Posted in BHAFC

BHAFC: Mathew Ryan signs as Albion begin to show they mean business in the transfer window.

The Australian goalkeeper has put pen to paper on a five-year deal. 

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Ryan was on loan at Genk last season. (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/article/2017/03/17/ryan-helps-genk-advance-uel-quarter-finals

Brighton and Hove Albion have confirmed the signing of Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan from Valencia for a club-record fee.

The 25-year old has signed a five-year deal with the Seagulls, and will join up with his new teammates after the Confederations Cup.

Ryan, who has been capped 32 times by his country, impressed whilst on loan at Genk last season.

There is no doubt he will add much-needed experience to the dressing room. The goalkeeper has a lot of top-flight football under his belt, having played in the Australian, Belgian and Spanish first division. He has also played in European competition.

Ryan’s CV reads many individual and team accolades, which include a Belgian Cup, Belgian Pro League Goalkeeper of the Year 2014 and 2015 and an AFC Asian Cup win with the Socceroos in 2015.

The Australian signed a six-year deal with Valencia two years ago, but failed to secure a spot in the team. He won’t have to worry about that at the Amex, as he will without doubt be the new Albion no.1- especially following David Stockdale’s exit earlier in the week.

The transfer fee hasn’t been published, although we have been told it is a club-record fee. Whispers on social media state the figure to be around the £5m mark, although with four years left on his contract that number strikes a bit too low for my liking.

Saying that, this could be the start of a positive summer for the Seagulls, ahead of their debut season in the Premier League.

One would hope that Brighton’s club-record fee will be broken again (maybe more than once) before the window closes. If the club want to secure a striker who will guarantee goals, or a centre back who will command the penalty area, surely they would cost more than £5m?

You’ve only got to look at other clubs in the league and how much money they are spending on transfers. Leicester City have spent almost £20m on Harry Maguire, whilst Everton splashed £57m yesterday on both Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen!

It’s hard to tell until we see Ryan in the Premier League if we got him on the cheap, but if he is just as good as the former Sunderland stopper, a player who cost six times as much, then we can all have a little chuckle to ourselves.

But this shows Brighton’s intent. The club are willing to break their transfer record to bring in the players that they believe will help the team avoid relegation. Chris Hughton has signed two exciting players in Pascal Groß and Ryan, who could become Albion heroes should the club retain their Premier League status.

We should expect more signings in the coming weeks, and following the two deals the club have secured so far, I can’t wait to see who the next person to walk through the Amex doors will be.

Posted in BHAFC

BHAFC: Ahmed Musa and Simon Kjaer the latest linked with a move to the Amex this summer.

Transfer rumours are beginning to intensify two days before the release of the 2017/18 Premier League fixtures. 

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Simon Kjaer be on the move this summer? (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. DAILY EXPRESS http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/790546/Man-Utd-250m-summer-spree-Simon-Kjaer-Adnan-Januzaj-transfer-news-gossip

Brighton and Hove Albion are slowly preparing their squad ahead of the new Premier League season.

The Seagulls, who will be making their first appearance in England’s top flight since 1983, have already secured German midfielder Pascal Groß and are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with Valencia for Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan. 

Now Chris Hughton’s side are looking to bring in both a forward and defender, with two players linked with a move to the Amex today.

Leicester’s Ahmed Musa, who only joined the Foxes last summer for £16m, is apparently in talks with Brighton and West Brom, according to his agent. 

Musa, who only netted four goals in 32 appearances during his debut season in England, wants to remain in England despite offers from abroad.

The 24-year-old would more than likely start more games on the south coast than he did at the King Power last season (7), especially as he brings a different offensive style to the table.

One of his biggest assets is his raw pace. Where Glenn Murray is more of a threat in the air, Musa would be the striker making the runs in behind the defenders. It has the potential to be a dynamic partnership.

That is if Hughton sticks with his 4-4-2. He had mentioned towards the end of last season that would like to mix it up this campaign, with the 4-4-1-1 formation being one of those he wants to try and implement on the team.

Groß is a player capable of playing in that no.10 role behind the striker, but could Musa do a job there? He has the pace to play up alongside whoever starts up top (Murray or Hemed would be the best bet at the moment), but would the Nigerian track back and defend when needed?

