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Written by Matthew Spitz | 17 May 2011




Nottingham Forest was eliminated from the promotion playoffs yesterday after losing to Swansea City 3-1. This was the 2nd leg of the League Championship playoff semifinal. The first leg ended in a 0-0 draw, so everything was riding on this 2nd leg match. 

Swansea took a commanding 2-0 lead into halftime, but Forest fought back and got within a goal thanks to Robert Earnshaw's first time strike in the 80th minute. Nottingham Forest continued to put the pressure on late, hitting 3 posts; however, they never were able to break through. After conceding a late empty net goal, Nottingham Forest was defeated 3-1 and eliminated from the promotion playoffs.

US forward Robbie Findley did not make the gameday roster for Nottingham Forest and with the loss, Findley will not be playing football in the EPL next year.

Swansea City will take on the winner of the Cardiff City-Reading semifinal in the promotion playoff final, which will determine the final team that will rise to the English Premier League. Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City already have secured automatic spots in the EPL for next season.

 

It's a shame that Findley was not included in such an important match. He made the move away from the MLS so he could participate in big promotion games like this, so it must have been devastating to not even make the bench. Also, Forest signed Findley to be a speedy, goal scoring machine and ironically that's exactly what they were missing in this 2 leg series.

On a bright note, if Nottingham Forest got promoted to the English Premier League, Findley's playing time would have decreased substantially. Now, Findley has a chance to get some regular minutes in the Championship division next season and hopefully avoid injury in the process. 

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Written by Matthew Spitz | 17 May 2011




With Brad Friedel's contract with Aston Villa set to expire at the end of the season, 3 other English teams are ready to make an offer for the 39-year-old vet. Liverpool, Tottenham, and West Brom all are very interested in acquiring Friedel for next season. It appears that Liverpool is the current favorite to land Friedel.

Friedel played for Liverpool between 1997 and 2000, but only managed to make 30 appearances during his time there.

 

Just when you thought Friedel's EPL career was over, he surprises you with some unbelievable performances down the stretch for Aston Villa. Friedel must have some secret aging potion because the guy is playing like he's 30. Liverpool and Tottenham are not shabby teams and for these clubs to be interested in a 40-year-old keeper is pretty remarkable.

Where should he go? He definitely will have a better chance to start at Spurs, since they've had some goal-keeping struggles. Gomes has made some blunders recently and thus could be challenged for the #1 spot. Friedel would have a tougher go at the starting spot at Liverpool, with the experienced Pepe Reina at the helm. Unless Reina leaves Anfield, I can't imagine Friedel winning the job, which would make me question a move to Liverpool at this stage in his career.

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Written by Chase Tarantino | 17 May 2011




Last week, Marcos Mondaini of Chivas USA was handed an additional three game ban and fined $1,500 after his crunching tackle on Real Salt Lake’s star playmaker, Javier Morales. Morales suffered a broken left ankle following this tackle from behind, forcing the referee to hand Mondaini a straight red.

This has been the third season ending tackle since the start of the 2011 MLS season to a prominent player. Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani was on the end of a similar tackle three weeks ago in a match against the Colorado Rapids. Brian Mullan was the culprit this time, as he viciously launched himself into Zakuani's legs, causing immediate damage.

Rapids fans were quick to point out that midfielder Brian Mullan received a much harsher punishment for his tackle, a ten game ban and $5,000 fine, compared to the penalty Mondaini received for his leg breaking tackle. The MLS claimed Mondaini's tackle was "seen as an attempt to prevent his opponent from scoring. Brian Mullan’s tackle on Steve Zakuani last month did not serve such a purpose. Rather, it showed utter disregard for his opponent’s safety and appeared to be driven by anger.”

Last year’s MVP David Ferriera is also expected to miss several months after suffering a broken ankle on a bad tackle against Vancouver in mid April.

 

All of these tackles were completely reckless and the players deserved to receive a ban. Mullan’s tackle on Zakuani was horrific and it made sense that he received a harsher punishment. His was the second season ending tackle in quick succession and it seems like the MLS is sending a message; reckless tackles will not be tolerated.

At the same time, it’s hard for the players to shoulder all the blame for these tackles. Tackling and contact will always be a part of the game, and these injuries will continue to happen. However, I think the MLS has responded appropriately. These bans will definitely resonate among the players, causing them to think twice before making such a risky tackle.

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Written by Matthew Spitz | 16 May 2011




Charlie Davies and his scoring touch will be on hold for a "couple of weeks", as the DC United forward suffered a hamstring injury early in Saturday's match vs. Colorado.

Bob Bradley was at the match to scout Davies for the Gold Cup, but this injury makes it extremely unlikely that Davies will make the team. Bradley is set to announce the Gold Cup roster later this week, with the all important tournament just 3 weeks away. 

 

Another unfortunate break for Davies. He's having a fantastic MLS season, scoring goals left and right, and just before the Gold Cup he somehow suffers a hamstring injury. It really is unlucky.

However, I'm not positive Davies was going to make the team regardless of the injury. I would have chosen Jozy, Buddle, Agudelo, and Gomez before Charlie at this point in his comeback. There is still something off about his game and don't forget, half of his 6 goals came from the PK spot, while the others came from point blank range. That's why I think even if Charlie did make the team, his impact would have been limited during the Gold Cup.  

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Written by Matthew Spitz | 16 May 2011




Rangers defeated Kilmarnock 5-1 over the weekend to claim their 3rd straight Scottish title, finishing one point ahead of Celtic. Maurice Edu started for Rangers in the title-clinching match and played the full 90 minutes. This title gave Rangers a record 54th Scottish championship.

This is an impressive accomplishment, but let's be honest Scottish football is a two team league. Nobody but Rangers or Celtic actually have a legitimate shot at winning the title. The other 10 teams in the league are awful. Celtic finished a ridiculous 29 points above the 3rd place club, Hearts. I don't know if anything can be done to restore parity in this league, but Scottish football is in a sad state of affairs if you ask me. 

 

Meanwhile, Oguchi Onyewu missed Twente's last match of the season vs. Ajax with an ab injury. The winner of this match would claim the Dutch title. Twente ended up losing the match 3-1 to Ajax and thus relinquished their title as Dutch champions.

It's always tough when you give up the title on the last day of the season. It's especially tough when you are the defending champs. It just wasn't Twente's day and not having Onyewu's towering presence in the back could not have made things any easier.

 

In other news, Ricardo Clark and Eintracht Frankfurt were relegated from the Bundesliga after a 3-1 loss to league champions, Borussia Dortmund. Rico did not dress, as he still is nursing a leg injury.

Jonathan Spector and West Ham also got relegated from their respective league (EPL) after collapsing to Wigan. West Ham lost the match 3-2 after holding a 2-0 lead and conceded the game winning goal in 2nd half stoppage time. Spector started and played 61 minutes.

 

Aston Villa midfielder, Michael Bradley finally played in his first EPL match. Bradley game off the bench and played 10 minutes in a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

Better late than never. With one more match remaining in Villa's season and with the team safely clear of relegation, maybe Bradley will get some more minutes on Sunday vs. Liverpool. It'd be nice to see Bradley make an imprint on at least one EPL match this year. 

  

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