Semple prepares to host Leinster final replay

first_imgTomorrow will be an extra special day at Semple Stadium.While staff there are constantly working to ensure the grounds are at their best on match day this weekend is slightly different.Thurles plays host to the Leinster Senior Hurling final replay between Galway and Kilkenny. While security is always to the fore at the grounds Stadium Director David Morgan says this Sunday will see extra care being taken.last_img

Claire Molloy and her Irish International sporting siblings

first_imgClaire’s younger brother Timmy, currently in UCD, is a former Republic of Ireland schools soccer international, her sister Emily played underage hockey for Ireland as a goalkeeper and older brother Liam rowed for Ireland up to U23 level. Claire’s father Evan is well known as the life and soul of the Jez Rowing Club who has given a lifetime of voluntary service to the sport. So it wasn’t from the groundprint WhatsApp Facebook Twitter Email When Claire Molloy leads out the Ireland Womens Rugby team this evening for their World Cup opener against Australia, it will be the latest chapter in an extraordinary career for the Galway native that also includes an appearance in Croke Park on All Ireland Ladies Football final day in 2005 against Cork. Doctor Molloy is a long established Irish senior international rugby star and has been voted Ireland’s Player of the Year, has two 6 Nations medals and already competed in the last 2 World Cups, but the Molloy house is surely unique in having 4 siblings who have all represented Ireland in different sports.last_img read more

Conor Melody commits to Galway United for 2020

first_imgThe speedy winger enjoyed one of his best seasons in a United shirt, scoring 4 goals in 28 appearances for the Tribesmen to really establish himself as a feature in the starting eleven. The 22-year-old joined Galway United in 2015 and he has gone on to make over 100 appearances for the Eamonn Deacy Park club.The dynamic attacker spent most of the season playing as a winger, but he displayed his adaptability when Alan Murphy pushed him further forward and Melody’s move to the number nine position coincided with United’s strong finish to the season.Melody’s bullet header against Cork City in the FAI Cup sent Alan Murphy’s side into the Quarter-Final and he helped the club finish the season strongly.Melody acknowledges that Galway United need to build on 2019 now.“I’m delighted to be back. I felt towards the end of the season, we really pulled together and showed what we’re about in the last few games,” Melody explained to www.galwayunitedfc.ie.“I was enjoying playing on the wing, but when I was played through the middle, it was a different challenge for me, but it was one that I embraced. I tried to learn how to play the position as quickly as I could.“Going forward as a club, we have to try and carry that end of season form and momentum through to 2020. We need to hit the ground running because that’s going to be very important for us going forward. We’re really looking to push on next season and maybe surprise a few people.”Melody excelled as both a winger and a striker at Eamonn Deacy Park in 2019 and Galway United manager Alan Murphy expects him to have another big season for the club next year.“2019 was probably Conor Melody’s best year in a Galway United shirt. He really got a good run of games in a consistent position, be that as a right-sided player or when he played up top. He flourished with the confidence flowing through him and he really had a good year for us.“In pre-season Conor struggled with a knee injury and he probably didn’t hit the ground running for two months, when you consider that, he’s had a really good few months after that. We changed his position to the number nine role and he really showed his worth in the Cup games and finished the season strongly.“I’ve known Conor and coached him for many years now since his schoolboy days, so I’m familiar with his attributes and the application and effort that he gives. I don’t expect any less from him next year and I expect it to be another big season for Conor.” Conor Melody becomes the latest player to commit to Galway United for the 2020 SSE Airtricity League season.center_img print WhatsApp Facebook Twitter Emaillast_img read more

