BPFL Weeks 15 and 16: Michu is the Man, and Premier League Trivia

BPFL Subbuteo

The estimable Our Man at the Valley is here with the latest on all things BPFL. You’re on OMATV:

Here’s a trivia question to start this wrap-up, courtesy of Fox Soccer Channel and Old27M: Name the four players who have played in more Premiership matches than Raheem Sterling prior to their 18th birthdays? Answers can be found at the bottom of this post.

I was thinking about Raheem Sterling this Gameweek, due mostly to the five points he added to my tally in my victory against the editor of this site, Fall River Marksmen [Ouch.— Ed.] The Marksmen were perhaps a bit overconfident due to a two match winning streak, declining to make any changes to their squad. At least they can take solace that due to a smaller league this season they’ll get a third chance, sometime in the Spring, to notch a first victory against my Disgruntled Numpties [!@$&%**%$!!Ed.].

Important Programming Note: The Website-wide Fantasy Cup starts this Gameweek, with a qualifying round. Basically, if your score for Gameweek 17 (regardless of the total points earned in prior weeks) is in the top 80% of all entrants you’ll be entered in the first round of the cup in Gameweek 18. So, if you were looking for a good excuse to use that first wildcard and revamp your squad, here it is. By way of example, if qualifying had been held Gameweek 16, 11 of the 13 of us would have qualified for the first round.

Here are a few hints to help you with that trivia question: My four Charlton-based answers of Scott Parker, Jermaine Defoe, Paul Konchesky and Jonjo Shelvey were all incorrect.

On the pitch, Michu of Swansea gets Player of the Fortnight honors, as he bagged a brace in each match.  Most of our successes or failures in the Backpost FPL turned on whether he was in a particular lineup.

Gameweek 16 also featured a double gameweek for Sunderland and Reading, as those two clubs finally made up their cancelled fixture from a while back. This caused some overthinking on some of our parts, and moves to make Stephane Sessegnon and Adam Le Fondre captain failed miserably for Rise* of FC Hammer and Old27M, respectively.  [Author’s Note:  I’m in the habit of writing these reports while a Gameweek is still in progress and this particular paragraph was written late in the second half of Sunderland v. Reading; I didn’t foresee Sessegnon’s garbage time goal or his subsequent Bonus Point. These were enough to turn defeat into victory for the Hammer. Good move; I never doubted you.]

Here’s another hint with that trivia question: Two of the four players appeared in this week’s Manchester Derby.  A third is on a Premiership roster though I’m not sure he’s seen any action this season. The fourth is now firmly established as a central midfielder on the best club team in the world.

In the BFPL, there were two wins over Gameweeks 15 and 16 for Sporting de Dijon, Abes Army and Marskansas.

There were multiple losses for The losers, Old 27M, Prison Mike and I am Midtable I am Liverpool.

Despite the two losses, Old27M retains his place at the top of the table. Marskansas and Abes Army are both a victory away from taking over the top spot.

Our Performance of the Week in Gameweek 15 came from ColoradoKeeper. His 80 points were enough to defeat a very unlucky loser, Old27M, who had the second most points in the BFPL with 71.

In Gameweek 16, our Performance of the Week came from my Disgruntled Numpties, with 92 points. Our unlucky loser was Colorado Keeper, edged 64-63 by that Sessegnon 90th-minute goal.

Finally, our trivia answer: Gareth Barry, Cesc Fabregas, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen are the four players with more Premiership appearances prior to their 18th birthdays than Raheem Sterling.

Thanks, OMATV. We could only come up with Rooney for the trivia. Oh well. Thanks for the—wait! There’s more. The Co-Commissioner has filed an update. It reads:

A day after points for Gamewek 16 were thought (by me at least) to be official, the EPL website published the following:
Important Information:
  • The Player Performance Index has been re-calculated as a result of a review of footage. This has resulted in a change to bonus points awarded in the matches between Aston Villa v Stoke and Sunderland v Reading”
As a result Stephane Sessegnon lost his single bonus point and Rise* of FC Hammer wound up drawing with Colorado Keeper, 62-62.  Adjust your reading of the above post accordingly, please.
And there you have it. Thanks for playing everyone; be sure to set your teams this week, as we look ahead to the busy holiday schedule.

