Wednesday, July 31, 2013

31 July 1976 - The Wonderful Paulo Wanchope

On 31 July 1976, Costa Rican striker Paulo Wanchope, scorer of the greatest goal in Derby County history, was born in Heredia.

He started his career with his hometown club Herediano in 1993, then joined Derby in 1997 for a transfer fee of £600,000 after impressing in Costa Rica's qualification campaign for the 1998 World Cup. On his debut for the Rams, he scored a wonder goal against Manchester United that Derby supporters later voted the greatest goal in club history.

In the summer of 1999, Derby sold him to West Ham for £3.5 million, but he spent only one season there before moving to Manchester City for £3.65 million. Although he was a fan favorite there, injuries limited his playing time and he scored a total of 27 league goals in four seasons. He then played for six different clubs around the world before retiring from club football in 2007.

He continued to play for Costa Rica until 2008, however, and finished as the team's all-time leading scorer with 45 goals in 73 appearances. Although Rolando Fonseca later passed that mark in 2011 with 47 goals, Wanchope remains second on the team's all-time scoring table.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

30 July 1976 - That's Giving The Fans Their Moneys' Worth

On 30 July 1976, Cruzeiro became just the second Brazilian team to win the Copa Libertadores, beating River Plate 3-2 in a playoff.

Since the tournament started in 1960, teams from Brazil had reached the final five times, but only oneSantosemerged as winners (though they did it twice, in 1962 and 1963). Palmeiras lost in 1961 and 1968 and São Paulo lost in 1974 before Cruzeiro had their opportunity. Their opponents were River Plate, who had been to the final once before, finishing as runners-up in 1966.

Cruzeiro hosted the first leg on 21 July and won 4-1, but River Plate won the second leg 2-1 a week later. Because the title was decided on points, not aggregate score, the results required a playoff at a neutral ground.

They met at the Estadio Nacional de Chile in Santiago, where Cruzeiro took a two-goal lead with goals from Nelinho (24') and Eduardo (55'). River Plate fought back with goals from Oscar Más (59') and Urquiza (64'). The Brazilians would not be denied, however, and got a late match-winner from Joãozinho (88').

Since then, Cruzeiro has returned to the final three more times, most recently in 2009, and won it again in 1997. River Plate, meanwhile, made it back to the final twice more, in 1986 and 1996, winning it both times.

Monday, July 29, 2013

29 July 2011 - The USSF's Five-Year Plan Comes To Fruition

On 29 July 2011, the United States Soccer Federation announced the hiring of Jürgen Klinsmann as the national team's new manager.

Although a successful player with Germany, Inter, Bayern Munich, Klinsmann had served as a manager only twice before, and for brief spells. He guided the German national team to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup, but left that summer after only two years at the helm. He then took charge of Bayern Munich in July 2008, but left the following April after a disappointing spell.

Despite his lack of experience, the USSF had been keen to hire Klinsmann since 2006, reportedly offering him the job twice before, only to have negotiations break down when the federation would not agree to give him the broad degree of control he demanded. But after their dismissal of Bob Bradley in July 2011, they finally reached terms with Klinsmann.

His tenure started poorly, with the team losing four of their first six matches, but the situation improved by 2012, when the US enjoyed a run of success including their first-ever away win over rivals Mexico. The team continues to shine under Klinsmann, having just won the 2013 Gold Cup on the back of a team-record eleven-game winning streak.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

28 July 2012 - Zlatan Gets Off To A Quick Start

On 28 July 2012, Zlatan Ibrahimović wasted no time settling in with his new club, Paris Saint-Germain, scoring on his debut.

He completed the move about ten days earlier, joining PSG from Milan for a reported transfer fee of close to €20M. That brought his total career transfer fees to €180M in aggregate, breaking the record previously held by Nicolas Anelka as the world's most expensive footballer.

His first match with PSG was a friendly against DC United as part of the 2012 World Football Challenge. DC hosted the match at RFK Stadium, where it was delayed for 45 minutes because of a thunderstorm. Once it kicked off, however, Ibrahimović lived up to his reputation as one of the world's best strikers by scoring in the third minute--he received the ball just inside DC's eighteen-yard line, beat a defender, and fired a left-footed blast into the far bottom corner.

