Sunday, May 31, 2009

RCU vs Chat FC "Behind the Scenes"

As some of you know, I do TV commentary for Rocket City United along with my good friend and local soccer legend, John Moran. It's a lot of fun and also a lot of work. John and I prepare for the broadcast by spending hours trying to gather as much information as possible about RCU and their opponents. We do a lot of googling on the players, coaches, and the league itself. We also try to get out to practices a few times a week to get to know the tendencies of the players. Neither of us are expert broadcasters, but we do our best.

Here's a little behind the scenes peek at the RCU home opener last night.

John and Bill setting up the scaffolding where we shoot and do the broadcast.
This is a view of the press box from the field. For some reason the designers of the stadium press box did not account for video photography of the games being played at the stadium. So, we have to put the scaffolding up and shoot from there for unobstructed views.

RCU Head Coach Greg Petersen directs pregame warm-up

Referee Caleb Brown conducts the coin toss

These vids are shot with my hand-held Flip Mino video camera, as are most of the videos I post on the PWT-blog. Bill uses professional grade equipement and it really shows in the quality.
As the players walk out on the field, they aren't the only ones feeling the nerves. John and I are feeling them, too.

Norbert Webley gets wrapped by the training staff at halftime.

After talking for 90 minutes straight, John and I are surprisingly exhausted from the effort. Fortunately, we get to attend the post-game party and wet our tired lips at the Olde Towne Brewery.

After the hard fought game, players, team staff and members of the RCU Club attended the post game party at Olde Towne Brewery. The free beer alone is worth the price to join the RCU Club. :) For more info on how to join the Club, go here.

Rocket City United Tops Chattanooga FC in Home Opener

A crowd of over 600 packed the west stand of John Hunt Soccer Stadium and witnessed an exciting contrast in styles as RCU's flowing technical game lead them to a 2:0 victory over CFC's power and direct approach. CFC squandered chances early and late while RCU's Daniel Segewitz and Jesus Delgado made the most of their second half opportunities to give RCU the full 3 points that puts them on the top of the NPSL Southeastern Conference.

Full game reports can be found at the links below.

RCU Wins Home Opener, Beats Chattanooga FC 2-0

from the RCU website

Chattanooga FC loses well-played match to Rocket City United 2-0

from The Chattanoogan

Note: There wrongly credited the first goal to Norbert Webley.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

RCU "Meet the Players" Happy Hour

Ketchup at Bridgestreet was the site of last night's Rocket City United "Meet the Players" Happy Hour sponsored by Ketchup and Olde Towne Brewery. While some great little chicken tacos and Olde Towne Amber (YUM!) were served by the gracious hosts, several prominent members of the community mingled with RCU players and staff.

I was able to get a little face time with one of RCU's newest additions, Kempess Villafana.

Kempess Villafana discusses his impressions of RCU and chance of playing tonight

The exciting winger is nursing a hamstring injury and is doubtful for tonight's game. Tickets for tonight's match are available at the gate of John Hunt Soccer Stadium and kickoff is at 7PM.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rocket City United Home Opener Tomorrow Night

Rocket City United opens up its home schedule tomorrow night with a tilt against NPSL newcomer Chattanooga FC. RCU has the opportunity to go top of the Southeastern Conference table with a victory. Despite the heartbreaking failure to qualify for the US Open Cup last weekend, the club remains upbeat. Head Coach Greg Petersen kept practices this week light and loose as there are several players nursing injuries from the long weekend.

Nice end to end sequence during short sided game at RCU Practice

Chattanooga FC comes into tomorrow's match still searching for their first NPSL victory. Despite drawing an impressive crowd of over 1600 spectators to their inaugural match, the upstart club fell to the reigning NPSL Southeastern Conference champion Atlanta FC 1:3.

Petersen on what he knows about CFC

RCU will look to rebound from the disappointing results last weekend, and will also have to deal with some personnel issues, not the least of which is the absence of central defender Jason Sabio. Sabio is currently working out with the Philippine National Team who are ranked 166th in the FIFA World Rankings and looking to better that position. Add to that several players who are nursing injuries, and Petersen is definitely working with a short stack.

