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I mentioned yesterday I’d be attending the final of the SuperLiga, which is best explained as a contrived North American Europa League. A capacity crowd at Toyota Park (it would be generous to say it was actually “sold-out”), the $1m prize and two of the best teams in North America right now, the Chicago Fire and Tigres UANL, gave us all the ingredients for a pulsating final, tied 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes
Unfortunately, the contrived nature of the tournament was revealed when to the surprise of most, the final went straight to penalties after the ninety minutes were up. A pulsating contest was thus cut-off and decided by the random chance of a shootout. If you’re going to win $1m, at least play an extra thirty minutes to earn it. The only explanation for this rule is to prevent interference in the television schedule, an inexcusable situation if we’re to take this tournament seriously going forward.
In any case, you may guess from the increasingly bitter tone that my Chicago Fire lost the shootout, so lets move onto other news, shall we. . .
- Newcastle may finally be freed from Mike Ashley’s inept clutches, as Barry Moat’s consortium’s chances of a takeover seem to be pretty good. Moat is a friend of Alan Shearer, and his consortium also apparently has considerable backing from a US-based investor — though there’s no word on who. They sure need something to happen: as Ian Murtagh notes, “Newcastle remain the only club in the Football League without a manager or even one new addition to their squad.”
- And there’s continued turmoil at Portsmouth, as once again we see that a “fairytale” takeover is nothing of the sort — Sulaiman al-Fahim’s 10 weeks in charge since he took over the club for no purchase price (instead taking on the club’s substantial debts) leading to nothing but player sales to pay back loans.
- Meanwhile, another American takeover of a Premier League team is mooted — Clark Hunt (son of Lamar, a big backer of MLS before his death) is being linked with West Ham. It could be another good penny-pinching move by Hunt, with West Ham available at a bargain price given they are close to liquidation.
- Carlsberg’s long tenure as Liverpool’s shirt sponsor looks set to end after seventeen years. Stefan Syzmanski made the point that “If I were a brand, I wouldn’t want to be associated with a football team for so long, as you end up alienating supporters of rival teams. And advertisers don’t want their products to be permanently associated with just one team.”
- In case you didn’t notice, the excellent Football Weekly podcast from the Guardian is back.
- Raphael Honigstein has an excellent preview of the Bundesliga season, which starts this Friday. Honigstein rightly points out that it is Europe’s “best-supporter”, “highest scoring”, and perhaps most importantly, “most deliciously random league”.
- Jonathon Wilson has another excellent article on Eastern European football, this time looking at the prospects for the rise of a strong Ukraine.
- And the BBC has a good piece on the decline and fall of Romanian football — looking in particular at Steau Bucharest, who many of his probably forget were European Champions just two decades ago.
- In Poland, meanwhile, the pressure is really on national team manager Leo Beenhakker, who has gone from “Man of the Year” to figure of derision as the country struggles in World Cup qualification. “Find someone better and be done with it,” Beenhakker said recently.
- Plans to install real grass at Toronto’s BMO Field to replace the much-criticised FieldTurf may be shelved until 2011, in part due to a city workers’ strike. Of course, the club is spending $250,000 to install temporary grass for Real Madrid’s visit this week — no wonder they are charging $15 just to watch Madrid practice.
- Well, that’s that for the New York Red Bulls, who blew their only chance to stop their runaway ride to being one of the worst — and probably the worst — teams in MLS history by losing to W-Connection and crashing out of the CONCACAF Champions League. See ya, Osorio.
- Continuing our recent theme, it’s notable that Jozy Altidore announced his move to Hull City first on Twitter.
For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow @pitchinvasion on Twitter.