BPFL Gameweek 35: Crash of the Titans

Here is co-commissioner Our Man at the Valley recapping an eventful week in which perennial champions Barcelona, Man U, and the Coloradokeeper all took it on the chin, and the BPFL title chase tightened with three weeks to play:

It was a bad week for managers of three of the biggest sides in world soccer.

One of those three, Pep Guardiola, saw his team knocked out of the Champions League just days after their hope of retaining La Liga title all but evaporated.

Another of the trio, Alex Ferguson, saw his side held by Everton in a thrilling 4-4 draw, opening the door for his biggest rivals in the Premiership title chase ahead of this Monday’s Manchester Derby.

The third of the trio, Coloradokeeper, saw his Costa Rican vacation ruined by an attack of mystery insects, and his BPFL title hopes dented in a 51-44 loss to socr_maniac. The ’keeper’s lead at the top of the table has been cut to two points. He lost for the third time in six weeks as he continues to stumble towards the finish line.

Hot on the ‘keeper’s heels is Herk City, winners of nine in a row. City disposed of the transfer-challenged El Nino, 63-46. In third place, a further two points adrift, is Dyanasty of FC Hammer, a 44-33 winner over Taeguk Warriors.

With three weeks remaining it’s shaping up as a great finish. By the end of this Gameweek we could have a new leader. This week Coloradokeeper hosts seventh-placed Lildweaver; Herk City is away to 32nd placed Tranungite; and Dynasty of FC Hammer faces mid-table Escobar’s Revenge.

Performance of the Week:  You had to scroll a long way down the table to find our Performer of the Week. The Rihno’s, assured of relegation to BPFL 2 next season (as well as being held back in third grade for basic spelling errors), produced a stunning 78 points. He had clean sheets from four of his back five, 16 points from Chris Eagles and 26 from Wayne Rooney.

Unlucky Loser:  Rihno’s opponent, Afrikan Letsatsi, takes the dubious award this week—for an incredible fifth time this season. AL is a near certainty to take home the season-long title of Unlucky Loser. His 62 points would have beaten 34 other teams. Even more remarkable: If those five losses had been wins, he’d be only two points out of first place.

Ouch. That is a hard-luck case. Thanks OMATV. Gameweek 36 is a big one, with 14 games spread from Saturday April 28 to Wed May 2. Don’t forget to set your lineups, and good luck.

A Dislocated Elbow Is Every Bit as Uncomfortable as it Sounds, Carlos Rodriguez Will Attest

FC Dallas tied Real Salt Lake 1-1 in Frisco, Texas, last night, but the main postgame talking point was this freak injury to Hoops winger Carlos Rodriguez:

We’ve witnessed one of those in person, and had a reaction pretty much identical to that of Javier Morales in the above clip.

Dallas went ahead 1-0 just before halftime, when RSL defender Tony Beltran was whistled for a dubious handball in the box and Brek Shea buried the spot kick. Real Salt Lake’s euphoniously named rookie Emiliano Bonfigli equalized in the 72nd minute, settling a chip from Will Johnson and firing the ball past FCD’s backup ’keeper Chris Seitz.

Complete highlights here:

The tie leaves FC Dallas with a 3-3-2 record heading into Saturday’s game at Los Angeles, while Real Salt Lake—winless in their last three and winless alltime in the state of Texas (it’s true)—stand at 5-3-1. They host 0-6-0 Toronto on Saturday.

You Seem Like A Regular Joe, Does this Look Like A Foul to You?

Real Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave was shown a straight red for the following play against San Jose striker Steven Lenhart (at the 55-second mark):

Leaving aside the homerism of the local broadcast team (we watched it originally on the San Jose feed, where there was little to no questioning of the call), we do think the ref got this one wrong.

It’s just two big, fast guys in pursuit of the ball, and the contact—apart from Lenhart’s shorts-grab—is shoulder-to-shoulder. Okay, Olave is slightly behind, and puts his shoulder into the back of Lenhart’s shoulder, but still, there’s not much from Olave that’s out of the range of normal jostling-for-possession on the play.

Indeed, Lenhart bounces right back up and shoots on goal—not necessarily the action of a man who believes he’s been denied an obvious goalscoring chance by the last defender back. That, of course, is the language of the rulebook that dictates a red card be shown to said defender. Which is exactly what happened: Olave was sent off; and it was RSL’s second red of the night, reducing them to nine men and opening the door for San Jose to score twice in stoppage time and win the game 3-1.

It’s a tough call to make in real time, chasing the play (the linesman was playing catch-up, too), and the officiating crew got it wrong. Seems to us that Lenhart drew this foul and card, Dennis Rodman–style.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments.

BPFL Gameweek 34: Co-Commissioner’s Blues

It was a tough week for co-commissioner MGlo, who was hoping to continue his ascent up the Top 10, but ran into an unexpected roadblock against a lightly regarded, spelling-challenged underdog.

Here he is with the gory details in this week’s Backpost Fantasy League recap:

Oh how frustrating is this Pool!!

Defeating sixth-place Ahmad Haziq Hashim…No problem. Beating third-place Dynasty of FC Hammer…No Problem. Downing 41st-place The Rihno’s, who beside not being able to spell, have made only six transfers all season, and none since September…Big Problem.

