How Liverpool Can Fix Their Issues to Avoid Another Real Madrid Champions League Thrashing

Watching Real Madrid rock Liverpool, at Anfield, 3-0, has prompted me to write this. It is clear that Liverpool has problems, but they are very easy to solve. In this blog post I will try to explain how Liverpool can get back on track, and no, bringing back Luis Suarez is not one of them. I rather lose every game the rest of the way then bringing him back to disgrace the club’s name again.

Number one: even though I loved when Brendan Rodger brought him in, because I thought he’d be a great complement to the game plan, is to drop Mario Balotelli and sell him in January if anyone will take him.

It is clear he isn’t doing what Rogers wants and he doesn’t fit into the system or players that surround him. Instead of running with Raheem Sterling and moving to make space for a pass, he is stopping outside the box and impeding the team’s momentum going forward.

Number two: having a permanent starting 11. Granted, football has changes since 2000, when I started following the club seriously, but I don’t like having a larger squad, I prefer having players that can get along on and off the pitch and who that know their roles. Rotation doesn’t work, I’ve seen Liverpool manager after manager try it and fail, Graeme Souness, Gerard Houllier and my favorite Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez just to name a few.

From what I’ve seen over the past few months of the season I have to admit, unfortunately, as an Armenian, I have to state that the Turk, Emre Can, should be part of the starting 11, he is a beast. Coutinho, with his play-making ability, through-ball accuracy and speed, is another player needed to start constantly,

Number three: Get bigger and stronger center backs. Dejan Lovren is starting to get his legs under him, play better and command, not only his position, but also the entire backline. Martin Skrtel, as much as he has played well for the club for the time he has been wearing red, I’m not liking him being paired with Lovren, it might be a long shot, but Ryan Shawcross or even Lovren’s partner at Southampton, Jose Fonte would be a better fit As far as the wings go, Alberto Moreno and Javier Masquillo are young and are learning how to play in a new system and live in a new country—they will be fine in time, Glen Johnson, needs to go, but center-backs needs to be bigger and stronger and outside of Lovren, the other center backs on the team sheet don’t quite measure up to a winning formula

There really isn’t that much needing to be fixed. When Daniel Sturridge comes back, the front line should be better. The goaltending is a bit shaky, but Simon Mignolet isn’t as bad as some newspapers are reporting. Though, Petr Cech or Thibaut Courtois would be great additions. There are also a few players I don’t like and would like to see sold and others brought it, but that is my nostalgia or heritage, for example, Xabi Alonso, Peter Crouch and, because he is Armenian, like me, Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

However, even after all of these I’ve written, I don’t believe Brendon Rodger or Liverpool’s hierarchy will change what is needed. Call it a hunch, but I’ve supported this club for a long time and since the horrible decision by David Moores to sell the club to the Americans, instead of DCI and Benitez leaving, Liverpool hasn’t really done what is in the best interest of the fans, they have done what is wanted by their new American bosses, who put in charge people who know nothing about the global game of football and have this crazy transfer committee that Benitez (yes, I know he made a few mistakes, while in change, and made players crazy and want to leave Alonso and Crouch, but he is still, in my opinion, the best option for this club) would never stand for, if he were still in charge.

Here hoping I’m wrong, because I know these changes would work.

Armenia Defeat Czech Republic 2-1 On Stoppage-Time Goal

Armenian defeated the Czech Republic 2-1, thanks to a stoppage time goal by Gevorg Ghazaryan.

The results puts Armenia level on points with the Czechs, one point out of the second place spot (currently held by Bulgaria) in Group B.

With three games to go, Armenia could find themselves second in the group and in a looser-goes-home World Cup qualifying match to qualify for Brazil.

Entering their match against the Czech Republic on 6 points, with four matches remaining, Armenia found themselves in an interesting predicament: A win would put them level on points, at 9, and very much in the conversation of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil.

The previous paragraph is something that the team and country would have found hard to imagine after a defeat against Group B whipping-boys Malta, early in June, but right from the start of the match Armenia showed their maturity and situation awareness.

It was a barrage on Armenia’s net with shot after shot either sailing just wide or over. On  the other shots, goalkeeper Roman Berezovski came to the rescue to not only save the Czech’s attempts, but get the ball back in play quickly to counter.

As the first half dragged on, the intensity started to waver and the majority-Czech crowd sat in panicking silence waiting for one side to break the deadlock and their wish came true in the 31st minute.

The opening goal of the match came as a shocker to the Czechs and the Armenian, as a run across the 18-yard box by Armenia’s defensive midfielder Karlen Mkrtchyan to find open space for a pass left him wide open.

