World Cup Preview – Group B

Spain and Portugal are the two favorites with two of my least favorite players, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. If they play up to their potential both should get through to the round of 16, but Morocco and Iran will provide a challenge. Morocco and Iran are both teams that could steal a spot from Spain or Portugal if they aren’t on their game.  Portugal won Euro 2016 but that was more of an aberration than anything.


An easy team to overlook, but you shouldn’t. This team is solid defensively but they have had some high quality attackers come into form this past season. Alireza Jahanbakhsh is a very difficult name to spell but the winger was the top scorer in the Dutch Eredevisie scoring 21 goals for AZ Aikmaar. He’s one to watch in this group and he’ll need to be at his best to get past Spain or Portugal. Sardar Azmoun will also have to step up for iran, leading the line at striker. Iran is coached by Carlos Queiroz who has helmed Real Madrid and Portugal. He’s coached at the highest level and his past experience with Portugal could help them prepare. This Iran team could pull a surprise at the World Cup.

herve renard

Handsome man Herve Renard, Morocco’s Coach


This team is led by center back Mehdi Benatia who plays for Juventus. He leads a sturdy defense that will have to be stingy against the Portugal and Spain. They have the talented Hakim Ziyech in midfield and play will flow through him. Ziyech had an excellent season at Ajax and is being touted to move to a bigger club in Europe. They could pull a surprise in Group B but they’ll have to be at their absolute best to grab a spot in the round of 16. Coached by certified handsome man, Herve Renard, that’s gives them a chance too. Not just because of his looks but because he’s an experienced coach who has won the African Cup of Nations with both Zambia and Ivory Coast. Still, I don’t see them getting out of the group.



They have Cristiano Ronaldo. Honestly, their run to win Euro 2016 was the luckiest thing I’ve ever seen. They only got three points in three games, finishing third in the group. The Euros extended the number of teams to 24 allowing 16 teams to qualify instead of eight like in 2012, so that’s how they made it in. If the format hadn’t changed, Portugal wouldn’t have even made it. Not even that, they also only won one game in regulation, beating Wales 2-0 in the semifinals. Feels good to finally get that off my chest, now Portugal should qualify for round of 16 but I hope they don’t.

Ronaldo crying


This is a Spain team that has had a fall from grace. After winning Euros in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010 they were the world’s top team. They crashed out early in the 2014 World Cup losing to the Netherlands and Chile. Spain also had a poor showing at Euro 2016 losing in the round of 16. They have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in David de Gea and he will need to have a great tournament in order for them to make a deep run. They have a solid midfield and defense, led by goon Sergio Ramos. Isco, Iniesta and David Silva will form an attacking midfield that will give opponents fits. Can they translate that into goals is the question. Their striker options aren’t great though and another goon, Diego Costa, is likely to play up top. This isn’t the same Spain team that won the 2010 World Cup, but they do have plenty of talent. I pick them to be first in the group anyway, unless Ramos or Costa gets an early red card.

Ramos kicked in the face

Sergio Ramos being kicked in the face.

Players to Watch

  1. Hakim Ziyech
  2. Isco
  3. Alireza Jahanbakhsh
  4. David Silva

Group B

  1. Spain
  2. Portugal
  3. Iran
  4. Morocco

World Cup Preview – Group A

After getting out of the ‘Group of Death’ in 2014 things were looking up for the United States. Christian Pulisic, the brightest young talent US Soccer has ever had burst onto the scene. Yet, the United States did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup and our soccer program is left in shambles. But the World Cup will go on without us, so here is my preview for this summer’s biggest event.

Group A should be called the ‘Group of Boring’ because the only interesting things about this group are whether Mo Salah will be fit to play for Egypt and will Luis Suarez bite someone again.

Group A consists of the host, Russia, along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.


Much like in American politics, they don’t belong here but they have a chance to influence proceedings anyway. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is the best player on the team. A hot goalie could see them make it out of the group. Any good Football Manager player will tell you that Akinfeev is a top level player. He will have to be great behind Russia’s garbage defense. It is their biggest weakness and will likely be their downfall. Injuries to two of their top center backs leave them weak at the back. Fedor Smolov will lead their attack, leading the Russian League the last two seasons in goals scored. He’ll have to be in form for Russia to advance. Alan Dzagoev is the creator in midfield and attacks will flow through him. Russia could make it out of the group if Mo Salah isn’t healthy for Egypt.