Due to their similarities, it would be unlikely we would see both Musa and Sam Baldock in the same side. Baldock was one of our best players last season when he wasn’t injured, and if anything, we missed a Baldock-type player when he was sidelined. Therefore, having both in the squad wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Danish international defender Simon Kjær is the other man linked with a move to the Amex.

The Fenerbahce player is a transfer target for Liverpool, but the Seagulls are set to make a £7.5m bid imminently. 

Kjær, has 59 caps to his name, and would provide competition for Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy at the heart of Brighton’s defence.

He has two years remaining on his contract and is reported to be well settled in Istanbul. Fenerbahce also value their man at £15m, which could prove a stumbling block.

The 28-year old centre back would be a major coup for the newly promoted side should they steal him away from the clutches of both Liverpool and AC Milan- two clubs also interested in Kjær’s services.

Dunk and Duffy formed a solid partnership last season, but with a lack of top flight experience and the likes of Conor Goldson slowly returning back to full fitness, the need for a new centre back has become a priority.

It will be interesting to see whether both transfers materialise into anything. Both ARE just rumours at the moment, and whilst it will be good to see both in an Albion shirt, there is a long way to go before that could happen.

 

Posted in Football

A commander within the Toon Army: Cheick Tiote 1986-2017.

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Tiote smiling whilst training with Newcastle last year. (Image Credit: CHRONICLE LIVE Via. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/all-about/cheick-tiote.

This afternoon, the footballing world found out the tragic news that former Twente and Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote had collapsed during a training session in Beijing and died at the age of just 30.

The Ivorian, who made 52 appearances for his country, had only signed for second-tier Chinese club Beijing Enterprises four months ago. He made just 11 appearances for the Asian outfit.

His career took off at Anderlecht, where he won two Belgian titles and a Belgian super cup. He then moved to Holland, where he played for both Roda and Twente. There, Tiote won the domestic double in 2010 with the latter under Steve McLaren.

He then moved to Newcastle United and made 156 appearances for the Magpies during his six-and-a-half-year stay on Tyneside.

When he took to the field, he didn’t light up the stadia with fancy footwork and tricks. Instead he was the man in the middle doing the dirty work: intercepting passes and making crucial challenges for his side.

He was without doubt the commander within the Toon Army. He was a player that dictated any game he was involved in.

Newcastle are one of the country’s leading clubs, with a fantastic fanbase. He galvanised their love for the game on the pitch. He was Newcastle through and through and It’s no wonder he was adored by their supporters.

Tiote wasn’t a prolific goalscorer either. In fact, the Ivorian only netted once for Newcastle, although it was a goal that will live long in the memory of most fans.

His strike secured a remarkable point for the Magpies as they came back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal at St.James’s Park in 2011.

The central midfielder represented his country at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in South Africa and Brazil respectively. He was also part of the Ivory Coast side that won the 2015 African Cup of Nations.

An underrated footballer taken from us all way too early.

RIP Cheick.

 

 

 

Posted in Film

Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 (2017) Review

The hotly anticipated sequel to James Gunn’s 2014 intergalactic classic almost ticks all the boxes.

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The guardians are back in a new adventure. (Image Credit: IMDB via. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3896198/mediaviewer/rm4191960064.

***

Coming out of the cinema like a herd of zombies at 3:00am last night, initial reactions to the newest chapter in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise were mixed.

That has been the worldwide reception to James Gunn’s latest work, which sees the original team return for an all new adventure in what is the 15th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Whilst this latest entry doesn’t reach the same level as Captain America: The Winter Soldier nor the original Guardians of the Galaxy, it is still an enjoyable, funny, action-packed thrill-ride which almost ticks all the boxes.

Chris Pratt is excellent once again as Peter Quill aka. Star-lord, who along with green mean machine Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a very comedic Drax (a fine performance by Dave Bautista, space racoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the adorable Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), find themselves in trouble with ‘The Sovereign’, a community of gold people after a mission goes south.

During their run-in with ‘The Sovereign’ they meet Ego (played by Kurt Russell) who claims to be Peter’s father. From there we are taken on a story which delves into the complexity of what a family is and what it means to be one.

It is a very clever script written by director Gunn, who is able to use the wonders of the universe to his advantage.

