All posts by Nolan S Parker

About Nolan S Parker

My name is Nolan Parker. I was born and raised in Shawnee Mission, Kansas; a life-long Jayhawk. I graduated from Shawnee Mission Northwest in 2010. Now I'm a junior Kansas majoring in Broadcast Journalism at the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.

Liverpool Locked up Longtime Legend

My favorite piece that I have ever writtern.  Original Link to FutNSoccer here:


Liverpool FC continues to stir the rumour mill with many names still bouncing around with ties to the club.  They have officially spent £60 million on four new additions, with another one coming soon.

Loïc Rémy is reportedly a done deal for Liverpool.  Rémy had a medical midweek and seems to be a like-for-like replacement for Fabio Borini.  And now, The Liverpool Offside is saying Divock Origi is in America for his medical with the team.  Rémy would be signing for about £8.5 million and Origi is costing about £9.5 million.

While all these new additions are going on, the Reds have not forgotten about their local legend. With Steven Gerrard retiring from his international duties with the Three Lions, Brendan Rodgers says he will do everything in his power to keep Gerrard at Anfield for a few more years, and then some.

Rodgers told The Telegraph, yesterday, that he “knows that Gerrard can play beyond this season and now that he is done with international football, he will have that freshness.”

Rodgers went on to say that the deal will extend on top of the ambassadorial role that is already in Gerrard’s contract.  That role promises Gerrard would move from a player straight to being on staffwith the club, once he decides to hang up his boots.

Late Friday afternoon, The Daily Star said the deal was done.  The 34-year-old has extended his contract until 2016, per the Daily Star, not that Gerrard wanted to play anywhere else.

Gerrard grew up in the Liverpool youth system and made his first appearance with the senior team when he was 18-years-old in 1998.  He has scored 173 goals at Liverpool and he has captained the squad for the last ten years.

Steven Gerrard has benefitted greatly from Brendan Rodgers, who became the manager in 2012. While the two initially bumped heads, since then, Rodgers has created formations around Gerrard in an effort to save his aging legs and keep him on the pitch more.  With Champions League games fixed in the midweek this year for the Reds, this becomes an even bigger point of emphasis.

The chemistry this team forged last year becomes even more important now.  Liverpool is committing to Gerrard for a few more years now, which makes the work of Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho all the more important to help cover the ground Gerrard may not be able to as time goes on.

And now the plethora of new additions become crucial fill-ins.  Emre Can and Lazar Marković will get the chance to play on the sides of Gerrard and will be counted on to cover the flanks with their speed.  And Adam Lallana will get to sit right in front of Gerrard and learn directly from him.

A lot of this sounds like Gerrard is aging and only coming back as an icon.  He can still play, and play at a very high level.  With all the youth that Rodgers is bringing in this summer, Gerrard’s experience and leadership skills will be trusted, and used often.  He is a manager on the pitch and he will be able to help these new players mature quickly.

In the end, this is a great ‘signing’ as Liverpool get to keep their captain, and the face of the club. Liverpool have brought in some great additions during this transfer period, but locking up Gerrard for the future was an important step to take.


Reactions to USA-Portugal

ImageThe United States Men’s National Team just completed a tie to Portugal that should be celebrated on most days, and should be celebrated today.  However, when the U.S. led for the last fifteen minutes of the match, until the last kick of the game, you feel upset and ripped off.  Nevertheless, there are things to celebrate and things to hold your breath on.  Here’s the good, bad, and the ugly going forward.

The Good

Clint Dempsey is Texas tough.  The man scored his second goal of the World Cup to put the United States up 2-1 in the 81st minute.  He did it all with a broken nose, too, making it more difficult for him to breathe than it already was in the humid Manuas stadium.  He fought through that and a Portuguese defense that was focused on him.  While he seemed to get shut down for the majority of the second half, especially as the lone forward up top for the U.S., he stepped up when he needed to most.Image

Graham Zusi is the hero late in games.  Twice now, he has delivered fantastic balls for lead-taking goals (I think he should get credit for an assist on Jermaine Jones’ goal as well).  He was shaky in the first half with a couple of midfield turnovers, and maybe that was due to nerves over his first World Cup start.  But the second half he had key pass after key pass, and the wherewithal to find Dempsey for the late goal instead of shooting the ball himself shows incredible vision.  He also played some great defense tracking all the way back to his own 18 yard box to stop a Portuguese attack.

