Monday, August 31, 2009

RCU SuperLiga Tryouts Postponed

SuperLiga tryouts for RCU originally scheduled for this Monday and Wednesday have been postponed. RCU will announce the new tryout dates and SuperLiga game schedule at a later date.

EPL Fantasy Talk and UAH road loss

EPL Talk Gives Fantasy Tips

Fantasy football isn't just for the gridiron game. There are many fantasy leagues for MLS and EPL. For those of you who just started your EPL league, Kevin Coleman over at EPL Talk provides the low-down on how to move to the top of the table in your league.

UAH Falls In Road Opener

Despite twice taking a one goal lead in the first 45 minutes, University of Alabama-Huntsville was not able to hold on and dropped a 3:2 tilt on the road to Shorter College. First half UAH goals by junior striker Brett Hughson were matched goal for goal by Shorter's Gary Perks, and in the 60th minute Shorter found the winner from a John Calderwood strike.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Guest Post: Random Musings on Soccer Lit Part 2

I've asked one of the most well read guys I know, Chris Shaffer, who is the team manager for Rocket City United, to do a post on some of the "soccer books" that he's read. Now, if you know Chris, you'll know that he does not have a loss for words. So, I've had to break up his list into a few parts. Here is part two of Chris's list. Part one can be found here.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano

Uruguayan novelist and poet Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow is written in sparsely beautiful language. This is neither a novel nor a history, but rather Galeano’s musings on the world game presented in a roughly chronological context. The book begins with the “Author’s Confession”: ‘Like all Uruguayan children, I wanted to be a soccer player. I played quite well, in fact I was terrific, but only at night when I was asleep.’ Galeano provides similar moments of mirth throughout, but the book is not all sunshine and lollipops. To wit, ‘The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms from the joy of play got torn out by its very roots. In this fin-de-siecle world, professional soccer condemns all that is useless, and useless means not profitable.’ Some of Galeano’s subject matter is vague or general, some quite specific and even obscure, but the quality of his prose and the applicability of so much of the content to life’s grand themes render this a special book, one that can be appreciated even by (gasp) someone with no interest in the game.

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy, Joe McGinnis

That rarest of birds, a worthwhile book about the beautiful game written by an American, in this case New England journalist Joe McGinnis. For a season in the mid-1990’s, McGinnis follows the fortunes of an obscure provincial side that miraculously (hence the title) has won promotion to Serie B, the second flight of Calcio Italiano and serious professional soccer. The main theme centers on the team’s struggle to avoid immediate relegation back to the Serie C regional leagues, although McGinnis manages to weave a mobbed-up team owner and player involvement in cocaine dealing into the mix. How credible this material is, is anyone’s guess. McGinnis sure did burn his bridges when this was published, and the book does reinforce notions of corruption in Italian soccer (notions may be the wrong word here). Some memorable scenes include McGinnis, upon traveling back to New England for the Christmas holiday after being immersed in Castel di Sangro’s tortuous Serie B campaign for five months, bewildered and uninterested in his friends excitement over the Patriots’ Super Bowl prospects.

Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe, Jonathan Wilson

Wilson’s work is the best (and only) English language study of the (relatively) current state of footballing affairs in Eastern European nations formerly in the Soviet sphere. He also includes those pieces of the former Yugoslavia, since Tito forged a separate path to socialism. I digress. While the rollback of communism undoubtedly provided more freedom and self-determination (nationalistically speaking) for the peoples of these former communist states, it did not help their soccer clubs. With their new market-oriented economies and the advent of Bosman Ruling free agency in Europe in 1995, former eastern powers could not afford to hold on to talent they had developed. The story is even more complex than that, but that’s where the book comes in. Wilson uses personal contacts in the Ukraine (surprise: the Ukranian mafia has huge influence at Dynamo Kiev), and elsewhere to glean insights beyond the obvious, e.g. the Ukranian mafia has huge influence at Dynamo Kiev. Fascinating trips to Armenian clubs and the story of perhaps the greatest Russian player of all time spending his prime years in Siberia make for compelling reading. The incipient return of Russian clubs to the highest reaches of UEFA (see Zenit St. Petersburg, winners of the 2008 UEFA Cup), and progress in the Ukraine, the future looks brighter for at least the bigger nations of the former Soviet bloc.