There’s colour, wonder, and an amazing use of CGI to create worlds that the creative teams of the Captain America movies can only dream of. Of all the Avengers, only the Thor movies have the power to match the wonders on screen.

A special mention has to go to Michael Rooker, who returns to play Yondu the blue faced space pirate. Rooker’s performance outshines the rest of the cast by a country mile. Yondu’s storyline goes in so many different directions, which allows him to showcase his ability as a actor, an opportunity grabbed with both hands.

Also returning from the original is Karen Gillian’s Nebula, sister of Gamora, whilst there are cameo appearances left, right and centre.

Once again the soundtrack is out of this world. Nothing Marvel produces in the future will outshine the opening credits to this movie. Fred Raskin and Craig Wood’s editing is superb, the music choice is perfect, Henry Braham’s cinematography is amazing. It all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle.

The issue this film will inevitably face however is something that is out of their control. It’s how it coincides with the public’s expectations. The original was smothered with so much critical acclaim that perhaps following it up with a sequel that was just as good was always going to be a tough job. It’s obvious Gunn made a decision on where to take the franchise in order to push it forward, but it isn’t one that will please everybody.

In a nutshell, if you were hoping for a distinct sequel to the first, then you’ll probably come away from this movie disappointed.

The title itself tells us what to expect. The use of  ‘Vol.2’ shows that this is a brand new story – like picking up the next comic book off the shelf – with no major links to the original. It works as a standalone as well as a sequel, kind of like how Star Trek Beyond fitted into that franchise.

The movie also reminds everyone that Guardians isn’t closely connected like the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Where Avengers: Age of Ultron ties in with Captain America: Civil War, which subsequently then ties in with the upcoming Spider-Man and Black Panther movies, the Guardians still seem lightyears away in their own world despite sharing it with all these other superheroes.

However, that will surely change soon. For the first time we get a first hand account of just how awful Marvel’s big baddy Thanos really is from daughter Nebula. This could be the link where our heroes on Earth and the Guardians cross ahead of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, which is penciled in for a May 2018 release. It will be then that the main villain will finally get the screen time Marvel fans have been aching to see for the past 10 years.

12A, 138 mins 

 

 

Posted in MLS

MLS: Sporting Kansas City remain unbeaten, Colorado struggle and David Villa scores outrageous goal for NYCFC.

With six matches now played, this season’s contenders are starting to emerge. 

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Sporting KC have not lost in the MLS yet this season. (Image Credit: JAIME VALDEZ/ USA TODAY SPORTS. via. http://www.stumptownfooty.com/2017/4/15/15316774/portland-timbers-fall-1-0-to-sporting-kansas-city-at-home-april-2017. 

When you reach six matches into the season, you can begin to make an indications on who will achieve what come the end of the campaign.

However this year’s MLS is proving to be the closest one yet, and a good run will see one team climb up either table frantically.

One team which has done just that is Sporting Kansas City, who rose to second in the Western Conference after beating Portland Timbers 1-0 at Providence Park.

Dom Dwyer headed in his second goal of the campaign as the away side remained unbeaten this season with three wins and three draws.

Tim Melia made some crucial saves to deny Portland. His best was stopping Nagbe’s 25-year goal bound effort by touching it onto the crossbar.

“We are playing well,” said Dwyer after the game.

“We are passing the ball around nicely and controlling games which is very positive. We remain undefeated and today was a real solid team performance from front to back.”

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes, who was taking charge of his 300th game, was also very happy with how his team played at a very difficult Portland side.

“We came to play and weren’t nervous. We didn’t let the emotion of the game rattle us,” he said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Colorado Rapids fell to the bottom of the Western Conference after a 2-1 home loss to a resurgent Real Salt Lake.

Defeat marked the end of Colorado’s two-year unbeaten home record in MLS, whilst RSL made it two wins out of two under Mike Petke.

Kevin Doyle headed the home side in front with a powerful header that Nick Rimando failed to keep out.

Yuri Movsisyan equalised from the penalty spot with seven minutes to go, before Brooks Lennon scored a winner for the visitors with a low strike from 18-yards.

“They sat back and we struggled to play our style,” Lennon said after the game.

“On and off the pitch, we have come together and are now benefiting from it. We are on a good run and hope to continue it.”

Another team struggling are Philadelphia Union, who lost to New York City 2-0 at Talen Energy Stadium.

