Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 October 2009 - The Top Flight Turns Red

On 31 October 2009, referees sent off a record eight people in the Premier League's nine games.

Liverpool were hit the hardest, losing defenders Jamie Carragher (pictured) and Philipp Degen. They were already down 2-1 to Fulham before Degen received a straight red for a 79th-minute foul on Clint Dempsey. He was followed three minutes later by Carragher, who drew a straight red of his own for fouling Bobby Zamora. Dempsey took advantage of the two-man advantage and scored Fulham's third goal in the 87th minute to set the final margin at 3-1.

The day's other red-card recipients included a pair of Trinidad and Tobago internationals, Kenwyne Jones for Sunderland and Jlloyd Samuel for Bolton, as well as Hull City's Giovanni, Everton's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Aston Villa's Carlos Cuellar, and West Ham's Radoslav Kovac.

Not surprisingly, none of the above teams won their games that day, though Everton and Aston Villa drew with each other, as did Sunderland and West Ham.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

30 October 2011 - That's Not A Bad Consolation Prize

On 30 October 2011, defender Ryujiro Ueda scored with a header from his own half to lead Fagiano Okayama over Yokohama FC 1-0.

The teams met at Yokohama's Mitsuzawa Stadium in a Japanese second division league match. The game was scoreless until the 69th minute, when the Yokohama goalkeeper Kentaro Seki took a long goal kick, sending the ball over the midfield line. Ueda rushed forward to meet it in the air and headed it back toward Seki, who was caught well off his line.

The ball landed in front of Seki, then bounced over his head. He raced back toward his goal, but was unable to get a hand to the ball until after it crossed the line, giving the visitors the 0-1 lead. An unofficial measurement taken by the grounds staff set the distance of the strike at 58.6 meters, which would have made it a new world record for longest headed goal, beating the previous record of 58.13 meters set by Jone Samuelsen for Odd Grenland in a Norwegian league game the previous month. But an subsequent official measurement reduced the distance to 57.8 meters.

Still, while falling short of the record, Ueda's strike gave his team the win. Fagiano went on to finish the season in the table's thirteenth spot, five places above Yokohama.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

29 October 1970 - The Famous Mister Ed

On 29 October 1970, record-setting goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was born in the Dutch town of Voorhout.

He started his professional career with Ajax in 1990 and became a regular starter in the 1992-93 season. He remained there for nine years, winning four league titles and the 1995 Champions League Final, keeping a clean sheet against defending champions AC Milan.

Leaving Ajax in 1999, he spent time with Juventus (1999-2001) and Fulham (2001-05) before joining Manchester United in the summer of 2005. In six seasons at Old Trafford, he won four league titles and another Champions League trophy. During the 2008-09 season, he kept a clean sheet for a world-record 1,311 minutes. He retired in 2011 after becoming the oldest player to win the Premier League (at the age of 40 years and 205 days).

Along the way, he also earned 130 caps for the Netherlands to finish as their all-time leader in appearances.

Monday, October 28, 2013

28 October 1973 - Cruyff Turns Barcelona's Season Around

On 28 October 1973, Johan Cruyff made his Barcelona debut and scored twice in a 4-0 win over Granada.

He spent the previous nine seasons with Ajax, where he won six league titles, three European Cups, and the 1971 Ballon d'Or. His signing was a coup for Barcelona, who had not won the league since 1960 and who spent £922,000 to bring him to Camp Nou, almost doubling the previous world record of £500,000 (spent by Juventus on striker Pietro Anastasi in 1968).

The move was possible only because the Spanish federation finally lifted their ban on foreign players and it was helped by the fact that Barça's manager was Rinus Michels, who had coached Cruyff at Ajax from 1965 to 1971.

Real Madrid had first approached Ajax and believed they had reached a deal for Cruyff, but the player was offended by having been omitted from the negotiations and chose Barcelona instead. In an attempt to sort out the situation, the Spanish league withheld permission for Cruyff's participation for several weeks, then finally approved the Barcelona deal.

By the time he made his debut, Barcelona were near the bottom of the table, having won only one and lost three of their first six games. But Cruyff quickly lifted the team, scoring two on his debut to help get the victory over Granada. He went on to score a total of 16 in 26 appearances as Barcelona won the league and Cruyff won the second of his three Ballon d'Ors.

