After nearly a month away from the Gillette Stadium turf, the New England Revolution finally returned home after a road stretch that began when the World Cup was still in it’s knockout stages. Opposite the boys in blue, the Philadelphia Union came into Foxboro looking to leapfrog the Revs in the standings, as Philly sat 2 points behind in 7th. Following last week’s cavalcade of horrors that was the match against Orlando, this game was a must-win for the Revs, as a win would keep them in the playoff picture, and widen the gap between New England and the Union.
Thankfully, there is life in the Revs front office, as today they announced the signing of Nottingham Forest defender Michael Mancienne. The vertically skilled centreback began his career at Chelsea, only seeing action in 4 games, while also being subbed on in a Champions League match against Juventus. After seeing loan spells at both QPR and Wolverhampton, Mancienne found his way to Germany and had a solid role at Hamburger SV from 2011-2014. Mancienne would join Nottingham Forest following the 2014 season on a 3-year deal, where he would play arguably the best football of his career, playing in 122 matches, and earning countless Man of the Match awards from the fans. When his contract expired, the 30-year old sought out a new challenge, thus bringing him to New England.
After an exhilarating four year buildup to World Cup 2018, France has finally been crowned the champions of the World, after they defeated Croatia 4-2 on Sunday. Croatia had been undefeated since the tournament began, including going 3-0-0 in the group stages. France, undefeated as well, had only a tie against Denmark in their final group stage match to mar their record. As clouds covered the beautiful Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, both teams took the pitch, stepping in rhythm to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. The FOX TV cameras peruse the stadium suite section, and are able to spy Russian president Vladimir Putin in one box, and French president Emmanuel Macron in another, only showing how much this game could truly affect countries on a worldwide spectrum.
As the World Cup draws to a close, two teams have shown that they deserve to be competing on the world’s greatest stage. After overcoming deficit after deficit, both France and Croatia have shown the will to never give in, even when faced with the ultimate challenge. Sunday morning, the two European sides will face off in the most anticipated game in the sports world so far this calendar year. Each nation traveled different paths to reach the final, however, they both made it here in nearly the exact same fashion. Here’s a look at how these teams made it to this point.
IT’S OFFICIAL! Arguably the biggest news across the entire landscape of soccer, even overshadowing the World Cup, has finally been confirmed. Portuguese forward, and Real Madrid legend, who some believe is the greatest player to ever play the game, Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to terms to join Italian powerhouses Juventus. The deal had been rumored to happen anytime in this past month, as the relationship between Cristiano and the management at Real Madrid had been thinning, and his agent had reported he was extremely interested in playing for The Old Lady.
This morning, Sweden’s Jimmy Durmaz wakes up, and to follow up the worst day of his life, now has to face what may possibly be the hardest coming years of his life. Being substituted into the game in the 74th minute for Viktor Claesson, Durmaz made an instant impact, forcing a corner kick for his side. Things started to look up for Sweden as well, as German defender Jerome Boateng was sent off with his second yellow card of the match, putting Germany down to 10-men for the final 10 minutes of regular play. While Sweden’s defense held strong, including an incredible leaping save from Swedish keeper Robin Olsen in the 88th minute to keep the game level at 1, the Swedes were becoming more and more confident that they’d be able to leave the pitch three points ahead of the Germans, holding onto the final spot in their group. With the clock ticking into added time, Germany’s Julian Brandt came oh so close with an absolute rocket off of the post from outside of the 18. And then, it happened.
After a four year hiatus, the greatest spectacle in sports has finally returned to the world stage! It’s the World Cup of course, where the 32 greatest teams from across the world compete to claim the greatest prize of all, a World Cup trophy. This year’s site? The motherland: Russia. Sadly, the two nationalities I identify as (Italy and the USA) both failed to qualify for the tournament, so I decided this year, id support a happy medium, so let’s go Belgium! Anywho, let’s recap the first 5 days of the World Cup so far, shall we?
I’ll be the first to admit it. I thought that this season was going to be an absolute and total wash for the Revs. I thought we’d suck on the road again, and then we’d somehow miraculously manage to win every single home game and miss out on the playoffs for the third season in a row. However, that’s not the case so far in 2018. What this team has done so far this season comparative to their run of form last year makes absolutely ZERO sense. Coming into this season, not only did the Revs appoint a brand-new head coach with no prior coaching experience, but they named a new starting keeper, got rid of arguably the team’s most tactically skilled player, and reshaped a majority of the starting lineup. It was really a “Throw it at a wall and see if it sticks” type of season, but oh boy did it stick.
As Gabriel Somi sent a looping through ball high into the Houston night, forward Cristian Penilla was in the midst of running perfectly to receive the ball just in stride. One bounce. Two bounce. Control. The Ecuadorian speedster turned to face Dynamo full-back Adolfo Machado, and takes his time, tiptoeing towards the Panamanian while he pedals backwards. A step-over. Scissors. Machado is shaken completely by Penilla, and cuts to his dominant right foot, where he (now only feet from Houston goalkeeper Chris Seitz), unleashes a blistering finish into the upper 90, putting the Revs up 2-0. The goal was brilliant. Just as his dribbling, and tactical awareness were the same. At the end of 90’, an undermanned Houston side left BBVA Compass Park with an added tick in the loss column, and the Revs were able to return home with their first road win on American soil in two years.
Earlier this afternoon, Patrick Vieira’s NYCFC squad traveled to Foxboro and took on the Revs in the fourth match-week of the season. Both teams were coming off of prior victories, as the Revs escaped their match against Colorado courtesy of a last-second free kick goal from Chris Tierney, and NYCFC having soundly beaten Orlando City last week. The Revs welcomed captain Claude Dielna back into the starting XI, as he had served his one match suspension for a red card accrued in the season opener against Philadelphia. NYCFC however, was without star and former league MVP David Villa, as well as Rodney Wallace, Ronald Mattarita, and Alex Ring, all contributing members to the usual starting squad for Manchester City Lite.