Thursday, April 30, 2009

On The Road Again... And Again... And Again

Let's hope the Rocket City United team bus gets good gas mileage. With 5 matches on the road before their home opener on May 30, RCU will travel 2464 miles round trip to face foes in four different states. I'm sure there are first division teams in Europe that don't travel that much in a full season.

RCU start their month long odyssey this weekend on the road against new NPSL squad Saturn FC of Atlanta. They'll follow that with relatively short jaunt to Birmingham next Saturday to meet another NPSL newcomer, Pumas FC. Then it's on to Clinton, MS the following weekend to take on the Mississippi Brilla of the United Soccer League's Premier Development League. Memorial Day weekend sees RCU travel to Jacksonville, FL for US Open Cup Qualifying for USASA Region III where they will play 3 matches in as many days.

RCU Crisscrosses the Southeast in May

About this weekend's game… RCU goes into the NPSL regular season with a preseason record of 3 wins and 2 losses. Meanwhile, Saturn FC comes into the season looking to rebound from it's disappointing 0:2 loss in the Atlanta Copa Hispana to fellow NPSL side and "Atlanta Classico" foe, Atlanta FC.

The teams have met before in Superliga competition, splitting their two matches in high scoring affairs. RCU took the first encounter in Huntsville by a score of 4:2. The return fixture saw RCU on the wrong end of 3:7 goal fest in the final game of Superliga season.

RCU Coach Greg Petersen is expecting "a competitive match" and by the goal tallies of there two previous meetings, the goalkeepers are sure to have a busy day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Petersen's 730 WUMP Appearance

Rocket City United Coach Greg Petersen appeared on the Johnny "Ballpark" Franks show on SportsRadio 730 The Ump today. I didn't have a way to record the interview and I'm no stenographer. So, please for give me, Greg, if I misquote.

RCU's Greg Petersen

On the upgrade in personnel from last year, including what he looks for in players: "[RCU Players] must be good with the ball, including defenders... They must be intelligent and dynamic . Something that I think coaches in every sport are looking for. I really think that we've improved that dramatically [in the offseason]."

On local players to watch: Petersen talked extensively about Grissom grad, Paul Willoughby. "I wouldn't be surprised to see Paul sign a pro contract very soon." He also mentions UAH grad Rafa Barbosa and that he is exciting to watch.

On North Alabama in comparison to soccer in other parts of the world: "North Alabama has some of the best athletes in the country." He went on to describe Derek Pirtle and Sutton Shultz as terrific athletes with raw talent that he is exited to see develop.

On RCU President, Andy Zorovich: "Andy really knows the business side of the game… and how to engage the community." Petersen mentioned the recent very successful Blood drive sponsored by RCU.

On the first match this weekend against Saturn FC: "We are playing down in Atlanta against a team we know pretty well having played them in SuperLiga this summer. I'm expecting a competitive match… at this point, the more competitive the match, the better it is for us."

I'll have more on the upcoming RCU season later this week.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Catchin' Up Is Hard To Do

I'm back from vacation. So, here are few notables that occurred during my absence.

Rocket City United updates

RCU releases their 2009 roster and will take part in the US Open Cup qualifying tournament. They'll be taking on other tops teams from South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. They'll be split into two groups of four playing a game each day over the Memorial Day weekend with the group winners advancing to the actual US Open Cup Tournament. Modeled similarly to the on the English FA Cup tournament, the US Open Cup is in its 95th year and open to all US Soccer affiliated clubs. It's a single elimination tournament and if teams continues to win, they get to play against the pros. It's great drama when the underdog pulls off the upset against the "big" clubs.

World Cup in Alabama update

As I mentioned in my prior post on the subject, several of the stadiums put forth in a list by US Soccer World Cup Bid organizers are not suitable for World Cup soccer matches. The list has now been pared down to 58. The only Alabama stadium surviving the cut down is Legion Field in Birmingham.

