Arsenal Is Out of the FA Cup -- Yesterday, Reading outplayed Manchester United, but couldn't pull off the upset, because of defensive breakdowns, and poor goalkeeping, during the first six minutes, which resulted in three Manchester goals and a 3-2 Manchester victory. I would not try to suggest that Blackburn outplayed Arsenal today. Neither team was especially great, but Blackburn generated exactly one good chance. The difference in the game is that second-half substitute Bennie McCarthy delivered a game-winning strike for the Rovers, while goalie Brad Friedel made several great plays to keep Blackburn in the game (Games like this make me daydream about how the World Cup might have gone differently for the USA, if Friedel had not decided to sit it out). Perhaps it was unfair for the Rovers to play Friedel, when most teams allow their back-ups to play in such competitions. On the other hand, you can't argue with the result. Blackburn's on to the quarterfinals.
For Arsenal, it's been a tough week, having lost to Chelsea in the Carling Cup final. Arsenal is still alive in the Champions' League, but trails PSV Eindhoven 1-0 going into next week's rematch. If they lose that, the only thing they will have left to play for is to ensure their bid to Europe (Champions League) next year.
Other soccer notes: The AP reported yesterday that there will be a women's professional league again in the U.S., next year. It will be a pared-down version with only five teams, including one in the nation's capital (teams will be in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas).
The men's CONCAFAF club championship resumes play tonight, with two Mexican squads trying to secure their places in the semifinals. Both DC United and the Houston Dynamo play their next matches tomorrow. D.C. United is sitting pretty, having won 4-1 in Honduras. The Dynamo need a win to advance.