The worst player to win the Ballon d’Or in the last 10 years is Andriy Shevchenko. Over that same stretch, Matt Leinart, Troy Smith, Tim Tebow, and Mark Ingram have won Heisman Trophies. If you don’t remember some of those names, don’t worry. That, to be blunt, is the point.
If one measure of an award is the lasting significance of its winners, the Heisman’s recent winners speak volumes. College football’s highest honor has become an interesting curiosity for the game’s diehards, often capturing the romance of a season’s narrative rather than the game’s best player. If you had not deeply ensconced on those narratives, you probably don’t care about the honor.
In case you were wondering, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won this year’s award in a landslide. When he picked up the iconic trophy on Saturday in New York, he became the fifth straight quarterback to win the honor. Apparently, voters don’t care that much about the award anymore, either.
For those of you who do care, you probably went into a post-award blackout after Saturday’s reveal. Be that because of overload or malaise, your weekend was probably ruined once the headline act was done. Thankfully, we’re here (again) to remind you that the soccer world is a much more interesting place. Let’s just focus on these 10 examples:
Liverpool face plants at Old Trafford
De Gea became “de God” for one day, making eight saves to keep Liverpool off the scoresheet. Unfortunately for the Reds, Brad Jones couldn’t keep up. The mascot-cum-starter proved to be one of many erroneous decisions for Brendan Rodgers, who gave critics a bullhorn and a motive with Liverpool’s 3-0 loss at Manchester United.
If it were only a loss, hey, it is Manchester United. But yesterday’s crime had so many suspects, every Liverpool fault was apparent. No strikers to finish. A defense that’s just getting worse. A midfield that’s only as effective as its opposition allows, and questions over answers in goal.
Worst of all: The only ideas Rodgers has are bad ones. Liverpool’s in 10th place and has a -3 goal difference. The team may need another 11-game winning streak to return to the top four.
Frank Lampard is making his case to stay in England
Manuel Pellegrini’s no longer hiding it. After another goal this weekend from Frank Lampard, the Manchester City coach is openly saying he not only wants the Chelsea legend to stay, he thinks a compromise will be worked out. Who would have ever thought NYCFC’s first game wouldn’t have its biggest star?
Most of us, by now, with Lampard’s winning goal in City’s 1-0 at Leicester only reinforcing the obvious.
When his contract expired at Chelsea, Lampard didn’t envision himself playing with another Premier League team. But when he decided to move to New York and an opportunity with the Citizens presented itself, he gave it a shot. Turns out, Lampard has a lot of Premier League left in him, and while that probably won’t keep him from scraping Yankee Stadium’s infield dirt come June, it means it may be summer before he gets his first real taste of New York.
“Lampard has been silent on the matter. But if you’ve watched any episode of Sons of Anarchy, you know that Lampard’s silence means he’s guilty of betraying his club. Thus, don’t be surprised if, come March, Old Man Lampard is out there in Manchester playing the soccerball in the self-proclaimed greatest league in the world as opposed to doing the right thing and playing soccer in a baseball stadium.”
Jozy Altidore hits a new low
Credit to the U.S. international: He’s worked his way into a few starts with Sunderland. However:
It’s a strong technique, one that may have been inspired by the recent Kim Kardashian, Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj lean in pop culture. But just as the broader public shouldn’t been so easily drawn in by a prominent broadside, Altidore should eschew shooting with his ass for a more conventional approach.
If we love an underdog story, then Bayern Munich doesn’t love us. After giving Augsburg 45 minutes to dream of a top-four validating result, Bayern blew open its scoreless game in Saturday’s second half. Starting in the 58th minute, Bayern scored four goals in 13 minutes, giving the rest of the match a distinct “Please, Hammer, don’t hurt `em” feel.”
That explosion was enough to reinforce the obvious: Bayern isn’t in the Bundesliga any long. After a 4-0 win on the road at the league’s third place team, we need to come up with a new term. München is in the Überbundesliga, or something.
” …the game could be seen as a snapshot of our greater Bundesliga experience. We want some team, any team to keep the league close, even if it means getting to know a team like Augsburg. But that relationship only lasts long enough for Augsburg to use its non-Bayern schedule to achieve some relevance. Then, Bayern visits, tempts hope for a half, and snaps Cinderella’s slipper in half, devouring the glass shards in front of the royal family.”
Getafe solves our Messi problem
One week ago, we’d run out of ways to describe Lionel Messi’s mission to get his stats in order. Cristiano Ronaldo’s 25 goals may be too much to catch in the Pichichi race, but after his recent outburst, the Barcelona star was sprinting ahead of the rest of La Liga. And there are only so many new ways we can describe hat trick after hat trick.
On Saturday, however, Getafe offered a solution, though not necessarily an original one. Get everybody behind the ball and hope for some help from the crossbar and you have a chance. That chance ended with a 0-0 result, Barcelona’s fourth blemish of the season.
“The last time Barcelona were held scoreless, loose dragons roamed the earth. Gas was a mere dollar a gallon. R&B lyrics were less literal. Illegal streams of European games only came in black and white. It was a different time.