Game time is 7PM at John Hunt Soccer Stadium. There will be several special events including a kidzone, prize drawings for 2 season tickets, and a mini-ball giveaway to the first 100 fans through the gate. Mojo from WZYP will be broadcasting live from the stadium and there will be post game party for RCU Club members at the Olde Towne Brewery across the street from the stadium.

Also, if you're looking for something to do tonight, come out to Ketchup at Bridge Street Towne Centre at 5:30pm for a "Meet the Players" happy hour.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rocket City United Press

I was out at RCU's practice last night and met Scott Theisen from WAFF 48 as he was filming for an upcoming story on RCU's home opener. I'm pretty lame and didn't stay up late last night to see if aired then, but it should be shown soon.

Also, here are some links from some recent newsprint articles about RCU and thier upcoming opponents, Chattanooga FC.

Huntsville Times article about RCU's second season

Chattanoogan article about CFC's home opener

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Psyched Up!

Here's another sweet Champs League vid.

I Had A Dream

I woke up this morning with a vague recollection of a dream I had last night of a game I watched on TV that ended 6:5. What's that mean? Yep, today's match will end 0:0 and go to PKs.

Oh well, here are some more vids to get you hyped up even more.

ESPN's Champs League Commercial

Champs League Intro

Vintage Adidas Commercial

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where Are You Watching The CL Finals?

So, are you going to develop a case of 3 hour flu tomorrow afternoon? If so, where are you going to watch the Champions League final?

I know people are going to be at both local locations of Buffalo Wild Wings, and I heard that a few folks might go Monaco Pictures bar to catch the game. Personally, I like to watch at home, so I can scream at the TV in privacy.

What ever you do, please respect the hardworking souls who can't feign illness and are recording the game by not texting, emailing, or calling them with the results. That's just not fair. If you are going to watch the game and you have a HASL match tomorrow night, please don't jump out of your car and scream for all at Merrimack to hear, "Did you see that sick goal by Ronaldo/Messi/Henry/Rooney?!!!" The soccer gods do not take kindly to that type of behavior.

Anyway, here are some CL final related vids to enjoy.

The Making of Messi's Champions League Final Boots

Henry vs Giggs Rebok spot

Monday, May 25, 2009

RCU Out of US Open Cup

Rocket City United fell to Atlanta FC 1:2 yesterday in the penultimate match of the US Open Cup Region III Group II tournament eliminating RCU and seeing the Atlanta club into the next stage.

From the US Open Cup website... "After a scoreless first half, Rocket City scored the "coin flip" goal near the 65th minute, with players from Legends F.C. cheering on the sidelines. Almost three minutes later, Leonardo Sanchez scored for Atlanta off a corner kick, leveling the score at 1-1. Rocket City now needed a 2-1 win for a coin flip, and a 3-1 win to take the group outright. These hopes were dashed about ten minutes later, when Marcelo Garcia nodded in a cross from Abdul Bangura for a 2-1 Atlanta lead, which they would hold until the final whistle, becoming the first USASA team from Georgia to qualify for the Open Cup in the Professional Era."

RCU has its home opener this Saturday night against Chattanooga FC.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Goal, Gol, Tor, etc.

However you say it, it's fun to watch. RCU have uploaded some of the best goals of the 2008 season here.

RCU Need Win To Move On

After a 0:1 loss in difficult conditions to Legends FC of North Texas, RCU will need to win their Group II finale to for any hopes to advance to the knockout stages of the US Open Cup. Goalkeeper Jeffrey Preston was sent off for taking down the Legends forward on a breakaway resulting in a PK in the 68th minute. The kick from the mark was enough to give Legends the full points.

In a startling development, US Open Cup officials disqualified Dynamo New Tampa for fielding an ineligible player. FIFA rules dictate that all forfeits will be recorded as a 3:0 win for the opponent, thus negating RCU's 5:1 win over Dynamo.

These developments significantly effects the Group II table and not in favor of RCU. Prior to today's match, the updated table sees Atlanta FC sitting atop with 6 points (1 win, 1 forfeit) from 2 games and a plus 4 goal differential . Legends FC find themselves in second with 6 points from 3 games (1 win, 1 forfeit, 1 loss) and a goal differential of plus 3. RCU sit in third position with 3 points from 2 games (1 forfeit, 1 loss) and a goal differential of plus 2. Without the disqualifications RCU would be have 3 points (1 win, 1 loss) with a goal differential of plus 3.