DC equalized with a Dwayne DeRosario penalty kick in the 33rd minute and the game ended 1-1.

Ibrahimović's goal was the first of 35 he scored that season in all competitions, including 30 in Ligue 1, making him the French top flight's leading scorer. PSG also won the title, their first since 1994.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

27 July 1984 - Seventh Heaven For Independiente

On 27 July 1984, Independiente won their record seventh Copa Libertadores, beating Grêmio on points over two legs.

Independiente were already the competition's most successful team, winning it six times between 1964 and 1975, including four straight from 1972 to 1975. Grêmio had lifted the cup more recently, though, taking the honors in 1983. Both teams had won it everytime they appeared in the final, setting a pattern that the 1984 final would have to break.

Grêmio hosted the first leg on 24 July, but Independiente got the win with a goal from midfielder Jorge Burrachaga. At the time, the final was decided on points, with two for a win and one for a draw, which meant that Independiente would claim the trophy as long as they didn't lose the second leg three days later.

Which they didn't, holding Grêmio to a scoreless draw. The title was their seventh, which remains the most of any club.

Friday, July 26, 2013

26 July 2009 - Which, Coincidentally, Is As High As I Can Count In Spanish

On 26 July 2009, Mexico won their second consecutive Gold Cupand fifth overallbeating the United States by the record margin of 5-0.

The US were the defending champions, having beaten Mexico 2-1 in the 2007 final, and had matched their North American rivals throughout the earlier stages. Both teams had identical group stage records of two wins and a draw, and both went to extra time in the knockout rounds to reach the final (the US beat Panama 2-1 (aet) in the quarterfinals and Mexico needed a penalty shootout to advance over Costa Rica in the semis). By all appearances, the final looked to be a competitive match.

And, for a half, it was. Deadlocked at 0-0 through the break, Mexico eventually pulled ahead when captain Gerardo Torrado beat goalkeeper Troy Perkins with a 56th-minute penalty kick. It proved to be the key that unlocked the door to the goal, as it was followed in quick succession by strikes from Giovanni dos Santos (62'), Carlos Vela (67'), José Antonio Castro (79'), and Guillermo Franco (90').

The resulting 5-0 scoreline remains the largest margin of victory in any Gold Cup final, beating Mexico's own previous record of 4-0 set against the US in 1993.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

25 July 2012 - Better Late Than Never (Unless You're Colombia)

On 25 July 2012, North Korea delayed their opening-day Olympic match against Colombia by over an hour after the organizers displayed the wrong flag on the scoreboard.

Scheduled to start 7:45 p.m. local time, the match was the second of the day at Glasgow's Hampden Park, following the USA's win over France earlier that day. As game time approached, the Colombian players lined up in the tunnel and prepared to take the field, but the Koreans remained in their locker room. They soon made clear that their failure to appear was a protest, made after they realized that the stadium's scoreboard was showing the South Korean flag next to their players' profiles, which they interpreted as a major insult.

Officials eventually corrected the mistake and the game kicked off at 8:50 p.m. Colombia probably would have preferred that it remain delayed, as North Korea won 2-0 with both goals coming from Kim Song-Hui (pictured).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

24 July 2011 - Two Guays Walk Into A Final ...

On 24 July 2011, Uruguay won a record 15th Copa América, beating Paraguay in the final, 3-0.

Uruguay won their fourteenth title in 1995, tying them with Argentina as the competition's most successful team. Paraguay, meanwhile, had won it twice before, but made it to the 2011 final under unusual circumstances.

They drew all three of their group stage matches, but took the last spot in the knockout rounds with the second-best record of the tournament's three third-place teams. They then reached the final after beating Brazil and Venezuela in penalty shootouts, which were officially recorded as draws, meaning that they made it to the title game without winning (or losing) a single match.

Their unusual run ended in the final, however, as goals from Luis Suárez (11') and Diego Forlán (41', 89') lifted Uruguay to a convincing win.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

23 July 1966 - It Helps To Have A Ballon D'Or Winner On Your Team, Apparently

On 23 July 1966, four goals from Eusébio helped Portugal rally from a 3-0 deficit to beat North Korea 5-3 in the World Cup quarterfinals.