Just for fun

I'm not a big fan of the show "Lost", but I still thought this US Soccer/Lost cast look a like comparison was hilarious.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Out of Office

A few things before I go on a week long vacation tomorrow…

US Soccer has launched an official Supporters Club. For $49.95, you get:

  • A special edition scarf
  • Priority status to purchase 2010 World Cup tix prior to sale to the general public
  • Priority status to purchase USMNT game tix prior to sale to the general public
  • Team yearbook
  • Discount at

Fox Soccer Channel officially announced that they will indeed be broadcasting the UEFA Champions League starting next season, and it plans to be broadcasting in HD by the end of 2009. Here are some of the highlights of the announcement.

  • Fox Sports Network channels including Fox Sports South will broadcast 16 live matches
  • Final will be broadcast on FX
  • FSC will show one live and 2 rebroadcasts each match day
  • FSC will have live pregame and postgame shows from its LA studios
  • FSC will have a 30 minute highlight show each matchday
  • will have video highlights
  • Setanta will continue to air select matches

Last night, Rocket City United played an impromptu friendly against the newly crowned Over-30 Alabama champion Law Dogs.

RCU pressed their advantage in years and quickness early to score 2 quick goals within the first 10 minutes. With ages twice that of some of their competitors, the Old Law Dogs struggled to chase down the RCU attackers as they switched the ball from one attacker to the other. It didn't get much better for the Old Law Dogs as Rafa Barbosa, Derek Pirtle, and Norbert Webley of RCU seemed to have solved the finishing problems they experienced in the 2008 campaign. RCU found net several more times to end the first half at an astounding 8:0 advantage.

The onslaught abated only slightly after the halftime break. After capitalizing on an errant back passes and some breathless dribbling by Barbosa, RCU tallied 4 more times. However, all was not lost for the Old Dogs. After some nice combination work by Old Dogs' midfielders Donald Lao, Joseph Lawrence, and Yuni Heo, Steve Provencio was taken down from behind in the area only to have no whistle blow. Another chance fell to the ever present Lao, but the ball wouldn't settle for him from just above the spot and the chance was wasted. After several minutes of pressure, the break finally came. A poor clearance of an Old Dog corner kick fell to John "Nasty" Lawrence on the wing. Nasty did well to elude several challenges and send in a seeing eye cross for aerial specialist Ryan Harbaugh to nod down past a helpless Jeffrey Preston in the RCU goal. RCU calls for offside went unheard as Harbaugh timed his run to perfection. Shortly after, full time had been reached and handshakes were exchanged on a good run out for both teams.

RCU has added a home and away series with the Mississippi Brilla of the PDL to its 2009 schedule. Go here or more info and other RCU news.

Monday, April 13, 2009

HASL Anniversary and a Few Randoms...

HASL celebrates its silver anniversary this year. Read more about it here.

Clint Dempsey scored 2 in a win over Man City this weekend. Read more about it here. Note the description of Zamora's pass to set up Dempsey's second goal. That's the impetus for the name of the blog.

I thought that this was the goal of the week...

...Until I saw this one.

Now, that's a golazo-azo-aaaaaazoooooo!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Future World Cup Matches in Alabama?

Earlier this week, the US World Cup Bid Committee released a list of 70 possible stadiums that could host a world cup match should the USA be awarded the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup. Included in that list are Legion Field in Birmingham, Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, and Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.

As much as I'd like to see one of these stadiums host a World Cup match, this list should not be taken seriously. I'm sure the idea of releasing this impressive list is to drum up publicity about the USA bid and to insure to FIFA that there is no chance of the worries that stadiums will not be completed in time like they are currently experiencing in South Africa. If FIFA picks the USA to host , we will have a wide variety of large capacity all-seater buildings in place. All of these stadiums have the modern amenities like press boxes, built-in camera areas, concourses, and good access to transportation. FIFA would just have to say the word...

However, most of the stadiums on the list are American football stadiums that would require modifications (for example, laying down grass over artificial turf) or a relaxing of the FIFA field standards in order to host a World Cup soccer match. A field for World Cup play must be a minimum of 68 meters wide and must have at least 6 meters in width before the seating area. Many American Football stadium just aren't wide enough in the corners to meet this requirement.
Does this field meet the FIFA width requirement? Um, nope.