Jurgen Klinsmann is a great coach, and every bit the coach America needs.  He has his players fit and molded to his system now.  It says a lot that even after losing the lone striker (Jozy Altidore) this team had better attacks today than last week against Ghana.  He knows his guys and Klinsmann is ready to act at all times.  Key subs like Zusi and John Brooks against Ghana, and DeAndre Yedlin against Portugal (Yedlin sparked the play that led to Dempsey’s goal), add energy and sparks that change the game from the time these guys step on the pitch.

The Bad

This is one game Geoff Cameron will want to forget as he had key roles in both of Portugal’s goals.  He mishit a clearance that ran right to Nani for the first goal of the game.  Then it was his man that got behind everyone to finish Ronaldo’s cross to tie the game in the 95th minute; especially after the U.S. made subs to put three center backs back there for that purpose, Varela should not be able to get to that cross.  The defense as a unit seemed out of position most of the game: DaMarcus Beasley got beat more often than not by Ronaldo and Nani.  Beasley and Fabian Johnson also seemed to be attacking up the wings at the same times leaving Cameron and Matt Besler to stop a lot of Portuguese counter-attacks.  They did do well with that part.

The Ugly

The USMNT now has three days to recover from the most humid and hot atmosphere, and travel to Recife to play Germany.  The schedule always seemed to be the toughest, but now after hearing and seeing the conditions of tonight’s game in the Amazon, the task seems a lot more difficult.  Germany had today to rest after a 2-2 draw with Ghana yesterday and they should be ready to go.  Jurgen Klinsmann criticized FIFA tonight after the game, saying they set up the tournament so the more well-known teams could advance easier.  “We have one less day [than Germany] to recover. They played yesterday. We played today. We played in the Amazon. They played in place where you don’t have to travel so much. Things are set up for the big teams to move on.”  Klinsmann will do everything in his power to have his guys ready to go on Thursday at 11:00.  He is already setting up bulletin board material, so the team will come out ready to take down his former team.


3 Days: They’ve Arrived

USMNT Arrives in Sau Paulo
Matt Besler and Clint Dempsey step off the plane in Sau Paulo, Brazil.

The U.S. Team has arrived in Brazil with a new FIFA ranking (13th in the world) and seven days to get acclimated to the new scenery before kicking off against Ghana on June 16th at 6 PM EST.  The team comes off an exciting 2-1 win over Nigeria on Saturday and they will have one more chance to gel on June 12 in a closed door friendly vs. Belgium, a dark horse in this year’s World Cup.  Finally we are on the start week for the World Cup and one week away from the first U.S. game, so as that time comes, here’s the good, bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Tim Howard earned his 100 Cap against Nigeria.  This man is a rock at the goalkeeper position and he does not get enough credit for the work that he does.  He is a top 3 goalkeeper in the world that just needs some better defenders around him, at both the club and country level.

Jozy scored!  Jozy Altidore scored twice against Nigeria, finally ending a six month drought without scoring.  They say, “when it rains, it pours,” and I sure hope it that means Altidore can be a prominent player for the USMNT for the next 3-plus games.  He has been due for a while, and he is still due, so I can’t wait to see what comes next for him and the squad.

The Bad

For the second straight game, the squad surrendered a penalty kick goal in the closing minutes.  The defense has been mostly solid up to this point, despite not having a solid four man foundation.  But the fact that these teams cannot close out and finish a game is concerning.  They get lazy and get beat and then commit fouls, fouls that would probably incite red cards if the games were actually meaningful.  I know they were friendlies, but that becomes habit over time.

The Ugly

Jurgen Klinnsman switched formations prior to the Nigerian game.  While the results were a better showing and better chemistry it is alarming that Klinnsman is still trying to decipher which look he wants to use more. He has been at the helm for two years and he picked a 23 man roster that should have worked to fit his system, but now he is wavering between a 4-5-1 looking scheme (which is the one that seemed to work), and a regular 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in the midfield, but that seems to leave Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones confused on when and where to attack.  It also seems to get Dempsey up too high for my liking, where he can’t create in his usual manner going forward.