Chris covers three more books in Part 3.

Friday, August 28, 2009

UAH Drops Season Opener

The UAH Mens Soccer team got the 2009 season off to an inauspicious start falling 1:0 to Concordia College of Selma, AL. Despite UAH's domination of long stretches of the match, a 78th minute counterattack goal from Brent Pierre gave Concordia the away victory.

UAH Coach Tafadzwa Ziyennge talks about the loss

Guest Post: Random Musings on Soccer Lit Part 1

I've asked one of the most well read guys I know, Chris Shaffer, who is the team manager for Rocket City United, to do a post on some of the "soccer books" that he's read. Now, if you know Chris, you'll know that he does not have a loss for words. So, I've had to break up his list into a few parts. Here is part one of Chris's list.

When Ryan asked if I would do a piece on soccer-related books, I told him that after I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading. As it turns out, I had already read enough soccer-related literature beforehand to at least contribute something. The following is in no way intended to be comprehensive and is not listed or ranked in any particular order. As some of these books are no longer in my possession (you know who you are, beneficiaries of my book-loving largess), I cannot attest to the accuracy of anything I thought I might remember from any specific book.

I did not include a number of books I have read for obvious reasons. Some examples: ghostwritten player biographies, some written while the player is still active. This is all garbage and self-serving tripe, “all England need is me at captain and Terry Venables back as manager and the World Cup is ours,” well you get the idea. Also excluded, books written for American audiences serving up ridiculous platitudes about, say, explaining the world through a sport. My apologies if my mixed use of soccer/football is confusing.

A Season with Verona: Travels around Italy in Search of Illusion, National Character and…Goals, Tim Parks

Parks, an Englishman and university professor in Verona, brings excellent writing and informed perceptions as he covers a Serie A season with the club he supports, Hellas (yes, as in Hellenic or Greek) Verona, the giallo-blue. But Chris, Chievo is the team from Verona in Serie A, right? Well, they are now, but a decade or more ago they were suburban outsiders and Hellas was THE club of the city that provides the setting of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette.” Parks chronicles both parochialism, the north/south divide, out of control tifosi and the even worse away-game police, as Hellas takes to the road with its hard-core supporters (tifosi) in tow. Among the many cogent points Parks makes, his conspiracy theory that the powers that be in Italian football want to see Hellas Verona out of Serie A and Chievo elevated as the replacement might ring hollow in other contexts. This, however, is Calcio Italiano, where real conspiracies occur with alarming regularity.

Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, Tony Hawks

In the tradition of English Travel Lit, see, for example, Eric Newby’s A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush for perhaps the finest example of this, Tony Hawk predicates his intrepid tale on a bet with friend made while England are playing Moldova (who? being the idea here) in a World Cup Qualifier. Hawk claims he can beat every Moldovan national team player in a tennis match. Hijinks in decaying former Soviet Republic ensue. Hawk, unfortunately, is no Eric Newby, and subtle, dry wit is often foregone for puerile efforts at humor. As a man who still finds sophomoric scatological humor funny, however, I laughed a lot.

The Rough Guide to European Football: A Fans Handbook, Simon Evans and Peterjon Cresswell

Designed specifically as a travel guide for soccer tourism in continental Europe, its primary audience being British, The Rough Guide makes surprisingly interesting reading, even if one has no travel plans any time soon. On the practical side, the book touches on subjects like the safest, quickest means of getting to and from every major stadium in every major nation in Europe. Tourist meccas like Moldova are not included. Of particular use is the foreign language phrase guide, providing the traveler with the means to buy two tickets and two beers in almost every language in Europe. Brilliant! Of more general interest, the book provides historical context for the game on a country-by-country basis, tackles promotion/relegation protocols in each league as well as the nature of national cup competitions in its ‘Up for the Cup’ segments. One caveat: the book can become dated, as my most recent copy has, what with Leeds United listed under EPL Champions’ League participants.

