Fire v New York City FC match preview

Martin Tomszak is back with yet another look at New York City FC. The Fire defeated NYCFC 1-0 on April 24 at Toyota Park.

What Are They All About? NYCFC (Away) Preview

“We’ve hit rock bottom”. Those are the words that David Villa used to describe the situation that NYCFC finds themselves in after their fourth loss in a row extended their winless streak to eight matches. The fact that the loss came in the first ever “Hudson Bay Derby” against the New York Red Bulls only exacerbated the situation. The Fire are looking to bounce back from their own loss last week after falling at home to RSL for the second straight year. The two teams will meet for the second time in a matter of weeks with Friday’s match at Yankee Stadium and one thing is sure, both sides will be desperate for a win.

NYCFC Form Guide (Last 5 Matches): L-L-L-L-D

Previous match: A 2-1 Away loss to NY Red Bull

Formation in the last match: 4-2-3-1: Saunders; Allen, Wingert, Hernandez, Williams; Jacobson, Grabavoy; Villa, Diskerud, Alvarez; Shelton

Strengths: There is no need to be redundant by repeating the strengths mentioned in the first preview a few weeks ago (Jason Kreis, rich parent club, DPs, etc.), and in fact it could be argued that some of these aren’t really “strengths” anymore. Instead, it can simply be stated that a team which has only won one match this season, losing six and tying the remaining three, has absolutely nothing to lose.

While this may seem like a very twisted strength, the reality of the situation is that NYCFC needs this win, possibly even more than the Fire do. There was so much expectation surrounding NYCFC’s expansion year and it is no secret that they have fallen flat on their face so far. The squad that NYC has put together has some talent but typical of an expansion side there are some questions. With NYCFC playing in front of their home support those questions will only be asked louder and more often. While they may not be as bad as Montreal or Philly, NYCFC cannot afford to fall too far behind the pack in the East.

Another advantage that NYCFC may be able to utilize against the Fire is something they didn’t have in the first game, the playing field in their makeshift home at Yankee Stadium.

While FIFA regulations state that a field must be at least 110 yards long and 70 yards wide, no one aside from NYCFC is convinced that the pitch at Yankee Stadium meets these requirements. SKC coach Peter Vermes’ sly post match comments a few weeks ago that the pitch is in fact only 106 yards by 68 yards threw more doubt on the actual dimensions.

Even if it does meet the minimum requirement, the size of the field could pose a challenge for the Fire. At their best this season, Chicago has utilized the full length and width of the pitch allowing David Accam and Joevin Jones to run down balls played into space. While this strategy worked in the teams’ previous meeting, the Fire might very well run out of room before they even get their legs going at Yankee stadium. Frank Yallop will have to find a different approach this time around, even admitting so himself during Monday’s media conference call. The Fire have found it hard to string together consistent performances without changes in their style of play, so the small field could very well be their undoing. Players like Accam, Shaun Maloney, and Harry Shipp may have to be more tactful with the ball at their feet in lieu of trying to find space over the top.

Weaknesses: Luckily for Chicago, the same weaknesses that plagued NYCFC in April are still there in May. In fact, one could just copy and paste the weakness section from the last preview here. Failure to implement a distinct system, a lack of cohesion, injuries, and schedule congestion were the highlights last time around so let’s start there.

4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-1-4-1, 4-2-3-1, and 4-4-2. No, those are not power ball numbers or Morse code, they are the formations that Jason Kreis has implemented in NYCFC’s last five matches. Every single match has seen a different set of tactics, a slightly tweaked line up and a drastically different formation. Even the 4-4-2 formations differed slightly with the match against Red Bull utilizing a flat midfield while the match against Philly alternated between a diamond and a block midfield. It seems that after 10 weeks NYCFC is still desperately searching for an identity and nothing they do seems to be working.

