For the first time in months yesterday featured both of my clubs in action and I couldn’t be happier to have that to look forward to for at least the next three months!
Ross County traveled to Glasgow Saturday to open the 2015-2016 Scottish Premiership season against defending champions Celtic F.C.. Things got off to a rough start in the third minute when Celtic were awarded a penalty, which Leigh Griffiths (who would be subbed off injured only 15 minutes later) successfully snuck the ball under County goalkeeper Scott Fox.
After a bit more sparring County were right back in the game when Jackson Irvine broke away with the ball and was taken down by Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon in the 23rd minute. As the “last man back” and the “denier of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity” Gordon was shown a straight red and County were back on level terms with their hosts. Oh, wait, that didn’t happen at all! Willie Collum (at this point, “seriously?!) only gave Gordon a yellow and allowed play to continue much to the shock of supporters on both sides and the media members in attendance. All of which begs the question, “Can you get CONCACAF-ed if you play in a UEFA nation?”
Celtic would go on to score a second goal (set up by former County youth product Gary Mackay-Steven!), but that would be all as a rejuvenated County eleven started the second half brightly and never looked back. There were a lot of half-chances and close calls, but unfortunately County were never able to break through and score. Still, their second half performance was enough to change the minds of many of scribes and pundits who were tipping the club for relegation only days ago. The party line in the media is now that County will be, “just fine.” And they will be.
Hamilton Academical are up next.
Closer to home the New England Revolution took on Toronto F.C. at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
While Toronto were without Michael Bradley but the Revolution still had Sebastian Giovinco- easily the league’s MVP at this point- and Jozy Altidore to contend with. Well, at least until the 39th minute!
Already up 1-o thanks to a goal from New Hampshire’s Own Charlie Davies© the Revolution’s night was made that much easier when, in the aftermath of competing for a header with New England’s Jose Goncalves (above), Altidore spun around and kicked the New England player in full view of match referee Chris Penso. Penso was already pulling the red card form his pocket as he sprinted toward the pair and Altidore, wearing the captain’s armband and- one would hope- trying to make a good impression after being sent home from the Gold Cup, was done for the night. Revolution color man (and former Revolution assistant and Toronto head coach) Paul Mariner deservedly let Altidore have it for a good ten minutes, and more importantly, responded to one of my tweets!
The match was all but over at that point. New England had looked the sharper and more interested side since the opening whistle and they increased their lead just before half time when Kelyn Rowe drew a penalty kick which was covered by Lee Nguyen who, by the way, is starting to look like the MVP-caliber player he was last season. Also playing well is Diego Fagundez, who has added tracking back on defense(!) to his game and is now able to influence events on the field even when he doesn’t score a goal. Nobody, however, had as good a night as Davies, who added a second goal in the 62nd minute simply because he wanted to get to the ball more than either the Toronto goalkeeper or his defense. Davies now has nine goals this season.
On a night when their captain was sent off and their star player- much to the credit of New England’s back line- was mostly invisible, Toronto did get a consolation goal in the 75th minute when youngster Jonathan Osorio beat Bobby Shuttleworth for a goal that was at least some reward for the tireless efforts he made on behalf of Toronto F.C.s cause Saturday night.
Lastly, there was a bit of a bonus for Revs fans as an almost-healthy Jermain Jones came on to play the last quarter of the match. Despite having hernia surgery on both sides in early June, Jones was running well and certainly hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to pinging 50 yard passes to his teammates’ feet. Add in some match fitness and those crunching tackles and New England will be back in business before you know it!
The Revolution are off next week. How about making a signing or something!!