He remained with Barcelona for five seasons and later managed the team from 1988 to 1996, winning four league titles, the European Cup, and the Cup Winners' Cup.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

27 October 2012 - In Retrospect, Thirteen Minutes Doesn't Seem So Long

On 27 October 2012, Manchester City beat Swansea 1-0 in what turned out to be the longest game in Premier League history.

The defending league champions, Manchester City entered the match sitting third in the table on the back of an undefeated record of five wins and three draws. Swansea, meanwhile, had just climbed into tenth after getting their only win in their last six, so few people expected them to put up much of a fight at the Etihad.

But the hosts were off their game for most of the day, suffering from an apparent hangover after losing to Ajax in the Champions League three days earlier. The only highlight for either team was Carlos Tevez's strike in the 30th minute that put City up 1-0.

The lowlights were more numerous, however, as both teams lost players to injurydefender Micah Richards for Manchester City (pictured) and keeper Michael Vorm for Swansea. Richards tore a meniscus in his knee and was sidelined for four months, while Vorm was out for eight weeks.

The injuries to Richards and Vorm delayed the game for lengthy spells, leading to a total of thirteen minutes of stoppage time, making the game the longest in the Premier League.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

26 October 2008 - All Good Things Come To An End

On 26 October 2008, Liverpool won 0-1 at Stamford Bridge to end Chelsea's English-record home league unbeaten streak at 86.

The streak started under manager José Mourinho on 20 March 2004 with a 2-1 win over Fulham and included their back-to-back title-winning seasons of 2004-05 and 2005-06. Although Mourinho left in June 2004, the run continued under his replacement Avram Grant (September 2007 to May 2008), then was picked up by Luiz Felipe Scolari, who took charge in July 2008.

It ended courtesy of Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, who scored with a deflected shot in the 10th minute. That was all the visitors needed, as their defense held firm for the 0-1 victory.

In addition to ending the streak, the win sent Liverpool to the top of the table, though they ultimately finished second behind champions Manchester United. Chelsea, meanwhile, went on to finish three points behind Liverpool in third.

Friday, October 25, 2013

25 October 2000 - Donovan's Dynamic Debut

On 25 October 2000, Landon Donovan earned his first senior cap and scored in a 2-0 win over Mexico.

The eighteen-year old midfielder had already established himself as a rising star with the junior squads, including a performance at the 1999 U17 World Cup that ended with him being named the tournament's best player.

He was one of seven players given their international debut under manager Bruce Arena for the friendly against Mexico, played at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The others were Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Peter Vagenas, Bobby Convey, Sasha Victorine, and Joe Franchino.

Donovan didn't start, but came on in the 32nd minute after an injury to Chris Henderson, then scored in the 50th minute to put the United States up 1-0. Just under thirty minutes later, he provided an assist, sending in a cross from the left flank that was driven home by Josh Wolff, to set the final score at the now-familiar 2-0.

Since then, Donovan has gone on to become the team's all-time leading scorer with 57 goals and is the second-ranked appearances leader with 154, just ten behind retired midfielder Cobi Jones.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

24 October 1897 - Football Gets Going In Russia

On 24 October 1897, the first recorded football game in Russia was played in Saint Petersburg, with a team of English players beating a Russian team 6-0.

The sport arrived in Russia about thirty years earlier, but was initially limited to port contests between teams composed of expatriates, sailors and merchants from Britain and Germany. By the 1890s, Russian clubs began to form, including a local Saint Petersburg team called the Saint Petersburg Sports Lovers Society, or "Petrograd" for short. They were the ones who, in October 1897, met a predominantly English team named the Vasilievsky Island Football Society (also known as "Ostrov," which is Russian for "island").

The game was played at the First Military Academy parade ground on St. Petersburg's Vasilievsky Island, where Ostrov won 6-0.

The Russian Football Unionthe country's governing bodywas later founded in 1912, but considers that match from 1897 to be the first official match in the country and the starting point of Russian football.

[N.B. The game was played on 10 October according to the Julian calendar used in Russia at the time, but that date corresponds to 24 October in the current Gregorian calendar.]

