In England, tiny Swansea beat Manchester City 1-0. As the Guardian’s Rob Smyth pointed out this morning, City have spent £500 million over the past five years to newly-promoted Swansea’s £15 million. Moreover, Brendan Rodgers side out-passed, out-pressed, out-possessed, out-played the would-be Premier League champions. So the British press went dizzy with delight on this ecstatic bizarro world in which well-coached teams could beat ostensibly superior opposition on the day. Though few had the temerity to say it out-loud, the undercurrent was there—BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD.
Of course almost no one mentioned how Roy Hodgson’s West Brom simultaneously went to Old Trafford and, like many, many clubs before them, lost quite comfortably. The result ended 2-0, and while Hodgson protested a penalty not given over a perceived trip by Evra on Odemwingie, he also warned that a Rooney-less England would be in trouble at the Euros this summer. Manchester United finished the weekend a point ahead at the top of the table, Mancini pointed to the Manchester derby as salvation, and the gears began to turn for a 20th United title, their 12th in the last 20 years. That’s 60% success rate. For those for whom variety is the spice of life, the Premier League “title race” is about as bland as beans on a baked potato.
Compare and contrast to Major League Soccer, which kicked off this weekend. While the Montreal Impact’s 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps was as predictable as it was boring, Real Salt Lake’s 3-1 away victory over the LA Galaxy, a team in top spot on almost every single, pre-season prediction piece, was neither. FC Dallas kept the trend going with a 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls. The “dynasty” talk around Beckham and co. under Bruce Arena already tasted stale. The quality of play might not be the same, and the officiating is still a bit too much Choose Your Own Adventure at times, but for downright unpredictability, MLS could be your go-to soccer league this year…
Sold out BC Place atmosphere was electric for MLS First Kick.
MLS 2012 Eastern Conference preview.
Two thumbs up, two thumbs down for ‘Caps so far.
Impact play a game of mistakes against Vancouver.
Interview with TFC’s Milos Kocic.
Atiba Hutchinson as Canada’s right-back?
Harry Redknapp starts to question his suitability for England job, coincidentally as Tottenham’s form begins to slump.
Meanwhile he prepares a bid for Eden Hazard to come to White Hart Lane.
Should Man City dump the Europa League to save their season?
Balotelli gets in a tunnel scrap with Yaya Toure.
Rosicky signs a new Arsenal contract.
Arsene Wenger is also interested in Montpellier’s Belhanda.
Steven Gerrard unhappy with Reds’ recent form.
Sir Alex sets a target of forty goals for Rooney.
Alex McLeish: Didja like my subs?
Michael Cox with a very intriguing tactical comparison between Moyes and Redknapp.
Fabio Capello says he won’t be going to Inter.
Lavezzi, Napoli in imperious form, writes Paolo Bandini.
The possibility Juventus could end the season undefeated but without a Scudetto looms large.
Michael Ballack claims there was a conspiracy to oust him as Germany captain.
Bremen on course for European qualification in the Bundesliga.
Bits and bobs
Five thoughts from MLS opening weekend.
Messi edges closer to personal greatness as Real Madrid edge closer to a La Liga title.
And that, give or take, is the story so far…