Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Favorite EPL Team? That's Easy. Swansea City

Finally, TigerBlog has an English Premiere League team to call his favorite.

Swansea City.

Swansea, it appears, is a coastal city in Wales. It's town charter dates back to 1158, which makes it more than three times older than Princeton University.

All these years, he's never really had a team to call his own. He knew he couldn't root for Manchester United or Chelsea, the Yankees and Red Sox of the EPL. And he never really figured out who the closest team to the Orioles was, so he hasn't had a favorite team.

Until yesterday. 

Swansea City FC currently ranks 17th of 20 teams in the EPL. The bottom three teams at the end of the year will be relegated, so it's not exactly the best team in the league or anything.
Still, it's TigerBlog's favorite. 

Why? Because Swansea City just hired Bob Bradley as its manager. According to Grant Wahl, the top soccer write in the world and a former student worker in the Office of Athletic Communications, Bradley is the first American to coach in one of Europe's top four leagues.

Bradley is a Princeton grad, former Princeton soccer player and former Princeton men's soccer coach. While the Tiger head coach, Bradley led the team to the 1993 NCAA Final Four - in a year in which TigerBlog covered Princeton's three NCAA tournament wins.

Bob Bradley, the brother of Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley and father of longtime U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley, is the most cerebral coach TigerBlog has ever met. He speaks in a deep, strong, loud voice, with each word carefully considered and his point completely thought out in advance.

TigerBlog has long believed that Bradley never should have been fired from his position as head coach of the U.S. national team. Bradley led the Americans to first place in the group stage at the 2010 World Cup, in a group that included England, by the way.

The U.S. has not been as good since Bradley lost the position, by the way.

Bradley's resume includes stops as the head coach of the Egyptian national team and then some club teams throughout Europe. Now he has his dream chance, to coach in the EPL.

Okay, it's not exactly starting at the top. And TB senses that there's greater impatience for coaches in the EPL than even in American sports leagues.

But so what? Bob Bradley has his chance. And has made history at the same time.

Bradley is actually still one coach removed from Princeton men's soccer, as Jim Barlow, the current head coach, took over for Bradley. Now in his 21st season, Barlow has won 159 games at Princeton, the most ever by a Princeton men's soccer coach.
His current team began its Ivy League season this past Saturday by tying Dartmouth 2-2. Considering it was 2-0 Dartmouth at one point and Princeton was playing a man down after a red card early in the game, getting a tie is a very solid accomplishment.

The doubleheader Saturday began as the women defeated Dartmouth 2-0 after scoring both goals in the first eight minutes of the game. Abby Givens had the first to earn Ivy Rookie of the Week honors, and Tyler Lussi had the second, the 52nd of her career, fourth all-time in Ivy history.

TigerBlog was in the press box at Roberts Stadium when the young man who was filming the men's game asked if he could wait inside until the game started because it was chilly. TigerBlog said yes, but he also had to point out that if he thought it was chilly last Saturday in Princeton, what is he going to do in about six weeks in Hanover?

Princeton didn't really hurt itself much with the tie, which had to have felt like a win, given the deficit on the scoreboard and on the field that Princeton had to solve. As for the Ivy standings, well, they look sort of interesting after one week.

Penn is in first place at 1-0-0. Cornell is in last place, at 0-1-1. The other six teams are all tied at 0-0-1.

TigerBlog doubts that this has happened too often before. You know, seven of the eight teams in a league unbeaten.

On the women's side, which is a week ahead, there are three unbeaten teams. Harvard and Columbia are both 2-0-0, and Princeton is 1-0-1. Princeton is the defending champ; head coach Sean Driscoll is 7-0-2 in Ivy League games in his two seasons.

Before Princeton can worry about Columbia (away Oct. 15) or Harvard (home Oct. 22), there is this weekend's doubleheader against Brown (women at 4, men at 7). Actually, there's tonight's game at Lehigh for the women and tomorrow's game at Seton Hall for the men and then the Brown games.

Oh, and Swansea? No game this weekend.

Arsenal on the 15th.

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