Not breaking stride and deciding to take a chance on goal, Mkrtchyan struck the ball, pure power over placement and rocketed the ball over and passed the Czech and Chelsea Goalkeeper Petr Cech, 1-0 to the visitors.

The home supporters sat with hands over faces in utter disbelief as the the traveling away supporters cheered in jubilation. Granted, if asking the Armenian who they thought would score the first goal Mkrtchyan would be the last name mentioned, but a goal is a goal.

Half time came and players, coaches and supporters alike couldn’t wait for the second half to get under away.

Once back onto the pitch, the Czechs came out the more determined with more shots on Berezovski that he fought to keep out.

In the 58th minute, on the counter attack, Armenia’s striker, Yura Movsisyan had a tap in to put his country up 2-0, but missed the ball completely.

Movsisyan also fouled up a second opportunity in the 64th minute when yet another easy tap in, instead of finding the back of the net, hit a sliding Cech square in the chest.

With 25 minutes to go, the Czech came out stronger and pushed the pace. The Czechs were allowed to attack, while Armenia collapsed and protect their slender lead.

This resulted in Armenia conceding corner kick after corner kick and Berezovski having to scatter to keep the ball out of his net. On one such play, Berezovski, doing his best to clear the ball away from the 6-yard box, buckled knees with his defender and fell to the ground in pain.

Though Armenia’s medical staff quickly wrapped up his left knee, the pain was too much and in the 69th minute, Armenia’s number one keeper was substituted for backup, Gevorg Kesparov.

A minute later, thanks to a deflection, Czech captain, Tomas Rosicky, blasted the ball, from just outside the 18-yard box, over a bent-at-the-knees Kesparov–1-1 with 20 minutes to go.

From that point on the Czech kept coming at Armenia, but to Armenia’s credit, they didn’t let up and continued to counter whenever they could.

However, with the match still tied going into 4-minute stoppage time, no one told Armenia’s Ghazaryan, who took off with the ball on his right foot, on a full-on sprint toward Cech that a draw would be fine.

His strike hit Cech, but the ball bounced high and came right back to Ghazaryan who headed the ball back on goal.

It wasn’t exactly a goal to remember, but it slowly crept its way passed the goal line and Armenia held on.

Armenia’s next game is Tuesday, September 10th, verses Denmark. Another win against the country they already defeated back in june, 4-0, and Armenia could find them on the brink of qualifying for their first even World Cup.

Bringing European Football Closer to Home

It only happens once every four years. Outside of the World Cup, it is the most important even in European football. It is the European Cup.

As Europe celebrated the beginning of the 24-day, 16-nation tournament, Anna Liffey’s, an Irish pub located on 17 Whitney Avenue in New Haven Conn., did their best to bring the European experience to America.

Outside,there is a free barbecue, and, of course, there are two televisions showing the first match of the tournament—Italy against Spain.

Anna Liffey’s employee Joey Dunne mans his station. On the grill today: buffalo wings, hotdogs and hamburgers.

There is alos a live musician playing.

Inside, supporters for both Italy and Spain sit, either at the bar or in the dinning area, with their eyes glued to the action.

Anna Liffey’s is filled–half of the people support Italy, while the other half support Spain. Either way, the supporters stay up-to-date with the action thanks to two televisions stationed at opposite ends of the dinning area.

“When it comes to soccer, this is, and has always been the place to come,” said Jimmy Keane, a soccer fan who has been coming to Anna Liffey’s since it opened in 1997.

Jimmy Keane isn’t the only loyal and frequent visitor to this pub, most of the patrons are regulars.

“I am a Liverpool(Liverpool is a soccer club located in Liverpool, England) supporter (fan) and every week during the season, most if not all of the local Liverpool supporters come here to watch the game, socialize and just have a good time,” said Jason Lambert, a Anna Liffey’s regular for 12 years.

However, don’t think that only Liverpool supporters are welcome.

“I am a Chelsea(an English club located in West London) support and though the Liverpool guys think this is just their home, we (Chelsea supporters) also call this home. This is a soccer place and as far as I am concerned, the best soccer pub, not just in Connecticut, but New England,” said 25-year-old Chelsea supporter, Wayne Brooks.

Brooks isn’t the only one to think that Anna Liffey’s is one, if not the best in New England—Boston.com, as well as, bigcheesefoodcritic.com seems to share in his feeling.

Though Brooks is a Chelsea support and Keane and Lambert are Liverpool supporters, there is one thing all parties can agree on. “For the soccer atmosphere, nothing beats Anna Liffey’s.” said Brooks, Keane and Lambert in unison.

http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F49741594&show_artwork=true

On this night however, club allegiance is put on hold—it is all about country.

