Thursday, December 31, 2009
2002 was a special year for the US in the World Cup in South Korea. The team was packed with exciting players who may not have been superstars, but were a special group of players. After squeaking through the group stage, they posted the first of the many "Dos a Cero" victories over Mexico in the round of 16. Then, they took on the mighty, mighty Germans, who they outplayed. Here's recently fount these highlights of that match.
USA outplays Germany, but still comes up short
I watched the match with several thousands of my fellow soccer fanatics at RFK Stadium's big screen TV. And I remember thousands going nuts when Tony Sanneh's header hit the net. We all thought it went in, but it wasn't and the US were suddenly out.
I still get miffed about the Tortsten "Fingers" Fring's no-call handball. After the Hand of Gaul, the Irish now know how we feel.
USSF Deny USL and NASL
The USSF has refused to sanction either the USL or the upstart NASL as a legitimate Division 2 league. Instead they have been given a week to work out their differences. What isn't clear is what will happens when they do or do not work out those differences? Here's a pretty good podcast discussing the situation.
US Soccer Dissing About The South
With the possibility that there will be no second division soccer in the US this year, the folks at MLSTalk have written about US Soccer's forgotten land; the south.
PDL More Important Than Given Credit
Here is an article that discusses the importance of the USL's Premier Developement League. A mostly amature league that has quietly developed players for years to prepare them for the big time leagues, including a large amount MLS current crop of players. The NPSL is a direct competitor with the PDL and is trying to duplicate some of its success developing players for the higher level of professional soccer.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wow! I did not know this...
Great stuff from the Onion. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.
"Fundamentally, what they sought in the New World was freedom to practice any sport they wished," historian and author Bruce Wright said. "The Pilgrims thought people should not be forced to conform to one single game, especially one in which the hands went unused.""We must keep in mind what these radical Puritans believed about idle hands," Wright added.
Jimmy Conrad's "Perfect World"
...Speaking of funny stuff, Jimmy Conrad has Part 2 of his future vision for MLS. The dude is pretty hilarious.
Players v MLS: It's getting serious
... And speaking of MLS, here's a very good run down of the issues at stack in the Collective Bargaining negotiations between the players and MLS. A work stoppage would be disastrous to the US soccer. Between this and the USL v NASL, there is s a lot to wring you hands over in the next few weeks. Maybe Boots will have to save the day on this one too.
USMNT World Cup Tix Available to General Public
US Soccer has opened its allotment of tickets to the 2010 World Cup for sale to the general public. Those who want to order tickets for USMNT games will need to submit pre-application data to US Soccer by Jan. 11, 2010
Referees: Those Without Ego Need Not Apply
MLS referees have not had the best reputation. Angelo Bratsis is trying to change that. The former FIFA referee and current MLS referee instructor gave a very interesting interview about what it takes to be successful in the thankless task, including something I was surprised to read: a healthy dose of ego.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Igor Popovich, who played with Rocket City United during the 2008 season prior to spending the 2009 season with Buffalo City FC, may suit up in 2010 against his former team. The Brazilian midfielder has been participating in the recent Chattanooga FC tryouts and is one of the 57 players who are still in the running for a 2010 ChatFC roster spot.
Popovich scored a terrific free kick goal for RCU at 2:15 of this video
Monday, December 28, 2009
Speaking of missing the matches due to work, here is a nice little article from EPL Talk to remind us that we in America work too much. :)
Missing the old days
It's a lot like when I went to see Blink 182 in 1995 and was one of 5 guys in the joint. I had room to pull off all of my fancy dance steps. Five years later, I took my nephew to see them play an arena show and we had to share the experience with 20,000 others. My round-house skank just didn't seem as much fun when I kept bumping into teeny-boppers by the hundreds.
It's just like soccer now. Instead of walking up before kick-off, going right up to the ticket counter, paying for the cheap seats and ignoring the number on the ticket to sit down right at the midfield stripe, now we'll have to start buying season tickets just to make sure we get in the stadium. And the referee won't be able to hear me call him a bum anymore!
I'm going to start missing those days. Just call me an old curmudgeon! :)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Thanks again to Chris for providing content while I convalesced. I learned a few things about H1N1. According to my doctor it's actually been less severe than the regular flu virus, but it's very contagious; both my daughter and wife now have it. Please try your best to stay away from it. So, wash your hands and cover your mouth while coughing/sneezing. Back to our normal content now...
Weekend Warrior is Back!!!