Jack Harrison scored the first for the visitors with a first time left-footed strike, before veteran striker David Villa produced a moment of magic to seal the points.

The former World Cup winner and NYCFC captain lobbed Andre Blake from over 50 yards in stoppage time.

“I saw the keeper was off his line and thought to just try it,” Villa said after the game.

“I don’t know if I will score from that distance again, I tried it against Philadelphia last year and hit the crossbar so this one went better.”

Boos rung out for the home side at full-time, with Philadelphia bottom of the Eastern Conference and winless so far, adding pressure on manager Jim Curtin.

Elsewhere, Vancouver Whitecaps made it back-to back wins at home after defeating Seattle Sounders 2-1, Montreal Impact recorded their first win of the year against Atlanta United by the same scoreline, and Chicago Fire comfortably beat New England Revolution 3-0.

Also, New York Red Bulls beat DC United 2-0 at Red Bull Arena, and Columbus Crew returned to the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to a 2-1 win over Toronto FC.

Finally, Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes could only draw 1-1, and Minnesota United fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Arena.

Posted in MLS

MLS: Vital win for Real Salt Lake, back-to back victories for DC United, and defeat on the road again for Houston Dynamo.

Here is a round up of all the action on a busy Saturday in America’s top division. 

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New RSL coach Mike Petke got off to the perfect start. (Image Credit: JEFF SWINGER/USA TODAY SPORTS via. http://www.rslsoapbox.com/2017/4/9/15234386/rsl-vancouver-whitecaps-what-we-learned. 

It’s always common that a team improves dramatically when a manager comes in at a football club. Mike Petke and Real Salt Lake are no different.

On Saturday night, RSL made light work of Vancouver Whitecaps with a 3-0 win at the Rio Tinto Stadium.

Battling against the torrential snow, the home side finally went in front after Albert Rusnak ran into the box, cut in on his right foot, and fired the ball into the bottom left corner.

The 22-year old Slovakian then provided the assist for RSL’s second of the game when he picked out a free Yura Movsisyan. The striker curled his shot into the bottom right corner for his third of the season.

Rusnak claimed yet another assist when his corner was met on the volley by Luke Mulholland as the home side finally ended their longest winless run at home in the club’s history.

It was RSL’s first win at Rio Tinto Stadium in seven matches, and first in MLS for thirteen. You could sense the relief from the players and fans at the final whistle.

Petke, who took charge of the side following the sacking of Jeff Cassar earlier in the season, couldn’t be more proud of his team.

“We want to play for the supporters. The support they show this team is amazing. Tonight was a building block, a stepping stone,” he told RSL. 

“I am very happy for the players. They showed they wanted it more in that second half when the conditions were almost unplayable.”

Pekte’s team would like to replicate the recent upturn in form of DC United, who made it two wins on the bounce with a 2-1 victory against New York City FC.

Lloyd Sam (who was making his 100th MLS start) opened the scoring, capatalising on a Frederic Brilliant mistake to slot the ball past Sean Johnson in the New York goal.

Sam almost got his second but his fierce shot was parried by Johnson, but Luciano Acosta did double the host’s lead when tapped in the rebound.

David Villa scored with a low shot into the bottom right corner to set up a nervy finish but it was Ben Olsen’s side that held on for all three points.

Goalkeeper Ben Hamid made some crucial saves when the score was 0-0, and he says that DC are now challenging their MLS rivals after a tough start.

“We’ve had to roll with the punches, and we got punched pretty hard in the beginning of the season,” he told the Washington Post.

“But we’ve now started throwing some punches of our own.”

DC are level on points with New England Revolution, after they defeated Houston Dynamo 2-0 at the Gillette Stadium.

Kei Kamara and Juan Agudelo grabbed the goals for the home side, who are now unbeaten in their last three MLS matches.

For the Dynamo their inconsistent form continues. Despite a 100% home record, the team from Texas are yet to pick up a point on the road this season.

Kelyn Rowe told the press after the game: “We knew we had to come out hard. They are a good team, but we were at home and we had to make a stand.

“We did a very good job defensively. We made sure they didn’t have any clear cut chances.”

Elsewhere, Chicago Fire defeated Coloumbus Crew 1-0, and LA Galaxy picked up a crucial 2-0 win over Montreal Impact.

