Disaster Averted at the Camp Nou, Coutinho Headlines

Coutinho Debut

Barcelona almost repeats history against Alaves having lost 2-1 against them last time they came to visit the Camp Nou during league play. Barça, undefeated in the league, went down early due to a counterattack goal shot by Guidetti in the 23rd minute. Having possession most of the game Barcelona were able to create great build up play that was easy on the eye but couldn’t translate that into shots on goal.

Barcelona wouldn’t get a goal until 72nd minute where Suarez got a hard shot on goal deflected in by an unlucky Alaves defender. With the draw seeming secure Barça kept on pushing looking for the second. Messi then proceeded to gift us an absolute beautiful free kick into the top right of the goal in the 84th minute.

Coutinho’s first start was an impressive performance overall. It looks like he felt right at home in the Barça offense. The display of one touch passes and overlapping runs was a beauty to behold. The final possession stats on the day were 78-22 percent, in favor of Barcelona. This is telling of the overall great defensive performance from the Alaves players who almost didn’t leave empty handed.

Barcelona’s next game will be on February 1st against Valencia in the Copa del Rey, the offense will need to find its shooting boots if they want to win the competition, we’ll see what the crew can muster up and talk about it here.

Anaheim Ducks Half Season Recap

Ducks recap
Mel Zetz
NHL/Ducks Writer

Just like that, we’re halfway through the NHL season (well…we’re actually 50 games in), and the Ducks are on the outside looking in. The two-time defending Pacific Division champs are currently sitting at 5th place in their domain that they have commanded in recent years. If that isn’t concerning enough, they are sitting outside of the Western Conference Wild Card race as well. But now is no time to panic, the Ducks have been here before, and seem to find a catalyst from the All Star break to spark a second half run, and look poised take on the challenge this year.

The 2015-16 Ducks closed out the first half of the season at 22-18-7 (51 points), averaging a paltry 1.085 points per game. Come second half, the red hot Ducks finished strong at 46-25-11, clinching first place in their division and averaging an impressive 1.486 points. Similar story last year (although with a considerably better start), the Ducks started 27-15-9, averaging 1.245 points per game. Enter the post-All-Star Ducks, boosting that average to 1.355, proving to be one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season, along with the returning Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and once again claiming their position at the top of the coveted Pacific Division.

History tends to repeat itself, as the Ducks are not exactly where they would like to be – posting a meager 1.14 points per game, and sitting outside of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (although very much in the race). But if slow starts have become this team’s M.O., digging themselves out tends to follow. The Ducks finished strong at 6-2-2 (14 points) in their last 10 games, accounting for 25 percent of their total points in just 20 percent of the season. Although the sample size is small, the other variables involved include the return of a couple familiar faces in Ryan & Ryan, leaving Ducks’ fans hopeful entering All-Star Weekend.

Being plagued by injury certainly didn’t help the Ducks case early on, and fans can breathe a sigh of relief with the return of their stars, led by none other then El Capitan, Ryan Getzlaf. Getz’s impact on this team cannot be put into words. He’s the Captain, the vocal leader, and the heart and soul of this roster. Intangibles aside, his impact on the game cannot be understated (not that any fans of this team would…). The 32 year old veteran has shown zero signs of slowing down, leading the entire NHL with 0.96 assists per game, posting 25 in the 26 games he’s played. His name is up there with NHL superstars like Brad Marchand (BOS), NHL point leader Nikita Kucherov (TB), and Nathan McKinnon (COL), trailing only these three names in points per game, with an impressive 1.192. Getzlaf is truly a player who makes everyone around him better, as the Ducks are 16-8-2 with him in the lineup – accumulating 68% percent of the teams total points in just 26 games! His presence will be instrumental in bringing them back to the playoffs for the 6th straight season.

Another storyline this year has been the continued progression of the young Swedish scorer, Rickard Rakell. Slick Rick lit the lamp 18 times this year, and leads the whole team in goals, and total points, with 36. Rakell is the Ducks’ lone All Star this season, and is on pace to post 59 points. The last Duck not named Ryan Getzlaf to score 60 points in a season was Corey Perry in the 2015-16 season, and Rakell is showing all the signs of being the star this team needs. At only 24 years old, he’s improved every year in terms of point scored, and has all the potential to be a premier scorer in this league. His performance is only looking to improve with the consistent presence of the league’s best assist man by his side.