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

23 October 1930 - The Final Is Finally Final

On 23 October 1930, Fall River won the Lewis Cup, beating Hakoah in the second leg of the final almost five months after the first leg.

Led by their stars Billy Gonsalves and Bert Patenaude (pictured), Fall River reached the two-legged final of the Lewis Cup, the ASL's league cup, earlier that year and beat Hakoah 2-1 in the first leg on 27 May at the Polo Grounds in New York. The second leg was originally scheduled for the next day, but was rained out. Additional postponements followed and the final was pushed out to October.

In the meantime, the Marksmen won that year's National Challenge Cup, the predecessor to the current US Open Cup, and were on their way to a dominant ASL title run that would give them a triple on the season. Additionally, both Gonsalves and Patenaude played for the US national team at that summer's World Cup in Uruguay where they took third place.

When the eventually returned to the Polo Grounds for the Lewis Cup's second leg, Gonsalves led a Fall River rout, scoring twice as the Marksmen won 3-0 (Arnie Oliver provided the other goal). It was the team's seventh and final Lewis Cup trophy, though they did win the National Challenge Cup in 1931 before folding later that year.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

22 October 1977 - That's An Appropriate Shirt Sponsor

On 22 October 1977, Yasuhiko Okudera became the first Japanese footballer to play in Europe when he debuted for Köln in the Bundesliga.

The 25-year old midfielder joined Köln from Furukawa Electric, where he made 100 appearances in eight seasons, while winning a league and Emperor's Cup double in 1976, followed by the Japanese Super Cup in 1977. That summer, the team traveled to West Germany for some exhibitions, where Okudera attracted the interest of Köln manager Hennes Weisweiler.

Japanese football was restricted to amateur status at the time, so the move made him the first professional Japanese player. He arrived on 5 October and made his debut less than two weeks later in an away match against MSV Duisburg, which Köln won 1-2. They went on to win both the league and the German Cup that season.

Okudera remained with Köln for just over three seasons, making 94 appearances, then spent time with Hertha Berlin (1980-81) and Werder Bremen (1981-86) before returning to Furukawa in 1986 to help establish a professional league in Japan.

Monday, October 21, 2013

21 October 1893 - A Perfect Pitch For Portland

On 21 October 1893, the first recorded football match was played at Portland's Multnomah Field, which later became the home of the Portland Timbers.

Currently known as Jeld-Wen Field, the stadium dates back to 1926 when the original structure, Multnomah Stadium, was built on the site. But before that, it was a multi-purpose athletic field established in 1893 to host a variety of sports such as baseball, American football, greyhound racing, and cricket.

The first known association football match to be played there was between two sides called Portland and Astoria, according to a local newspaper article promoting the game. The article was careful to distinguish between association football and rugby, claiming that the latter was more popular in the United States at the time and noting that, in the former, "science was brought into play more than actual strength."

The contest was the third in a series between the two teams. It kicked off at 3:00 pm and Portland won 5-0.

[Thanks to Visit for more information on the game.]

Sunday, October 20, 2013

20 October 1908 - Whoever They Were, They Got Off To A Great Start

On 20 October 1908, Great Britain played their first match and got their biggest win, beating Sweden 12-1 at the London Olympics.

Some dispute exists as to whether the team was truly representative of Great Britain, as it consisted of players exclusively from England (and all were members of the English amateur national team). On the other hand, they wore Union Jacks on their shirts, suggesting that, whatever sporting allegiances they usually held, they were at the Olympics to play for all of Great Britain.

They opened their campaign with a match against Sweden at White City, played in front of a relatively modest crowd of 2,000 (four times that many showed up there for the final). The British team dominated, with goals from Clyde Purnell (4), Harold Stapley (2), Vivian Woodward (2), Robert Hawkes (2), Arthur Berry, and Frederick Chapman, while Sweden's only goal came from Gustaf Bergström. The scoreline remains the team record.

Great Britain followed the win with a 4-0 victory over the Netherlands. That put them into the gold medal match against Denmark, which they also won, 2-0.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

19 October 2008 - Life Imitates Art

On 19 October 2008, Hull City lived up to a famous album title when the Premier League debutants beat their fourth straight London team.