Even the ones that do meet the width requirement aren't built with soccer in mind. Take LP Field in Nashville. While it has successfully hosted several international matches already, the sight lines are built for American Football. The elevation and the steepness of the stands are designed to allow people to see over the 40-plus giant players and staff standing on the sidelines of each play. A spectator sitting in behind the first few rows cannot see near side touch line at all on a soccer field.

Unfortunately, the stadiums that are being built with soccer in mind, including all of the stadiums built by MLS clubs, are far too small in capacity to meet the minimum capacity to host a World Cup match of 40,000 seats. So, this is the type of list you see.

Of course, maybe an MLS team who hasn't yet built a stadium will take the leap and build one with a 40,000 seat capacity. Are you listening my beloved, DC United? Nope, you've probably got your head in the sand after PG County said "Take a hike!" to your latest stadium proposal. Oh well...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ahh, Good Times

Sam's Army wooping it up

So, a good time was had by all. The boys put 3 past the bad guys. Sam's Army was out in force leading the south stands in all the usual songs. Almost 28,000 of crammed the lower bowl and spilled into the club section. Not really a bad seat in the house. The only complaint I can think of is that the near touchline wasn't visible from the sideline seats, but that's typical in games in football stadiums.

Seemed to me that everyone was having a good time, even the TnT fans , despite their team's poor performance.

TnT percusionist providing a great atmosphere

Hanging with My Hombres

One of the great things about soccer in the US is the approachability of the players. They don't have posses. They aren't rock stars. Ok, maybe Frankie Hejduk is a rock star.

"Hello, Nash-ville!"

Anyway, US pro soccer player aren't jaded by the spotlight or years of idolatry. In fact, they tend to be great guys.

My buddy Matt and his pals went down to Broadway after the match Wednesday night and ran into most of the US players just hanging out after the game. They were all very cool and took photos with anyone who asked.

US midfielder Sacha Kljestan and Leo

US Forward Brian Ching and Matt (not sure who's chin that is)

US star forward Landon Donovan and Matt with GK Brad Guzan (background)

US defender Danny Califf, Matt and US midfielder Pablo Mastroeni getting their "country" on

Random US soccer fan and US defender Carlos Bocanegra

Leo and US defender Jonathan Bornstein

RCU Announce New, New Uniform Supplier

Rocket City United has announced that it has ended its relationship with uniform supplier Baliston and replaced them with Bullfrog Sportwear. They've also replaced the black/white striped look with a broad red vertical stripe trimed with black with white down the sides and on the sleeves.

RCUs new shirt mockup

I like the new look. It's reminicent of the old Ajax Amsterdam look. Classic.

Customized shirts can be purchased here, but supplies are limited.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

US Defends the Homeland in Nashville

Scoreboard at LP Field shows Man of the Match Altidore

The USMNT remained at the top of the Hexagonal table by getting it done at home with a 3:0 win over TnT. Jozy "is not a girl's name" Altidore tallied a hat trick as the US unwrapped the TnT defense time and again. Over 27,000 filled the lower bowl of LP Field to take part in what was the largest crowd to ever see a soccer game in Tennessee. So much for my concerns about attendance.

The US solves the TnT defense again, but can't convert

In addition to Altidore's finishing, Landon Donovan showed his class by assisting on all three goals. The first goal was set up with a precise laser to a steaking Altidore after a clinical flick on by hardworking Brian Ching.

Donovan serves up a free kick

Donovan deftly turned a defender, and streaked down the flank to drop the ball into Altidore's path for the second goal. Altidore did the rest by dancing past a clumsy challenge and slotting home from 10 yards. The final goal was a lesson in humility as both Michael Bradley and Donovan passed up golden opportunities to go to goal. Donovan passed back to an on rushing Altidore who smacked a low, hard one-timer that slipped through the TnT goalkeeper's grasp and nestled into the back of the net.

I'll have another post later on the fan experience at the game.