The acquisition of Adam Henrique could play big in the second half for Anaheim. Acquired in a trade in late November for defensemen Sami Vatanen, the 27 year old vet, and consistent 40-50 point player helped contribute to the late offensive surge the Ducks displayed. In just 25 games as a Duck, Henrique added 15 points, closing out the first half with a 5 game scoring streak, scoring 4 goals and two assists. He’s a fun player to watch, and you got to love a player who posterizes the guy he’s traded for shortly thereafter.

Our own Iron Man, Andrew Cogliano had to say goodbye to his 830 game streak (4th longest in NHL history) due to a 2 game suspension for his hit on Adrian Kempe of the Los Angeles Kings. Bias aside, we can admit the hit was late. We can also admit him receiving a 2 game suspension in a sport where we cheer on guys who drop their gloves and exchange fists (in most cases outside of a hockey rink, we’d consider this assault), is kind of funny. Cogs is a gritty player and it was sad to see his streak go. You can see it in his emotional interview here. You can’t help but feel bad for a guy who is as truly passionate for the game as he is.

Some other notables from this season have been Josh Manson, Antoine Vermette, and Hampus Lindholm. Manson came out of nowhere, contributing 23 points, surpassing our normal offensive contributing defenseman, Cam Fowler (18 points). Vermette, the 35 year old faceoff specialist, won 526 of his 876 faceoffs. That’s 60 percent, and second in all of the NHL. This is a huge asset to have, and we will see the value in big moments. Lindholm is an exciting young player to watch, and a staple of the defensive corps. He’s had some big moments this year, including clinching the victory over the Islanders on December 22nd with his hat-trick, overtime goal.

Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg are both on pace to post 40 points, and their continued consistent production will be important to the teams success. The young Ondrej Kase has also been a consistent contributor with double-digit goals and assists (12,10).

The goalie play has been slightly above average. John Gibson missed some time, where we got to see Ryan Miller flash his glove. Miller did an excellent job filling in for 14 games, posting a .929 save %, which would rank top 5 in the league (if he had started the required amount of games). Gibson himself hasn’t been too shabby, ranking above average in terms of save percentage. We can expect the few days of rest to do Gibby well, as it’s always difficult battling ailments, especially at goalie.

As mentioned before, we’re all excited for Ryan Kesler’s return. Kesler began the season out indefinitely because of an offseason hip surgery. Since his return in late December, Kesler has provided a spark. The Ducks went 8-4-1 with him in the lineup. Kesler’s value as a leader was also missed, and you never want a high-40 to high-50 guy absent from your lineup. Not to mention, every team needs an instigator, and Kesler is top-notch when it comes to getting into the heads’ of opponents.

The Ducks open up the second half with a 5 game road trip (10-8-6 on the road), and a very difficult matchup in Boston – against a top 3 team in the NHL. With all the pieces seemingly falling into place at the right time, and just 1 point out of a divisional playoff spot, and a tiebreaker out of a wildcard spot, we can be excited for another thrilling second half of Anaheim Ducks hockey. Keep calm and quack on.

UEFA Nations League Draw


League A

Group one Group two Group three Group four
Netherlands Iceland Poland Croatia
France Switzerland Italy England
Germany Belgium Portugal Spain

League B

Group one Group two Group three Group four
Czech Republic Turkey Northern Ireland Denmark
Ukraine Sweden Bosnia and Herzegovina Republic of Ireland
Slovakia Russia Austria Wales

League C

Group one Group two Group three Group four
Israel Estonia Cyprus Lithuania
Albania Finland Bulgaria Montenegro
Scotland Greece Norway Serbia
Hungary Slovenia Romania

League D

Group one Group two Group three Group four
Andorra San Marino Kosovo Gibraltar
Kazakhstan Moldova Malta Liechtenstein
Latvia Luxembourg Faroe Islands Armenia
Georgia Belarus Azerbaijan Macedonia


The draw that not a lot of people were excited for, but we got anyways. In my opinion, I think this league can only do positive for the fans and the players. International friendlies are pointless as it is, and for that same reason are almost torture to watch a team go 50% when you pay $60 to watch the game. The nations league is gonna add at least a somewhat more competitive environment.