Chris covers three more books in Part 2.

Saturdays in the Fall, Not Just For The SEC Football Anymore

I know that Saturdays in the south are normally reserved for watching your favorite SEC pointy ball team. I respect that. I enjoy watching college football, but unfortunately it's a rarity to see my team play. (I'm originally from Maryland and the Terps aren't normally good enough to get on the nationally televised games.)

But now Saturdays are also for watching soccer. At least this Saturday is. With some early season epic battles going on tomorrow including the Milan Derby, another delicious Arsenal whipping of Manchester United, a DC United-Chicago Fire match-up that's always exciting to watch and the LA Super-classico, I will have to get my honey-do list completed Friday night or it'll have to be something I can do while watching the games. BTW, folding laundry is a great way to help the wife while still catching the game. :)

Here's my schedule for tomorrow:

  • 6:00-6:25 AM Get up. Have two large coffees (black with maybe a dash of milk) and a large breakfast of cereal and fruit. I may not have time to eat for the next 8 to 9 hours.
  • 6:25-6:30 AM Kiss the wife and daughter goodbye for the day. ;)

On to the soccer...
  • 6:30-8:30 AM Chelsea-Burnley, EPL, ESPN2 in HD
  • 8:30-10:30 AM Shalke-Frieburg, Bundesliga, GolTV
  • 10:30 AM -11:00 AM last 30 minutes of Tottenham-Birmingham, EPL, FSC
  • 11:00 AM- 1:00 PM ManU(re)-Arsenal, EPL, FSC
  • 1:00- 1:30 PM last 30 minutes of Real Madrid-Deportivo la Coruna, La Liga, GolTV
  • 1:30-3:30 PM AC Milan-Inter Milan, Serie A, FSC

Break from the soccer...
  • 3:30-4:30 PM Fantasy Football Draft online
  • 4:30-6:00 PM Daddy time with wife, daughter
  • 6:00-8:00 PM More honey-do items or catch a nap before the evening session.

Back to the soccer...
  • 7:30- 10:00PM DC United-Chicago, MLS, FSC
  • 10:00 PM- 12:00 AM LA Galaxy-Chivas USA, MLS, ESPN2
  • 12:00 AM Bed

That's makes for a long day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Quote, A Commercial, And A Tasteless Goal

Quote Of The Year

Raphael Honigstien of the Guardian had this to say about Hamburgs defeat of defending champion's Wolfsburg in his weekly round up of the Bundesliga's action.

Hamburg regrouped and spanked the home side [Wolfsburg] for naively exposing their rear.


Nice Nike Commercial

I hear a lot of discussion about how great it would be if American soccer were able to get the best American athletes. Well, as this commercial called "Fast is never enough" by Nike suggests, it's not enough in soccer to be a great athlete (or to just have speed), you have to have all of the desire, the smarts, and the breaks, too.

Yeah, It's Legal, But...

Check out this goal from the an Australian league.

The goalkeeper has to share some of the blame for not being aware, but still, it's pretty poor sportsmanship from the goalscorer.

RCU and UAH Stuff

RCU To Sponsor Monday Night Futbol

Rocket City United will sponsor a new 6-aside soccer league, Monday Night Futbol, beginning on September 14th. Games will be held at Madison County High School. See the attached flier for more information.

UAH Hosts Regular Season Opener Tomorrow

University of Alabama-Huntsville will open the 2009 season tomorrow afternoon against Concordia College of Selma at the UAH Soccer Field at 2:30PM.

RCU To Hold Tryouts for SuperLiga Squad

SuperLiga starts September 12th with games being played over 6 different dates in the fall. SuperLiga is designed for players wanting to play with RCU in the 2010 season to have practice sessions and competitive games in the fall. Tryouts for the RCU SuperLiga team will be Mon. 8/31 and Wed 9/2 at Madison County High School. Interested players should contact RCU at

I'll have more on this year's SuperLiga in a later post.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mayor's Cup Recap

Saturday saw the return of the Huntsville college soccer derby known as the Mayor's Cup in the form of a preseason exhibition match. Alabama A&M traveled across town to take on UAH and after a scoreless first half, the crowd of about 100 was treated to fiery affair that saw both teams tally once from good build up and once by exploiting their opponents mistakes for a hard fought but entertaining 2:2 draw.