The Tigers were playing in their first top flight season in club history. After opening their league campaign with a 2-1 win over Fulham, they surprised a lot of observers by sitting third in the table eight weeks in. The run that took them there included away wins over Arsenal and Tottenham in the sixth and seventh weeks, respectively, taking their overall record against London clubs to 3-0 on the season.

The eighth week saw them back at home, where they hosted yet another team from the capital--West Ham. Fuelded by the enthusiasm of their recent results, a record crowd of 24,896 turned up at the KC Stadium for the match and witnessed a 1-0 victory courtesy of Michael Turner's header in the 51st minute.

The result drew comparisons to the Housemartins' 1986 album "London 0 Hull 4," which included the top-3 hit "Happy Hour."

Unfortunately for Hull City, their winning form didn't last and they slumped into 17th by the end of the season. Although they avoided relegation by a single point, they were not as lucky the following year and returned to the second tier for the 2010-11 season. They returned to the Premier League in 2013 and currently sit eighth in the table.

Friday, October 18, 2013

18 October 1961 - Stanley Matthews Comes Home

On 18 October 1961, former Stoke hero Stanley Matthews returned to the club after a fourteen-year absence and finished his career there.

Matthews, who had been born in Stoke in 1915, originally joined the club's youth academy in 1930, then cracked the first team in 1932. He remained there for fifteen years (but only ten seasons, as World War II brought a halt to league play from 1939 to 1945). In that time, he helped lead the club out of the Second Division and made them top flight title challengers; they finished fourth in 1936 and again in 1947.

But in May 1947, dissatisfaction with the club prompted then then 32-year old Matthews to move to to Blackpool. There, he won his only major honor, the 1953 FA Cup Final, and came close to a few others, reaching the cup final in 1948 and 1951, as well as finishing as league runners-up in 1956.

After fourteen seasons with the club, Matthews saw his playing time decrease and negotiated a move back to Stoke for a fee of £3,500. The club had slipped back into Division Two in the meantime, but Matthews again helped them earn promotion, reaching the top flight for the 1963-64 season. He retired in 1965 having made a total of 358 appearances for Stoke out of his career total of 783.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

17 October 1948 - US Open Cup Victory Comes At A Cost

On 17 October 1948, Simpkins-Ford won the US Open Cup against Brookhattan in a final that featured several players who went on to star for the US in the 1950 World Cup.

Simpkins had converted from amateur status only the previous year when they joined the semi-professional St. Louis Major Soccer League. They struggled in that first season, which ran from 1947 to 1948, finishing third out of four teams, but fared better in the National Challenge Cup, which had just be rechristened as the US Open Cup, advancing to the final.

There, they faced the American Soccer League's Brookhattan Galicia, winners of a league and National Challenge Cup double in 1945.

Playing at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, the teams were level at 2-2 late in the match with goals from Bill Bertani and Frank Wallace (pictured) for Simpkins and from Joe Gaetjens and Rodolfo Llana for Brookhattan. Then, in the 89th minute, Simpkins got the game-winner from Henry Merlo to take the Cup.

It didn't all end well for Simpkins, though. After the game, Brookhattan submitted a claim to the USFA asking that Simpkins reimburse them for their travel expenses to the final. Simpkins had offered to pay their way by train, but Brookhattan took a plane instead and wanted Simpkins to cover the $1,500 cost. The dispute led all St. Louis clubs to boycott the 1949 tournament, but they reconciled for 1950, when Simpkins again won the Cup.

In addition to Gaetjens, who scored the famous winner against England in the 1950 World Cup, and Wallace, who also played in that game, four other Simpkins players from the 1948 US Open Cup final were part of that US team--Robert Annis, Gino Pariani, Charlie Colombo, and Frank Borghi.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

16 October 1996 - Tragedy In Guatemala

On 16 October 1996, eighty-four people died and another 147 were injured in a stampede at the Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City.

They were there for a World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica. An hour before kick-off, the stadium was already filled past its 45,000 capacity, with supporters sitting on walls and on top of the press box, when the stampede began, sending a cascade of people down the stands toward the pitch. Most of the injuries and fatalities were due to asphyxiation, with others suffering broken bones.