Salah 1


A team that could be exciting to watch if Mo Salah is able to make it on the field. Otherwise they will be battling with Russia for the second spot in the group. Salah is a magical boy and an utter joy to watch. A healthy Salah would likely topple Russia and Saudi Arabia and should be enough to take second in the group. Even with Salah they are not at the same level as Uruguay. Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny can add quality to their midfield if he is fit after an ankle injury. This is a mediocre team with one star player in Salah, but if he’s able to play against Russia and Saudi Arabia that should be enough for them to take second in the group.

Salah 2

Saudi Arabia

Just a bunch of guys named Al trying to make it in the World Cup. Yahya Al Shehri is the top player on the team who is relied on to create chances from midfield. This is the first time they have qualified for the World Cup in twelve years and they seem to lack the quality to advance. However, if they can get a good result against Russia in the opening game they could stand a chance of getting to the round of 16 because this is a weak group. Ultimately I pick them to finish last in Group A and they will struggle to score in Russia.

2018 World Cup Qualifications - Africa - Egypt vs Congo


They couldn’t have asked for any easier group to get through. Things set up nicely for Uruguay to make a run deep into the tournament. Led by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani this team could honestly score 15 goals and give up none in the group stage. Suarez and Cavani provide the goals and create, but the back line is also strong with Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez commanding the box. The Atletico Madrid duo will be tough to break through. They have a talented, young midfield who haven’t been tested like the rest of the squad which could be where they struggle. Uruguay should cruise through Group A and make a deep run in the World Cup.

Salah 4

Players to Watch

  1. Mo Salah
  2. Mo Salah
  3. Mo Salah
  4. Luis Suarez biting someone

Group A Standings

  1. Uruguay
  2. Egypt
  3. Russia
  4. Saudi Arabia

Who will be the next coach of US Men’s soccer?

As the higher-ups look to put a baby Aspirin in the gaping wound that is the US Men’s National Team, we will look at some likely and unlikely candidates for the US manager position. They pick the interim manager tomorrow, and it looks like it’s going to be Tab Ramos, so we’ll start with him. 


Tab Ramos – He has the best name of the group, except for maybe Tata, and he’s been with the national team for a while already. That means he understands how unexceptional the USMNT needs to be. Really, he good be a good hometown pick. He knows the younger players well, and as a former player for the US, he’s got the passion.


Landon Donovan – Just kidding.


Laurent Blanc – He almost has a girls name, but we won’t hold that against him. If he becomes the US manager, some will though. With his international background for club and country, managing and playing, he brings something that we haven’t had in years. Since Jurgen. I think we need that though, and he has some proven success.


Patrick Viera – The former Arsenal captain is different than most candidates in that he has a strong international connection, mixed with a strong knowledge in the US, mixed with an actual boy’s name. I think he’d be a great manager for the US team, as he knows the MLS well, but has international experience that most others do not have. He’s young and motivated to take his career to the next step.


Sam Allardyce – The greatest England manager of all time, Big Sam, has been frozen out after his little 2016 fiasco. He does have a 100 percent winning record internationally, in spite of his (not) SUPPOSED malfeasance. I think he’d be much more cutthroat than managers in the past with our team, which we definitely need. It would be nice to have a manager who isn’t okay starting the same underperforming players for 5 years straight, and I think Allardyce is someone who would do that.


Gerardo “Tata” Martino – A very intriguing prospect to coach the USA. He’s done amazing things so far in his time in Atlanta and has stated that the US needs to focus on player development, which I really like. He managed Barcelona, so he’s obviously good enough for our national team, and with his propensity towards developing youth, he’d be a really interesting choice.


Bob Bradley – I like Bob, but more Bob means more of the same.


Bruce Arena – He’ll be hired as the interim, then hired again as the actual coach after being fired as the interim. And it will be an endless cycle that goes on forever.


