27
Jan

Philadelphia anchors its midfield with Maurice Edu

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Philadelphia pursued Maurice Edu for the better part of the January transfer window. Club officials waded through the thicket of MLS regulations and wondered if Edu’s price tag would eventually scupper the deal. They pursued it anyways with the prospect of installing the United States international in the starting XI too promising to ignore.

The process took a bit longer than anticipated, but the Union finally secured its man on Monday. Edu returned to MLS on a 12-month loan deal with an option for a permanent move at the end of the agreement. The terms of his contract with MLS and the Union will make him a Designated Player in 2014, according to a club release.

Edu’s arrival in Philadelphia reflects a pragmatic streak from all of the parties involved. The public spat over Edu’s asking price for a permanent contract and MLS’ reluctance to meet it inspired a creative approach to strike a deal the Union desperately wanted to happen. Stoke’s desire to retain a portion of Edu’s wages paved the way for an inventive agreement designed to satisfy Edu and both clubs.

Philadelphia continues its midfield revamp by adding a player capable of dictating and driving the proceedings from a deep-lying position. Edu controls the game by disrupting the opposition and shuttling the ball onward to his more creative teammates. His robust work offers a different dimension and some much needed protection to an evolving side with Argentine schemer Cristian Maidana already in tow and French conduit Vincent Nogueira in talks to claim the Union’s third and final Designated Player spot.

By reinforcing its midfield, the Union places Edu in a position to thrive ahead of the World Cup. This group possesses the depth and the versatility to accentuate Edu’s strengths without asking him to accept a disproportionate burden. Edu must shake off any lingering rust from his time in the shadows and show the necessary sharpness to influence games, but this set of circumstances provides him with the best possible chance to impress USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann and work his way back into the national team setup over the next few months.

Only time will tell whether Edu can book a trip to Brazil with his displays for the Union. For now, he will take solace in a deal designed to place himself and his new club in a position to succeed in 2014.

Image provide by USA TODAY Sports.

12
Dec

Eto’o linked with MLS; Stoke still want Agudelo

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Samuel Eto’o joined Chelsea in the summer initially on a season-long contract. According to Wednesday’s newspapers Eto’o fancies testing himself in America’s Major League Soccer. The league is improving season on season and is increasingly becoming the place for a football swansong.

Stoke are looking to launch a second attempt to land American international Juan Agudelo. Their first bid was thwarted after the New England Revolution striker failed a work permit application. However, Stoke look set to renew interest in January.

For these rumors and all the latest transfer gossip from Wednesday, click here.

26
Nov

Manchester City look for goalkeeper alternatives, eye player swap

Manchester City continue to dominate transfer headlines this week, despite their mauling over Premier League side Tottenham over the weekend. This time — to no surprise really — under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart is the center of a purposed deal that will send the England No. 1 to Stoke City for Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic during the winter transfer window. For this and more, click here to review Tuesday’s Paper Chase edition.

2
Nov

Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic scores fastest-ever goal by goalkeeper

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You don’t often see goalkeepers score from the run of play, but inside the first 15 seconds of a match? Well that, my friends, has never happened before.

Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic scored the fastest-ever goal by a goalkeeper on Saturday, needing just twelve seconds to beat his opposite number, Southampton’s Artur Boruc, on a clearance from his own goal area. Begovic took a simple back pass after the opening kickoff and booted it up-field. The ball bounced between two Saints defenders and over Boruc, who was too far off his line. Clearly, the strong gusts of wind at Britannia Stadium could certainly have been credited with an assist.

The goal reminds us of Tim Howard’s 100-yard effort from a couple seasons ago, which similarly benefited from a mighty gust of wind. In both instances, the scorers refrained from celebrating, as the goalkeeping fraternity is typically very tight-knit; they don’t like to see anyone concede such embarrassing howlers.

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It was only the fifth goal scored by keeper in the Premier League era, and it beat the all-time record for fastest by a goalie by 11 seconds. Nottingham Forest keeper Paul Smith had held the record since 2007, when he scored 23 seconds into a League Cup match against Leicester.

Here’s another fun fact: Begovic is now tied for the team lead in Premier League goals, with exactly one. Perhaps Stoke have found a new secret weapon? Sounds like they could use it.

Images provided by Reuters

17
Aug

Juan Agudelo returns to Revs lineup with dazzling goal

Stoke City fans, help is on the way.

The bad news? It will not arrive until January.

Juan Agudelo, who recently agreed to a winter transfer deal with the Premier League club, returned to the New England Revolution lineup in style after a two-month layoff by nudging a one-touch backheel flick from Chris Tierney’s looping pass over on-coming Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson and defender Bakary Soumare.

The goal serves as another example why many European clubs have knocked on the 20-year-old’s doorstep for years. More importantly, Agudelo’s goal snapped the New England’s scoreless streak of 261 minutes.

And you thought Stoke City had problems scoring. Yikes! Then again, it’s Stoke for goodness sakes:

Take a bow, Juan. We expect more of this during your winter stint across the pond.

9
Aug

Fan pays $15K to play in professional match, doesn’t last ten minutes

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Image via Macclesfield Express

James Gorfin probably imagined it differently in his dreams.

After Gorfin ponied up £10,000 for a chance to play in a real match with his hometown club Macclesfield Town, the local businessman was forced off the pitch with a groin injury just nine minutes into his “debut.”

Way to get your money’s worth, man.

Playing in the club’s preseason friendly against Stoke City, Gorfin — whose wife and kids were cheering him on from the stands — hurt himself while, actually, having a very real goal-scoring opportunity. The trialist was running into the box and came mere inches away from toe-poking home a dangerous low cross. Unfortunately, he over-stretched his groin in the process and had to be subbed off thereafter. Watch:

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19
Jul

Away games a bit expensive? Don’t worry, Stoke City has you covered

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In a move sure to please their supporters, Premier League club Stoke City announced on Friday that they will offer free bus travel for any Stoke fan looking to attend away matches.

While it’s often taking for granted, especially in light of the tens of millions of dollars spent on transfers by teams like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, life as a soccer supporter can be an expensive hobby.

From the price of tickets, apparel and travel, the costs add up quickly, and can quickly place a burden on dedicated fans. Stoke City’s Chief Executive Tony Scholes explained the club’s decision:

"As a Club we are conscious that following football can be an expensive business, especially at a time when so many people are feeling the squeeze financially.
“We work hard to try and provide our supporters with value for money which is why we have not increased our ticket prices since being promoted to the Premier League in 2008.

While the income generated from new television and sponsorship deals often proves a boon to clubs around the world, new revenues don’t often trickle down to supporters. Let’s hope Stoke City kick off a trend with this move, to make soccer a matches accessible to everyone, regardless of income.

24
Jun

Brek Shea posts - then quickly deletes - American instagram

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'Murica giveth, and 'Murica taketh away.

Just minutes after posting this rather excessively patriotic picture on his instagram account, Stoke City’s Brek Shea perhaps realized that this might not be the best way to endear himself to potential employers - especially in Europe - and quickly deleted it.

What do people always say? You can take the kid out of Texas, but…

Hopefully this won’t come back to haunt Shea at his current club, where he hasn’t made an impact so far due to injury, but in the meantime maybe Brek should tone it down on the Instagram, because it isn’t the first time one of his pictures has caused an uproar.

Just a month ago, Shea’s picture of him sporting a pig’s head made the rounds as Stoke City players waged a prank war that got a little out of hand.

(via Deadspin)