Gary Neville still winless in La Liga as Valencia fall at Villarreal

Photo credit: AFP.
Photo credit: AFP.

Gary Neville remains without a win in La Liga as Valencia boss as Villarreal moved up to fourth thanks to captain Bruno Soriano’s spectacular free kick in a 1-0 win on Thursday. Bruno found the top corner from the edge of the box midway through the second half to allow Villarreal to edge two points ahead of Celta Vigo in the battle for the final Champions League place. However, Valencia’s ambitions of a top-four finish now look forlorn as they lie 11 points behind their local rivals in 10th.

“We are a significant distance behind, but I am only concentrating on the next match,” said Neville.

“Losing today makes everything more complicated, but we have to focus on getting the best out of the players.”

MORE LA LIGA: Ronaldo has been inspirational in Madrid’s tough times – Benitez.

Valencia had only managed to draw Neville’s opening two league games in charge against Eibar and Getafe before the 10-day winter break. And the former Manchester United defender took a more defensive approach in a bid to at least preserve his unbeaten record with a five-man defense as Villarreal dominated the first 45 minutes.

Roberto Soldado had the best chance to open the scoring against his old side, but the former Tottenham Hotspur striker failed to connect with Jonathan dos Santos’s inviting cross.

Valencia had started the second half much more positively as Alphonse Areola was forced into saves from Andre Gomes and Dani Parejo, whilst Paco Alcacer blasted over a great chance from close range.

However, the visitors were caught with a sucker punch when Soldado was brought down on the edge of the box and Bruno curled the ball perfectly into the top corner for his fourth goal of the season.

Alcacer wasted another big opportunity when he volleyed over shortly afterwards, but Valencia created little in their search for an equaliser and now face the daunting task of hosting Real Madrid on Sunday.

Gary Neville still winless in La Liga as Valencia fall at Villarreal

Photo credit: AFP.
Photo credit: AFP.

Gary Neville remains without a win in La Liga as Valencia boss as Villarreal moved up to fourth thanks to captain Bruno Soriano’s spectacular free kick in a 1-0 win on Thursday. Bruno found the top corner from the edge of the box midway through the second half to allow Villarreal to edge two points ahead of Celta Vigo in the battle for the final Champions League place. However, Valencia’s ambitions of a top-four finish now look forlorn as they lie 11 points behind their local rivals in 10th.

“We are a significant distance behind, but I am only concentrating on the next match,” said Neville.

“Losing today makes everything more complicated, but we have to focus on getting the best out of the players.”

MORE LA LIGA: Ronaldo has been inspirational in Madrid’s tough times – Benitez.

Valencia had only managed to draw Neville’s opening two league games in charge against Eibar and Getafe before the 10-day winter break. And the former Manchester United defender took a more defensive approach in a bid to at least preserve his unbeaten record with a five-man defense as Villarreal dominated the first 45 minutes.

Roberto Soldado had the best chance to open the scoring against his old side, but the former Tottenham Hotspur striker failed to connect with Jonathan dos Santos’s inviting cross.

Valencia had started the second half much more positively as Alphonse Areola was forced into saves from Andre Gomes and Dani Parejo, whilst Paco Alcacer blasted over a great chance from close range.

However, the visitors were caught with a sucker punch when Soldado was brought down on the edge of the box and Bruno curled the ball perfectly into the top corner for his fourth goal of the season.

Alcacer wasted another big opportunity when he volleyed over shortly afterwards, but Valencia created little in their search for an equaliser and now face the daunting task of hosting Real Madrid on Sunday.

Rachel Bonnetta interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.30.15)

rachel-bonnetta

Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with MLS’ Rachel Bonnetta.

During the interview, Rachel discusses why her recent trip to Africa was a life changing event, what her favorite moments were from her travels in 2015 covering Major League Soccer, why Frankie Hejduk has a special place in her heart, whether she has a passion for acting, and much more.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

If you enjoy the show, listen to it live every Monday through Friday between 4-5pm ET (1-2pm PT) via Sports Byline on the radio, the Sports Byline website, or the Tune-In app.