30 Days: 30 Names

And just like that, we are down to one month until the first kick in Brazil.  With that being said, today the United State’s Men’s National Team Coach named his preliminary roster of 30 guys who will be reporting to camp on Thursday to start the final World Cup Tune up.  While this number may or may not be a good thing, countries like Brazil and Mexico have already named their finalized 23 man rosters, these 30 men report to camp with the most pressure of any U.S. team, maybe, ever.  I wish the number was smaller so that the team could get a better representation of who they would be playing with, but at the same time I like that there is still uncertainty for the sake of heated competition everyday.

30 Names

The goalkeepers include Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and Nick Rimando.

The Defenders look like this (11): DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, Michael Parkhurst, Deandre Yedlin, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Clarence Goodson, and Brad Evans.

The Midfielders (10): Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, Julian Green, Brad Davis, and Alejandro Bedoya.

The Forwards (6): Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Terrence Boyd, Chris Wondolowski, and Aron Johannsson.

Jurgen Klinsmann only brings back nine guys who played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  In the last year, more than 50 players have played for the U.S. squad and performed in front of Klinsmann.  The squad Klinsmann puts on the pitch each night is demanded to attack and attack fast.  Which leaves me scared for our defense.  I still do not believe we have a solid right back, or a left back for that matter.  Beasley and Johnson do good jobs getting in the attack and sparking runs, but their defense is subpar, leaving a lot of pressure on our center backs, whom I presume to be Besler and Gonzalez, possibly Goodson.

3 Omitted Names

Eddie Johnson (forward) is the name that is most recognized and the name that seems to be the most surprising, especially since he had 17 appearances last year and scored the eventual goal that clinched World Cup berth for the United States.  However, he has not scored in his first 8 games with his club team this year and is in a major funk right now.

Sacha Kljestan (midfielder) is another guy who I thought would get a call in because he is a great bench player who embraces his role and really provides a spark of energy in the 25-30 minutes he gets at the end of games.  But he has not played in the last six games with his club team in Belgium.  It is hard to get a call, when you are not getting any playing time to show off for the manager back home.

Benny Feilhaber (midfielder) is playing out of his mind right now, really ever since November he has been on a roll.  He plays a great holding midfielder spot with great slotted balls to set up attacks.  While I am a homer, and wanted to see another Sporting player go to camp, I understand he does not quite fit in with Klinsmann’s attacking style.

Klinsmann has until June 2 to pick his 23 man roster.

The Next Step

These 30 players will fly out to Palo Alto and train at Stanford for close to two weeks before playing a friendly in San Francisco on May 27 against Azerbaijan and then fly to New York for a friendly against Turkey on June 1.  The next day, Klinsmann will have to turn in his 23 man roster to FIFA and then fly to Florida.  The finalized World Cup squad will play one more friendly in Jacksonville against Nigeria on June 7.  Then the squad will fly to Brazil and prepare for their first game on June 16 against Ghana.

Nike does it again

Nike soccer did it again.  They make the best commercials. This one engulfing the Brazilian National Team and all their passionate fans that follow their team, relentlessly.  Check out the video here:  

The video does a great job showing how much Brazilians love the game of “futbol” and how easy it is to create a small game anywhere.  Clearly, some of it was exaggerated, but you get the picture; you can make a goal anywhere and start kicking around with new friends.  Understandable why the game is so popular across the world.  Nike just does a great job researching and including important pieces of culture and facts in all their pieces.

Also, recently released was Nike’s Risk Everything Commercial.  The main advertisement for Nike’s new boots for the World Cup will run through July.  Again, showing the wealth of Nike and their players who have signed on with them, but also how each kid now signs up for a player to replicate when they step on the pitch and how they aspire to be the next big name.

78 Days

Brazil – A beautiful country. Home to the beautiful game, not just this year, but all the time. But the beauty of the festival this year could be lost, or at least hidden, from because of outside forces causing problems in Brazil.  Lots of things go into making a trip successful, or just having an enjoyable city to live in.  Think about it?  You want roads that are easy to travel, both easy to access and smooth to drive on.  You want buildings that you feel comfortable walking into.   You want to be able to maneuver through streets or buildings easily to get to work or to lunch, not having to wiggle and squirm between hundreds of people to get to each place.  Brazil seems to be struggling to fulfill every one of these categories right now.

