Hand ball. Offside. Other terms with loose meanings.

In retrospect, a Tim Howard red card early on might not have been a bad thing.

6 goals.

By the time I’d taken my first sip of coffee, Chelsea was already through with two of them. Two of them in the first three minutes.

But about that second goal. My understanding of the offside call is this: if the offensive player is closer to the goal than all defensive players excluding the goalie, it’s offsides. If Ivanovic wasn’t offside, I’ll eat my shoe. A good yard.

When Mirallas scored, I texted a friend: “1-0 Everton in my book.”

When the halftime whistle blew, confidence was high. Outside of those two early “goals,” Everton looked in command. They were dominating possession. They were protecting the back line. They were getting shots on goal. I was certain as the second half began that the Toffees would put in another goal early in the second half.

And they DID! They put in two more, including a strike the the new guy, another guy with consecutive identical vowels in his last name (looking at you, Steven Pienaar). Trouble was, the defense fell apart and Chelsea scored four more.

In American football, 6-3 is a fairly uncommon score, but it’s a score. I never expected to see 6-3 in an EPL game.

Thinking about the home Chelsea match the morning after, I have slightly more confidence than I did when the final whistle sounded. 3-6 at home not a fun result. But, Everton never looked out of the match. Take away the two insta-goals from the first three minutes and take away Coleman’s OG and we’re level.

Final thoughts:

1. Play John Stones.

2. Let Lukaku and Eto’o run together up front.

3. Don’t give up six goals.

After a tough two-game stretch, the schedule looks to ease with upcoming matches against bottom feeders West Brom and Crystal Palace.

Still looking for my first win as an Everton fan. Oddly, this results against Chelsea has increased my confidence that we’ll have a good season.

 

 

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Beautiful Blue. Beautiful Goodison. Ugly Ozil.

Underway for the home opener against Arsenal and their hideous star, Mesut Ozil. The man looks like an insect.

Tim Howard, on the other hand, has done wondrous things to his fantastic beard and looks more menacing than ever. I’m nervous about this game because Leicester City was defeated 2-0 by Chelsea. 

Trouble with clearance in the first 10 minutes (theme developing) and Pienaar goes out with an injury. Probably just as well because his name is nearly impossible for me to pronounce. Leon Osman is much simpler.

I’m so happy with Everton’s passing in the early going I texted this message to two friends:

“Everton passing is crisp. I see a goal before 20 mins.”

Seven minutes later, I am certified as a Football Psychic when Gareth Barry curls in a gorgeous ball directly to the ample forehead of defender Seamus Coleman. I scream instinctively.

“Did we score?” my son asks. One week in and he’s already calling Everton we. I’m doing something right.

A goal is such a relaxing event.

Ridiculous yellow on Leighton Baines, who I’m convinced was an actor (Nigel Havers) in the classic film Chariots of Fire. That would make him about 60 years old.

I don’t know the right soccer words to describe this first half, but Everton looks to be the better team. They’re pressing forward, dominating possession. They seem energized by the home crowd. Roberton Martinez looks snazzy as ever. The sun is shining. The only thing better would be one more goal before the half.

Lukaku to Naismith and there it is! 2-0 with minutes to go.

Moments before the halftime whistle, there’s a family medical emergency that drives us to the ER. This sense of urgency foreshadows a second half that I experienced through a series of text messages from my EPL grandfather:

“Arsenal getting more possession now.”

“Timmy with a good save to maintain the lead.”

“Lots of good chances on the break for Everton.”

“McGeady coming on for Lukaku.”

“Decent chances at 79′”

“I think they pull this out.”

“Everton look very organized at the back. Still 2-0.”

“2-1”

“Poor defending. 5 guys in the box defending one attacker.”

“Looking shaky now.”

“87′”

“Crowd is nervous. I’m nervous.”

“Earn a free kick from 35 yards out. Milk the clock now.”

“2-2”

“4 extra minutes.”

“Well that sucked”

Everything turned out fine at the hospital. At least as good as what happened during the last 10 minutes of the first game at Goodison Park.

Two games into the season and The Blues have yet to lose. And yet to win. Stuck in the middle of the table with 2 points. Need to shore up the back line. Need more Lukaku.

One thing is certain: I love these boys.

Week One — Leicester City (A)

Woke up plenty early for the 0700 PST start time. 

The big news is that midfielder Ross Barkley injured his knee in practice (should I start calling it training?) and won’t be playing today. Since his is one of the only names I recognize, I am instantly nervous. Thankfully, a quick Google search reveals that Barkley wasn’t even a sure thing to start for Martinez. We’ll be ok.

 Truthfully, Tim Howard was a big draw for me. He was a beast for the USMNT this summer in Brazil, shouting manically through his prodigous beard, willing balls clear of the net. He’s in goal this morning for Everton.

 My son stumbles downstairs just in time for kickoff. He wants to watch SportsCenter. Then he sees Howard and he’s good. “I like Manchester United,” he says. I kick him to the other end of the couch.

The first 20 minutes I learn a few things:

  • Everton needs to get better at clearing the ball.
  • John Stones is the greatest name for a soccer player. 
  • The Blues are wearing White.

Just as I’m settling into this pingpong match with my first cup of coffee, Aiden McGeady curls a beautiful ball off the far post, which ricochets into the net for Everton’s first goal of the season. I actually jumped off the couch. I’m feeling confident we’re going to run Leicester City off the pitch. The Foxes (thanks, Wikipedia!) weren’t even in the Premiership last year. Yes, they won the Football League Championship (thanks, Wikipedia!), but they are clearly outclassed.

I’ve barely finished celebrating the goal when Leicester equalizes because EVERTON CAN’T CLEAR THE BALL!

Tim Howard is pissed.

Just before halftime, Steven Naismith gives Everton the lead (surely for good, against this second division squad!) with a wicked strike from just outside the box. Apparently Everton aims for metal. Both goals in off the frame.

My daughter wakes up just as the second half is getting underway. “Can we watch cartoons?” I explain that we’re watching a soccer match and she can watch something after. “Which team is ours?” “Everton. The white team.” “OK.”

Ping pong resumes in the second half. I’m completely confident that Everton will hold the lead and take 3 points on the road in the first game of the season. With 5 minutes left in the match, EVERTON FORGETS TO CLEAR THE BALL again and substitute Chris Wood curls a cute little shot around Howard’s left side.

Draw.

First week conclusions:

I don’t know how I’ll ever watch American football the same way again. Every few plays leads to a commercial break. Timeout? Commercial break. Peyton Manning has to pee? Commercial break. I can watch a full Everton game in less than two hours, with a perfectly placed bathroom break.

A tie on the road seems like a good result, until you remember the opponent. And until you look at the upcoming schedule: home matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Current favorite player: John Stones (that name!), though that McGeady shot was lovely. 

See you next week.