North Korea had already delivered the shock of the tournament, beating Italy 1-0 in their final group stage match to qualify for the knockout rounds, while Portugal had breezed through their group by winning all three matches.

The teams met at Goodison Park in Liverpool, where a crowd of almost 52,000 gathered to watch what looked to be another upset. The Koreans took a staggering 3-0 lead just 25 minutes in with goals from Pak Seung-Zin (1'), Lee Dong-Woon (22'), and Yang Seung-Kook (25').

Two minutes later, however, Eusébio--the 1965 Ballon d'Or winner--started the comeback by scoring his first of the day. He followed that with a 43rd-minute penalty kick to close the gap to 3-2 at the break, then the second half belonged to Portugal. Eusébio completed his hat-trick in the 53rd minute, then added a fourth via the penalty spot three minutes later to give the Portuguese their first lead of the day.

His Benfica teammate José Augusto, who had assisted Eusébio's first goal, capped the win with an 80th minute strike to set the final margin at 5-3.

Despite the amazing effort--or perhaps because of it--Portugal fell to England in the next round, 2-1. But their comeback against North Korea remains one of the most dramatic matches in tournament history.

Monday, July 22, 2013

22 July 2010 - Familiar Faces In Unfamiliar Places

On 22 July 2010, Thierry Henry scored on his debut for the New York Red Bulls in a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur.

Henry was a constant thorn in Tottenham's side from 1999 to 2007, when he played for their rivals Arsenal, winning two league titles and three FA Cups and finishing as the league's top scorer in four seasons. But in the summer of 2007, he moved the Barcelona, spending three seasons there before joining the Red Bulls in July 2010.

His first appearance for the MLS club came in the New York Challenge, a preseason tournament that also included Manchester City and Sporting. The Red Bulls opened the competition against Spurs, with Henry scoring the opening goal in the 25th minute. Tottenham rallied to win, however, with strikes from Robbie Keane (61') and Gareth Bale (71').

Henry is currently in his fourth season with New York and has scored a total of 21 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions. He was also named to the league's Best XI in 2011 and 2012.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

21 July 1970 - At Least They Didn't Go Home Empty-Handed

On 21 July 1970, FIFA awarded the inaugural Fair Play Trophy to Peru for not receiving a single card during the World Cup.

The tournament was Peru's first World Cup since 1930, when they lost both of their matches. They did better in 1970, beating Bulgaria and Morocco before losing to West Germany in their final group-stage match. That was enough to send them into the quarterfinals, where they lost to Brazil on 14 June.

The tournament ended on 21 June with Brazil beating Italy in the final. Later that day, as part of the awards ceremony, FIFA recognized Peru's spotless disciplinary record with a new honor called the Fair Play Trophy.

Since then, the trophy has been awarded at every World Cup, given to the team with the fewest cards. Spain won the most recent Fair Play Trophy in 2010. In addition to a trophy, the winners get a certificate, a medal for each player and team official, and $50,000 worth of equipment for their youth programs.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

20 July 2012 - The Swans Are Pleased To Michu

On 20 July 2012, Swansea signed Spanish striker Michu in what turned out to be the deal of the Premier League season.

The Swans were looking to improve upon their 11th-place finish from the previous season, which was their first in the Premier League. So they looked to Michu, who had scored seventeen goals in 37 appearances for Rayo Vallecano in his one year there. In terms of scoring, it was his best season to date, with his previous high-water mark coming for Celta Vigo B in 2007-08, when he scored ten goals.

Swansea paid a transfer fee of £2.2 million and signed him to a three-year deal. He rewarded them by scoring a career-high 22 goals, including 18 in the league, making him the Premier League's fifth-highest scorer for the season. He led his new club to a ninth-place finish and victory in the League Cup, which secured them a spot in the Europa League qualification rounds.

Recognizing his value early on, Swansea signed him to a new deal in January 2013, adding an extra year to his contract.

