern at the end of his third spell in 2013.Bayern, who have reached the Champions League semi-finals in six of the last eight seasons, will find out their quarter-final opponents in Friday’s draw.Despite their massive first-leg lead Bayern made a bright start, Arturo Vidal heading wide.Thomas Muller scored twice in last month’s game and he should have opened the scoring in the 10th minute, blasting over the rebound after Tolga Zengin parried David Alaba’s free-kick.@Thiago6 celebrates @FCBayern’s 100th goal of the season in all comps. #UCL pic.twitter.com/MxjzHrZYRz— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 14, 2018But Muller created a fine goal for Thiago to get Bayern up and running, the midfielder timing his run into the box perfectly to tuck away a first-time finish from a pinpoint right-wing cross.Thiago limped off before half-time, giving Bayern an injury concern for the rest of the season.Besiktas had played reasonably well in the first period but the Turkish champions gifted Bayern their second moments after the restart.An innocuous right-wing cross from Rafinha should have been easy to clear, but Gonul poked the ball past Zengin under no pressure whatsoever.Referee Michael Oliver then had to briefly pause the game as a cat invaded the pitch.Miau. Miau. #BJKFCB pic.twitter.com/yPqg6Hzu89— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) March 14, 2018Besiktas gave their fans something to cheer in the 59th minute, Alaba losing the ball in his own half, with Gonul setting up Love to squeeze the ball past Jerome Boateng on the line.Mustafa Pektemek forced a save from Sven Ulreich as Besiktas tried to level the game on the night, Bayern understandably lacking energy given their comfortable position.Bayern made sure of their win, though, substitute Wagner chesting home from close range with six minutes to go after Alaba’s cross deflected up perfectly for him. Key Opta Facts:- Bayern Munich have now reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the seventh successive season.- Jupp Heynckes is the first manager in Champions League history to win 11 consecutive games.- Bayern have now won six Champions League matches in a row, their best-ever run in a single campaign in the competition.- The last time Bayern won at least six consecutive games in a single European campaign was back in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup, when they won seven on the bounce on the way to lifting the trophy. – The German side are responsible for four of the seven biggest aggregate victories in Champions League knockout stage history (12-1 vs Sporting Lisbon 2008-09, 10-2 vs Arsenal 2016-17, 7-0 vs Shakhtar Donetsk 2014-15 and 8-1 vs Besiktas 2017-18).- All seven of Bayern Munich’s away goals in this season’s Champions League have been scored by different players (Lewandowski, Martinez, Coman, Tolisso, Thiago, Wagner and a Gokhan Gonul own goal).- Besiktas have now lost all four of their Champions League matches against Bayern, losing by an aggregate score of 1-12. read more
Barcelona v Chelsea Chelsea team news: Giroud starts against Barcelona Tom Maston Last updated 1 year ago 02:37 15/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Barcelona v Chelsea UEFA Champions League Chelsea Barcelona The France international makes just his fourth start for the Blues as Ousmane Dembele and Andres Iniesta start for the Liga leaders Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has handed a start to Olivier Giroud as his side take on Barcelona at Camp Nou.The January signing from Arsenal has only previously made three starts for the Blues and is preferred to Alvaro Morata up front.He will be flanked by Eden Hazard and Willian, with former Barca winger Pedro left on the bench. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Elsewhere, club captain Gary Cahill misses out with Antonio Rudiger fit to start, having missed Saturday’s win over Crystal Palace.The only other change from the victory over the Eagles sees Victor Moses return on the right-hand side in place of Davide Zappacosta.Barcelona, meanwhile, hand a start to Ousmane Dembele, with the €105 million summer signing from Borussia Dortmund making just his second European appearance of an injury-hit campaign.He is joined in the starting XI by Andres Iniesta, who is fit having missed Saturday’s win over Malaga with a hamstring injury, while Lionel Messi returns having missed the same game to attend the birth of his third child.The last-16 tie is locked at 1-1 from the first leg, with Messi having netted a crucial away goal following Willian’s opener at Stamford Bridge.Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Dembele, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, L Suarez.Subs: Cillessen, Vidal, Vermaelen, Digne, Gomes, Paulinho, Alcacer.Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Giroud.Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Emerson, Bakayoko, Pedro, Morata.
