Standard Liege Supporters Welcome Back Player Who Left Team & Then Joined Their Rival With Very Aggressive Tifo

From the Dirty Tackle:

Belgium international Steven Defour spent five years with Standard Liege, serving as the club’s captain for all but his first season with the club. He then spent three seasons with Porto, but returned to his homeland this season with Anderlecht — Standard’s fiercest rivals.

This did not go over so hot with his old club’s supporters. So when Defour returned to the Maurice Dufrasne Stadium wearing the wrong colors, the fans greeted him with a giant banner featuring a Jason Vorhees type holding a blood splattered machete in one hand and Defour’s severed head in the other, along with the words “RED OR DEAD.” It was subtle, but the message seemed to be that Defour is now dead to them.

I’m split on this. Part of me thinks this tifo is awesome. It’s very cool looking and it must have worked since Steven Defour ended up getting a red card during the game. However, another part of me thinks it’s a little too aggressive. As a fan I know how much it hurts for one of your players to go play for a rival. Nonetheless it’s still just a game and these players are trying to make a living. There’s no need to make him feel threatened. I believe there could have been a better way to “send a message” without implying decapitation.*

*I am a hypocrite though because if I knew that my team could make a tifo that would guarantee one of the players on the opposing team would get sent off I’m not confident I wouldn’t be open to the idea.

Cristiano Ronaldo Gets Red Card Against Cordoba

From ESPN FC:

Ronaldo kicked out in frustration at Cordoba’s Edimar, with Madrid tied at 1-1, to earn himself a straight red card before Gareth Bale struck the winner.

However, the Portugal captain took to Twitter soon after the game to apologise for his actions.

“I apologise to everyone and especially Edimar for my thoughtless action in today’s game,” the tweet said.

I expect this from a lot of players but not Cristiano. That’s not to say he’s a saint, by no means. However, he usually is the player drawing the red card (Just ask Wayne Rooney) instead of the player receiving one. It is very out of character and Real Madrid will miss him for the next three games, assuming he gets the full three. Either way Bale will have to step up in his absence. This might be a God send for Bale because least while Cristiano Ronaldo’s out the fans can’t yell at Bale for taking a shot instead of passing to Ronaldo.

Friday Links- Michael Bradley Says Free Agency Worth MLS Players Strike, Ronaldo Surprises Young Fan As Homeless Man + More

Deloitte Football Money League 2015

http://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/sports-business-group/articles/deloitte-football-money-league.html

Crazy Overhead Kick Golazo From 3rd Belarussian League!!! Alex Luzhankov

Michael Bradley Says Free Agency ‘Absolutely’ Worth An MLS Player Strike

http://www.espnfc.com/major-league-soccer/story/2257966/major-league-soccer-michael-bradley-says-free-agency-absolutely-worth-an-mls-player-strike

Cristiano Ronaldo Dresses Up As A Homeless Man To Surprise Little Boy

First Touch 01-22-2015 Edition

http://www.firsttouchonline.com/app/FirstTouchLatest.pdf

Martin Odegaard Explains Why He Joined Real Madrid & His Career Goals

Soccer Player Answers His Phone In The Middle Of A Match!

Player takes out his phone during game between FC Enerhiya Nova Kakhovka and FC Olimpik Donetsk in a Ukrainian soccer league.

This is how I imagine the conversation…

“Hello? Steve I can’t talk right now. Why can’t I talk? Because I’m in the middle of a game. Who’s winning? It’s tied. 1-1. Look man I really shouldn’t be on the phone right now. Can’t this wait until after the game? Ok if you need to know now I will tell you. You have to put the TV on component once you turn on the Xbox or else you won’t be able to see the screen. Did it work? Great! Now I really have to go they are going to pass it to me soon.”

Seriously though why even bring your phone onto the field? I won’t even check my phone on the bench because I don’t want to appear disinterested in what my teammates are doing. However, this guy is in the game and he seems to be the last defender and he doesn’t think twice about answering the phone. I would have loved to see him get caught on a breakaway. What would he have done then?

The Bicycle Kick You Missed Yesterday

The Asian Cup doesn’t get much press in the Western part of the world unless something like this happens during a game.  Tim Cahill for Australia lined up and executed a picture-perfect bicycle kick to lead Australia over China and advance to the cup semifinals.  Reports are he is retiring at the conclusion of the cup so what a way to end an International football career.  Cheers Timmy!

