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Thread: [FM10] Makonnen's World

  1. #1
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    Default [FM10] Makonnen's World

    What This Is

    An FM2010 Career universe, populated by two new country structures and five managers. The two new country structures are a two-tier setup for Ethiopia and an extensive four-tier setup for North/Central America (including the USA, Mexico, Canada, and the nations of the Caribbean and Central America).

    The five managers are:
    • Danyil Oranje, who starts as head of Chelsea.
    • Tadesse Makonnen, who heads the leading Ethiopian side, St. George.
    • Levi McKinnon, head of the low level USA team, the Houston Comets.
    • David Barron, coach of a truly destitute Racing Club Haitien.
    • Terry Langford, head of Ajax Cape Town in South Africa’s Premiere League.

    The Story So Far

    We are a few months in, with game time of early June, 2009. Chelsea is in stasis until the season begins, but Oranje has already begun to make his mark on the team, adding Daniele De Rossi to the mix. Likewise, the South African leagues are in their off season break, so other than some minor adjustments to staff and the like, Ajax Cape town have been quiet.

    Not so the other three. One of the features of both the Ethiopian and North American structures is an abundance of cups and challenges. St. George has been active in the RASS (Red & Arabian Sea States Cup), and in a bit of a shocker, have qualified for the second round of play (see the key games here and here). For the two NADII (North American Division II) sides, both cup and league play have started. Barron is finding it hard going in the under financed, underaged, underskilled world of Port-Au-Prince, but is slowly trying to build a squad. McKinnon has had a better run, and is slowly building what looks like candidates for promotion in Houston.

    If this interests you, the latest information is always at http://mknn.wordpress.com/ . I plan to post updates in this thread as interesting moments come up, and also a general update each month of game time.

    I hope you enjoy it.

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    End of July Update

    First update, woot! There will always be more detail/intrigue/misc. info at http://mknn.wordpress.com/ if anyone is interested.

    Ajax Cape Town

    New manager Terry Langford has great hopes for the Urban Warriors but so far is struggling to impress his style of play on the team. Clearly seeing some of the issue as stemming from current personnel, Langford has brought in almost a dozen new faces and jettisoned about that many old ones while driving his players very hard in training to embrace his “three in the back, everyone else up” philosophy. The offensive players are taking to it more than the defense, who continually have been caught out of position by lesser sides throughout their friendlies—a situation not helped at all by the absence of Latvian centerback Deniss Ivanovs to injury.

    The team is strong up the middle, with Clifford Ngobeni and newly acquired Bafo Biyela. I’m trying to emulate something close what Chile plays, with wingers and attackers moving forward with abandon, and a lot of interchange. But, the 3 at the back defense is not working yet at all. Ajax’s league play starts at the end of August as well, with a couple local cups this month, too.

    Chelsea

    The preseason is winding up and new manager Danyil Oranje is pleased with developments so far. The biggest move of the offseason is the signing of Daniele De Rossi for 80 million (US$). A variety of players have moved on from Stamford Bridge, most notably Juliano Belletti and Deco. Chelsea needs some youth, as its core of players—while certainly top notch—are moving towards being long of tooth. We qualified easily out of the group stage of the Imposter’s Cup, finishing 8-0 and outscoring the opposition 25-1. Our next opponent there is The Phoenix, and we should dispatch them just as readily. We meet ManU in the Community Shield this month and, of course, at the end of the month, the Premier League kicks off with matches at Tottenham and Portsmouth, and home against Fulham.

    Houston Comets

    A decent start to the season. The Comets are in 6th place in the NADII Yashin Conference, but would be in 2nd if they maintain their current performance across the same number of games as the leaders (The Albuquerque Golden Wolves have 23 points from 10 games; the comets have 8 from 4). They had OK showings in the various cups, but did not progress beyond the group round in any of them. The team is gelling nicely and, other than a very shoestring budget, is set nicely with a decent crop of young players. Unfortunately, injuries have hit pretty hard, with DC Ralph Murphy—our best player to date—and attacker Lance Miller—our 16 year old wunderkind with 7 goals in 17 appearances—both out of the lineup. Matt Richardson is a constant threat on the right wing, and Jesse Sanchez and Victor Ramirez have 11 goals between them up front. August marks a transition to a focus on league play—we have 7 scheduled league matches in the month, and our hopes for promotion will be clarified by the end of the month.

    Racing Club

    Ah, the heartache. David Barron is being stretched to the limit here, trying to keep a club with no money and little talent above water. We are currently last in the NADII di Stefano conference, although with only 3 games played, there is plenty of time to move up. That said, a mid-conference finish would be a spectacular result with this bunch of kids. Our cup performance has been woeful, and our ongoing participation in the North America’s Cup doesn’t look much better. That said, there have been some decent performances, and the overall quality of the club is getting much better (that is, we are no longer fielding gray players! ). The biggest obstacle is scouting—right now, fewer than a dozen players show up in player searches, for example. In spite of outrage in the local press, Edens Chery and Craig Demmins remain our core, but Demmins is 38 and is clearly a one year solution. Youngsters Philbert Wilson and Kelvin de los Reyes are returning from injury, though, which should help. Only reserve Kevin Calderon has more than a single goal for Racing Club. This is just a huge challenge, and may result in Barron being fired, quite honestly.

    Saint George

    The Ethiopian league schedule doesn’t really start until after the weather clears in the Fall, so it is a quiet few months in Addis Ababa. We have a couple friendlies this month, and are looking as always to improve the squad, but Tadesse Makonnen is largely dormant for a little while.

    Elsewhere

    Toluca is leading NASL, but it’s still wide open, although Pachuca looks a sure bet for relegation to NACL at the end of the year, managing only 7 points in their 11 games. San Luis, Santos Laguna, and Atlante look to be on course to move up from the 2nd tier.

    The Panama City Championship was won by Plaza Amador, defeating Tauro FC 2-1 on aggregate, while Saprissa and Alajuelense meet this month to decide the Costa Rican Club Championship as do Brooklyn and Rochester in the Empire Cup of New York State Final.

    July saw several big money transfers in North America as well, led by Efrain Juarez’ move from Pumas UNAM to Hull for $10M and Sergio Santana joining Stoke from Monterrey for 7.25M. These were, of course, dwarfed by the European signings, led by Chelsea’s paying through the nose for De Rossi, Shakhtar buying Stephan Lichtsteiner from Lazio for 29M, and AC Milan picking up Miguel Veloso from Sporting for 27M.

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    Last edited by Makonnen; 26-06-2010 at 20:31.

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    End of August Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    Ajax

    The experiment continues. Some games, we look like world beaters, others, not so much. The SAPL (South African Premier League) has started league play, and we are 1-1-1, which is fine, especially given the absence of arguably our best players (Bafo Biyela and newcomer Tlou Segolela's injuries--as well as defender Deniss Ivanovs' slow recovery from torn ligaments--have been felt especially strongly; all three should be back to full strength in September). Three more league matches loom in September, so hopefully we are double digits in points by then.

    We did make the Charity Cup Final, but lost to Kaizer on penalties, then lost in the Super Eight quarterfinals to Orlando, also on penalties.

    A couple teams have come knocking for Siphiwe Lewis. We've rebuffed them so far, but it is our lot to sell our good players and restock--Lewis should bring in several million at some point in the near future.

    Chelsea

    A good month on the pitch: only a breakaway in injury time kept us from going 5-0 in meaningful games. Instead, 4 victories against a single loss to Tottenham, which hurts, but still.

    We beat ManU in the Comunity Shield, trounced Phoenix home and away in the Imposter's Cup, and beat Portsmouth to bring our EPL record to 1-1.

    We also signed 23 year old winger Simon Vukcevic. That gives us 5 attacking wingers: Kalou, Cole, Zhirkov, and Malouda--in addition to the youngsters Tore and Sturridge. Someone will find themselves on the road out of Stamford Bridge come the Winter transfer season.

    7 matches are scheduled in September: home and away against Necaxa in the Imposter's Cup, 2 Champion's Cup games (against Unirea Urziceni and Stuttgart--Sporting CP are also in our group), a League Cup game with Ipswich, and EPL clashes with Stoke and Manchester United.

    Houston Comets

    We are settling in: after the disappointing loss to FC Dallas in the Silver Boot, August saw 7 league games in NADII: Yashin for Houston in which we went 4-2-1, climbing to 4th place in the division.

    September is a lighter schedule, with only 4 games on the slate, which should help the squad return to full health and fitness.

    The most important news is probably 16 year old rising star Lance Miller's return to health. Miller combines with Jesse Sanchez and Victor Martinez to give Houston a constant threat up front, and the three should form a partnershp for many years to come.

    Racing Club

    Such a challenge. August has to be seen as a success: the Haitien minnows went 2-2-2 in NA Group play, and held SF FAC to a scoreless draw in their only league game. But it's always a struggle.

    The important news for Racing is on the turnover front. The entire coaching staff, other than assistant Daylan Campbell has been replaced, with a slight improvement across the board in the quality of instruction the young men should receive. Every little bit helps.

    Additionally, August saw Racing Club improve their midfield significantly, bringing in Hayden Zurinaga, Leonardo Elizondo, and potential impact player Andre Ramirez.

    There are 10 league fixtures on the schedule for September, so we'll see if they can hold on to a mid level position by the end of the month.

    Saint George

    More training, a couple friendlies, no real news. The Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup starts in September (V play Montevarchi in the first round), then RASS picks back up with a home and away series against Al-Khaleej in October before league play opens in November.

    Elsewhere

    August EPL signings were topped by the $15M move of Ashkan Dejagah from Wolfsburg to Aston Villa. Tomas Hubschma's transfer from Shakhtar to West Ham and Chelsea's purchase of Vuckevic also topped the $10M mark. The most costly transfer from North American clubs was Napoli's purchase of Matias Vuoso from NACL leading Santos Laguna.

    After only 4 games, Boton--yes, Bolton--top the EPL, followed by the two clubs from Manchester. Relegation battles are shaping up in NASL, where the surprise has to be the presence of the LA Galaxy in the bottom 5 teams in the league.

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    End of September Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    Ajax

    Not a good month. We go 0-1-2 in the SAPL, dropping to 13th place, just clear of relegation. The final game of the month was a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Santos FC, our Cape Town rivals. The tactical experiment is, to date, a failure, but we're sticking with it. We've got a few transfer due in January that should help upgrade us all around the pitch, but we need to survive until then.

    In addition to 4 SAPL games, October brings a Knockout Cup match against Orlando Pirates.

    Chelsea

    Chelsea is in 8th in the Premiere Division, but only because they have only played 4 games, going 3-1-0 in those matches. September saw us go 2-0, most importantly a magnificent 3-2 win over ManU, capped by a fantastic goal by Michael Ballack that was voted the best of the month.

    We qualified for the Imposter's Cup Semi's by beating Necaxa 5-1 on aggregate, and are 1-0-1 in Champions Cup play, beating Unirea Urziceni but allowing a 90th minute goal to only tie Stuttgart.

    Injuries have been wearing away at the club, and remain a concern, but strong performance from new young strikers Yaya Sanogo and Ishak Belfodil, as well as continued excellence from Anelka, have helped in Drogba's absence.

    October brings 4 more EPL matches, the Imposter's Cup semfinal against Real Madrid, and two Champions Cup matches against Sporting CP. Should be a tough month.

    Houston Comets

    3-1 in the division, climbing to 2nd place and clearly fighting for promotion. Life is good in H-Town.

    October could be quite a test, however: we have chaos at goalkeeper, having lost our top two to injuries, and depending now on kids that were just brought in on trial. But, a strong finish is necessary if we want to make NADI next year.

    Miller returned without missing a beat: the kid now has 8 league goals ind 14 overall, and has been our best overall player so far this year.

    Racing Club

    Gulp. What a month: from a glorious beginning victory over Notre Dame, to going 0-7-1 through the rest of the month being outscored 28-1. So, the time on the field has been very, very rough.

    It's been an interesting month, though, from a locker room conversation with maligned goalie Eliseo Agueros to finding chicken blood splattered on the practice field ... there are stories brewing in Haiti.

    With games against Morne-a-l'Eau and Herediano in October, there is a chance for some victories. But, really, it will be 2 years before we know anything about this club.

    Saint George

    V were victorious over Montevarchi in the first round of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup, and now face Ethiopian National League team Nyala SC in the 2nd round. October has those two clashes, as well as the RASS matches against Al-Khaleej.

    And, of course, the growing anticipation of the November opening day of the EPL.

    Elsewhere

    September saw one large European transfer, with Dany Nounkeu moving to OM for $11M.

    Tottenham, Everton, and Manchester City top the standings in England, but it is, of course, still early days.

    Toluca has been passed by Cruz Azul and Monarcas Morelia in NASL, while the Galaxy continue to battle with Columbus, New England, and Chicago to avoid relegation to NACL.

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    End of October Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    Ajax

    Rumors are that I was a loss away from being fired. I guess it's lucky that we tied the last game ... the tactical experiment isn't working, and I'm now trying to find some middle ground between the 3-3-4 I was trying and a more traditional lineup.

    It was a rough month: 1-2-1 in the league, and a loss on penalties in a cup. The team is despondent, complaining about how we're underperforming, the whole bit. so, my tenure here could be shorter than I hoped--especially since we have a few players coming in January better suited for the system.

    November brings 7 league matches--should test our depth (and our physio). If we can get ... 10 points ... I think my job is safe.

    Chelsea

    Not the best of months for the boys in blue. We drop to 10th in the league (Tottenham and Everton top the table) with a 1-2-1 record--losses to Arsenal (OK) and Sunderland (most definitely not OK) and a tie with Bolton.

    Cup play was similarly uninspired: the extra time loss to Real Madird in the Imposter's Cup semifinal, and an away loss to Sporting in Champions cup Group play were not offset by the 4-0 thrubbing of West Brom in the English League Cup.

    Joe Cole picked up a long term injury; other than that, the squad is coming into form, and it's not yet a cause for concern. Not yet.

    November should bring a return to form: 5 league games, including Liverpool, and the second leagues in the Champion's Cup with Sporting and Unirea.

    Houston Comets

    Not a bad month: 2-0-1, and still in 2nd place in the conference. We are 2 points ahead of 3rd place Rochester with a game in hand, and trail the leading Penn Yan Mustangs by 8 points with 2 in hand. I think 2nd is the most likely finishing spot for us, which puts us firmly in the promotion playoff.

    November brings our final six conference games.

    Racing Club

    0-4-1 in the conference, but really, not a bad month: we only gave up 7 goals in those 5 games, a much improved rate on defense. Of course, not scoring a single goal limits how good it could be ...

    We did defeat Herediano 3-1 in the NADII Challenge. November has four more conference matches, and a clash with South Africa's Orlando Pirates in the NADII Challenge.

    No update on the blood spattered field yet, however.

    Saint George

    Slowly, Ethiopia picks up. In October, we beat fellow Ethiopian squad Nyala SC to move on in the Ehtio-Italian Friendship Cup, lowering the sting from the loss to Al-Khaleej in RASS.

    League play opens against Banks SC on November 4th, with 5 more clashes scheduled for the month.

    Elsewhere

    The only major October transfers was Ahmed Samir Farag going from Ismaily to ES Setif for $1.3M.

    As the North American season winds down, Toluca FC has regained the top spot in NASL, leading a pack of 8 Mexican teams at the top of the table. While nothing is set in stone at this point, Salt Lake, Pachuca, LA, Chicago, and Columbus all look destined for NADI.

    In NACL, the only certainty is the relegation of woeful Western Connection, who have managed only 4 points from 25 games. Other than that, Santos Laguna, Atlante, and Chiapas are all firmly in the promotion hunt.

    In NADI, Philadelphia, Lighthouse, and Comunicaciones are all guaranteed spots in the promotion playoff, while Curtidores, winless on the year, is destined for NADII next year. And, in the lowest tier of North American soccer, only the Cardinal and CSA Forks have cemented their playoff spots. Violette, Alianza, and Vista Hermosa are winless on the season.

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    End of November Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    Ajax

    Well, nowhere near the 10 points. We went 0-4-2. But, hey, we scored twice in the last game. Awful, just awful. Every match I get the e-mail warning me I'm about to be fired. So that seems pretty imminent. I think if it happens I may take the first job offered as a rule, not sure. But we'll see if I can hold on.

    December has four league games. I suspect I need 9 points--and 3 this week--to stay employed.

    Chelsea

    Probably the biggest news is the sale of Flo Malouda, who has played only sparingly. Malouda will ply his trade on the wings for either FC Bayern, AC Milan, or Villareal--we won't know until next week.

    On the pitch, we started great, 3-0 including a 5-0 thrashing of Wolves. But we only tied the away leg at Unirea 0-0, and Anelka was red carded in the 5th minute of a match against Hull which we ended up losing 1-0. So, the engine is still not clicking on all cylinders. We're 9th in the league, 16 points behind Tottenham with 3 fewer games. Even if we won all three of those, though, we would only be in 4th place.

    December has NINE games scheduled. No way that holds. But, if it does, we should beat Reading in the League Cup this week, then have seven league games--including Man City and Tottenham at the end of the month. Sandwiched in there is a Champions Cup clash with Stuttgart that we really need to win to secure advancement.

    Houston Comets

    NO!

    A bit heart-breaking: we finish 0-3-3 to end up outside the playoffs by a single point. It's our own fault entirely, as ended the year with games going 0-1, 0-1, and 0-0. A single goal in any of those three games, and we are in the playoffs.

    Instead, it is to the off season, and thoughts of next year.

    Racing Club

    Not bad. We even won 2 games. I am curious as to what the off season brings, and whether either our scouting (which right now shows, wait for it, 12 players) or our finances open up to allow some real improvements.

    Saint George

    Dominant, as expected. V go 5-0-1, outscoring the opposition 21-4. Anything less would be a shock: we are the dominant force in the EPL.

    Elsewhere

    No major transfer stories--the largest was Alain Traore moving from AJ Auxerre to AS Saint-Etienne for 3.1M.

    The big news are the playoffs in North America, which are underway. I'll summarize the promotion/relegation fallout as the playoffs finish up on the site.

    Probably the biggest news in England is the performance of Chelsea (see above) and ManU (5-1-3, for 11th place, although with 5 games in hand).

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    End of December / End of Year Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    More and more narrative stories are emerging, which are being written up over in the FM Stories forum. I'll keep the monthly updates here, but I've slowed down on the playing as the writing catches up.

    Ajax

    I don't know why I am still employed. Probably to make it hurt more when the ax falls--would make sense, as four new players come in 1/1, so maybe I'll see them join, and then be forced out.

    We went 1-1-2 in the league--the 3-0 victory over Bloem Celtic seeming to auger a sea change. But then 0-0 draws with MP Black Aces and the Orlando Pirates, and a 2-1 loss to the FS Stars, and we're back to misery. 9 matches left in the season, 4 scheduled for January. We are in LAST PLACE, and need to improve somewhat dramatically to leapfrog Maritzburg and Platinum Stars in the table.

    Romance is in the air for Coach Langford, if he can lift his head from his depression and the bottle to see it.

    Chelsea

    Long month at Stamford Bridge. We miserably crashed out of the Champion's Cup by only drawing with Stuttgart, and we lost a 1-0 game to Hull early on in the month. It got better, though: 6-0 in the final six Premiere League games of the month, capped by a 2-1 victory over league leading Tottenham with an Essien header in the 91st minute.

    That leaves us 4th in the table with three games in hand and 38 points, behind Tottenham (50 points), Arsenal, and Everton (tied with 44 points each). January has 7 games planned: both legs in the League Cup Semi's against Man Utd, an FA Cup game against, ahem, Rushden, and 5 league games, including a home-and-home with Liverpool.

    Malouda did indeed move on, joining FC Bayern.The moves have just started, though, as Liam Bridcutt, Hilario, and most importantly, Joe Cole are all looking at contract offers to move on.

    Houston Comets

    Not making it into NADI hurts. We're in the off season, not much to do until February. We did sign a new player, a midfielder named James Knight, but that isn't big news, honestly.

    Racing Club

    No news until the Board decides upon the budgets for the new year. There is, however, a vodoo ceremony in coach David Barron's future.

    Saint George

    More of the same: 5-0-1 in league play, 9 points clear of second place Awassa after 12 games. We have 3 of the top 5 scorers in the league, 4 of the 6 assist men, and 9 of the top 10 rated.

    More importantly, we're through to the next round of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup after beating Chieti.

    January brings 3 league games, the first group games of the African Challenge (against Enyimba), and the start of the Addis Cup, the annual championship between the teams hosted in the capital city.

    Elsewhere

    League play is, of course, becoming meaningful throughout Europe. Barcelona leads LIGA BBVA, with Real Madrid surprisingly languishing in 5th place. AS Saint-Etienne, Olimpique-Lyonnais, and OM sit atop Ligue 1; Genoa leads Serie A with Roma and AC Milan both well off the pace; and in what must be the greatest surprise of all, HSV is in first in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich all the way down in 10th.

    The transfer market will, of course, heat up more in January, but December still saw some big money moves: Christian Gimenez from Pachuca to Chivas, Felipe Baloy from Monterrey to Chiapas, and Sebastian Blanco from Lanus to CFG Cluj all topped $7 Million.

    Full North American promotion & relegation results are here. End of season awards are listed as well: NASL, NACL, NADI, NADII.

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    End of January, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    Seems like forever since the last monthly updated—but, we’re all caught up. You can read about it in the FMS Thread, or with even more detail, at the website. An odd month, all things considered. Two managers are, essentially, in stasis; another changes jobs; and the final two keep on keeping on.

    Ajax CT

    The final installment is written: Terry Langford is fired after a tie and a loss in his first two matches of the month. He is quickly offered a job with Italian Serie C team Rodengo Saiano, which he accepts at least partially out of affection for their mascot (a panda). His newfound romance, however, flounders with the move.

    Chelsea

    Chelsea sputters in January, going 2-1-1 for the month (wins against Stoke and Blackburn, a tie with Portsmouth, and a loss to Liverpool). Manchester United knocked them out of the League Cup, and they face a replay against Sheffield Wednesday to stay alive in the FA Cup.