Primera División Is the BBC dead? Benzema & Bale now mere supporting actors on Real’s Ronaldo show Ben Hayward Last updated 1 year ago 17:15 17/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(8) Getty Primera División Cristiano Ronaldo Gareth Bale Karim Benzema Real Madrid v Girona Real Madrid Girona Opinion Only one member of Los Blancos’ famous forward line is fully firing right now and with changes likely in the summer, the trident could soon be history Zinedine Zidane was crystal clear. When he took over from Rafa Benitez as Real Madrid coach in January 2016, the Frenchman would not reveal his preferred players for the starting line-up, but he was happy to announce one thing. “The idea is to play with the three in attack,” he said.Those three were Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Or as they are more commonly referred to by fans, the media and pundits in Spain, the BBC (taking, of course, one letter from each name: Bale, Benzema, Cristiano).These days, however, the trident is not what it was. Injury problems for Bale in particular meant the three rarely featured together last season and in January of this year, they all appeared on the pitch in unison for the first time in 273 days. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp In total, they had not featured in the same side for 43 consecutive games. And even in last season’s Champions League final when Bale came on as subsitute, it was in place of Benzema.The Welsh winger and the French forward have suffered from injuries and a dip in form again in the current campaign and have both been booed by fans at the Santiago Bernabeu. Meanwhile, Spanish sports paper AS has taken to writing bbC (and not BBC), with the initial of only Cristiano considered worthy of a capital letter.The first match they all started together this term was a 4-1 win away to Valencia, a result that brought plenty of optimism. However, they have only started four fixtures since: a 2-2 draw at Levante, a 4-0 win at home to Alaves, a 3-1 success against Getafe and last weekend’s 2-1 victory at Eibar.The Alaves game was the highlight as the three scored, doing so all together in the same match for the first time since April 2016 as Ronaldo handed the ball to Benzema for the Frenchman to convert a last-minute penalty.Earlier, Ronaldo had netted twice and Bale had also hit the target, with Benzema assisting twice before his late strike. It was a reminder of just how effective the three can be when all are on song.However, it is not really a trident any more because Zidane plays 4-4-2 and even against Alaves, Bale was deployed as a left winger in a four-man midfield, with Benzema and Ronaldo up front.And in the two Champions league last-16 clashes against Paris Saint-Germain recently, Bale was left on the bench both times, while Benzema often seems to get the nod because he is the club’s only senior centre-forward.”It’s true that Benzema isn’t scoring a lot, but he gives us other things,” Zidane said last week. “I’m positive and I believe the goals will come. And with Gareth there is nothing – he is a fundamental player for us.”However, Madrid will be targeting a new striker in the summer, with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski one possibility, while Neymar and Eden Hazard are also likely to be transfer targets.None of that is much concern to Ronaldo, who is back to his best with 14 goals already this year. But Benzema and Bale are merely supporting actors for the Portuguese these days – and the BBC could soon be a thing of the past at Real Madrid.