Lack of cohesion is still a problem when it comes to this New York team and it is exhibited perfectly by their last two matches since playing the Fire. In their match against Seattle, a 3-1 loss at home, NYCFC’s back line looked like they had decided early on not to mark either Clint Dempsey or Obafemi Martins and they paid for it. Balls in behind the defenders, one v. one situations, two v. two situations, crosses into the box, you name it and NYCFC’s defenders showed they were incapable of handling it. Granted, the Fire are not Seattle, but NYC continues to struggle at the back. The Fire may be able to hurt them in transition/counter and from the wide positions, where they have also been weak in defending if NYCFC crowds Accam and Shipp as they are expected to do. Lovel Palmer and Jones stand a chance to play big parts in this one.

The derby loss to the Red Bulls also highlighted the poor backline with NYCFC electing to leave Bradley Wright Phillips, one of the most prolific strikers in MLS, completely unmarked on two occasions (three if you count Saunders’ great save on what would have been BWP’s hat trick). More importantly the match at Red Bull Arena showed that their midfield lacks a sense of urgency and belief, barely making an impression against a Red Bulls team that was down a man for nearly 60 minutes. When you add the fact that David Villa, a man who is supposed to be the talisman of this team, was hauled off in the 68 th minute while shaking his head in disbelief, you have a NYCFC team that seems to be spiraling toward the bottom of the East. While they are no longer playing multiple matches just days apart, their schedule isn’t getting easier. With a trip to RSL up after the Fire and a visit from Houston the following week, Jason Kreis could find himself looking up at the rest of the conference when NYCFC play fellow bottom dwellers Philadelphia in the first week of June.

Injuries: Javier Calle and Adam Nemec joined the short term injury list last week while George John and Tony Taylor remain on the long term injury list.

Prediction: NYCFC is too much of a mess to get anything out of this match, and whether or not that remains the case later in the season has no bearing on Friday. The Fire will go into Yankee Stadium with a compact game plan and come out with three points. Chicago 2-0 NYCFC. Unfortunately the forwards will still be missing from the score sheet, Maloney and Palmer with the goals.

Steven Jackson hopes to land job with winning team

Posted by Josh Alper on May 14, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

When the Falcons released veteran running back Steven Jackson in February, Jackson said he had no plans to retire.

The NFL hasn’t greeted his arrival on the open market with much excitement, however. Jackson hasn’t been linked with anyone since his departure from Atlanta, but that hasn’t dimmed his hopes to continue his NFL career for a 12th season with a team that gives him a chance to reach the playoffs.

“I don’t want to go to a team that is rebuilding and needs me to come on and teach guys how to be professional,” Jackson said, via Nick Wagoner of “I’ve done that. I’ve been more than vocal about wanting to help young guys, but at some point I have to be a little selfish. I want to be part of a winning team because when I do hang up my cleats, I can see a lot of people holding that over my head when a lot of it was out of my control.”

Wagoner writes that Jackson is “fully aware” that such an opportunity may not present itself, which is an honest assessment of the job prospects for a back who turns 32 in July after two mediocre seasons with the Falcons.

Wisconsin Lottery: Megabucks jackpot at record high – $21.4 million!

MADISON (WITI) – The Wisconsin Lottery has announced its Megabucks jackpot is currently at a record high of $21.4 million for its next drawing on Saturday, May 16th.

The Megabucks game started in Wisconsin in 1992, and the last time the jackpot was this large was in 2001.

Wisconsin is the only state that offers the Megabucks game.

If a winner of the $21.4 million jackpot were to choose the cash payout, the lump sum would be $15.2 million.

Megabucks drawings take place every Wednesday and Saturday night.

How to Play Megabucks

  1. Choose six (6) different numbers from 1 – 49. You will receive two plays for $1.
  2. You must purchase your ticket by 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday or Saturday to be included in that night’s drawing.
  3. Sign your ticket and check it as soon as possible.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Wisconsin Lottery’s Megabucks game.

2 Madison Co. Senators split on AL lottery bill

You could soon be able to play lottery games in Alabama under legislation that cleared a big hurdle Thursday.

A state senate committee narrowly approved the lottery and casino bill Thursday.

Two Republicans representing parts of Madison County split on the lottery and casino bill.

State Senator Paul Sanford voted with the majority to approve the bill while State Senator Tom Melson opposed it.

The five to three vote in favor of the lottery bill puts it in line for a vote by the full state senate as soon as next week.

