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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Fernando Torres”

They’re not the world champs for nothing

“He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks it’s a damn fight!”

Apparently someone forgot to tell Spain this was supposed to be an exhibition.

The reigning World Cup champions dismantled the U.S. on Saturday, 4-0.

The friendly, before more than 64,000 at Gillette Stadium, was the first time the two teams have played since the U.S. shocked Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Spain clearly did not forget.

Santi Cazorla scored twice, and Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Torres also scored for Spain.

As for the U.S., Landon Donovan (illness) and Carlos Bocanegra (coaches decision) did not play, while Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Steve Cherundolo only saw action as second-half substitutes.

The U.S. was clearly holding players back in advance of Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Canada.

While winning a tournament is more important than winning a friendly, we have to wonder what the thinking was in scheduling Spain just a few days before the Gold Cup.

The only way the U.S. team is going to get better is by taking on teams like Spain, but if the top players don’t see the field, where is the value? Presumably the experience was still there for the second-level players on the team who saw game action, so that’s a positive.

And it’s not like Donvan, Dempsey, Bradley, etc., are lacking in big-game experience.

We still would have liked the U.S. team to enter the Gold Cup on a bit more of a positive note, as this loss puts more pressure on the team to put on a good showing.

Because if they don’t at least make the finals of the Gold Cup, today’s loss against Spain could have a lasting impact that the team was not expecting.

The grass isn’t always greener

Fernando Torres continued to learn a hard lesson today during Chelsea’s 2-1 elimination loss to Manchester United in the Champions League:

The grass isn’t always greener.

Torres just had to move from Liverpool to Chelsea, thinking the Blues were not only a better fit for his talents, but also offered him a better chance of winning Champions League glory and league titles.

“‘The Champions League is a big ambition and all the footballers want to play in it,” Torres said at the time of his move from Liverpool. “I have a very bad memory of the semi-final of the Champions League in my first season in England when Chelsea beat us and they played the final. Hopefully now I’m here we can go through to the final together and win.

“Chelsea have the chance every season to win all the trophies that they play for, so when you have the chance to play in a team like this you cannot say no. I felt from last summer that I needed a step forward in my career.”

So how’s that working out?

Chelsea currently sits in third place in the Premier League, 11 points behind Manchester United with seven games to play. It’s pretty clear they are not catching Man U at the top of the table.

Torres, the £50million-man, hasn’t scored in 11 games with Chelsea.

And now they are out of the Champions League, with Torres being substituted at halftime by manager Carlo Ancelotti, who may lose his job after the season over disagreements with owner Roman Abramovich about the best way to use Torres. Ancelotti even admitted after the game that playing Torres may have been a mistake.

“Maybe. Could be. But I thought for a lot of time before taking this decision,” Ancelotti told The Guardian. “I preferred to start with Fernando for this kind of game, with this kind of tactics. But Didier (Drogba) played very well in the second half.”

Torres works best operating as a lone striker. He is quick, adept on the counterattack, can hold the ball and is smart enough to use the ball to bring support from deep into play. He was used most successfully at Liverpool in that role, but Chelsea persists in using him in a 4-4-2.

The schedule certainly has not done him any favors, as playing for Spain in the European Championship, the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, he hasn’t had a summer off to recover since 2007.

But now he carries the burden of being the £50million-man, which means people want goals, not excuses.

We’ll always have a soft spot for Torres. We enjoyed watching him at Liverpool and still enjoy his play with Spain.

We just wish he would realized that Anfield was the best spot for him.

Now What Do We Do?

The NFL season ended Sunday … so now what do we do?

The NFL Draft is still a little more than 11 weeks away. If there is no labor-related work stoppage, the Browns won’t play another meaningful game for almost seven months.

And unless the NFL throws realignment into the new CBA, the Browns are still in the same division as Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

So now what do we do?

The Cavs are currently mired in hell, loser’s of an NBA-record 25 consecutive games. Two more losses and they will own the mark for most consecutive losses by any professional team in any sport.

To their credit, the Cavs are trying hard – they’ve held leads in the fourth quarter of the past three games – but with injuries they are just void of any talent after Antawn Jamison.