The boys over at SouthernSoccer.net are at it again. They will be putting on the 3rd Annual Weekend Warrior 6-aside Tournament again on the Valentine's Day weekend at the John Hunt Soccer Complex. There'll be more divisions so old guys like myself won't take myself out the week before HASL trying to track down a kid half my age. We'll done Jacob, Rob and crew...
And Andy Zorovich is Back
I had been slacking over at the NPSL Insider for a while. So, I've posted the remaining portions of my interview with RCU Prez and NPSL SE Commish Andy Zorovich as an apology. Check it out.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Rafa Benitez (Liverpool) Xabi Alonso, Retirement bungalow on Costa del Sol
Leonardo (AC Milan) Good players under 30 years old, anyone under 30
Louis van Gaal (Bayern Munich) Someone to buy Luca Toni @ fire-sale price
Jose Mourinho (Inter) Zlatan Ibrahimovic; Chelsea’s central defenders
Sir Alex (Man Utd) No more injuries; EPL title
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) No more injuries; EPL title
Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea) No more West Ham, or Wigan; Michael Ballack as stand-up comic
Pep Guardiola (Barcelona) Tranquillo. I have all I need.
Manuel Pellegrini (Real Madrid) More attacking players, less grey hair
Fabio Capello (England) English-style catenaccio; Realistic expectations from England fans
Javier Aguirre (Mexico) Tae Kwon Do lessons
Bob Bradley (USA) Good performances when Americans are actually watching
Andy Zorovich (RCU Owner) Rafa Barbosa lands male modeling job in Huntsville, April-July, 2010, returns from Brazil
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
With RCU's recent coaching change, this article from former Chicago Fire General Manager Peter Wilt for Pitch Invasion was a timely read. It's a very interesting look into the types of things organizations consider when sorting through candidates to run their team.
Oh no Jens...
The Stuttgart keeper had already endured a busy week that included public criticism of the board – and peeing on an advertising board in the Champions League win over Unirea. "He handled it quite expertly," was the sporting director Horst Heldt's verdict. Bild, however, wondered why the referee hadn't shown the keeper a yellow card. (No pun intended, we presume).Here's hoping the former Arsenal netminder can keep his head together for a few more weeks. He is just too entertaining a figure for him to retire now.
More On Diving
Here's another quality article from the Guardian. This one is on the hypocrisy of the English player who claims to abhor flopping, only to look like they are on iceskates once they enter the penalty area. BTW, the same can be said about American players. I've heard that players from the US are too "honest" to dive, but those people have never watched Chris Rolfe or Taylor Twellman hit the deck. It happens in MLS, too.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
another article on the event.
Diving: It's getting bad
Another Long Distance Goal
Hondoran Maynor Figueroa hits a bomb from a quickly taken free kick. Nice goal!
Today's History Lesson
In an effort to get to know the USA World Cup opponent Algeria better, here's a quick lesson about the growth of soccer in Algeria.
FSC To Go HD In January
According to EPL Talk, Fox Soccer Channel has confirmed that they are starting their HD broadcasting next month. When they do go HD, you'll have to verify that your carrier is also going to provide the HD channel. To do this, FSC has created a Channel Finder tool. Unfortunately, there is no provider info available for my zip yet, but I hope this changes in January.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Here's the transcript of my questions and his answers. As one would imagine, he has a lot of interesting insights on the team and the league.
After the success of the 2009 squad, what was the difference between the team that made it to the NPSL Final Four and the previous year's team that struggled to pick up league victories?
The major reasons for the change from being on the bottom and literally going to the top in one season were as follows:
01.) I had complete say in the selection of players for the 2009 NPSL team. I had no say on the 2008 NPSL team. The 2008 NPSL team was already selected and established before I arrived. I promised no changes to the roster. This gave me an opportunity to evaluate the players’ within the scheme I use. By the end of the 2008 NPSL season, it was very clear what players had a future with Rocket City United.
02.) The 2008 Super-Liga was very important to the success of the 2009 NPSL team. It gave me time to work with the team and individual players on their roles and responsibilities within my system. It gave players from the 2008 team who were on the bubble of making the 2009 NPSL roster a first-hand opportunity to work with me closely. A player who really took advantage of this was Brian Hadley. A questionable selection for the 2009 season, but the time spent in Super-Liga season earned Hadley a position on the 2009 NPSL roster. And as we know Hadley was a major contributor to the 2009 NPSL team. It also gave me an opportunity to evaluate new players. Super-Liga helped identify Derek Pirtle and Fernando Sanchez were as individuals with the ability to be productive in my scheme.
What lead to your departure from RCU?