The bill would authorize a state lottery and Las Vegas-style casinos at four existing state dog tracks in Birmingham, Mobile, Macon, and Greene counties.

Republican Senate leader Del Marsh says he would like gambling and lottery revenue in Alabama instead of new tax increase.

Not all Republicans feel that way.

Senator Tripp Pittman says gambling won’t solve Alabama’s budget crisis.

This bill has a long way to go before becoming a reality.

Three-fifths of legislators and a majority of voters would have to OK changing the state constitution to allow gambling.

It’s been almost 16 years since Alabama voted on a state lottery.

Voters obviously rejected the idea of a lottery back in 1999.

Copyright 2015 WAFF. All rights reserved.

Gerrard admits biggest regret is never winning a Premier League title

  • Steven Gerrard plays his final Liverpool game at Anfield this Saturday
  • The club captain is preparing to move to the US with MLS club LA Galaxy
  • Gerrard will try to hold back the tears once the match ends, he admits

Steven Gerrard admits his biggest regret is never winning the Barclays Premier League.

The Liverpool captain is preparing to leave after a 17-year association with the club for Major League Soccer outfit LA Galaxy in June, and is poised for his Anfield finale this Saturday.

Gerrard feels it will be difficult to hold back the tears once the match with Crystal Palace ends, and the former England international admits he will always regret not bringing a title to Anfield.

‘Not winning the Premier League will be a dent. That’s the only regret I go away with,’ Gerrard admitted.

When asked whether he will cry, he added: ‘I don’t know what it’s going to be like come the end of the game. I’ve been dreading this moment in a strange way.

‘I’m going to miss it so much. Playing at Anfield, in front of the fans, with my team-mates. The plan is to try to keep it together. Stay strong. Try to avoid the tears.’

More to follow.

Handy guide to winning Deflategate arguments

“It was announced yesterday that Tom Brady will be suspended…” #FallonTonight

‘€” Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) May 13, 2015

As I’ve been saying all along, the whole Deflategate fiasco has been exposed for what it is – a discredited investigation, carried out by a non-neutral hired gun, relying on shoddy science done by a crooked consulting firm, relying on heavily conjecture, innuendo and slant, that still never proved guilt yet resulted in a draconian punishment handed down by a weakling commissioner desperate to prove what a tough guy he is.

Of course I’ve gotten plenty of blow back from the local media for saying this. They’ve said I’m blinded by a lifetime spent rooting for the Patriots in ways that their decades of hating the owner, the coach and their way of doing things do not.

So who are you going to believe in all this – the Patriots and their fans, or Ted Wells and the anti-Patriots cyberbullies in the New England media? I’m going to suggest neither. Instead, allow me to take you around the internet to see how nationally recognized, non-biased pundits are tearing down the pillars upon which the Wells Report and the NFL’s ridiculously drastic punishment are based.

Consider it a handy pocket guide to refuting every Deflategate argument. The experts on:

The NFL’s initial screw up

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! – [T]he biggest take away from this tiresome ordeal is how Goodell’s lack of touch, vision, courage and guile created a circus.

Start with this: the story didn’t go big until ESPN reported about 24 hours after the game that the NFL had discovered that 11 of the 12 footballs were measured to be more than 2 pounds per square inch below the league minimum of 12.5. … Of course, that story wasn’t true. It wasn’t even close to true. Wells’ report showed that none of the footballs, each measured twice, were that underinflated. At that very moment, the NFL had to know the story wasn’t true. Yet it did nothing. … Once it appeared the Patriots were up to something big then the public and media rightfully demanded a serious investigation into what wasn’t that serious of a story. Goodell didn’t steer this to the truth and … instead commissioned Wells’ report, lending credence to a false narrative. Abdicating his authority to Wells led to the build-up for the report, which allowed a pack of Manhattan lawyers to serve as the cops, judge and jury. Ted Wells’ bias

Daniel F. Flynn, Breibart – Whereas Wells ignores the best-case-scenario readings for the Patriots and highlights the worst-case scenario ones, he exclusively relies on the highest possible measurements when discussing Colts balls. He says (p. 52) at halftime, ‘€œNo air was added to the Colts balls tested because they each registered within the permissible inflation range on at least one of the two gauges used.’€ Notice the different standard? For the Patriots, he talks about balls not passing muster on ‘€œboth gauges.’€ For the Colts, he employs a ‘€œone of the two gauges used’€ standard. … Relying on the lower gauge when its suits the NFL’€™s purposes and then both gauges when expediency demands it … suggests a bias that an unbiased arbiter will likely find objectionable enough to dismiss the suspension.