Friday, July 19, 2013

19 July 2009 - Home Is Where The Hundredth Goal Is

On 19 July 2009, US forward Abby Wambach scored her 100th international goal in a friendly win over Canada. And she did it in record time.

Wambach first joined the national team in 2003 and scored the match-winner in the final of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Three years later, she scored six goals in the World Cup as the US finished third, but she missed the 2008 Summer Olympics with a broken leg.

She recovered in time for the friendly against Canada, held in Wambach's hometown of Rochester, New York. The match remained scoreless deep into the second half until Wambach found the net in the 78th minute (with an assist from Lauren Cheney, who had taken her spot in the squad for the 2008 Olympics).

With the goal, Wambach became the ninth woman in history to score 100 goals. She was the fourth American to do so, but reached the milestone in her 129th cap, faster than any other player in team history.

Since then, she has continued to add to that number, with a current tally of 160 that makes her the team's all-top top scorer.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

18 July 1994 - Meola Makes A Change

On 18 July 1994, US goalkeeper Tony Meola switched sports when the New York Jets announced his signing. But the move was only temporary.

Meola earned his first cap for the US in 1988 and became the first-choice keeper in 1990. He captained the team through the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. After the latter, however, he decided to move into American football. He tried out for the Jets in mid-July and the club signed him to the squad, with general manager Dick Steinberg saying that "with experience and some technique work, he has the potential to be solid NFL kicker."

His time with the team proved limited, however, as he was cut in August. He quickly moved back into his original sport, playing for the Buffalo Blizzard (1994-95) and Long Island Rough Riders (1995) before joining the MetroStars for the first MLS season.

He rejoined the US national team in 1999 and ended up with an even 100 caps before his retirement in 2006.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

17 July 1975 - I Guess We Know Where Their Priorities Were

On 17 July 1975, UEFA adopted the use of penalty shootouts instead of replays to decide the finals of the European Cup, Cup Winners' Cup, and European Championship.

FIFA had approved the use of shootouts five years earlier, but UEFA stubbornly held on to the tradition of replays for its major competitions. In their defense, the need of either procedure rarely arose, with only four replays through 1971--three in the Cup Winners' Cup (1962, 1964, 1971) and one in the European Championship (1968).

Then in 1974, Bayern Munich and Atlético Madrid went to a replay in the European Cup Final (which the Germans proceeded to win 4-0). It turned out to be the last replay in a major UEFA competition, as they decided the following year to go with shootouts instead.

It didn't take long for the new procedure to make an appearance, as Czechoslovakia used it to beat West Germany at Euro 1976. Although it remains the only shootout in a European Championship, there have been ten in the European Cup/Champions League and six in the Cup Winners' Cup/UEFA Cup/Europa League.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

16 July 2008 - Captain America Sets The Shield Down

On 16 July 2008, Claudio Reyna, former United States captain who played for Manchester City and Rangers, announced his retirement.

After playing under Bruce Arena at the University of Virginia, the midfielder started his professional career in 1994 with Bayer Leverkusen, but went on loan to Wolfsburg from 1997 to 1999, where he became the first American to captain a European side.

He signed with Rangers in 1999 and went on to win both the league and the Scottish Cup in his first season before moving soon afterward to Sunderland (2001-2003). He then transferred to Manchester City, where he enjoyed his longest tenure, making a total of 87 appearances in four seasons.

In the meantime, he earned 111 caps between 1994 and 2006 and played in three World Cups. he captained the team in the 2002 and 2006 tournaments and was named to the all-tournament team in the former after helping the US reach the quarterfinals.

His final stop was with the New York Red Bulls, but injuries cut his career short just a few games into his second season.

Monday, July 15, 2013

15 July 1952 - Yugoslavia Takes Ten

On 15 July 1952, Yugoslavia opened the Olympics with a then-record 10-1 win over India.

Yugoslavia came into the tournament as contenders, having won the silver in 1948. Playing in Helsinki, they sought to solidify that status with a strong showing against India in the preliminary round, but few would have expected the result they got.