Sunil Gulati – He’s going to hire himself as the manager before he’s dropped. It only makes sense.


My choice – Whoever Cristian Pulisic wants.



Rory’s Round-up: Week 3 – THE LIVERPOOL EDITION

There are rare times for Liverpool fans to feel extraordinarily good about a game, and this week was one of those times. I kind of slept through the Everton Chelsea game, so whoops, but it was worth it for the full energy I had for the Liverpool game.


Newcastle 3 – West Ham 0

How has Bilic not been fired yet? West Ham have been total crap now for two years, and with as much talent that they have on their roster, it can’t be far off. Newcastle looked pretty solid overall, solid enough that not even the yells of Joe Hart could stop them. The highlight of the game was seeing JOE HART give his teammate a loud pep talk after the first goal. West Ham need to turn things around fast, or they’re going to find themselves in the bottom half of the table at the end of the year.


Manchester United 2 – Leicester 0

Kasper Schmeichel proved that he is the best current Schmeichel goalie again by saving a penalty that he was 10 to 20 yards off the line. Really though, he was good, and saved Leicester from going down even more goals. Rashford looked great when he came on, I still think Marouane Chamakh Fellaini is a total ding dong, and Man Utd looked great again. They are the team to beat for the moment, except for…



Liverpool were amazing. (Almost) Every player on the field looked like they might score on every play for pool. Except for one very scary player, Karius (more like Scaryus), who inspired fear in everyone watching the game when the ball came his way. Luckily, Arsenal didn’t get a shot on goal, so he didn’t get much of the ball. Mane, Firmino, and Salah look like the most dangerous front three at the moment, and Henderson was a game changer with his one man press. They could’ve easily scored more than six goals if it wasn’t for Peter Cech.

On the other side of the ball, Arsenal were absolutely abhorrent. Everyone on defense and midfield would get a rating of 0 or 1 out of 10, the worst being Bellerin, Holding, Ramsey, and Xhaka. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wenger gets fired soon.

If Liverpool can play like this, then they should sell Coutinho and reinforce the rest of the team. They have Lallana coming back in a couple of months, but they need players to rotate in at central d and the wings. SIGN PULISIC.

Rory’s Round-up: Week 2

The best part about watching EPL games at your parents house (as a 32 year old) is that you get to eat chocolate chip pancakes while you watch soccer. And that they love you too. Mostly pancakes though. Here are the games I watched!


Manchester United 4 – Swansea 0

There’s good news and bad news for the Swans this week. The good is that they are way richer and they only have to play United once more. The bad is that they lost their best player, don’t have a replacement, teams will overcharge them for anyone, and got thrashed by the league’s top team. It was close for most of the game, but Swansea couldn’t keep it going, giving up 3 goals in the span of 4 minutes. When Manchester United have it going, they look so unstoppable right now. If they stay injury free, they’ll be really tough to beat.


Liverpool 1 – Crystal Palace 0

I have no idea how Liverpool got a clean sheet, but Palace looked pretty anemic going forward. They played more like a shitty Chinese restaurant than a shiny castle. They really missed Zaha on the wing, it was pretty obvious. Benteke missed an easy chance to go up, but other than that, Palace didn’t have much. Liverpool, on the other hand, actually looked solid at the back for most of the game. With a mostly new back line, Andrew Robertson really shined going forward (although I’d like to see him play defense. Mane saved the day and was the best player on the field yet again. The only real negative for Liverpool was the midfield. They were pretty invisible and uninspiring most of the game. Klopp was pleased though, and so am I.


Stoke 1 – Arsenal 0

I only caught part of the game because a guy has got to tan, but it sounded pretty funny. Arsenal failed to capitalize on all the momentum they built in the last 5 minutes of the previous game. Typical.


Huddersfield 1 – Newcastle 0

This wasn’t a great game, but I like the way Huddersfield play. They play fast and run a lot. If they can keep it up over the whole season, they have a decent shot of staying up. Newcastle looked more like Oldcastle, because they were unimpressive and looked to be going down. They really missed Jonjo’s fun antics this game.


