By ADAM TROXTELL
Liverpool owes a morale-boosting result to the head of Martin Skrtel.
Not only did his headed goal give them a 2-2 draw against Arsenal in Sunday’s marquee Premier League match, but an injury to the back of Skrtel’s head resulted in nine minutes of stoppage time. Seven minutes into the added minutes, 10-man Liverpool breathed a sigh of relief.
It’s a wonder they didn’t score more. The Reds put 13 shots on target and produced 27 chances. In contrast, Arsenal were much more efficient with their four chances on goal and used that to maintain a four-point gap between themselves and West Ham in fourth.
After 45 minutes of scoreless soccer, two fell in a minute and a half to end the first half. Philippe Coutinho struck first for Liverpool before Mathieu Debuchy equalized at the other end.
In the 64th minute, a seemingly rejuvenated Santi Cazorla kept a goal chance alive by reaching the end line before Olivier Giroud put away his near-post cross for the lead. Even two yellow cards within two minutes for Fabio Borini couldn’t keep Liverpool down in the end, and they seized potentially crucial momentum ahead of a packed holiday schedule.
In France, Marseille have taken sole possession of first place after a 2-1 win over Lille. Michy Batshuayi scored in the 69th minute for the eventual winner
Inter Milan produced late magic for a 2-2 draw with Lazio, while Atletico Madrid cruised past Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in La Liga.
Here is a look back at all of Sunday’s action from Europe’s top leagues:
By FRANCO PANIZO
The New York Red Bulls’ previous sporting director was well-versed in the European game. Their new one knows about all things on the domestic front.
Sources have informed SBI that the Red Bulls have found the successor for Andy Roxburgh, hiring retired forward Ali Curtis as the club’s sporting director. Curtis, 36, was most recently the senior director of player relations and competition for MLS.
BigAppleSoccer.com first reported the deal, adding that Curtis is on a one-year contract.
Curtis, who has never held a management position for a team, joins a Red Bulls side that saw Roxburgh depart last week after two years at the helm. Curtis will be tasked with trying to improve a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but lost the masterful Thierry Henry to retirement.
A former player who attended Duke, Curtis hung up his cleats for good in 2004. He was drafted three years earlier by the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny, and also went on to play for D.C. United and Dallas Burn.
New York technical director Ricardo Campos and New England Revolution assistant Tom Soehn were some of the other candidates up for the sporting director job, with sources confirming to SBI that Soehn turned down a two-year contract offer for the position, which then led to the Red Bulls hiring Curtis.
What do you make of Curtis’ appointment? Like the move? What should be his first priority with the Red Bulls?
Share your thoughts below.
Photo by Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports
By CAITLIN MURRAY
The U.S. Women’s National Team ended their 2014 on a bitter note Sunday, drawing to Brazil to lose their final tournament of the year.
Brazil’s Marta could not match her splendid performance against the Americans a week ago, but the International Tournament of Brasilia hosts did dominate the USWNT and forced a scoreless stalemate, enough to hand Brazil the tournament title on tiebreaker.
The USWNT started in what looked like an experimental lineup — a 4-4-2 with Abby Wambach and Lauren Holiday as the front pair, with Kelley O’Hara, normally a defender, on the right midfield flank. The departure from coach Jill Ellis’ favored 4-3-3 seemed to be targeted at containing Marta, which it did, but the Americans struggled to control the midfield or maintain possession.
The USWNT’s best chance came in the 59th as a long Tobin Heath cross found Wambach on the far post. Wambach’s header had pace and goalkeeper Luciana beat, but sailed just wide. Brazil had a similar failed chance – Monica’s powerful, close-range header off a Marta corner kick was nodded just wide in the 38th minute.
By FRANCO PANIZO
Talk about redeeming yourself.
A week after committing an egregious error that led to a loss, Brad Guzan bounced back with a heroic performance that rescued a result for a shorthanded Aston Villa side. Guzan shone brightly in the Villans’ clash with Manchester United on Saturday, making eight saves to thwart the star-studded attack repeatedly and preserve a 1-1 draw. The impressive outing, which came in a game that saw Aston Villa finish with 10 men, pushed Guzan into a tie with Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Robert Green for the Premiership lead in saves (60) this season.
For John Brooks, things went in the other direction. After enjoying a pair of headline-grabbing performances in the past few days, Brooks came back down to earth as he and Hertha Berlin conceded five times in a shutout loss to Hoffenheim on Sunday. If that was not bad enough, Brooks scored a first-half own goal that wound up being the decisive tally and also conceded a penalty kick.
Rubio Rubin had no such struggles. The U.S. Men’s National Team prospect finished 2014 by continuing to impress, assisting on the second goal in FC Utrecht’s 3-0 victory over AZ Alkmaar on Saturday. Rubin got the nod, lasted until the 82nd minute and should’ve had a second assist in the triumph that snapped a two-game losing streak for Utrecht. Meanwhile, compatriot Aron Johannsson went the distance for AZ in the two clubs’ final match before the Eredivisie’s winter break.
Here is how the Americans Abroad did this weekend: Continue reading
Photo by Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
It is all systems go for DeAndre Yedlin’s move to Tottenham.
Yedlin has been granted a work permit ahead of his transfer to Spurs next month and will be available for selection upon his arrival, according to a report from the Mirror. The Seattle Sounders defender had recently been attempting to obtain a Latvian passport through his grandmother in fear of having a work permit rejected, but no longer needs it to play for Tottenham.
Yedlin, 21, signed a pre-contract with the Premiership club in August after impressing at the World Cup with the U.S. Men’s National Team. He has been a regular in Jurgen Klinsmann’s rosters since making his international debut back in January, and has accumulated 10 caps.
By FRANCO PANIZO
The Bronx may be New York City FC’s initial home, but they do not intend to be there for the long-term.
NYC FC has shifted focus in its search for a soccer-specific stadium and is now looking at the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, the New York Daily News has reported. The 2015 MLS expansion club had recently been working on a site in the Bronx just south of its current home venue, Yankee Stadium, but that didn’t materialize into something concrete and forced New York City FC to look elsewhere.
“We had focused on the Bronx, but that didn’t work out, and we weren’t able to find anything else in the Bronx that made sense,” said Martin Edelman, a member on the board of directors of NYC FC’s co-owner Manchester City. “So we’re looking in Queens and Brooklyn, and each potential (site) has to be analyzed for construction, for access to public transportation, for parking, it’s a very complicated process.