Bernard Vukas (pictured) opened the scoring in the 2nd minute and, by the break, Yugoslavia were up 5-0 with goals from Rajko Mitić (14', 43') and Branko Zebec ( 17', 23'). The second half was just as impressive, with more goals from Vukas (62') and Zebec (60', 87'), who were joined on the score sheet by Tihomir Ognjanov (52', 67'). India's Ahmed Khan found the net in the 89th minute, but by then it was small consolation.

Yugoslavia eventually reached the tournament's final, but lost to Hungary to take silver again. (After finishing in second in 1956, they finally won the gold in 1960).

The scoreline against India was Yugoslavia's biggest margin of victory since a 6-0 win over Israel in 1949 and was the most goals they had scored since beating Poland 9-3 in 1947. They eventually improved upon it, however, with a 10-0 victory over Venezuela in 1972.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

14 July 2009 - Tévez Sings The Blues

On 14 July 2009, Carlos Tévez switched sides in Manchester, leaving United to sign for City in a deal worth £25.5 million.

The Argentinian forward had joined United on loan from West Ham two years earlier. Over the course of those two seasons, he scored made 99 appearances across all competitions, scoring 34 goals and winning two Premier League titles, the Champions League, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

At the expiration of his two-year loan, United offered him a permanent deal, but Tévez had grown frustrated with a perceived lack of playing time and declined the offer, instead signing with United's rivals, City.

He spent four years at Manchester City where he scored 73 goals in 138 appearances and won the 2011 FA Cup and 2012 league title. His success was overshadowed, however, by a lengthy suspension in the middle of the 2011-12 season after he refused to come on as a late substitute in a Champions League match against Bayern Munich.

In June 2013, he moved to Juventus for a fee of £10M, with another £2M in incentives.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

13 July 2011 - There's A "Reds" Joke In There Somewhere

On 13 July 2011, Liverpool played in China for the first time, beating Guangdong Sunray Cave in a friendly, 4-3.

The match kicked off Liverpool's preseason Asian tour, which also included stops in Malaysia and South Korea. They had previously visited the region in 2009, when they played exhibitions in Thailand and Singapore. Their opponent in China, Guangdong, was founded in 2007 and had just been promoted from the league's third tier to the second.

Playing at the Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou, the visitors got off to a strong start with early goals from Christian Poulsen (19') and David N'gog (21'), but Guangdong striker Ricardo Steer halved the margin just before the break.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish swapped his entire side out for the second half and got goals from Conor Coady (72') and new signing Andy Carroll (89') to push their lead to 4-1. But Guangdong scored twice in the 90th minute to close the final gap to a surprisingly narrow 4-3.

Friday, July 12, 2013

12 July 1973 - He Must Have Lived In An RV

On 12 July 1973, Italian striker Christian Vieri--who set a world transfer fee record in 1999--was born in Bologna.

In a career that spanned from 1991 to 2009, Vieri played for thirteen different teams in Italy, Spain, and France (technically, Monaco, but in the French league), generally staying no more than a single season at each one. The lone exceptions were Torino, where he made nine appearances in his first two seasons as a professional, and Inter, where he remained for an unprecedented six seasons, making 190 appearances and scoring 123 goals.

After winning the La Liga scoring title with Atlético Madrid in 1997-98, he moved to Lazio and won the 1999 Cup Winners' Cup. That attracted the interest of Inter president Massimo Moratti, who paid a then-record £32MM for his services. (Coincidentally, it was Lazio who broke the record in 2000 by giving £35.5 MM to Parma for Hernán Crespo).

He left Inter for Milan in 2005, but suffered a knee injury shortly afterward and made only 14 appearances before moving to Monaco in early 2006. He finished his career with Atalanta in 2009, having played there before in two different spells.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

11 July 1991 - Malaysia's Brightest Star Burns Out

On 11 July 1991, Malaysia's all-time leading scorer Mokhtar Dahari died at the age of 37 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Born in 1953, the striker, nicknamed "Super Mokh," spent the majority career with Selangor, making 388 league appearances between 1972 and 1988. During that time, he won two league titles and ten Malaysia Cups. His 197 goals remain a club record.

