Podcast: Five biggest soccer stories of 2011

Martin Rogers
Yahoo! Sports

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There have been times when soccer seemed to go into standby mode in the year after a World Cup, a lull following a storm in the life of the beautiful game.

Yet 2011 was a dramatic exception, providing a steady stream of thrills, spills and controversial storylines to keep the entertainment bubbling in the months that followed the excitement of South Africa last summer.

This week's Yahoo! Soccer Podcast, in conjunction with World Football Daily, counts down the five biggest soccer stories of the year, from dramatic moments, to brilliant play, to political controversy.

[ Listen to Martin Rogers' Yahoo! Soccer Podcast ]

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Experienced American writer Ives Galarcep, of Fox Soccer and the Soccer by Ives website, joins host Martin Rogers to discuss two issues that dominated discussion on the home front.

The axing of Bob Bradley and subsequent hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann marked a change in approach for the U.S. men's national team, following the side's 4-2 defeat to Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

In Major League Soccer, the Los Angeles Galaxy finally won its first title of the David Beckham era, beating the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup final, in what looks likely to be the England midfielder's final competitive game stateside before moving to French team Paris-Saint Germain.

England's 2011 Sports Writer of the Year James Lawton, of the Independent newspaper, joins the show to discuss the topic of racism in soccer, with Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Chelsea's John Terry both in the headlines after being accused of inappropriate comments on the field of play.

European football correspondent Andy Brassell and Rogers break down the magnificent year enjoyed by Spanish, European and world club champion Barcelona, which continued to go from strength to strength spearheaded by the brilliance of Lionel Messi.

Finally, women's soccer icon Brandi Chastain calls in to discuss the No. 1 moment of the year – Abby Wambach's thrilling last-minute goal against Brazil in the Women's World Cup quarterfinal. Wambach's header helped the side stay alive and continue its run all the way to the final, where it lost on penalties to Japan.

[ Yahoo! Year in Review: The standout news of 2011 ]

By then though, the nation had fallen in love with a dedicated and earnest group of women who epitomized much of what is good in soccer.

Rogers and World Football Daily co-host Sophie Nicolaou round out the podcast by playing their weekly games of Agree or Disagree, Teacher's Marks and Premier Predictions.

To have your questions answered in next week's show please message Martin Rogers on Twitter at @mrogersyahoo.

To subscribe to the full version of World Football Daily, go to www.worldfootballdaily.com and sign up to receive one of three gifts: a Bumpy Pitch cap, a limited edition Lionel Messi T-shirt or a copy of "The Soccer Men," the new book by Simon Kuper.

And to download the Yahoo! Soccer Podcast on iTunes search for "Yahoo Sports Radio – Martin Rogers."

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