Sign me up

first_imgThe Dons’ Jessica Trad inks letter of intent to play for Hastings CollegeBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterMARSHFIELD — Marshfield Columbus Catholic High School senior Jessica Trad made it a goal to play basketball on the collegiate level, and last weekend that goal became a reality.Trad traveled to Nebraska to sign her letter of intent in person to play basketball for Hastings College, a NAIA Division II school in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.Trad, a first-team all-Cloverbelt Conference East Division performer last season and a second-team pick as a sophomore, has averaged nearly 11 points per game during her varsity career for the Dons and just less than 10 points per game this season.“To be able to continue playing the sport I love for a great coach and school is amazing,” Trad said. “I’ve put so much time and work into this goal, and accomplishing it has been one of the best moments of my life. I’m excited for what the future holds.”The future, at least for Trad’s team next year, will likely include a lot of winning.Hastings is coming off two-straight NAIA Division II national tournament appearances and 13 in the past 15 seasons. The Broncos have made the NAIA Division II Fab Four seven times since 2002, winning championships in 2002, 2003, and 2006 and were the runners-up in 2009.Hastings College, located in Hastings, Neb., is about 160 miles southwest of Omaha and about 70 miles north of the Kansas-Nebraska border.This season the Broncos are 17-6 and 11-5 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference prior to a home game tonight against Doane College (Neb.).The GPAC is made up of 12 schools from Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota, a number of which had interest in Trad.“I received a lot of interest from colleges in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and toured a few,” Trad said. “But when I toured Hastings and met the coach, I knew right away that it was a perfect fit for me.”Trad has some unfinished business first with the Columbus Dons, whose record stands at 8-9 ahead of tonight’s game against Owen-Withee. The WIAA girls basketball playoffs begin Feb. 23.Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at [email protected]last_img read more

Fitness Trackers Are Still Waiting For Their “iPod Moment”

first_imgThe fitness-tracker market is exploding. There are a ton of new devices on the market to track steps, sleep, heart rate, and other bodily metrics, many unveiled earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One reporter tried on 56 different models on display at the event.I don’t know if this Cambrian explosion of gadgets can be a good thing. Only one in ten consumers currently has a fitness tracker, which suggests that they have yet to become truly mainstream, despite their potential health benefits.What the market really needs is a mass extinction event, some Darwinian species-killer of a product that wipes out the less fit and leaves a few strong players to survive. We need some asteroid of a product that blows everyone else away.Looking For The iPod MomentThere are very few examples of this kind of category dominance.Let’s wind the clock back a decade. The year was 2004, and Apple’s iPod—the iconic music player that turned around the company’s fortunes and transformed it from a computer company into a consumer-electronics giant was on the verge of ubiquity. Its market share would peak at 92 percent. Apple CEO Steve Jobs bragged to Newsweek how the iPod and its iconic white earbuds were taking over cities:“I was on Madison, and it was, like, on every block, there was someone with white headphones, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, it’s starting to happen.’” How did the iPod achieve ubiquity? Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, but it improved it, taking advantage of smaller hard drives to create a more compact yet capacious player than had previously existed. It also, crucially, improved the interface so that it was easy to play all those songs. Then Apple cunningly cornered the market on the parts needed to build similar devices. No one could catch up with it.Palm, too, back in the day, cornered the market on personal digital accessories—those contacts-and-calendars pocket computers which predated and anticipated smartphones.Survival Of The FittestI don’t see anyone in the fitness-tracker market employing similar tactics. There are plenty of examples of good design: Withings’ Activité Pop, for example, shines with its watch-like good looks and eight-month battery life.But the Activité Pop, at $150, just does steps and sleep tracking—a commodity offering. And its companion app, Withings Health Mate, is unremarkable, offering the same features you see in a host of similar fitness apps. It’s a good device, and its design will surely sell some people on it, but it’s not the killer we need.Likewise, I like the Runtastic Orbit, which is the best example I’ve found of integration between hardware, software, and services—but I have a hard time seeing it get the distribution it needs. And because it’s closely tied to Runtastic’s apps, it suffers from the extreme fragmentation that rules the fitness-app market, too.Fitbit is the leader in selling fitness trackers at retail right now, but their Charge and Surge models are, I feel, just keeping up with the competition, not breaking away.What about the Apple Watch? What about it, indeed? First of all, it’s a smartwatch, not a fitness tracker—and NPD reports that smartwatches are far behind fitness trackers in consumer interest and adoption. They’re more expensive, harder to keep charged, and more demandingly twiddly in their interfaces.Before Apple launched the iPod, it started offering iTunes software for managing collections of digital music, which gave it a ready-made audience. iTunes users became tied to the iPod, and vice versa—a virtuous cycle where software drove hardware sales. (I know it’s popular to complain about iTunes these days, but back in the 2000s, iTunes blew away competing tools for managing music libraries.)Apple had an opportunity to do something similar with HealthKit and its companion Health app, and it blew it, big time. HealthKit is glitchy and the Health app just isn’t very good. If Apple had strong fitness software and collections of workout and nutrition data—the health equivalent of those iTunes libraries—it would be set up for an easy entrance into the fitness-tracker market. Jawbone UP iPhone app ditches bandAs it is, I think the Apple Watch will do very well in the smartwatch category. I just don’t think many people will use its fitness features, and those interested in health tracking will gravitate to dedicated devices. Who wins in a fragmented hardware market? I think it will be the fitness apps that pull in data from the widest possible range of devices and sort it and make sense of it all. The leading contenders here include MyFitnessPal, Under Armour’s Connected Fitness group, and Jawbone, whose app no longer requires a companion Up. Indeed, if someone doesn’t come along with an iPod- or Palm-like smash hit that dominates the market, we may see fitness-tracking functions fade into smartphones. Our phones are with us constantly, after all, and we might as well think of them as wearables for all the time they spend in our pockets or otherwise on our persons.It’s a pity, because I can see a role for fitness trackers. While steps are trivial, more sophisticated movement analysis as well as heart-rate measurement and sleep tracking need a wrist-based device.If only there were one device to explain and define the market, the way the iPod did for MP3 players and Palm did for PDAs. Without that, the fitness-tracker market may rise and fall quickly—a blip in the evolutionary history of gadgets.Photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite Tags:#Apple Watch#Body#digital fitness#fitness apps#fitness trackers#jawbone#Jawbone Up#smartwatches#Withings#Withings Activité#Withings Activité Pop Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfacescenter_img The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement owen thomaslast_img read more