Photo taken in November, before the crane collapse

Maybe you have heard the mess that describes the stadium situation in Brazil.  We are three months away from the day Brazil kicks off against Croatia and there is exactly three stadiums that are ready for play right now.  The rush is on to get the other 9 stadiums up and operative in the next three months.  But you hope it is done carefully and securely, so you can feel safe walking in there.  The stadium in Sau Paulo, the one set to host the first game of the tournament, suffered a major setback when a crane fell and damaged the stadium, also killing three workers back in November.

Other reports from finished stadiums have complaints, as well.  People complained about leaky bathrooms or long concession lines because of lack of concession stands.  One other claimed he bought seats that weren’t installed in the stadium.

The other problem is the workers; many of whom have gone on strike at some point in this process, and could go on strike again at any minute.  If that is the case, the project comes to an immediate halt and could possibly not resume again in time to finish the stadium in jeopardy.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has blasted Brazil, more than once, for not being prepared for the upcoming World Cup.  “For having so much time to prepare (7 years), no country has been so far behind in its preparations since I have been with FIFA,” Blatter said to a Swiss newspaper, 24 Heures.

All the stadiums are coming together, and I think they will finish on time, but there will be some long days here in the next few months. And all the stadiums are coming in over budget, which doesn’t please many people in Brazil.  The estimated cost for all 12 stadiums in 2010 was around 2.2 billion dollars.  Now the total is tallying more than $3.8 billion.  For a country in turmoil, those numbers are not fun to look at.


99 Days: World Cup 2014

We’ve made it! Down to the double digit day countdown.  99 days until the first kick in Sao Paulo, Brazil come June 12.

With this shortened countdown, I will be blogging (hopefully every week or so) about the important things coming into the 2014 World Cup.  I’ll share what I think about each draw over the next 99 days.  The ball will be discussed, it’s basically a celebrity in itself.  My favorite story lines will be the country itself, Brazil seems split with how much it wants the World Cup.  Now, there is no denying that they want to host, and no country deserves to host this spectacle more than Brazil, but the riots that happened last year fussing about where the money was going from the World Cup, and how more money was being pumped into new stadiums, but not to the promised new roads, or schools, or other important needs in Brazil.  And the stadiums! That will be a fun topic when that day comes, as about half the stadiums are behind schedule for completion.

Nike unveiled new all-white uniforms for the men’s and women’s national teams for the 2014-15 year.

I look forward to researching more and more from across the globe and I’m excited already about the World Cup and we have 99 days to go before that ball gets rolling.  Like typical American fashion, I’ll start by staying focused on the United States and looking at the American…fashion.   Yesterday, Nike unveiled the new United States uniforms for the next year for both the men’s and women’s national teams.  It is a big change from the old home uniforms, which had our players dressed like candy canes in 2012/2013.  Then last year, the team switched to a retro look that was similar to the first jerseys worn by the U.S., in homage of the 100 year anniversary of U.S. Soccer.

It seems like the team, and Nike, went even further back in time with this year’s choice.  These are just as appealing to the eye, if not more.  I love the same color scheme from top to bottom.  The two-button neck and the collar are a different story.  This was big in 1998, and on it’s way out in 2002 for good reason.  Nike messed up with this portion, a collar just does not seem right on a slim-cut dri-fit jersey, flapping around in the wind on the necks of Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, and Jozy Altidore.

All-in-all, this has been the most pleased I have been with a new unveiling as close to the day it was released.  The pageant-crowned sash jerseys won me over about two months later.  The candy canes got me about six months later.  The centennial jerseys, I liked because they were not red and white striped.  These jerseys are clean.  Up and down, across the board, the team looks good to the naked eye, before narrowing the lense.  It’s bold but not flashy.  I think the jersey represents the team: they’re coming in with a clean slate, not making any major statements before hand, as they are underdogs in their group, at least in the eyes of most analysts.

KU’s new Concussion Testing Software

KU Leads way in Concussion Technology

He got up off the turf, dazed and confused, and headed back to the huddle for the next play.  Daymond Patterson, a former wide receiver at the University of Kansas, played the rest of the drive and the rest of the quarter until halftime, before the team took his helmet because of his concussion.

This was October 2012, when the head injury chaos had just started to overwhelm the game of football, and the scientists studying the impact of these harmful hits.

