Tim Cahill Headed to Red Bulls?

The New York club has not confirmed it yet, but Everton’s website is reporting that the Toffees have agreed to a transfer to MLS and the Red Bulls for veteran Australian attacker Tim Cahill.

Cahill, 32, didn’t have a great season at Everton last year, but he produced nine goals and four assists in 27 league appearances in 2010-11, and he established himself as a dangerous attacking threat in his eight seasons with the Merseyside club.

He’s also a mainstay with the Australian national team, having scored 24 goals in 55 appearances for his country.

If confirmed, the transfer would give the Red Bulls the most dangerous attacking corps in MLS. They’re already second in the league in goals per game, with Thierry Henry (10 goals, six assists), Kenny Cooper (13 goals, one assist), Sebastien Le Toux (five goals, two assists), and Joel Lindpere (three goals, four assists) leading the way.

Adding a player of Cahill’s ability to this group, which also includes Dax McCarty—who’s enjoying arguably the best season of his career—Rafa Marquez, rising youngster Connor Lade, and, when he returns from injury, experienced Finnish international Teemu Tainio, would firmly establish the Red Bulls as Eastern Conference and MLS Cup favorites.

If their backline can stay healthy and consistent, the Red Bulls could finally acquire something for their heretofore empty trophy case.

Landon Donovan Now a Verb in the UK

Los Angeles Galaxy and U.S. national team attacker Landon Donovan has five assists in the first seven games of his winter loan stint with Everton, helping the team to big recent wins over Fulham (in the FA Cup) and top-of-the-table Manchester City.

He’s done so well in his second loan stint that former Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, who is now headed back to the Merseyside on loan from Spurs, recently said he hopes to “have a Landon Donovan effect” in his return to the club.

That prompted The Sun to run the banner headline “Pienaar: I can do a Landon,” and thereby usher a new verb into the British football lexicon.

Think of it as a kind of antonym to the phrase “pull a Homer,” from the classic Simpsons episode “Homer Defined” (Season 3, Episode 5), in which the rotund Simpsons family patriarch stops a nuclear meltdown using the unorthodox “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” method, prompting the coining of the phrase, which means “to succeed despite idiocy.”

Donovan, Gibson, Handcuff Man City Title Hopes

Donovan (left) tees up Gibson for the winner.

In a match interrupted for five minutes after a Merseyside punter (as you can see in the video clip here, we’re using that term correctly) handcuffed himself to a Goodison Park goalpost, Landon Donovan laid off a perfect ball to teammate Darron Gibson, whose powerful shot deflected into the net past Joe Hart to give Everton a 1-0 win over Manchester City.

The deft pass was Donovan’s fourth assist in four games for Everton and his fifth in seven matches over all for the Toffees. The 29-year-old American is producing another excellent loan performance in the Premier League, following his star turn for Everton in the winter of 2010.

For City, the defeat—their fourth loss in their past six visits to Goodison Park—dropped them into a tie for first in the Premier League with crosstown rivals Manchester United, who clipped Stoke City 2-0 at Old Trafford. Both teams have 54 points after 23 games, but City holds the edge on goal difference.

Everton moved up to ninth place with the win.

Here’s a bonus shot of the punter/bloke/geezer who interrupted the game in protest of Ryanair, an airline he says fired his daughter unfairly:

Goodison Park officials were impressively quick to produce a pair of boltcutters and usher the man to the legal phase of his “protest.”

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.

MLS Exports Ruled the World this Week

With his fairytale goal against Leeds yesterday, Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry capped a tremendous week for Major League Soccer products playing abroad.

Over the weekend, former New England Revolution star and 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year Clint Dempsey scored a hat-trick against Charlton in the FA Cup, and current LA Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan set up a goal and hit the post with a 25-yard rocket during Everton’s 2-0 win over Tamworth in the FA Cup.

There were other players with MLS ties who stood out this week, but before we get to those, here are the highlights, via The FA Cup, of Henry’s triumphant return to Arsenal, the club where he forged his legend—and where they’ve erected a statue in his likeness. He entered the third-round match in the 67th minute with the score 0-0:

On first viewing, Henry appears to be offside, but subsequent replays clearly showed that the defender on the far side, at the top of the screen, kept him onside. Here’s a screen grab for proof:

Definitely onside, and definitely an indelible moment in global soccer, year 2012.

Former Revolution man Dempsey created his own career landmark against Charlton on Saturday, bagging his first hat-trick to power Fulham to a 4-0 win. Highlights below, also courtesy of The FA Cup. Note Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz, who is involved in three of the four goals:

After the game, Fulham coach Martin Jol , speaking to The Sun, had this to say about the kid from Nacogdoches: “He is an American boy so he wants to win every training session. He has the eye of the tiger.”

The MLS-export heroics were not limited to Henry, Donovan, and Dempsey.