    They added one player in the January transfer window, bringing in young Brazilian striker Alípio. The door was busier the other way, with Malouda’s move to FC Bayern becoming official and both Cole’s departing: Ashley to Manchester City for $35M, Joe to Napoli for $18.75M. Adam Phillip, Hilário, Liam Bridcutt, Marko Mitrovic, Philipp Prosenik, and Michael Woods all were passed on as well, generating over $70M in income in the month.

    Manager Danyil Oranje is under fire, but seems to have lost none of his cocky attitude, nor his sense that the team has turned the corner for the better.

    Houston

    All quiet on the Texas front. The team is on vacation, and other than intimations of a total staff turnover come early February, not much going on.

    Racing Club

    Likewise for the Haitiens. Some off the pitch activity continues, but nothing soccer related for the month.

    Rodengo Saiano

    Can Langford realize his tactical dreams in Italy? We’ll see. He went 0-1-1 with his first two games, so not much of a change there. Rodengo sits mid-table, but have brought in a lot of good talent—it’s up to Terry now.

    St. George

    Faltering, for St. George, means not being quite so dominant: in this case, it means going 2-0-1 in the league, losing the opening match of the African Challenge, and going 2-0-1 in the group phase of the coveted Addis City cup.

    The African Challenge included a horrendous administrative error that led to half the squad being ineligible, with St. George reduced to grabbing players off the street. No idea why the game refused to see the squad as home grown, but there you go.

    Elsewhere

    The big news in January, of course, concerns the European transfer markets.

    In game imitating reality, Manchester City spent nearly $70M on three players, bringing in Ashley Cole ($35M), Stéphane Sessegnon ($23M), and Miguel Torres ($10.25M). Perhaps the most surprising moves was Michael Carrick leaving Manchester United for Atletico Madrid for $13.75M.

    Tottenham continue to comfortably lead the league in England, 9 points clear of Arsenal and Everton, with Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea rounding out the top 6. Manchester United is 22 points behind Tottenham, but the Red Devils have six matches in hand, so they should be firmly in the thick of things by the end of the season. At the other end of the table, Sunderland, Wigan, and Birmingham all look safely destined for relegation.

    Elsewhere in Europe, the biggest flop continues to be FC Bayern, who are closer to the bottom of the German First Division than the top. Barcelona tops the table in Spain, and Genoa and Juventus are in a neck and neck race in Serie A in Italy.

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    Interesting concept.

    I take it the North American leagues are fictional creations?

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    The leagues are, and a lot of the lower level teams as well. The upper level teams are taken from existent Mexican/MLS teams, and all of the non-USA/non-Canadian teams are "real."

    I use quotes because even with the largest database, FM's knowledge of Tivoli Gardens (Jamaica) or Violette (Haiti) or the ever popular Kultur Yabra (Belize) is pretty sparse.

    Actually, I think I did add the two Cuban teams. The "background" link above has links to pages that describe each of the four levels. Thanks for stopping by!

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    Ah, ok.

    Just curious because "Houston Comets" was the name of a women's basketball team, so it threw me a little.

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    End of February, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    @Jason. Yep, that was part of the inspiration for the name, actually.
    Feburary, 2010 Update

    A busy month, on and off the pitch. The FMS Thread is still alive, but I am splitting the five managers off into separate stories—I’ll link their headings as that happens. Right now, the only one who has (barely) started is Barron in Haiti (I am going to finish out the current season in the main thread for each one).

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    Yes, Danyil Oranje was selected as the next head coach of Cameroon, with his first competitive games happening in South Africa at the 2010 World Cup. More on that later—for now, the big news was a constant struggle to fill out the Cameroonian coaching staff. You’d think someone would want to help out the Indomitable Lions.

    At Stamford Bridge, there are some signs of progress as Chelsea went undefeated in 8 matches in February. However, with only five wins the fans were still not satisfied, and the ground beneath Oranje’s feet remains a little weak and shifting. The two failures of the month were a 0-0 draw with Birmingham at home, and a 1-1 tie at Bolton, both in games the men in blue dominated.

    Newly acquired Simon Vukcevic is out for quite some time, but aside from that the squad is finally largely healthy and—for the first time in 2010—all accounted for with the conclusion of the African Nation’s Cup. This is crucial, as March has nine scheduled games, including important league matches against Aston Villa, Arsenal, and Liverpool, all at home. Add to that an away match at Fulham in the FA Cup, and both legs of the EURO Cup against Wolfsburg, and it’s a busy, busy month for the men in blue.

    While negotiations with a coveted youngster named Boyd Parham broke down, Chelsea did sign Mexican rising star Martin Galván who may prove to be the first Mexican in the EPL, if Chicharito is left alone in this universe.

    Comets

    Houston has returned to training, but not much else. There is a new Assistant Coach in Houston, and the Comets have several friendlies scheduled for March. They are still waiting for a budget for the new season, at which point we can only assume that Levi McKinnon’s wheeling and dealing will resume.

    A very important event occurred, however: a representative from the North American Football Association came by to give a presentation on the history of female professional players. Yep, you heard right. More, here.

    Racing Club

    Worrisome: Houston is back in training, but Racing Club has not yet returned. I’m pretty nervous, hoping nothing is “wrong,” that will force David Barron to resign or whatever. We’ll see.

    So, with no teams to work with, the Kiwi coach spent his time having dinner with a lovely woman, and playing pick-up soccer with some of his team.

    Rodengo Saiano

    Well, not bad. 2-2-0 in the league, but a .500 record will at least provide for Langford’s survival. Langford has dramatically altered the Rodengo side, bringing in 10 players and letting four go. Six of those brought in were free transfers, but the most important initially—and clearly the early fan favorite is 5’1” Isma, who made the move from Albacete. There are eight matches left in the Serie C2/A season and while Rodengo is probably too far down the table to make the playoffs, a top 10 finish is quite possible.

    And, Terry & Leti continue to try to have a go at figuring out their (now long-distance) relationship.

    Saint George

    Holy crap. I have never seen a team worked this hard. February of 2009 saw Saint George play eleven matches. ELEVEN. Combine this with the African Challenge SNAFU and it was a rough month: V skated by in the Addis Cup, and beat Insurance 1-0 in the Quarterfinal, but has managed to go just 0-1-2 in their All-Africa Challenge Group. Still, they lead the EPL easily, a 14-0-4 record putting them 8 points clear of 2nd place Awassa—yes, St. George has yet to lose on the league season.

    Elsewhere

    February saw only two transfers in excess of $5M: Ruslan Nakhushev moved from Saturn to Moscow for $6.75M and Lucas Mareque from Independiente to Saturn for $6.5M.

    At the bottom of the Premier Division, Wigan and Sunderland look certain for relegation, but Birmingham still has hope of climbing over Hull or Stoke. Top and bottom of other major European leagues:

    CCC: Newcastle, 67. Scunthorpe & Plymouth, 31.
    Ligue 1: Olympique Lyonnais, 51. OGC Nice & Montpelier Hérault SC, 22.
    Ligue 2: FC Metz, 60. AC Arles Avignon, 8.
    Bundesliga: HSV, 58. Freiburg, 14. (Bayern is in 10th with 33).
    LIGA BBVA: Barcelona, 57. Tenerife & Xerez, 23.

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    End of March, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    March, 2010 Update

    March finds, for the first time in quite a while, all five managers active! Chelsea is winding down a season that, while good for most clubs, falls a bit short of expectations for them. Rodengo Saiano is limping to the finish of a poor season, but Terry Langford’s job looks secure there, and Saint George continues to dominate nationally. The Houston Comets and The Old Lions of Racing Club Haïtien are in preseason, so it’s all the usual: budgets, and trials, and transfers, and friendlies.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    Not bad, given that the Blues are still not running on all cylinders. March saw them go 4-1 in the league with victories against Villa, West Ham, Blackburn, and Wolves and a loss to Arsenal. Chelsea remain lower than expected, occupying 5th place in the Premier Division, but are only 7 points out of 2nd with a game in hand (Tottenham, with 75 points, is running away with the title). A 4-1 aggregate victory over Wolfsburg in the EURO Cup and a 2-1 victory over Fulham in the FA cup rounded out March’s action.

    April brings EURO games against Celtic, an FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United, and five more league games.

    It also brings (although perhaps not until the very end of the month) the return to health of Simon Vukcevic, who has been much missed. Anelka, Drogba, and Zhirkov have all been fantastic lately, with Salomon Kalou coming back to Earth after his dramatic start to the new year. Perhaps the most important occurrence in March was the realization by the Chelsea staff that Michael Ballack has indeed passed his prime—it is hard to see the decline of a legend, but realities must be faced.

    March saw some staff additions for Cameroon: Rachid Negrouz joined as the U20 coach, while Bamba Koné and Paul Mballa were added to coach the national team itself. The first real national team action will be a three day minicamp in late May, and then a friendly with Jamaica as prelude to the World Cup.

    Comets

    The preseason has started! After a couple lackluster performances, the Comets shocked the Houston Dynamo in their final friendly for March, winning 3-0. Two Dynamo loanees, Felix Garcia and Steven Owens, figure to play a large role in the upcoming campaign. They join two defenders, Ryan George and Rocco Nettis as March signings. The Comets are looking to safely achieve promotion out of NADII this year, so the pressure will be on. Look for a full squad review before the league opens—for April, it is an unending series of friendlies and trials. Given the limited financial resources of the club, McKinnon will be hard pressed to add much talent, but we’ll see what he can find kicking around the bottom of the barrel.

    Key figures Lance Miller and Matt Richardson will both miss most, if not all, of the month through injury.

    Racing Club

    The Old Lions finally returned! Barron is up against it in trying to get his team set for the new year, but there was some shocking news: the board freed up $1M in transfer funds, with the condition that Racing Club cannot have any female players. That’s a lot of money, for them at least.

    The hard part is convincing players to come to Port-au-Prince: they have already had offers refused for promising Caribbean youngsters Cristobal Torriente and Mandukhai Khatun. We’ll see if they can bring in some talent to help the squad: he’s already picked up promising winger Liam Parmentier from Morne-à-l’Eau (one of the few sides from which Racing Club is a step up).

    Out of the stadium, March saw David Barron bided his time, spending more time with Ayida.

    Rodengo Saiano

    Uh-oh. Langford may be back to his less than competent ways. An 0-3 record in the month, an unfortunate incident with a broken wine bottle, and some awkward telephone calls to South Africa, and some information about what has been troubling Leti. The only bright spot? The continued emergence of the energetic (the board censors sp you nky, which is a truer description), diminutive Isma as a force on the team.

    The season ends soon for Rodengo, we’ll see what Langford can do with a full off season to prepare. April has three leage games, then two in May, and that’s it for the Pandas.

    Saint George

    Wow. 3-3-1 in the All African Challenge Group play. 3-0-1 in league play. And a victory in the semifinals of the Ethio-Italian Friendship cup. So, a very busy month with an overall record of 7-3-2 across the twelve games. V remain undefeated in league play, and with the schedule lightening up (only five games on the book for April), they look to have a good chance at a perfect league season. April also brings the semifinal against Dedibit in the Addis Cup.

    Elsewhere

    March was fairly quiet on the transfer front: notable moves included Javier Malagueño moving from Indios Juárez to Al-Ain for $3.2M and American international Jonathan Bornstein joining Seattle from Chivas USA for $2M.

    As the English seasons head into the homestretch, Tottenham is the clear leader, however only six points separate Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton, and Chelsea for 2nd through 5th place—which means Liverpool (6th) and Manchester United (8th) are looking at disappointing finishes. At the other end of the listing, Birmingham and Hull are fighting hard to save themselves from relegation whilst Wigan and Sunderland look unable to avoid that sad fate.

    Middlesbrough and Newcastle are the favorites to join the upper echelon next year, while Coventry and Scunthorpe look to fall out of the Coca-Cola Championship, where Crystal Palace is holding steady in the middle of the pack in spite of a ten point penalty.

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    End of April, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    April, 2010 Update

    The focus in April was on Chelsea, who are making a late season charge up the table. Third place seems to be the best they could do—Tottenham has clinched, and Arsenal seems a lock for second. But a strong finish could see the Blues climb over Everton and City while holding off United. Elsewhere, the American season kicks off with a horde of group games for various cups, the Italian year runs down with more drama off the pitch than on it, and St. George continue their relentless march towards an undefeated season in Ethiopia.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    It was a good month at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea went undefeated over nine games, including wins over Celtic and LOSC Lille Métropole to qualify for the EURO Cup Final against Inter and a hard-earned victory against Manchester United in the semifinals of the FA Cup (they play Manchester City in the final). In the Premier Division, life was a little less kind as they only managed six points from four games—a dominant win against Hull was followed by draws with Liverpool, City, and (quite disappointingly) lowly Burnley. That leaves the Blues in fifth place with three games to play in May: away at Villa, then home against Everton and Wigan. The revelation on the field has been the emergence of young striker Franco di Santo, who has impressed mightily in his initial first team action.

    Di Santo—along with fellow young strikers Yaya Sanogo and Ishak Belfodil saw their playing time next year drop a little, however, as Butch Wilkins’ favorite striker, Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko, will be coming to Chelsea in the summer window. What this means for the rest of the squad is yet to be seen.

    No news for Cameroon in the month.

    Comets

    All friendlies all the time for the Comets. They look ready for the upcoming season, although a tendency to hold off winning games until the last ten minutes is a mite troubling. As is, for the second consecutive year, they failed to reach terms with a potentially key player brought in on trial when the Brooklyn Bushwicks snapped up impressive attacker Sérgio van Kanten.

    The season opens on May 1st with Group A of the Gulf Coast Club Championship, where the Comets will again face the Dynamo, this time in a game that matters. May brings five other GCCC games, the opening two matches in the Desert Cup, and a qualifying round for The Immigrant’s Cup against Tours FC. Finally, on May 27th, NADII league play opens with the Comets hosting the Las Vegas Jokers.

    Comets 2010/2011 Season Preview.

    Racing Club

    A scatter of friendlies and the first games from the Islands Cup in April for the Old Lions. Racing Club looks to have a chance of escaping the group stage in the Cup, which would be quite a shock: through five games, they are only one point behind group leaders Portmore United and Harbour View FC.

    Racing Club 2010/11 Preview.

    Rodengo Saiano

    The Pandas limp to the finish line. April saw two losses and a scoreless draw, leaving them in fourteenth place in Serie C2/A. Wins in their final two games would guarantee their staying clear of the relegation playoff—and would guarantee Terry Langford’s job for next year. But it’s not going to be easy for him.

    Off the field saw revelations about what exactly has been bothering Leti and hints at a possible reconciliation between the two.

    Saint George

    Only five games in the month led to a return to actual training for V, as well as a return to their dominance over the Ethiopian Premiere League, where they currently own a 20-0-6 record, having scored 60 and allowed only 10.

    May actually becomes a little more interesting as The Immigrant’s Cup sees them playing NADII side Cienfuegos, they meet Banks SC in the final of the coveted Addis Cup, and they prepare for the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup Final on June 1st. There are four league games in there as well.

    Elsewhere

    Seasons are winding down all over Europe. In Spain, things are proceeding according to form, with Real Madrid and Barcelona well clear of the pack and separated by only a single point. Likewise in Portugal Porto, Benfica, and Sporting CP are separated by only three points at the top of Liga Sagres, while Olhanense and Rio Ave have already been fated to relegation. In Italy, Bari shares that fate, and will play next year in Serie B.

    At the top of the Serie A table, Genoa and Juventus are fighting for the top spot with Roma and Inter neck and neck for the third place.
    In England, Stoke look safe from relegation, although they need to avoid a late season collapse. Beneath them, Hull, Wigan, Sunderland, and Birmingham are all neck and neck for the dreaded drop into the Championship. Middlesbrough and Newcastle have secured promotion while Coventry and Scunthorpe will spend 2010/11 in League 1.

    April saw the opening transfer period for the North American leagues hit its stride. Looking at their top purchases, the big spenders were led by the New England Revolution, spending just over $14M on five players (four of them—Bobby Convey, Jonathan Arias, Chibuzor Okonkwo, and Dax McCarty—from other North American clubs while Metalist’s Zezeto was the only import). The New York Red Bulls paid just under $14M for Moscow’s Vitaly Kaleshin, the LA Galaxy’s Jeff Hughes, and young Ghanaian defender Y.T. from the Orlando Pirates FCA; while the Galaxy took some of Hughes’ $6M fee to help offset costs of $13.3M for the acquisitions of Fernando Morales from Valenciennes, Roman Shirokov from Zenit, and Manuel Pamic from FC RB Salzburg.

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    End of May, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    May, 2010 Update

    As May comes to a close, all eyes turn towards South Africa and the impending World Cup which will, no doubt, be the focus of June and July. May is pretty exciting in the soccer world, though, as all the major European leagues either finished or are in the homestretch. This means Danyil Oranje’s first season at Chelsea is in the books, and Terry Langford’s efforts at Rodengo Saiano come to a close as well. In North America, both David Barron and Levi McKinnon find their days occupied with various qualifying stages waiting for league to play to get into full swing.

    For those that have them, links to the FMS threads are in the titles.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    After a strong late season surge that sees them reach 3rd place in the league, Chelsea’s year ends with two disappointments: a 4-2 loss to Inter in the EURO Cup followed by a 1-0 defeat by Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. Still, it has to be considered a good campaign overall. Rumors out of Stamford Bridge are that the team is due for an overhaul this summer, so we’ll see what Chelsea looks like come August.

    A three day training camp at the end of May saw Oranje finalize his roster for the upcoming World Cup: the most important consideration is whether Samuel Eto’o will have recovered from a broken leg in time to help Cameroon’s chances. June brings all three group matches for Cameroon: Spain, then Germany, then Japan. It’s a rough group, but five points would likely be enough to move on.

    Comets

    In all competitions in May, the Comets went 5-3-2. Seventeen points from ten games isn’t bad, and while they look to be out of the Southwest Desert Cup at this point, they did, quite surprisingly, qualify for the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Club Championship. League play starts in June, and with nine games scheduled for the month, the squad’s depth will certainly be tested. Helping out with that, two important players joined the Comets in May: Ghanaian veteran Kwame Sarkodie will provide depth in midfield, but the key acquisition looks to be Haitian attacker Leonel Saint-Preux who has provided three goals and three assists since joining the team.

    Racing Club

    Racing Club slowly improves: despite a strong showing in group play, the Old Lions did not qualify for the next round of the Islands Cup, but they did move out of the first round of Les Nouveaux Jeux, a competition between French teams and teams from French colonies. They also won their first league game, allowing David Barron to claim, albeit briefly, that they were in first place. In the only transfer news of the month, Charly Julien, a coveted transfer last season, was released by his club, and joined on a free transfer to take up the role of 3rd string goalkeeper.

    Rodengo Saiano

    Determined to do things the hardest way possible, Terry Langford’s Pandas gave up a goal in injury time of their final game of the season and, in doing so, were forced into a relegation playoff. They stole a victory in the first leg at Mezzocorona, then laid an egg in the second, losing 2-1 at home. The aggregate tie, however, was just enough to keep them up: a bittersweet victory, to be sure.

    In better news, Leti came, visited, and left. The Rodengo squad is on vacation until July: I see a trip to the World Cup—and to Leti’s apartment in Cape Town—in Terry’s future.

    Saint George

    Saint George closed out an undefeated season with four league victories in May. They also won the inaugural Addis Cup with a 2-0 victory over Banks SC and, much to the delight of their fans, trounced Cienfuegos 4-0 to move on to the 2nd round of the Immigrant’s Cup. June brings the final of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup against Venezia, the second round of the Immigrant’s Cup, and, most importantly, the Ethiopian League playoffs: without the championship trophy, surely the undefeated season will feel quite empty for Tadesse Makonnen and his crew.

    Stalwart midfielder Gorge Owino departed V for the Vancouver Whitecaps in May, setting what may be a pattern where Makonnen is forced to sell his best players as they become known commodities internationally.

    Elsewhere

    There are separate posts that summarize the season for the English, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish, German, South African, and French leagues. So, on to the transfer news.

    The Houston Dynamo made a splash at the end of the transfer window, spending over $20M to bring in Omar Gonzalez from the LA Galaxy and Francisco Javier Torres from FC Dallas. Chivas USA brought in Miguel Almazán from New England for $6.5M, while San Jose paid ES Tunis just under $6M for the services of 25 year old striker Anthony Laffor. The Chicago Fire were busy as well, selling defender Logan Pause to Seattle for $2.6M, then using the proceeds to pick up Trésor Mputu from Congolese side Tout Puissant Mazembe ($2.5M), Joshamee Gibbs from the Memphis Blues ($1.6M), and Alexandr Pavlenk from Spartak Moscow ($1.4M).

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    End of June, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    June, 2010 Update

    The international focus is on South Africa, where the 2010 World Cup is down to the quarterfinals. The eight remaining teams are Portugal, the Ivory Coast, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Ghana, Greece, and France. That’s right: none of the four real life semifinalists made it through (one of them, Uruguay, didn’t even qualify). There is a thread in FMS that details the 2010 World Cup, if you’re interested.

    For Chelsea, the news is dominated by player movement, while for Rodengo Saiano, there is little on the field news at all. But Houston and Racing Club Haïtien are in full swing, with group play for various cups dominating the scene for the North American clubs.

    Finally, for Saint George, June brought the possible culmination of a perfect season with a championship game in the Ethiopian Premiere League.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    June’s focus was on Cameroon, and their trials at the World Cup. Drawn into a group with Japan, Spain, and Germany, Cameroon was a dark horse to qualify, especially with Samuel Eto’o seeing his first playing time in six months after breaking his leg with Inter in January. Surprisingly, a meager two points—draws with Germany and Japan followed an opening loss to Spain—was enough to move on, with Cameroon progressing ahead of Germany on goal differential behind group leader Spain.

    However, things were continuing to disintegrate: by the time their second round game with France kicked off, the Indomitable Lions were reduced to a squad of sixteen healthy bodies. The match with Les Bleus was no contest, although it was closer than the final score of 5-1 would indicate. Still, FECAFOOT (the Cameroonian football association) was pleased with the performance of their new coach and looking forward to the future.