So, come on inside and take in the match.

Today is a good day to visit—Ireland is playing Croatia.

Unfortunately, Ireland losses, but that doesn’t mean the people aren’t still having a good time. “It was a bad loss and won’t be easier with Spain to play next. But, hey, everyone here is still having fun—at least Ireland is in it,” said Anna Liffey’s cook Shane McCarty.

McCarty isn’t the only employee who adds to the atmosphere, the whole staff does their part to make the Anna Liffey’s experience one of a kind.

Still not sure about Anna Liffey’s, check out the reviews.

CFC Azul in New Britain to play Worcester Hydra

Coming off a tie in their previous game, CFC Azul took to the pitch at Willow Park in New Britain, to play host to the Hydra of Worcester Ma.

Heading into the match, Azul were down four of their regular starters, most notably, their leading goal scorer, Ryan Kinne, who was called up to play for the New England Revolution’s reserve team, but to their credit, they took to the pitch without excuses.

But, having played the day prior and without key players, the team looked a bit sluggish and it showed. Only 12 minutes into the first half, Azul’s goalkeeper, Matt Sangeloty, took his eyes off the ball during a pass-back play and if it weren’t for his quick reaction, to run back and save the ball from crossing the goal-line, Azul would have been down a goal and Sangeloty would have been truly embarrassed.

However, three-minutes later, Sangeloty’s blunder and miraculous recovery didn’t matter as Hydra’s striker and leading goal scorer, Junior Alencar, put the ball passed Sangeloty and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Playing down a goal, Azul picked up their effort and equalized in the 36th minute off a set-piece, headed in by Eddie Floyd.

At the half, the score was tied, but as Azul came out for the second, their energy sank, the desperation they played with to tie the game was gone and Hydra took advantage.

In the 64th minute, off a corner kick, Derek McCaffrey headed the ball straight through two defenders and passed Sangeloty for the 2-1 Hydra lead and though there was a late Azul scare when captain Paul Templeton chipped the ball, goal-bound, over the head of Hydra’s goalkeeper from mid-field–the ball hit the crossbar and bounced back into play allowing Hydra to hold onto the lead and eventually win the match, 2-1.

With the loss, Azul’s record drops to 2-3-3, but the good news–Azul has the chance to rebound quickly as they play June 13th, in Boston, against the Victory.

CFC Azul, Soccer is back in Town

Finally, soccer has come back, to Connecticut.

Yes, it is true, soccer is back in the state, in the form of CFC Azul(Azul, meaning blue in portuguese), a first-year club playing its inaugural season in the United States Soccer League’s (USL) umbrella league, The Professional Developmental League (PDL).

CFC Azul

The Club Azul crest is posted with the permission of the Club.
Image links back to Club Azul’s website

“This league is basically a way for young soccer players, mostly college soccer players to stay in shape during their off-season and to get a better understanding of how a professional club is operated,” said Blue Milita(Club Azul’s fan group name) member, Robert McNicholas.

Two members of Club Azul’s supporting group–The Blue Militia.
On the left in the black shirt–Mike Landona.
On the right in the blue shirt–Robert McNicholas.

“Either way, no matter what league the club is playing in, we(now speaking for the group) are just glad soccer is back, period,” added McNicholas.

Heading into their first home match of the season (though, in reality, Club Azul doesn’t have a home stadium, not yet anyway, so, on this day, their home game was being played at East Haven High School) CFC Azul were 0-1-2, meaning, they were winless and desperate for win against their main rival, Boston Victory.

With the added motivation of playing a rival, it didn’t take long, four minutes to be exact, for CFC Azul’s forward and leading goal-scorer, Ryan Kinne, to put in the first goal of the game and claim a second goal, six minutes later, to make it 2-0 going into half-time.

The first half was very exciting for the fans and during the half, the fans were kept entertained by CFC Azul’s mascot, Mr. Blue.

Mr. Blue dancing around in front of the spectators while also interacting with The Blue Militia during half-time.

As for the second half–with the two-goal lead in the first, Azul were almost guaranteed the victory, but that didn’t stop CFC Azul from wanting to score a few more insurance goals.

First, there was a penalty kick goal scored by Markus Naglestad.

Then, there were two goals by Mario DiMecili followed by the final goal of the night by Sony Narro–final score, 6-0, in favor of the home side. The victory gave CFC Azul, not just their first win of the young season, but, the first win in franchise history.

“I am happy to be apart of this club’s first franchise victory, but it was a great team win,” said DiMecili after the game.

CFC Azul’s Head Coach, David Kelly, summed up his club’s performance best, “I didn’t expect six goals…to win 6-0 is an aberration.”