Accounts differed as to the cause of the stampede. According to FIFA, forged tickets created an oversupply of people trying to force their way into the stadium, while a spokesperson for the Guatemalan government claimed that fans inside the stadium were trying to escape a brawl that had broken out in one of the general seating areas.

Guatemalan officials immediately canceled the game. FIFA banned the use of the stadium pending a  safety inspection, so when the game was eventually played in late November, it was held at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.

The stadium ban lasted approximately two years. When it reopened, it did so with a reduced capacity of 30,000.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

15 October 2000 - There's A Saying About Defense And Championships

On 15 October 2000, Kansas City won the MLS Cup over Chicago in a battle of the league's stingiest defense against its most powerful offense.

The two teams ended the season level on points at the top of the table, with Kansas City conceding a league-low 29 goals and Chicago scoring a league-high 67. Kansas City claimed the top spot, however, with a goal differential of +18 to Chicago's +16.

They met at RFK Stadium in Washington for the MLS Cup Final, where Kansas City took an early 1-0 lead with an eleventh-minute goal from Danish striker Miklos Molnar, who had joined them from Sevilla earlier that year and was making his last appearance before retiring. Chicago, led by the season's top scorer Ante Razov, pressed forward in search of an equalizer, but were constantly stymied by the Kansas City defense and goalkeeper Tony Meola, who had kept an MLS-best twenty clean sheets through the season, including four in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Despite a flurry of Chicago chances in the last ten minutes, Kansas City held firm to notch their twenty-first shutout of the year. Meola, who had already won the league's most valuable player, best goalkeeper, and comeback player of the year awards, was named the MLS Cup MVP as well.

Monday, October 14, 2013

14 October 2009 - Beckham Takes His Bow

On 14 October 2009, David Beckham made his last England appearance, setting a slew of records in the process.

The occasion was England's last qualifying match for the 2010 World Cup, hosting Belarus at Wembley. They had already secured their place in the tournament with a record of eight wins and one loss, so their final game gave manager Fabio Capello the opportunity to experiment with some players who had seen little time up to that point, as well as one who had seen more time that any other outfield player in the team's history.

Beckham earned his first cap for England in September 1996 and went on to captain the team for several years. By the time Belarus came to London, he had made a total of 114 appearances, second only to goalkeeper Peter Shilton's 125.

Against Belarus, Capello extended Beckham's total by bringing him on in the 58th minute. England were already up 1-0, but a Beckham quickly helped extend the lead with an assist from a corner kick in the 59th minute. A 76th-minute goal from Peter Crouch set the final margin at 3-0.

In addition to extending his total appearances record for an outfield player, the game also set the current records for most appearances in a competitive match (68) and most appearances for a player outside the English league system (55).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

13 October 1928 - Jack Doesn't Come For Jack

On 13 October 1928, Arsenal set a world transfer fee record when they signed forward David Jack from Bolton for £10,890.

Jack had been with Bolton for eight years, scoring 144 goals in 295 league appearances and winning the FA Cup in 1923 and 1926 (he scored the winner in the latter). But by 1928, the team had become strapped for cash and were looking to sell. Arsenal, meanwhile, were in the market to replace forward Charlie Buchan, who had retired at the end of the previous season.

When Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman first approached Bolton, they agreed to the transfer for a fee of £13,000which would have doubled the record at the time, set when Sunderland bought Bob Kelly from Burnley for £6,500 in 1925. According to club legend, Chapman met with Bolton representatives in a London restaurant, where he instructed the bartender to secretly leave the alcohol out of his drinks. While the others at the meeting proceeded to get drunk, Chapman remained sober and used the advantage to negotiate the purchase price down, though it still set a new world record.

Jack remained with Arsenal for six seasons, scoring 113 goals in 181 league appearances and winning the club's first FA Cup in 1930. In the 1930-31 season, he scored 31 goals to help the club to their first league title, then won additional league titles with them in 1933 and 1934 before retiring at the end of the 1933-34 season.

[For more about the transfer, including different stories about the negotiation, visit]

Saturday, October 12, 2013

12 October 2012 - Reus Starts A Rout

On 12 October 2012, Ireland suffered their worst competitive home defeat, losing 1-6 to Germany in a World Cup qualifier.