Allegri up for Bayern Munich job?

first_img Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/ Max Allegri has been linked with the benches of Manchester United, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham and now also Bayern Munich. The former Juventus boss is biding his time before starting a new adventure, having ended his spell in Turin with five consecutive Serie A titles. According to the Corriere dello Sport, Allegri is the prime candidate for the Bayern Munich job if the Germans sack Niko Kovac. That is more than a possibility after a shock 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt this weekend. Allegri would be the third Italian tactician to lead Bayern after Giovanni Trapattoni and Carlo Ancelotti. Meanwhile, Manchester United are also seriously considering the axe for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following another dismal Premier League showing, a defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday.last_img read more

17 days agoThe Week in Women’s Football: Review of The Making of the Women’s World Cup

first_imgThe Week in Women’s Football: Review of The Making of the Women’s World Cupby Tim Grainey17 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveThis week, we review another recent book that came out around the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. Kieran Theivan (based in England) and Jeff Kassouf (the founder of the excellent U.S.-based women’s football site the Equalizer) have together written The Making of the Women’s World Cup: Defining Stories from a Sports Coming of Age (Robinson, London, 2019).The book is a solid review of the previous seven Women’s World Cups. This new work certainly has a lot of information about the American team, as they won three finals, lost another and hosted two World Cup Tournaments in 1999 and 2003. Delightfully, the book—rather than a straight history—looks at the past tournaments through legendary players and teams such as Marta and Brazil in 2007, Nadine Angerer and Germany in 2003 and 2007 and Kelly Smith and England in 2015.In Chapter 1—The Early Years—Jeff Kassouf makes the point that the first Women’s World Cup (not yet having that currently strong brand as FIFA was unsure of whether it would be successful but rather called it the First FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football for the M&Ms Cup) drew strong attendance in China (where officials encouraged people to attend to boost their bid on the 2000 Olympics, which they narrowly lost to Sydney, Australia). The Americans surprised the other teams with their different attacking, pressing style as 1991 Golden Ball Winner Carin Jennings (now Gabarra) said: “I think it was the start of the U.S. women’s national team programme and the start of a programme that won three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. That was the start of the culture of the U.S women’s national team. That culture has never wavered. That is a culture of mentality, competitiveness and hard work, along with talent. So, I think it was the start of that. That has always been there. Every person who has ever played for the US national team is connected in that regard (pages 18-19).” Chapter 2—The Birth of the Lionesses—focuses on the 2015 event in Canada through the prism of England’s path to third place. Theivan profiles Steph Houghton (Manchester City) and her elevation to team captain at the comparatively young age of 26—over previous captain Casey Stoney (31)—by former women’s national team head coach Mark Sampson, even though Houghton had missed the 2007 World Cup and 2009 Euros through injury. Houghton recalled: “I’d just moved to [Manchester] City and I had been given the armband, but in terms of my international career I was nowhere near being a regular starter. So for me I just wanted to make sure I was in the squad. Mark said he saw me as a leader of his team, but obviously there were a lot of candidates like Fara Williams and Jill Scott, who had played a number of times for England, Kelly Smith was still involved at that time, and of course Casey, who was current captain….I will always remember sitting down with him at St. George’s Park around April. I’d had the armband a few times and no way did I think it would be a possibility for the long term, but I remember him saying what I brought to the team and the sort of things he was looking for in his captain, and then he asked me if I would take the role and be the leader of the team. Obviously, you’re delighted but the rest of the conversation was a bit of a blur….For me it wasn’t working against them [the senior players], it was a case of using their experience and using them as fellow leaders to create a team environment and a special environment where we loved playing for England (pages 26-27).” Houghton is still one of the core members of the team in defense and has over 100 caps for a side that has reached the semifinals of the last two consecutive Women’s World Cups (2015 and 2019) and it was fascinating to hear in-depth from her about England’s preparation and progress to a bronze medal in Canada.Chapter 7 on Kelly Smith was entitled England’s Golden Girl Arrives—and profiles one of the leading ambassadors of the game. The former English international forward emphasized the importance of league soccer for the development of the domestic game. Smith discussed the 2005 European Championships which England hosted, which were televised throughout Europe: “The 2005 experience was amazing because we didn’t have to qualify for that tournament, and obviously it was hosted in our home country. It meant we got to play in front of our home fans and we really wanted to develop the game, and TV coverage was starting to happen, so we really wanted to play well to get people talking about women’s football. It was great because you’d go to the grounds and you’d be playing in front of fifteen to nineteen thousand, which I think was a record at that time for a women’s game. It was a lot of fun to play in (page 121).” This reporter was in Sweden and Russia for most of the tournament, where the games were televised and the tournament was an important step in the growth of the game in Europe. Smith felt quite the let down when she went back to her domestic league, even though she played for Arsenal which won the European Club Championship at the end of the 2006-07 season: “It was difficult because you know mentally what is coming from international football. But when you’re not playing at that level week in, week out and you’re playing some league games that you had won before you’d even walked onto the pitch, it makes that step up more challenging. Some of the players would have friendly bets between themselves to see what the scoreline was going to be because that’s how it was. There were probably only a few teams you