Here are the different ways you can download the World Soccer Talk stream, which includes both World Soccer Talk Radio and Soccer Morning (in total, 10 episodes of soccer goodness per week!).

• Subscribe to the World Soccer Talk Podcast on Stitcher,
• Listen via the World Soccer Talk website, or visit the World Soccer Talk Podcasts page
• Subscribe to the World Soccer Talk Podcast on iTunes,
• Add the World Soccer Talk Podcast RSS feed to your RSS reader,
• Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast on TuneIn, Soundcloud and Audioboom
• Download the World Soccer Talk app for iPhone, iPad and iOS devices or Android devices.

Hosted by Nate Abaurrea, World Soccer Talk Radio is a nightly soccer news and discussion show that will air Mondays through Fridays each week. The show will feature interviews with insightful guests as well as taking listener calls.

World Soccer Radio covers a range of topics — from the Premier League to MLS to US soccer, La Liga and whatever soccer topics are on your mind.

Got any questions for us, or want to talk world soccer? Call us during future shows on the listener line at 1-800-878-PLAY (7529).

Nate Abaurrea bio

Nate is a radio sportscaster, writer, stand-up comedian, and soccer coach located in Redding, California. Originally from Watsonville, a futbol crazy town in Santa Cruz County, Nate is a graduate of Humboldt State University where he majored in Broadcast Journalism. Soccer is one his true loves in life, and he is an avid Liverpool FC, San Jose Earthquakes, and United States National Team supporter. Road trips, sake & sushi outings, and late night terrace inspired singing are some of his hobbies. His greatest heroes include Bill Shankly, Richard Pryor, Diego Maradona, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jon Miller. In addition to World Soccer Talk Radio, Nate’s work can be heard on AM 1460 in Redding and online at KCNR1460.com, where he is the lead radio voice for live coverage of Northern California college and high school sports.

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet could return this weekend against Liverpool

Photo credit: AFP.
Photo credit: AFP.

West Ham United playmaker Dimitri Payet could start against Liverpool on Saturday after nearly two months out with an ankle injury, manager Slaven Bilic revealed on Thursday.

The France midfielder, 28, was expected to be sidelined until February after damaging ankle ligaments in the 1-1 draw with Everton on Nov. 7, but he has recovered ahead of schedule. Bilic:

“Is he in contention to start? Yes.

“He is back, he’s been training with us for a couple of days and depending on how he does today, I’m expecting him to be in the squad and available for the game.

“We will see how much he is going to participate in the game, but he is back and it’s a great boost for us.”

Payet made an impressive start to life in England after signing from Marseille, scoring five goals and supplying three assists in his first 12 Premier League matches before injury derailed him.

His form helped West Ham rise to the Champions League places, but they went eight games without victory prior to Monday’s 2-1 win over Southampton.

Who had soccer’s worst 2015?

soccersworst2015s

The end of the Gregorian calendar year is a time when many publications, websites and blogs pull out their “best of” lists.  These are always fun to read because they provide a nostalgic look back on the year that was, but if you really think about, it these are sad articles.  The heroes we commemorate may have reached a high-point that can never be reached again.  Will the person who created that dress no one could tell the color of ever garner that much buzz again?  Probably not.

However, it’s those lists of the disasters, disappointments and disgraces that provide us with a glimmer of hope.  Those people who failed spectacularly in 2015 have a chance for redemption in 2016.  Maybe Jason Garrett can turn around the Dallas Cowboys.  Maybe Radio Shack’s brand can be resurrected online.  Maybe Jeb Bush can actually get votes in a Republican primary.

With that in mind, here is a list of some of the people, brands and personalities that had the worst 2015s.  Disagree?  Think I missed someone?  Share your thoughts in the comments or social media:

The Finalists

Yokohama

chelsea-2016-17-shirt-closeup

The tire company began a roughly $60 million shirt sponsorship with Chelsea this season only to see the club wearing its name become a tire-fire of a disaster.  Maybe not the best investment of funds.