Rafa Marquez May Not Be the Worst Signing In MLS History, But He’s In the Running


The New York Red Bulls officially cut ties with Mexican superstar Rafa Marquez today, ending the player’s stormy two-and-a-quarter seasons with the MLS club.

We wondered about Marquez’s apparent character issues when New York signed him back in August 2010, and sure enough, the ones we, and millions of U.S. fans, had witnessed were not an aberration. The guy has a raging chemical fire where his sense of judgment and perspective should be. We’ve seen it time and time again.

A brief review:

• 2002 World Cup: He head-butts and kicks Cobi Jones, leaving the U.S. midfielder flat on the ground and drawing a straight red.

• In a Feb 2009 World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Marquez went studs-up into U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, drawing another red.

• Following New York’s 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake in Sept 2011, Marquez—an eight-year veteran of Barcelona and the captain of Mexico’s national team—threw his less experienced teammates under the bus, saying he played as well as he could but, “I don’t have, unfortunately, [other] defenders on my level that can help me out.”

• He didn’t stop there, either. Asked about fellow center back Tim Ream, Marquez said, “Tim is still a young player with a lot to learn. He still has quite a lot to learn, and well, he has committed errors that are very infantile and cost us goals.” Coach Hans Backe suspended Marquez for one game for the outburst.

• Later that season, following a tense, 1-0 loss to Los Angeles in the first round of the MLS playoffs, Marquez chucked the game ball at Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan, sparking a bench-clearing fracas and getting himself suspended for the crucial second leg. Which New York lost.

Here’s the clip:

• In an April 2012 game against San Jose, Marquez bear-hugged Earthquakes winger Shea Salinas on a corner kick and slammed him to the ground, breaking the midfielder’s clavicle and drawing a three-game suspension.

See it here:

• In the first leg of this season’s Eastern Conference semifinal against D.C., Marquez launched a halftime verbal assault on Backe after the coach replaced him with Roy Miller.

• The capper: In the second leg of that series, just minutes after New York gained a man advantage due to D.C. keeper Bill Hamid’s red card, Marquez gave it back, picking up his second yellow, for a reckless challenge on Chris Pontius. D.C. would go on to win the game 1-0 with an 88th-minute goal.

Marquez finished each of his last two MLS seasons with red cards.

MLS Transfer and Silly Seasons Off with a Bang

Jamison OlaveSletoux

Less than 24 hours after Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez finished dancing naked in celebration of the Galaxy’s 2012 MLS Cup triumph, reports of impending blockbuster MLS trades started filtering in. Not long after that, the first big transactions were confirmed, as Real Salt Lake, Portland, and New York completed significant deals ahead of the 2013 season.

More on those shortly, but first, here’s a list of foreign-based players who could be, are rumored to be, should be, or some guy’s cousin’s sister’s bartender said would be, coming to our bustling shores in 2013 (along with their age, position, nationality, current or most recent club, and level).

Buckle up, and take ’em all with a grain of salt:

Yossi Benayoun, 32, attacking midfielder Israel, Chelsea—on loan to West Ham, Premier League

Dexter Blackstock, 26, striker, Antigua and Barbuda, Nottingham Forest, Football League Championship (English second flight)

Fernando Cavenaghi, 29, striker, Argentina, Villareal, La Liga

Christian Eichner, left back, Germany, FC Cologne, Bundesliga2

Rio Ferdinand, 34, center back, England, Manchester United, Premier League

Maynor Figueroa, 29, defender, Honduras, Wigan Athletic, Premier League

Robbie Findley, 27, striker, United States, Nottingham Forest, Football League Championship

Brad Friedel, 41, goalkeeper, United States, Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League

Manuel Freidrich, 33 , center back, Germany, Bayer Leverkusen, Bundesliga

Clarence Goodson, 30, defender, United States, Brøndby, Superligaen (Danish top flight)

Atiba Hutchinson, 29, midfielder/defender, Canada, PSV Eindhoven, Eredivisie (Dutch top flight)

Jared Jeffrey, 22, midfielder, United States, Mainz 05, Bundesliga

Kaka, 30, midfielder, Brazil, Real Madrid, La Liga

Kevin McKenna, 32, center back, Canada, FC Cologne, Bundesliga

David Mendes da Silva, 30, defender, Netherlands, Red Bull Salzburg, Austrian Bundesliga

Rubin Okotie, 25, striker, Austria, Sturm Graz, Austrian Bundesliga

Martin Petrov, 33, winger, Bulgaria, Bolton, Football League Championship

Claudio Pizarro, 34, striker, Peru, Bayern Munich, Bundesliga

Frank Simek, 28, defender, United States, Carlisle, Football League One (English third flight)

Whew! And look for that list to grow in the coming weeks.