Chelsea 2 – Tottenham 1

This was a really fun game, in spite of me wanting Spurs to win the whole time. Marcos Alonso scored a goal that rivals his hair in personal beauty, and his second was more like David Luiz’s hair. Meaning crazy. Lloris should’ve probably done better on it (but the defense left him out to dry). Michy Batshuyai scored, but for the wrong team, which makes sense for him. I hope he can get it right one day. It was a good result for Chelsea, and I’m sure Spurs will feel like they should’ve done better with their chances.


Manchester City 1 – Everton 1

Rooooooooooooooooooooooooney! Everton played really well again, but a poor clearance by Mason Holgate got City back in. It could’ve gone either way and I think this was a fair result. Rooney though, he can’t be stopped.

Rory’s Round-up: Week 1

I hate getting up early. Maybe as much as I hate bigotry, or popcorn. One reason I will get up early is for Premier League soccer, and also work. Here’s my take on the games I was able to catch this weekend.

Arsenal 4 – Leicester 3

This was a really fun game to watch for many reasons. One, it’s hilarious to see Wenger’s reactions to his team failing. And it was the typical crap turnovers and poor defending that his team has been known for over the past 100 seasons. Second, there were so many goals. Lacazette started the action off the action early on, but Leicester came back at them fast with goals from Okazaki and Vardy. Arsenal were good to get one back right before halftime through Welbeck. More excitement came later on after Vardy put Leicester ahead, until Arsenal got two back in dramatic fashion for the win.

Both teams had similar defensive problems. They both looked like good competitive teams with some work to do at the back. I was really impressed with both attacks. Iheanacho barely played, and as soon as they get him more involved they could get even better. Welbeck and Lacazetter were really dangerous up front as well, so if they can stay healthy, I see them finishing pretty high.


Liverpool 3 – Watford 3

This was the most typical Liverpool game ever played. Goalkeeping blunders? Check. Suspect defense? So many checks. Shit on set pieces? Checks again. Dropped points in stoppage time? Obviously. The positives were that Salah and Mane looked really good. Firmino was good in attack too, even with his (and the other defenders) not marking on the first goal.

Coutinho would’ve helped, but I have to put this mostly on Klopp and Liverpool’s brass. They haven’t addressed the team’s defensive needs at all. Lovren shouldn’t be starting on a championship calibre team, nor should Moreno. They have no creative replacement in midfield for Coutinho, so I’m worried about Liverpool if they don’t do any more business before the summer window ends. It doesn’t look great for them, and Watford weren’t an especially talented team.


Everton 1 – Stoke 0 

King Rooney hath returned! I kid about his influence, but he actually looked really good. Everton’s defense was pretty strong overall, and Jordan Pickford was probably the player of the game for me. He’ll be a steal at that price if he plays like he did today. On Stoke’s side, Shaqiri should’ve been sent off for his elbow on Baines in the 48th minute. He was a little shit all game, diving around and yelling at his teammates. He played like Ronaldo if he was 4 feet shorter and significantly less skilled. He had a nice shot at the end of the game, but Pickford got a good hand to it.


Manchester United 4 – West Ham 0

Manchester United were scary good this game. Their passing was great and Lukaku looked excellent up front. If I had done my predictions after seeing this game, I would’ve picked them first or second probable. This team will definitely be tough to beat.


Premiership Predictions!

As it is EPL Eve, we’ve decided to drop our first Premiership Predictions. In order to make it more exciting, we’ve done it in reverse order. So either scroll to the bottom to see who we say the champions will be, or read all of it. Soccer time!

