It’s Rog. It’s Monday. Time to break down a weekend of weekends. One that was rife with Premier League mornings and sweet, sweet NFL nights. Yes, there was a lot of Everton darkness, but watching Green Bay crap the bed made me believe it is possible to Love again. Here’s all you need to know from the past 3 days of wonder.
1. Josh Sargent’s on Fire… your defense is Terrified
Inject this moment in my veins. Josh Sargent has toiled and suffered. 22 games into his season, he had not scored for relegation-threatened Norwich City. Then he casually did this. A moment of avant-garde inspiration which almost made it worth the wait. That was all just the prelude to scenes at the final whistle. Sargent walking towards the Norwich traveling fans chanting USA! USA! USA! A reminder that Men’s Soccer is currently one of the most powerful instruments of soft power the US has right now in Europe. Look at this face. American Soccer Gritty can barely mask the glee and relief he is experiencing. Thanks to @canarynorwich for explaining the deep roots of the connection between the region and the USA:
2. Ziyech’s goal made my heart Sing
47 minutes into the game, Callum Hudson-Odoi charged down the left, fed Ziyech, who took a touch, cut inside, and thrashed the ball like a Moroccan Robbie Gould. With arc and dip and soaring wonder. For Chelsea fans addicted to narrative, he also smiled and celebrated. A stunning feat of audacious vision and execution.
Thiago added a second with his meaty Rio de Janeiran Forehead. The only way it could have gotten better for Chelsea is if Lukaku scored, and though he spun and hustled in the last 20 minutes, I can do anything for love but I won’t do that. Chelsea, who had eked out just 19 points from the last 39 available before this game, repress their long wobble. Victory as triage, as we mark the one year anniversary of TT.
3. Spurs remain a a Level Below
Tottenham fans can rue their Kane goal cruelly VAR’d off when Thiago Silva threw himself to the floor in the vicinity of the shot, but they will know they were comprehensively outplayed for the third time in a month by Chelsea. Conte admitted as much before the game with his avant garde selection, shoehorning 4 fullbacks into the starting eleven as a way to prove to Daniel Levy that his squad is not fit for purpose, bereft of creativity. What happens there before the transfer window will determine whether or not Antonio Conte stays beyond this season. The highlight of this game was their fans’ chant, “Antonio Conte, Antonio Conte, he drinks Moretti, he eats spaghetti, he hates the effing Chelsea."
4. Crystal Palace were Totally Shafted against Liverpool
As Mark Clattenburg agreed, the second Liverpool goal should have been ruled offside, and the penalty awarded to Jota was VAR at its worst. The Portuguese saw the keeper coming in his periphery and changed course to ensure the collision ensued. As Patrick Vieira said, "Jota was smart and VAR was naive." Cruel on a resilient, creative Palace. But Liverpool have survived their dreaded loss of Salah and Mane to AFCON with the embers of a title race still burning. VAR loves keeping things close.
5. All Hail Marcus Rashford
Manchester United’s game against the Moyes they told you not to worry about was petering out into the 93rd minute when a rapier-like counter, ripped straight from the pressing-prayer book from which Ralf Rangnick preaches, flipped the mood and the narrative. Marcus Rashford’s joy was akin to mine when I finish a Wordle within two guesses. Such joy for a young man who has been criticized by fans and pundits alike over the last two weeks – consensus had suggested his head was gone and that he needed a fresh start. Consensus knows nothing. Two goals in two games have evidently energized everyone at United not named Ronaldo. Victory here moved United into fourth place. For all the beige football under RR, he has lost just once since arriving. He remains feet on the ground. “Spurs have played two games less than us,” he said, “And there are other teams involved in that race, it’s not only Spurs or Arsenal. Even Wolves are pushing from behind so it will probably be a race until the last couple of fixtures.” GAME ON.
6. Pep pretending he is not livid when his team drop points is Human Theater
Dude looks like that video clip of the robot head attempting to replicate human emotions and facial expressions which recently went viral.
7. Everton have the stench of Doom all over them
We talk about this at length in the pod we have just taped. What hurts most? The fact Lucas Digne has more assists this season against Everton than he does for Everton? Stevie G walk of Post-Match Gloating Glory like watching Aaron Rodgers if he was Scouse go all “I own you”? Or experiencing even James Rodriguez doing the Bants and laughing at Everton. Of course Premier League script writers have us playing Newcastle next. Who will be coaching us by then? The way this unstrategic management search is going, it will not matter. The club is lacking vision, infrastructure, and direction. Live Fast, Die Hard Blue Bellies.
8. 2 American Goals to warm your heart 🇺🇸
19-Year-Old New York City-born Yunus Musah scored a swaggering goal for Valencia. Fine run into space, sweet first touch, then the belief to cut inside and slap the ball past the mighty Jan Oblak. What self-confidence this kid brings to the US team.
Tobin Heath with a 92nd minute moment of wonder, her clinical finish snatching a draw at the last for top of table Arsenal in an epic rumble against Manchester City. “That is an American Dream for Arsenal.”
9. Gambia are the new team for neutrals at AFCON
Comoros, the team I have cheered for, like you, my whole life, are out in a blaze of glory after playing their fullback in goal, and going down to 10 men within 7 minutes. We are all team Gambia now. What a story.
10. This is what football is ALL about
Ajax were winning 9-0 vs. Excelsior when Devin Plank, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for fibula cancer, came onto the field. Players from both sides immediately came over to give him a guard of honor. A beautiful moment.
That is it for this week. We taped a pod this morning which will be out imminently. On Thursday night, we will go live on Spotify Greenroom at the final whistle of USA-El Salvador. Watch for our magical interview with Weston McKennie, which drops Wednesday as a podcast. Finally, Keith Yandle will break a 36-year Ironman record in the NHL this week. We taped a podcast with him over the summer and it is life-affirming.