Van Persie vs Wolyniec

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie scored three goals yesterday to lift his team to a 3-0 win over Aston Villa (and U.S. keeper Brad Guzan) that clinched the club’s 20th English championship.

His second was a beauty:

The full volley into the far corner, off of a pass from distance, kind of reminded us of MetroBull striker John Wolyniec’s overtime winner against Columbus in 2003:

Which one is better?

The MLS man was closer to goal, but the pass he had to deal with was longer. It was also an overtime winner.

Both players hit the ball absolutely on the screws, but RVP’s degree of difficulty to get it on frame was greater, and he pocketed it right in the corner.

Advantage: RVP, by a nose.

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He’s Fresh from Leading Aston Villa to One of the Worst Defeats In their 139-Year History, So Naturally Paul Lambert Is A Rumored Target in the Red Bulls’ Coaching Search

PaulLambertVilla

The New York Red Bulls opened training camp on Monday, and they selected six players in Major League Soccer’s Supplemental Draft on Tuesday, but they still do not have a coach for the 2013 season.

A number of candidates and rumored candidates have come and gone, including former Portugese international Paulo Sousa (who, according to the European press, turned down the job when the club wouldn’t meet his conditions) and ex-Red Bull and U.S. international Claudio Reyna (who was slated to be the top assistant to Sousa, but also reportedly took a pass on the offer), and now, two-and-a-half months after the team dismissed Hans Backe, comes a report from Big Apple Soccer that they are considering an offer to Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert.

Never mind that Lambert’s team lost 8-0 to Chelsea last month, or that they suffered a historically ignominious loss, on aggregate, to fourth-tier Bradford City yesterday to bounce out of the League Cup (or that Lambert has zero familiarity with MLS or U.S. soccer), the 43-year-old Scot is, if the report is to be believed, being considered a viable candidate by New York.

Sigh.

The report also claims that former U.S. international and loose cannon Eric Wynalda is a candidate as well, so, considering the fact that Wynalda was reportedly eliminated from consideration weeks ago, and the fact that this same publication reported in early January that Gary McAllister had been hired by New York (which turned out to be false), the reliability of this information is certainly in question.

Time, of course, will tell, but in the meantime, Red Bulls fans are left wondering, yet again, what in the world is going on with their franchise.

Aston Villa’s Rough Season Hits Another Low As Fourth-Tier Bradford City Knocks them Out of the League Cup

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Semi Final - Second Leg - Aston Villa v Bradford City - Villa Park

With US goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Yank defender Eric Lichaj watching from the bench, Premier League strugglers Aston Villa could only muster a 2-1 win over fourth-tier side Bradford City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal at Villa Park today.

The result was not enough for the Villans to overcome a 3-1 first-leg deficit and thus eliminated Villa from the tournament and made Bradford City the first fourth-division team to reach the League Cup final since 1962. They’ll play either Chelsea or Swansea City in the final on Feb. 24 at Wembley.

Villa owned 72% of possession in the first half today, and created three clear chances before Christian Benteke put them ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute. They couldn’t translate their dominance into more goals, though, and in the 55th minute, Bradford striker James Hanson (above left) headed in a Gary Jones corner kick to make it 1-1 and restore the lower-level side’s two-goal aggregate advantage.

Hanson nearly scored again just minutes later and Bradford rattled Shay Given’s crossbar in the late stages before Villa’s Andreas Weimann bagged one in the 89th minute to set up a tense finish. But the heavy favorites could not find that crucial third goal, which would have sent the tie into extra time, and the visitors, who dispatched Arsenal in the previous round, were soon celebrating an historic win.

So which is more humiliating for Villa, this defeat to a League Two team, or December’s 8-0 thrashing by Chelsea? Tough call, but it’s probably this one.

The Villans return to Premier League action on Jan. 29, when they host Newcastle in a relegation battle. Villa is currently in 17th place, one point above the drop, while Newcastle is in 16th, two points clear.

UK’s Pardon the Interruption, with Curly Neal’s British Cousin Co-Hosting, Gives Props to MLS

From the MLS Insider comes this clip of the English version of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, in which the hosts discuss the Premier League returns of Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan—and show a welcome level of respect for Major League Soccer:

We kept waiting for the guy on the right to drop a “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”

Henry and Arsenal will look to halt a two-game league losing streak this Sunday in a huge game against Manchester United. Keane and Villa travel to Wolves on Saturday, the same day that Everton, Donovan and Tim Howard host Blackburn.

Bradley on Verge of Villa Loan Deal

Aston Villa, a Premier League club with American ownership (Randy Lerner) and three American players on its books (Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj), is poised to add a third Yank, Michael Bradley, who has been a starter at Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach since 2008.

Bradley is of course the son of U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, who was rumored to be joining the Villans himself—as head coach—just last summer.

That story turned out to be more rumor than fact, but the reports involving 23-year-old Michael have the ring of truth. ESPN and others have reported that the young Bradley is in Birmingham, taking a physical in advance of processing the paperwork to make the loan official.

The deal will last until the end of the current Premier League season, when it could evolve into a permanent contract, depending on how well the U.S. workhorse does.

With the recent arrival of Jermaine Jones at Blackburn, we could see both of the U.S.’s first-choice central midfielders starting in the Premier League in the coming weeks, along with other U.S. midfielders Stuart Holden and Clint Dempsey.

But Bradley will have competition for a starting spot at Villa, which recently added Cameroonian Jean Makoun to a midfield corps that includes Englishman Nigel Reo Coker and Stiliyan Petrov of Bulgaria, the Villans’ captain.

Bradley to Villa? Bradley to Villa—According to these Guys

British outlet talkSPORT is reporting that Bob Bradley will step down from the U.S. national team and be unveiled as Aston Villa’s new coach next week. The move would make Bradley the first American ever to coach in a top-flight European league.

He won’t be on the bench for their opener tomorrow against West Ham—a game that already includes Yanks Jonathan Spector, and Brads Friedel and Guzan—but, according to talkSPORT, he’ll be ready for Villa’s Round 2 game against Newcastle the following weekend.

Here’s the report; no official word from Villa or the U.S. just yet.