201410950% Other than two outlier years in 2013 (fire Yurcich!!) and 2014, OSU has been between 62-67 percent every year, which is where they’re at right now at 65 percent through four games.Some of this is misleading, because I’m willing to bet that in that same span of time they’re top five nationally in long TDs of over 30 or 40 yards that never enter the red zone. But some of it is just plain frustrating when your QB is a dynamo and you have one, two, three … four (!) receivers (who play real minutes!) at 6’5 or (much) taller and an OC with a flair for magic.One more from Princeton:Stretch read, boot, throwback in the red zone! pic.twitter.com/2PAyzEIlYV— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) December 7, 2017 20152667% 20122667% 20165862% YearRankTD Percentage 20174365% Mike Gundy made another creative hire for Offensive Coordinator:Sean Gleeson, Princeton OCKnown for his 3 QB system, pre-snap shifts, and spread offense innovations.Princeton scored 47 per game (#1 in FCS), and went undefeated in 2018 pic.twitter.com/opTsQa6JCp— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) January 29, 2019Some of this is the unintended consequence of the spread. When your success is predicated on your ability to expand the field, things become much more difficult when it gets contracted for you when you’re inside the 20. You can’t flip from being Oregon to being Stanford just by talking into the headset.“It’s not necessary that we need to do something different,” said Gundy about OSU’s lack of success in short-yardage situations on Saturday. “It just happened in that game that we were in position to score a couple times where. Traditionally, we would score touchdowns. That’s the glaring side of what happened in that game.“Offensively, if we score those touchdowns and don’t kick field goals, it’d be a different game. It’s not necessary one thing or the other. Texas is going to make some plays also, they’ve got good guys and they are well-coached. They made some plays, and they ended up winning the game based on those key plays. Over the last 10 years, we made the majority of those plays, this year we didn’t.”Gundy also emphasized not getting out of their world based on a handful of drives in Austin.“I don’t want people thinking that we didn’t move the ball,” he said. “I don’t know how many yards we had, but I don’t want to hit the panic button and say we didn’t move the ball. We had two opportunities to score touchdowns, and we kicked field goals. That is eight less points. Then we tried a fake field goal when we could have taken more. I think it was just more of us not executing at the goal line.”Being elite inside the red zone will always be an uphill battle for teams as explosive as OSU. But if Sean Gleeson’s past is any indication, he has the playbook (and the stones?) to push OSU into the territory it needs to occupy over that 70-percent mark. With a defense as dodgy as the Pokes’ defense always will be and a QB as complete as Sanders, it might be time for OSU to — inside the 20 anyway — explore that striped bag of tricks he brought over from the Ivy League. 20195465% Oklahoma State got inside Texas’ red zone six times on Saturday evening in Austin and walked away with just three TDs, which made the Cowboys three for their last eight in the red zone. In a TD-scoring league, this is the equivalent of shooting an elk with a nerf gun.It’s also nothing new for the Pokes. They’ve been good but not great at converting red-zone trips into TDs over the last decade. Here’s a year-by-year look at where they’ve ranked nationally and what their conversion rate has been. 20113765% 20102567% 20183467% 2013875% While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Matt Wells’ tenure in Lubbock is off to a rough start.After beating up on Montana State and UTEP, Texas Tech has lost back-to-back games to Arizona and Oklahoma. The Red Raiders also lost starting quarterback Alan Bowman, who accounted for much of Tech’s offense before going down with injury.The Red Raiders have a chance to right the ship this weekend against Oklahoma State. Here are some things Wells touched on at his Monday news conference.1. Jett Duffey the Guy Going ForwardThe Red Raiders traveled to Norman last week with a two-quarterback system after losing starter Alan Bowman to injury.Rice transfer Jackson Tyner got the start against OU, but he didn’t last long. Tyner went 1-for-5 before Jett Duffey took over, and Wells said Duffey will be the guy moving forward.Duffey was 11-for-20 for 120 yards against OU on Saturday. Duffey also got a lot of run last season in Bowman’s absence. In 2018, Duffey completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,221 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 369 yards and four touchdowns.“When he pulls it down, he can run,” Wells said. “He is a dual-threat. He throws the ball well when he throws it on time. … Jett’s care-factor is high, and I respect that. I appreciate that. I think he does have some talent.”2. Containing OSU’s Three StarsOSU’s opposing coaches always get asked about three guys: Chuba Hubbard, Tylan Wallace and Spencer Sanders.It was no different with Wells at his presser Monday, starting with Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher.“He’s patient,” Wells said. “They do a lot of schemes where he’s able to read, and then he’s strong and physical. I mean, 180-something yards rushing a game or whatever that number is, he’s a talented young man and certainly a big challenge for our defense.”The Red Raiders allowed CeeDee Lamb to catch seven passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns Saturday. Wells was asked about the comparisons between defending Lamb and Wallace.“Elite, two of the best in this league, CeeDee and Wallace,” Wells said. “Every time they touch the ball, they got home-run speed. They got home-run ability. They can make you pay if you don’t tackle well. Making plays on the ball becomes paramount when you play elite talent like that.”Wells said Sanders ability to run opens up a lot of possibilities for OSU offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson.“The guy gives you a chance to win,” Wells said. “He’s dynamic — pocket breaks down, he’s dynamic. You gotta have eyes on him. When plays break down, he makes you a better play caller because he can hurt ya.”3. On OSU’s DefenseThe Cowboys’ defense has given up 9.8 points a half since the second half in Tulsa.Kansas State only mustered eight first downs against OSU this past weekend. That’s not a great sign for a Tech team that got doubled up in yardage Saturday.“Multiple coverages in the secondary,” Wells said. “Talented skill kids. I see a lot of D-linemen that are fresh up front because they play a lot of guys up front. But they’re dynamic and unique in terms of their scheme on defense — create a lot of issues, create a lot of confusion for receivers or quarterbacks.” While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
STILLWATER — Mike Gundy isn’t ready to sound any alarms after his team’s 4-3 start.Oklahoma State is coming off a 45-27 loss to an unbeaten Baylor team. Spencer Sanders, the Cowboys redshirt freshman quarterback, has turned the ball over 10 times in the Cowboys’ three losses, but at his media luncheon Monday, Gundy said he can see the potential his squad has.“The youth on this team right now,” Gundy said, “the development, the classes that we have redshirted, the players we have, the overall attitude, there’s nothing to worry about.“… I have been cornered before, but I don’t feel that way now. I’m good. I’m excited. I like the potential. I like the youth. I like the direction we’re going. I see where we’re at. I see what we’re doing.”Of OSU’s 22 starters from the Baylor game Saturday, only four are seniors: Johnny Wilson, Marcus Keyes, Jordan McCray and A.J. Green. Eleven of those 22 starters are underclassmen. With Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace in their third years of eligibility, they could leave for the NFL Draft after this season. So, it’s likely at least 17 guys return.For this season, though, the Cowboys record might look quite different if it wasn’t for the turnovers. The Cowboys lost the turnover battle 5-0 in Lubbock a few weekends ago and almost miraculously lost by only 10 points.On Saturday, the Cowboys led 27-24 in the fourth quarter before the Bears scored 21 unanswered points to win the game, including a fumble recovery-turned-touchdown.OSU also had a chance to take a 20-10 lead into the half against Baylor before Sanders threw a jump ball short for Jordan McCray in the end zone that was intercepted. Sanders and McCray connected on an identical play for the Cowboys’ first score on the game.Gundy said Sanders’ demeanor between possessions was that of a “seasoned veteran” Saturday. Sanders’ demeanor has been tested at times this seasons, particularly in the first half of the Tulsa game and the Texas Tech loss. But Gundy said this is part of his young quarterback’s growth.“Forget the throw at the end of the first half,” Gundy said. “If he doesn’t drop the ball, and they don’t pick it up and run it in for a touchdown, we’re not really having this discussion.“He had proved that he had gotten better. He will get better each week. I guarantee you. The guy coaching him knows what he’s doing. He will get him better. And Spencer is a very prideful young man. The only issue he has to work on is thinking he can play a perfect game. He’ll accept responsibility. He’ll tell you he’s wrong. He’ll tell you it’s his fault. In a game, he wants to play a perfect game. That’s not gonna happen.”This makes for consecutive 4-3 starts for a program that is used to finishing near the top of the Big 12. Gundy said he can understand people’s frustration, but this isn’t something that can’t be fixed.“The program is on as good a ground as it’s ever been on here,” Gundy said. “We just gotta correct a few mistakes. That’s just life. It’s kinda the way it is. What people have to understand is this, I think most everybody knows me now. It’s not like I don’t get frustrated either. I go home, I take double ambien. Didn’t work. I woke up at 3:17 (a.m.). I came to work at 3:45 Sunday morning. That’s just the way it is. It’s not like I don’t know this, and it’s not like I don’t understand people’s frustration.“But, we also live in a society today where people want to b—- and complain about everything instead of putting their pants on and go fix it. We’re gonna fix it. Nobody around here’s gonna b—- and complain, from me to a coach to a player to anybody that works in that building over there. That’s the way it works. That’s the way that we’ll get better.” While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
My frolleagues (friends/colleagues) Jocelyn and Qui generously have shared the following presentation which answers the eternal existential question: “To blog or not to blog?” Enjoy.