So, where does this leave RCU now? Despite their current position, RCU still control their own destiny. A victory over Atlanta FC with more than one goal scored by RCU sees them through to the next stage uncontested. A loss or a tie for RCU would see Atlanta through to the next stage.

Interestingly, a 1:0 victory by RCU would cause the table to be knotted up like a debutante's stomach before the ball. All three clubs would be equal on Head to Head Results ,Goals Differential, Goals For, and Goals Against. A series of coin tosses would then determine the group victor. (Don't ask me for the procedure for the coin tosses.)

Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Kickoff is 11:30 AM central time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

RCU wins USOC Opener

RCU started its US Open Cup run well by defeating Dynamo New Tampa 5:1 in its first match of the US Open Cup Region III Group II. They take on Legends FC of North Texas tomorrow before rounding out the qualification tournament against fellow NPSL squad Atlanta FC on Sunday. The group winner will advance to the final US Open Cup stage.

Rafa Barbosa opened the scoring for RCU on a cross from Paul Willoughby in the 20th minute. Dynamo leveled in the 51st minute, but RCU responded in the 55th with a blast off the foot of Michael Biggs. RCU doubled the lead in the 58th minute when it was Barbosa again from a nice set up from Sutton Shults.

RCU put the game out of reach when Shuts made his way through for a breakaway with only the Dynamo keeper to beat. The Dynamo keeper's challenge on Shults was a bit too "Mixed Martial Arts" for the taste referee's taste and the he was sent to the showers early for violent conduct. Barbosa converted the spot kick for his third of the match.

Peter Byarhuanga sealed the match with a kiss when in the second minute of added time he put home another Willoughby cross for the final score.

Each of the goals are important as the tie breakers for the group are as follows:

  • Head to head result
  • Goal Differential
  • Goals For
  • Goals Against
  • Coin toss

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Odds and Ends

HASL talk

Jacob over at Southern Soccer has posted his ideas on how HASL can improve.
He proposes:
  • New division for Over-40
  • New division for Women
  • HASL Cup styled on the FA Cup
  • Change in format to a 1 year

His ideas are very interesting. Go on over to his blog and get involved in the discussion. I'll have more on this later.

RCU Open Cup action

RCU in travel to Jacksonville, FL this weekend to take part in the US Open Cup play-in tournament. The format for qualification is two, four-team groups. The winner of each group will be entered into the final phase of the US Open Cup, a single elimination tournament where RCU could face professional opponents from USL1, USL2, and USL-PDL. If they keep winning, they could even face an MLS team.

"Kick Like A Girl"

For those of you with HBO, check out this show about a girls team who enters a boys league.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend of Champions- HASL, EPL, La Liga, & Serie A Crown Champions

Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Manchester United all claimed their titles and even HASL had champions crowned this weekend...

On HASL's website... "Due to this extremely unusual, weather –delayed season, HASL has determined that the Spring 2009 season will conclude with only eight games played per team. Thus, Friday’s matches will count in the standings. We have adjusted the standings to account for the shortened season and can now declare the Foot Clan as being the Premiership Champions. Schurke has claimed the Division I championship. Division II and Division III do not have champions declared as of yet. "

HASL will attempt to schedule the remaining games in order to determine the remaining champions and relegation/promotion spots.

Congratulations to all.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grab The Remote

There should be some good soccer on TV this weekend. The MLS Conference leaders meet in a showdown Saturday night and three of top four leagues in Europe could be decided this weekend, while the fourth big league has four teams that could still win. Since it is supposed to rain so much anyway, this would be a good weekend to sit yourself in front of the TV and catch the action.

Eastern Conference leaders DC United travel out west to meet Western Conference leaders Chivas USA in MLS action. In England, ManU needs a draw to claim the EPL title. In Spain, Barca can claim the title with a victory or a Real Madrid loss. In Italy, a win will hand Inter the Serie A crown if AC Milan doesn’t lose on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the German Bundesliga is still wide open. Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin, and Stuttgart all still have a chance to bring home the title with two games to play. This could be the most exciting finish in Bundesliga history.