It was UAH who broke the seal covering the goals with good work down the left side where a cross was met at the back post for a side footed volley that awoke a confidence in the blue and white squad. A few minutes later, an enterprising UAH forward intercepted a weak goal kick and rocketed a missile inside the near post for a 2:0.

UAH Coach Tafadzwa "Lincoln" Ziyenge discusses the upcoming 09 season and the Mayor's Cup

The second UAH strike seemed to have awoken the sleeping A&M Bulldog, however. As the confident UAH midfield stroked passes together, they were met with determined challenges from the A&M defenders. After several clashes fit for an MMA ring in the center of the midfield, the referee was forced to stop the action to have a word with the coaches to remind them that this was just a preseason friendly, after all.

At this point, the speed and inventiveness of the A&M attackers ratcheted up the pressure on the UAH defenders. With less then a quarter hour left on the referees watch, that pressure paid dividends. Nice work by the A&M number 10 to find a streaking A&M winger who rounded his defender to the endline where he rifled a pass that was met by a lunging sidefooted finish by a hard charging forward in the strikers channel. A few minutes later and A&M worked from the same blueprints as the first goal, but before he could release a shot the winger was clipped from behind for an undisputed penalty. The A&M central defender stepped up to stroke home the final blow in the day's bought and a level score of 2:2.

Alabama A&M Coach Salah Yousif talks about his young squad and the Mayor's Cup

Note: Despite attempts to contact the school's media relations, I've not been able to locate rosters for either team. If anyone has the names and numbers of the players, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kickin For Kitty Needs Teams

I've posted about Kitty a few times now. She's the young lady who is suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). On Labor Day Weekend (September 4-6), Kitty's Miracle Fund is sponsoring Kickin' for Kitty, a 6 aside tournament at Merrimack Soccer Park. The tournament is still looking for teams to participate. Here's the email that I received from the Tournament Director.

We’re trying to fill up some brackets for the Labor Day 6v6 Tournament at Merrimack. In particular, the adult bracket is lacking in teams. If your team would be interested in registering, please contact me ASAP. The registration deadline is today, but I’ll extend that through Friday so you have time to check with the team for interest.

Remember, not only will you get to play some soccer over the holiday weekend, but the money raised is going to charity.


Victor Collazo
Tournament Director

To sign a team up or for more information, go to or contact Victor at

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Apologies : Mayor's Cup

I've been away from my computer for the past few days. Fatherhood and other things got in the way.

Anyway, I got the time and place of the Mayor's Cup match wrong last week. The game was moved to 4:30 PM Saturday at UAH. For those of you (like me), who showed up at Alabama A&M at 5PM, I apologize. I did get over to UAH in time to catch the second half.

I'll post a brief write up of what I saw and video interview with the coaches soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mayor's Cup Reminder and Other Stuff

Mayor's Cup Tomorrow

The Huntsville college derby known as the Mayor's Cup returns tomorrow as UAH travels to Bulldog Field at Alabama A&M. The match kicks off at 5PM.

Hleb Gets My Goal of the Week

Alex Hleb has to get my goal of the week. Check out the former Arsenal/Barca man's mazy run through the entire Timisoara defence for Stuttgart's second goal. BTW, love the Romanian team's name. Timi!!!

<a href=";from=metadatawidget_en-us_foxsports_SOCCERvideocentral&amp;vid=6577bcc4-bb8a-47fb-9acb-7dbfe2f58598" target="_new" title="CL Highlights: Timisoara/Stuttgart">Video: CL Highlights: Timisoara/Stuttgart</a>

Scorpion Kick Goal Scorer Coming to MLS

Remember that goal I was drooling over a few months ago? Well, the scorer of that unbelievably sweet scorpion kick goal, Luis Angel Landin, has just been signed by the Houston Dynamo. That's a major signing for MLS. Not only is he a young player with plenty of upside, but he's a Mexican coming to a market with many Mexican fans.

