We survived the international break, hurrah! MLS playoffs begin this weekend, hurrah!
And FC Dallas travels to Portland. Sigh.
The MLS season ended up being decided by points per game in those weird regional schedules to mostly get around the notion of COVID-19 affecting a season.
On the international level, Northern Ireland fell victim to what may be the first promotion and relegation directly due to the virus.
Norway was due to play Romania in the second tier of the UEFA Nations League on Sunday, but positive tests in the Norway team led to the game being scrapped. UEFA decided on Wednesday that the heavily favored Norwegians would forfeit the game 3-0. This meant that Norway would need to beat leaders Austria in the final game – they drew 1-1.
But the canceled game affected Northern Ireland more so in that they were left six points adrift of Romania due to the technicality with only three to play for.
Moving over to one of Norn Iron’s new Nations League C buddies and the Faroe Islands who seem to have discovered the nation’s best player accidentally.
Hilmar Leon Jakobsen was a budding youth player who was forced to quit the game a few years ago through injury. His doctors suggested handball as an alternative sport, where he won league titles in the Faroes, as well as representing the national team.
Almost by accident, Jakobsen was rediscovered by the small nation’s largest club, winning another league title and representing his national team in a second sport just a year later. BBC Sport has the full story.
Our good buddy Jon Arnold gave us another peach in his Getting CONCACAFed newsletter as Ravel Morrison added to his long and bizarre career.
The youngster once described as the best player Sir Alex Ferguson had ever seen at his age, Morrison’s talent and frame of mind have never been on the same page as a ten year career has seen 11 clubs in five different countries (six if you count Cardiff).
Jamaica had been trying to convince the former England U-21 to make a switch and represent the Reggae Boyz for the past two years before the Manchester United product accepted. That in itself nearly became unstuck as Morrison’s agent complained that his client was expected to fly to Saudi Arabia for a pair of friendlies with the common folk. *Gasp.*
He (15) almost cracks a smile in this photo after splitting the friendlies. If you’ve ever played What The Meme, Tyreek Magee (5) might end up on a card one day with how ‘relaxed’ he looks.
A Diamond of a Goal
The J League regularly turns out some of the world’s best kits, but it’s a funny own goal that’s got my attention.
Two titans of the automotive industry (Go Toyota-owned Nagoya Grampus!) clashed as Nissan’s Yokohama F. Marinos hosting Mitsubishi’s Urawa Red Diamonds.
With Marinos comfortably 3-0 up, goalkeeper Powell Obinna Obi charged out of goal to clear a loose ball, smashing it off his own defender and into the net to give the Reds some hope…and then it finished 6-2.
The Magic of the Cup
The FA Cup First Round proper – it’s proper because of the six qualifying rounds that precede it – took place just before the international break.
I like to encourage people to watch the lower teams in the competition to experience what the cup is in those first three rounds and what the US Open Cup should aim to be.
Torquay United v Crawley Town was exactly the type of insane game that you want to see.
Torquay led 2-1 heading into injury time. Goals in the 14th, 18th, and 21st minutes of stoppage time left the score at 3-3 in the 22nd and final minute of the added time. Asa Hall scored two penalties to give Torquay a 5-3 lead with 12 minutes left. Crawley won 6-5. How?
A Week in the Life of Neymar
It’s been a busy week for the Brazilian. Neymar left his eight million followers on TikTok as signed an exclusive deal with rival social media look-at-me app Triller.
Speaking of social media channels, our tattooed friend got banned from Twitch for a week.
Initially, it was thought that was because he revealed the phone number of Everton’s Richarlison – who he frequently broadcasts with – leading to the striker receiving 10,000 messages on WhatsApp. The latest story is that this clip from a broadcast Neymar did with Richarlison was the real reason.
The scared winger screamed ‘F’ing son of a B’ in Portuguese, which doesn’t go well with Twitch’s notoriously strict line on cussing. Poor soul.
Then the CBF made the PSG attacker fly an 11,000-mile round trip just to confirm with a Brazilian team doctor that he did indeed have a groin injury which had already forced him to miss two Ligue 1 and a Champions League game.
The Ant Hill Mob
For the record, I’m old enough to remember reruns in the early 90s of Wacky Races for that title, not the original run in the late 60s!