In 1972, he debuted for the Malaysian national team and went on to score a team-record 125 goals in 137 appearances. Although the team never qualified for a major tournament during his tenure, he did win gold medals at the 1977 and 1979 Southeast Asian Games (he scored in both finals, providing the winning goal in the latter).

He retired in 1988 and was later diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative muscular condition also known as motor neurone disease or Lou Gehrig's disease, which ultimately led to his death in 1991.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 July 1916 - The Death Of Donald Simpson Bell

On 10 July 1916, Donald Simpson Bell, the first professional footballer to enlist in the British Army, was killed in action at the Somme.

A teacher, Bell had played as an amateur for Crystal Palace and Newcastle, then turned professional in 1912 with Division Two club Bradford Park Avenue. The team was promoted to the top flight for the 1914-15 season, by which time Britain had become embroiled in World War I. Bell quickly became the first professional footballer to enlist and, in November 1915, he arrived in France as a second lieutenant with the West Yorkshire Regiment.

The following July, he was at the Somme, where he earned the Victoria Cross for his actions on 5 July. According to the London Gazette: "During an attack a very heavy enfilade fire was opened on the attacking company by a hostile machine gun. 2nd Lt. Bell immediately, and on his own initiative, crept up a communication trench and then, followed by Corpl. Colwill and Pte. Batey, rushed across the open under very heavy fire and attacked the machine gun, shooting the firer with his revolver, and destroying gun and personnel with bombs. This very brave act saved many lives and ensured the success of the attack." Unfortunately, he was killed in action five days later while performing a similar maneuver.

His Victoria Cross--the only one ever awarded to a professional footballer--was purchased by the Professional Footballers' Association at a 2010 auction for a reported £252,000 and is not on display at the National Football Museum.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

9 July 2011 - Taking Hospitality A Little Too Far

On 9 July 2011, Japan eliminated 2-time defending champions and hosts Germany from the World Cup with an extra-time quarterfinal goal. They then went on the lift the cup.

The teams had met three times in previous World Cups and Germany won each one. The last two were in the group stages of the 2003 and 2007 tournaments, both of which ended with Germany as champions. As hosts of the 2011 edition, they were heavy favorites to win it a third straight time.

They breezed through the group stage with a perfect record to set up their quarterfinal meeting with Japan in Wolfsburg. It was only the second time Japan had advanced out of the first round and was as far as they had ever progressed.

The Germans controlled the early part of the match, but could not get the ball in the net despite outshooting Japan 23 to 9 on the day. Japan, meanwhile, settled in under the leadership of midfielder and captain Homare Sawa, who helped them limit Germany's chances by keeping the majority of possession.

Scoreless through 107 minutes of extra time, the day's only goal came in the 108th, as substitute forward Karina Maruyama drove the ball just inside the far post, handing Germany their first defeat in sixteen World Cup games.

Afterward, Japan beat Sweden in the semifinals, then won the final over the United States in a penalty shootout.

Monday, July 8, 2013

8 July 1991 - A Pretty Good Bit Of Business, That

On 8 July 1991, sixteen-year old David Beckham signed his first contract with Manchester United, joining the U-18s as one of "Fergie's Fledglings."

He had been associated with the club for over two years, having signed schoolboy forms with them on his fourteenth birthday, but the 1991 contract formalized his position at the club under the Youth Training Scheme, intended as a type of apprenticeship program to provide post-educational opportunities for 16- and 17-year olds.

Although he remained with the U-18s that first season, he nonetheless got his first piece of silverware, helping the club win the 1992 FA Youth Cup. His teammates on the winning team included Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. That group formed the core of manager Alex Ferguson's second attempt to invigorate the club with youth players brought up through the ranks, nicknamed by the press as "Fergie's Fledglings" in comparison to the "Busby Babes" of former manager Matt Busby.

Beckham cracked into the first squad for the 1992-93 season, but made only one appearance over the next two years, then went on loan to Preston North End. He returned in 1995 and became a regular starter, making a total of 394 appearances before moving to Real Madrid in 2003 for a transfer fee of £25M which was, at the time, the club's record received fee. Before his departure, he won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and one Champions League trophy.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

7 July 2011 - Collapse At De Grolsch Veste

On 7 July 2011, the roof collapsed during construction at FC Twente's stadium, De Grolsch Veste, killing two and injuring 14 others.