Here's that goal again. Check out his reaction. He's just as surprised it went in as everyone else.

Soccer Commercials

Here are a few commercials that ESPN and FSC are showing to promote thier EPL and UEFA Champions League broadcasts respectively.

ESPN's EPL spot

<a href=";from=IV2_en-us_foxsports_SOCCERvideocentral" target="_new" title="UEFA Champions League: All Season Long">Video: UEFA Champions League: All Season Long</a>

BTW, if you're reading this on Facebook, you won't see the vids. You'll have to go to here for my actual blog to see them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alabama Ruled Out As World Cup Venue

USA Bid Committee has further trimmed the list of cities under consideration to host matches should the US win the bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Twenty-seven cities made the cut as venues for the upcoming quadrennial event. Birmingham, Alabama was not one of those cities, however.

Despite the fact that Alabama will not host matches, Huntsville soccer fans still may be able to catch a match or two within a two hour drive. Nashville's LP Field is still in the running, and judging from the recent World Cup Qualifier held there last spring, Nashville has a pretty good chance to make the final cut.

"We will be working closely with officials from all 27 cities, stadiums and host committees over the next few months in our process of identifying the final list of cities that will be included in our bid book to FIFA in May 2010," said David Downs, the Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee. "The support of the individual cities and their capacity to promote the bid will be crucial to our efforts as we work to maintain the momentum created by the launch of our national campaign and our Web page,, last week. With the passion for the game being shown by our fans and the existing infrastructure in place in the U.S., we are confident we have assembled a list of candidate cities that will meet and exceed FIFA's requirements for hosting World Cup matches."
Regardless of the cities chose, the USA bid will need to be very strong to beat out other contending countries including Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Russia.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cool Stuff

DirecTV offers UEFA Champions League Mix

OMG!!! I'm as giddy as a 10 year old girl at a Jonas Bros concert!!!

If you are a DirecTV customer (like I am), you can now get all of the Champions League matches live in one spot. Channels 461-466 have been converted to the UEFA Champions League Mix where you can see all of the coverage provided by FSC and the other Fox outlets. DirecTV does this sort of thing for big sporting events. I just watched a bunch of the PGA Championship this weekend on their PGA Championship Mix package. It's pretty awesome. You don't have to guess which regional networks are showing the games. Just flip to the mix channels and they're all there.

Screenshot of the DirecTV UEFA Champions League Mix channel lineup

If you haven't switched to DirecTV, here's another reason to do so, stat!

Jozy Shoots An ESPN Commercial

USMNT forward Jozy Altidore has been in Bristol, CT this week shooting a commercial for ESPN while waiting for his work permit to be completed. According to his tweets, it should be "mad cool".

Another Soccer Book?

Just read this excellent excerpt from Financial Times sports columnist Simon Kuper's soon to be released book, Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Things To Ponder

Here are a few items I found that are often hotly debated by the "internet nuts" on the soccer board sites like Bigsoccer; Promotion/Relegation in American soccer and whether has soccer "made it".

USL Up For Sale; MLS Considers Buying

The United Soccer Leagues, which consists of the USA's second (USL1), third (USL2), and a fourth division (PDL) nationwide leagues, has been put up for sale by its current owner Nike. According to this report, MLS is interested in purchasing the USL, but the two are far from agreeing on a purchase price.

The prospect that the purchase of the USL by MLS would set up MLS for promotion/relegation has soccer purists salivating. Under a promotion/relegation model similar to those in other countries around the world, they envision a system where the worst teams MLS and are relegated down to the USL divisions, and the USL champions are promoted to MLS.

Well, let's pretend MLS does buy the USL. Do you think for a second that any of the MLS franchise owners who ponied up millions of dollars to buy into the league would agree to volunteer their team for relegation to what could be considered a minor league? No chance.

I think it is far more likely that MLS sets up an system similar to Baseball's minor league system of several lower league teams are affiliated with the major league teams. MLS has been widely criticized for it's lack of player development and lack of a reserve system. The establishment of a Baseball type farm system where the salary cap would be applied toward the entire farm system would enable MLS teams to take risks on young American players and actually allow them time to develop on the field instead of sitting at the end of a bench.