Staying with the Samba theme, a Brazilian third tier game had to be stopped for an insect related emergency.
With a tight goalless affair between relegation battlers, Ferroviaro and Jacuipense, the visiting goalkeeper Jordan fell on an ant hill requiring a five minute break in play to get wiped down and have the pests removed from his jersey before he could play out the rest of the 0-0 tie.
It’s a cup week with Champions League, Europa League, the FA Cup second round, Coppa Italia, and I guess we can count the MLS Cup Playoffs!
Keep in mind that FC Dallas will not be streaming or on local TV, it’s a rare nationally televised game for the Hoops in Portland on Sunday.
Watch out for our old friend Anton Nedyalkov playing for Ludogorets against Spurs in the Europa League. As well as some Chris Richards/ Weston McKennie watching. Reggie Cannon will also play for Boavista on Sunday but as always that will only be viewable in a less than legal way.
Sunday, November 22:
6:00am – Fulham v Everton (Premier League) – Peacock
8:00am – Inter Milan v Torino (Serie A) – ESPN+
10:30am – Leeds Utd v Arsenal (Premier League) – NBCSN
1:45pm – Napoli v AC Milan (Serie A) – ESPN+
3:00pm – Sporting KC v SK Earthquakes (MLS) – FS1
6:30pm – Minnesota Utd v Colorado Rapids (MLS) – ESPN
9:00pm – Portland Timbers v FC Dallas (MLS) – ESPN
Monday, November 23:
11:30am – Burnley v Crystal Palace (Premier League) – NBCSN
1:30pm – VFL Osnabruck v Nurnberg (2. Bundesliga) – ESPN+
2:00pm – Athletic Bilbao v Real Betis (La Liga) – beIN SPORTS
Tuesday, November 24:
12:00pm – Rennes v Chelsea (Champs. League) – Galavision / CBS All Access
2:00pm – Juventus v Ferencvaros (Champs. League) – Galavision / CBS All Access
5:00pm – Toronto FC v Nashville SC (MLS) – FS1
7:00pm – Philadelphia Union v New England Revs (MLS) – ESPN
9:30pm – Seattle Sounders v LAFC (MLS) – ESPN
Wednesday, November 25:
7:30am – Empoli v Brescia (Coppa Italia) – ESPN+
10:30am – Udinese v Fiorentina (Coppa Italia) – ESPN+
12:00pm – Olympiakos v Manchester City (Champs. League) – UniMas / TUDN / CBS All Access
2:00pm – Bayern Munich v RB Salzburg (Champs. League) – CBS All Access
6:30pm – Internacional v Boca Juniors (Copa Libertadores) – beIN SPORTS
Thursday, November 26:
10:00am – Sampdoria v Genoa (Coppa Italia) – ESPN+
12:00pm – Lille v AC Milan (Europa League) – TUDN / CBS All Access
2:00pm – Tottenham Hotspur v PFC Ludgorets (Europa League) – TUDN / CBS All Access
4:15pm – River Plate v Universidad Catolica (Copa Libertadores) – beIN SPORTS
6:30pm – Guarani v Gremio (Copa Libertadores) – beIN SPORTS
Friday, November 27:
12:00pm – Netherlands v USWNT (Friendly) – ESPN2
1:30pm – Wolfsburg v Werder Bremen (Bundesliga) – ESPN+
2:00pm – Tranmere Rovers v Brackley Town (FA Cup) – ESPN+
Saturday, November 28:
6:30am – Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool (Premier League) – Peacock
8:30am – Stuttgart v Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) – ESPN+
9:15am – Valencia v Atletico Madrid (La Liga) – beIN SPORTS
11:00am – Benevento v Juventus (Serie A) – ESPN+
11:30am – Peterborough Utd v Chorley (FA Cup) – ESPN+
2:00pm – Real Madrid v Deportivo Alaves (La Liga) – beIN SPORTS
Sunday, November 29:
7:00am – Barcelona v Osasuna (La Liga) – beIN SPORTS
8:00am – Southampton v Manchester Utd (Premier League) – NBCSN
8:45am – Marine v Havant & Waterlooville (FA Cup) – ESPN+
10:30am – Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League) – TBA
1:45pm – Napoli v Roma (Serie A) – ESPN+
2:00pm – Real Sociedad v Villareal (La Liga) – beIN SPORTS