World Cup Germany back in the right mood after Mexico upset, insists Hummels Sacha Pisani 23:21 6/21/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty World Cup Germany Germany v Sweden Sweden The reigning champions need to bounce back from their opening defeat to Mexico, and the defender says they are more than ready to get back on track Germany defender Mats Hummels has insisted the atmosphere within the team is back on track after the critical fallout from their shock loss to Mexico at the World Cup.Hummels was one of the players most vocal following Germany’s 1-0 defeat to Mexico in Group F last week – the Bayern Munich defender criticising the tactics used.There were also claims of squad disharmony as the world champions were left reeling and facing a must-win match against Sweden on Saturday. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar However, Hummels insists everything is fine after discussions within Joachim Low’s side.”The atmosphere is much better, we are getting back on track,” Hummels told reporters on Thursday. “Everybody wants to get back in form and on the pitch. We had some days now where we were down a bit but now we know everything is still possible when we reach our potential then we can play a good tournament.”The talks we had were very good, we spoke about our weaknesses and these are hopefully behind us now. Of course we are still looking on what we have to do against Sweden but the Mexico game is now behind us.”We know that now the only thing that is important is what we do on the pitch. All stuff around us is also important but on the pitch is the most important thing for us.”Hummels added: “I wasn’t the only one – I think Jerome [Boateng] also was critical after the match. Internally even more players spoke up, which I think was great. From that we are now fishing out the best input.”Sweden – who edged South Korea 1-0 – and Mexico won their opening games, leaving Germany facing the prospect of a premature exit in Russia.”The team has to be hot, because this is already a knockout game for us now,” Germany striker Mario Gomez said. “So we feel like having two knockout games more, instead of those group stage matches. I think we have been good in those type of matches in the past years.”We always knew what matters. Of course the first match was a brutally negative experience for us, we didn’t expect that. Our weaknesses were revealed, but we worked on that and we go on doing so before the game [against Sweden], so I’m positive that we will show another performance.”
World Cup Why Carlos Vela’s World Cup form should earn MLS some respect Ives Galarcep 01:47 6/25/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Clive Brunskill World Cup Mexico Los Angeles MLS The Los Angeles FC star has been one of Mexico’s best players during its strong World Cup run, and that form is making Major League Soccer look good Carlos Vela has been one of the key contributors in Mexico’s impressive start to the 2018 World Cup, with his strong showing against South Korea on Sunday following up a pivotal performance in the 1-0 upset of Germany.Vela’s efforts have made it easy to forget that it wasn’t too long ago that there were real questions about what sort of form he would be in after making the surprising decision to leave Spanish side Real Sociedad to sign with Major League Soccer expansion team Los Angeles FC.The move was seen as a step back for Vela, who at 29 could have still found plenty of teams in top European leagues to play for. Would the quality of play in MLS slow him down and maybe even cost him a starting role at the World Cup? Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Among those concerned was Mexican national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who has made no secret of his preference to have El Tri’s best players playing in top European leagues over moves to MLS and Liga MX. Though he didn’t criticize Vela’s MLS move publicly when it happened, Osorio expressed real concerns privately about what the move might mean for the form of a player who was supposed to be an important piece in the El Tri attack.Those fears were put to rest once Osorio had Vela in camp and saw a player not only brimming with confidence, but also one who was in peak physical condition, something that was vital to the plans Osorio had for his team in Russia.”You can see the improvement in his condition and it is a testament to the physical demands of the MLS,” Osorio told Goal before the start of the World Cup. “Playing for a good coach like Bob Bradley has clearly helped him adapt and you can tell he is enjoying his football.”That much has been clear to anyone who has seen Vela’s World Cup performances. On the ball, the forward has been clinical and effective. Defensively, he has been relentless, as evidenced by his outstanding work to help neutralize Toni Kroos in the win against Germany.That performance caught the attention of