Both teams entered the match with perfect records, though it was still early in the process. Germany had wins over the Faroe Islands (3-0) and Austria (2-1), while Ireland had beaten Kazakhstan away (1-2) in their only match. So most observers were expecting a competitive game.

What they got instead was a blowout. It started with a pair of first-half goals from winger Marco Reus (32', 40') and continued with second-half strikes from Mesut Özil (55' pen.) and Miroslav Klose (58'). Toni Kroos, who came on at the start of the second half, added a late brace (61', 83') to stretch the lead to 0-6 before Andy Keogh scored a consolation goal for the hosts in the second minute of stoppage time.

It is the most lopsided home defeat for Ireland in a competitive match (and not too far removed from their all-time worst loss, a 7-0 beating by Brazil in 1982).

Friday, October 11, 2013

11 October 1866 - Not Where I Would Have Expected It

On 11 October 1866, Waukesha, Wisconsin hosted the first known association football match in the United States.

Modern football traces its origins back to the 1840s and some version of the sport appeared in the United States as early as 1862 when the Oneida Football Club formed in Boston. But the Laws of the Game were not adopted until 1863 by England's football association, who in 1866 were still the sport's only national governing body (Scotland did not form the world's second football association until 1873). The game in Waukesha was the first recorded instance of a match played in the United States under the new rules.

According to a report in the town paper (pictured), students at Carroll College in Waukesha challenged a group of local men to a game. It lasted close to 90 minutes, with the collegians winning 5-2. The teams enjoyed it so much that they scheduled a rematch for the following week.

Football began to spread throughout the United States, with other matches played in Connecticut and Rhode Island before the end of the year.

[For more information on the Waukesha match, read the article by Eric Anderson here.]

Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 October 2009 - Green Sees Red

On 10 October 2009, Robert Green became the first England goalkeeper to get sent off as they lost to Ukraine 1-0.

They were in Dnipropetrovsk for a World Cup qualifier, having enjoyed a perfect record so far under manager Fabio Capello and already secured their trip to South Africa. Green had established himself as the leading candidate to be England's number one in the tournament, starting each of the last five games, but David James, who had started the thirteen games before that, was still pushing for the role.

That narrative gained steam in Ukraine, as Green received a 14th-minute red card, a first for an England keeper, for bringing Artem Milevskiy down in the box. James came on in place of Aaron Lennon for the ensuing penalty, but Andriy Shevchenko's spot kick hit the post to keep the game scoreless.

James was beaten in the 29th minute, though, by Sergiy Nazarenko, whose shot from 20 yards out put the hosts up 1-0. And despite some late pressure from England, including a close chance from Wayne Rooney, that margin held for the final score.

Green did go on to start England's first match in the World Cup against the USA, but it ended 1-1 after he failed to control a long-range shot from Clint Dempsey and Capello replaced him with James for the remainder of the competition.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

9 October 1996 - Things Are Never That Easy For Scotland

On 9 October 1996, a World Cup qualifier kicked off with only one team on the pitch when the other one refused to show up.

Scotland had traveled to Tallinn for a game against Estonia that was originally scheduled to be played at 6:45 pm local time. Estonia had rented temporary truck-mounted floodlights for the game, but Scotland manager Craig Brown believed that they were too low and failed to fully illuminate the pitch. A FIFA official inspected the stadium on 8 October and decided that the game should go ahead as scheduled.

Brown took his complaints to FIFA, who agreed later that night to reschedule the match for 3:00 pm. Scotland duly arrived at that time the following day only to find that they were the only ones there. Estonia had refused to agree to the time change, claiming that their players could not be available on such short notice. Believing their hosts had forfeited the match, Scotland kicked off while their supporters sang "there's only one team in Tallinn" and the referee blew the final whistle after only three seconds.

Just under a month later, over Scotland's protests, FIFA decided that the match should be rescheduled rather than go down as a forfeit. The teams met in Monaco on 7 February 1997 and played to a scoreless draw.

Despite the loss of the two points, Scotland still qualified for the 1998 World Cup while Estonia did not.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

8 October 2011 - Klinsmann Gets Off The Mark

On 8 October 2011, the United States got their first win under new manager Jürgen Klinsmann, beating Honduras 1-0 in a friendly.