The Droppers

20. Huddersfield – Their jerseys were so bright last year that they had to be promoted. Now, they have regular colors, so their opponents won’t be afraid they’re made of lasers. This will not help them at all. The American effect will help the Terriers, but Wagner (Klopp’s BFF) and Danny Williams can only do so much. Prediction: Bottom of the table, unless they bring back their laser jerseys.soccer14


19. Brighton and Hove Albion – They only lost 2-3 to Atletico Madrid in a friendly, so based on that, they’ll finish in a European qualifying position. In reality, they won’t. They’re a great story and I’d love for them to stay up, but I just can’t see it happening. Prediction: Relegation and Battle Albion.soccer15

18. Burnley – Sean Dyche looks like a villain from a Jason Statham movie. And he uses that to intimidate oppositions at Turf Moor. It usually works, but I think it’ll be a tough season without his best henchman (Michael Keane) and best homophobe (Andre Gray). Prediction: It’ll be a street fight, but Burnley has to play against better-looking, stronger, faster Jason Stathams all season. RelegationBlackburn Rovers v Burnley - npower Championship


The Boring Bottom Half

17. Swansea – There was only one person responsible for keeping Swansea up last year, and it wasn’t Paul Clement. It was the Norse God Gylfi himself, who was seemingly responsible for every goal or assist they had last season. They haven’t strengthened their team a lot, and if a team meets their demands and Gylfi leaves, that means they’ll probably score 6 goals this season. All own goals. Prediction: They’ll be lucky to stay up.


16. Watford – They bought some cool young players, but they’re pretty unproven in the premiership. And the rest of the team was pretty poor last year. If English Drake comes back and scores a ton of goals, that would help, and they have a good manager, but it seems like their team had a lot of issues. Prediction: The yellowest jerseys in the league, and barely surviving relegation.soccer16

15. Newcastle United – Tactical genius Rafa Benitez mixed with future and present American hair and soccer superstar, DeAndre Yedlin, means that Newcastle are primed for success. Rafa has an equally big book of tactics, rivaled only by Pep Guardiola, so if he manages to use them correctly, Newcastle could do decently. Prediction: Bottom half, but survivors!soccer6

14. Stoke City – Stoke are like West Brom, in that they are very boring. And they lost their best attacker in Arnautovic. They have to rely on Joe Allen and that angry little guy on their team too much, on the other hand, they have a lot of short talent. Zouma is good on loan there but I don’t see them doing that well. Prediction: A lot of draws.soccer17

13. West Brom – They are the most boring successful team (if you call finishing near mid-table success) in the history of the game. If there were a championship for long balls and set pieces, they would do really well. I don’t get it, but they just never seem to give up many goals. Maybe their pitch is muddier than the rest, or has a lot of grass clumps. I can’t explain it. Prediction: Their first pass will be a clearance.soccer13


The Middle Men

12. Crystal Palace – This team’s signings would make any Football Manager fan happy, with Jairo Riedewald and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. They have some real quality in attack with Benteke and Zaha, but this team looked like they were going to lose every game last year for a long time. Unless they have a huge influx of cash from a rapper who thinks this is a champagne company and they buy some good defenders, maybe then they’ll do better. Prediction: 459 nutmegs by Zaha this season.soccer23

11. Leicester – Somehow, they’ve still managed to keep together most of their championship winning team. Not that it helped them a lot last year. Kelechi Iheanacho could be a huge signing for them now that he’s going to be playing more regularly, but I don’t know about this team. Slimani, Vardy, and Kelechi is a really good attack, but they’re getting old in the back. Prediction: Better than last year.soccer8

10. Southampton – They’ve gone from a selling club to a selling club who won’t sell anymore. They’re obviously not a feeder club for Liverpool anymore, so the team is up for grabs. They have some really quality players in attack and if van Dijk stays, they’ll have a solid squad. He wants to go though, and it’ll be tough to keep him. Prediction: They’ll sell half the team to West Ham next season.soccer11

9. Bournemouth – The Cherries are a seriously cool team. The coolest cherry based team around. Nathan Ake was a great signing and based on his reverse-aging soccer career, Jermain Defoe probably will be too. If they hold on to the least Norwegian player ever, Joshua King, they could have a really good attack. Prediction: Cherries on the top! Half of the table.


8. West Ham – I don’t want to put them this high, but they’re a pretty strong team. They haven’t really lost much, and they’ve added Arnautovic, JOE HART, and Chicharito. You’re supposed to yell JOE HART’s name when you say or read it. They have a really big and fast team, but JOE HART will let in some real howlers, as usual. Prediction: A lot of tunnel yelling from JOE HART.soccer10


The Challengers

7. Everton – The savior has returned! Rooney is back, and with more hair than he had as a 15 year old. The Toffees actually made some good moves this summer by getting Keane, Pickford, and Klaassen, but losing Lukaku will be big hole to fill. Literally and figuratively. They could sign the next biggest striker, Giroud, but his hair is too beautiful. I say go for Crouch, he’ll at least make up for the height. Prediction: Seventh place, and Crouch is seven feet tall. Also, I predict that Rooney will NOT equal Lukaku’s goal total.