knew you’d get a good game against—Charlton and Everton. You’d get into bad habits when it’s too easy. You don’t do your defensive work because you can get away with it. But at international level you can’t do that. The players knew going into the big games that you had to be switched on, and we made sure of that because we knew the magnitude of the game. The players are fitter and faster at international level, and we need to adjust to be ready for that (Page 122).” England qualified for the 2007 WWC in China but as Kieran Thievan wrote: “But all the talent in the world wouldn’t be able to compensate for the current state of domestic football in England, with players only training two to three times a week with their club, and having to balance their daily lives with their football., even though Arsenal own the league title, two cups and what is now the Women’s Champions League title (page 128).” It will be interesting to benchmark the attendance figures and reaction in the country between 2005 and 2021 when England again hosts the European Finals, in which should be an outstanding event.Chapter 8—A Hat-Trick and a Worldwide Movement focuses on now-retired American forward Abby Wambach and the prelude to the 2015 Tournament in Canada, where the games were designed from the beginning to be played on artificial turf. Wambach led an international group of 40 players and positioned FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Federation that their plan violated European charters and Canadian law for gender discrimination equality as men’s World Cups never had nor would ever be held on turf fields. Wambach said in March 2013: “We’ve worked so hard as female athletes—not only here in the United States, but internationally—to grow the game and in my opinion, I think this is taking a step back. All of the men’s international players around the world would argue the same point. A lot of these guys will not play on an artificial surface because it is an injury-prone surface and I don’t blame them (Page 143).” Kassouf writes: “Wambach would state after a January 2015 meeting with FIFA officials that the playing surface decisions were set in stone, but she would also later point out that FIFA officials had promised her that there would never again be a Women’s World Cup played on artificial turf. That’s hardly a binding contract, but it was clear that this type of battle for equality was going to be necessary, whether in 2015 or down the line (Page 145).” In France this past summer, all the games were held on grass pitches and I believe that this is a non-issue now for future tournaments, and we have Wambach and other vocal players to thank for that. Kassouf continues: “Around that same time, FIFA announced an increase in prize money for the Women’s World Cup, which was a small victory that at least appeased players. Women’s players had long been told to be thankful for what they had. The two years of battling the bigwigs over what women’s players felt was, morally and legally, gender discrimination, proved to be the exposition to the approaching tidal wave for the fight for equal rights (Page 145-146).” FIFA doubled the prize money amount (from $15 Million to $30 Million) in late December 2018 for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. We would expect that amount to continue to rise ahead of the expanded 32 team tournament in 2023.Kassouf also included interesting insight from Heather O’Reilly [who will retire from the sport at the end of this NWSL season for the reigning champions North Carolina Courage] who, “would describe the World Cups proximity to the U.S. as the perfect scenario: “The feel of a home World Cup without the pressure of being hosts (Page 147).” The level of American support in cities close to the border, particularly in Winnipeg and Vancouver, was overwhelming and a contributor to the American victory in the tournament.In Chapter 9—Australia’s Kids are Allright—the review of Australia’s Women’s National Team is a stellar job, focusing on the restructuring of the nation’s regional development system. The discussion of the Matildas 2007 World Cup campaign in China—where they opened the tournament by blasting Ghana 4-1, tied Norway 1-1 and then came back from 2-1 down to tie Canada in their last group game to advance to their first ever knockout round on an injury-time shocking goal from Cheryl Salisbury. I had covered three of Australia’s four tournament games in China—including that stunning draw in Chengdu that shattered the tournament dreams of the 2003 semifinalists Maple Leafs. Canada seemed to be cruising to a runner-up spot in the group and the knockout stage, including an 85th minute goal from Christine Sinclair, before Salisbury’s late goal just before the final whistle drew the Matildas level, vaulting the Australian side into second place in the group. Australia finished second on five points to Norway’s seven while Canada finished third on four points and the sight of the Canadian players crying and distraught on the field at the conclusion of the game sticks to me to this day. The game had been postponed a day because of a typhoon warning, though the media were not told about the delay until we were at the stadium, and the weather was not particularly threatening at that point from my standpoint. The Matildas then fell to eventual finalists Brazil 3-2 in another stirring match in Tianjin, coming back from an early 2-0 deficit and gave the favorites some troubling moments but never quit attacking; Brazilian forward Cristiane scored the winner in the 75th minute. Despite the narrow defeat to the ultimate 2007 runners-up, the Australian players after the match were cordial with the media and proud of their accomplishments; they had started a path for the national team that has led to their powerhouse status in present times and helped to propel the launch of the soon to be 12-year-old W-League the next year. The Australians, their coach Tom Sermanni and his vibrant and articulate group of players was one of the highlights of that tournament for me.This book is quite well researched and written by two experts in the game.Their focus on teams allow them to discuss key issues of the Women’s World Cup—FIFA’s initial reticence, equality issues in later years, development of youth programs and coaching regimes (Australia/Germany)—and leaves the reader with a solid understanding of the roots of the Women’s World Cup, the leading tournament and most highly visible advertisement that we currently have for the women’s game. This should be on all women’s football fans’ shelves.Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women’s football. Get your copy today.Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey TagsOpinionAbout the authorTim Grainey FollowShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

