Friday, July 29, 2016

29 July 2000 - Apparently, They Didn't Select Any Defenders

On 29 July 2000, the Columbus Crew hosted the highest-scoring MLS All-Star game ever, as East beat West 9-4 with goals from eight different players.

The 2000 edition was the fifth MLS All-Star Game and the fourth to feature East versus West (the 1998 game pit US all-stars against world all-stars). And the East had enjoyed more success, winning three matches to the West's one. 2000 provided more of the same.

Played before a sellout crowd of almost 24,000 at Columbus Crew Stadium, the East wasted no time, setting the pace with a 2nd-minute goal from MetroStar forward Clint Mathis. But the West scored a quick flurry of goals from Chicago Fire striker Ante Razov (17', 22') and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos (19') to take a 3-1 lead. By the break, the East had narrowed the gap, but the West still led, 4-3.

The second half belonged to the East, who received goals in the 51st, 59th, 61st, 65th, 67th, and 76th minutes to claim their fourth win over the West in convincing fashion. Tampa Bay Mutiny star Mamadou Diallo (pictured) claimed Man of the Match honors with two goals and an assist. A full list of the scorers is below.

East: Clint Mathis (NY/NJ) 2'; Jaime Moreno (DC) 36'; Adolfo Valencia (NY/NJ) 39'; Mark Chung (NY/NJ) 51'; Mamadou Diallo (Tampa Bay) 59', 61'; Jay Heaps (Miami) 65'; Dante Washington (Columbus) 67'; Brian McBride (Columbus) 76'.

West: Ante Razov (Chicago) 17', 22'; Mauricio Cienfuegos (LA) 19'; Piotr Nowak (Chicago) 44'.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

28 July 1925 - Before Forlan and Suarez, There Was Schiaffino

On 28 July 1925, Juan Alberto "Pepe" Schiaffino was born in Montevideo. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players to come out of Uruguay, he went on to star for Peñarol and AC Milan and played for both the Uruguayan and Italian national teams.

He began his professional career in 1943 with his hometown team, Peñarol, and stayed with them for twelve seasons. An inside forward and a gifted passer, he scored 88 goals in 227 league appearances for the club and helped them to six national titles (1944, 1945, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1954). During that time, he also made his first full international appearance, playing for Uruguay in a 1-1 draw with Argentina in December 1945.

He scored eight goals for Uruguay in 23 appearances and starred for them in two World Cups, including the 1950 World Cup title match against Brazil, which Uruguay went on to win, 2-1, after Schiaffino scored the equalizer in dramatic fashion.

In 1954, he moved to AC Milan for the then-world record fee of £72,000. He was an instant success in Italy, scoring a brace on his debut and leading Milan to the 1955 Scudetto, the first of four league titles in his six seasons there. In 1958, he scored the opening goal of the European Cup Final, though Milan eventually lost to Real Madrid 3-2 after extra time. When he moved to Milan, he also moved his national team allegiance to Italy, making four appearances for them between 1954 and 1958.

He finished his playing career with Roma, where he played from 1960 to 1962. He later returned to Uruguay, where he went on to manage both the national team (1974-75) and Peñarol (1975-76).

He died in 2002, shortly after being named Uruguay's Player of the Century.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

27 July 2007 - Clearly, I Am In The Wrong Business

On 27 July 2007, Chelsea captain John Terry became the highest-paid player in Premier League history. For a while, anyway.

The Blues had just completed a three-year run in which they won the league twice (2005, 2006), then finished as runners-up to Manchester United (2007). They also won the FA Cup and the League Cup in 2007. Terry, who was also the England captain at the time, had two years remaining on his existing contract that paid him a reported £67,000 per week, well behind teammates Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko, who were both earning close to £120,000.

Terry's contract negotiations dragged out over a couple of months, but the defender maintained throughout that he had no intention of leaving the club. In July, Chelsea rewarded his loyalty with a new five-year deal that paid him close to £135,000 per week to surpass the record previously held by Ballack and Shevchenko. But Terry's status as the league's best-paid player did not last long. In August 2008, Chelsea signed midfielder Frank Lampard to a new deal worth £140,000 per week (which triggered an increase in Terry's pay to the same level). 

Currently, Wayne Rooney is the Premier League's highest player with a deal worth a reported £260,000 per week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

26 July 2003 - Convey's First Was Good Enough For Third

On 26 July 2003, winger Bobby Convey scored his first and only international goal to lift the United States over Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup's third-place match.