Twente had just come off their most successful two seasons, winning their first league title in 2010 and their third KNVB Cup in 2011 (they also finished as league runners-up in 2011). That prosperity prompted plans to expand their stadium, which had just completed an earlier expansion in 2008.

Construction started in Spring 2011 and had made significant progress by July when the collapse occurred. According to Dutch reports, two supporting girders gave way, dropping the roof onto a section of seats behind one of the goals. Fortunately, no match was being played that day, but one worker was killed instantly, while another later died at the hospital. Fourteen others were injured.

A year later, the club later erected a monument to the victims (pictured).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

6 July 2007 - He Should Have Listened To Thomas Wolfe

On 6 July 2007, Manchester City confirmed former England boss Sven-Göran Eriksson as their new manager in a three-year deal worth a reported £9M. But he lasted less than a year in the position.

Eriksson had previously managed several clubs in Sweden, Portugal, and Italy, winning the UEFA Cup with Göteborg, then claiming three league titles with Benfica while also taking them to the European Cup and UEFA Cup finals. He returned to the UEFA Cup final with Lazio, where he won a Serie A title and the Cup Winners' Cup. After Lazio, he managed the English national team from 2001 to 2006.

Upon his departure from the England job, he took a year off, then returned to management when Manchester City came calling, making him their first non-British manager. Owner Thaksin Shinawatra gave him a generous transfer budget, which Eriksson used to sign several players, including Rolando Bianchi, Vedran Ćorluka, and Martin Petrov.

His time there got off to a strong start, with the Blues jumping to the top of table early, but a mid-season slump saw them fall to seventh in January on the back of a string of poor results. By spring, Shinawatra announced his intention to sack Eriksson, which he eventually did that July, despite a groundswell of support for the Swede among City fans.

Eriksson went on to make a series of short stops as manager of Mexico, Cote d'Ivoire, and Leicester City, and is currently managing Guangzhou R&F in China.

Friday, July 5, 2013

5 July 2012 - The Times They Are A-Changin'

On 5 July 2012, the International Football Association Board, responsible for the Laws of the Game, finally approved the use of goal-line technology, reversing years of opposition.

According to the Laws of the Game, a goal is counted only when the ball passes completely over the goal line. But the fallibility of referees means that disputed goals have long been a staple of football, even reaching to the highest level. In 1966, England won the World Cup over West Germany 4-2, with their third goal still stirring controversy over whether it should have been allowed.

To address the problem, calls for the use of goal-line technology started in the 2000s, but FIFA resisted the pressure, with President Sepp Blatter saying as late as 2010 that it would be too expensive and would slow down match play.

But high-profile incidents continued to stoke public support, including a disallowed English goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup that was far over the line (pictured) and another by Ukraine against England at Euro 2012.

Then, in July 2012, the IFAB--which consists of FIFA and the FAs of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland--decided to allow the use of goal-line technology, starting with the 2012 Club World Cup and the 2013 Confederations Cup (although neither tournament presented an opportunity to review a decision whether to allow a goal).

At the same meeting, IFAB voted to allow women to wear headscarves while playing, reversing a rule against religious statements that had been enforced since 2007, and also voted to allow a fifth referee at matches.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4 July 1926 - The Blonde Arrow Is Loosed

On 4 July 1926, two-time Ballon d'Or winner and five-time La Liga top scorer Alfredo di Stéfano was born in Buenos Aires.

Nicknamed "the Blonde Arrow," di Stéfano's twenty-one year professional career saw him win league trophies and scoring titles in three different countries. He debuted with River Plate in 1945 and won the league in his first season, followed by a second in 1947 when he was also the Primera División's top scorer. In 1949, Millonarios lured him to Colombia, where he added another three league championships (1949, 1951, 1952) and two scoring titles (1951, 1952) to his list of accomplishments.