Jurgen Klinsmann

klinsmann

That surprising World Cup runs seems like more than 18 months ago.  Despite a high-profile win over Germany, the US men’s national team has seemingly taken a few steps back.  His job may or may not be in danger, but the shine is definitely off the golden child.  Speaking of US Soccer …

SEE MORE:Veterans key for Klinsmann to balance US’s old and new.

Sunil Gulati

sepp-blatter-sunil-gulati

Despite the women’s team winning the World Cup, the US soccer system had a rough year.  As mentioned above, the men’s team is stuck in neutral.  Meanwhile, some of Gulati’s business partners have been caught up in the FIFA scandal, and finally tough questions are beginning to be asked about what he knew when around some of these scandals.  Either he was incredibly naive or complicit, and neither is a positive for the man who is supposed to be improving the US’s standing in the soccer world.

SEE MORE: Gulati had a bad 2015; 2016 needs to be better.

Bolton Wanderers fans

bolton-liverpool

That Premier League time seems like eons ago.  The club barely avoided relegation to end last season and end the calendar year at the bottom of the Championship.  Their club is almost £180 million in debt, the bank has seized their assets and put a transfer freeze on the team, and the manager — widely acclaimed from his time in Celtic — has been struggling with a scandal in his personal life.  2016 may see brighter days ahead for these fans, but there will probably be a few more clouds before.

SEE MORE: Ownership uncertainty leaves Bolton unable to pay players.

Jermaine Jones

jermaine-jones

Coming off a great World Cup performance, the US international joined New England Revolution in 2014 and made them one of the league’s MLS Cup favorites.  However, the team underachieved and he (probably) ended his MLS career by physically confronting a referee in a playoff game.  On the international front, he continued to start but became an example of how poor of a head coach Klinsmann was.  He ends 2015 without a professional team and an unclear international future.

SEE MORE: Beckerman, Jones, Borchers highlight MLS’s 2015 All-Hair Team

MLS executives

don-garber

Point to all the metrics you want about the growth of MLS, but as World Soccer Talk has documented, the abysmal television ratings for the top-flight domestic league continues to hinder its growth.  People simply aren’t tuning in to MLS matches, but they are watching soccer matches in larger numbers.  Continued tweaks may change this but the hill is steep to climb.

SEE MORE: MLS unable to generate TV ratings from Women’s World Cup.

Ashley Cole

ashley-cole

He was essentially cut from Roma after getting no playing time and, on the edge of signing a big deal with a league he criticized in the past, is the poster child for what is wrong with the LA Galaxy.  Quite the fall for the former England number one left back.

SEE MORE: Cole links the perfect addition to LA’s nonsensical offseason.

The Runner-Up: Manuel Pellegrini

manuel-pellegrini

The Manchester City gaffer has had a rough 12 months at the head of one of the world’s richest clubs.  At the beginning of the year, his club was level on points atop the table but proceeded to tank the title race, lose to a Championship side in the FA Cup and lose to Barcelona in the Champions League.  This season, his side has failed to take advantage of turmoil with Chelsea and Manchester United, inconsistency with Liverpool and Tottenham, and well, Arsenal being Arsenal. Thus, they sit third in a weak Premier League.  To top it all off, his job is publicly being discussed.  It would have to take an especially bad year to top that, but behold, we have just that.

SEE MORE: Chelsea’s upheaval should make Manchester City reconsider ditching Pellegrini for Guardiola.

The Worst Year in Soccer Winner: Sepp Blatter

sepp-blatter

The deposed head of FIFA is an obvious pick for this prestigious award for a number of reasons.  He had to step down from his position and watch as people ran against his corrupt regime.  He made repeated stupid statements about women’s soccer and had to watch as people lined up against the sexist way FIFA treated the Women’s World Cup.  He watched as his records and his co-conspirators’ records were splashed across international newspapers and books before he finally was banned from the organization he led for so many years.  Knowing Blatter, don’t be surprised if he makes a reappearance on the international stage in 2016, but 2015 is certainly a year he will want to forget.