At the end of each weekend, The Full 90 will scour the soccer world and bring you the weekend's biggest winners and the biggest losers. More after the jump.
The Three Biggest Winners...
1. MLS Fans
Ready the keg, warm up your vocal chords, dig that scarf out of your closet and flick the flecks off dust off your favorite Wizards-blue piece of paraphernalia ... because this Saturday is a game day. As was well documented in Terez Paylor's story in Sunday's KC Star
, the MLS and the player's union came to terms on a five-year labor deal that will guarantee contracts (to a certain extent) and create a re-entry draft for out of contract players (we'll get to that in a minute). The first kick of the season will be Thursday night as the two most recent expansion squads, the Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders, face off in Seattle. The game is on ESPN2 (8:30 p.m. CST). The rest of the league kicks off Saturday. The Wizards host former coach Curt Onalfo and D.C. United. 2. New York
From Frank Giase (The Star-Ledger):
The Red Bulls opened Red Bull Arena the same way they closed Giants Stadium, with a convincing victory in front of a cheering crowd.
Saturday night they christened their brand new stadium with a 3-1 victory over Santos FC of Brazil before 25,000 screaming fans in their final tune-up for the Major League Soccer season.
“I can’t put it into words,” said defender Mike Petke, who scored the second goal. “There came a point this week that I had to stop smiling and realize we had a game tonight. … Tonight was a special night. However, the season starts next week and that’s going to be a special night as well.”
Also, a beautiful (if New York-centric) take by New York Times writer George Vescey
. Worth the read. MLS Insider has a photo gallery
of the sights and sounds. Must click. 3. Manchester United, Arsenal
Ten-man Arsenal beat West Ham United 2-0 on Saturday and Manchester United came from a goal back to upend Liverpool 2-1 Sunday. Both teams jumped over Chelsea (who have a game in hand) to take over the top of the table. Man United sits at 69 points, Arsenal at 67 and Chelsea falls to third with 65. The race to the top should be fairly interesting. The race for fourth-place should be interesting too. Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool are all still fighting for the last Champions League spot. The other winners:
... D.C. United's new "attractive" and "attacking" football
... Eddie Johnson
... 9-man Rangers
And now for the losers...
1. MLS free agency
One of the biggest sticking points for the player's union was that they wanted complete free agency. Didn't quite get it. The new collective bargaining agreement doesn't allow for the typical American free-agency model. Instead it will implement a "re-entry draft" for players out of contract at the end of the season. Details on the "re-entry draft" are still be finalized, but if it operates anything like the allocation process, I'm sure it will be a rousing, fantastic, terrific success. (That was sarcasm.)
2. AC Milan
Inter Milan still sits at the top of the Serie A table. With a chance to leapfrog their inner-city rivals, AC Milan could only manage a 1-1 draw with Napoli. (Inter drew with Palermo.) Only one point separates them, with AS Roma sitting four-points behind Inter in third. This only a week after losing Becks. Tough to be on the red-side of Milan this week. 3. American players abroad
I cringe every time I hear any news about a US National team regular as I'm certain the next words will be "is out injured." So, I'm reading some game reports from yesterday out of England and I see "injured" next to the names Jay DeMerit and Jozy Altidore. Fantastic. Here's the current list of injured Americans:
- · Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), ruptured patellar tendon
- · Stuart Holden (Bolton), broken leg
- · Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), cartilage damage in his ankle
- · Charlie Davies (Sochaux), car crash
- · DeMerit (Watford), back
- · Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), torn calf muscle
- · Jermaine Jones (Schalke), recurrent leg pain
- · Altidore (Hull City), hamstring
Can we wrap Landon Donovan in bubble wrap for the rest of the season? The good news, several of those players (Onyewu, Holden, Davies*) are on the road to recovery and Clint Dempsey (Fulham) has recovered his form after a knee injury. *Davies is supposed to return to training today. Seriously. He was involved in a car accident that killed someone, did this to the car and left him with more broken bones than a "Jackass" DVD. I'm convinced of this: Charlie Davies is Wolverine.
The other losers
Chelsea ... Liverpool
... Bayern Munich
... Sergio Kun Aguero
... Rioting Bulgarian fans