Toronto FC and Atlanta United played out an entertaining 2-2 draw, whilst San Jose and Seattle shared the spoils with a 1-1 draw.

Portland won at winless Philadelphia Union 3-1 and FC Dallas picked up three points after defeating Minnesota United 2-0.

Posted in Golf

Masters 2017: Is this finally the tournament Sergio Garcia gets rid of the ‘nearly man’ label?

The Spaniard has a share of the lead at Augusta alongside Charley Hoffman, Rickie Fowler and Thomas Pieters. 

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Sergio Garcia shows his appreciation to the crowd. (Image Credit: JEFF SINER/CHARLOTTE OBSERVER via. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article143462294.html. 

Sergio Garcia is a golfer with a monkey on his back. With 22 top-10 finishes in major championships, it seems the 37-year old has done everything but win one of golf’s big prizes.

However, after scoring a three-under-par 69, the Spaniard is in a good position to challenge for this year’s green jacket.

Along with American Rickie Fowler and Belgian Thomas Pieters, the trio have a share of the Masters’ lead alongside overnight leader Charley Hoffman.

The American shot a three-over-par 75 to knock his score back to -4.

Should Garcia go on to win the tournament on Sunday, it would be a fitting tribute to old friend Seve Ballesteros, who would’ve been celebrating his 60th birthday.

A large amount of the golfing audience has a lot of time for the Spaniard, who is one of the game’s friendliest and most consistent players.

The closest the 34-year old has come to a Masters victory was back in 2004, where he finished tied fourth.

He has also placed runner up twice in the Open back in 2007 and 2014.

A sign of his mental strength occurred during the back nine of his round yesterday, as a scoring error nearly cost him his current position.

Garcia bogeyed the par four 10th, but was hit with a triple-bogey by the scoring system to slip down the leaderboard.

Instead of complaining, the Spaniard carried on playing his game, and when the score was made correct, he birdied holes 15 and 17.

It’s the sort of mentality that major champions have. Day three is projected to have the best weather conditions, making it much easier to score under-par as it has been on days one and two. This could play to Garcia’s advantage.

Even though the Masters can throw up some memorable moments, it can also be a place of nightmares if things go wrong.

That was certainly the case for Danny Willett. The 2016 Masters champion missed the cut, making him the first winner to not make it to the weekend since Canadian Mike Weir in 2004.

The Yorkshireman quadruple-bogeyed the opening hole, followed by two more bogeys on the fourth and 11th.

Other big names who missed the cut include reigning Open champion Henrik Stenson, plus former Masters winners Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson.

For the full leaderboard, click here. 

 

Posted in Golf

Masters 2017: Charley Hoffman provides masterclass on how to take on Augusta in difficult conditions.

The American leads after round one on seven-under-par. 

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Hoffman leads the 2017 Masters after the opening round. (Image Credit: MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS Via. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/golf/wind-kicks-up-at-the-masters-and-charley-hoffman-handles-it-best-after-one-round/2017/04/06/9c06abd4-1afc-11e7-bcc2-7d1a0973e7b2_story.html?utm_term-.ba12980f4fbb.

On a day where previous green jacket winners and major champions struggled, Charley Hoffman produced the round of his professional career.

The 40-year old sank nine birdies to score a seven-under-par 65, four shots clear of fellow American William McGirt in second.

They were the only two golfers to finish with a score above 70, but it will be Hoffman that will be on all of the back pages this morning.

Born in San Diego, the Californian has only finished in the top 25 of a major once in his career, back at the 2015 Masters.

After recording a two-under 34 on the front nine, Hoffman hit four consecutive birdies through holes 14, 15, 16 and 17.

His four shot lead is the largest after the opening round at the Masters since 1941.

McGirt is his closet challenger after he made an impressive start to his Masters debut.

The world number 53, who is only one place behind Hoffman in the rankings, is another American that lacks pedigree in the majors.

He missed the cut at both the US Open and The Open last year, before finishing a respectable 10th at the USPGA.

Although two Americans lead, there is a strong field of Englishmen who are only a few shots back and could mount a serious challenge for the green jacket if they continue their fine form into round two.

Lee Westwood hit an eagle on the 13th and sits third on two-under-par, one shot clear of Justin Rose, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan.