many, including former Arsenal teammate Cesc Fabregas, who pointed out that fears about MLS hurting Vela’s game appear to have been misguided.”In terms of the individual players who have impressed me the most, Vela deserves a mention for what he did against Kroos,” Fabregas wrote in a recent column for the BBC . “Vela left Real Sociedad to join Los Angeles FC at the start of the year and people seem to think that when you go to the MLS, or that type of league, your level drops.”That was not the case when he played against Germany, because Kroos could not shake him off. He tried but he could not influence the game.”Vela was at his best again on Saturday, working both ends of the field, putting in the effort defensively while also delivering dangerous passes. His converted penalty kick capped another strong showing to pull Mexico to the brink of the knockout rounds.In the process, he has provided some pretty convincing evidence that moving to MLS doesn’t have to mean a player will see their impact diminish on the international level. It is a stigma that has existed for some time, and one that continued to circulate as U.S. national team stars like Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley returned to MLS.The reality is that there have been several foreign players who have been able to maintain or boost their international careers after moving to MLS. Four years ago, Costa Rican defender Giancarlo Gonzalez joined the Columbus Crew before going on to star for the Ticos during their impressive run to the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals. His form earned him a summer move to Italian side Sampdoria that same year. This time around, Seattle Sounders defender Gustav Svensson is part of Sweden’s World Cup team and played a role in Sweden’s successful qualifying campaign. Vela’s LAFC teammate Laurent Ciman is in his fourth season in MLS and was the final cut from Belgium’s stacked World Cup squad.That doesn’t mean there haven’t been MLS players whose international careers were hurt by the stigma surrounding MLS’ quality. Toronto FC’s Italian star Sebastian Giovinco is a prime example of a player who has thrived in MLS but hasn’t been able to translate that into a return to the Italian national team, though given Vela’s success at the World Cup you can’t help but wonder if some in Italy aren’t looking at Giovinco’s absence from the Azzurri’s failed World Cup qualifying campaign through a different lens now.Vela’s form in Russia should help foreign MLS players generate a bit more respect and consideration from their national teams, and should serve as evidence to players considering moves to MLS that they don’t necessarily have to see their international careers wane or end because they decide to play in the league. It should also help the league make that very case to prospective players as teams continue to scour the international market for higher-level talent, as the money being spent on MLS salaries continues to grow.
Opinion Why did Africa’s five fail at 2018 World Cup? Solace Chukwu Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 02:25 6/30/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(8) Getty Opinion World Cup African All Stars Not since 1982 has there been a World Cup knockout stage without an African side, but where did it all go wrong for the continent’s quintet? In one of the most superb opening lines in all of literature, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy remarks, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”He may well have been remarking upon Africa’s showing at the World Cup almost 150 years later: Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal all have cause for regret after their tragic group stage exits, but while the misery is the same, the particulars are not.For Egypt, drawn in the weakest group and alongside the weakest seed, and making a first World Cup appearance in 28 years, this tournament represented a great opportunity to make a proper splash. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar For so long Africa’s dominant side, there has lingered about the Pharaohs the sense of a big fish in a (figuratively) small pond. It is a notion that a sorry campaign has done plenty to dispel: Egypt was one of only two teams to finish the Group Stage without registering a single point.The injury to Mohamed Salah was no doubt the headline, but the utter incompetence of the rest of the side in his absence – and subsequent half-presence – poses even more damming questions about the management of the team, as well as Egypt’s football development in general.While the now-departed Hector Cuper’s side embraced ignominy, there was rather more to be proud of, even in elimination, for the rest of the contingent.Senegal and Nigeria went into their final group matches with qualification firmly within their grasps, both requiring draws to progress.Neither managed it, however; their