Klinsmann, whose previous managerial experience consisted of brief spells in charge of the German national team (2004-06) and Bayern Munich (2008-09), took the reins of the US team in July 2011. His first game was a 1-1 draw with Mexico, followed by losses to Costa Rica (0-1) and Belgium (1-0).

For his fourth match, the US hosted CONCACAF rivals Honduras at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, where light rain and high winds kept the crowd to a modest 21,170. But the home fans in attendance were rewarded with excellent defense from a back line consisting of veterans Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra alongside newcomers Michael Orozco Fiscal and Tim Chandler. Tim Howard manned the posts and did well to deny Honduras an early lead before Clint Dempsey found the back of the net in the 36th minute.

Honduras came close to equalizing in the second half, but Howard again stood firm to preserve the 1-0 victory.

Since then, the United States have amassed a record of 25 wins, 6 draws, and 9 losses under Klinsmann, including a record 12-game unbeaten streak that saw them win the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Monday, October 7, 2013

7 October 2006 - Bale Gets A Good Example

On 7 October 2006, Gareth Bale became Wales' youngest goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 35 days. Unfortunately, it was the only positive note of the day for the team.

Bale, who was still a left back for Southampton at the time, had already broken one national team record when he made his debut earlier that year at the age of 16 years and 315 days. He notched an assist in that game, a 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago. He then got called up for Wales' qualification campaign for Euro 2008.

He missed the first game, a 2-1 loss to the Czech Republic, but started the second, with Wales hosting Slovakia at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Unfortunately for the home supporters, the Dragons fell behind early to a goal from Dušan Švento (14'), then conceded another to Marek Mintál (32') (Švento was a modified left back/winger, a path that Bale eventually followed).

Shortly afterward, though, Bale got his opportunity to cut the deficit. In the 38th minute, he took a free kick with his left foot from just outside the box and drove it into the top right corner. The slight reprieve didn't last long, however, as Mintál scored from 40 yards out just one minute later.

Wales conceded two more goals (Miroslav Karhan 51', Robert Vittek 59') to end the day as a 1-5 loss. It was the team's worst defeat since a 1-7 home loss to England in 1908. Ultimately, neither Wales nor Slovakia qualified for Euro 2008.

Since then, Bale has increased his scoring record and has a current total of eleven goals in 42 appearances.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

6 October 1976 - The Changing Of The Guard In Brazil

On 6 October 1976, Pelé returned to the Brazilian national team after a five-year absence to make one last appearance in a friendly against Flamengo.

His last official appearance was in a 2-2 draw with Yugoslavia on 18 July 1971, but he continued to play at the club level. In 1976, he was in his second of three seasons with the New York Cosmos when he got the call to play again for Brazil in an exhibition against Rio club Flamengo at the Maracaña.

In addition to Pelé, Brazil's starting eleven included fellow stars Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, and Rivelino, while Flamengo's team included up-and-coming Seleçao players Zico and Júnior, who would combine for over 140 appearances over the next decade.

As it turned out, the young guns outdid the old hands as Flamengo won 2-0 with goals from Paulinho and Luís Paulo.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

5 October 1996 - That's An Anniversary Nobody Wants To Reach

On 5 October 1996, Estonia ended a near three-year winless streak when they beat Belarus in a World Cup qualifier.

Their prior win was a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein in a friendly on 14 October 1993, which they then followed with twelve straight defeats. The winless streak extended to 34 games, including only six draws. The last of those 34 was a 1-0 away loss to Belarus in a qualifier for the 1998 World Cup in August 1996.

Two months later, Estonia hosted Belarus in Tallinn for the return fixture. It was a physcial game, with injuries forcing both sides to make first-half substitutions, but a clean one, with only three yellow cards. The highlight for Estonia came in the 52nd minute when central defender Sergei Hohlov-Simson put the ball past the Belarus goalkeeper. It was the day's only goal, giving Estonia their first win in almost three years.

Unfortunately for Estonia, the win did not signal a significant shift in fortune. Although they went on to get wins against Indonesia, Andorra, and Cyprus over the next five months, they failed to qualify for the World Cup, finishing next to last in their group, with Belarus as the only team below them.