6 days agoBurnley boss Dyche happy with performance in Leicester defeat

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Burnley boss Dyche happy with performance in Leicester defeatby Paul Vegas6 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBurnley boss Sean Dyche was happy with their performance in defeat at Leicester City.Burnley led through Chris Wood’s first half header before Jamie Vardy levelled on the stroke of half time.Youri Tielemans put the Foxes ahead in the 73rd minute as the hosts began to ramp up the pressure, before the moment of controversy ultimately took the wind out of Burnley’s sails.Dyche said: “I thought the performance, generally, was good.“Don’t forget people are talking about Leicester breaking into the top four, but we certainly gave as good as we got and made them play slow and methodically.“They got out of jail a little bit in the first half and then in the second half it was a poor second goal from our point of view.“We’ve had our chances, but the bigger picture is we have moved a long way coming to places like this and performing like that.“We are in a far better place than we were at this time last season and that has to be registered.” last_img read more

Is The Vegas Golden Knights Run As Amazing As Leicester Citys

Last summer, when it was time for bookmakers to release the odds on the upcoming NHL season, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights were an afterthought. According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, they had the worst chance to win the Stanley Cup of any team in hockey, at 200-1. How long are those odds? The Cleveland Browns, who are perennially terrible, currently have much better odds (100-1) to win the 2019 Super Bowl.Congratulations to you, then, if you put a few bucks on Vegas at the beginning of the season: All the Knights have done since is finish the regular season with the fifth most points in the NHL, then sprint through the Western Conference playoffs while losing just three games. That torrid run has landed them a spot in the Stanley Cup final — and opened up comparisons with other unlikely Cinderellas. For us, the one that immediately sprang to mind was Leicester City’s unlikely run to the English Premier League title in 2015-16, which also stunned pundits and bookmakers. But which was truly the more impressive feat?Let’s get one thing out of the way early on: The Golden Knights aren’t your average expansion team. In fact, we published a piece way back in October in praise of their expansion roster. We didn’t think they’d win the Stanley Cup — though we were cautious not to entirely discount the upstart desert dwellers — but we also didn’t think they’d be as bad as others in sports media figured they’d be. In terms of goals versus threshold (GVT) statistics,1GVT was developed by Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus and is similar to baseball’s VORP, in that it seeks to determine a player’s value in goals above what a replacement player would contribute. the Golden Knights had the most talent of any expansion team that joined the NHL since 1991.The Golden Knights managed to nab some key pieces in the expansion draft — a former 40-goal scorer plus several former 25-goal scorers and a Stanley Cup-winning goalie who’d been drafted No. 1 overall and was once considered a cornerstone to one of the decade’s most successful franchises. Even then, instant success for Vegas looked unlikely: Since 1991, the average expansion team had only managed to collect 57 points in its inaugural NHL season. But Vegas ended up blowing away those expectations en route to the best expansion season in the history of North American pro sports.Like the Golden Knights, Leicester faced long odds at the beginning of its championship-winning campaign. Infamously, the sportsbook Ladbrokes offered 5,000-1 odds against Leicester winning the EPL title. That number, which was bandied about constantly in the wake of the Foxes’ surprise championship, was probably a sham, set to entice people to place any bets on Leicester at all. The notion of any team having such long odds in a 20-team league is a bit absurd, even by the parity-hating standards of European soccer. To put 5,000-1 in perspective, consider this: Texas Southern’s odds of winning the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament — as a No. 16 seed that had to first get past a play-in game, then rattle off six straight wins over major schools — were only 1,000-1 this past March.The “real” odds of Leicester’s victory were staggering enough, though. Leicester had to play near-perfect soccer for the final two and a half months of the 2014-15 season just to avoid relegation.2The Foxes wound up