Before I answered this question, it is important for me to stress how much my family and I miss Northern Alabama. We would like to call it home! We really love it! The people we meet and got to know are just such quality. Special thanks to Sandra Steele, Dustin Carroll, Bryan Boyd, Mark Lee, Tim Simmons, Kathleen Engfinger, Martin Schneekloth Jason Batchelor, Jim and Maureen Baird, Madison and Huntsville AYSO, Aunt Jane at Fresh Market, Olde Towne Brewery, RCU players and staff, and to our friends at the Village of Providence, the Scene and Monaco Pictures and the Ledges. Everyone we got to know made our time in Huntsville very special. I cannot tell how much I going to miss my drive to the County every day!
Concerning my departure? This has 2 facets.
The NPSL. It when I first got the call from former RCU GM Eddie Davidson asking me if I was interested in coaching RCU, I thought he was out of his mind, but I am very happy I decided to come to Huntsville, he are my thoughts on the NPSL:
01.) The Southeast Division had many good teams and players that played a high level of soccer. I was very happy with the level of the competition.
02.) The teams in the National Finals in Madison were very good!
03.) No player restrictions concerning Nationality or age.
04.) Ryan Knapp and the NPSL Insider.
05.) Travel within the Southeast division demands were very reasonable.
06.) One match a week.
01.) The season is too short.
02.) You have no control or rights over players. All NPSL teams are amateur. Any NPSL team who thinks they get a transfer on one of their players is not dealing with reality.
03.) Current NPSL leadership is not qualified to take the NPSL to the next level what ever that might be. Where is the new website? I really hope Andy has input on the leadership and direction of the league. Changes must take in order for the NPSL to move ahead.
04.) The 2009 NPSL Final, other than the team attending and the broadcasting, was a very unprofessional event. NPSL and local host failed miserably in putting on this event. The NPSL needs to make the finals their yearly showcase and provide an environment for everyone involved to shine. Next season finals I know will be first-class because it will be in Huntsville or Madison.
My working and personal relationship with Andy is and was VERY, VERY good! We worked very well with each other. We actually accomplished a lot together. I like and miss Andy! I never had any problems with him and everything we agreed to was honored. The problem here lies with the timing of my career. I was the only full-time coach in the NPSL, but still respectfully speaking, financially I was being paid what I was making 10 years ago. I needed to more money to stay or needed to be offered an equity position in the club, especially with my impact with the rapid development and success of the club. This did not happen. Andy needs to understand his financial investment is not the only investment that is going to make RCU successful. At the end of the day Andy is responsible for making RCU possible and he has worked and contributed in a non-financial way significantly, but the positive status of Rocket City United within the community is a result of other people’s work. In reality Andy cannot truly pay quality technical individuals what they are worth. The new Technical Director is a very competent high level technician and manager, but he will not be moving to Huntsville at this moment full-time, probably just for the season. He is also very experienced and intelligent. It will be only a matter of time before he starts asking himself “Who is really responsible for building this club?” Andy needs to sweeten the pie or it will be only a matter of time before he loses another quality technical director. Andy cannot sustain the high level that RCU currently represents on his own.
What will the next coach of RCU need to do to continue the winning tradition that you've established? NOTE: This interview was conducted prior to the announcement of Desmond Armstrong as the new RCU TD. However, as Greg indicates, he was aware that Armstrong would be hired.
I am very happy with Andy’s choice of coach [of Desmond Armstrong]. This assumes of course everything is finalized and agreed to. Also things could change if Robin Fraiser is named the Head Coach of MLS’s DC United. This class individual is very qualified and I know he will still promote the attacking soccer RCU is known for, but he also is his own man and do things his own way.
What will it take in order to have continued success? Last years team was very good, but don’t assume everyone will be coming back. Some players will move on to higher levels and others will go to other NPSL or PDL teams. The good news is RCU takes care of the players from out of town well. Also there is a good talent pool of college players from the regional colleges and Universities.
What are you doing now?
After the season I went home to the San Francisco Bay Area to spend time with my step-father. He was very ill suffering from chronic leukemia, tongue cancer, and hepatitis B. Things were quite serious at one time, but now he is doing so well he has returned to his psychiatry practice. The doctors at Stanford finally figured out the treatments for each aliment were affecting the other, which was major reason my step-father was gravely ill. During this time I had a lot of time to catch up with friends and family. Soccer-wise I was doing guest coaching with my friends’ youth clubs. I am still trying to figure out what youth soccer in American has to do with developing professional soccer players.