Friday, October 4, 2013

4 October 2011 - Seattle Reigns In The US Open Cup

On 4 October 2011, the Seattle Sounders win their third straight US Open Cup, beating Chicago 2-0.

Since joining MLS in 2009 as an expansion team, Seattle had been impressive, reaching the MLS Cup conference semifinals in their first two seasons. But they had been even more successful in the US Open Cup, winning it in 2009 and 2010.

In 2011, they were on their way to a second-place finish in the league and another MLS Cup conference semifinal appearance. But before then, they had a chance to become only the second team ever to win three straight US Open Cups (the only other team to three-peat was Greek American AA, who won it in 1967, 1968, and 1969).

In order to do that, however, they had to beat the Chicago Fire, who were in the final for the sixth time and had won it in 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006. Despite a much poorer league record, Chicago managed to hold the defending champions to a scoreless draw for most of the match. But Seattle finally took the lead with a goal from forward Fredy Montero in the 77th minute, then sealed the win with a strike from midfielder Osvaldo Alonso in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

3 October 1999 - So Technically, It Was Their First One

On 3 October 1999, Club Necaxa won their second CONCACAF Champions Cup, beating LD Alajuelense 2-1.

The Costan Ricans were the more experienced side, having appeared in three previous finals and winning it in 1986, but Necaxa had been there more recently, finishing as runners-up in 1996 (they also reached it in 1975, when they won it during their brief incarnation as Atlético Español).

Necaxa barely reached the tournament in 1999 after beating the LA Galaxy on penalties in a qualifying playoff. Once there, they needed another penalty shootout to advance over Saprissa in the quarterfinals, then beat DC United 3-1 in the semifinals to face Alajuelense at Sam Boyd Stadium just outside Las Vegas, Nevada.

There, Alajuelense took a first-half lead through a Josef Miso penalty in the 33rd minute, but the Mexicans came back in the second half with goals from Álex Aguinaga (46') and Sergio Vázquez to take the trophy. It remains their last appearance in the final, while Alajuelense returned and won it in 2004.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2 October 2012 - BATE Masters Bayern

On 2 October 2012, Belarusian side BATE Borisov stunned Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage, beating them 3-1.

Borisov were making only their third appearance in the tournament proper, having previously reached the group stage in 2008-09 and 2011-12. Bayern, meanwhile, had a much deeper pedigree that included finishing as runners-up in two of the previous three finals (having already won four European Cups/Champions League trophies overall).

Playing at the Dynama Stadium in Minsk, Bayern seemed to have the match well in hand, dominating possession in the first half and creating several chances, but they were undone in 23rd minute. A wasted effort from Borisov's Aleksandr Volodko landed at the feet of teammate Aleksandr Pavlov, who scored with a tidy finish.

Bayern drove forward in search of an equalizer, but could not beat the Borisov defenders and goalkeeper Andrei Gorbunov until Franck Ribéry scored in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the second half. By that time, however, Borisov had already gotten a goal from Vitali Rodionov (78'), then they added one from Renan Bressan right before the final whistle (90'+4).

Despite the result, Bayern went on to win the group and eventually advanced to the final, where they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1. Borisov finished third in the group and moved into the Europa League Round of 32, but were eliminated by Fenerbahçe.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

1 October 1966 - George Leads The Weah

On 1 October 1966, Liberian striker George Weah, the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year, was born in Monrovia.

He started his professional career in 1985 and spent his first three years with four different clubs in Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon before Monaco manager Arsène Wenger signed him in 1988. After three successful seasons there (47 goals in 103 league appearances), he moved to Paris Saint-Germain for another three-year spell.

In his final season at PSG, he was the top scorer of the 1994-95 Champions League, where his seven goals helped them reach the semifinals before losing to AC Milan. He then moved to Milan that summer. His combined performances for PSG and Milan that year won him both the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award--he remains the only African player to win either of them.

Milan proved to be the longest stop of his career. He was there for four and a half seasons and won two league titles before moving to Chelsea on loan in 2000. Short spells with Manchester City, Marseille, and Al-Jazira followed, then he retired in 2003.

Since then, he has become involved in Liberian politics, running for president in 2005 and vice-president in 2011, though both campaigns were unsuccessful.