Nothing against Jamario Moon, but when he is an option to take a game-tying shot at the end of regulation, that pretty much tells us all we need to know about the Cavs season so far.

So now what do we do?

Spring training is just around the corner for the Indians, but the front office is still trying to figure out a way to compete in a sports where the top teams can spent $6 or $7 for every $1 the Tribe spends.

The Phillies spent $120 million guaranteed on Cliff Lee this winter; the Indians big signing was Austin Kearns for $1.8 million.

So now what do we do?

Luckily the Champions League returns next week with the start of the knockout stage and some exciting matchups in Arsenal vs. Barcelona and AC Milan vs. Tottenham Hotspur, among others.

And while we know it probably won’t last, we’re buying into the magic of King Kenny at Liverpool.

And now that Fernando Torres has turned into a bit of a dandy we don’t feel as bad about him leaving Anfield for Chelsea.

And the Cavs are bound to win a game eventually, maybe even this weekend when Washington – currently 0-25 on the road – comes to town.

And maybe the youngsters actually turn out to be pretty good for the Indians this summer.

And the draft isn’t really that far away for the Browns.

So it may get a little dry here for a while, but we’ll find something to do.

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According to an article in Sports Business Journal Daily, the four major pro leagues in America are missing out on an estimated $370 million annually by not allowing advertising on jerseys the way they do in Europe.

“We don’t necessarily see this happening soon in the U.S.,” said Michael Neuman, Horizon Media’s managing partner for sports, entertainment and events, said in the article, “but until the revenue potential is clear, it certainly won’t go anywhere, and clearly this shows there is significant opportunity at a time when most of the big leagues are looking for new revenue.”

While this is all speculative – “I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that now,” Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts said in the article – we’re sure if enough teams found a way to make this a viable revenue option, they would be all over it.

So … about those Browns coaches

Slowly but surely the Browns are filling out their coaching staff under new coach Pat Shurmur.

On Monday the team added Dwaine Board to coach the defensive line, Bill Davis to coach the linebackers, Mike Wilson to coach the wide receivers (he’s going to earn his money with this group) and Mark Whipple as quarterbacks coach.

Missing from that group is an offensive coordinator, a position that NFL teams traditionally find kind of important – the Cardinals had two last season, for example. Technically the Browns do have someone to coordinate the offense as Shurmur plans to call the plays himself.

We didn’t really like that idea when Shurmur mentioned it during his introductory press conference and we’re still a little uneasy about how this is all going to play out. Kansas City showed this season how having two experienced coordinators – Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel – can help a young coach. That’s the model we expected the Browns to follow.

Head coaches have so much to worry about on Sundays – injuries, clock management, etc. – that adding play-calling duties to the list would seem to be a bit overwhelming – especially for a first-time coach.

But who knows? Eric Mangini had Brian Daboll by his side the past two seasons and he still struggled with clock management and other issues on game day. Maybe going against the norm is just what the Browns need to do.

Because what they’ve been doing since 1999 sure hasn’t been working.

For more, visit Waiting for Next Year: Browns could go without offensive coordinator

And Two One Six Sports is less than enamored by the situation.

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We’re still struggling with Fernando Torres no longer being at Liverpool. We loved watching him play and really thought the new ownership group was going to find a way to keep him at Anfield and it’s going to be painful to see him in blue this Sunday.

Lots on this at:

And it just get worse because Andy Carroll, the club’s big signing in the wake of Torres’ departure, is still weeks away from his debut with Liverpool because of an injury.

Who knew we could carry Cleveland’s bad karma to a team thousands of miles away?

Oh well, this will make us feel a little bit better.

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Finally, why is Hines Ward dressed like one of the Village People?

Browns release the poison on Patriots

The Browns dominated the Patriots on Sunday and in the process earned what is surely the defining victory of the Eric Mangini era and the final bit of proof for anyone who doubted this team and refused to see the progress it has made.

And in the process maybe, just maybe, the Browns have finally found a quarterback.