Are you kidding me??!!

And there’s more: He only had eight guys playing against my 10. Going into Monday’s Arsenal-Wigan game I was down 13 but with Captain van Persie, Walcott and Sagna against Watson who wasn’t even playing. That’s 8 points right there for those three, pulling me right away to within 5 points. Are you telling me van Persie can’t score a goal? Walcott can’t? Sagna can’t come up with a clean sheet? They were playing Wigan. At Home! By the eighth minute I was ready to hang myself as the Latics went 2-0 up. Then Sagna got booked…and you know the rest. So instead of being in seventh place, I am in ninth.


At the top of the table coloradokeeper continues to lead and can now finish no worse than 3rd. He has won two straight and three of his last four, and maintains a 5-point lead over second-place Herk City. Eight consecutive victories have kept City hot on the leader’s tails. While pushing for the top spot though, they are also trying to fend off third-place Dynasty of FC Hammer, who are just 2 points back. Hammer returned to winning ways and are unbeaten in seven of their last eight (6-1-1).

Despite being trounced 70-39 last week by the surging I Am Liverpool squad, fourth-place DisgruntledNumpties look to be safe in that spot. But the Numpties must put a run together rather than alternate wins and losses as they have done over the past four weeks. They will be hoping for a second straight win when they face struggling The Xerex’s Team, who hold the seventh position and have lost two of their last three. Fifth place belongs to Afrikan Letsatsi, who have won four in a row, and are ahead of sixth-place Ahmad Haziq Hashim on point differential. El nino moved into the eighth slot with their first win in five matches and are 1 point better than my team, Old27m. My second loss in three games has allowed a younger version of me to catch up: I Am Liverpool, managed by my son, have won six in a row and seven of their last eight to round out the Top 10.

Performance of The Week: Kudos to mudheads who won another POTW gong. Captain Wayne Rooney earned 26 points with two goals and 3 Bonus points, while Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson chipped in with 14 from a goal, an assist and 3 Bonus points. Michel Vorm, Johnny Evans and Matt Kilgallon all pitched clean sheets to take his total for the week to 73.

Unlucky Loser: Naturally, it was me, Old 27m. I had 51 points, which would have beaten 29 other teams.

Thanks MGlo. Better luck next week.

Altidore Crushes Goal-of-the-Year Candidate in Alkmaar Loss

AZ Alkmaar’s U.S. striker Jozy Altidore bagged his 14th goal of season, and 18th in all competitions, when he drilled a 25-yard shot into the upper 90 against PSV Eindhoven on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the 22-year-old former Red Bull forward, his side gave up a late goal and lost the game 3-2 to fall six points behind first-place Ajax in the Eredivisie standings.

Here is Altidore’s strike:

PSV’s late winner was the second straight last-gasp goal AZ has conceded in the season’s stretch run. Last week they gave up an 89th-minute equalizer in a 2-2 draw with FC Twente.

Rafa Marquez: Still a D***

The latest confirmation comes from this past Saturday’s 2-2 draw with San Jose at Red Bull Arena.

The former Barcelona defender broke the collarbone of Earthquakes winger Shea Salinas with this maneuver—though it’s unclear if the NFL tackle or the parting kick did the damage. You be the judge:

U.S. fans first discovered Marquez’s d***ishness in 2002, when he head-butted and kicked Cobi Jones in the famous dos a cero game that eliminated El Tri from the World Cup in Germany.

They saw another example in 2009, when he got a straight red card for going studs-up into Tim Howard’s knee during a World Cup qualifier (another 2-0 win for the U.S.).

Last season in New York, Red Bulls fans witnessed multiple examples, none more stark than his public criticism of his teammates after a September loss to Real Salt Lake, and his incitement of a postgame melée with Los Angeles after a playoff loss to the Galaxy in September.

After that last misstep, it looked like the Mexico captain was on his way out of New York. He’d thrown his teammates under the boss, behaved like a surly five-year-old, and worst of all, underperformed on the field.

But no: he said he’d be back, and promised to be on his best behavior, in all phases.

Now, just six games into the new season, that plan is off the rails. Major League Soccer’s new Disciplinary Committee is going to have a look at that play, and will almost certainly hand down a suspension, probably for multiple games.

How will Marquez react, and how will this impact the Red Bulls’ season, recently on the uptick?

The answers suggested by recent history are not promising.

BPFL Weeks 33 and 34: Upset of the Year Tightens Title Chase

Stand back: Here comes Our Man at the Valley with two weeks’ worth of piping hot BPFL recap goodness. (Actually they’ve cooled a bit here at the BP World HQ, since he filed them last week.) The biggest news of  Easter weekend’s double Gameweek: DHD Photography—with one roster spot devoted to tribute—pulls off a shocker. Take it away OMATV:

The Easter weekend brought a double set of EPL Gameweeks to the Backpost Fantasy League. Fixtures began on Good Friday and the second set began on Easter Monday.

Manchester City started the weekend in shouting distance of leaders Manchester United. However, City stumbled away to Arsenal while United got the benefit of the doubt on a dive by Ashley Young and turned that into a simple win against Queens Park Rangers.