    Back in England, Chelsea’s only match in June was a 4-0 win in group play for the Imposter’s Cup. The real club news came on the transfer front, where (including player movement that went into effect the first of July) first team players Nicolas Anelka (to OM for $10.5M), José Boswinga (Bayern, $8.5M), and Paulo Ferreira (Benfica, $4M) were among the roughly fifteen players departing from Stamford Bridge. Despite bringing in over $30M in fees, the month was costly, as nearly $90M was spent to bring in Edin Dzeko and Rafhael from Wolfsburg and Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain. OK, it was all for Dzeko and Sakho—Rafhael was under $4M.

    July brings even more player movement, and, thankfully, some games too as the seven remaining Imposter’s Cup group games are scheduled against Racing de Montevideo, ABC (Brazil), 1860 München, and the New York Giants: certainly, the Blues are expected to qualify easily.

    Comets

    It was a rough month for the Comets: they won a single game out of nine, with no ties. Eight losses in four weeks will demoralize most clubs, providing quite a challenge for Levi McKinnon and assistant coach Julian Johnson. Honestly, the team was playing well, and they were unlucky to not come away with a point in a great game with the Columbus Crew or a fierce battle with Correcaminos UAT. The losses came in competitions where the Comets weren’t expected to do well, and indeed they failed to qualify from the group stage in either the Imposter’s Cup or the Desert Cup. Their focus this year is on NADII play, and as long as they can refrain from losing confidence through this rough stretch, they are still expected to do well there.

    July stays busy, with ten matches scheduled. By the end of the month, however, they are all divisional games, including back to back road clashes with Winnipeg and the TC Lakers.

    Racing Club

    David Barron is still finding his legs in Port-au-Prince this year. June started with a 1-0 victory over Club Franciscain in the quarterfinal of Les Nouveaux Jeaux, but the team stalled after that, drawing nil-nil in three consecutive matches before losing back-to-back 4-1 games, including the second leg of the quarters. So, 1-2-3 in six games but, like the Comets, the focus for the Old Lions is on division play, which has yet to really get underway.

    The team is still frustrated by an inability to attract talent despite a sizable transfer budget. That said, three important players came to Haiti this month: the first has the highest ceiling, as fifteen year old Jimmy McNulty is unlikely to stay here very long. Charles Watson and Rayane Leclerc will help shore up the midfield and the front line respectively.

    Rodengo Saiano

    The most important happenings for Terry were also in South Africa, where he was sent by his employers as an end of year bonus. He got to spend some time with Leti, take in a game, and even meet her sister.

    He also came up with a strategy for the upcoming year, revolving around bringing in a lot of players on loan for the year: July, with the first four of six preseason friendlies, would bring the first indications of whether or not the gambit will succeed.

    Saint George

    Four matches for Saint George in June: disappointment, followed by triumph. A trip to Italy resulted in a 2-1 loss to Venezia in the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup final and Swiss side Grasshoppers knocked V out of the Immigrant’s Cup with a 2-0 victory. But Saint George beat Trans Ethiopia 2-0 in the semifinal of the Ethiopian Premiere League playoffs, setting up a clash in the final with Awassa.

    With an undefeated season on the line, Saint George had to overcome an early 1-0 deficit. Goals from mid-season signing Ochan Bayalegne and rising superstar Mohammed Abera ensured they did as they beat Awassa 2-1, and in the process cemented their place in history: the Addis Cup, an undefeated season in the league, and league champions.

    The Red & Arabian Sea States Cup kicks off in July, but the summer months bring a slow series of friendlies to keep the side sharp until November, when Saint George will look to defend their record in league play.

    Elsewhere

    June saw the end of the long Italian season, allowing us to look at the top league goalscorers (a list topped by Roberto Soldado’s 30 for Getafe), and I’ve arbitrarily decided that June 30th is the New Year, so a list of the highest overall goalscorers is available. The most prolific scorer in the world last year? Cruz Azul’s Emanuel Villa, with 59.

    June’s player transfers were led by French and Dutch teams, with a half dozen moves over $10M taking place during the month, led by Sébasatien Puygrenier’s switch from Zenit to Monaco for $14M. NAC Breda was the biggest spender, laying out $32M for Argentinian import Mauro Rosales, Ghanain defender Iliasu Shilla and young Brazilian striker Alan. Two big names left England for greener pastures: Chelsea’s Anelka as mentioned above, and Tottenham sent Cameroonian international Benoît Assou-Ekotto to Ajax for just under $5M.

    While most of the major North American club competitions are still in their group phase, some have progressed a little further. Among the noteworthy results:
    • The quarterfinals of the Central American Club Championship are set, with Alajuelense, Marathón, and Árabe Unido the favorites out of the eight remaining squads.
    • Tauro FC defeated Plaza Amador 1-0 in the annual El Clásico de la Ciudad de Panamá, a hotly contested affair between the Panama City sides.
    • The New York Giants upset the heavily favored New York Red Bulls 1-0 in one semifnal of New York State’s Empire Cup. The Giants will face the Brooklyn Bushwicks in the final.
    • Marathón successfully defended their title in El Gran SuperClasico Nacional de Honduras, defeating Olimpia 3-1 on aggregate.

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    End of July, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    July, 2010 Update

    The big news in July was Brazil bringing home their sixth World Cup, defeating France 2-1 in the final in South Africa. With the conclusion of that tournament, players could disperse back to their clubs, and July saw a mixture of preseason and early group play in some international competitions for clubs in Europe; in North America, the season is well underway, and July saw the focus shift to league play as teams jockeyed for position as summer wound down.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    Chelsea played seven group games in the Imposter’s Cup in July, and after a shaky opening 1-1 draw with Racing de Montevideo, they finished the month 6-0, outscoring their opposition 18-0. These games, along with the five upcoming friendlies in August, give Danyil Oranje time to sort out his club, which is much changed from last season. July’s biggest arrivals were Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain, Chris Brunt from West Brom (who had an impressive debut), Kieran Richardson from Sunderland, and Guillermo Ochoa from América. Sakho and Ochoa are clearly being groomed as Chelsea’s future, while Brunt and Richardson will provide some depth this season. That brings Chelsea’s total spend in the offseason to a staggering $150M on new players. The books are far from balanced, as they have brought in just over $40M in income from players heading away from Stamford Bridge.

    August will see the first three matches of the Premier League season, and Chelsea’s start is as easy as they come: away at Portsmouth, home against Middlesbrough and Newcastle. Sandwiched in there is a home and home against the Houston Dynamo in the First Round of the Imposter’s Cup.

    On the international scene, Cameroon will face Ethiopia in what should be little more than a training exercise on August 11th in Cameroon.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    July was a hard month in Houston. First, there was sheer volume: ten games in the month, four in the Cruyff Conference, four in the Imposter’s Cup group play, and two in the Desert Cup. The team struggled against frankly better competition, losing heavily to the Dynamo and Tigres UANL in the Desert Cup. The Imposter’s Cup games were closer, including a 3-1 win over Olimpija, who had embarrassed the Comets 4-1 in their first meeting. But the team was exhausted, and limped into their opening league games, going 1-2-1 in their first four Cruyff Conference contests.

    Still, there were good signs in there: the attacking trio of Haitian international Leonel Saint-Preux, young starlet Lance Miller, and Dynamo loanee Felix Garcia looks very potent; and the defense remains solid, anchored by last year’s key signings, Gianmarco De Carlo and Michael Nsien. And, as the heading says, Levi McKinnon finally got a positive response from an application for an international position: he is now the manager of Costa Rica’s U20 team. It’s a start.

    August brings another six league games, and what should be an enjoyable runout in the Gulf Coast Championship Cup semifinals against a heavily favored Atlante side. The pressure is on for the Comets: remember, anything less than promotion will make the year a failure for the club.

    Racing Club

    Racing Club continues to be better than last year, but not necessarily very good. They are still struggling to find worthwhile players to bring into the team and, in the meantime, are getting by on scrappy defense and an offense that comes up with a moment or two each game where they look dangerous. Midfielder Edens Chery remains their best player, but newly signed Jimmy McNulty (who saw his romantic advanced rebuffed after a game) has shown flashes of brilliance, and the strikers—the oft-injured Ishmael Butler, along with Yordan Ferrer and Devon Frederick—are, at least, occasionally dangerous.

    With their Imposter’s Cup struggles behind them, they can focus on surprising people in the Yashin Conference, where they are currently—against all expectations—sitting in the middle of the pack.

    Rodengo Saiano

    July saw Terry Langford implement his budget conscious strategy for survival in the Italian Serie C2/A, summed up in conversation as make like Americans and borrow. By the end of the month, eight players had joined the Panda’s on loan, with offers out to another dozen or so that would not resolve until August. As you might imagine, this drastically changed the makeup of the squad, with the key additions looking to be Mirko Gasparetto up front and defender Tommaso Chiecchi, both from Chievo. Two new signings—yes, actual Rodengo players—will step into the starting lineup as well, holding midfielder Jon Errasti and Spanish goalkeeper Edu.

    The results on the field look weak—a 1-2-1 record in four friendlies, scoring 1 goal and allowing 2. However, when you consider the opponents, it has to be considered a success: a 1-0 loss to Bari, a draw with the Bologna Reserves, and a 1-0 loss to Ascoli were all better than could be expected and, if anything, the sour note was the 1-0 win against a Gubbio team that should have been handled more confidently.

    Still, the real tests start in August, where four games in the Serie C Cup loom, along with the first two games in the league. It will be interesting to see if Langford’s tactical obsession with his sweeper based 3-3-2-1-1 system can work now that he has some talent in place to support it. And, of course, if they are successful, how can he manage the progression, given how few of the key players are actually owned by Rondengo?

    July also found Terry and Leti in a good place, seemingly in love, and willing to try to make a relationship work across the distance, at least until the dawn of 2011.

    Saint George

    July was dominated by group play in the Red and Arabian Sea States Cup, where Saint George was a little unlucky to be drawn into the same group as Egyptian behemoth Al-Ahly. However, V survived, weathering two 5-0 thrashings at the hands of what might be the best team in the competition, but still qualifying from the group. Two newcomers—both products of Saint George’s youth system—have made an immediate impact, midfielder Youssef Solomon and winger Zerihun Boda. However, V’s success is clearly in the hands of Bereket Addisu up front supported by the continued development of budding superstar Mohammed Abera.

    August is a busy month, but not one that really matters: there are ten friendlies scheduled, as Tadesse Makonnen looks to sort out the expanded squad and identify who will play with the first team and who with the U19’s.

    Elsewhere

    Transfers, of course, dominate July’s news and while Chelsea’s $48.5M purchase of Edin Dzeko tops the list, it was closely followed by Real Madrid’s acquisition of young Brazilian attacker Dentinho ($46M) and Manchester City’s bringing in Maicon from Inter ($42.5M). Barcelona spent over $50M on two German imports, Patrick Helmes from Leverkusen and Hamit Altintop from Bayern.

    In North America, the big news was Landon Donovan making a permanent move from the LA Galaxy to Everton for a shade over $14M and Mexican side América shoring up their war chest, bringing in $25M by selling Guillermo Ochoa (to Chelsea), Salvador Cabañas (to Chiapas), and José Antonio Castro (to Burnley).

    Inter used the profits from the Maicon sale to bring in Falcao, Cristian Zaccardo, Francesco Bolzoni, and Juan Pablo Carrizo, opening the classic conundrum of whether a single superstar is worth more or less than four excellent contributors. Other than Chelsea’s extravagance, the English clubs were relatively quiet: West Ham picked up Nenad Milijas from Wolves, while Wolves in turn purchased Michael Turner from Sunderland, but perhaps the most significant signing was Liverpool’s purchase of Eden Hazard from LOSC Lille Métropole for $8.5M

    Not all the news was focused on clubs spending money: some competitions finished, or reached milestones in July, including
    • It took a penalty shootout, but Pachuca defeated Toluca FC to win the Mexico City Club Championship.
    • AS Montréal will face off against Club Franciscain in the final of Les Nouveaux Jeux des Anciennes Colonies, ensuring the 2010 champion will not be a team based in France.

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  18. #18
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    Are you controlling all these managers or are you letting the AI control them? i'm a bit confused on why there is 5 managers

  19. #19
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    I control all five, as independently of each other as I can. They all exist in the same "game world," but have to scout players, discover things, whatever, independently of each other.

  20. #20
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    End of August, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    August, 2010 Update

    August sees the European leagues kicking off and the American ones kicking into high gear. July through September is really sort of the “dead zone” of this universe—transfer windows are for the most part closed, the playoff push in North America is later, the European seasons are still finding their stride.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    As August—and the English transfer window—came to a close, Chelsea made more news with moves they didn’t make than moves they did: the purchase of young Platense striker Joanie Stubbs fell apart when she was refused a work permit and the transfer of Brazilian wunderkind Neymar was refused after somewhat mysterious intervention by the Brazilian football federation. Only two players joined the side: promising Spanish midfielder Javier Ochoa and, on loan as cover for the defense, Italian veteran Gianluca Comotto.

    The team stumbled out of the gate in the league, coming away from Portsmouth with a 2-2 draw in their first game; however, victories against Middlesbrough and Newcastle left the team and the fans more pleased. Combine those with a 5-1 aggregate victory over the Houston Dynamo in the first round of The Imposter’s Cup, and August was a perfectly acceptable opening month for the Blues, who were led in their early play by the efforts of Didier Drogba, Daniel Sturridge, and Simon Vukcevic.

    September promises to be more difficult: Manchester United looms next in The Imposter’s Cup, and UEFA play opens with games against Spartak Moscow and Sporting CP, who, along with PSV, form what is probably the deepest group in the competition. Games against Wolves (The League Cup) and Everton (league play) round out the month for Danyil Oranje’s side.

    Chelsea 2010/11 Season Preview.

    In what was essentially a training exercise, Cameroon demolished Ethiopia 8-2 in a friendly; September brings the first game of African Nations Cup qualifying against Guinea followed by a friendly match with Australia.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    At the end of August, the Comets find themselves in sixth place in the Cruyff Conference. After starting the month with a 1-0 loss to the Santa Fe Red Devils, the Comets responded with three consecutive league wins before tying the Red Devils 2-2 on their final game of the month (at that point, Santa Fe was undefeated, so the tie was quite a good result). The good run of play continued, as Houston shocked heavily favored Atlante 4-0 on aggregate in the two legs of The Gulf Coast Club Championship, setting up a confrontation with Veracruz in the final in September. Other than that, September brings five games in their division, giving Houston a good opportunity to make up some ground.

    While winning the Cruyff may be out of reach—Santa Fe, the Albuquerque Golden Wolves, and the Twin City Lakers have put quite a bit of distance between themselves and the rest of the pack—the playoffs remain a distinct possibility for Levi McKinnon and his crew.

    The Comets’ player of the month for August is Senegalese midfielder Alioune Gueye, a newcomer to the squad this year.

    September brings McKinnon’s first duties as the coach of the Costa Rica U20’s, a match against Antigua & Barbuda mid-month.

    Racing Club

    August, somewhat mercifully, saw the end of competition play for the Old Lions, as they finished bottom of their group in The Imposter’s Cup. They are struggling along in the Yashin Conference and while their current standing—fifth place—is unlikely to hold up, it does look like a mid-table finish may be possible. However, for that to happen, some offense has to be discovered from somewhere: right now, Racing Club rarely scores, making it hard to win very many games.

    Their best player for the month is no surprise: midfielder Edens Chery continues to impress and draw the attention of visiting scouts. Newly acquired Rayane Leclerc has struggled mightily up front, and will need to turn it around if he wants to see more time on the field.

    September brings four division games, and while Rochester and Harbour View FC will be tough, an away game at Tivoli Gardens and a home match with Águila both provide chances for points for David Barron’s squad.

    Rodengo Saiano

    A good start of the year for the Pandas. Led by wingback Juan Francisco Góngora, on-loan striker Mirko Gasparetto, and, most of all, firebrand and emerging team icon, Isma, Terry Langford’s team finished at the top of their group in the first round of The Serie C Cup.

    League play opened a bit less brightly, with Rodengo opening the season with back to back draws with Pro Sesto and Sambonifacese.

    With another five players joining the squad on loan in August, as well as a few small direct signings, Langford has found ways to add some talent without impacting the bottom line very heavily. The question, of course, is how that will translate onto the fields of rural Italy.

    September brings four more games in the league, as Cup play won’t resume until early October.

    Rodengo Saiano 2010/11 Season Preview.

    Saint George

    August is a quiet month for Saint George, as a long series of training friendlies dominate the schedule and, despite losses to Fincha’a Sugar and Bahir Dar, Tadesse Makonnen was pleased with the month, most of all because it gave him time to look at a new crop of players, most notably promising left winger Zerihun Boda. The schedule allowed for some travel as well, as Makonnen attended the 8-2 demolishing of Ethiopia by Cameroon, although he came away largely encouraged by what he saw of his nation’s team.

    September opens play in The Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup, as well, at the very end of the month, the first leg of play in V’s match-up with Jordanian side Al-Wehdat in The RASS Cup. It also features Makonnen’s first game in charge of the Ethiopian U19’s, a clash with Ghana.

    Elsewhere

    August’s transfer news was dominated by Zenit Saint Petersburg who spent over $50M bringing Moussa Sow, Moustapha Bayal, and Bruno Ecuélé Manga to the Russian league. In England, Wolves dropped $13M to pry Jack Collison away from West Ham, Aston Villa brought in Maynor Figueroa from Wigan for just under $9M, and Liverpool sent Ryan Babel to Paris Saint-Germain for roughly the same price.

    The Columbus Crew are leading NASL, but América is charging hard. Houston, Seattle, and Atlante are at the bottom of the top North American league. Currently, the best player in NASL is América’s Argentine veteran, Daniel Montenegro with a dozen goals in the young season. In the next level down, newly hired Octavio Paz has the Kansas City Wizards in first place in NACL.

    Many of the club competitions hit significant milestones in August:
    • It took penalties, but Saprissa overcame Cartaginés to defend their Cost Rican Club Championship.
    • The final of The Dixie Club Championship is set: NFSA Sunshine will play Real Miami in October.
    • Behind goals from Adam White and Hiro, the New York Giants defeated the Brooklyn Bushwicks in The Empire Cup final, preventing the Bushwicks from defending their title.
    • It was an all Windy City affair as the Chicago Fire defeated FC Chicago 3-0 to capture The Governor’s Cup Championship of the Midwest.
    • The Honolulu Spinners repeated as holders of The Islands Club Championship, defeating Harbour View FC.
    • The semifinals of The King George Club Championship are set, with the New England Revolution facing West Brom in one and Newcastle taking on Liverpool in the other. The surprise of the quarterfinals was Liverpool’s 5-1 dismantling of Manchester United, led by a hat trick from Fernando Torres.
    • The massive Pacific Invitational Asian/North American Cup (PIANAC) is down to the semifinals, pitting Portland against Seattle and Honolulu against the LA Galaxy, who are looking to repeat as champions.

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  21. #21
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    End of September, 2010 Update. As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    September, 2010 Update

    Ah, the coming of Fall: as temperatures drop, football gets into gear in Europe, the preseason grinds to a close in Ethiopia, and the playoff races start to heat up in North America. Who could want for anything more?

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    Tied for 10th with Liverpool, but largely because of games played—both clubs are 2-1-1 in the league, while top of the table Bolton has played almost twice as many matches (Manchester United have only played one). It’s not a great start for the Blues, but nothing to be too worried about. They had only one league game in September—a 1-0 loss to Everton—but a dramatic victory over Wolves in the League Cup, a victory over United in the Imposters’ Cup Quarterfinal, and a 1-1 record in two UEFA games made for what must be considered a decent month overall.

    The squad is limping a bit heading into October: attacking midfielder Simon Vukcevic is still out with a broken wrist, and Didier Drogba and Branislav Ivanovic are both working their way back into fitness as well. The month brings five league games: Wolves, West Ham, United, Arsenal, and Bolton. By the end of that, we should know much more about just where Chelsea stands this year. Add the Imposters’ Cup semifinal against Dinamo Kiev and a clash with PSV in UEFA, and it will be a busy month for the men in blue.

    Cameroon was dominant in their opening game in the African Nation's Cup against Guinea, but lackluster in a defeat to Australia that, admittedly, was just a friendly. Group play continues with a match against Seychelles in October, which should be little more than a training exercise for the Indomitable Lions.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    What a month! Even a 4-1 aggregate loss to Veracruz in the Gulf Coast Club Championship couldn’t put a damper on September for the Comets—especially since Houston were quite a surprise just to make it that far. Five Cruyff Conference victories moved Houston all the way up to fourth place in the division, and the 12-3 cumulative scores speaks of how well the team is clicking on both sides of the ball. Levi McKinnon’s 2nd place finish in manager of the month voting was surely well deserved.

    October is a slower month: only three games, all in the league, starting with a clash with the 2nd place team, The Golden Wolves of Albuquerque.

    The Costa Rica U20s were held to a 1-1 draw with Antigua & Barbuda as Levi McKinnon tries to learn the names of his new charges.

    Racing Club

    With a winless September, racing Club Haïtien has gone five games since last tasting victory. They are in 10th place in the Yashin Conference, and hopes of a top half finish seem quite distant at this point. Heck, right now, they’ll settle simply for a scoring a goal, having found the back of the net only twice in their last nine league games. October will offer David Barron’s squad four more opportunities to change their fortunes, with the darby against rival Haitian club Violette the highlight of the month.

    Barron seems to be settling in though, and even gaining some comfort with the limited immediate prospects of the club.

    Rodengo Saiano

    After the optimism of August, the pandas came crashing down to earth in September, losing two and drawing one before finally recording their first league win with a 1-0 triumph over Itala. October brings five more league games, plus a first round match with Lecco in the Serie C Cup, allowing Terry Langford ample opportunity to turn the ship around in northern Italy.

    Terry's dreams continue to give him trouble.