Five days earlier, former New York goalkeeper Tim Howard made history by becoming just the fourth goalkeeper (and second Yank, after Brad Friedel) to score in the Premier League when his clearance from the top of his own area got caught in the wind and bounced high over the head of Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan.

In Italy, former MetroStars midfielder Michael Bradley earned raves for his play with Serie A side Chievo. He has nailed down a starting spot, and the team is on track for a solid mid-table finish this season. Bradley has also already mastered enough Italian to conduct his press interviews in the local tongue.

Quick, Check Out Tim Howard’s Freakish 100-yard Goal, Before Copyright Claims Strip It Out

U.S. attacker Landon Donovan made his (second) Everton debut today, but it was his fellow national-teamer, goalkeeper Tim Howard, who scored in the game against Bolton.

You read that right—Howard belted a clearance at the top of his own box and, thanks to the gusting winds at Goodison Park, the ball carried … and carried—and bounced over Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan into the net to give the Toffees a 1-0 lead.

Take a look:

Unfortunately for Everton and U.S. fans, Bolton scored two goals in an 11-minute span soon after Howard’s fluke tally and held on for a 2-1 win. Leighton Baines hit the bar with a free kick in stoppage time, but that was as close as Everton got to an equalizer.

Donovan had a decent game, particularly in the first half, when he made a few good runs, got in some crosses, two shots, and had a possibly legit penalty claim waved off after surging into the box against Sam Ricketts.

UPDATE: Ah, well, that was fun while it lasted–about 12 hours. You can probably still find the clip out there on the worlwide webster.

Donovan Signals Merseyside Return with Thursday-Morning Tweet: “Once a Toffee, always a Toffee”

Those six words came over Landon Donovan’s Twitter feed early yesterday, causing his 588,475 followers to go, “Hmmm.”

Sure enough, about six hours later, his agent, Richard Motzkin, confirmed that LD would be returning to Everton for a winter loan deal, saying, “Exciting times ahead in the New Year at Goodison Park.”

Hopefully for U.S. and Everton fans those times will be as exciting as Donovan’s 2010 spell with the club, when he had two goals and three assists in 13 appearances and was named Everton Player of the Month:

(What’s up with that “Dono” at the end, btw? Someone needs to tell them it’s “Lando”)

Donovan could make up to 11 appearances with Everton during this loan, including in a Jan. 11 matchup with Tottenham and U.S. keeper Brad Friedel, who recently said, among other unflattering things, that Donovan had taken the “easy road” by forging the bulk of his career in Major League Soccer. That game ought to be interesting.

Also of note are a Feb. 1 meeting with Manchester City, a Feb. 11 matchup against Chelsea, and the Feb. 25 Merseyside Derby versus Liverpool.

See Simon Borg’s helpful rundown of the entire LD 2012 Everton schedule here.

This Story Involves Tim Howard … We Think

This is a bit old, but well worth 32 seconds of your time, even if you’ve seen it before: Sky Sports studio anchor Jeff Stelling throws it to his sideline reporter, Mr. Dean Windass, with incredible, possibly historic results:

Let’s review: Everton nearly went behind; there were “pick ons;” someone outraced someone else, while a third party was “sent for a pie;” the anchor is referred to as Jeff, John, Steve, and, finally, Jack—and, as we said, we’re pretty sure Tim Howard features in the story. 

Windass apparently studied at the Northern England branch of the Eric Dickerson School for Sideline Reporting.

Everton Shocks Man U; West Ham Rips Hull: Weekend Wrap, American Style

Since Landon Donovan joined Everton in January, the Toffees have lost just once in the Premier League. They’ve tied Arsenal, blanked Manchester City, beaten both Chelsea and Manchester United (consecutively), and clipped Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League.

Donovan didn’t score in the 3-1 win over Man U on Saturday, but he had a solid game, showing his versatility by playing on the left as well as in the middle (he’s mostly played on the right for Everton during this loan spell), and helping to create Dan Gosling’s winner in the 76th minute. He sprung Steven Pienaar behind Man U’s backline, and the South African cut it back for Gosling’s finish.

When 18-year-old substitute Jack Rodwell motored—surprisingly easily, it should be said—around United centerback Jonny Evans and tucked home the third goal, Everton’s impressive come-from-behind win over title-chasing United was complete.

Man U’s Dimitar Berbatov had opened the scoring in the 16th minute, banging one in off the crossbar from 12 yards out. Everton’s Diniyar Bilyaletdinov equalized in spectacular fashion three minutes later, collecting a loose ball 25 yards out, taking one touch and launching a rocket inside Edwin van der Sar’s near post. The big Dutchman did not even move as the ball hit the back of the net.

Everton has said they don’t have the cash to buy Donovan outright—and MLS would definitely want a pretty penny for him—but, hey, if this MLS labor mess doesn’t get sorted out soon, maybe they’ll look into extending his loan stay.