game management, both in failing to score while on top and in seeing out a match from a position of advantage, failing at the most crucial moments.However, both could rightly rue their sloppiness in previous encounters—Nigeria seemed unaware that the World Cup had actually kicked off in their opening loss to Croatia, while Senegal should not have twice blown a lead against Japan.Morocco and Tunisia lost twice on the bounce, but salvaged some pride on the final day.For the Atlas Lions, it was a first World Cup appearance in 20 years, and to their credit they were never outplayed in Russia.Instead, it was a lack of clinical edge upfront that did Herve Renard’s men in: Khalid Boutaib scored against Spain on the final day, but was criminally isolated against Portugal, left alone to battle Pepe and Jose Fonte for Nordin Amrabat’s deliveries.Tunisia were somewhat unfortunate with the order of the fixtures. Had they played Panama first, they perhaps might have gone forward with greater confidence. Instead, they seemed in a strait betwixt two early on, and got punished particularly ruthlessly by Belgium and England.In amidst their individual agonies, there are however some common threads that tie up this casserole of disappointment quite neatly.On the surface, Africa’s five representatives are drawn from its top seven sides, and so constitute the strongest possible contingent. However, a deeper look reveals an unusual statistic: only Nigeria, of the five, have featured in the last two World Cup tournaments.For Egypt, it was their first since 1990. For Morocco, first since 1998. Tunisia, 2006. Senegal, 2002. It made for novelty, and some great stories, but ultimately Africa rocked up at the global fiesta riddled with inexperience and ignorance of football at the highest level.It may not seem like that big of a deal, but the constantly evolving nature of football demands constant involvement and participation. With nothing to occupy them besides African football, in the form of qualifiers and the Africa Cup of Nations, it is no surprise that they displayed such startling naivety at times.This manifested in a number of ways: a peculiar vulnerability to set-plays (even Senegal, one of the biggest sides at the tournament, were undone by a corner kick); a total lack of nous and composure in seeing out games – Aziz Bouhaddouz vs. Iran, Nigeria dropping as deep as its own six-yard line against Argentina, Tunisia vs. England; as well as temperament – see Senegal getting knocked out on Fair Play points; one could go on and on.This lack of experience also robbed Africa of the chance to build progressively.Aside from lucking onto a Golden Generation, the way to excel at World Cups is to make gains incrementally. Germany went from two straight semi-finals to winning it all in 2014 by mining the lessons gleaned from failure. Ghana swept to the last eight in 2010 by learning from the pain of 2006. It’s a process, as they say.The abrupt shake-up in the African football hierarchy is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, as some of the old guard (Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast) had fallen into a rut precipitated by complacency and awful administration. That said, when viewed in the isolation of this particular cycle, it cost the continent something.What is particularly disappointing is that, while one could argue that experience was lacking, there was not exactly a sense of abandon about the five. Experience, valuable as it is, can often lend itself to caginess. In its absence, there was not even a sense of adventure to compensate.Had there been a team that truly captured the imagination by playing the expressive, almost joyously puerile football with which the continent is so often stereotyped, there might have been some consolation.Instead, the stodgy, unimaginative fare served up by, in particular, Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria, made for some rather dull fare with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.Morocco were perhaps the exception, playing an almost Spanish passing game, in keeping with their geographical proximity to the Iberian Peninsula. Senegal were unabashedly themselves, rigidly organized and breaking at pace through their wingers, but crucially lacked a real flourish at the end of their plays, such as their 2002 vintage possessed.That there seemed such a stylistic mismatch between some of the teams and their managers is odd: Egypt, whose last appearance on the world stage – the 2009 Confederations Cup – saw them record a 4-3 loss to Brazil, such is their attacking bent – were coached by the dour Cuper; Nigeria’s expressive, slightly chaotic brand was helmed with Teutonic pragmatism by Gernot Rohr.It felt, at times, almost un-African to be so risk averse, and perhaps the great message of this World Cup to Africa is to embrace and espouse its own style more readily, and play to its own strengths.