    Saint George

    Other than a rash of friendlies, September saw V beat Trans Ethiopia 6-0 on aggregate to move out of the first round of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup and a trip to Yemen produced an upset victory, 3-1 over Wehdat in the Red & Arabian Sea States Cup’s first round.

    October brings more friendlies, as well as the next step in each of those competitions: the second leg against Wehdat and the round two games against Scafatese.

    Elsewhere

    Shockingly, Bolton—led by player of the month Anthony Annan—tops the Premiere League, riding four victories and three draws in seven games to a league-best fifteen points. They are joined by Everton and Manchester United (who have only played a single game) as the only undefeated teams in the flight, while four squads—Middlesbrough, West Brom, Portsmouth, and defending champions Tottenham Hotspur—have all failed to record a victory so far this season. After the accolades of last season, could ‘Arry Redknapp be on the hot seat at White Hart Lane?

    Forty year old Brazilian defender Tiba turned back the hands of time, capturing the NADI player of the month award for Reboceros de la Piedad, whose sixteen year old wunderkind Boyd Parham followed winning young player of the month last month with a second place finish in September. At the top of the North American pyramid, América’s nineteen year old defender, Erik Torres, was the player of the month. His club is in first place, three points ahead of the surprising Columbus Crew and five clear of Santos Laguna.
    North American cup play is hitting full stride:
    • The Canadian Cup is set to replay last year’s final, with Toronto FC meeting the Vancouver Whitecaps.
    • The Central American Club Championship was a hotly contested affair, with Alajuelense needing penalties to slide past Marathón.
    • The semifinals are set in the coveted Mexican championship, El Campeonato de México, with Chivas facing Tigres UANL in one and Atlante taking on Toluca FC in the other. Neither of the two finalists from last year—champion Santos Laguna or runner up Pachuca—made it that far this year, which speaks to the parity of soccer in the country.
    • Real Miami has a shot at adding two to their trophy case: they will play the NFSA Sunshine in the Dixie Club Championship and the Tampa Rowdies in the Sunshine Cup of Greater Florida.
    • A goal from Jason Kraft secured the Great Cup of the Great Lakes for Toronto FC over AS Montréal.
    • Liverpool is still alive in two competitions: they face Newcastle in the semifinal of the King George Club Championship and take on Celtic in a quarterfinal match in the Immigrants’ Cup.
    • It took extra time, but the LA Galaxy defeated the Honolulu Spinners 1-0 to earn a spot in the PIANAC (Pacific Invitational Asian/North American Cup) final against Seattle.
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  22. #22
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    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    October, 2010 Update

    An interesting month, setting up a frantic end to the year for Houston and settling in for the long haul in England and Italy. The Comets have made a huge charge this fall, and look primed for the playoffs while in Chelsea, life will get pretty interesting over the next few months with the highly publicized arrival of young Leigh Musicek. The larger issue for Chelsea, however is that their on field performance has been less than stellar. Ethiopian leagues begin the first week in November and, as for Racing Club Haïtien, well, the end of the season will be more a relief than anything else.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    It was a better month than twelve points from seven games would suggest: while the draw with Wolves will probably be a highlight of Mick McCarthy’s season and the drubbing of Bolton was expected, the ties on the road against United and Arsenal weren’t bad showings at all (although being up 2-0 at Old Trafford really should have resulted in a victory, not a draw). Throw in a win in The Imposters’ Cup Semifinal, another in UEFA play, and a loss to Liverpool in the relatively meaningless League Cup and the Blues come out of October looking to build on the good and forget the rest.

    There is some bad news, though: Didier Drogba is out for a while, possibly until the New Year with a thigh injury and Edin Dzeko will miss the first two November matches after being red carded against Arsenal. November brings four league games against lesser sides, UEFA matches against PSV and Spartak Moscow and, in the highlight of the month, The Imposters’ Cup Final against defending champions, Real Madrid.

    It also brings the long awaited arrival of fifteen year old Leigh Musicek, hailed as the best of the rising female stars of the game, something sure to complicate Danyil Oranje’s life greatly.

    Cameroon defeated the Seychelles 3-0 in their only game of the month, an African Nations Cup group match that featured a marvelous debut by Louis Clément Ngwat Mahop, who scored a hat trick in his first appearance for the national side.


    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    The Comets went 2-1 in October, but the month closed with them sitting in fourth place in the Cruyff Conference, one point and two games in hand over Boise and two points ahead of a hard-charging TC Lakers. November closes out the season: six games in the conference plus the Silver Boot semifinal against cross-town rival Houston Dynamo. The Comets have what should be a favorable schedule: while they open with a difficult game against the Lakers, the rest of the year contains teams below the Comets in the standings.

    Felix Garcia’s four goals in the month have drawn him one shy of the league lead, and have brought a lot of positive press for the young striker, which has complicated his position with the Comets: while thrilled at his performance, Garcia departs as soon as the season ends to return to the Dynamo.

    Racing Club

    On the field it was a heart-breaking month: a loss to crosstown rivals Violette, a tie in a winnable game against San Juan Jabloteh, and, after taking a shocking two goal lead against Águila, a horrid defeat that saw two goals in stoppage time against the Old Lions. The performance against Águila was, of course, representative: Racing Club has potential, but at this point, that’s all it is. League play closes out with eight games in November: the challenge for the Old Lions is whether they can claw above Violette and Tivoli Gardens at the bottom of the Yashin Conference standings.

    Off the field, things are heating up, both for Barron and for at least one of his players.

    Rodengo Saiano

    A good month as winter comes to northern Italy: eleven points from five games have taken the Pandas all the way to the top half of the table. As importantly, a penalty win against Lecco moved Rodengo Saiano into the second round of the Serie C Cup. They were, however, unable to overcome injuries to their best players—on-loan striker Mirko Gasparetto and team icon Isma are both expected to be out well into November—and lost in extra time to Pescara. Still, it was a great showing for Rodengo, and Terry Langford’s name is coming up more and more in discussions of managerial openings.

    Langford is more concerned with overcoming the spate of injuries to his squad, however, and his depression over losing his talismanic attacker threatens his ongoing role, if not his sanity.

    Saint George

    An odd month for the Ethiopian champions: a brilliant 3-0 victory over Scafatese at home that propelled them into the next round of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup by a 4-3 aggregate opened the month, and a surprising 2-1 victory over Ismaily in their 2nd Round Red and Arabian Sea States Cup puts V in good standing in that competition. In between, however, was a disastrous tour of Kenya which resulted in only a single win in four matches against their southern neighbors.

    The EPL opens at last the first week of November and, along with the second leg against Ismaily, the month brings a half-dozen matches where Saint George look to extend their unbeaten run in the domestic league.

    Elsewhere

    As the North American leagues wind down, América has a four point edge on Santos Laguna in NASL, where the biggest surprises are the fall of defending champion Atlas to sit just two points outside the relegation zone. Santos Laguna is quite a story: they won the second tier, NACL, last year, and are challenging for the top title just a year later. This year, Querétaro and Kansas City have already clinched playoff spots in NACL, while LA Firpo and Arabe Unido have already been marked for relegation when the season draws to a close.

    Overseas, things have attained some form of normalcy in England, with Manchester City, Everton, and Arsenal leading the way (Liverpool, United, and Chelsea are all performing well, but have played many fewer league games). At the other end, West Brom have yet to win a game and Tottenham continues to struggle mightily, with only a single win in eleven games. Newly hired Marco van Basten’s stay at White Hart Lane may be a brief one indeed. *

    Birmingham and Ipswich are the early leaders in the CCC, with Barnsley, Plymouth, and Blackpool fighting off relegation in England’s second division. Overseas, Atlético Madrid, led by the goalscoring prowess of Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán, sits atop the LIGA BBVA while Fiorentina and Roma lead Serie A in Italy.

    Finally, an update on the end of year competitions:
    • Toronto defeated Vancouver 1-0 to win The Canadian Cup.
    • Liverpool demolished Celtic 5-2, earning a place in the semifinals of The Immigrants’ Cup along with Juventus, Rangers, and Middlesbrough.
    • The Reds also beat New England 2-1 in the first leg of the final for The King George Club Championship, with the final at Anfield in early November.
    • Goals from Claudio López and Fernando Soriano carried the LA Galaxy over Seattle in the final of PIANAC (Pacific Invitational Asian/North American Cup).
    • A goal by Jorge Herrera in the 116th minute carried Real Miami past the Tampa Rowdies in The Sunshine Cup Final.

    * Earlier posts referred to Redknapp still being in charge. I missed his replacement last summer in the news cycle. Can you imagine the outrage? ‘Arry leads them to a championship, steps down at the top of his game, in comes the chosen Dutch prince … who proceed to bollocks it up beyond belief. Wheeee!

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  23. #23
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    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    November, 2010 Update

    An interesting month, setting up a frantic end to the year for Houston and settling in for the long haul in England and Italy. The Comets have made a huge charge this fall, and look primed for the playoffs while in Chelsea, life will get pretty interesting over the next few months with the highly publicized arrival of young Leigh Musicek. The larger issue for Chelsea, however is that their on One team is done, another is in the playoffs and the other three are getting into full swing: as winter rolls around, it’s a fun time for football. It’s also a fun time for physios, as injuries are causing havoc in the life of a few of our five managers.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    November 11, 2010: Butch Wilkins sacked by Chelsea. Life, art, and all that you know.

    Four wins in the league—by a combined 11-0 score—and Chelsea still find themselves only in fifth place. Add a victory in the Imposters’ Cup final against Real Madrid thanks to a heroic effort by Frank Lampard, and qualification from the Group Stage in UEFA play, and November was a good month by most measures. But the fans aren’t happy seeing Everton, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal above their beloved Blues. Still, the gap between fifth and first place is only eight points, and Chelsea has at least two games in hand against all of them except Liverpool.

    December brings eight—yes, eight—games in the league, including clashes with both City and Liverpool so we should know more about their true strength by the New Year. The only other match is a meaningless runout against Sporting in UEFA—well, meaningless for Chelsea but perhaps determinative of Sporting’s fate in that competition.

    And, oh yeah, Leigh Musicek debuted. Three games into her youth team career, and Leigh is settling in on the field and with her teammates, but rumors of her promotion to the reserves—or even into the match with Sporting—are being vociferously denied by the Chelsea media office.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    What a month!

    Easily the best in Comets’ history. First, a shock 4-0 win at home over Austin’s Aztex FC gave them a 4-3 aggregate win in the final of the Silver Boot (a competition between all of the North American teams based in Texas). It was a spectacular win, and instantly raised the Comets’—and Levi McKinnon’s—profile in the football world. Add to that a strong finish in NADII: Cruyff that puts Houston into the promotion playoffs, and—if things go well in the next two matches—2011 will see the Comets promoted to NADI with significantly greater resources at their disposal.

    The first playoff game is on the 1st of December against Fargo 1871.

    Racing Club

    A strong finish to the season in Haiti means something completely different than in Houston: while Racing Club took 13 points on the month and finished a surprising 10th in NADII: Yashin, they still, well, finished 10th in NADII: Yashin. So it was a good year by their standards but it left David Barron wondering about his future on the small island. November also saw the completion of Ayida’s training—and the ending of her vow of chastity, much to her and David’s delight.

    Rodengo Saiano

    Injuries have ravaged the Pandas in their young season. Or, more accurately, a single injury: team talisman Isma played only two matches recovering from a thigh injury before ripping a calf muscle, putting him out of commission for most of the rest of the season. The best player from last year’s team, Abdoura Mohamed Coly, is also out for at least a few months, a situation that, coupled with ongoing financial worries, places Terry Langford’s future in doubt, despite a surprising start to the year that sees Rodengo Saiano sitting middle of the table in Serie C2/A.

    Saint George

    Ethiopia’s top side has picked up where they left off, starting the year 5-0-1 and yet to surrender a goal in league play. They seem to have some competition this year, however: the sixteen points from six games leaves them tied atop the table with Awassa, with Muger Cement only three points behind. There was some internal difficulty as well, but that seems to have passed: nothing improves morale like victory.

    December brings five more league games—including an away clash with Awassa that is already drawing national attention—along with the quarterfinals of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup, where V will face off against fellow Ethiopian side Harrar Beer.

    Elsewhere

    The global attention is on the close to the North American season, where the playoffs are all set. At the top of the pyramid, Pumas UNAM ended the season atop the table with 62 points, but will be joined in the playoffs by América, Chivas, and Toluca FC to determine who will succeed Atlas as NASL champion. At the bottom of the table, disappointment reigns for Monterrey, Chiapas, the Houston Dynamo, Seattle, and Toronto FC as all five of those teams will spend 2011 in NACL trying to get back into the top tier of North American play. The rest of the leagues are quite unsettled, but by the time 2011 rolls around, we will have a complete view of who has moved up or down in their divisions.

    With Everton’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, the last of the unbeaten sides in the Premier Division fell in December while, at the other end of the spectrum, West Brom have yet to win a game. The season, of course, is still quite young.

    Finally, almost all of the North American cups that were still outstanding completed in November, including
    • Norwich defeated Cambridge 3-1 on aggregate to capture the Challenge of the Indies (the Bermuda Hogges were the best of the Caribbean teams, losing to Norwich in the semis).
    • Chivas defeated the LA Galaxy 2-0 to win the Club Championship of Greater California.
    • It took a final minute goal from Fábio Aurélio to propel Liverpool past Juventus and into the final of the Immigrants’ Cup where they will meet Rangers, who needed a goal from Danny Wilson in extra time to defeat Middlesbrough.
    • That match offers Liverpool a chance at their second piece of international hardware, the Reds having defeated New England 3-1 in the final of the King George Club Championship.
    • Kansas City, led by young coach Octavio Paz, demolished 1790 5-2 to win the Mid America Cup.

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    December, 2010 Update

    As 2010 draws to a close, the North American clubs are now on their seasonal break, with Levi McKinnon’s Comets ecstatic about securing their promotion into NADI and David Barron’s Haitian club just happy to have survived another year. Elsewhere, the dog days of winter creep on: Chelsea is making a push towards the top of the table, Saint George is trying to avoid a drop in form, and Rodengo Saiano is just trying to hold on through a storm of injuries.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    December was a good month for Chelsea, a 5-2 record in Premier League games bringing them all the way up to 3rd in the standings. Easily the most important game was a dominant 3-1 victory over Liverpool that brought the Blues straight back into the title race, but probably the most entertaining game of the month was a wild affair against lowly Hull, where Chelsea barely escaped with a 4-3 victory.

    The two defeats stung, however: the first was at the hands of one of Oranje's rivals, Marco van Basten's Tottenham side and a match against Manchester City that reminded Chelsea of just how far they have to go.

    The strike partnership of Didier Drogba and Edin Dzeko is beginning to gel and the depth at Stamford Bridge is proving sufficient to withstand a rash of injuries, first to the strike force but now to the back line. Among those sidelined for significant parts of December was Leigh Musicek, out for about three weeks with a hamstring injury as she continues to develop her game with the U18s.

    After a New Year’s clash with Wigan in the FA Cup, January brings seven more league games, with the end of the month—Fulham, Blackburn, and United—expected to be far more challenging than the opening of 2011. January, of course, also brings the transfer window, and while expectations are that Chelsea will be quiet, we all know how that goes. Publicly, the Blues are looking to reinforce their youth side while finding loan homes for players that need more time on the field, but we know that, with Danyil Oranje in charge and the enigmatic Russian holding the purse, anything is possible.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    Promotion. Is anything sweeter for a club toiling away in the middle or lower divisions? A 3-1 victory over Fargo 1871 was followed by a 2-0 triumph over Vida, ensuring that the Comets will spend 2011 in the North American Division One (NADI), and Houston’s fans are excited to see what changes await the red and black as they meet the new challenges of a higher classification. The final games repeated a pattern seen before this year, where Houston’s potent offense was given a kick-start from Julian Johnson’s defense, this time with central defender Michael Nsien scoring in each of the playoff games from set pieces.

    Promotion will likely be difficult: while the Comets have some quality and some youngsters that are growing up fast, two of their best players, striker Felix Garcia and winger Stevie Owens, will be returning to the Houston Dynamo. Especially if their transfer budgets don’t increase significantly, promising youngsters Lance Miller and Le Li may have to step up significantly next year to carry the load, although they will initially continue to rely on the existing strong back line and for Marcus Westwood to step in for Owens.

    Racing Club

    A quiet December in Haiti. The club is on break, and David Barron is just waiting to find out what might change for next year. At some point, the allure of a team that can actually attract talented players may prove too tempting for him but for now, life on an island with Ayida suits him just fine.

    Rodengo Saiano

    Terry Langford has to wonder if life will always be a struggle. Currently, it’s not affairs of the heart or his drinking (although neither of those are particularly helping the situation), but rather a mixture of injuries and uninspired performances on the field that have the coach of the Panda’s in a decidedly melancholy mood. December saw Rodengo go 1-1-1, scoring and allowing only a single goal across the three games: it was typical for the Panda’s, who have a strong defense and, especially with the extended absence of Isma, very little offense. Much to Terry's consternation, the win came without his presence on the sidelines, prior outbursts earning him a one match ban.

    More troubling, perhaps, they evidently have no money as well. The struggles have driven Langford to consider the ultimate transgression: abandoning soccer where it is loved and established for the fertile markets of North America.

    Saint George

    On the one hand, their unbeaten streak in the league has now reached 43 games, with five victories in the month of December including a 1-0 win over second place Awassa. On the other hand, there are some cracks in the armor of the champions, displayed most egregiously in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Harrar Beer in the second leg of their Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup quarterfinal, (which V still won on aggregate 4-3). It was the first loss by Saint George to an Ethiopian club in over two years, and clearly has the national media a-twitter.

    January brings some challenges, most notably two legs against Al-Ahly in the quarterfinals of the Red & Arabian Sea States Cup which, unless Tadesse Makonnen has more magic up his sleeve, will mark the exit of V from that competition. Additionally, in the middle of January, the brutal winter schedule of the Ethiopian league kicks in, with eight games scheduled in the final nineteen days of the month, a situation that is guaranteed to test the depth of any team.

    Elsewhere

    In anticipation of the European transfer windows opening in January, the North American teams saw some movement of their own in December, with the largest transfer being young Qatari international Khalfan Ibrahim’s movement from Monarcas Morelia to Santos Laguna for $7.5M, just edging Marquinhos’ move from Palmeiras to Flamengo ($7M) and Chiapas’ purchase of Fredy Guarín from Porto for just over $6M. Also of note—at least for national head coach Danyil Oranje—Cameroonian striker Achille Webo joined Stade Rennais FC from RC Strasbourg for a fee of just under $4M.

    The year ends with Everton, Olympique de Marseilles, Stuttgart, Atletico Madrid, Braga, and Juventus leading their national leagues.

    In North America, Toluca FC and América met in the championship game of NASL, a game that was surprising as much for the absence of regular season champion Pumas UNAM as for the presence of the teams that survived the grueling semifinals, each of which took extra time before a winner emerged. The championship turned into a very one sided affair when América’s leading defender, Jesús Sánchez, was sent off with a straight red card just twenty minutes into the contest. Toluca—the fourth place team in the regular season—dominated the game with the extra man, and used goals from Malian veteran Dramane Traore (who scored the dramatic winner to lift them over Pumas UNAM in the semifinal), youngster Joel Cisneros, and a penalty conversion from Juan Carlos Zaragoza to hoist the championship trophy 3-0.

    It was again a year of Mexican dominance, as a second half collapse saw Columbus drop to 9th in the league, just ahead of New England and the Red Bulls. Houston, Seattle, and Toronto FC all struggled, and all three of those teams were unable to avoid relegation out of the top flight to NACL (two American teams—the Galaxy and Kansas City—are headed the other way). Season summaries of the four levels of the North American pyramid will be posted in January.

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    January, 2011 Update

    With two clubs well into their offseason, January whirls by seeing a charge up the table by Chelsea, a record streak ending in Ethiopia, and continued mediocrity in Italy. Still, a good time to look back at 2010, including annual reviews of NASL, NACL, NADI, and NADII as well as an overview of the World, North American, and Continental awards handed out for the past year.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    It would have been hard for 2011 to begin much better for Chelsea: January saw them go 6-0 in the league, outscoring their opponents 18-1 and culminating in a tense but decisive 2-0 win over Manchester United. After defeating Wigan 2-1 in the third round of the FA Cup, Walsall was the victim of a 4-0 thrashing in the fourth.

    Even with the match against Walsall, Chelsea boss Danyil Oranje resisted temptation to rush young starlet Leigh Musicek, allowing her to continue her development with the Under-18s, where she was elected captain in their most recent match (albeit largely by default). In other non-first team news, there was more than a modicum of celebration when it Oranje learned of Marco van Basten’s firing by Tottenham.

    Chelsea was relatively quiet on the transfer front, despite bringing in roughly a dozen youth players. The only name signing was Danish international Michael Larsen, lured away from Twente for $11M; however Chelsea is Larsen’s third club this year, so the nineteen year old will be ineligible for league play until next season. With the influx of bodies, eleven players were sent out on loan with Gaël Kakuta, Yaya Sanogo, and Matej Delac going overseas and the other eight remaining in England.

    February brings a harder league schedule, with Fulham, Everton, and Arsenal among the five domestic opponents; however Preston North End should provide very little opposition, other than the weight of history, in the 5th round of the FA Cup. The first leg of knockout play in the UEFA Cup looms as well, with Chelsea travelling to face Ajax towards the end of the month.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    Dead quiet off-season in Houston. The only news was Levi McKinnon being linked momentarily to the opening at Tottenham. Other than that, the Comets are just waiting through the offseason, unable to really prepare for the year until their financial budgets are clarified.

    Racing Club

    An absolutely quiet month in Haiti. The only news was a minor signing of a teenage defender—and there is not likely to be much news from Port-au-Prince for another month or so.

    Rodengo Saiano

    No new injuries, and a 1-2-1 record. Meh. That summarizes the month and Terry Langford’s reactions as well. Surely, such mediocrity was a key factor in his apparent choice to leave Italy at the end of the year for North America. Now, whether that decision stands after his squad returns to full strength—and if they find a way to win a few games—is yet to be seen.