However, the confusion over all the concussion fuss is taking a major step forward.  The University of Kansas is now using technology that will better help doctors determine if student-athletes do have concussions.

“I got undercut on a pass and came down, smashing the back of my head against the turf,” Patterson said, explaining the hit against Kansas State on a frigid day in Manhattan’s Bill Snyder Stadium.  “I got up pretty quickly and felt pretty good.  It took a while for me to feel any side effects.”

The technology, which stems from research done for Parkinson’s Disease, will condense all the required information into a simple app on the iPad2 to help doctors quickly identify what is wrong.

The new software, termed C3 Logix, holds all the information in one spot.  Now, doctors don’t need to sort through files to find an athlete’s balance test scores or their reactionary test scores.

The iPad2, with the new C3 Logix testing, stores the concussion baseline testing information making it easy to recall where the player tested originally compared to after a hit to the head.

baseline concussion test.

“The iPad and the software does help to keep everything closeby and easy to access,” said Murphy Grant, the head athletic trainer for the KU football team.  “It makes our life fairly easy and keeps all the information in a safe and secure spot.  It’s a lot better than the folders of paperwork I would have to have on hand for every single player.”

With the scores being available on tablets that are easily transported, a concussion test can now more easily be performed on the sidelines to tell how severely a player is impacted.

It’s reported that 300,000 head injuries happen in one year in the United States.  Having new technology like this will help better diagnose the symptoms and more quickly get an athlete back on the playing field.

The baseline tests that will be stored on the new software are now being performed on kids starting at age 10.  They range from $5 to $50 each.  In Kansas, ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is used for testing and usually cost $10.

“The volleyball team, and the entire athletic department, uses ImPACT for our athletes,” said Aimee Miyazawa, head athletic trainer for the KU women’s volleyball team.  “In my eyes that is the most basic, but in-depth baseline test I’ve seen for pre-concussion testing.  I can now use that test very smoothly to better detect our athlete’s injuries.”

The volleyball team has not yet worked with C3 Logix, but Miyazawa said she would be interested in incorporating it.

So far, only the football and women’s soccer programs have worked with the new technology on its athletes.

“I can see this becoming very popular and possibly being used across the athletic department at this time next year,” Grant said.  “I think it is awesome and I don’t really want to go back to anything else.”

While there is still uncertainty at times whether someone has a head injury, but this new technology will help a trained medical staff make better determinations on the student-athletes.

Both Grant and Miyazawa said that a player could tank on the baseline testing to give themselves a better chance to play later with some concussion symptoms but neither thought that was an issue with KU players.

“I never thought I was playing with a concussion or was avoiding the training staff,” Patterson said.  “I felt fine to play when it happened except for the little pain that comes from regular football plays.  It wasn’t until I sat down at halftime and the hype wore off, but the headache set in.”

Grant is unable to comment on specific players or incidents, but he did acknowledge that there are some players that think they can play through injuries.

“I regularly see the athlete that wants to work through pain and keep pushing, especially in football, it’s what is instilled in these young athletes,” he said.  “But it’s usually those minor concussions, which guys don’t acknowledge right away, that turn into the long-lasting concussions.  We hope, with this technology, that we can better test the athlete, and do it quicker, so that we can pinpoint the magnitude of the head injury, and prevent the long-term injury.”

Michael Crabtree’s return doing wonders for 49ers, says coach Jim Harbaugh

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Michael Crabtree played in 60 of 68 snaps Sunday, and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh sure likes what he’s seen from the wideout’s comeback. ‘It’s like he’s back,’ Harbaugh said

Nolan Parker‘s insight:

While the risk/return for Percy Harvin has not worked out yet, the team took another risk picking up the previously injured Michael Crabtree last week.  His own coach, Jim Harbaugh, is pleased so far with his play, and Crabtree will be in my starting lineup this week.

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Antonio Brown could become first Steelers WR to lead NFL in receptions

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The Pittsburgh Steelers got off to a rough 0-4 start to begin the 2013-14 NFL regular season as their offense appeared to be in shambles.

Nolan Parker‘s insight:

Antonio Brown did not help himself much with his performance on Thanksgiving Day, but he still holds a great opportunity to end the season as the leading receiver in the NFL, the first for a Steeler.  For the sake of my team, I hope Big Ben continues to look his way the rest of the year.

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