Currently I am in Bulgaria, as my wife’s mother had a stroke recently, and we are here to help her. I also have had and will have some soccer business to take care of in Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Barcelona. In January, I will be announcing in English at least 3 African Nation Cup matches in Paris for games being televised in Africa. Not only do I get to scout the talent in Africa, but I get to spend time with my French colleagues Noel Tosi and Eric Descombes.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
What should we expect from this match? Well, if history is any indication, not much from the US perspective. The US holds a measley 2-0-7 record against the motherland, although one of those victories was during a World Cup.
The First Upset
The first meeting between the two teams was during the 1950 World Cup tournament held in Brazil. A rag-tag group of semi-pro US players mostly from the St. Louis ethnic neighborhoods defeated the vaunted England squad. The England roster featured the legendary midfielder Stanley Matthews, but Matthew's was rested for the match after having arrived in Brazil late from a Canadian tour.
In front of a paltry crowd of only 10,000 at the Estadio Raimundo Sampaio in Belo Horizonte, Joe Gaetjens would score the gamewinner on a 38th minute diving header. That goal would stand and shock the world as few could believe that the US defeated England 1:0. Interestingly, some in the English press thought the scoreline over the wire was a mistake and reported the score as a 10:0 England win.
The story of the game inspired a book by Geoffrey Douglas called The Game of Their Lives and a movie of the same name. As an aside, I answered a casting call for that movie. They were looking for extras who former players to play during some of the soccer sequences. Unfortunately for my acting career, I was not selected.
Preview from the movie The Game of Their Lives
The Second Upset
The only other result for the US was a 1993 US Cup victory at Foxboro Stadium in which Thomas Dooley and Alexi Lalas both scored on headers over an England team who would eventually fail to qualify for the 1994 World Cup held in the USA.
The 7 England Vicories
England has dominated the remaining matches between the two nations scoring 35 goals and only allowing 5 Yank goals. The two most recent matches in 2005 and 2008 were mostly one sided affairs in which the US looked intimidated to be facing players they watch on TV every weekend.
Can the Yanks pull the upset again?
As much as the US National Team has improved over the years, you'd be hard pressed to think that they'll gain a result. England is a world power. They will be favored and rightly so. Will the US earn a result? I'm going to cop out and say I don't know. The US team is the model of inconsistency. They are capable of beating a world power like Spain on any given day, but just as likely to tie or lose to a team like Haiti the next. It's frustratingly difficult to guess which team will show up.
One thing is for sure. It will be very interesting to see how the US team who normally operates outside the bright spotlight of the general US sporting media reacts under what will undoubtedly be an intense coverage. If they can handle the hype and subsequent pressure, they could very well do it again and shock England for a third time. At least, that's what I'm hoping.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
RCU president Andy Zorovich comments on the hiring.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Armstrong talks about watching live soccer, the passion of the game, identifying local players, and the RCU youth soccer programs.
I stopped by the stadium after the press conference and was impressed with it. Built in 2003, it seats a few thousand and will meet the needs of RCU.
Zorovich was also proud to announce that Madison would play host the NPSL Final Four at the end of July. "This year the championship for our league will be held here. It's going to be a great opportunity... Hopefully, we'll be playing in that final game on July 31st. That's the goal that we'll have for the team." After setting that lofty expectation, Zorovich gave the floor to Armstrong to address the media.
Desmond Armstrong addresses the media
I'll be posting more footage from the press conference later today.
Madison City Mayor is pumped for the 2010 season, ""We are proud and excited to have the Rocket City United soccer team call Madison "home" for the 2010 season!"
Run out and pick up a copy today. Then, get Fernando to sign it. When he signs for a big club, you can sell it on eBay!!! :)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Rocket City United and the Perfectly Weighted Through Blog are getting some love from the national and local media. In his Soccer Insider blog, one of the nation's foremost soccer reporters, Steven Goff of the Washington Post, gives a shout out to RCU's hiring of local DC product, Desmond Armstrong, by posting links to RCU and the PWTBlog.
Not to be outdone, local Huntsville blogger Jean Brandau has also mentioned the Armstrong hire and linked to RCU in her Huntsville Insider blog.
ESPN will focus on World Cup Games
ESPN has vowed to keep to their announcing crews focused on the game they are calling rather than try to educated the soccer unintiated during the game broadcasts. This type of pandering to "Joe Sportsfan" was widely panned during the 2006 World Cup when ESPN brought in baseball announcer Dave O'Brien as the network's primary play by play announcer. This is terrific news to those of us that don't need to have someone explain the offside rules and don't care that Sacha Kljestan's girlfriend is a Victoria Sectret model.