    The problem on the field is obvious: while tied with Sambonifacese for the 2nd stingiest defense in Serie C2/A, the Pandas have managed only 13 goals in 22 games. Off the field, chairman Alessandro Ferrari has added some more cash to the coffers, but the club is still bleeding money.

    Saint George

    It was a rough, rough month in Ethiopia’s capital. Not only did the forty-six unbeaten run in the league come to a shocking end with a 1-0 loss to lowly Adama City, but it was followed by two more league losses before V were able to right the ship 3-1 against Nyala. Since the losses, Saint George has looked better but still not back to form: their three victories in Group A of the Addis Cup were each by a single score against much weaker teams.

    Still, the biggest news may have been off the pitch, where V’s best player, seventeen year old Mohammed Abera, was signed by German Bundesliga club Hoffenheim with the transfer taking effect in July. While this was expected at some point, the timing could not be worse for a club teetering on the edge of crisis.

    For all that, Saint George close the month atop the league table by two points over Banks SC and look safe to qualify in the Addis Cup. Assuming their depth can hold, the continued good form of Bereket Addisu and Fitsum Kebede, along with the return of Abera and Liban Elmi from injury, should allow for at least the possibility of a return to form.

    February has twelve games on the schedule: four in the league, three in Addis Cup group play (with more anticipated at the conclusion of that round of play), the second leg of the RASS quarterfinal against Al-Ahly, the first two games of group play in the All African Challenge, and a home and home affair with African Stars in the African Champions League Preliminary Round.

    Elsewhere

    January means transfers, and the windows across Europe were quite busy. The two most expensive signings were transfers between Italian clubs, with Napoli laying out just over $50M to Palermo for Simon Kjær and Genoa spending $47M for Udinese’s Alexis Sánchez. Napoli added another $25M for Köln’s Brazilian defender Geromel while Shakhtar spent just under $70M for three Brazilians: Sandro and Taison from Internacional and Felipe from Udinese. Udinese—trapped in the middle of the Serie A table—received over $100M in income during the month, also moving Juan Guillermo Cuadrado to Juventus and Ghanaian youngster Kwadwo Asamoah to Manchester United.

    While Asamoah may be the most important British signing, he was well down the list in terms of cost which was topped by Aston Villa’s $21.5M purchase of Ismaël Bangoura from Stade Rennais. Manchester City brought young Dutch winger Ibrahim Afellay into the fold for $21M and Fulham picked up Burnley’s Steven Fletcher for $20M.

    Tottenham, still struggling to climb up the table, fired Marco van Basten (and replaced him with Hans Backe) and brought in two players, Congolese attacker Chris Malonga and Spanish defender Javier Garrido.

    Fletcher was one of the few transfers that stayed within England. The only other transfers between English teams in excess of $5M were Niko Kranjkar moving from Tottenham to Manchester United, Armand Traoré from Arsenal to Manchester City, Titus Bramble from Wigan to Middlesbrough, and Simon Poulsen from Tottenham to Aston Villa.

    A quick look around the major European leagues:
    • England. Chelsea and Manchester City are tied atop the table with Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, and West Brom facing relegation.
    • France. OM up by 3 points over Paris Saint-Germain, with FC Metz, Stade Rennais, and FC Nantes at the bottom.
    • Germany. Stuttgart leads HSV by a point, with Werder Bremen and FC Bayern in the race as well. Kaiserslautern is struggling just above Bochum and Mainz to avoid relegation.
    • Holland. Perennial champion Ajax leads FC Twente by 3.
    • Portugal. Braga leads Benfica by seven points.
    • Spain. The expected three horse race is emerging: Barcelona leads Atletico Madrid by three and Real Madrid by five.

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    February, 2011 Update

    February is an odd placeholder at this point: the North American leagues don't officially start yet, so there's little to do there; the English leagues are moving into their home stretch but not quite there yet; life in Ethiopia is an overscheduled jumble where, as of yet, Saint George doesn't really have much hope to progress past the first stages of their international competitions; and in Italy, well, Rodengo Saiano languishes mid-table and Terry Langford's mental instability may be interesting, but his impending departure from the country makes the title race a little less intriguing.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    February started difficultly for the Blues, as a penalty four minutes into stoppage time led to a loss at Fulham. Danyil Oranje’s team rebounded with wins against Everton, Arsenal, and Bolton and even a disappointing scoreless draw against Wolves wasn’t enough to topple them from their perch atop the league. The Arsenal game was probably the best of them, Simon Vukcevic's brace led the Blues to a hard fought 2-1 victory that also included Oranje’s first televised interview since last summer.

    In the FA Cup, Preston North End might enjoy a storied history, but they were no match for Chelsea, losing 5-0 and setting up a match in March with Cardiff in the 6th round of the competition. That day also saw Chelsea’s Under-18 team progress to the finals of their cup competition, despite a sub-standard performance by Leigh Musicek. UEFA play found Chelsea in Amsterdam, struggling to a 1-0 victory in the opening leg of their matches with Ajax.

    By the end of the month, Manchester City—currently four points behind with two games in hand—will have caught up with Chelsea in terms of games played (as will Liverpool who are 11 points back with three in hand and, perhaps more importantly, Manchester United who are 24 points in arrears, but have played nine fewer games) as the Blues have a light league schedule with only games against Stoke and Hull scheduled. The 2nd leg of their UEFA knockout round with Ajax looms mid-month and—unless something quite surprising transpires—there will both be additional FA Cup and UEFA games towards the end of the month.

    As importantly, Edin Dzeko may be back by the end of the month, allowing Oranje to return to his favored partnership up front. Didier Drogba has certainly taken up the slack in Dzeko’s absence, and the Ivorian captain leads the league in goals scored with 17, one more than Fulham’s recently purchased Steven Fletcher. Dzeko sits sixth in the scoring charts, with 13 of his own, despite having missed over a month to date with an injury to his groin. Those two have propelled Chelsea to the top of the scoring table, with 65 goals scored in their 30 games. However, it hasn’t been all offense at Stamford Bridge, as the Blues have only allowed 18 in league play, giving them the best scoring differential in the league.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    Players returned to Houston in a state of great uncertainty: with answers not immediately forthcoming regarding their budget, the Comets are unsure how to improve the squad to compete given their promotion to a higher level of play. The strategy so far has been to bring in a ton of players on trial and schedule a lot of friendlies to try to get them playing time.

    Racing Club

    Nothing doing in Haiti. Just the typical off season lull before the players return. Another young defender was signed. Yippee.

    Rodengo Saiano

    The emotional roller coaster that is Terry Langford continues: for many, a 2-1-1 month would be stable, even positive. For Langford it was a series of intense peaks and valleys, marked by the intrusion of harsh reality when a player is seriously injured, another drunken explosion of self-pity, and a moment of jubilation at a late comeback.

    Through it all the Pandas are doing almost exactly as expected: tenth in a league of eighteen, with a staunch defense (tied for second best) and a struggling offense (the fourth worst).

    Saint George

    By any objective measure, it was not a bad month: the scheduling nightmare that marks the early months of the year yielded thirteen games in February, and V won seven and lost only two, with four draws. The losses came against powerhouse Al-Ahly, knocking them out of the Red & Arabian Sea States cup in the quarterfinals and against Club Africain in the opening group stage of the All African Challenge.

    So, through it all—through injuries, through continued struggles to get their players seen as home-grown, through the inevitable fatigue, Saint George remain first in the league, favored to win the Addis Cup, and looking to cause trouble for other African sides.

    March brings no respite, with another 13 games scheduled. Eight of them are group games in the African Challenge; only two are in the league. The month ends with the Semifinal of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup against Cuneo.

    Elsewhere

    February of course sees a drop in transfer activity, but not a total cessation of activity. Indeed, Lokomotiv Moscow’s $15.5M purchase of Sebastián Blanco from CFR Cluj would be considered a major transaction at any time of year. Harrison Afful’s stay at Al-Ahly was quite short, as the star for Ghana from last year’s world cup moved on to ES Tunis for $7.25M.

    As the season heads towards the home stretch, we’ll take a quick look at the English leagues. The top of pyramid was covered in the Chelsea update above. Other news:
    • Relegation seems pretty set in the Premier Division, with Middlesbrough, West Brom, and Portsmouth all looking likely to fall. Blackburn and Wolves are each eight points clear of Pompey, and seem safe for the time being.
    • Wigan, Birmingham, and Reading are dominating the Coca-Cola Championship, while six clubs are within four points for the final two relegation spots—only Blackpool (!) look unavoidably destined for demotion.
    • Huddersfield is running away with League 1, while it looks likely that Walsall, Bristol Rovers, and Chesterfield will fill the bottom three spots there.
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    March, 2011 Update

    It is March, and Europe is awash in excitement: league races are heating up and the continental competitions are leaving their group stages. Across the pond, teams in North America are coming back from vacation and figuring out their plans for the coming year. Excitement abounds …

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    The end of March finds the top of the Premier League a two team race, with Manchester City leading Chelsea by two points. Chelsea is in fine form, undefeated in their last eleven games against all competitions: March saw them progress to the semifinals of the FA Cup with an expected victory over Cardiff, win another two games in the league, and proceed out of the knockout rounds and notch a win against Arsenal in the first leg of their UEFA quarterfinal. That said, their end of season schedule is decidedly tougher than City’s, and it will take a series of strong efforts for the Blues to repeat this year.

    The youth team came close, but succumbed to Ravel Morrison and United in the Youth Cup.

    As such, April brings a spate of important games: if they maintain their lead against Arsenal in the first week of the month, the UEFA semifinals beckon; additionally the FA Cup sees them facing Portsmouth, and finally three league games culminate in a match with City on April 23rd.

    Danyil Oranje does have the luxury of his first-choice side, or nearly so, a rarity at this point in the season as Edin Dzeko returns from his groin injury. Add the continued excellence of Didier Drogba and the emergence of Daniele De Rossi as a more lethal offensive force, and the boys in blue look well poised for a season ending run.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    Meaningful games don’t start for the Comets until the end of April, when they open play in the Gulf Coast Club Championship against Estudiantes de Altamira. Instead, March was full of a constant stream of matches where players were evaluated on trial and while there will be a few new faces in the side this year, the biggest news of the month is a potential change at the top, with chairman Ian Wigley evidently being pushed out by other board members.

    The prospect of a heavy squad turnover is weighing heavily on the minds of Levi McKinnon and Julian Johnson, who are struggling to balance loyalty to their existing players with the demands of promotion and high expectations.

    Racing Club

    Pre-season, pre-season, pre-season. Matches begin in April for David Barron’s team, with their first five Group C matches in The Islands Cup and their opening match in Les Nouveauz Jeux. In the meantime, the dreams continue.

    Rodengo Saiano

    After February closed on the high note of the Panda’s 3-1 win over Venezia, Rodengo Saiano looked poised for a positive March in northern Italy: the team may have finally pulled together and Spanish playmaker Isma was due back from his long-term injury. It was not to be, however, as consecutive scoreless draws were followed by a heartbreaking 2-2 tie against Pro Belvedere where Rodengo held an early 2-0 lead.

    Rodengo has five games left in its season: with Terry’s attention increasingly drawn across the Atlantic to North America, it’s unclear how much focus he will have for those games.

    Saint George

    Brutal. Just brutal.

    The results were fine, but March in East Africa is a horribly difficult time. Saint George played thirteen games during the month. While competitive in the All-African Challenge, they did not progress beyond the group stage and likewise failed to move beyond the first round of the Champions League. However, a 2-0 victory over Cuneo moved them into the final of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup against Siracusa, and, at the end of the month, V remain in first place in the domestic league, four points of clear of surprising Banks SC and six ahead of Awassa.

    In April the schedule once again clears, and a full-strength Saint George should field a rested team for the first time in their league games and in the semifinal (and, presumably, the final) of the Addis Ababa City Cup.

    Sadly, a hard collision that left him with two broken ribs has taken Mohammed Abera out of the running and, as such, the talented teenager may have played his final game in the red and gold.

    Elsewhere

    The continental races are truly heating up:
    • While Chelsea and Manchester City fight it out atop the Premier League in England, the other side of the table looks set as well, with Portsmouth, West Brom, and Middlesbrough looking destined for relegation. Other than Wigan, which has already secured a place in the promotion playoffs at a minimum, the battle for who will replace them is wide open between Birmingham, Reading, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, QPR, and Leicester.
    • Paris Saint-Germain looks destined for their first Ligue 1 championship since 1994 in France, but late charges from either Olympique de Marseille or AS Nancy Lorraine could provide some end of season drama.
    • Italy’s Serie A finds Juventus three points clear of Fiorentina in what has become a two team race to the finish.
    • In Spain, Barcelona leads Real Madrid by four points.

    March is a busy time for transfers in North America, and three moves in excess of $10M were made: young Czech striker Tomas Necid moved from CSKA Moscow to the New York Red Bull for $13.5M, the Houston Dynamo purchased Nigerian attacker Michael Eneramo from ES Tunis for a shade under $13M, and Fredy Montero moved on from Seattle to São Paulo for $12M.

    Seattle used some of the income from Montero’s move to bring in Brazilian striker Hugo from Colorado and winger Conor Casey from Colorado while the LA Galaxy continued to try to make up for the loss of Landon Donovan by purchasing Brek Shea from FC Dallas.

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    April, 2011 Update

    April is a good month: races heat up in Europe and the optimism of a new season in America. As such, the focus is on Danyil Orange at Chelsea as well as the two North American clubs, the Houston Comets and Racing Club Haïtien. Saint George and Rodengo are both playing out the string, albeit quite differently: the Ethiopian side has a shot at a coveted double while the Italian side is trudging along in mediocrity with a coach planning to resign at the end of the season.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    It’s hard to complain about a month where you qualify for the finals in both the FA Cup and the UEFA Championship, but the rough patch towards the end of the month—the 1-0 loss at home to Genoa and even more than that, the gut-wrenching mystery of the 3-2 defeat to Manchester City at home when they were up a man for 2/3 of the game—serves notice that Chelsea may still have work to do. And, it seems that, even inside the club, not everyone is pleased at Leich Musicek's success.

    If so, that work looms in May: a hat trick from Robinho and a goal from Carlos Tevez helped City demolish Arsenal 4-1 on the final day of April, leaving Chelsea a point out of first with three to play. The final standings of the Premier League will be decided at Anfield, home against Fulham, and then the final game of the season at White Hart Lane. That’s a much harder close to the season than City faces (away at Bolton and home against Stoke). No matter how the league ends, however, Chelsea’s season will continue with the Champions League final against Inter followed by the FA Cup clash with Everton.

    So, five games. Five games with a chance at the treble, and a chance of nothing.

    In other Premier League news, while the slots for Europe are pretty much set, Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Aston Villa all have a chance at finishing top four along with City and Chelsea, so there is plenty to play for on these last few weeks. The scoring title looks set to go to Didier Drogba, whose 23 goals lead Fulham’s Steven Fletcher by four and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres by five. Drogba and Chelsea teammate Edin Dzeko lead the league in player rating, trailed closely by Luka Modric.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    It was a month of squad additions and pre-season matches in Houston, with the only meaningful game being a 1-1 draw with Estudiantes de Altamira in the opening game of the Gulf Coast Club Championship. May brings the competition in earnest: NADI play begins, the Desert Cup kicks off, as does the Immigrants’ Cup.

    The squad has basically taken shape, and May will also bring a season preview to introduce the 2011/12 Houston Comets. The team is much changed, helped significantly by an influx of foreign players, led by a teenage Irish prodigy in goal, three Spaniards scattered across the field, and a new frontline, both of whom hail from Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso? Yep.

    The only bad news so far is a ruptured Achilles for Sachin Tendulkar, sidelining the teenage loanee from the Houston Dynamo for a few months.

    Racing Club


    Play in the opening rounds of the Islands Cup has been discouraging: increasingly poor performances capped by a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Portmore United led to major changes in Port-au-Prince, from the benching of seventeen year old goalkeeper Eliseo Agüeros to a new approach on offense designed to feature both young winger Jimmy McNulty and recent signing Bidre’Ce Azor. The first game was encouraging: Charley Julien kept a clean sheet in net, and goals from Devon Frederick and Liam Parmentier saw Racing Club defeat local rivals Violette in the first round of Les Nouveaux Jeux. May starts league play, and we’ll see if the turnaround can continue.

    The dreams? Oh yeah, the dreams. They continue.

    Rodengo Saiano

    Just playing out the string in northern Italy: another month, another draw followed by a couple soul-crushing 1-0 defeats. Rodengo remains a defensive stalwart and unable to score, thoroughly deserving of twelfth place in the table.

    Saint George

    Last year, Saint George coasted to the coveted double, winning the league and breezing to victory in the Addis City Cup. This year, they start May only a single point ahead of Awassa and two in front of Banks SC in the league and, in a shocking upset due to a fluke goal in extra time, having lost to Ethiopian Coffee 3-2 in their attempt to defend their Cup title. With only four league games left—three in May—the title is up for grabs, but Saint George should benefit from a relatively weak run of opponents in Shashemane Kenema (12th in the league), Trans Ethiopia (8th), Adama City (11th), and Sebeta City (7th).

    Siracusa, their opponent in the final of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup, should prove a stiffer test. If Saint George is able to defeat the Italians and win the league, they will have substituted one double for another, which would surely make for a satisfying season. Anything less, however, and the vultures may start circling around Tadesse Makonnen, a notion that seemed impossible at the start of the season.

    Elsewhere


    April may seem to be a strange time to talk about transfer activity, but there was some, most notably Corinthians’ purchase of Diego Tardelli from Atlético Mineiro for just over $27M. The New York Red Bulls were busy as well, bringing in Peruvian attacker Alexander Sánchez and Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko in separate deals combining at nearly $17M.

    April is, however, a great time to check on the league tables around Europe:
    • In Spain, Barcelona holds a one point edge over Real Madrid with three games left to play.
    • Paris Saint-Germain is running away with Ligue 1 in France, nine points clear of OM.
    • In England’s Coca-Cola Championship, Wigan has clinched promotion, while Ipswich, Birmingham, Crystal Palace, and Reading have all secured places in the promotion playoff, with Reading and Sunderland vying for the final spot. Blackpool have crawled out of the relegation zone by a single point ahead of Cardiff, Derby, and Plymouth.
    • Something approaching normalcy has returned in Germany, where FC Bayern has overcome early season jitters to sit, along with Stuttgart, two points behind Bundesliga leading HSV. Mainz will be relegated at the end of the year, with Bochum and Kaiserslautern meeting in a playoff to determine which team remains in Germany’s top division.
    • Italy has seen a changing of the guard of sorts, where Juventus hold a seven point lead over Fiorentina. Perennial powers Inter (3rd), AS Roma (6th) and AC Milan (8th) remain further down the table than expected, with both Roma and Milan in danger of missing out on European play altogether next year.
    • Braga has clinched the Liga Sagres title in Portugal, easily outdistancing Benfica and Porto.
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  29. #29
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    Default May, 2011 Update

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    May, 2011 Update

    What a month! A resounding finish in England, the setup for a thrilling end in Ethiopia, a growing narrative in Houston, and, well, yeah, there’s that team in Haiti. Oh, and we have something happening for the very first time since this started.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    Despite starting the month with a difficult loss at Anfield, Danyil Oranje quieted his skeptics in remarkable fashion in May, pulling off an unprecedented treble for Chelsea: a win on the final day of the season away at Tottenham clinched the Premier Division title; and victories over Inter and Everton brought home both the European Champions League and the FA Cup. While most thought Chelsea were good for one of the achievements, it was certainly a surprise to see them sweep all three.

    So, now what? Well, some of the large tournaments start in June (most notably, group play in the Imposter’s Cup where Chelsea is drawn with Philadelphia, Platense, Real Unión from Spain, and Honduran side Necaxa—a chance, essentially, to give the youngsters some games), Danyil has African Nations Qualifying games with Cameroon to think about and, of course, there is the usual summer transfer window. But, for now, there is celebration and satisfaction, and a chance to recharge before the new season begins.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    [Comets 2011 Season Preview]

    An uncertain beginning to the season: with such high expectations, even seven wins in ten games doesn’t’ necessarily mean success, especially when the losses meant they would not proceed beyond the group stage of the Desert Cup, and the wins were racked up against inferior competition.

    The Comets are 1-1 in league play: a strong 4-0 drubbing of Salamanaca was followed by a 2-0 loss to Charlotte. Still, the team seems to be coming together—perhaps most evidently in a stunning victory over the LA Galaxy to move on in the Immigrant’s Cup—and if Levi McKinnon can hold his sanity together, perhaps the year will turn out well in Houston.

    Early returns from the offseason signings are good, with Tomas Pekhart and Pierre Koulibaly leading the way with five goals each, while Stanton Lewis has added five assists for the cause. Fellow Burkinabe striker Aristide Bancé has returned from an extended leave of absence, so the offense should be bolstered a bit more with his return.

    June brings more cup play: the Desert Cup and the Imposter’s Cup both see games in group play, with the Comets still harboring hopes of progressing on in both competitions.

    Racing Club


    [Racing Club 2011 Season Preview]

    A change in tactics midway through the month has had promising results for David Barron, whose side closed the month taking ten points from four games. The victories weren’t enough to qualify out of group stage in the Islands Cup, but they did allow Racing Club to start off play in NADII: Yashin with a 1-0 win over Herediano. And, longtime favorite Eliseo Agüeros continues to be supplanted in goal: until Charly Julien, his replacement, concedes a few, he'll have to get used to life on the bench.

    In some ways, June will bring a great chance for further experimentation: five group games in the Imposter’s Cup will see Racing Club take on Dinamo Kiev, Montedio, Steel Azin, and the NY Liberty: a victory anywhere would be an upset. The key game of the month is the first leg of the quarterfinal matchup against FC Rouen in Les Nouveaux Jeux: progress to the semi’s would be a fantastic success for Barron’s side.