ESPN Writer Gets It, Some don't, and Some Never Will

ESPN writer Bill Simmons wrote an interesting article on his trip to Mexico City to see the USA v Mexico World Cup Qualifier. I keep hearing that this summer may have been the tipping point where soccer has finally made it big in the USA. Could this mean that the soccer haters are finally seeing the light?

I don't believe it, and honestly, I don't care. Soccer is relevant to those who want it to be relevant. Simple. This guy Bill Simmons sees soccer as relevant now and that's good for him. At least now he's not going out of his way to dis a sport he doesn't understand.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What the BLEEP is that?!!

Funny ad about behaving in the "family" section of the stadium...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Couple Of Things

More Photos From NPSL Final Four

Director of PR for the NPSL Ryan Knapp has posted some of his excellent photos from the NPSL Final Four on Flickr. Here are a few of the RCU shots.

Rafa Barbosa accepts the NPSL Southeast Division Champions Trophy

Rafa Barbosa scores on a header from a Daniel Segewitz cross

Freddy Okello scores off a Paul Willoughby corner

See more here.

Landon Donovan played with Swine Flu!

Holy cow! Er, uh... pig! It's hard enough to go 90 minutes in a World Cup Qualifier against Mexico in the smog and altitude of the Azteca Stadium, but Landon Donovan also had to battle Swine Flu!

NPSL Looking For A Few Good Interns

Are you a student looking to go into PR or Communications? NPSL is looking for interns. This would be a cool job. More info here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

RCU Boys Go Back To School

As fall heads this way, it's Back-to-School for some of the Rocket City United players, too. Here's a brief rundown on the RCU boys who are giving it the ol' college try.

Kyle Timm - Clayton State University (Sr) and RCU midfielder

RCU midfielder Kyle Timm named Clayton State team captain.

Tyler Early - UAH (Sr) and RCU goalkeeper

RCU goalkeeper Tyler Early has been named to the preseason All-Gulf South Conference team.

Paul Willoughby - West Florida University (So) and RCU winger

RCU winger Paul Willoughby has been named to the preseason All-Gulf South Conference team.

Other RCU teammates heading back to school are PT Huang (Virginia Tech-Fr), Joseph Omondi (Bethel College-So), Kempass Villafana (Cumberland University - Jr), Paul Turner (Union University-Sr), and Sutton Shults (Wallace State-So).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mayor's Cup Returns August 22nd

Huntsville's cross-town rival college soccer teams, Alabama A&M and Alabama-Huntsville, haven't played each other since 2000. Now, the derby known as the Mayor's Cup will return as the sides will meet on August 22nd at 5PM at A&M's Bulldog Field. Officially, the match will be an exhibition, but bragging rights will still be up for grabs, although history has shown a mostly one-sided affair in favor of A&M. According to UAH's website, A&M hold the series firmly in hand with 18 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw. Here's the year by year breakdown.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

TV Tidbits

ESPN To Air EPL, Bundesliga Matches

ESPN is certainly looking to make up for losing the UEFA Champion's League broadcast rights.

ESPN is set to announce that they will broadcast selected English Premier League matches in the USA. Starting with next Saturday's match-up between Chelsea and Jozy Altidore's new team, Hull City. ESPN acquired the rights from the troubled Setanta network and will show the Saturday 8:45AM and the Monday 2PM matches on ESPN2.

Also, the New York Times is reporting that ESPN has reached a deal with GolTV to broadcast the German Bundesliga. GolTV currently owns the USA broadcast rights, but is set to announce a deal in which ESPN would broadcast selected matches similar to the one they recently reached regarding Spain's La Liga.

ESPN To Air USA v Mexico WCQ Special

Although, they are not showing the match, ESPN is planning on providing extensive coverage of the USA v Mexico World Cup Qualifier on Wednesday. Bob Ley and Alexi Lalas will host a live pregame show from the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Wednesday at 2:30PM on ESPN.