The second of the two Gameweeks saw Man City cut the gap to five points, thanks mostly to a stellar performance from Sergio Aquero, who had two goals and two assists.

In the BPFL, DHD Photography sprung a big surprise in Gameweek 32, taking down league leaders Coloradokeeper 63-53. DHD, who hasn’t made a transfer all season, and who seems to be persisting with Fabrice Muamba in his team as a sign of respect, got 18 points from Wayne Rooney and 15 from Clint Dempsey to emerge winners.

That result allowed Dynasty of FC Hammer to cut the ‘keeper’s lead to four points, with six Gameweeks remaining. However, the Hammer was upended in Gameweek 33, edged by a resurgent Old27M, 61-59. Coupled with a win for the ‘keeper, this leaves Herk City in second place, five points adrift.

Performances of the Week: The Gameweek 32 performer of the week was Afrikan Letsatsi, who racked up 68 points. Letsatsi also had Rooney and Dempsey, and picked up clean sheets from Tim Krul, Danny Simpson and Jonny Evans.

The Fluffy Bunnies turned in the high score for Gameweek 33, with a massive 83 points. That’s a good name for a team that saves its best week for Easter. The Bunnies haven’t made a transfer all season but still managed double-digit points from five of their players.

Unlucky Losers: The magic number in Gameweek 32 was 53 points. Three teams managed that but still lost:  Coloradokeeper, Fluffy Bunnies, and Bryan 04 Leverkusen.

In Gameweek 33, Dynasty of FC Hammer got a small consolation prize: His chances of winning the league have evaporated, but he is our Unlucky Loser of the week.

Gameweek 34 kicked off this past weekend—it was somewhat truncated due to FA Cup commitments—and wrapped up with today’s Arsenal-Wigan match. Writeup to follow tomorrow.

Thank you, Co-Commissioner. Looking forward to the stretch run. Will the ’keeper go wire to wire?

The Shortlist for the Premier League’s Player of the Year Is Missing One Name

The Professional Footballer’s Association released a six-name list of candidates for it annual player of the year award today, and it looks like this:

Robin van Persie, Arsenal

Joe Hart, Manchester City

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

David Silva, Manchester City

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United

Scott Parker, Tottenham Hotspur

Van Persie, Rooney, and Aguero, okay, fine, but in what universe did Parker and Silva have better years than Fulham’s Clint Dempsey? (Or Newcastle’s Demba Ba, for that matter.)

Quote of the Day

Very rare—possibly even unprecedented—is the occasion that Argentine legend Diego Maradona is cast as the voice of reason.

But at a press conference in Dubai yesterday, he played the role surprisingly well when asked about Pelé’s recent comments that Lionel Messi is not as good as Brazilian wünderkind Neymar. His response:

“Maybe Neymar is the best player of the world, but only if we clarify that Messi is from another planet.”

If you’re scoring at home, that’s Maradona 1, Pelé 0.

H/T to the RefBaiter.

Lionel Messi Is Making the Great Pelé Nervous, and A Little Desperate

Global icon and almost unanimously recognized Greatest Player of All Time Pelé has made some slightly defensive comments recently regarding Argentine superstar Lionel Messi’s place in the soccer pantheon. But now he’s ratcheting up the player-hater quotient by several notches.

After Messi scored a hat-trick against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in early March, the following comments from the legendary Brazilian came to light:

“When Messi has scored 1,283 goals and won three World Cups, then we will talk.

“People always ask me: ‘When is the new Pelé going to be born?’ Never. My father and mother closed down the factory.”

Now that Messi has racked up 61 goals for the season, including an incredible 24 in his last 13 games, the Old Master is at it again, only now his comments have veered from slightly defensive (yet justifiable) to desperate and hypocritical. At an event celebrating the centennial of his former club Santos, Pelé dropped the following pseudo-science (complete with a third-person flourish):

“There’s always this Maradona comparison, saying that he’s better than Pelé. Now some are saying that Messi is better than Pelé. Well, he has to be better than Neymar first, which he isn’t yet. He has more experience.”

The irony and hypocrisy of this statement lie in the fact that it embodies the very thing Pelé was criticizing in his remarks at the top: It’s too early to say that Messi is better than Pelé. Messi is only 24 and he has a lot of soccer ahead of him, and probably two more opportunities to shore up the “World Cup” portion of his résumé. If and when he does that, then, as Pelé put it, “we will talk.”

If that holds true for Messi vs Pele, then it goes double for Neymar—who’s only 20 and has never played in Europe or in a World Cup—vs Messi. Pelé knows that. But not only does he choose to ignore it, he also reverses the comparison, and the players’ standings, by saying Messi isn’t better than Neymar “yet.” As if Messi were the unproven, striving youngster and Neymar the one with 18 trophies and nearly 250 goals.

The comment is so off-base it’s actually made us feel a little sorry for the old (if ageless) guy. He’s starting to hurt his own cause now, and that’s unfortunate, because he does have a point, at least regarding his own legacy.

So here, let’s help him make it:

We enjoyed that double nutmeg at 2:51.