The investigation

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk – Referee Walt Anderson didn’€™t clearly recall which gauge he used to set the pressure in the Patriots balls at 12.5 PSI before the game. Page 52 of the Wells report reveals that it was Anderson’€™s ‘€œbest recollection’€ that he used before the game the gauge with the logo and the longer, crooked needle. In other words, Anderson recalls using the gauge before the game that, based on the halftime measurements, leads to a finding of no tampering.

So how did Ted Wells get around the “best recollection” of Walt Anderson? Wells persuaded Anderson to admit that it’€™s ‘€œcertainly possible’€ he used the other gauge. … That’€™s how investigations that start with a predetermined outcome and work backward unfold. The physics

Drew Fustin, PhD – Anderson believes, but did not record, that the Patriots game balls measured 12.5 psig prior to the game. He also believes, but did not record, that he used the Logo Gauge to make these measurements. The former belief is held as gospel truth by the Wells Report. The latter is discarded in favor of the more conspiratorial answer. …

To use halftime results from a pressure gauge not used for the pre-game results is as valid as me using the tire gauge in my glove compartment in the same experiment. …
And we are to assign a level of certainty to this process that passes scientific scrutiny? I’d bet even Bill Nye would agree that this is all a bit absurd. The slant

Flynn again – When the text messages of Patriots employees undermine Wells’€™s case, they joke. When the texts support Wells’€™s case, the texters display unmistakable earnestness. So, when ball handler Jim McNally threatens (pp. 5, 13, 77, 78) to overinflate pigskins to the size of a “rugby ball,”€ a “€œwatermelon,”€ or a “balloon,”€ he clearly jests, according to Wells, as he does (pp. 15, 80) when he says, “The only thing deflating [Brady’€™s] passing rating.”€ But when he calls himself, in the same chain of texts, the “deflator,” he writes in all seriousness even if in a “joking tone,” according to Wells. In every instance, the language dismissed as “jokes” undermines the case and the language seized upon as serious, which appears as a reading-between-the-lines reach, suggests guilt.

The punishment

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated – The NFL apparently doesn’€™t do nuance any more. It either underreacts or overreacts … Punishment was certainly in order. But it should have been a punishment that remotely fit the crime, not an over-the-top reaction to a practice that is thought to be all but part and parcel with playing quarterback in the NFL … Instead the NFL acted as if it was shocked, shocked to find out that quarterbacks might play a little fast and loose with its decades-old ball inflation standards. But instead of moving to tighten up its practices and better guard against what was once considered in the range of gamesmanship and penalizing New England in proportion to its rule-bending, the league reacted more as if the Patriots perpetrated one of the most blatant and grievous cases of cheating in the game’€™s history.

The Patriots’ counter attack

Adam Schefter on ESPN -€” [One of his sources tells him] ‘€œBrady’€™s team is unreal. Talented, big-name lawyers: Yee, Kessler, etc. Prediction=won’€™t miss a game. “€ … I think they’€™re angry, that they don’€™t feel” they don’€™t feel, I know everyone feels differently – they don’€™t feel they did anything wrong. They don’€™t feel like they deflated footballs, they knowingly deflated footballs, they were treated fairly by the NFL. It sounds crazy to people on the outside who say, “You can’€™t break the rules of the game, you violated the integrity of the game.” I’€™m just telling you, from their vantage point, they don’€™t believe they did anything wrong.

So there you have it. All the rational, clear thinking, dispassionate analysis you need on this whole absurd, ridiculous farce. Plus my own insane rantings mixed in. Because in bizarre times like this, logic stopped applying a long time ago. Now arm yourself with these arguments and put them to good use. Your world champions and your quarterback are counting on us all.

