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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Magical FA Cup™ – 4th Round & USMNT (Yay!)” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

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Happy Friyay haters,

I’d love to be able to sit here and tell you that we have got a big huge massive weekend of soccuh ahead chock full of the kind of bonerific games that would help make up for it being the first (real) football-less weekend in a long, long time. Unfortunately, I can do no such thing. What I can tell you though is that there will be some big upsets in store in the FA Cup – which translates into big paydays for the ballsy amongst us – and our first chance to see the USMNT action this year (yay!), so it won’t be an entirely lost weekend.

So let’s get to it…

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FA CUP – 4th Round

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Usual reminders about things to keep in mind about the games ahead…

1) An FA Cup game, particularly those involving (relatively) itty bitty clubs versus EPL giants, represents the smaller team’s metaphorical “Super Bowl”… clubs playing well near the top of the Championship (or even League One) can be an especially dangerous opponent.

2) A lot of EPL managers rest key players in these games. I can’t stress that enough, and it is what makes predicting these games a day in advance all the more of a crapshoot. You may notice lines jump around a lot an hour before kickoff, which usually correlate with a big club going with an unexpectedly strong/weak XI.

3) Home field advantage matters, particularly when one of the EPL’s big-swinging-dicks has to travel to and play on a crappy little field with bumps and divots everywhere. Ignore this nuance at your peril.

4) One exception to the rule in #2 is when a manager has been getting his ass handed to him by the media/fans based on recent performances. An under-pressure manager will often play it safe and go with a stronger XI than they might otherwise.

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Picks/Random Shots in the Dark of the Weekend

Note: I am going to hew mostly to the televised games because if you are looking to lay your nest egg on MK Dons versus Coventry then I’d recommend reading a Gamblers Anonymous pamphlet instead of this blog.

Chelsea (-235) – 3rd in EPL
Newcastle (+600) – 15th in EPL
Draw (+350)

Both clubs come in with major blue balls at their continued inability to secure transfer targets. To make matters worse for Newcastle, they can’t even call on Kenedy who came in on loan from none other than Chelsea. An important consideration is the thinness of the Blues’ bench, and the fact they played a strong XI in a tough midweek match against Arsenal, and could be a step slow. Wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea come out a step or two slow, though Newcastle is averaging less than a goal a game against EPL opponents over the last month so they may not have the firepower to fully capitalize. I’ll go with a 1-1 draw (which one could argue would be a worse result than a loss).

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Peterborough (+440) – 8th in League One
Lester (-170) – 7th in EPL
Draw (+300)

Peter-B – aka “The Posh” – is in good form, albeit in the third tier of English soccer. Provided their leading scorer Jack Marriott (rumored to be a target for some EPL clubs) has recovered from a hip injury this one smells like a good upset candidate. I’ll say Peterborough to win 2-1. [Note: if Marriott is out that’d definitely change things.]

Big Posh fan

Big Posh fan

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Southampton (-115) – 18th in EPL
Watford (+300) – 10th in EPL
Draw (+250)

Southampton was a mess, Watford is a mess. Only thing the Hornets have going for them at the moment is the “new manager bounce” thing that a surprising number of clubs (eg, almost all of them, however temporarily) have enjoyed this season. Nah. Gimme the non-mess. Southampton to win 1-0.

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Millwall (-185) – 15th in Championship
Rochdale (+540) – 23rd in League One
Draw (+260)

We’ve been riding the Lions to riches for two seasons straight in the FA Cup and if you are hopping off the train now you’ve got poop in your pants (even if Rochdale will be feeling fresh af after not having played in two weeks). FUCK YOU I’M (GOING) MILLWALL… to win 2-0.

5-millwall

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Liverpool (-400) – 4th in EPL
West Brom (+850) – 19th in EPL
Draw (+460)

Fresh off its most disappointing performance of the season, it’d only make sense that Liverpool dropped an ugly number on somebody. They can only miss the net so many times in a row, after all. Sorry Baggies. Liverpool to win 4-1.

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Newport County (+1200) – 8th in League Two
Tottenham (-600) – 5th in EPL
Draw (+650)

Spurs are always good for dropping an odd deuce every now and again but here’s hoping the recent outing against Southampton ticked that box. Losing to something called Newport County would be bad even by their prodigious standards for arbitrary suckiness. Tottenham to win 3-0.

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Cardiff (-800) – 3rd in Championship
City (-350) – 1st in EPL
Draw (+450)

City is so good at pinging it around, but lacks size upfront, meaning that playing on a Welsh cow pasture with patches of grass here and there could actually be a big problem – in theory. Alas, Cardiff is a sizable club with a nice field, off of which they are about to get run. City to win 4-0.

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USMNT

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Needless to say, this is a team, and organization, that is very much in transition at the moment – or perhaps limbo would be a more apt description. We don’t have an official coach, and almost certainly won’t have one until after the USSF presidential election is over and done with next month.

Add to that this game is not being played on an official FIFA international window and the fact that our opponent will also be watching the World Cup from the comfort of their couches next summer… and yeah, this has the look and feel of a pretty depressing affair.

But in an attempt to try and make a dookie sandwich out of this pile of shit situation, interim manager Dave Sarachan is giving us a good chance to take a look at a bunch of fresh new faces, some of whom will need to step up and complement or even supplement the bigger names – eg, Pulisic, McKennie, Gooch, etc (most of whom are playing in Europe and unavailable, or hurt) – and form the next wave of American soccer. The MLS-heavy roster looks like this:

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There’s really not much to say at this point since most of the guys are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to first (or even second) XI plans for USMNT, as are a lot of the guys that will be out there for B-H. However, among the guys that I’d say would be worth keeping an eye on, I’d include whippersnappers like RBNY’s Tyler Adams (D/M) and RSL’s Justen Glad (M) as well as some older guys who haven’t gotten looks before, like Minn Utd’s Christian Ramirez (F).

Prediction: It really, really, really, really, really doesn’t matter… I’d rather lose by three goals if even one or two guys made serious statements of intent. But given the B-team that BosHerz is bringing and the gruelling travel schedule they are going to have to endure, for shits and giggles I’ll go with: USMNT to win 3-1.

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Addendum – I was going to write something about the “Jonathan Gonzalez fiasco” but the entire situation has gone from bad to embarrassing to farcical at this point, with his family and USSF representatives now essentially call one another liars. So I’m going to keep it short for the moment and say that if Jonathan was conflicted enough about his allegiances after playing for ‘Merica for all those years that he could be swayed by Mexico in a matter of weeks simply by dangling the carrot of playing in World Cup 2018, and thus passing on the chance to represent the greatest country in the world… well, all the best to him – and by that I mean enjoy crashing out at the group stage this summer and getting your ass handed to you for the next decade once Big Dick Pulisic & Co. start swinging their red, white and blue BALLS all over anybody and everybody over the next couple of years.

Addendum to the addendum – live look at the USMNT recruitment team:

ussf

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REST OF THE WORLD

Spain: Valennnnnnnnthia host Really Badrid on Saturday (9:15am CT on beIN) in a game the visitors need to win just to hold onto its Champions League spot for next year. Yikes.

Italy: Lazio have looked goooooooooood lately and welcome Milan – which have not – on Sunday (11am CT on beIN).

Germany: Hoffenheim have struggled this season but would nevertheless find themselves on the verge of a top four spot if they find a win this weekend… but ain’t gonna be easy traveling to Bayern on Saturday (8:30am on FS1).

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So there we have it, quick and dirty preview of the FA Cup and less-than-exciting USMNT game. Good news though: full slate of domestic EPL action on deck in the midweek so don’t miss me too much.


Holler,
Samuel Army