When Chelsea scored the second goal in its 2-0 win over Wolverhampton at the Molineux, we imagined U.S. coach Bob Bradley touching pen to tongue and quietly adjusting his South Africa 2010 depth chart at the goalkeeper position.

Yes, American keeper Marcus Hahnemann combined with Wolves centerback Christophe Berra to make a complete hash of a long punt by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech in the 66th minute. After Berra misplayed Cech’s booming kick and got muscled off the ball by Didier Drogba about 22 yards out, Hahnemann came charging off his line, even though Berra was still in close pursuit of Drogba. Drogba simply pushed it around the Yank, who collided with Berra and tripped, leaving the empty goal at the mercy of the Chelsea striker, who rolled in his second of the game. Assist to Petr Cech.

It was too bad, because Wolves didn’t play terribly otherwise, and they had several chances. Irish international Kevin Doyle was especially impressive. And now the always entertaining postgame quote from Wolves manager Mick McCarthy:

I’ve just had a right chew at the lads in the dressing-room because we’ve lost a game that we shouldn’t have. We’ve let Chelsea off the hook and that’s what has annoyed me. We had them in that second half, we had them. We created chances, didn’t take them, and then conceded a sloppy second goal that has killed us. Chelsea are the champions-elect and we’ve matched them in all departments except putting the ball in the back of the net.”

In East London, Jonathan Spector started and went the distance as West Ham dismantled Jozy Altidore and Hull City  3-0 in a six-point relegation battle. Altidore played the final 25 minutes of the match, but couldn’t turn the tide for 10-man Hull, whose Craig Fagan was sent to the showers after receiving a second yellow in the 52nd minute. West Ham, which got its first goal two minutes in, climbs all the way to 13th place with the win.

On Sunday, Brad Friedel backstopped Aston Villa to a wild 5-2 win over relegation-threatened Burnley, while injured Clint Dempsey saw his Fulham teammate Bobby Zamora score a 90th-minute winner to edge Birmingham City 2-1 at Craven Cottage, and Stuart Holden did not dress for Bolton’s 3-0 pasting at the hands of Blackburn.

In Saturday’s other games, Arsenal blanked Sunderland 2-0 and Stoke City snatched three points from last-place Portsmouth, winning 2-1 on a 90th-minute goal by Salif Diao.

The big Man City-Liverpool matchup on Sunday fizzled, as the teams played to a scoreless draw. That gave Tottenham a chance to vault into fourth place, which they took, shutting out Wigan 3-0 on two goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and one from Jermain Defoe. Wigan has now been outscored 12-1 in two games against Tottenham this season, with six of the goals coming from Defoe.

Spector and West Ham travel to Old Trafford tomorrow to take on Manchester United. Setanta Sports will televise it live in the U.S. at 3:00 p.m. EST.

Everton’s Good News-Bad News Week Is … Mostly Bad, Actually

Everton defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-1 in the home leg of their Europa League Round of 32 matchup on Tuesday, but also learned on that day that it had lost towering (6′ 5″) center midfielder Marouane Fellaini for the season. And even the Europa League win was dampened near the end by a potentially huge mistake from defender Sylvain Distin, who decked Sporting’s Da Silva Muniz Liedson in the box in the 87th minute, getting red-carded and giving the visitors a crucial away goal via penalty in the dying moments.

Distin will miss the return leg, and Everton’s John Heitinga is also out, meaning the Toffees will play at Lisbon without their first-choice central defense. Getting to the Round of 16 looks a lot tougher now than it did in the 86th minute at Goodison Park on Tuesday.

U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan started, went the distance, and by all accounts had a decent game. (Ditto Yank keeper Tim Howard.) Will David Moyes employ Donovan in the center of the midfield at all, following the season-ending injury to Fellaini?

It turns out the Belgian midfielder was not embellishing, at all, after his crunching 50-50 challenge with Liverpool defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos in the Merseyside derby on Feb 6 (see photo above).

Not that we, or anyone else (outside of the odd Scouser: see Fellaini’s vandalized Wikipedia page here*) were suggesting he was, but Fellaini did go over the ball into the challenge—while Kyrgiakos went two-footed, studs-up—and it’s not uncommon for a player to camouflage a bookable offense by feigning grievous bodily harm. (One match announcer suggested both players deserved red cards on the play).

But Fellaini has come out worse for the wear, as Everton announced Tuesday that he will require surgery to repair ligament damage in his ankle, and will be out of action for six months.

It’s a tough blow for Everton, as the lanky Belgian international had been key to the team’s resurgence in the past two months, pulling strings and providing bite in the Toffees’ midfield.

*UPDATE: Fellaini’s Wikipedia page has been corrected. Yesterday, it listed him as “Screech” Fellaini, and suggested that he had injured himself in the challenge with Kyrgiakos. Clearly the work of a Liverpool fan—and we had no idea that Saved by the Bell had been exported to the UK.