*looks up statistics*
“Correction. The last time Barcelona was held scoreless was on Nov. 1. The only thing different back then: We thought police chokeholds were illegal.”
The Blaugrana now sit four points behind Real Madrid, whose +42 goal difference after 15 games hints it’ll sprint away from the field. Atlético’s only three points back of Barça, though, so if there is a race to be had, it will probably be for Spain’s second spot.
Juve brings Roma closer
Over at The Guardian, Paolo Bandini has some good background on Juventus’s bestia nera — a Sampdoria club that’s become a bogey team for the three-time reigning Italian champions. Though it looked like Juventus might slay that beast on Sunday after Patrice Evra’s 12th minute goal, Samp continued its strong season with Manolo Gabbiadini’s second half equalizer, earning a point that moved Siniša Mihajlović’s team into a three-way tie for third.
As of now, Samp would be playing for a spot in next year’s Champions League, come late summer.
Juventus is practically assured of one of Italy’s two guaranteed spots, but thanks to Sunday’s slip, its case for a fourth straight title is no longer as strong. With Roma earning a 1-0 win at 10-man Genoa (one of the clubs tied for third), the Bianconeri only enjoy a one-point lead on Rudi Garcia’s troops. With the Giallorossi hosting the teams’ final meeting of the year, that’s well within striking distance for a team that’s gone 13 years without a title.
Paris Saint-Germain handed its first league loss
PSG had navigated the first 17 games of the Ligue 1 season without a loss. Yet thanks to seven draws, Laurent Blanc’s side was still chasing Marseille for first. But with OM visiting Monaco on Sunday, the Parisians had their chance to take their rightful spot. Despite its strange, sluggish-yet-effective start, PSG is still heavy favorite for a third straight title.
If it does claim another crown, though, it won’t be as an undefeated team. Thanks to Guingamp, who held on after Jérémy Pied’s 11th minute opener, PSG has its first loss. Despite holding 71.3 percent possession and out-shooting their hosts 15-7, Blanc’s men failed to break through, their closest moment seeing Edinson Cavani find the woodwork.
“This is the saddest video footage you will ever see.
“Worse than any “adopt this dirty puppy” or “feed these Third World babies” footage, Zlatan Ibrahimović missing from close range is an emotional affair. Consider that this was late in a game that Paris Saint-Germain would lose 1-0, and it’s hard to fight back the tears.”
Generously, Marseille declined to take advantage of the slip. After Marcelo Bielsa’s team fell 1-0 at Monaco, PSG remains one point back of Ligue 1’s top spot.
América leaves Tigres, Chivas in its title dust
Twelve was the number of the day come Sunday night, but given how last night’s grand final between América and Tigres ended, eight was just as telling a number. After a plague of three red cards in eight minutes in yesterday’s second half, Tigres was reduced to eight men. By that time, the team was already down 2-0 (2-1, aggregate) and had little hope of winning the title. But the indignity of playing out the final 18 minutes in a 4-2-1 formation became a meek coronation for the hosts. With goals from Michael Arroyo, Pablo Aguilar, and Oribe Peralta, América would claim its 12th Mexican title.
It was a triumphant farewell for head coach Antonio Mohamed, who will always have a place in the club’s history books after giving the team its record-setting title. Now, however, the Argentine returns to his home country without a contract, his differences with ownership leaving the title-winning coach a free agent.
In the shadow of celebration, that’s just a footnote. América no longer shares its place at the top of the all-time title list with its rivals. With a dozen championships and no sign of slowing down, América is poised to put distance between itself and Chivas. Leon may have also won two of the last four tournaments, but after pulling away from Tigres in yesterday’s second half, there’s no question which club is currently defining Mexican soccer.
Marta tramples the U.S.
Brazil spotted the U.S. two early goals then handed the game to its biggest star. The result was a performance more one-sided on the field than the scoresheet. Regardless, Marta, who registered a hat trick on Sunday in Brasilia, delivered a clear, 40-point font message to the United States: You are in trouble.
Marta sprinted through the U.S. defense for her first, around it for her second, and turned Hope Solo into Robert Green for her third, something that would sound serious alarm bells around U.S. Soccer if the team hadn’t been up 2-0 after nine minutes. But those goals came from some penalty box chaos and some cross-cum-goal freakery from Megan Rapinoe. For the U.S., the 3-2 final was truly a flattering result.
For those coming back into women’s soccer after a two year hiatus, yesterday’s friendly was a nice, little synopsis of the state of the U.S. and Brazil. For yesterday’s hosts, they’re still, at their core, a one-women show, albeit with the most talented woman in the world. And for the U.S., it’s another hint that, while it rests on its 2012 laurels, the world may be passing it by. Brazil isn’t even its main competition.
And this …
“On the heels of horrible press from Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the glorious nation of Kazakhstan is planning to bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, presumably to offset some of the residual effects of Cohen’s slander. It’s seems that the boatloads of lawsuits filed against Cohen weren’t enough to cleanse Kazakhstan from the Borat stench. “
Russia, Qatar, then Kazakhstan. Yup. That sounds about right.