AYOF: Week One Recap
Week one (and two for some leagues) was highlighted by red cards, record breaking signing debuts, talk of breaking the newly set world record signing by the same club (see middle of this sentence for a laugh or if you're confused like me) and high flying Portuguese and Scots. I also joined two different supporters clubs and got to see the hometown team outclass a California side plus wear my new Nike Chelsea kit. Here are the ups and downs for all ten teams in the Year of Football. Time for kickoff.
English Premiere League - Chelsea FC
A bit of a disappointing one for the current EPL Champions as they were "refed" to a 3-2 defeat at home against Burnley. Chelsea ended the match with 9 men on the pitch after two red cards given out by whistle and card happy referee Craig Pawson. A good showing in the second half saw Chelsea claw back from a 3-0 deficit at halftime to almost tie the game up in the closing minutes. But with literally no help from the referee, their appalling first half defensive lapses were just too much to overcome.
Spent this game watching with the Bayou City Blues supporter club in Houston. Even though it was a pretty crap match to watch, everyone was still singing, enjoying having the footie back and having a good time.
EFL Championship - Aston Villa FC
The Championship kicked off last weekend with a 1-1 draw between Villa and Hull City which I got to watch with the Space City Lions supporters club. A small but fun group that meets to watch the Villa games at various places around Houston. Had a blast hanging out with them and definitely plan on seeing more games with them. Fast forward to this weekend and Villa definitely took there foot off the gas in a 3-0 defeat to Cardiff City in Wales. Only 1 point out of 2 games leave them with a lot of work left to do.
Spanish La Liga - Athletic Bilbao
With La Liga not kicking off for another week or so, Athletic Bilbao finished up a qualifying round in the Europa League with a 4-1 aggregate win over Dinamo Bucharest. Next up is a game against Greek side Panathinaikos in the Europa League on August 17 before their La Liga opener against Getafe on August 20.
German Bundesliga - VFL Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg defeated FC Eintracht Norderstedt 1-0 with a goal from Ignacio Camacho to move on in the German DFB Pokal Cup. Next up is their Bundesliga opener against Borussia Dortmund on August 19, a determined side after losing the traditional curtain raiser game in German football last weekend to Bayern Munich on penalties. It's gonna be a rough opening match for Wolfsburg and they'll need all the support to win.
Dutch Eredivisie - SBV Vitesse
After losing to Feyenoord on penalties in the Dutch Super Cup, dubiously some would say, Vitesse opened their Eredivisie season with a 4-1 thrashing of NEC Breda. US National team player Matt Miazga has rejoined Vitesse on loan for the season from Chelsea so that's just another American connection to watch this season. He's a bright young prospect that needs a healthy amount of playing time to develop his game. A Vitesse loan should give him some good game time to help out his US Men's National Team chances.
United States MLS - Houston Dynamo
Had the chance to watch the Dynamo play the San Jose Earthquakes on August 12 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston and what a game it was. Despite a decidedly daft referee, at one point he gave a player a red card only to change his mind as the player walked off the field, the Dynamo prevailed 3-0. Coach Wilmer Cabrera has really got the offense moving and the Dynamo's midfield play was on point as they passed circles around the Earthquakes. There really was a class deficit on the field. The win boosts the Dynamo into first place in the MLS Western Conference, tied on points with Seattle Sounders and Sporting KC. Things are looking up for the men in orange.
French Ligue 1 - Paris Saint-Germain
A testy 2-0 win at home against Amiens opened the Ligue 1 season for PSG on August 5. The day was highlighted by the unveiling of new world record signing Neymar, complete with DJ music and all at Pac Des Princes. When Neymar finally made his debut against Guingamp on August 13, he impressed with an assist and a goal as the Parisians eased to a 3-0 victory away.
Italian Serie A - ACF Fiorentina
Fiorentina's Serie A campaign kicks off one week from today with a visit to the San Siro to take on Inter Milan. Not the easiest of opening fixtures, the recent signing of midfielders Marco Benassi and Valentin Eysseric will bolster the squads options going into the new season. In kit news, Fiorentina made the unorthodox move of releasing four different away kits for the season. So much for wearing the same colors as your team on matchday.
Primeira Liga Portugal - Sporting CP
Sporting have started off the new season with back to back wins against Desportivo Aves and Setubal, both clean sheets for the Lisbon-based team. That places Sporting at the top of the table. Even if it's early in the season, it's not a bad way to start. This week sees Sporting take on FC Steaua Bucharest at home in Lisbon in the qualifying rounds for the Champions League. Recent signings of defender Jeremy Matthieu from Barcelona and the loan signing of Fábio Coentrão from Real Madrid have helped bolster Sporting for the campaign ahead.
Scottish Premiership - Hibernian FC
Newly promoted Hibs currently sit third in the table after wins against Partick Thistle and a 3-2 away upset of Rangers. Next up for Hibernian is a home match against Hamilton where they'll try to make it 9 points out of 9 to start the season. Things are looking up for the boys from Edinburgh.