Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
Email Jon to talk about soccer.
HEADLINE | It's a topsy-turvy world so far in the Premier League this year, but even so, nobody really expected both Manchester teams to lose on the same day. United went down 2-1 to West Brom - at home, no less - while City lost 3-2 at Aston Villa.
City are reeling a bit - they've yet to win away from home this year, leading coach Manuel Pellegrini to start issuing reassurances - but it's United that are truly the story. It may be early, but you have to run your finger down to 12th in the standings to find ManU. The team that lost only five matches all season on their way to the 2012-13 title has now lost three of its first six, and new manager David Moyes is admitting in every forum that his team isn't good enough. For some reason, he came out and said that his team didn't have enough good players to win the Champions League, which may be true, but hardly seems worth mentioning, especially when your team has just failed to beat West Brom at home.
In less exciting news, Arsenal kept rolling along with a fifth consecutive win, beating Swansea 2-1 and staying atop the table, while Chelsea and Tottenham drew 1-1 and Liverpool beat Sunderland 3-1.
MLS | "You sure came a long way for this match," said the lady at the concessions stand when I showed her my ID. Even in Seattle, where they regularly draw crowds of 40,000 plus, they aren't used to Midwesterners trekking to the West Coast to take in a little MLS.
I was there to see the matchup of the best team in the east, New York, against the best in the west, Seattle. The star power of the match was diminished, however; Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry didn't want to risk reinjuring his Achilles tendon on Seattle's artificial turf, and Sounders forward Clint Dempsey missed the match with a hamstring injury. (No doubt ESPN, which was thus promoting Eddie Johnson vs. Fabian Espindola instead of Henry vs. Dempsey, was unhappy as well.)
It poured down for most of the match - shocker, there - and a late Tim Cahill goal gave New York a point, canceling out Brad Evans's first-half penalty to give the Century Link Field crowd a 1-1 draw.
The Sounders controlled the play, for the most part, especially in the first 45 minutes when the Red Bulls were mostly pinned inside their own half. Seattle deserved a goal, but New York hit the post and the crossbar in the second half, and really a 1-1 draw ended up being a fair result.
The draw left New York atop the MLS standings and Seattle tied with Real Salt Lake just one point behind, though the Sounders have played two fewer games than either of the other two.
EUROPE | There are three perfect teams left in Europes top-drawer leagues - Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in Spain, and Roma in Italy - but the big story, for SoccerCentric, is the continued success of Inverness Caledonian Thistle. We decided earlier this year that Caley had the best name of any team in Europe, and then completely forgot about them, but their 3-0 win over Hibernian on Saturday was enough to send them back to the top of the Scotland, ahead of heavy favorites Celtic on goal difference.
ICT has already earned a 2-2 away draw at Celtic, and though they dropped points with a 1-0 loss at Aberdeen, they still have to be considered the presumptive favorites to unseat Celtic from the top of Scotland. We here at SoccerCentric could not be happier that our endorsement is already bearing fruit.
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