Battleline: The English Are Coming - The Missourian: Sports

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Battleline: The English Are Coming

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Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:42 pm, Wed Apr 3, 2013.

A little bit of jolly ol’ England will be coming to St. Louis May 23 when Busch Stadium hosts a game between Barclays Premier Division rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.

The match will be part of those teams’ American tour following the conclusion of the current season.

Many of the European teams tour the United States in the summer months, between the end of their domestic and international seasons and the start of the new year. However, it’s very rare that they come to St. Louis.

Man City and Chelsea are two of the better teams not only in England, but in all Europe.

Man City is the defending Barclays Premier League champion, but face a hard struggle if it is going to make up a 14-point deficit against their local rival Manchester United with just eight matches to go.

Chelsea stands fourth in the BPL table, seven points behind Manchester City. The Blues, who call West London home, are the defending UEFA Champions League winners.

One possibly could see some frontline players in action, although the teams generally use these tours to give lesser-used and younger players the chance to shine.

The teams visiting St. Louis are among the largest spenders in Europe, so even by seeing their secondary players, you’re still seeing a number of players who represent their nations or are rising stars.

It’s also possible that both teams could have new managers as well. Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini and Chelsea’s Rafa Benitez (who both once managed Inter Milan) are on hot seats right now. Benitez still has the “interim” tag on his job title.

I expect the event to draw a considerable crowd. There are many American supporters of the English teams. Also, you could see significant groups traveling from abroad for the tour. For no other reason, the curiosity factor should bring fans to the game. That’s what seemed to fill the stands when the National Football League visited Wembley Stadium last fall with the St. Louis Rams playing the New England Patriots.

There were many fans who were wearing team colors around the NFL fan rally at Trafalgar Square. I can remember meeting one Rams fan decked out in St. Louis gear who was from Scotland and had never seen the team play in person. He had a family member go to college in Missouri and decided to become a Rams supporter based upon that.

How many St. Louisians can say they’ve seen a top European match? It’s probably a pretty small number.

As someone who has covered a BPL match (Arsenal-QPR last October), it’s different than any other athletic event you’ve probably ever seen in person.

Imagine an NFL-level game with the type of fan cheering you see and hear at a high school basketball game. That’s the closest comparison I can make for anyone who hasn’t been there.

If the event draws a good crowd, maybe we’ll get to see other European teams come to St. Louis in the future.

It’s still something worth going to see if you’ve got the means and the time May 23.

•••

It’s time for the Major League Baseball season to start and the St. Louis Cardinals are expected to be good, but not the best in the National League Central.

Many of the experts feel that the Cincinnati Reds will be the class of the division (although ESPN the Magazine picked St. Louis).

Most feel the Cardinals are in the next tier, but not quite as good as the Reds.

The Cardinals may not have as many huge names in the past. The team bade farewell to Lance Berkman and Kyle Lohse. Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal aren’t expected to make any contributions this year and Jason Motte and David Freese start the season on the disabled list.

The Cardinals started the season with a 6-2 loss Monday in Arizona. But you know what? Baseball has a 162-game schedule and nobody has ever lost the pennant on opening day.

That means a number of lesser-used and young players will get a chance to shine. We’ve seen that scenario play out in the past.

Willie McGee wasn’t supposed to be on the opening day roster in 1982, but thanks to David Green’s injury, he made the big club and never looked back.

Albert Pujols was supposed to be a quick fix at third base and then get shipped back down for a full season in Memphis. Despite being on the cover of the Memphis yearbook, he never played for that team.

Is that something which will happen this year? We’ll have to see.

Somehow, don’t be surprised if the Cardinals find a way to sneak into the playoffs and then make a strong run at the World Series.

•••

On the local front, it’s nice to see our teams back in action again. It’s a typical Missouri spring and one would be hard pressed to find even a small amount of the 10 inches of snow which fell a week and a half ago.

Just a few thoughts to close out the column.

• Very nice to see the cooperation between Borgia and Washington. Many probably know that Washington’s track isn’t in the greatest of shape right now and Borgia has allowed Washington to use its facilities for a number of events. That included last Saturday’s Washington Pentathlon and also takes in the Russell C. Nix Relays which will be coming up.

In the days of the old paved Borgia track, few hurdles and no field event facilities, Washington was very helpful in allowing its neighbor institution to train.

This has been done in the spirit of cooperation and friendship. Unfortunately, this is something which usually doesn’t make headlines. The cooperation between the two schools needs to be lauded as an example of how to help a neighbor in need.

• With the snow, the only area team to play for a while last week was Borgia’s boys volleyball team. I like the nurturing approach John Nieder has taken with trying to instruct his players. Boys volleyball has never been recognized as a glamour sport in this area and it’s extremely tough to bring in athletes who can make an immediate contribution.

While the Knights aren’t going to have the greatest record among area teams, they deserve the support. If you want to see something different, stop by for one of their home games.

• We get to handle a number of signings every spring and this year is no exception. One of the most recent was for a three-sport athlete at Union High School.

While Jill Johnston competes on the varsity level in volleyball, basketball and track, she signed her letter of intent to swim for Maryville University.

Not only is this a great story of having an athlete sign, but her main competitive experience has been for the Union Swim Team Squids. This is a great moment for all involved.