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Why you should never, ever play the lottery

What if I told you there was a $70 billion tax that the poor pay the most. You’d probably say that isn’t very fair. But that’s exactly what the lottery is: an almost 12-figure tax on the desperation of the least fortunate.

To put that in perspective, that’s $300 worth of lottery tickets for every adult every year. But it’s actually worse than that, because, as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson points out, researchers have found that the bottom third of households buy more than half of all tickets. So that means households making less than $28,000 a year are dishing out $600 a year on lotteries. And, as a result, everybody else doesn’t have to pay the higher taxes they would if gaming revenues weren’t underwriting our schools.

So what? Lotteries might be just like a tax for all but the one-in-a-hundred-million who win them, but they’re still a voluntary tax. It’s not the government’s fault that people either don’t care or don’t realize that, once you account for taxes and the possibility of splitting the pot, it never makes financial sense to buy a lottery ticket. Right? Well, no. It’s not that poor people don’t understand that the lottery has a near-zero chance of making them dynastically wealthy. It’s that they think everything else has an actually-zero chance. That’s why, as Thompson highlights, people making less than $30,000 are 25 percent more likely to say that they buy lottery tickets for money than for fun, while it’s the opposite for everyone else. State lotteries, in other words, don’t just prey on poor people’s dreams-they do that for everyone-but rather on desperate dreams.

That adds up. And not just in the “if you put $600 in the stock market every year, do you know how much you’d have in 40 years” sense. It might not sound like a lot, but an extra $600 can be the difference between being able to deal with an unexpected emergency-an injury, illness, or car breaking down-and being forced to borrow money on terms that are the reason the word “usurious” exists. Indeed, payday lenders specialize in turning a couple-hundred dollar loan into a never-ending cycle of fees. It’s their raison d’être.

But the worst part about lotteries is that they continue even though we know what we should do with them: abolish them and replace them with prize-linked savings. What’s that? Well, it’s an idea so good that it seemed destined to only exist at think tank conferences. It’s a system where instead of each person earning interest on their savings, all the interest is pooled together and then raffled off. So in the worst case, people have saved money that they otherwise would have lost on lottery tickets, and in the best they won a nice little cash prize on top of their little nest egg. Or, as the Bipartisan Policy Center puts it, prize-linked savings are “a lottery with no losers.” Now, up until last year, banks hadn’t been allowed to do this in all but a handful of states, but, in a stunning act of competency, Congress got rid of all the federal hurdles in the way. The problem, though, is it’s hard to get someone to understand something when their low property taxes depend on them not understanding it. In other words, it isn’t always easy to get state governments that depend on lottery revenues to allow something to compete with that.

And so we keep taxing the dreams of people who don’t have much more than that.

Illinois Amber Alert takes new GPS technology

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (AP) – The system used to alert the public about missing children is getting an upgrade in Illinois.

Illinois State Police says Amber Alert will beginning using Alert GPS technology to make the notification system even faster.

This free technology is used in other states and will help in sharing information across state lines during searches.

The Illinois Amber Alert Task Force played a role taking on Alert GPS. It’s a voluntary organization that includes law enforcement, broadcasters, the Illinois Tollway, the National Weather Service and others.

The Amber Alert System is named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted in 1996 in Texas and later found dead. All 50 states now use some form of the system.

National Missing Children’s Awareness Day is on May 25.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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$100M Powerball Results for Wednesday May 13

The winning numbers from the Powerball draw on Wednesday May 13th were 1, 25, 29, 31, 47 and the Powerball was 7.

Wednesday’s draw produced a total of 496,912 winning players that shared prizes totalling $6,618,868. The largest prizes went to three players that matched the five main numbers to win $1 million each. There were a total of 23 players that matched four of the main numbers and the Powerball, five had the Power Play option and won $30,000 each while the remaining 18 won $10,000 each. There was a total of 700 players that matched four of the main numbers, 131 of them had the Power Play option and won $300 each while the remaining 569 of them won $100 each.

On Saturday players of the Powerball have the chance to win a jackpot worth $110 million which has a cash value of $70.5 million. Each entry to the Powerball costs $2 and the Power Play option costs an additional $1 per line.