    As for the dreams? Something has vanished.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus

    A loss against Como started the month, and the final game of the season was a thoroughly unsatisfying 0-0 draw against Portosummaga. It was also terry Langford’s final game as head coach of the Panda’s: carrying through on his promise to Leti, Langford resigned at the end of the season.

    He did, however, manage to continue a job in the football world, having been announced as the new head coach for Belarus’ international side. With only a few weeks before Belarus’ European Championship qualifying games in early June, Langford will be busy learning to pronounce names in yet another new language; but his long-term sites are set on a move, along with his long-distance love, to America as soon as a job opens up for him.

    Saint George

    May began with Saint George still having a shot at a significant double, nursing a slight lead in the league while facing Siracusa in the final of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup. The former is on track, as V destroyed their domestic competition in three games by a combined score of 8-0, clinching the regular season championship and setting the stage for a thrilling playoff run. The cup, however, was a heartbreaking affair: a game Ethiopian side held Siracusa scoreless through extra time, but lost to the Italians on penalties, leaving fans of Ethiopian soccer wondering what might have been.

    June will bring a final game in league play, as well as the all-important championship playoffs for the Ethiopian Premiere League. There is also an intriguing match up with HSV in an effort to qualify for further rounds of the Immigrant’s Cup.

    Elsewhere

    With the European Leagues seeing summaries already published, or—in the case of Italy, about to be—this segment will focus on the North American divisions. European summaries are available for Holland, Portugal & Spain, France, England, and Germany.
    • The New York Red Bulls have surged to an early lead in NASL, perfect with fifteen points from five games. They are closely trailed by América, the LA Galaxy, and San Luis, but, of course, the season is quite young. No NASL team is winless, which speaks to the parity of competition that is evolving in the third year of league play.

      Tigres’ Kikín Fonseca tops thes scoring charts, with seven goals in his first five games, one more than Querétaro’s Adewlae Sunday Amusan.
    • Making a strong case for their return to NASL, both the Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders are undefeated in early play in NACL. Toronto FC and Irapuato are both looking for their first victories, but both have managed two draws in the early season, so no team is without points. Seattle’s offseason purchase of Brazilian striker Hugo has provided immediate dividends, with the South American import scoring eight times in his first four games for the Sounders.
    Play in the lower divisions has barely begun, with most teams only having played two league games, and a few yet to kick off their league schedule. We’ll check in with them in future months.

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  30. #30
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    How do you manage to juggle all those teams, I can barely manage 1!!

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    @pezza1. I dunno ... I like it, though. Really appreciate you reading along!
    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    June, 2011 Update

    Excitement in Ethiopia and America, a pause in England, and a new beginning in Belarus. Not quite a midsummer’s night dream, but a good June in any case.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    The month began with an appearance on an interview show, which has a nice overview of Chelsea’s season. Chelsea’s group in the Imposter’s Cup looks to offer very little resistance, so games in June (and July) will largely be reserve and youth affairs. So far, that strategy has been working well, evidenced by a 4-1 win over Real Unión and back-to-back drubbings of Argentine side Platense by scores of 6-0 and 7-0. By the end of July, the preseason friendlies will kick in, and anticipation will be building to the new season, one where it seems Leigh Musicek may make her debut at Stamford Bridge.

    In the meantime, June was the final month at Chelsea for two key defensive contributors, Alex and Ricardo Carvalho, as well as little-used reserve Kieran Richardson. Those three netted the club over $40M in transfer fees, while Sam Hutchinson, Michael Ballack, and Sam Walker were all allowed to leave on free transfers. More moves are clearly in store for Danyil Oranje; at the least, we would expect them to bolster the back line, but with Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, and Didier Drogba all not getting any younger, additional player acquisitions may be in the cards as well.

    Comets / Costa Rica U20s

    Still stung from their failure to progress beyond the group stage in the Gulf Coast Club Championship, the Comets played well in June, securing qualification to the next round of the Desert Cup with a victory over the Las Vegas Jokers and ending the month leading their group in the Imposter’s Cup. That lead may be hard to sustain: the Dynamo, drawn to the same group, have a game in hand and have proven themselves the superior team from Houston so far this year.

    The offseason acquisitions for the Comets have been spectacular so far: on most teams, Pierre Koulibaly’s six goals in twelve matches would be the news; here, the argument is between Aristide Bancé’s six in six or Tomas Pekhart’s five in five. Tristan Bowen, with five in nine, is in danger of moving down the depth chart, as his attitude has come into question, especially in light of the revelation provided by Pekhart.

    By the end of July, the Comets’ position in the cups should be solidified, and two division matches will set the stage for the late summer focus on NADI play.

    Oh, and Julian has a new girlfriend. Who plays cards. Well.

    Racing Club


    You would think a month with three ties and three losses wouldn’t be cause for optimism, but in Port-au-Prince, it is just that. It’s not the record, but the way the ties were earned, against Montedio, FC Rouen and, most surprisingly, Dinamo Kiev. Those games prove that, while the Old Lions may not be able to beat top teams, they are also not necessarily destined to lose every time they take the field. There was also a huge amount of travel, which led to the promise of, and the holding of, a cookout on the beach.

    While the second leg against FC Rouen offers a glimmer of hope in progressing to the semifinals of Les Nouveaux Jeux, July will, most importantly, bring Racing Club’s cup play to a close, allowing them to concentrate more fully on their NADII matches, three of which will occur during the month.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus


    Terry Langford’s debut as the coach of Belarus was a mixed affair: the ecstasy of a 5-0 drubbing of Albania was tempered by a close 2-1 loss to Bosnia & Herzegovina. Still, the team trails only France in their group, maintaining a chance at qualification, which would be quite a success.

    Saint George


    June saw Saint George crash out of the Immigrant’s Cup with a 4-1 defeat to German side HSV. But the important matches of the month for Ethiopian observers were three consecutive 2-0 wins: the first on the final day of the season, the second in the playoff semifinals against Bahir Dar, and the third in a dominant performance against Banks SC that saw Saint George successfully defend their championship.

    July brings the offseason and some well-deserved rest for the squad. And it marks the departure of Mohammed Abera for Hoffenheim, a move that will change the face of the squad next year, and will add what is, for Ethiopian clubs, a massive windfall for V’s coffers.

    Elsewhere

    More season summaries are available: South Africa, Italy, Ethiopia.

    June’s biggest transfer news came from England, where Alex moved from champion Chelsea to Olympique Lyonnais for $25.5M, joining Danny Wilson (purchased from Rangers for just over $16M) in a revamped back line for the French side. July, of course, will bring more movement as the summer transfer window opens up.

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    Default July, 2011 Review

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    July, 2011 Update

    The dog days of summer continue … some competitions clarify, a manager gets a new job managing a national team, and the excitement of the home stretch in North America and the transfer window in England beckon.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    The preseason continues with a mix of friendlies and games in the Imposter’s Cup with predictably good results, but there’s only so much you can learn from these games. The biggest lesson for Chelsea in July is the clear conundrum of what to do with their surplus of attacking talent: French youngsters Ishak Belfodil and Yaya Sanogo continue to score almost at will, but neither are likely to move past Drogba and Dzeko in the lineup and as Daniel Sturridge works his way back from injury, the question of how to find meaningful playing time for the group is foremost in Danyil Oranje’s mind.

    July saw a predictable churn in personnel, with nearly twenty Chelsea players securing loan deals with other clubs in Europe and a handful of others allowed to depart the club on free transfers, most notably Michael Ballack who settled at Borussia Dortumund. Only two players moved on securing permanent deals elsewhere, with Ricardo Carvalho joining Manchester City and Kieran Richardson heading to Stoke. While seven players were brought in, all are relatively small purchases of youngsters made with an eye to the future: the one exception being the purchase of Tommy Spurr from Fulham as a reserve defender.

    August will be more challenging: an unlucky draw in The Imposter’s Cup has Chelsea battling Manchester United in a home and home mid-month and, of course, the Premier League season starts. With their opening matches against Burnley, Wolves, and Wigan however, the Blues look to start their league season strong.

    Oh yeah: Leigh got a new roommate and made history, albeit a muted, American kind of history. And, something odd is brewing at Liverpool.

    Comets / Chile

    That’s right, Chile. Mid-month, Levi McKinnon got the call from the Federación de Fútbol de Chile, and quickly accepted. Not much to say about that right now: McKinnon will have a couple friendlies before World Cup qualifying begins in October.

    Back in Houston, it has to be considered a good month: the Comets successfully qualified out of the group stage in both the Imposter’s Cup and the Southwest Desert Cup, and a narrow 1-0 victory over Austin’s Aztex FC on the last day of the month will see them through to the final of the Silver Boot in November. They were knocked out of the Immigrant’s Cup, but, from the moment they found out who they were playing, nobody ever thought they would defeat Barcelona in what must be considered a horribly unlucky draw.

    There were two intriguing signings in the month as well, the highest ceiling of which was Congolese teenager Guadence Raphaele.

    August launches league play in earnest with seven league games sandwiched around a two leg tie with the NY Liberty in the Imposter’s Cup.

    Racing Club


    July demonstrated two things: the gap between the bottom division in North American and the rest of the world and the slow improvement of David Barron’s Haitian side. Against all odds, Racing Club finished July at the top of their league table, having gone 3-0 in the Yashin division during the month. That position is unlikely to last given how long the season is, but it is an encouraging start.

    Other competitions were not as kind: a valiant effort in France saw the Old Lions lose on penalties to FC Rouen in the quarterfinals of Les Nouveaux Jeux and losses to Steel Azin and the NY Liberty cemented a bottom of the group finish in the Imposter’s Cup.

    August returns the focus to play in NADII: Yashin, with only matches against Toronto FC in the North American Champions Cup interrupting. The draw is clearly unkind to Barron’s side, as there are quite a few teams in the competition against which the Old Lions would have a possibility of victory; the ex-MLS team from Toronto is not one of them.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus


    Nothing happening. European Championship qualifying starts again in the fall, and Terry Langford continues to hope for a job opening somewhere in North America. He was heading to South Africa for some time with Leti, and, by the end of the month, the two had decided to start their time in America by going to a game in Boston.

    Saint George


    Through their first six games in group play in the massive Red and Arabian Sea States Cup, Saint George had not allowed a single goal. The problem is they had not managed a single tally in that time either. By salvaging six points from their final three matches, V secured progression behind group leaders Esteghlal, but their form needs to improve dramatically over the next months in advance of the new season later this fall.

    Elsewhere

    It’s summer, so the news is dominated by transfers. Atop the list is the move of young French winger Ryad Boudebouz to Ajax from FC Soschaux-Montbé for just under $25M. Indeed, youth dominated the top of the transfer lists, with all of the four largest purchases involving players under 22 years of age (Boudebouz, Patricio Rodríguez to Udinese, Adem Ljajic to FC Bayern, and Raul to AC Milan; all over $17M).

    Predictably, Manchester City were among the big spenders, bringing in Ricardo Carvalho from Chelsea and Jesús Gámez from Sunderland. French side Stade Rennais FC were the busiest club on the other end, selling Yacine Brahimi on to Schalke, Rod Fanni to HSV, and Asamoah Gyan to Real Madrid.

    Some competition notes as well:
    • Austrialia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea progressed to the semifinals of the Asian Cup.
    • A brace from Kaká saw Brazil lift the trophy for the Copa América in a convincing 4-0 win over Paraguay. Despite have three of the four leading scorers (Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuaín, and Sergio Agüero), Argentina had to settle for a third place finish in the competition.
    • At the top of the pyramid in North America, both the New York Red Bulls and the LA Galaxy are looking to end the Mexican dominance of the North American Select League with the two American teams occupying the top two positions in the table, trailed by América and San Luis. The success of the Red Bulls is largely due to the impact of Ukrainian signing Andriy Yarmolenko, who leads the league with fourteen goals.
    • Yarmolenko’s Red Bulls will meet the New York Giants in the final of the Empire Cup of New York State in August.
    • América lifted the Mexico City Club Championship for the second time, defeating Pumas UNAM 3-2 on aggregate.
    • The final of Les Neveaux Jeux des Anciennes Colonies will see Les Capitales of Quebec take on the Football Crewe of New Orleans in a competition that sees no French teams reach the finals for the second consecutive year.

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    Default August, 2011

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    August, 2011 Update

    August reviews are always long: between transfers, the completion of many of the North American cup competitions, the beginning of play in Europe, and the turn to the homestretch in the North American leagues, there is plenty to write about.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    The news at Chelsea was dominated by the madness at the end of the transfer window. More on that in a moment: first, a glance to what happened on the pitch itself. First, two more pieces of hardware were added to the case at Stamford Bridge. Minor hardware, but hardware nonetheless. In both games, Chelsea needed penalties to win after finishing regulation tied at a single goal apiece, but win they did: first, over Manchester City in the Community Shield and then over Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup. Supporters, of course, hope Chelsea plays both games again next summer, as that would mean they finished top two in the league and successfully defended their Champion’s League title.

    In the Imposter’s Cup, the luck of the draw was cruel, matching the Blues, who won the competition last year, against Manchester United in a home and home affair far earlier in than anticipated. United held a 2-1 lead after the first leg at Old Trafford, but goals from the old guard—in this case, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba—carried Chelsea to a 2-0 win at home, and saw them progress into the quarterfinals, where they will face off against Dinamo Kiev.

    With all that, the Premier League started in August as well, where a brace from Daniel Sturridge and a screamer from Michael Essien took Chelsea to a 3-0 win over Mick McCarthy and Wolverhampton.

    September will see only a single game in the league—a highly anticipated clash with Liverpool at the end of the month made all the more intriguing as it looks newly acquired Fernando Torres may have fully recovered from a broken arm to play in the fixture. Between now and then, Chelsea will match off twice against Kiev, will start their Champion’s League group play against AS Nancy Lorraine and Fiorentina, and will meet Barnsley in the League Cup. And, if all goes as expected, sixteen year old Leigh Musicek will make her professional debut on European soil in one of those matches (she played in an Imposter’s Cup game in July in America).

    Oh yes, the transfer window. It was supposed to be a quiet August at Stamford Bridge: more loans, to be sure, but no significant purchases. And then, all hell broke loose. See below for more information, but at the end of it, Chelsea had spent just over $60M, bringing in Yaya Touré from Manchester City, young Mexican defender Guillermo Salinas from Benfica, and, in the final deal of the period, purchasing Fernando Torres from a Liverpool club dancing on the edge of bankruptcy.

    Torres’ presence has the potential to change everything: it is anticipated that he will start alongside Edin Dzeko up front, relegating Drogba to a supporting role and, of course, what this means for the future of Chelsea’s trio of top reserve strikers of Sturridge, Ishak Belfodil, and Frano di Santo (let alone Yaya Sanogo, Ransford Osei, and Alípio behind them) is yet to be seen. Rumors of attempts to sell di Santo and Daniele De Rossi are unconfirmed, but it seems definite that some of these players will be moving on come January.

    Comets / Chile

    August had the feel of consolidation in Houston. A 3-3-1 record in NADI: Hamm saw them climb to fifth in the league, with at least one game in hand against every team above them. But the games against Real Miami (which was a fantastic match for the fans) and AC St. Louis both have the feel of having left points on the field, something that can be quite dangerous over the course of a season.

    A great showing on the road against the NY Liberty saw Houston advance to the quarterfinals of the Imposter’s Cup, where they will face Spanish side Racing Club SAD in September. Next month also brings the quarterfinals of the Desert Cup matchup with FC Dallas, in addition to five more league matches.

    New ownership forced Houston to downsize in the transfer window, but nothing very dramatic occurred, with four players leaving on free transfers.

    Racing Club


    The end of summer saw Racing Club in a surprising fourth place in NADII: Yashin play. However, there are warning signs that all is not quite that rosy: not only did August see an embarrassing 9-1 aggregate loss to FC Toronto in the North American Champion’s Cup, their league record was a less than stellar 1-3, with their final two games being 2-0 and 3-0 defeats to Harbour View FC and Herediano.

    It doesn’t get any easier at the start of September, with matches against X. Tijuana, Zacatepec, and Cartaginés. The matches against Real España and San Juan Jabloteh are winnable, however, and nine or ten points on the month would position Racing Club for a shock playoff appearance.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus


    A single match in August: a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in a friendly. But September starts an important stretch, with matches against Luxembourg and Romania in Group D of the European Championship Qualifiers.

    Terry and Leti find themselves hopping around North America, scouting Belarusian players and possible future jobs.

    Saint George


    The bad news are the results: three 1-0 losses to decidedly inferior teams. The good news—such as it is—is the context: mid-summer friendlies where more teenagers than first team regulars made appearances. There are concerns, though, most centered on where Saint George will find offense for the upcoming campaign.

    There are months to solve that issue, however: league play in Ethiopia doesn’t start until November. Between now and then, the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup looms with matches against Mezzocorona and, having barely escaped out of the group stage in the RASS, V now face Jordanian side Faysali in that competition..

    Elsewhere

    Most years, August is dominated by transfer stories. This year is no different, but the backdrop is a dramatic one: the news hinted at in July exploded across the tabloid headlines in August: Liverbroke! And, of course, numerous on the theme of Yank’d! But the news was the same: Liverpool was taken into administration and docked nine points as a result.

    That made it a buyer’s market if your fancy was tickled by players in red, and Villarreal, Aston Villa, and Chelsea all took advantage, adding nearly $50M to the Merseyside coffers in exchange for Diego Cavalieri, Raúl Meireles, promising youngster Adam Pepper and, most importantly, Fernando Torres, whose $35M fee was the highest of the period. Other notable signings:
    • Genoa signed Brazilian Carlos Eduardo from Hoffenheim for $32.5M.
    • Roma was among the busiest teams of the period, bringing in Sergio Agüero from Manchester City and Giovani dos Santos from Chivas for a combined $42M.
    • Not to be outdone, Inter spent $35M on José Paolo Guerrero from HSV and Ashley Young from Manchester United.
    • Other deals in excess of $20M included Giuseppe Rossi moving to Atletico Madrid from Villarreal, Philippe Mexès from AC Milan to Palermo, and two young Brazilians, Bernardo and Giuliano, heading to CSKA Moscow and Shakhtar, respectively.
    • Other notable transfers included Emmanuel Adebayor going to Newcastle and Colombian defender Cristían Zapata to Everton.
    Not all of the news was off the field, however:
    • British teams Cambridge, Darlington, and Peterborough join the Bermuda Hogges in the quarterfinals of the Challenge of the Indies.
    • Despite losing the second leg 3-1 to Reboceros de la Piedad, San Luis was the first team to qualify for the semifinals of the massive Mexican championship, El Campeonato de México.
    • Cartaginés, having knocked two-time defending champions Saprissa out in the semis, defeated Herediano 2-1 to win their first Costa Rican Club Championship.
    • When the Empire Cup of New York State was announced, it was assumed the New York Red Bulls would dominate the competition. Surprisingly, 2011 marked their first championship of the statewide competition, as they defeated the New York Giants, 3-0.
    • The Columbus Crew defeated FA Detroit 2-0 to lift the Governor’s Cup Championship of the Midwest for the second time.
    • A goal just before halftime from teenage loanee Drew Daley saw FC NOLA defeat Les Capitales, bringing the trophy for Les Nouveaux Jeux des Anciennes Colonies to New Orleans for the first time.
    • Chivas USA, CSA Forks, San Jose, and Seattle made it to the semifinals of the massive Pacific Invitational Asian/North American Cup, ensuring that the LA Galaxy will be unable to win the competition for the third consecutive year.
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    Default September, 2011 Monthly Review

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    September, 2011 Update

    As the European leagues settle into the season, the American ones enter the homestretch. Add a historic debut for one player, a surprising run of form for one team, and continued uncertainty for one manager, and it was an intriguing month.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    While September began somewhat indifferently for Chelsea with a bit of a lackluster draw in the opening leg of their Imposter’s Cup quarterfinal matchup with Dinamo Kiev, the month proceeded pretty much as expected from there: a victory on the return to Stamford Bridge saw them through against Kiev, and two 2-0 wins in their first two Champion’s League matches put them in the driver’s seat in Group G. There were also victories in the League Cup against Barnsley and their league match with Liverpool.

    There was more to it than that sounds, however: the victory against AS Nancy Lorraine was a historic event in European soccer, marking Leigh Musicek's debut in Champion's League football. And, the game against the Reds was easily the most highly hyped game of the early season: Liverpool was struggling to emerge from their financial collapse and Fernando Torres was scheduled to make his debut against his former team.

    All of that sounds pretty routine, but there are issues, or at least the hints of issues: with Yaya Touré and Fernando Torres both joining the club the depth of the squad is fantastic, but it also means players who seemed in line for a decent amount of playing time—Daniel Sturridge, Ishak Belfodil, Michael Larson, Jon Obi Mikel—have moved even further down the pecking order. This was especially worrisome in the case of Belfodil, as the moody young Frenchman had already expressed concern about his playing time; however, challenged to take advantage of his opportunities, he produced, leading Chelsea with a goal in the Champion’s League victory over Fiorentina.

    If the schedule holds, October will give Danyil Oranje a chance to test his squad depth: five league games are on the slate in addition to matches against Anderlecht in the Champion’s League, the Columbus Crew in the Imposter’s Cup, and a second meeting in five days with Stoke in the League Cup.

    Leigh's league debut would have to wait a little longer, as she was drafted into the USA squad for the Under-20 World Cup in Colombia in October.

    Comets / Chile

    Simply put, the Comets are on a roll. The end of September finds them in third place in NADI: Hamm, having secured thirteen points out of their previous four games. They were knocked out of the Imposter’s Cup with a 3-1 aggregate loss to Spanish side Racing, but that was a case of simply running into a superior team: the third level of the North American pyramid is significantly below Liga BBVA.

    The other mark on the Comets’ September was a 1-0 defeat to FC Dallas in the first leg of the Desert Cup quarterfinal. While the team from Frisco is probably better than the Comets, a victory in the second leg is certainly possible. That match, along with eight league clashes, will make for a very busy October.

    Racing Club


    Against all odds, David Barron’s boys are playing decent football. Not great. Decent. But for a team picked to finish twelfth in a thirteen team division, sitting fifth seems a pretty fantastic accomplishment and, after only fourteen games, they have already matched their win total from last season with seven.