Here are the big games and where you can see them.

England, Manchester United-Arsenal 6:40 a.m. Setanta
Germany, Hoffenheim-Bayern Munich 10:30 a.m. GolTV
Italy, Udinese-AC Milan 1:30 p.m. FSC
Spain, Villarreal-Real Madrid 3 p.m. GolTV
MLS, Chivas USA-D.C. United 10 p.m. FSC, FSE

Spain, Mallorca-Barcelona 12 p.m. GolTV
Italy, Inter Milan-Siena 1:30 p.m. FSC

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Foot Clan Win, HASL Premiership In Sight

On a soggy Grissom Soccer Stadium field, Foot Clan all but sealed up the Spring 2009 HASL Premiership title with a 2:1 win against defending champions Law Dogs. The always tightly contested fixture provided some great soccer for the approximately 50 spectators in attendance.

In the early moments of the match, it appeared that both teams were slow to adjust to the poor conditions. Throughout the first half, Foot Clan was content to keep men behind the ball and spring counter attacks, which lead to a few half-chances that perhaps the FC forwards would like to get another bite at.

Law Dogs were able to break through the solid Foot Clan defense only once in the opening period, when John Lawrence found himself through from a lofted Mike Trice ball. Lawrence expertly lobbed over the onrushing FC goalkeeper, but the goal bound ball was shepherded away by a trailing defender just a foot from the line.

It seemed the teams would go into the half knotted up at zeroes , but in the 45th minute, the Foot Clan counter attack sprung. A long diagonal was played into FC's William Jaggwe's path and he beat Law Dog defender Michael Haley to the ball and powered a low left footed drive that nestled in the corner of the net.

Both teams came into the second half determined, but Law Dogs began to gain confidence as they applied more pressure looking for the equalizer. In the 61st minutes, it was John Lawrence who broke the seal on the Foot Clan goal. A searching long ball found his brother Joseph Lawrence in the heart of the FC penalty area. Joseph laid off a perfect one time ball for John who hit a whistling half volley from just outside the area that was rising as it struck the back of the net.

Law Dogs continued to press for the winner with long balls over the top, but it was Foot Clan who would provide the remaining tally 10 minutes later. The ball fell to Brian Kimbugewe who made room for himself a few yards outside the area and struck a thunderous, swerving shot which the LD goalkeeper could not keep out of the net despite doing well to get a hand on it.

With legs tiring from the bog-like field, Law Dogs could not muster much of a threat on the Foot Clan goal, and FC saw out the remaining 20 minutes until referee Chuck Spaniola whistled for full time on a much deserved Foot Clan victory.

With two games remaining, Foot Clan now find themselves one result away from the Premiership title.

Monday, May 11, 2009

RCU Picks Up Year's First Victory

First, I must apologize for being tardy with this post. Mother's Day and work commitments got in the way. :)

Rocket City United got its first win of the 2009 campaign thumping Pumas FC of Birmingham 5:2 at the UAB 's West Campus Field. Light rain started to dampen the field before the game as a slight breeze cooled the crowd of about 100, but dark clouds loomed on the horizon foreshadowing the troubles RCU would cause the Pumas backline.

RCUs attacking throttle was wide open from the start as Kempess Villafana fired high from distance seconds after the opening whistle. This attacking mentality paid dividends shortly after, when winger Paul Willoughby beat Pumas defender Sibusiso Macwele to volley home a Daniel Segewitz cross to take the early lead. Macwele had been a target of RCU's brass before signing on with Pumas. RCU continued to press game as PT Huang and Jesus Delgado had quality looks only to have the woodwork and a fine save from the Pumas keeper deny their opportunities.

Thirty minutes in and Villafana's successful day ended early as he suffered a hamstring pull after creating excitement with his mazy runs. RCU's attack did not hesitate though, as Michael Biggs drew the attention of the Pumas defenders before allowing a cross to dummy onto the foot of Barbosa. The Pumas keeper responded in time to deny Barbosa's attempt. Villafana's replacement, Sutton Shults, got himself involved quickly by slamming his shot into near side netting just wide of the upright minutes after entering.