6. Arsenal – Will he stay or will he go? We’re talking about Alexis Sanchez, of course. And if you read this later in the season, obviously Arsene Wenger. The Gunners depend too much on a guy who looks like he doesn’t try (Ozil), and a guy who wants to leave more than anything (Sanchez). I love Lacazette, but I don’t know if he’ll be enough to take them back into the top four, especially with the uncertainty around Alexis. Prediction: 24 season ending injuries and a sixth place finish.soccer19

5. Liverpool – I want Liverpool to win the league, and they could BUT there are a lot of buts with this team. And butts too. If Coutinho goes, they won’t make the top 4, they just can’t compete if they lose half of the pearliest white smile tandem of Phil and Firmino. AND they didn’t sign a CB, which besides left back, was their biggest problem. They haven’t really addressed either position well. Salah looks great, and with Mane on the wing, they will score a ton, but they will definitely drop points if they don’t sign a top center back to start ahead of Lovren. Every Liverpool fan will be just waiting for the dumb injury time equalizers by Watford and Brighton. Prediction: It hurts me, but they will probably finish outside the top 4. Lower if they lose Coutinho, higher if they sign a top notch CB.soccer7


The Top Four

4. Chelsea – They’ll be without Eden “The Garden” Hazard for a little while, but the real loss is not getting to see Diego Costa’s antics on the pitch. Morata should fill in well now that he has actual players passing to him, and Chelsea’s defense will be amazing with Bakayoko (when he comes back), Rudiger, and another potential central back coming in. My biggest worry for them is how they’ll fare at the beginning of the season. They lost a lot of leadership and Conte doesn’t seem very happy for some reason. Maybe he never really is. Prediction: A lot of yelling from Antonio Conte, and a lot of wins. Not champions again though. They’ve lost a lot and there’s a great chance that Conte will just decide to quit midseason.soccer20

3. Manchester United – They’ve spent so, so, so, so much money the last two years. They must be good, right?! Probably, yes. Dancing partners and BFFs Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku have been UNITED finally, and although I dream of their future partnership in the MLS for one of the Los Angeles team, they’re going to be very dangerous this year. Unless defensive tactician and interpersonal relationship mastermind Jose Mourinho somehow decides to employ the both of them at central D, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Prediction: Third place, three hundred million spent on Gareth Bale next season, and a new physio team after Jose blames them for his first loss this season.soccer2

2. Manchester City – More money! Bigger signings! More wing backs! They’ve signed some expensive guys this offseason, and on paper, they should be very good. They’ll probably look amazing for a month or two this season, but then have a full month of being bad. Pep is probably tied for Mourinho for being in the hottest possible seat, so a lot will depend on the beginning of the season. Will they sign Alexis or Mbappe? Maybe. They don’t really need to with Gabriel Jesus and Kun. Will Stones and Otamendi play? Definitely, and they’ll give up a lot of goals. Kompany staying healthy could be huge for them, but we’ll see. Prediction: Forty more signings this offseason, but they have way too many top-notch players to not come close to the title.soccer21


The Champs! Finally!

1. Tottenham – Tottenham’s transfer policy of not buying anyone is brilliant. Sell Kyle Walker? Bring up Kyle Walker-Peters. In reality, I think it’s only because they don’t really need anyone. They need to buy a backup striker and some other guys to rotate, but not much. Eventually the players will pull a Kyle Walker and go on to fairer and richer pastures, but for now, the kids stay together. Unlike their big money compatriots, they have a team that’s mostly played together for three seasons now, and that could make a real difference. Prediction: No St. Totteringham’s Day this year. Champions!soccer22


We’re probably going to be way off on these, but maybe not! Thanks for reading.