What’s another main issue prevalent in international soccer? The players and coach don’t spend more than a week together, or a couple on a special tournament. Chemistry is hard to build when you don’t have a team together most of the year.

Overall, the standard of play is going to increase, the amount of pointless friendlies are gonna drop, and one of the best points I heard for fans of smaller European national teams, those teams will be playing a different style of football now. To elaborate on that, Macedonia or Andorra in the matches we see them, play against better opposition most of the time and are parking the bus for 90 minutes, but now we’ll see them attacking and playing competitive international games for their country.

The CONCACAF nations league will also be holding a draw and will begin in September of this year, stay tuned here for more.

Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United!


The forward’s long transfer saga has finally come to an end. In a shockingly efficient swap of Mkhitaryan for Sanchez, Ed Woodward has done some great business. The deal will work well for both teams, considering Sanchez was no longer content enough to extend his stay in London, and Mkhitaryan had fallen out of Mourinho’s good graces. Alexis will wear the number 7 and was showing off his piano skills in his announcement video.

Available here.

He will be next in the long storied list of United players to wear the number 7 who have totally always worked out.

In the interest of full disclosure I am a United fan, which I’m sure will be a shock being American and all. As a fan, I’m ecstatic to have a world class forward back at Old Trafford. Yes, Alexis just turned 29 and his longevity is going to be up for debate sooner than I’d like, but with all the talent coming up on that left side his eventual departure will not hurt United too much. There has been a void in the United attacking trio for some time and players with talent coming up, but no finished product on the field to carry the productivity.

Offloading Mkhitaryan was a necessary piece of business for the upcoming transfer window, despite his great contributions last season it was clear his morale was down and had lost the trust of Mourinho. It seems the stars had aligned to make this deal, and swipe Sanchez right out from under City, who to be honest are not in need of more goals considering the way they’re performing.

Great work for the front office and great for all United fans who can finally exhale as this transfer window has been a success.

Premier League Rundown 1/20/18

Hectic day around the pitch, full of goals for the English sides today, here are the details..

Brighton Hove Albion 0-4 Chelsea

Chelsea got off to a flying start bouncing back from last weekend’s disappointing draw to make quick work of a struggling Brighton side. Hazard drew first blood and would end the night with a brace, Willian scored a beautiful goal at the end of some impressive link up play. Not to be forgotten in the dying moments Moses scored the fourth to assure his opponents, if it wasn’t clear enough, tonight was not their night. Now Conte’s men will be attempting to rest as much as possible considering their next match will be in four days against Arsenal.

Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace

Wenger shows the Premier League that he can actually field a decent starting lineup and get a win. They’re currently still 11 points behind second place, but this will make the Gunners feel a bit better that their offense won’t be dead as soon as Sanchez walks out. It was a team effort with goals coming from Monreal, Iwobi, Koscielny, and Lacazette in the first 22 minutes. The only goal from Crystal Palace came in the 78th minute from Milivojevic.

Burnley 0-1 Manchester United

Just like an old car starting up in the morning it took the Red Devils a little bit longer than usual to warm up, but got the job done at the end of the day. Martial provides the only goal with a class strike that bounced off the top crossbar and in. Mourinho’s men maintain second place for another week but their next match will come against Tottenham, a very even draw.

Everton 1-1 West Bromwich Albion

After last week’s demolition the Toffees might be happy to get something other than an L, but it’s West Brom and truly should have been a win. West Brom went up early thanks to Rodriguez but Niasse tied it up in the 70th, other than that they will both be unhappy with their results and will look to the next Premier League match day.

Leicester City 2-0 Watford

A decently even game from both sides that was simply killed off by Mahrez at the 91st minute. Only other goal of the game was a penalty from Vardy in the 39th minute. The Foxes get another three points and have their work cut out for them with a game against Everton after the FA cup break.

Stoke City 2-0 Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield fall again, this time to the Potters who win thanks to the goals provided by Allen and Diouf. Stoke will be happy to get another three points to help their unfortunate, but deserved position on the table.

West Ham United 1-1 AFC Bournemouth

Chicharitooooo saves the day for the Hammers salvaging a draw from match, and to avoid another defeat at the hands of a beatable opponent. The other goal on the night was from Fraser, who will be content to have taken home a point. Hernandez’s goal will finally give him a sigh of relief and hopefully a place to start scoring more goals to pad the stats for the eventual move to MLS in the summer (hot takes, I got them).

Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United

Aguero, the name Rafa Benitez and Newcastle will sleep with in their nightmares after his performance tonight, and his performance’s whenever he does see those black and white stripes. Newcastle gave us all hope they could pull of a draw coming close with a 2-1 scoreline late in the game, but fell short due to Aguero’s heroics. A header, right footed penalty, and left foot shot. The perfect hat-trick. The only goal from the Magpies came from Murphy in the 67th, and despite losing they should be proud of the great performance against Guardiola and his men who were sure to come out strong after a loss. Newcastle will have to look ahead and prepare for the tough two fixtures coming up, the first against Chelsea in the FA Cup and then a impressive Burnley side following.

That’s it for today, stay here for the best Premier League coverage!

Freeway Face-off Round 4!

The hockey gods have benevolently given us another great match up against our rivals the Los Angeles Kings, and better yet we snagged another win. What a different game from last weekend’s match up, no fights as opposed to the three to start the game last weekend. The goalposts on both ends made a valiant effort, especially against Rickard Rakell, but their heroics could not stop the scoring.

No goals in the first two periods, and Anaheim finally stayed out of the penalty box. Our penalty kill did its job ending perfect on the night.

For the Ducks’ first goal, all I can say is Adam Henrique is a gem, it’s mostly just perseverance for him to get that puck in the back of the net, and incidentally himself as well.

The Kings didn’t stay behind for much tying the game a little under three minutes later. Iafallo is left alone on Gibson’s right side to put it home as everyone bunches up in front of the crease.

Lastly, the beaut that puts the Ducks ahead is started by a slapper from Beauchemin then redirected by Kesler through Quick’s five-hole. Jonathan Quick, by the way, put an absolute clinic in the first two periods, an immense performance that came up short thanks to Kesler.

Overall, another great performance for the Ducks to add onto the win against the Penguins. Last weekend I mentioned how the win against the Kings could be the spark to start a streak, but it showed not to be the case as we quickly lost to the Avs a couple days later. Getzlaf also gave Ducks’ fans a small heart attack getting off the ice gingerly late in the first period. Thankfully, he came back for the opening face-off of the second period. Next game is against the Sharks on Sunday at home. It’s a hard game, but the schedule is basically begging us to get ahead on the Pacific Division. The playoff race is tight, but not impossible, stay tuned here for all updates!

Around the Pitch: Saturday 1/13/18

West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Thanks to the flying headers provided by Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson the Baggies picked up some very much needed points from Brighton, and are looking to pry themselves out of the bottom 3 and back into the very comfortable mid table they are used to. Despite facing a lackluster Everton team next week, they will be out for blood coming off a terrible drubbing at the hands of Spurs (more on that in a bit).

Watford 2-2 Southampton

The Saints got off to a 2-0 lead with the class of James Ward-Prowse and his undoubtedly calm finishing in the box. Though Watford would not go down quietly in the second half, playing at home and surely not to be outdone by a team 6 places under them on the table. Andre Gray asserted himself over the Saint’s keeper hitting a hanging ball that had just gone off the crossbar. And late on from Doucore, he scored a contender for controversial goal of the weekend bringing back flashbacks to Maradona’s winner over England decades ago, redirecting it in with his right hand to bring Watford equal. The points would’ve surely been helpful for both but the Saints will be missing them dearly only 1 point from the relegation zone.

Just a few more marvelous Premier League matches…

Newcastle United 1-1 Swansea City

Darlow’s pretty saves could not keep the Swans out of his net at home, however his teammates would get one back to draw even as the side recovered a point thanks to a great piece of finishing that fooled Fabianski.

Huddersfield Town 1-4 West Ham United

West Ham United visited Huddersfield to hand them a shellacking at John Smith Stadium. A Lanzini brace and some powerful shots from Arnautovic and Noble were enough to propel them over 13th placed Huddersfield Town.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Burnley

Crystal Palace take care of Burnley at home looking to continue their promising form, and take advantage of the lull Burnley have entered despite having a hot start to the league.

Chelsea 0-0 Leicester City

What looked like an achievable win at home for Conte’s men ended in disappointment. The power of his banter with Mourinho could not fuel the team to a win in the last 20 minutes against a 10 men Leicester City. The Foxes will be happy to have gotten out of Stamford with a point despite the red card Chilwell. Conte had some choice words after the match pointing to fatigue as the reasoning for the faltering. Is it valid? Maybe. But is it something that no other top 5 team is dealing with? No.

