Jan 26, 2008

Saturday Summary, Jan. 26, 2008: Bradley Brace Buoys Heerenveen

Michael Bradley scored two of Heerenveen's three goals in its shutout victory at DeGraafshap Doetinchem to push the Pride of Friesland into second place in the Dutch Eredevisie. Heerenveen's stint in second could be short-lived, however, as it has played two games more than the third- and fourth-placed clubs (that would be Ajax Amsterdam and Feyernoord Rotterdam), but so what? The team is playing great thanks in large part to the son of the U.S. Men's National Team coach: three straight victories by a combined tally of 12 goals to one. Bradley has scored in each of the team's last five games and has netted eight goals in its last nine. No wonder this guy is being viewed as a possible replacement for Rafael van der Vaart at Hamburg SV! The argument could in fact be made that Bradley is the best U.S. soccer player on the planet right now. And the kid is not even old enough to drink legally in his home country (he turns 21 in July) so we have every reason to believe he's just getting warmed up.

There were many other games played today, but none of them particularly interesting. Chelsea's FA Cup victory at Wigan was probably one of the more worthy ones. I saw most of that game and thought both sides looked pretty good. Wigan have really turned things around since Steve Bruce took over and look like a solid Premiership side now--not one that is in 17th place and level on points with 18th-placed Sunderland. If the Fulhamericans are going to escape relegation it will probably not come at the expense of Bruce's team. Speaking of Team America, Roy Hodgson's men face a crucial game at Bolton Tuesday (Bolton being one of the teams that would make a more realistic candidate for relegation).

Another moderately interesting game took place in Italy, where AS Roma saw off Palermo by a 1-0 score. I generally like Roma best among Italian teams precisely because their style is so un-Italian (i.e. boring) but what I saw of today's game was pretty dull. Mancini scored in the 59th minute to decide matters. With the win Roma move within four points of first-placed Inter, who face a potentially difficult game at Udinese tomorrow. In today's other Serie A game, Sampdoria beat Siena to move into sixth place.

There was one game in Spain's Primera Division today; Sevilla saw off Osasuna 2-1, with all goals coming in the second half. Sevilla have now moved up to seventh after a disastrous start to the season. They're poised for better things now, and are still alive in the Champions League (and in fact stand a good chance of advancing to the quarterfinals as they are drawn with Fenerbahce Istanbul in the first knockout round).

Finally, there were a full slate of games in France's Ligue Un, but none of these were particularly compelling either. The top two teams, Olympique Lyonnais and Girondins Bordeaux, play tomorrow. Third-placed Nancy managed only a scoreless tie at relegation-threatened Auxerre, and fourth-placed Nice played 17th-placed Toulouse to a 1-1 draw. The most noticeable result was of course Olympique Marseille's 6-1 thrashing of Caen (who aren't half bad and in sixth place). Dibriel Cisse notched a hat trick for l'OM, who are now eighth after a rough start to the season.

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