finishing 14th. According to our Soccer Power Index (SPI), Leicester City was the 12th-best team in England entering the 2015-16 Premier League season. Preseason odds for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons indicate that the 12th-best team in the league would have roughly 465-1 odds to win the Premier League. That may not be 5,000-1 long, but it’s quite long by North American standards. (See Browns, Cleveland, above.)Though there was an argument that Leicester City’s odds should have been even longer, the greater consensus is that bookmakers grossly underestimated the Foxes. (And the bookmakers have admitted as much.) After their championship, at the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Leicester City found itself as the 13th highest valued team in the Premier League according to TransferMarkt, a website that assesses the talent value of each club-soccer player and team.3At the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Leicester was the 19th highest valued team in the Premier League via TransferMarkt, which probably dramatically underrated the team’s roster. But even the 19th-best team in the EPL has roughly 2,400-1 odds on average, according to the FiveThirtyEight model. So no matter how you slice it, those 5,000-1 odds were much too long. Leicester was never the best team in England, even when it won the Premier League crown, but it wasn’t the worst team in the EPL, either. Sure, the league title was improbable — but it probably wasn’t 5,000-1 improbable. That’s why the 465-1 number above seems about right in retrospect.(Here’s more evidence that Leicester City eventually settled into a tier befitting its true talent level: In the two seasons since winning the Premier League title, the Foxes have finished 12th and ninth, respectively. That might look disappointing when compared with their extraordinary 2015-16 season, but it also makes perfect sense when viewed through the lens of the team’s transfer-market value and other metrics.)In the case of Vegas, the Golden Knights’ long odds were certainly influenced by the fact that they were an expansion team — conventional wisdom assumed it was inconceivable that an expansion team stocked with hockey men who’d never played together could win the Stanley Cup. But Vegas’s odds also fall short in comparison with Leicester’s because an improbable championship run is slightly easier in the NHL than the EPL. Hockey has a salary cap to promote balance; soccer teams spend money like it’s going out of style. Hockey’s standings have a wacky loser point to introduce needless confusion; soccer’s table is cold and uncompromising. Hockey’s playoffs are a crapshoot; soccer doesn’t even bother to have playoffs.Of course, like Leicester, Vegas also might return to earth next season. There’s no question that forward William Karlsson has been a revelation,4Part of this must be because he’s played about 42 percent more minutes per game in Vegas than he did the previous season in Columbus, and also that he’s been tasked with more offensive zone responsibility. but his shooting percentage is bound to regress, which means he’s probably not going to be a back-to-back 40 goal scorer. Likewise, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is having by far the best postseason of his career, and one of the best postseasons in NHL history — a feat he’s unlikely to replicate next season. When Leicester City won the Premier League, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez each had the best seasons of their respective Premier League careers. And while each player has been very good since, neither has managed to produce the numbers he did during that magical championship run. The Knights have their share of players who fit the same description.But whether they’ll be good again next year doesn’t matter much to Vegas right now: They’ve already made history as the first NHL expansion team to make a championship series in 50 years. And though the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues did indeed make the Stanley Cup final in their first NHL season, they did so by winning a six-team conference stocked exclusively with other teams playing their first NHL season. The Golden Knights had to navigate a notoriously difficult Western Conference playoff stocked with established NHL franchises. Now, they are just four wins away from becoming the only NHL expansion team to win a Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.Maybe Karlsson only scores 27 goals next year. Maybe Fleury transforms back into the inconsistent goalie we saw in Pittsburgh. If they do so for the defending Stanley Cup champions, though, it’s a safe bet that no one in Las Vegas will care. read more