To try help grab the interest of the average sportsfan, ESPN will focus thier human interest stories during thier secondary coverage. Also, ESPN has gained the rights to past matches from previous World Cups and will show many of those matches on ESPN Classic. This summer is going to be awesome!
Refereeing is hard!
The Wall Street Journal has a great article about just how hard it is to ref a soccer game.
USA World Cup Bid Video
In case you haven't seen it. Here is the USA's World Cup bid video delivered to FIFA during the World Cup draw last week.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Armstrong made 81 appearances for the US National Team including all three matches during the 1990 World Cup in Italy. He was also a member of the CONCACAF Gold Cup winning USA teams in 1991 and 1993 and a member of the 1988 US Olympic team. His club resume includes the Cleveland Force and Baltimore Blast indoor teams as well as the APSL side Maryland Bays and Santos FC of Brazil.
After retiring as a player in 1996, Armstrong was named head coach of NAIA's Montreat College in North Carolina. Armstrong holds a USSF "A" coaching license (the highest possible) and is a founder of Heroes FC, a youth club which he led to the Division I US Club Soccer National Cup III title in 2004.
Armstrong will take on a Rocket City United team that won the Southeast Region of the National Premier Soccer League in 2009. RCU finsihed the season with a 5-2-1 league record (8-6-2 overall) on thier way to the NPSL National semifinals.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I don't know why, but I find this ball to be fascinating. As I've posted earlier, FIFA's new official World Cup ball is called the Jubalani and is the most technologically advanced ball ever.
The Guardian has a nice info-graphic with some cool tidbits on the ball.
Normally when the phrase "beer bath" is mentioned in a soccer article, it's in reference to a championship celebration. This post is an exception.
Get Your Official World Cup Gear At Walmart... Wait, Walmart?
You'll soon be able to pick up your official 2010 World Cup gear at Walmart. In a move that is surely designed to raise the international profile of the world's largest retailer rather than promote soccer in the heartland of America, Walmart signed an deal to operate 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Official Event Stores in each of it's 7,800 locations worldwide. So, get used to seeing a Christiano Ronaldo shirts next to that Jimmy Johnson jacket.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I got this email from Andy Zorovich announcing this Friday's RCU press conference. From the whispers I'm hearing, the new head coach will be a pretty big name!!!
Rocket City United will hold a press conference on Friday 12/11/09 at 9:30am at Madison City Hall to announce its 2010 plans and introduce its new Technical Director/Head Coach. We are very excited about 2010 with the World Cup being held right during the middle of our season and also being able to host the 2010 NPSL Final Four.Rocket City United. Where Soccer's a Kick in the Grass!Andy ZorovichPresidentRocket City United
Zorovich Talks NPSL Southeast Region
Over on the NPSL Insider, part 2 of my interview with Andy Zorovich covering the NPSL Southeast Region has been posted. Check it out.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Lee midfielder Lauren Good scored in the 15th minute and Christiane Christensen added one in the 27th minute to power Lee on to its second national championship in as many years. Lee's stellar defense pitched its fourth consecutive shutout over the Cinderella story Point Loma Nazarene as Lee finished the tournament without conceding a goal.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Point Loma Nazerene University 0:0 (3:0) Azusa Pacific University
Carl Spackler's favorite ("Cinderella story; out of nowhere"), Point Loma Nazarene, does it again, surviving 110 of scoreless soccer to win it in PKs.
Lee University 1:0 Concordia University
In a tale of two halves, Lee capitalized on one of their opportunities while Concordia was unable to do likewise.
So, the final will take place tomorrow at 7PM at the Jack Allen Soccer Complex in Decatur.
I know it's geeky, but you have to remember that I was an impressionable youth when these movies came out. :)
...England, Algeria, and Slovenia in Group C. This is a decent draw for the US!
Group of Death has to be Group G with Brazil, N. Korea, Ivory Coast, and Portugal.
This summer will be a fun one!
Was It Fixed?
The New York Times has a nice little article on the conspiracy theories that consistently arise around this time every four years. Heated/cooled ping pong balls, magnetic rings, or other slight of hand? Are you kidding me!?
World Cup 2010 In 3-D!!!
FIFA has announced that they will broadcast several games from South Africa in 3-D.
What's next, robots replace players?
Group of Death: The Band
Nope, we're not talking about Group G in today's draw. We're talking about the futbol favoring heavy metal band from the USA, Group of Death! They're just getting ready to kick-off their quadrennial world tour "GoD Help Us".
I'm more of a punk rock guy myself, but you gotta love the passion behind the soccer loving metal band. Here's their latest song We All Call It Awesome and a hilarious interview with This Is American Soccer.