Rory McIlroy finished strongly with three birdies to end the day on even par, as he looks to complete his quest to win the grand slam.

But with powerful gusts and strong winds, the conditions at Augusta were the most difficult they have been in recent history.

It seemed to have an effect on most of the players out on the field, with many battling to try and get round on level par to stay in contention.

This wasn’t a day where the Masters could’ve been won, but it most certainly one where it could’ve been lost.

Those who struggled included two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson (+3), 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson (+4) and world number four Hideki Matsuyama (+4).

Jordan Spieth quadruple-bogeyed a hole for the second successive round at the Masters. Following his disaster at the 12th in the final round last year – a hole which ultimately cost him a second consecutive green jacket – the 2015 Masters champion struggled this time on the 15th.

The 23-year old needed nine strokes to complete the par-5 hole, and he ended on three-over-par alongside Watson. He will need to provide some more Masters magic if he is to get back into contention.

For full leaderboard, click here.

Posted in Golf

Masters 2017: Who do the bookies fancy for this year’s green jacket?

Some familiar names are among the frontrunners to win in Augusta. 

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Englishman Danny Willett won last year. (Image Credit: PETE WALSH/ THE STATE  via. http://www.thestate.com/sports/golf/article71066922.html. 

It’s that time of year again. The jaw-dropping scenery of Augusta National will once again be the home of the biggest names in golf, with the 2017 Masters set to begin tomorrow.

Following Danny Willett’s very traditional British champion’s dinner, the players will be practising around the infamous course one last time this evening before the competition begins.

Here are ten players the bookies are favouring to win the opening golf major of 2017.

DUSTIN JOHNSON (11/2)

The world number one is without doubt the favourite going into the tournament. The 32-year old has won his previous three events, the Genesis Open, WGC- Mexico and the WGC-Match Play.

After a sensational 2016, where he won the US Open (the first major win of his career) and helped USA to their first Ryder Cup victory since 2008, the man from South Carolina is hoping to carry on his superb form at a tournament where he has struggled previously. He has only finished in the top 10 twice in the last eight years.

No world number one has won the Masters since Tiger Woods back in 2002.

JORDAN SPIETH (7/1)

Is there any golfer who looks more at home at Augusta than Jordan Spieth? The American won the tournament in 2015, sandwiched between two runner up finishes in 2014 and 2016 respectively. His 2015 success saw him match Wood’s record total of 18-under-par.

The 23-year old has made an indifferent start to the 2017 season. His win at Pebble Beach back on the 9th February was the last time he finished in the top 10 of an event on the PGA Tour. But if there is one place he can turn his form around, it’s the Masters.

RORY MCILROY (8/1)

The Northern Irishman is said to be confident ahead of this year’s tournament. The 27-year old needs just the green jacket in order to complete the Grand Slam. However, Augusta has proved to not be such a happy hunting ground for him.

In 2011, he shot the worst round recorded by the leader of the Masters going into the final round. His round of 80 saw him slip from first to tied 15th.

McIlroy has not really been in any contention to win the tournament since then, but with that objective to win all for majors serving as his motivation, that could change this time around.

JASON DAY (16/1)

The former world number one will play at the tournament following his mother’s cancer diagnosis. In fact, it seems to have made him more determined to win.

The 2015 USPGA champion insists victory this week in Augusta would ‘dwarf the emotion of winning his maiden major’.

Day didn’t play at the WGC-Match Play so that he could be with his mother before she had lung surgery, but the Australian seems ready to battle for the green jacket.

The 29-year old has not got a bad record at the Masters either, finishing in the top 10 three times in the last six years.

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (18/1) 

The 25-year old has become Japan’s golfing prodigy. The Japanese golfer has four PGA Tour wins to his name and has seemed destined to challenge for a major in the near future.

At Augusta, he finished fifth in 2015 and tied for seventh last year. This has made him a name hot on everyones lips going into the tournament.

But recently his form has not been to the level many expect of him. Since winning the Phoenix Open in February, Matsuyama has not finished any higher than 25th at an event.

RICKIE FOWLER (20/1)

Matsuyama was drawn alongside Fowler for this year’s opening two rounds, and the American is a man hoping to finally break his major duck.

The 28-year old came runner up at both the US Open and The Open during his career to date.