    Seen that way, their record in September—two wins, three ties, one loss—is downright respectable. What is perhaps most encouraging is that the improvement is not the product of a single dominant player (who, of course, may leave at any time), but a general, across-the-board improvement, led by the consistent performances of midfielders Edens Chery and Jimmy McNulty.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus


    There are jobs out there. Just not in America. So, Terry Langford is still hunting for his next job while he tries to guide Belarus into the second round of the European Championship. September saw them defeat Luxembourg but surrender precious points in a 1-0 defeat to Romania. France has already qualified from the group and Belarus sits in second place with fourteen points, two ahead of Romania. It looks unlikely that Belarus can qualify at this point, but a second place finish in the group would likely be seen as a good result for the east European nation.

    Still, although the month started on a high, the travel and the uncertainty are taking a toll on Terry and Leti.

    Saint George


    As the preseason slowly winds down, Saint George find themselves rounding into form. September saw five wins and a single loss, that to Mezzocorona after V took a 4-0 lead into the second leg of their Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup matchup and fielded a decidedly under-powered team. Saint George proceeded to the second round of that competition as expected, and a 1-0 victory over Faysali of Jodan in the first leg of their Red and Arabian Sea States matches sets the stage for an important October.

    The other three victories were in friendlies, and next month brings three more of those, in addition to two legs against Pisa and the second leg against the Jordanian side.

    September was also a month of player movement, with twelve players joining V and fifteen departing either permanently or on loan. The incoming transfers may pose a challenge, as for the first time there will be a sizable population of players who don’t hail from Ethiopia at the club: three of the newcomers are from Kenya, others are coming to Addis Ababa from Rwanda, Zambia, and Reunion.

    Elsewhere


    Play in Europe is barely underway, so we’ll leave those updates until later. In North America, as the season moves into the homestretch, the New York Red Bulls are still running away with NASL and while it is mathematically possible for either América or San Luis to catch them, it looks almost certain that we will see our first American regular season champion.

    Seattle, Chiapas, and Houston look poised for automatic promotion from NACL to the top league, while Vancouver and Georgia seem likely to move from NADI to NACL without having to face the rigors of postseason play. Veteran Georgia striker Nicola Brighenti is the surprise of the season to date: a consistent goalscorer in NADII the past two years, when the Georgia Peaches were promoted, many expected Brighenti to struggle against the higher caliber defenses he would now face week in and week out. Instead, he has thrived, leading the league with sixteen goals, twice the next highest total.

    Many of the competitions that began in the spring are nearing or at completion, including:
    • The Canadian Cup final will pit Winnipeg against Toronto FC, who are trying to win the competition for the third time running.
    • Marathón defeated Isidro Metapán to win their second Central American Club Championship.
    • The massive Mexican competition, El Campeonata de México, is down to four teams: Veracruz, Cruz Azul, San Luis, and Monterrey. In a testament to how even talent is spread throughout the country, none of those four teams have competed in the final to date.
    • Toronto FC defeated the Chicago Fire 2-0 behind two first half goals from Polish veteran Przemyslaw Kazmierczak to successfully defend the Great Cup of the Great Lakes.
    • The Houston Dynamo became the first American club to win the Gulf Coast Club Championship with their victory over FC NOLA.
    • The semifinals of the Imposter’s Cup are set, with the Columbus Crew facing Chelsea and Racing meeting fellow Spanish side Real Madrid. Real Madrid has played in both finals of this competition, defeating Manchester United in 2009 and losing to Chelsea in 2010.
    • San Jose broke the LA Galaxy’s chokehold on the massive Pacific Invitational Asian/North American Cup, defeating Chivas USA 2-1.
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    Default October 2011 Update

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    October, 2011 Update

    Fall edges on and, on the whole, things are going well for the five managers. One is still unemployed, but that may even change soon. The North American leagues are in their final throes and the Houston Comets retain in a strong position for promotion--and perhaps even the league championship, bypassing the pitfalls of the postseason. More surprisingly, Racing Club remains on the edge of the playoff picture, quite a shock for a team picked for a bottom-of-the-table finish.

    October Awards
    .

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    October saw Chelsea hit their stride, with seven victories and a tie in eight games in the month. Those results--which include a fantastic, last moment victory over Arsenal--have moved them through to the 5th round of the League Cup, the top of their group in the Champion’s League, and, with a victory over the Columbus Crew in the semifinals, have set up a rematch in the final of the Imposter’s Cup against Real Madrid.

    They sit in third place in the Premiere Division, but have four games in hand on Tottenham and two on Manchester United above them. United is the talk of the league, with a perfect 27 points from nine games, having surrendered only two goals to date.

    League play in November should provide little resistance until a clash with Manchester City late in the month: the critical games are the final against Real Madrid and a quarterfinal match with Liverpool in the League Cup. Add to that Champion’s League games, where victories over Anderlecht and AS Nancy Lorraine will ensure qualification and November could end with Chelsea either will on the way to adding hardware to their trophy case and making a run at the league … or not.

    Leigh's time with the American youth team was bittersweet: the USA progressed to the quarterfinals, but she had to watch from the bench, having broken her arm in an earlier game. Her return to England was bittersweet at best: it's not easy being the hopes of an entire generation with an unsympathetic roomie to boot.

    Comets / Chile

    The end of October finds the Comets in fantastic position: seven points ahead of Georgia and already qualified for the playoffs with seven games to go in the season. Only a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Memphis Blues prevented a perfect month in the league, a record that made their bowing out of The Desert Cup at the hands of FC Dallas.

    November will both close out the league—hopefully with promotion to the North American Champions League at the end of it—and see the Comets face the Dynamo twice in an all-Houston final to The Silver Boot.

    Oh yeah. Julian's girl made a move on Levi, which is even more unsettling than his usual end of season angst.

    Racing Club


    The miracle continues … November finds Racing Club Haïtien in fourth place in the Yashin Conference. Fourth place. For a team barely expected to win a half dozen games, it was another decent month, a 3-1 loss to Harbour View was followed by four consecutive 1-0 victories, a remarkable achievement for a team known for being unable to hold onto late leads. The run was kicked off by back-to-back goals from long-suffering Rayane Leclerc.

    The team sits with a record of 11-5-3, a point ahead of Harbour View and two behind Herediano. In one sense, it doesn’t matter: David Barron could drop to eighth and the year would still be a massive success. On the other hand, a playoff game or two would certainly be a welcome end to a good year.

    Just when it looked like David was coming around and willing to do something about his dream problems, he took a step back.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus


    A hard month on several levels: Belarus deserved a draw from France but lost. And a draw with Albania in their final match from the European Championships ensured that Terry Langford’s new country would be left on the sidelines when the competition picks up again next spring. Still, Belarus came close and close was good enough for Langford to retain his job.

    Speaking of jobs, many have come available, but none have met the necessary criteria: American and urban and more enticing than, say, Boise. That has been … difficult.

    Saint George


    At long last, the Ethiopian season starts … next month. October did show a bit of a turn in form at least, with the offensive malaise that seemed to plague the off season lifting a bit. V progressed in the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup, but a 2-0 defeat from Egyptian powerhouse Zamalek makes it likely their run in the Red and Arabian Sea States Cup will be short lived.

    The second game against Zamalek looms in November, as well as the first half-dozen league games, with expectations high as usual in the capital for another championship year from the red and gold.

    Elsewhere


    Ah, the late fall … hope springs eternal for some and not so much for others.
    • In England, all the focus is on Manchester United, with a perfect 27 points from 9 games, a record largely the result of spectacular play from the Samba Twins, Rafael and Fábio. Liverpool has—despite their nine point deduction—climbed out of the relegation zone, sitting in 16th, while Fulham, Burnley, and Hull sit at the bottom of the table with a single victory each. Given that, it may seem odd that Fulham’s Steven Fletcher leads the league in goals scored with 9, trailed by Arsenal’s Robin van Persie and West Ham’s Zavon Hines.
    • Ligue 1 is full of suprises: Toulouse FC and FC Sochaux-Montbé sit atop the table, while Olympique Lyonnais is only two points above the relegation zone.
    • The Spanish table is unfamiliar, but not quite as topsy-turvy, with Getafe, Atletico Madrid, and Villarreal at the top—meaning Barcelona (6th) and real Madrid (11th) have work to do to regain their customary positions.
    • The New York Red Bulls, led by league-topping goalscorer Andriy Yarmolenko, continue their torrid performance in NASL, sitting ten points clear of América as the season winds down.
    • One level down in NACL, Seattle, the Houston Dynamo, and Chiapas look set for promotion, while SA Grand Rapids has already been marked for relegation.
    • Toronto FC beat Winnipeg 2-0 to claim their third consecutive Canadian Cup Championship.
    • With Veracruz meeting Monterrey, we are guaranteed to see a new champion in El Campeonato de México.
    • The Immigrant’s Cup of the Atlantic is down to four teams, with Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais, HSV, and Olympiakos meeting in the next month to crown a champion, meaning, for the first time, neither Rangers nor Liverpool will play in the final.
    • San Jose beat Chivas USA 2-1 behind a last minute goal from Kevin Porter to win the Pacific Invitational Asian/North American Cup, the first time the LA Galaxy have not won the massive competition.
    • Despite playing a man down for over a half, the NFSA Sunshine defeated Tampa Bay 3-2 to win the Sunshine Cup of Greater Florida behind a stoppage time goal from Mike Magee, his second of the game.
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    Default November, 2011 Update

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    November, 2011 Update

    Two teams finish out a promotion race, another starts a season, and Chelsea edge closer to the United juggernaut as 2011 moves towards its close.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    November began difficultly in West London with Chelsea suffering two shock losses, one to Anderlecht in Champion’s League play, the other to Blackburn in the league. While Chelsea responded with a brilliant three game run which included a stunning 6-0 win against AS Nancy Lorraine that secured promotion from the group stages of the Champion’s League and was capped by a 4-0 trouncing of Real Madrid to claim their second consecutive Imposter’s Cup, a 0-0 draw at Etihad against Manchester City was followed by a narrow 2-1 victory over Liverpool to progress to the semifinals fo the League Cup.

    Chelsea finish November fifth in the Premier League, which is better than it sounds, given that they have at least three games in hand over all of the teams above them. With only a single loss on the season, the Blues look strong, but the question is if anyone can catch Manchester United, who sit atop the table with twelve wins and only a single draw from their thirteen games.

    December includes a much-anticipated clash with United, but the four other league games—against Aston Villa, Everton, Hull, and Wolves—should provide little resistance. The Champion’s League game against Fiorentina will allow Danyil Oranje to give some playing time to younger and fringe players, while the third round match in the FA Cup against Port Vale has to be seen mostly as a training exercise and financial opportunity for the Coca-Cola League Two side.

    Off the field, Leigh's return seems imminent as her arm is healing nicely, something that is causing both anticipation and concern.

    Comets / Chile


    Ultimately, November of 2011 was the most successful month in club history for the Houston Comets as they secured automatic promotion to the North American Champions League for next season.

    But it didn’t look that way early on. Instead, consecutive draws against teams well beneath them in the table were followed by a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo in the first leg of the final of the Silver Boot and, more disappointingly, a loss in the league by the same score to lowly Lighthouse.

    Chaos of various sorts ensued, but the team responded well, handing out a 6-1 drubbing to the Red Devils before a 3-1 victory over the New York Liberty secured promotion for the red and black. The only sour notes to the end of the month were a 1-0 loss to the Dynamo which let the MLS team claim the Silver Boot and the final game of the season, a very disappointing and uneventful 0-0 draw with the New York Giants. Even the loss to the Dynamo had a silver lining, however: it was halftime of that game that marked a turning point in McKinnon's mindset.

    Still, promotion is promotion, and Levi McKinnon’s mental state should be somewhat restored as he turns his attention to the various playoffs in North America, a brief offseason and preparations for next year. Before the game against the Liberty, he came clean with Julian about his history of treatment for mental illness, which seemed to help clear the air. However, the more we learn about Bones Quinn, the more that seems doubtful.

    Racing Club


    David Barron’s side entered the final game of the season with a chance at entering the NADII playoffs for the first time in their history. It was, however, not to be as a 3-0 defeat to X. Tijuana meant the Old Lions would finish the season in fifth place, missing the playoffs through Harbour View’s much greater scoring differential, with both teams on 42 points for the season.

    Still, it was easily Racing Club’s best season, and the back-to-back 6-0 and 4-0 victories over Real España and Saprissa in November were the highlights of a team that is maturing before their coach’s eyes. The coach matured, too, even diving into a brief discussion of statistical analysis at one point.

    The question is if their performance this season has been enough to make Port-Au-Prince a more desirable destination for players: if so, the club’s pockets are deep enough to allow Barron to bring in the talent to challenge for promotion next year.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus

    Terry Langford’s next mach as the leader of Belarus’ national team is in June of 2012, against Bulgaria.

    If he doesn’t have a club job by then, he may, in fact, go insane. In the meantime, there was a brief--and pleasant--vacation in New York City.

    Saint George


    Saint George’s undefeated start to league play in November was expected—disappointing even, as scoreless draws against Sebeta City and Metehara Sugar were far better results for the opponents than the red and gold. Indeed, the two-time defending champions find themselves in second place, behind a surprisingly strong Muger Cement team that leads the Ethiopian Premiere League by a single point.

    But all will be forgiven: a stunning 2-0 win at home against Zamalek took V to penalties against the Egyptian giant in their second round match in the Red and Arabian Sea States Cup. And, when Adugna Deyas stopped the shot from Zé Kalanga, the team from Ethiopia had produced what must be the largest upset in the history of the East African nation. Their next opponent, Iranian side Zob-Ahan Esfahan, would usually be a heavy favorite but Tadesse Makonnen has nearly a month to prepare for that quarterfinal match-up. The other quarterfinal looming in December—against fellow Ethiopian side Meta Abo in the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup—should prove a much easier affair.

    Other than that, six league games loom before 2012 kicks off with the heavily congested early-year schedule of games for Ethiopian clubs.

    Elsewhere


    • Despite Steven Fletcher leading the league with 10 goals, Fulham find themselves battling with Hull and Bolton at the very bottom of the Premier League. At this early stage, Crystal Palace, West Brom, and Nottingham Forest are atop the Coca-Cola Championship, looking to replace those three sides in England’s top flight.
    • The Georgia Peaches joined the Comets in obtaining automatic promotion, and were led by one of the dominant seasons in the short history of the North American pyramid: veteran American striker Nicola Brighenti scored 24 goals on the season, easily outdistancing New England’s teenage prospect Willie Roberts, who was on loan at Lighthouse and scored 17 for the Maine based team.
    • The New York Red Bulls capped the best season by an American team by finishing atop the NASL league table by 8 points over América. Those two were trailed by five teams, each with 60 points: Cruz Azul, Pumas UNAM, DC United, Atlante, and Monarcas Morelia. Cruz Azul and Pumas proceeded to the playoffs and while América defeated Cruz Azul 1-0 to reach the championship game, the other semifinal proved quite an upset: the Red Bulls were defeated 2-1 by Pumas UNAM, meaning that the regular season champion will not move on in the playoffs.
    • FC Dallas will meet the Philadelphia Union in the championship game in the North American Champions League. This is, again, an upset as the two teams finished 6th and 8th in the league during the regular season. While the Houston Dynamo, Chiapas, and the Seattle Sounders all earned automatic promotion, Nexaca and Colorado will be sorely disappointed to spend next year in NACL once again.
    • Led by goals from Gabri, Ben Wright, and Craig Mackail-Smith, Peterborough defeated Cambridge 5-2 on aggregate to win The Challenge of the Indies.
    • The LA Galaxy won the Club Championship of Greater California for the first time—something of a surprise given the Los Angeles team’s general dominance over the years—by defeating San Jose in a penalty shootout.
    • Monterrey demolished Veracruz 5-2, securing the coveted El Campeonato de México for the first time.
    • Aaron Lennon and Roman Pavlyuchenko scored to lift Tottenham over DC United in the final of the King George Club Championship.
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    Default December, 2011

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    December, 2011 Update

    Things calm down in North America, Chelsea keeps rolling, and Saint George returns to their winning ways.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    It’s a good month for the Blues: only a 1-0 loss to Everton kept it from being perfect, and the victories included an easy win in the FIFA Club World Championship as well as—perhaps more importantly—a pretty undeserved 3-1 victory over Manchester United. That win is important because United has taken sixteen victories from their nineteen league games. Chelsea sits fourth in the table, but with between four and six games in hand against each of the teams above them.

    January sees two legs in the League Cup against Hull and a shockingly easy draw in the FA Cup’s fifth round against Lincoln. The month will bring some challenges as well: a rematch with United and the annual visit to Anfield at the end of the month.

    Leigh is playing more, and the pressure for her to make a start in the league is growing. For now, however, she is only seeing time in things like the FA Cup matchup against Port Vale. She also finding that some of the people that seemed friendly--including a certain English captain--may not actually have her best interests at heart.

    Comets / Chile


    And so, the offseason. Levi spent December watching the NASL Championship, closing up shop, taking in the final youth game of the season, and trying to avoid thinking about Bones.

    Racing Club


    December opened with one of our favorite players, teenage goalkeeper Eliseo Agüeros suffering a gruesome injury. That was the last action on the field: off the field, the line between dream and reality blurs even further, making David reach out for help at last, as he tries to figure out what to do.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus

    Nothing to report here. Just more weeks that march by without a job.

    Saint George


    It was a great December for the red and gold: an unbeaten streak in the league saw them move to the top of the table, and a well-expected win against Meta Abo in the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup saw them reach the final four in that competition. A 3-1 loss to Zob-Ahan signals the likely end of their run in the Red & Arabian Sea States Cup, but things look like they are going well in Addis Ababa.

    Elsewhere in England

    Manchester United leads the Premier League, followed by Manchester City, Everton, and Chelsea, who are tied with the surprises of the young season, Blackburn and Aston villa. Traditional powers Tottenham, Liverpool, and Arsenal hold down places eleven through thirteen in the table. Fulham’s Steven Fletcher is the leading scorer with fourteen, trailed by Robin van Persie with twelve and Gabby Agbonlahor with nine.

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    Default January, 2012 Review

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    January, 2012 Update

    The end of 2011 brought with it a chance to review the seasons at the four levels of the North American pyramid: NADII, NADI, NACL, and NASL.

    It also brought various end of year awards. There are summaries for Awards for North America, each continent, and, finally, for the World Awards.

    In terms of play on the field, Saint George continue what is shaping into an historical season in Ethiopian soccer and Chelsea continues to pursue the runaway beast that is Manchester United.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    Still holding a half-dozen games in hand against the teams above them, February finds Danyil Oranje’s bunch in third place the Premier League, one point behind Manchester City and fifteen behind United. Chelsea won five games in the league in the month with a combined score of 15-2. The decisive victories against Wigan and Bolton were expected, as was the narrower margin against Birmingham.

    The surprises, if there were any, were a 1-0 victory over United, three points that were largely undeserved from the performance on the field, and a solid 3-1 win at Anfield at the end of the month, that also included learning that Leigh Musicek was selected to the USA Under-23 team for Olympic Qualifying games in February, something that further delays her probably league debut.

    Between those, a lackluster scoreless draw in the first round of the League Cup Semifinal against Hull was followed with a 2-0 win at home, and the match against Lincoln in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup went as anticipated, including another solid performance by Leigh in a cup competition.

    February has some stiff challenges for the Blues: an FA Cup Fifth Round clash with Manchester United, the first leg of the round of sixteen in the Champions League with Bayern Munich, and the League Cup final against Everton are all sprinkled among five league matchups, including games against Fulham and Tottenham.

    Comets / Chile


    Levi McKinnon is still struggling with his recent dalliance, but there is little to report as January is the peak of the offseason in North America and his time is largely spent planning an incredibly grueling preseason that will see two separate Comets squads playing nearly every day as they try to sort out the squad for their new league.

    Racing Club


    Nothing to report on the field: Racing Club has yet to reconvene after the break and, as usual, the players have scattered to the four winds.

    But, David's world continues to get weirder, as he learns a bit more about the unseen, and struggles with making sense of it all.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus

    Well, there’s a job application. But no resolution for Terry or Leti. January was eventful, however: the job at Terry’s first home, Ajax Cape Town, came open and the decision not to apply set into motion a string of events that ended with Terry submitting an application for the open job at the Athletic Club of Saint Louis.

    However, the American club is in the midst of a board takeover, so it may be some time before Langford learns the status of his position.

    Saint George


    At the end of January, Saint George had extended their comfortable lead atop the Ethiopian Premiere League: V are still unbeaten in the league, and have only allowed two goals in their eighteen matches. A 1-1 draw with lowly Wonji Sugar did mar the monthly results, but it’s hard to be particularly upset with the overall performance in the league.

    A strong start in the Addis Cup was interrupted by a surprising 2-1 loss to Awassa in the All African Challenge, a result that severely damages V’s chances of progressing out of group play in that competition.

    February will bring a difficult task, as V hosts Zob-Ahan in their RASS Cup semifinal down two goals after a disappointing first leg. The brutal schedule kicks in as well, with no fewer than thirteen games on the schedule, including a winnable match with Andorinha Sport Club from Säo Tomé and Principe in the African Champions League.

    Elsewhere

    Looking at the individual performances around Europe, Fulham’s Steven Fletcher leads the Premier League scoring table with 17 strikes, three ahead of Aston Villa’s Gabby Agbonlahor. Djamel Baker of AS Nancy Lorraine is tied with Bordeaux’s Cheick Diabaté for the Ligue One lead with 11 goals, while Leverkusen’s Swiss striker, Eren Derdiyok leads the Bundesliga with 13. In Italy, Juventus’ Amauri is the leading scorer with 13, while in Spain the charts are topped by Atlético Madrid’s ageless wonder, Diego Forlán, with 18 goals in 21 league games.

    The league leaders are familiar for the most part, with Barcelona, Girondins Bordeaux, Bayern Munich all leading the top leagues, with Palermo and Roma tied at the head of Serie A.