Spotlight On Lynden Gooch

Sunderland fans have a new American player to get excited about now that Jozy Altidore has departed. The much-maligned striker scored only two goals for Sunderland after his transfer from AZ Alkmaar in the summer of 2013.  Now, an 18-year old American named Lynden Gooch is currently attracting attention playing for Sunderland’s U-21 team.

Lynden Gooch was born in Santa Cruz, California, to Paul and Irene Gooch.  Gooch’s father, Paul, was born and raised in England and is currently an accomplished soccer coach in California. Lynden’s brother Anthony is a junior defender for the men’s soccer team at San Diego State University. Raised in a very competitive household, and consistently challenged by his father and brother helped to bring out the best in Lynden. His precocious talent and skill led to his being noticed by Sunderland scouts when he was visiting Europe during a Center of Excellence tour. After observing him in Europe, Sunderland kept tabs on him throughout his adolescence, frequently flying him over for training sessions before bringing him over to the club in June 2012 at age 16. They then signed him to an official professional contract once he turned 17.

Contrary to most new foreign players, Lynden’s transition to life in England was much smoother since his father’s family is close by, residing in Colchester, England. His family connection has helped him to fight off the homesickness that plagues many prospects who attend academies so far from home. Although he considers himself American and wants to play for the USMNT, he also holds Irish, British, and American passports, thus making him eligible to play for all of those teams until he makes a senior commitment. For example, in 2013, Ireland invited him to train and play with its youth national team, and he accepted. For now, he may be committed to playing for the USMNT, but things can change over time; therefore, the sooner Jurgen gets him to commit to the US, the better.

Primarily, Lynden is highly sought after by the Irish and American national teams because of his high ceiling. Although he stands at only 5’8 160 pounds, Lynden Gooch is very strong on the ball and has incredible pace.  This clever player demonstrates his versatility, as he can create and finish with both feet (even his heels). Currently, he features as a striker on Sunderland’s U-21 team while Tab Ramos prefers to have him controlling the central midfield on the U-20 US soccer team. Based on his physical characteristics and skills, he is best suited for a number 10, attacking midfield role, where he can create chances for both his teammates and himself.  What makes Lynden even more exciting is his ability to take defenders on 1 v 1. There are very few US players who have the ability to create something out of nothing with their dribbling skills. If Lynden continues his anticipated development, he should become the type of talent that can “unlock defenses” with his dribbling.

There is a lot to like about Linden Gooch as a player, and it is easy to see why he was recruited by Sunderland at such a young age. His comfort in England and his technical skills will help him to get the most out of his ability, enabling him to vault himself to the next level. Older players might be worried by Sunderland’s projected relegation, but relegation might be a positive for Lynden. When a team is fighting for its future, every point can make the difference between staying in the top flight or being relegated to the Championship. Every year Sunderland is fighting for survival; as a result they are not well positioned to test out young players during games. Therefore, relegation to the English Championship will constrict Sunderland’s transfer budget and force the management staff to look inward for younger talent to bring them back to the Premier League.

Sunderland’s recent history of poor transfer dealings resulted in the hire of Sunderland’s sporting director Lee Congerton on March 12, 2014. Congerton has repeatedly mentioned that he wants Sunderland to stop focusing on acquiring talent from elsewhere and instead nurture more talent from their academy. At one point he told reporters, “Hopefully in years to come, the loan market won’t be as important as it is today and we will have more players provided from the Academy who belong to Sunderland AFC.” Statements like those are a good omen for the young Lynden Gooch, who is one of the bright spots in the Sunderland youth system. If he can continue to improve, it seem that there is a good chance he will get his opportunity.

Lynden Gooch has a very bright future. He has the talent, the background, and the situation he needs to succeed. If he continues to work hard, then he should improve accordingly. However, while he looks good as a player for Sunderland’s U-21 team, he can expect that it will be difficult to make the transition to first-team soccer. How he would handle that transition remains unseen, but Gooch definitely has what it takes to adapt. All US soccer fans know for sure is that Jurgen Klinsmann should cap him soon, just as he did with Julian Green in this past World Cup. Otherwise, Ireland could come calling—again.

First Published in First Touch