As his game has developed, so has his maturity when approaching each shot, making a far dangerous player when he hits top form. The closest he came to a green jacket was back in 2012, where he came fifth.

JON RAHM (22/1)

Young Spanish golfer Jon Rahm has moved up in odds under the radar. Rahm turned Pro last year and has radically climbed up the rankings.

In a matter of only 10 months, Rahm has climbed up from 539 to world number 12 ahead of the Masters.

The 22-year old has one PGA Tour win to his name, the Farmers Insurance Open in January this year.

JUSTIN ROSE (25/1)

The 2013 US Open and current Olympic champion tied second in this tournament two years ago with a respectable 14-under par.

The Hampshire-based golfer failed to make it into the top 10 of his last three events.

PHIL MICKELSON (25/1)

One of America’s most successful golfers, Phil Mickelson is a name that will always pop in when it comes to major contenders.

The three-time Masters Champion is a veteran when compared to the younger men in the field, but with that trusted left hand of his, anything could happen.

ADAM SCOTT (30/1)

The 36-year old won the green jacket back in 2013, becoming the first Australian to complete the feat.

However, since his victorious year, the one-time major winner has struggled to replicate his 2013 performance at Augusta, and has failed to make the top 10 for the past three years.

OTHER NOTABLE GOLFERS 

Henrik Stenson (Open Champion 2016) 30/1

Bubba Watson (Masters Champion 2012 and 2014) 40/1

Jimmy Walker (2016 USPGA Champion) 80/1

Danny Willett (2016 Masters Champion) 100/1

Scott Gregory (2016 Amateur Champion) 1000/1

*All odds correct via. SkyBet at time of writing.

 

 

Posted in MLS

MLS Daily: Diego Valeri is proving why he is so instrumental for Portland Timbers this season.

The Argentine has netted five goals in five MLS games in 2017. 

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Diego Valeri celebrating his goal against New England Revolution last weekend. (Image Credit: PETE CHRISTOPHER/ THE OREGONIAN/OREGONLIVE via. http://www.oregonlive.com/timbers/index.ssf/2017/04/portland_timbers_vs_new_englan_6.html.

Diego Valeri is certainly the most exciting player in the American top flight currently.

Yes, that is a bold statement. Especially when you consider the starts Josef Martinez and Erick Torres have both made in the MLS this year.

But the Argentinian playmaker has been doing this for Portland year after year since his arrival in Oregon back in 2013.

A former Porto loanee, this guy is the real deal. He is someone who will once again be a contender for this year’s MVP in the MLS, an award he won back in 2015.

Why? For one he brings goals to the team. Valeri already has five goals in as many games this term, adding to his previous 37 over a four-year period. He is currently second on the MLS goalscoring charts this season behind Houston’s Torres.

He is also crucial in providing assists for his team. He may only have one so far this season, but he is very good at unlocking defences and playing killer balls into either the channels or into the box for forwards. Overall, he has provided 36 assists during his time at Portland.

The Argentine scored without doubt the goal of the week last time out, with a superb volley against New England Revolution.

He spoke to Portland Timber’s media team after they drew 1-1 to their Eastern Conference opponents, and admitted the result was disappointing.

“We played deeper then we wanted,” he said.

“They are a good team but the result is bad. We did enough to win.

“We will take the positives from this game though and prepare for Philadelphia next week.”

With over 100 appearances for the club, Valeri is a icon at Providence Park. The Timber Army adore their playmaker.

His 42 goals for the Timbers is just three shy of Fanendo Adi and John Bain’s all-time record for goals scored at the club.

Adi has benefited hugely from having the 30-year old behind him. The Nigerian striker joined a year later than Valeri, but his goalscoring record speaks for itself having matched his Argentinian teammate’s tally in 12 months less.

In fact, since both made their debuts for Portland, Adi is second in the MLS goal charts and Valeri is first for assists. That shows how much of an influence they have had on the league these past few seasons.

Portland need him to stay fit if they are to replicate their 2015 MLS Cup win. Without his goals and assist this season, Portland would not be top of the Western Conference. He galvanises the team, and helps players play at their best when they are alongside him, learning from him and using his assets to strengthen their own.

Valeri is heading towards the prime years of his career. Watch this space, he could cause a storm in the MLS for the next few campaigns.