Jason Sabio commits to the tackle

Although the RCU offense had its boosters firing , the RCU defense had some initial trouble answering the Pumas midfield riddle. Pumas sported an unconventional 4-1-3-2 formation flooding the center of the pitch with bodies and using the outside backs to patrol up and down the touchline. RCUs defensive core wavered only once as Pumas forward Derek Rios slipped through with only RCU keeper Tyler Early to beat. Rios found his footing failed him and his shot skidded desperately wide from 12 yards out. RCU coach Greg Petersen recognized the Cats' ploys and countered by replacing the attack minded Huang with midfield sparkplug Enrici Simeone, and RCU ensnared Pumas in the offside trap time and again and the half ended with RCU up by a goal.

Pumas coach Rolando Hernandez had his squad motivated for the second stanza, and it was Rios who was denied an equalizing goal by Tyler Early's reflexes. The RCU substitute, Shults, continued to stir up trouble for the Pumas defenders with several deep runs and crosses. One of them was met by Delgado who found himself at the far post to nod home the game's second goal in the 57th minute.

It was Barbosa who then worked up a moment of brilliance to put the match out of reach. After muscling through 3 defenders who were seemingly attempting to disrobe him, Rafa found himself in front of the onrushing Pumas goalkeeper. Full marks go to the referee who realized he was witnessing a masterpiece in the making and allowed the artist Barbosa to place the final stroke. The Brazilian wonder scooped the ball up and over the keeper from 16 yards in a display strength and determination in an age when most forwards would have cynically fallen down and settled for a PK. Barbosa left the field to an ovation after he was replaced shortly thereafter by Derek Pirtle.

With the Pumas will broken, Michael Biggs rose to convert a Willoughby corner in the 68th minute. A few minutes later, Willoughby then book-ended his night with a nicely taken goal. After receiving a good ball from Jason Sabio out wide right, Willoughby rode Macwele's lunging challenge just inside the penalty area. He did well to keep his footing , recover, and chip the on-rushing keeper to the far post.

Then late in the second half, the rains came making visibility difficult and footing treacherous. It was Pumas who adjusted to the conditions better and were able to pull two goals back spoiling Tyler Early's shutout. Full time was called about 5 minutes early when lightening bolts danced a little too close for safety's sake, and Rocket City United picked it's first win of the season.

Notes: Rocket City United reserves fell 0:3 to the Pumas reserves prior to first team match… Rocket City United will host a College Scouting Combine in conjunction with Heroes Futbol Association at John Hunt Soccer Park on May 16-17. College soccer scouts will watch the areas top high school talent.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Couple of Scheduling Tidbits

The Alabama State High School Soccer Tournament will be held as scheduled this weekend. The semifinals will be contested on Friday with the finals are to be played on Saturday at the John Hunt Soccer Stadium. There had been fears that the swine flu school closures would cause a rescheduling of the tournament.

However, unrelated to the swine flu, the Rocket City United v Mississippi Brilla match scheduled for May 15th in Clinton, MS has been rescheduled to June 23rd. That will cut down on some of the early season travel RCU had planned that I mentioned in an earlier post.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

RCU Come Up Short In Season Opener

Rocket City United fell to Saturn FC 1:2 in their NPSL Southeast Region opener Saturday night.

Forward Rafa Barbosa had a good night putting three past the Saturn FC keeper on Saturday. However, only one of those finished resulted in a legitimate tally as the ball was whistled out of play prior to his 18th minute header. In the 33rd minute, Barbosa finished his breakaway chance, but the flag had been raised for offside.

RCU Starting Eleven

Saturn FC put RCU in the hole as Dan Gilewicz rose to convert a 10th minute corner. After concerted pressure on the Saturn goal during the remainder of the first half, RCU responded early in the second stanza with Barbosa's 48th minute looping header from a Norbert Webley cross. It was just reward for the team's creative play.

Saturn FC retook the lead after nine minutes, when a SFC won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Spencer Davidson stepped up and slotted the spot kick past Jeff Preston in the RCU goal. The lead would stand as chances for both teams went unrewarded in the remaining time.

RCU will travel to Birmingham to meet the another new NPSL side Pumas FC this Saturday at 7pm.