Unlike last year’s last-season win against Pittsburgh (aka the most over-rated win in franchise history), Sunday’s win came against a team riding a five-game winning streak and with the best record in the NFL.

The Browns rolled up 404 yards of offense, with 230 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns. They controlled the ball for 38 minutes behind 184 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Peyton Hillis. The offensive line had another solid day, and the right side has settled down since Billy Yates has taken over at right guard and Floyd Womack at right tackle.

For the second game in a row the team pulled out the trick plays, this time a handoff to Chansi Stuckey out of the Wildcat that resulted in Stuckey’s 11-yard touchdown run.

The defense held the Patriots to half their season total in points and, for the second week in a row, more than held its own against a top-flight quarterback. The Browns held the Patriots to just seven points through three quarters and when McCoy ran the ball in from 16 yards to give the Browns a 24-7 lead with about five minutes to go in the third quarter, the game was essentially over.

It was probably the first time both sides of the ball played well in the same game and made it truly a team win.

As for McCoy, he’s making it very difficult for the coaches to stick to The Plan once Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme are healthy.

McCoy had no interceptions for the second consecutive week, completed 73 percent of his passes on the day and once again avoided making any stupid plays that could have hurt the Browns.

You can see him getting better and more comfortable each week as he gets more practice time with the first team. And when you factor in that no rookie quarterback in the history of the NFL has made his first three starts against teams of the level of Pittsburgh, New Orleans and New England, it’s slowly starting to look as if the Browns have finally found their quarterback.

As sure as the Browns have made true progress this season – they are now 7-5 in their last 12 games after going 1-11 in the previous 12 – it would be foolish to argue or try to downplay that McCoy has not made progress in the past three games.

Bring on the Jets!

***

If a big Browns win wasn’t enough to make it an extra-special day, Liverpool took it to top-of-the-table Chelsea, notching a 2-0 win over the defending champs behind Fernando Torres’ two goals.

Liverpool’s worst start to a season in more than 50 years had the Reds in the relegation zone last month, but three straight wins have lifted the 18-time champions to ninth. They are in a five-team group with Tottenham Hotspur – who were shocked over the weekend by Bolton – and only two points behind fifth-place Newcastle.

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Finally, we are only a Pittsburgh cover against the always overrated Cincinnati Bengals Monday night to nail a perfect week in the 2010 Cheddar Bay Invitational at Cleveland Frowns and continue to close the gap on leader jimkanicki.

Psst, want to buy a soccer team?

With Saturday bringing the start of the new Premier League season, it’s been a good summer for Liverpool.

First Steven Gerrard, aka the anti-LeBron, recommitted to the team, then Fernando Torres, fresh off a World Cup victory with Spain, announced he was staying at Anfield. Rafa Benitez, his ego and odd player rotations are in Italy, replaced by Roy Hodgson.

And it looked like, at long last, the team would be rid of goofball owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who after running the team into the ground since buying it in 2007 decided to put it up for sale last spring.

But even that hasn’t gone smoothly. At first, Chinese investor Kenny Huang appeared to be the front runner to buy the club. (His name should sound familiar to Cavs fans – he advised Chinese investors bidding to acquire a 15 percent stake in the Cavaliers, although the deal did not work out).

More potential owners have come out in recent weeks, although the Sahara Group has apparently pulled out; while the interest from Yayha Kirdi has left many fans cold.

Hicks and Gillett prefer Kirdi, of course, as he is reportedly willing to pay 600 million pounds for the club, twice the value of the other offers and enough to ensure the owners of turning a profit. The other offers would allow the pair to walk away without losing any money.

It’s not surprising that Hicks and Gillett can’t even get this right. Gillett, while he was owner of the Montreal Canadians, was part of the NHL when it closed down for a year because the owners couldn’t figure out how to control themselves from overspending on contracts.

Hicks famously bid against himself as owner of the Texas Rangers to give Alex Rodriguez $250 million, and recently sold the team out of bankruptcy.

Just the duo you want running your club.

And we think the Dolans are bad.

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Finally, more good news from the always top-notch EPL Talk.

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