As for the deals that have already gone down, Real Salt Lake offloaded center back Jamison Olave, striker Fabian Espindola, and midfielder Will Johnson in a bold sweep to free up allocation money that they’ll likely use to lure a marquee forward for 2013.

Olave and Espindola went to New York and Johnson to Portland. All three were dealt in exchange for cash. Why New York would swoop for the declining Olave is a topic for another post, but for now, suffice to say that the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year will be 32 early next season, and has seen his minutes decline due to injury from 2,413 in 2010 to 2,128 in ’11 and 1,734 last year. Good luck with that, NY.

RSL also sent striker Justin Braun to Toronto FC for defender Aaron Maund, and Portland—which has installed new coach Caleb Porter from Akron—traded defender Kosuke Kimura to the Red Bulls for allocation money and the rights to homegrown player (and Akron Zip) Bryan Gallego.

The Timbers also traded lanky center back Eric Brunner to Houston for allocation money, and sent cash to Sporting Kansas City in exchange for outside back Michael Harrington.

All of these moves took place on Monday, a day the Colorado Rapids capped by trading an international roster spot to Vancouver for striker Atiba Harris.

On Thursday, the Red Bulls traded attacker Sebastien Le Toux to Philadelphia—where he enjoyed a breakout season in 2010, producing 14 goals and 11 asssists—in exchange for allocation money and 22-year-old Costa Rican striker Josue Martinez.

Stay tuned, hot-stove season is only one week old.

Beckham Goes Out in Style as Galaxy Win MLS Cup Chock Full of History (And Our Prediction Comes True)


The Los Angeles Galaxy sent David Beckham out a winner, locking down a 3-1 victory over Houston in the MLS Cup final this past Saturday, and giving the Englishman—who had announced that this game would be his last in the league—his second U.S. domestic title in six seasons.

That was only the most high-profile chunk of history carved out at the Home Depot Center. Landon Donovan, who may be headed elsewhere as well, won a record-tying fifth MLS championship and became the league’s alltime leading scorer in all competitions when he scored the Cup-winning goal from the spot, giving him 146 career goals (regular season and playoffs).

The win delivered Los Angeles its fourth MLS Cup title, tied with D.C. United for the most ever.

There was also coach Bruce Arena’s fourth title—two more than any other coach in MLS history—and a second consecutive one for Irish international Robbie Keane, who who iced the game with a penalty in stoppage time, scoring his sixth goal of the playoffs, tied for second-most alltime in a single postseason.

Twenty-four year-old center back and budding U.S. national team prospect Omar Gonzalez completed his return from a torn ACL (suffered in January) by winning the game MVP award.

Also historic, if only for its Halley’s Comet–like rarity, was our spot-on—3-1 LA—pregame prediction (scroll down for it).

To the highlights, which really should be run in sepia tones:

Still can’t believe Donovan missed that sitter in the first half.

Adding to the end-of-an-era, history-making aspect of the game was the talk afterward about this Galaxy team’s place in the MLS pantheon. Are they best team in the league’s 17 years?

They’ve been to three finals and won two. They’ve won two Supporters’ Shields (and narrowly missed a third), and they suit up the league’s best player all-time in Donovan, its most galvanizing in Beckham, and one of its deadliest strikers ever in Keane.

Still, for over all balance and accomplishment, we’d give the nod to the D.C. United teams from 1996 to ’99.

They appeared in four straight finals, won three, and featured Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno in their primes, alongside U.S. national teamers Eddie Pope, Jeff Agoos, John Harkes, Roy Lassiter, Carlos Llamosa, Ben Olsen, and Richie Williams.

That D.C. dynasty also won the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup, a precursor to the CONCACAF Champions League, and, most impressively, the ’98 Copa Interamericana, a competition between the winners of the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the South American Copa Libertadores.

The Black-and-Red defeated Brazil’s Vasco da Gama to win that trophy, and it’s probably the most impressive competitive notch on MLS’s belt in 17 years as a league.

This Galaxy side is a good and historic one, but they’re a shade behind that D.C. club.

They do have one thing in common with them, though: coach Bruce Arena.