Although he was only 20 years old at the time, Convey had already developed a resume full of potential. He joined DC United in 2000, making him the youngest signing in MLS, then earned his first full international cap that same year. By the time he played against Costa Rica in the Gold Cup, he was captain of the U20s and had played in all but one of the senior side's matches that year.

The US had advanced to the semifinals in the tournament, but lost to Brazil 2-1 in extra time. That put them into the third-place match against Costa Rica, who had been eliminated by Mexico. Playing at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Costa Rica took a 2-1 first-half lead with a brace from striker Rolando Fonseca (24', 39') sandwiched around a goal from US defender Carlos Bocanegra (29').

But the Yanks rallied in the second half, drawing level with a 56th-minute strike from midfielder Earnie Stewart, then taking the lead 11 minutes later. The match-winner started with Landon Donovan, who split the defense with a perfect ball. Convey latched on to it and fired it home with a left-footed blast from the edge of the penalty area.

Convey went on to earn a total of 46 caps between 2000 and 2008, but never scored another international goal.

Monday, July 25, 2016

25 July 2009 - There Was Something In The Air That Night, Apparently

On 25 July 2009, Bordeaux won the Trophée des Champions by beating Guingamp 2-0, with both goals scored by players named Fernando.

The tournament, which started in 1995 but traces its roots back to 1949, pits the previous season's Ligue 1 champions against the reigning Coupe de France holders. The league champions were Bordeaux, who had also won the Coupe de la Ligue that season. They were up against Ligue 2 side Guingamp, who had defied the odds by defeating several Ligue 1 clubs, including Rennes, Toulouse, and Le Mans, on their way to the Coupe de France title, despite finishing in the bottom half of Ligue 2 that year.

For the first time, the match was played outside of France. In order to promote French football overseas, the teams met at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, where a crowd of over 34,000 turned out to watch.

Bordeaux took a first-half lead with a goal from forward Fernando Cavenaghi (pictured, center) in the 39th minute. Guingamp's tight defense managed to keep the margin close, but midfielder Fernando Menegazzo, who had come on as a second-half substitute, scored in the 90th minute to seal the victory. It was Bordeaux's second consecutive Trophée des Champions and their third overall.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

24 July 1998 - Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

On 24 July 1998, the FA granted Arsenal's request to move their upcoming Champions League matches from Highbury Stadium to Wembley. Although the switch allowed the Gunners to play before a larger audience, it proved to be an unwise decision.

At the time, Wembley had a capacity of about 70,000, almost double that of Highbury. In defending the move, Arsenal issued a statement claiming that "[i]f the matches were to be played at Highbury, more than 6,000 season ticketholders, junior Gunners and concessionary groups would have been relocated to other parts of the ground" and that "[m]any thousands of Arsenal supporters would have been excluded from the games completely."

Manager Arsène Wenger supported the venue change, but noted the risk, saying "[w]e may be less comfortable at Wembley, but it is a big occasion to play there and we will have more support." And, indeed, the Gunners struggled in their matches there. In two Champions League seasons, they played a total of six matches, winning two, drawing two, and losing two, and failed to advance out of the group stage both times.

In preparation for the construction of a new Wembley, the original stadium was closed in 2000. Arsenal's Champions League matches returned to Highbury, where they went undefeated in the tournament, though they were eliminated by Valencia in the quarterfinals under the away goals rule.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

23 July 2009 - Nobody Can Claim They Had A Home Advantage

On 23 July 2009, Motherwell overcame a first-leg deficit to advance out of the Europa League second qualifying round by beating Albania's Flamurtari Vlorë by the commanding score of 8-1.

It was the second straight appearance in the tournament for Motherwell, who entered the competition in the first round the previous year, but failed to score a single goal and were promptly eliminated by AS Nancy. For the 2009-10 edition, they entered in the first qualifying round where they beat Llanelli (3-1 on aggregate). That win sent them into the second qualifying round to face Flamurtari Vlorë.

The Albanians hosted the first leg, winning 1-0. But the second leg was a completely different story. Played at Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie because Motherwell's Fir Park ground was closed for summer repairs, the hosts were up 6-0 before the break, including a hat-trick from striker Jamie Murphy (pictured) (16', 19, 34'). The scoreline could have been worse, as Motherwell missed a slew of chances, but by the time Flamurtari got on the scoresheet in the 65th minute, the Scots were up 7-0. Then striker Robert McHugh added another in the 72nd minute to cap the victory.

Unfortunately for Motherwell, they went out in the third qualifying round after losing to Steaua Bucureşti, 6-1 on aggregate, but the 8-1 result against Flamurtari remains their biggest margin of victory in European competition.