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    Default February, 2012 Review

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    February, 2012 Update

    Chelsea show some cracks in their armor while they continue to win, odd as that may sound while Saint George march on, including the most successful run in a major championship for the Ethiopian club.

    There are some twists and turns elsewhere: a possible move for Leigh, a decision for Terry and Leti, and more is revealed in Haiti. But little is concrete.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    February of 2012 could not exactly be called a tailspin, but there are some causes for concern for our team in London.

    In the league, Chelsea took care of business with victories over Ipswich, Fulham, and Tottenham, but a 1-0 loss to Stoke was a surprising result, even if the game was at Britannia. With Manchester United not showing any signs of slowing down, Chelsea sit third in the league, behind City and safely ahead of Everton, Stoke, and Villa. They have seven games in hand over United, but a perfect twenty-one points from those games would only result in them being tied with the Red Devils.

    In terms of the major competitions, February saw the Blues tie United 3-3 in a thrilling game in the first leg of their FA Cup matchup: having beaten United twice this season when they were outplayed, the task of returning to Old Trafford needing a victory will weigh heavily on Coach Oranje’s shoulders.

    A similar task exists in the Champions League against FC Bayern, where a late goal from Edin Dzeko gave Chelsea a vital away goal, but they still need to win in the second leg. The game was played on Valentine's Day, which added a melancholy touch as well.

    Finally, they were unable to defend their League Cup victory, losing 1-0 in extra time to Everton, who lifted the trophy for the first time in their history.

    March will resolve many of these questions, with matches against United and Bayern opening the month and a steady stream of league matches continuing throughout, topped by Manchester City's visit to Stamford Bridge at the end of the month.

    For all that, February of 2012 may be best remembered for a potential turning point in the career of young Leigh Musicek. While on duty for the USA Under 23's (who were trying to qualify for the London Olympics), Leigh both learned a little about the impact she's had and caught the eye of Comets' coach Levi Makonnen.

    Comets / Chile


    Levi McKinnon made a trip to scout players on the USA Under 23 squad and found himself interested in a certain young Chelsea defender who hails from the same town as the Comets. That interest may have cost him a flirtatious affair, which, given his recent history, may be a good thing.

    Racing Club


    No news on the field.

    Off of it, the walls between the worlds continue to melt away, and at least a few questions are answered about his dreams and the "other" David Barron.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus

    The situation at AC Saint Louis remains unresolved, and the money is beginning to run out. Leti and Terry have set a deadline of May 1, although it's not clear what their options are after that point.

    Saint George


    February opened with the biggest game of the month.

    After losing to Zob-Ahan 3-1 in the first leg of their quarterfinal match in the Red & Arabian Sea States, almost everyone had written off Saint George’s chances to maintain their Cinderella run.

    With the second leg at home, the red and gold came out attacking, and even took the early led behind goals from Andrew Sinkala and Lencho Skibba. Zob-Ahan answered, and even when Skibba’s second put them up 3-1, once Behailu Assefa was sent off with a second yellow card just after halftime, it seemed the best V could hope for was penalties. And then, with eight minutes left, Bereket Addisu scored what is already being called the goal, playing a series of passes with George Mapfumo that allowed him to drive into the box and launch a shot dipping into the far corner that sent the crowd into a rapturous celebration that lasted hours after the final whistle blew.

    The good play has extended to other competitions as well, with Saint George easily qualifying in the Addis City Cup and then demolishing Defence SC 5-0 in their quarterfinal matchup. Progression from Group B in the All-Africa Challenge remains a possibility, and after a 3-1 victory in the first leg against Andorinha Sport Club in the African Champions League, it looks like more matches will be obtained in that competition as well.

    And then there is the league. After limping through much of last season, V are running away with the Ethiopian Premiere League this year, extending a twenty point lead over Muger Cement and Bahir Dar who continue to fight over second place. Saint George has yet to taste defeat in the league, and have, through twenty-one games, surrendered only two goals.

    March brings the final group games in the All-Africa Challenge, where good results against FAR Rabat and ES Tunis could see them through to the knockout stages, as well as the semifinal of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup against Casale and the semifinal in the RASS Cup against Saudi side Al-Shabab. Can the giant-killers continue their form in the Middle East’s most prestigious competition?

    Elsewhere
    • With Everton, Stoke, and Aston Villa fighting for the coveted fourth spot in England’s Premier League, the question is where are the perennial powers of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham? Firmly mid-table is the answer, with Spurs in 8th, the Reds in 10th, and the Gunners 13th. If it weren’t for the 10 point deduction suffered in August, Liverpool would be in the fight for the final spot in the Champions League, but a late season charge could still see them play in Europe next year, something that must be seen as close to a requirement if their financial situation is to improve.
    • At the other end of the table, Hull, Bolton, Wigan, and Ipswich are fighting to avoid relegation.
    • Fulham’s Steven Fletcher continues to lead the league in goalscoring, although his club remain just above the relegation contenders.
    • Nottingham Forest look sure bets for promotion, extending their lead over QPR to five points in the Coca-Cola Championship, with West Brom, Bristol City, and Portsmouth all in the chase as well.
    • In France, Toulouse leads Ligue 1, while Palermo sits atop Italy’s Serie A.
    • All is as expected in Spain: Barcelona and Real Madrid are tied with identical records at the top of the Liga BBVA, with Atletico Madrid and Villarreal trailing.

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    Default March, 2012 Review

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    March, 2012 Update

    March is always a strange month: Europe turns down the homestretch which means Chelsea is either in celebration or remorse and North America is not quite started. Add to that the oddness in Haiti and a campaign in Ethiopia that is only interesting for the last moments of the remaining open competitions, and there is something unsettled in the air.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    Simply not a very good month. It began with a loss to United, knocking Chelsea out of the FA cup and continued with a lifeless 1-1 draw with FC Bayern that eliminated the Blues from the Champion’s League. Even play in the league was affected, with a shocking loss to Bolton followed by an as-surprising draw to a hapless Wolves. There were some victories, most notably a 3-1 dismantling of Manchester City that brought Chelsea into second place; however the dropped points have made their chances of catching a rampant Manchester United atop the table look very slim indeed.

    There is uncertainty rampant elsewhere as well: the Houston Comets have made initial inquiries about a loan offer for the now seventeen-year old Leigh Musicek, who is considering it, especially given her struggles to understand why she hasn't received any playing time in league games.

    About the only good news is that, with their participation in other competitions over for the season, Chelsea can concentrate fully on the remaining eight league games.

    Comets / Chile


    The training continues. The club received something of a makeover in March, with a few contracts being signed after dozens of players passed through on trial. The real noise, however, was made on the loan front where The Comets were once again able to convince some impressive talent to join them for the season, including the return of striker Felix Garcia from the Houston Dynamo, who also sent defender Steven Reyes and striker Adán Ramírez. Philadelphia’s Callum Ramos and Olympique Lyonnais’ Mongo Beti will provide additional attacking strength as well.

    April is more of the same: Levi McKinnon and Julian Johnson have split the expanded roster between them, and friendlies are scheduled almost every day, including a brief tour of Europe.

    Predictably, given the split-squad, the results have been spotty or worse. More interesting than what has happened on the field perhaps are the ongoing insights into Levi's learning about what it might take to bring a female player to Houston, a topic tied tightly to his guilt over the affair with Bones.

    Racing Club


    The preseason has begun, but at the low end of the football spectrum, there’s never enough: after three firendlies that were little more than training exercises, April brings games that matter as the Islands Cup opens play.

    There are some reasons for optimism: a teenage striker, and a dream that at least offers the possibility of movement.

    Rodengo Saiano No More/Belarus

    The board takeover is still in progress, leaving Terry still without a job. There are rumors that resolution is forthcoming, and there is some insight into new characters, if those rumors hold true.

    Saint George


    Saint George finish March undefeated in the Ethiopian Premiere League, having allowed only 2 goals all season, and with a twenty-one point edge over second place Muger Cement. Other competitions were not as successful, as March saw them not qualify out of group play in the All-African Challenge and ES Tunis put an end to their run in the African Champions League. More surprisingly was their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Casale, preventing V from reaching the final of the Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup.

    April features a two semifinals: against Banks SC in the Addis Cup, which Saint George is expected to win and against Al-Shabab in the Red & Arabian Sea States Cup, which they are not.

    Elsewhere
    • England is all about Manchester United, who have a fifteen point lead over Chelsea. Hull and Ipswich look certain for relegation, with Wigan struggling to catch Bolton and avoid that third slot.
    • The Coca-Cola Championship is still up for grabs, but it looks like Nottingham Forest, West Brom, and QPR will be moving up next season.
    • Toulouse FC, Barcelona (by one point over Real Madrid), FC Bayern, Palermo, and Ajax lead the other major European leagues.

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  41. #41
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    Default

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    April, 2012 Update

    The focus is on Chelsea, where a season winds down and on Ethiopia where one comes close to its end as well. In North America, the preseason spins up and, in middle America, we have a new start.

    Chelsea / Cameroon

    On the field, April was far less busy than Chelsea had hoped: the Cup failures of last month meant the month brought only six league games and while the record—three wins and three ties—was perfectly respectable, it also represented lost opportunity as Manchester United suffered a tie and two losses in the month. A better showing against Everton, Newcastle or West Ham would have closed the gap with the top team considerably.

    As it is, Chelsea is destined to finish second: even if they win their last two games against Arsenal and Hull and Villa beat United, leaving the two teams tied at 90 points, the fifteen point gap in goal differential is realistically insurmountable.

    The frustration is showing as well: the performance against Everton, for example, where John Terry gave up two penalties led to a locker room outburst that shocked a few observers. Similarly, the two points dropped against Newcastle were, well, a bit of a bummer. About the only good news is a pending vacation.

    Comets / Chile


    Will the preseason never end? Luckily for Comets fans, May brings the start of games that matter: The Gulf Coast Club Championship, the Desert Cup, the Immigrant’s Cup and, finally, the team’s first games in the North American Champions League. Any trophies this year would be a bonus for the club, but a good showing in all of the competitions is expected.

    We’ll have a season preview up in early May as well.

    Racing Club


    Not bad.

    Competitive soccer started again in Port-au-Price as play began in the Islands Cup. The opening draw with Villa Clara was disappointing due to the manner in which it happened: a goal in the last five minutes allowed the Cuban side to escape with a share of the points. But a narrow win against Notre Dame and an utter trouncing of Club Franciscain offset a narrow defeat to San Juan Jabloteh, leaving the Old Lions with a good shot at progressing out of the group stages.

    Personally, David Barron's life in Haiti seems, for perhaps the first time, potentially troubled. For the first time if you ignore all that supernatural stuff.

    Athletic Club Saint Louis

    Yes, you read that correctly. The long international nightmare is over and Terry Langford is, at last, employed again. So, it's back to it, with Alex (who we met last month) as his assistant and, predictably, the same stubborn commitment to his style of play.

    Excited to add a new chapter to 5m1w, and curious as to whether the heartland of America will, at last, provide a place where Terry (and Leti) can settle into some form of success.

    Saint George


    The loss to Al-Ain in the Red & Arabian Sea States Cup final was a poor way to end April, but the sting should fade quickly: Saint George weren’t expected to do much in the competition from the get-go, so just making the finals was already one of the finest performances in club history.

    Otherwise, it is a stellar year in Addis Ababa: the league is essentially won, and a victory over Fincha’a Sugar in the Addis Cup will add another trophy to the cabinet.

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    Default May, 2012 Monthly Review

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    May, 2012 Update

    A busy month: seasons end, seasons begin, transfer windows open, and a year for the ages in Ethiopia rolls towards completion.

    Chelsea

    The season ended with consecutive 1-0 victories over Arsenal and Hull: it made no difference; Chelsea were firmly entrenched in second place behind the Manchester United juggernaut. With those wins, the season ends and shortly thereafter, Danyil takes a long-awaited holiday.

    The surprise news, though, was from young Leigh Musicek who, after much deliberation and a difficult choice, ultimately decided not to return home for a year on loan, reaching an agreement that promised her time in various cups through the fall, with a Premier League debut early in 2013.

    May ended with Chelsea’s opening two games in group play of the King George Cup, a lifeless scoreless draw with Swansea followed—with Danyil’s return—by a much more to form 3-0 win over Cardiff.

    June has a similar schedule as games in the Imposter’s Cup and the Immigrants Cup both loom.

    It looks to be a summer of great turnover for the London club as well, with Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba, Daniele De Rossi, Yury Zhirkov, Simon Vukcevic, and Eden Dzeko all expected to move on.

    Comets


    There is a season preview available.

    Finally, games that matter.

    The rate they come at may justify the insanity of Houston’s preseason: after a single final friendly, May saw twelve matches highlighted by a 2-1 victory over Houston in the semifinal of the Silver Boot and, in a thrilling welcome to NACL play, their second league game was a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

    The games have gone well. Not superbly, but well: the Comets have qualified out of group play in the Gulf Coast Club Championship and after only three games, sit firmly mid-table in NACL play. They were knocked out of the Immigrants Cup, but having drawn Mexican giant América in the First Qualifying Round, that was to be expected.

    June brings more of the same: fourteen games: six in the league, six in the Desert Cup, and two in the Imposter’s Cup.

    Off the field, the only news of note was the attempt to bring Leigh Musicek to Houston, followed by her ultimately refusing the transfer.

    Racing Club


    Hope sprang eternal for Racing Club, dreams even of progressing out of the group stage of the islands Cup. It was not to be, and the 2012 Old Lions look as riddled with difficulties as previous versions in closing out the ends of games. Late scores cost them games against Western Connection, San Jan Jabloteh, and Villa Clara, contests where the team could easily have emerged with a point, if not all three.

    June starts league play, which is of course where Racing Club needs to be focused, especially since their opening games in the Imposter’s Cup include games with the Houston Dynamo and the Columbus Crew, opponents who should easily trounce the Haitian side even on their best days.

    Off the field, David learns how to move forward, which he does with much pain.

    Athletic Club Saint Louis

    A season preview (with pictures, no less) is available.

    Not the start Terry desired.

    With losses to several mostly amateur sides in their friendlies (something that worried newly hired assistant Alex Brown more than Terry), it’s no wonder opening play in NADI: Hamm saw the Red River lose to both Baltimore and Indianapolis. The situation is even worse: the players aren’t suited to how Langford wants to play, there is no money to bring in new talent, and there is precious little indication of hope.

    Saint George


    May was a success, but it leaves important business unfinished.

    A victory over Fincha'a Sugar in the Addis Cup gave Saint George a significant trophy, and they successfully closed out what will surely go down in history as among the most dominant seasons in Ethiopian soccer: 26 wins and only 2 goals allowed over an undefeated season.

    But, the league playoffs still loom, and we won't know until next month if the season ends on an appropriately high note.

    The Internationals

    Yep, a new entry in the world of 5m1w. The careers in international management have been split off into a new thread, which will also be used to keep track of major international competitions. In general, the world is ramping up preparations for Brazil 2014, although the small matter of the Olympics is significantly closer.

    So far, we have an introduction and a set of matches in African qualifying.

    Elsewhere
    • In a heartbreaking ending, Liverpool won the FA Cup over Everton on an own goal from Chris Gunter in extra time.

    • Behind goals from Alfie Potter and Jack Randall, Wrexham defeated Forest Green 2-0 in the FA Trophy Final.
    • May saw quite a few transfers in North America, led by Michael Beresford’s $9.25M switch from Philadelphia to DC United. The Houston Dynamo traded one Beckerman for another, sending Kyle Beckerman to Seattle and obtaining youngster Jack Beckerman from the Santa Fé Red Devils. The Dynamo also made a nifty profit on young, left-sided wingers, sending Stevie Owens to New England for $3.8M while adding a replacement from the crosstown Houston Comets in Eric Brown for just under $500K. Young English midfielder Daniel Philliskirk joined the LA Galaxy from Celtic for $6M.
    • Having scored the winner in the Champions League final, David Villa’s fifteen goals not only netted him the competition’s Golden Boot, but was easily the highest total in the history of the competition. The performance also earned the Spanish veteran the Best Player award.
    • Villa was joined on the Champions League Dream Team by Barcelona teammates Naldo, Dmytro Chygrynskyi. Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez, Cesc Fàbregas, and Xavi, as well as Robert Acquafresca of Genoa, Anderlecht’s Olivier Deschacht, Bayern’s José Boswinga, and Liverpool’s Pepe Reina.
    • A goal in with twelve minutes remaining in the EURO Cup final from Nicklas Bendtner seemed to give Arsenal the win over CSKA Moscow, but teenage starlet Sergey Rakhmatullin equalized with five minutes to play, setting the stage for extra time, when Tomas Rosicky was able to score, giving the Gunners the win.

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    Last edited by Makonnen; 05-08-2012 at 23:49.

  43. #43
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    Default June, 2012: Monthly Review

    As always, more detail at http://mknn.wordpress.com/

    June, 2012 Update

    Ah, midsummer! Europe takes a breather rumors about player movement start to fly, North America begins to heat up, and Ethiopia wraps it all up in a red, green, and gold bow.

    And, lots and lots of summaries: Holland, Germany, South Africa, Italy, European and rest of world goalscorers.

    Chelsea

    A bit of calm before the storm, really: Danyil Oranje’s squad at Chelsea will change dramatically in July and August, with many of the keys to their recent success moving on, rumored to be among them Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi, Didier Drogba, and Simon Vukcevic.

    Other moments: Halo makes a poor choice, Leigh visits her old stomping grounds, and later finds an ally.

    But, June still had some games: qualifying out of the group stages of the King George Cup was easy, even with a team largely made of reserves and fill-ins (a situation compounded by the ongoing international tournaments that further depleted the squad). The summer brings with it rumors and managerial changes as well, and when Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal all fire their head coach, even Danyil has to wonder what would come after Chelsea.

    July is more of the same: qualifying games in the Imposter’s Cup and a second round match in the Immigrants Cup, and eyes focused on August, the end of the transfer window, and the new season.

    Comets


    The season is progressing without major incident so far in Houston: no great successes, but no surprising failures, either. With eleven points from nine games, the Comets sit firmly mid-table in NACL, which given the jump in the quality of opposition has to be considered a success. Add to that qualification from the group stage of the Desert Cup, and a successful start to their campaign in the Imposter’s Cup, and Levi McKinnon has every reason to be pleased with the start of the season—especially given the loss of his starting strike force to duty with the Burkinabe national team for much of the month.

    Bones is back and Leigh's not coming.

    July just brings more of everything: five league games, and seven in the ongoing coup competitions, a schedule destined to test the depth of the squad.

    Racing Club


    A season preview for your enjoyment.

    Two convincing victories in the league offset the sting of Racing Club Haïtien’s poor performance in the Islands Cup, where David Barron’s charges limped meekly out of the competition in the group stage. The other ongoing cup competition—the Imposter’s Cup—is a hopeless situation, with both the Houston Dynamo and the Columbus Crew being drawn into the same group as the Old Lions. Indeed, the 1-0 loss at home to the Dynamo may have been Racing Club’s best moment of the month, although a 4-0 trouncing of your crosstown rivals (in this case, Violette) is always enjoyable.

    Even with that, weird **** is still happening.

    July should prove interesting: Barron is expected to focus on the three league matches at the expense of the rest of Imposter’s Cup group play, which could lead to some lopsided scores in that competition.

    Athletic Club Saint Louis

    One point from five matches sums it up: Terry Langford’s side look disorganized, unimaginative, and largely unable to find the net and while the team has been competitive in most of the matches, Terry knows all too well that competitive leads to a short-term tenure at a club.

    We learn a little more about Alex.

    There is some hope: July will bring some transfers that will help reduce payroll and, perhaps most surprisingly, the arrival of someone who may be able to fill Terry’s beloved trequartista role with the highly unfortunate name of Frodo Baggins.

    Saint George


    June brought domestic triumph to the red and gold, as an easy victory over Muger Cement was followed by a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over Bahir Dar Kenema that resulted in Saint George lifting the trophy for the Ethiopian Premiere League and putting a fitting cap on an undefeated season.

    The only disappointment was a narrow 1-0 loss to FC NOLA in The Immigrant’s Cup, largely attributable to international matches forcing V to play a greatly reduced side. Still, it was a good season for Tadesse Makonnen, and now the slow work of scouting and building for next year can begin over the next few months.

    The Internationals

    The major news of June was EURO 2012, where the semifinals were completed. Portugal defeated Italy 1-0 in extra time and Russia rode two goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko to defeat surprising Turkey in the other , setting up a final confrontation between Portugal and Russia in the final.

    The surprise of the tournament was probably the poor showing from Spain, who failed to qualify from the group stage. Two players who are done with their tournament—Slovakia’s Filip Holosko and England’s Wayne Rooney—lead the scoring tables with three apiece.

    Before the major European tournament got underway, we saw a shocker for Ethiopia.

    Elsewhere
    • For the third time in four years, Plaza Amador bested Tauro FC in El Clásico de la Ciudad de Panamá. Likewise, Atlas defeated Estudiantes Tecos in the Guadalajara City Cup for the third time in the past four contests.
    • Tigres UANL did each of those clubs one better, defeating Monterrey for the fourth consecutive year in the Monterrey City Cup.
    • Comunicaciones and CSD Municipal continued their pattern of alternating victories in El Orgullo de Guatemala, with Comunicaciones lifting the cup this year.
    • After finishing second to Marathón for two consecutive years, Olimpia hoisted El Gran SuperClasico Nacional de Honduras for the first time.
    • June saw the beginning of the big transfer news, with Domenico Criscito moving from Ajax to Zenit and Jozy Altidore from AZ to Feyenoord in transactions over $20M each. Other notable transfers included OM obtaining both Bojan Jokic (from AS Saint-Etienne for $9.5M) and Mario Mandzukic (from Shakhtar for just under $6M). FC Sochaux-Montbé used the proceeds from selling Yassin Mikari to LOSC Lille Métropole to bring in two players from America, Manuel Pamic from the LA Galaxy and young Jamaican Joshamee Gibbs from the Chicago Fire.

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