DirecTV Moves Mun2 In Preparation For USA v Mexico WCQ

In more WCQ TV news, satellite TV service provider, DirecTV has moved Mun2 from channel 410 to channel 203 to help it's customers find the English language broadcast of the much anticpated USA v Mexico World Cup Qualifier. Phil Shoen and Marcello Balboa are set to broadcast the match in English which will be shown on the little known, normally Spanish language network. The network will be made available for free to all satellite and cable TV providers for the day of the match.

Friday, August 7, 2009

NPSL Proposes Direct Qualification To US Open Cup

The NPSL has approached the organizers of the oldest and one of the most prestigious club competitions in the USA, the US Open Cup, in order to gain berths directly into the knockout portions of the tournament. The US Open Cup is open to all professional and amateur clubs in the US Soccer Federation and often features "David vs. Goliath" type matchups between the nation's top professional clubs and thier amateur brethren. The NPSL teams must currently qualify through the United States Amateur Soccer Association's (USASA) qualifying process.

Rocket City United failed to qualify for this year's tournament, after finishing second in the group stages of the USASA's US Open Cup Region III qualifying tournament. The group's winner Atlanta FC went on to fall to USL 1 side Charleston Battery in the first round of the knockout stages.

If approved, the NPSL, the nationwide amateur league which is considered the 4th division of the US soccer pyramid, would use regular season matches as qualifiers for the US Open Cup. A similar qualification is also used in the PDL, the other nationwide 4th division league. The NPSL has asked for four berths and it is assumed that one team from each of the league's four regions would occupy the slot.

What is not certain at this time is if the proposal will affect the number of berths allotted to the USASA and/or the PDL? Presently, eight teams qualify from both the USASA and the PDL.

I'll let you know more, as the situation develops.

NPSL Championship Winning Goal Video

Here's the video of Tyler Hurst's goal deep in the second period of extra time that sealed the 2009 NPSL Championship for the Sonoma County Sol. It was a scrappy goal as both teams were tiring.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Southern MLS Expansion Links

Here are some recent articles about MLS expansion in the south:

Fans Wanting MLS In Atlanta Keep The Faith This article about a new supporters group called the Brotherhood of Southern Soccer (BOSS).

Following the example of the Sons of Ben, who successfully organized Philadelphia soccer enthusiasts and eventually influenced enough of the right people to have an MLS expansion team awarded to Philadelphia, BOSS intends to gather soccer fans from the south to show the powers that be in the MLS that the south can support and truly deserves a team or multiple teams in the top flight.

BOSS is currently working on a webpage, but has a Facebook page with around 200 members.

Soccer In The South: Where Atlanta Went Wrong

This article discusses why Atlanta may not be the best place in the south for MLS expansion and mentions the success of Chattanooga FC as a reason that a smaller market may be better suited.

MLS Expansion: TV Must Be The Key

Very interesting article from a few weeks back, where the author argues that TV exposure is vital to the league's health and that expanding to Miami or adding another team in New York will increase that exposure.


I'll leave you with this quote from MLS Commissioner Don Garber from a recent interview,

"We need a team south of DC. Where that is and when that comes we don’t know today – but I have always said it is a ‘when’ not an ‘if’. I don’t know when that ‘when’ is though."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

HASL Opens Fall Season Tonight

The Huntsville Adult Soccer League begins the 2009 Fall Season tonight as eight teams take the field at John Hunt Park. Five divisions of six teams each will play a 10 game schedule through between now and November.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More On Next Year's NPSL Final Four

As I wrote earlier, Rocket City United's bid to host the 2010 NPSL Final Four was successful. Here's RCU's press release with more details.

Huntsville, AL: This past weekend at the NPSL Final Four, the NPSL announced that Rocket City United will host the 2010 NPSL Final Four. The 2010 Final Four is slated for July 29th-31st, 2010. "We're are very excited that our bid to host the 2010 NPSL Final Four was accepted by the league and we look forward to putting on the best Final Four yet in terms of coverage, attendance and quality of play," said RCU President Andy Zorovich. "Part of the mission of Rocket City United is to provide opportunites for high quality soccer entertainment and with the addition to our 2010 regular season of the NPSL Final Four, the 2010 World Cup Viewing parties and the Rocket City Invitational 6-aside Tournament, we plan to make the summer of 2010 an unforgettable one for soccer fans and our community at large." Plans for the Final Four are still being finalized and more information from RCU and the NPSL will follow in the fall.