/

Area Scoreboard

62nd Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament

Blue Division

Pool 1

McCluer North

Normandy

Carnahan

Pool 2

Cardinal Ritter

Pacific

Rockwood Summit

Gold Division

Pool 1

CBC

Soldan

Washington

Pool 2

Borgia

North Tech

Union

Monday, Nov. 24

CBC 77, Washington 52

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, PPD

Washington 63, Soldan 62

Borgia 83, Union 50

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Carnahan 71, Normandy 46

Pacific 64, Rockwood Summit 22

North Tech 67, Union 37

Thursday, Nov. 27

McCluer North 95 Carnahan 68

CBC 82, Soldan 55

Borgia 50, North Tech 45

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North 93, Normandy 39

Pacific 70, Cardinal Ritter 57

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation — Rockwood Summit 47, Normandy 38

Gold Consolation — Soldan 78, Union 59

Gold Third Place — North Tech 63, Washington 57

Blue Third Place — Cardinal Ritter 71, Carnahan 46

Blue Championship — McCluer North 64, Pacific 58 (OT)

Gold Championship — CBC 67, Borgia 66

Boys Basketball

Monday, Dec. 8

Lutheran S 64, St. Clair 48

Borgia 61, Carnahan 51

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Lafayette 44, Washington 35

Friday, Dec. 12

Potosi 72, St. Clair 45

*Washington 69, Ft. Zumwalt North 65

Montgomery Co 62, New Haven 61

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Bourbon 75, Union 74

Glendale 63, Pacific 46

Saturday, Dec. 13

New Haven 46, Barat 40

Nixa 56, Pacific 46

Tuesday, Dec. 16

*Pacific 70, New Haven 35

*Hermann 67, St. Clair 49

*Ft. Zumwalt South 61, Washington 50

*Union 81, St. James 74

Friday, Dec. 19

*Owensville at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Washington vs. Parkway Central, GAC/Suburban Shootout, St. Charles Family Arena, 5:30 p.m.

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific 76, Union 57

Saturday, Dec. 20

Sullivan Shootout

Owensville vs. Rockwood Summit, 11:30 a.m.

Lindbergh 67, St. Clair 46

Jefferson City vs. Jackson, 2:30 p.m.

Washington 56, Lutheran South 54

Poplar Bluff 59, Borgia 49

Sullivan vs. Affton, 7 p.m.

Girls Basketball

Saturday, Dec. 6

Cor Jesu 63, Borgia 60

New Haven 46, Moberly 39

Monday, Dec. 8

Pacific 73, Rolla 40

St. Clair 68, Dixon 37

Washington 54, New Haven 15

Tuesday, Dec. 9

*Borgia 59, Rosati-Kain 38

Union 53, Northwest 44

Thursday, Dec. 11

*Borgia 60, Notre Dame 53

Union 81, Bourbon 53

Friday, Dec. 12

New Haven 45, Principia 30

*Washington 59, Ft. Zumwalt North 32

Saturday, Dec. 13

West Plains 76, Pacific 37

Monday, Dec. 15

*Pacific 46, New Haven 28

*St. Clair 59, Hermann 50

*St. James 64, Union 37

Sullivan Tournament

Cuba 48, Principia 27

Borgia 68, Patriettes 29

Sullivan 56, Pattonville 43

Owensville 78, Farmington 54

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Sullivan Tournament

Farmington 61, Pattonville 39

Sullivan 68, Owensville 64

Principia 55, St. Louis Patriettes 42

Borgia 56, Cuba 38

Thursday, Dec. 18

*St. James 72, New Haven 21

*Union 49, Pacific 48

Friday, Dec. 19

Francis Howell 55, Washington 48

Sullivan Tournament

Seventh Place — Pattonville vs. St. Louis Patriettes, 4 p.m.

Consolation — Farmington vs. Principia, 5:30 p.m.

Third Place — Owensville vs. Cuba, 7 p.m.

Championship — Borgia 62, Sullivan 35

Saturday, Dec. 20

Union at Waynesville    5 p.m.

Wrestling

Monday, Dec. 8

Maplewood 48, Borgia 30

Brentwood 47, Borgia 36

Winfield 48, St. Clair 36

St. Clair 42, St. James 40

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Pacific 55, North County 10

Jackson 63, Washington 12

Farmington 63, Washington 6

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Borgia 36, Lutheran St. Charles 34

Winfield 54, Borgia 30

Thursday, Dec. 11

Union 72, Ft. Zumwalt East 9

Union 52, Principia 30

Union 54, Winfield 27

Saturday, Dec. 13

Union Tournament    9 a.m.

Borgia at McCluer S-Berkeley Tny    9 a.m.

Pacific at Farmington Tny    9 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Owensville 61, St. Clair 16

Union 48, Owensville 27

Union 65, St. Clair 18

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Girls Swimming

Monday, Dec. 8

Washington at Eureka    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Washington at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

LSC/OFC 134, Borgia 101, St. Dominic 83

Monday, Dec. 15

Borgia at Notre Dame (Forest Park)    4 p.m.

Kennedy 88, Washington 84

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Lindbergh 128, Washington 48

*Conference Games

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