And the nightcap for this Saturday was brought to you by…


Big Sam’s defense reminded the Toffee faithful that their defense has plenty of things to improve on as Pickford was hung out to dry for the Spurs attack to take apart. This will be a memorable match for the Spurs as their golden boy Harry Kane has overtaken Teddy Sheringham for the club’s top scorer, albeit one of his goals looking clearly offside. The Toffees will not have much to complain about as the Spurs never looked in doubt to clearly take the game. Eriksen topped it off with a class strike to make it 4-0. A close player of the match was definitely Son Heung-min, with an outstanding assist to Kane and a goal of his own it felt like Son was running the show. Serious credit to the Spurs’ defense, Rooney and Sigurdsson were in their back pocket thanks to a stout performance led by Vertonghen. Everton will surely be looking to bounce back against West Brom in an equally terrible lull in form, and Spurs should secure three points from Southampton quite easily if it all goes to plan next weekend staying in the race for 2nd place.

Thank you very much for reading, please give us your input down below on today’s rundown, how’d your team do?

Launch Week!

The much anticipated unveiling has finally arrived, and this week will probably have hiccups and miscues. However, we are rolling out a plenty of copy.

Starting this weekend

  • Anaheim Ducks return from the bye week, review of Freeway Faceoff and team overall.
  • English Premier League coverage for the whole weekend, and special EPL game of the week coverage.

Upcoming week

  • Begin coverage of select La Liga match-ups.
  • Beginning of national team preamble.
  • Preview and prediction for EPL match of the week.
  • Everything here is in addition to the first list.

Freeway Face-off Round 3!

Anaheim Ducks 4-2 Los Angeles Kings

The third meeting of the season between the Ducks and Kings started off with a great display of respect to Kings legend Bob Miller and a banner raising in his honor. Not to be out-shined by Bob’s ceremony the Ducks started the period with an appetite for fighting, just two minutes into the first period the gloves were dropped three times. Here’s a quick rundown..

Jared Boll vs. Kurtis MacDermid : (MacDermid of the big hit on Kase fame to take him out early in the season) in my biased opinion slight edge to Mac.

Kevin Bieksa vs. Andy Andreoff : Rematch of a fight earlier this season which ended with Bieksa’s trademark one punch finish. In my opinion edge to Bieksa, Andreoff looked very beat up in the box after this one, either that or he’s an easy bleeder, your call.

Nick Ritchie vs. Kyle Clifford : The last fight of the night was an energized scrap from Ritchie, got some good hits and did not want that one to end as he kept chuckin’ knucks as they hit the ground, looks like it got him inspired enough to have a great rest of the game.

Let’s start off with this, the Ducks finally got some much needed points off Pacific Division opponents, and even better against our rivals. We just set a great starting point for a desperately needed win streak. Next up is Colorado which is attainable points and would be great to get some momentum going.

The Ducks played overall some great hockey against the Kings, and showed some really great puck possession and ability to set up in the LA zone throughout most of the game. Quick let in an ugly first goal from a bad angle shot provided by Ondrej Kase. The second goal was on the power play from Ryan Kesler. Kesler brought down an airborne pass and proceeded to snipe top shelf on Quick’s glove side paving the way for a small but satisfying celly for such a great goal. Lastly, another mistake from Quick trying to play the puck out from behind the net followed by Ritchie’s heads up play to give Kase a great shot at an empty net.

The third period the Kings pushed on a Ducks team cruising with 3-0 lead and got the results they wanted. Beauchemin left his man to pressure the puck and the Ducks got punished. Soon after Kopitar comes down the slot and whoa! whats this, a rebound off Gibson? Yup. He proceeds to beat Gibby and bring them within one.

Despite an admirable effort from the Kings in the last 10 minutes of the game, Scorey Perry’s cross ice shot into the empty net sealed. Ducks win! We have an almost completely healthy roster and only two points of the WC2 spot.

Stick taps to Ondrej Kase, and his noteworthy return to the team from spending some time in San Diego during the bye week.

“You’ll get ’em next time” awards to Jonathan Quick and Drew Doughty, both need to take a look at their performance if they wanna help the Kings finish strong this season.