Final Thoughts On 2009 NPSLFF

I finally got some sleep after getting into Huntsville Monday morning around 2AM after the long drive from Wisconsin. I've had a chance now to reflect on the great time in Madison for the NPSL Final Four. The soccer was of good quality, and the crowd was pretty good. I suppose it could have been better if the local team, the Madison 56ers, had qualified. The only real negative that I can think of was the pitch at Breese Stevens Field.

From afar the field looked pretty good, but when I walked it before the matches I was appalled. There was a large crown on the field that was a remnant of when the field was primarily used for high school football. A player running into the penalty area from the touch line was literally running up hill.

There were large sections in front of each goal where sod had been replaced, but it appears that the sod had not been rolled resulting in large undulations in the ground right in front of the goal mouth. RCU's goalkeeper Tyler Early was nearly fooled by one of these irregularities when a shot came in that looked to be bouncing at knee height hit a fold in the turf and bounced about two feet higher than expected. It was only Early's quick reflexes that allow him to adjust in time to get his body behind the ball as it caromed off his shoulder and out for a corner.

Overhead veiw of the field at Breese Stevens Field in which one can clearly see the replaced sections of sod

There were ruts down the sidelines where the track around the old football field used to be. I was seriously concerned that someone would suffer ligament damage from a misplaced step. Fortunately for everyone involved, that did not happen.

The grass itself was great, but it was way too long for soccer. I've written before about the turf last year at John Hunt Soccer Stadium, and how it was terrible for the more technical players. The same can be said about the turf at Breese Stevens Field. The Sonoma County Sol's wingers Trevor Hurst and Eric Lafon both had trouble dealing with the sticky grass that neutralized their quick cuts and speed with the ball at their feet. It seemed every player was slow to learn the correct weight that passes through the thick turf required. I can think of a few times this weekend where mis-weighted passes led to turnovers that resulted in goals, including the game winning goal by the Erie Admirals SC over RCU.

Now, I'm not saying that the results of the games would have been any different had the games been played on a better field, but it certainly affected the quality of the soccer. That is unfortunate, and a lesson to be learned. Next year, I can assure you that at least the grass will be cut for soccer when Rocket City United hosts the 2010 edition of the NPSL Final Four.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Behind The Scenes Of The NPSL Final Four: Part III

For lunch on Saturday, we sampled more of the terrific local cuisine. Brats, other wursts, and Woody's Wheat Beer at the Brewpub Old Fashion.

John prepping for the Final.

The 2010 NPSL Finalists: Sonoma County Sol in white and the Erie Admirals SC in blue.

John calling the play by play for the Webcast. We passed a cell phone back and forth for the webcast and while speaking into our mics for the TV broadcast. Remembering to grab the phone before speaking took a little getting used to.

Both teams gather for a post game photo.

Post game at the Essen Haus Beerhall. Lots of polka fun!

Behind the scenes of the NPSL Final Four: Part II

John and I right before the Semifinals.

Bill testing his equipement.

View of the Statehouse Dome from the stadium.
After the game, we tried the local delicacy called Cheese Curds. Fantasic!

Saturday morning there was the farmer's market right outside our hotel on the State house square. They had booths from all the local farms that sold the best cheese and produce you could find anywhere in the country.

Saturday afternoon, I took a stroll down State St. toward the University of Wisconsin campus. There were all kinds of artist, musicians and performers doing their thing. This is a spray paint artist working on a creation.

Really funny "Fav-ruh" T-shirt.

More in Part III.

Behind the scenes of the NPSL Final Four: Part I

View of the Capital Dome from State St. in Madison.

Wisconsin, land of cheese.

The broadcast crew preparing for the semifinals. Note the West Stands of Breese Stevens Field in the background. The all standing terraces remind me of an old European soccer stadium.

The hardware.

Rocket City United's Southeast Region Champions Trophy

More photos in Part II...