In 1953, he moved across the Atlantic to play for Real Madrid (he had intended to sign for Barcelona, but a stall in contract negotiations allowed Real Madrid to steal him away in a move that intensified the already heated rivalry between the two clubs). There, he reached his greatest heights, winning five consecutive European Cups along with eight La Liga titles between 1954 and 1964. By the time he left, he was the club's all-time top scorer, with 305 goals in 392 appearances in all competitions (he currently sits in second, behind Raúl, who has 323). He also won the Ballon d'Or in 1957 and 1959.

He played two seasons for Espanyol before retiring in 1966, then moved into management, including multiple spells in charge of Boca Juniors, Valencia, and Real Madrid before his full retirement in 1991.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

3 July 1985 - It Stayed Close For A Few Minutes, At Least

On 3 July 1985, Seattle beat Portland 1-6, setting the largest margin of victory in the longstanding rivalry between the two clubs.

The two teams first played each other on 2 May 1975 as NASL teams in what was Portland's first game. Seattle won, 0-1. They continued to meet until 1982, when financial pressures forced the dissolution of Portland's team. Seattle followed after the 1983 NASL season, with the league itself folding in 1985.

In 1984, Seattle reformed as the Seattle Storm and joined the Western Soccer Alliance, with Portland joining a year later. That set the stage for their first post-NASL meeting in the Western Alliance Challenge Series that also included the San Jose Earthquakes and the Victoria Riptide.

Portland hosted Seattle at the Civic Stadium where a meager crowd of just under 3,000 watched as Seattle took a 2nd-minute lead with a goal from Ken Fuegman. Portland's Mark Miller quickly equalized (11'), but Seattle then pulled away, scoring five unanswered goals, starting with Brian Schmetzer's 13th-minute strike. Bruce Raney had a hat-trick, with Peter Fewing providing the remaining goal.

Since then, the rivalry has moved through the Western Soccer League, the American Professional Soccer League, the A-League, the USL, the US Open Cup, and Major League Soccer, but the 6-1 scoreline remains a record.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2 July 2008 - The Team That Refused To Quit

On 2 July 2008, Quito won the Copa Libertadores on penalties over Fluminense, 5-5 (3-1).

It was the first time in the final for both teams. Quito hosted the first leg at the Estadio Casa Blanca on 25 June and jumped out to an early lead when forward Claudio Bieler scored in the second minute. Midfielder Darío Conca equalized for Fluminense ten minutes later, but Quito then scored three straight goals (29', 34', 45') to lead 4-1 at the break. A goal from Fluminense's Thiago Neves in the 52nd minute set the final margin at 4-2.

The second leg, played at the Maracaña, started by following a similar pattern. Quito again took an early lead with a goal in the sixth minute and Fluminense again equalized in the 12th. But unlike the previous match,  Fluminense were the ones to score three unanswered goals, with additional strikes in the 28th and 56th minutes. The match ended 3-1 at the end of regulation, for an aggregate score of 5-5.

Because the tournament did not consider away goals, the match went to extra time and, when nobody scored, to a penalty shootout. There, Quito goalkeeper José Francisco Cevallos blocked three of four shots, while his teammates converted three of their four kicks to win the shootout, 3-1.

Monday, July 1, 2013

1 July 2012 - Spain Completes A Record Hat-Trick

On 1 July 2012, Spain successfully defended their title as European champions, crushing Italy 4-0 in the final.

After a long history of near-misses and a reputation for failing to live up to expectations, Spain finally won a major tournament when they beat Germany in the Euro 2008 final, then followed that by lifting the World Cup trophy over the Netherlands in 2010.

In their first match of Euro 2012, they faced Italy in the group stage and played to a 1-1 draw. Both teams eventually advanced, with the defending champions winning the group and Italy just two points behind in second.

Making their way through the knockout rounds, the two teams faced off again in the final, played before a crowd of over 63,000 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. But it was no repeat of the previous match, as Spain took control early and never let up, getting goals from David Silva (14'), Jordi Alba (41'), Fernando Torres (84'), and Juan Mata (88'), with the latter two coming on as late substitutes.

The match set several milestones--it was the largest margin in Euro final history and the first time a team had won three consecutive major international tournaments. It was also the 100th international victory for Spanish goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas.