Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Arsenal's Old Stadium Repurposed

Instead of taking the dynamite to Arsenal's old stadium, Highbury, they retrofitted the stadium's stands into apartments and the field became an English garden. Very cool.

I wonder if Nick Hornby owns the penthouse suite?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend College Round Up

Both of Huntsville's college teams came out of their weekend contests undefeated. Alabama A&M topped Jacksonville Invitational hosts Jacksonville University 2:1 on Friday and earned a 1:1 draw with Stetson University. UAH opened their Gulf South Conference play on Friday with a 4:3 overtime win at Harding University and followed up yesterday with a 1:0 win at Ouachita Baptist University.

UAH Opens Conference With Two Road Wins

Two goals from sophomore Kyle Gonclaves and one late from freshman Tony Stock forced overtime with HU to turn what could have been disaster into a chance for glory. With time running out on the first OT period, junior Brett Hughson realized that glory and converted a ball from junior Sean Kerber for the 4:3 winner.

UAH sophomore midfielder Oscar Leon's second half strike was all that UAH would need to rack their second conference win in as many tries over OBU. Despite the final score, it was a bit of a one sided affair as UAH would pound the OBU goal with 15 shots on the day. OBU's goalkeeper pulled in 9 saves in a fruitless effort while UAH's Tyler Early recorded the shut-out with one stop.

A&M Win One, Tie One In Jacksonville

A&M goalkeeper Paul Musoke was undoubtedly the man of the match in Friday's 2:1 A&M win over JU. After going down 1:0 in the first half, A&M got a goal early in the second stanza from Abraham Kassaye to level the score. Then in the 67th minute, A&M won a free kick just outside the penalty area, Musoke took a jog up the field to line up over the ball. And with Jose Luis Chilavert-like precision drove a low drive eluding the wall and into the left corner of the JU goal. Muskoke added 6 saves to his stat line to preserve the victory.

A&M followed up that victory with a well earned draw yesterday on the road to undefeated Stetson. Stetson pinched a goal just before half-time when Ryan Asare-Bediako finished off a cross in the dying seconds. A&M battled back and in the 69th minute, Cesar Ramirez assisted Eric Kamya's deflected shot which eluded the Stetson keeper for the equalizer. Neither team could register for the remainder and the match ended with a 1:1 draw.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This and That

The Free Beer Movement

Any time I see the words "free" and "beer" in close proximity, my attention is piqued. This particular occurrence just happens to have a soccer angle. The Free Beer Movement is a movement to help create support for soccer. How? Simple:

"Invite your friends to see a soccer match and buy them a beer."

It's a real grassroots movement. They even have a blog. More info on how to help can be found here.

Today's History Lesson: The Baltimore Orioles

As you may know, I'm originally from Maryland. I grew up spending my summer evenings eating crabs and watching the Os play baseball on the tube. On top of that, I'm a bit of a history buff. So, when I stumbled over this nugget the other day, I was astounded.
The Baltimore Orioles won baseball's National League pennant in 1894. Shortly thereafter, as a way to keep drawing income from their venues, several baseball owners founded the American League of Professional Football. America's first professional soccer league kicked off in the fall of 1894. The teams had the same names as the baseball clubs and actually included some of the baseballers and coaches, predating Cal Ripken's appearance on Baltimore's baseball and soccer fields by 80 or so years (Ripken was soccer player in his youth). After going undefeated in the first and only season in 1894, the Baltimore Orioles were declared champions of the ALPF, giving the Orioles their second championship of the year.

You can read more here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

College Roundup

A&M Drop Two More Close Ones

Despite scoring five goals in the past two games, Alabama A&M came away without results as they dropped two one-goal decisions in the Hyatt Place Select Invitational tournament this past weekend in Nashville.
On Friday against Belmont University, A&M fought back from a three goal deficit on the back of Rogers Atugonza hat trick. The final goal came with just over a minute of regulation remaining and forced the teams into overtime. In the overtime, Belmont's Justin Hay scored the game winner in the 95th minute for a 4:3 final score.

Sunday afternoon's match saw A&M battle the soggy elements, give up a lead and fall 3:2 to Lipscomb University. A&M took the lead in the 21st minute, when Eric Kamya found Abraham Kassaye for Kassaye's team leading 5th goal of the season. At the half hour mark, LU fought back with two goals in 5 minutes to take a 2:1 lead into halftime. In the second 45, LU's Garrett Pettis hit net for what turned out to be the game winner after A&M's Samadu Mutumba pulled one back in the 82nd minute. A&M could not find the equalizer in the remaining 8 minutes and suffered it's 7th defeat of the 09 campaign.

UAH Draw At Covenant In A Gunslinger

Goals were in abundance as UAH rallied from two down late to earn a 4:4 draw a Covenant College on Saturday afternoon. Sean Kerber got the Chargers off to a good start with a goal in the 12th minute. CC responded with 2 tallies in the space of 12 minutes to take the lead into the end of the half.
CC added another goal before UAH's Brandon LeMier cut into the CC advantage. CC returned the favor two minutes later for a 4:2 lead. The final 15 minutes of regulation saw UAH spring to life. Tony Stock narrowed the difference in the 83rd minute before senior Devon Schleif knotted the score at 4:4 with 3 minutes left in regulation. Two periods of over time could not produce a winner and UAH comes home with a result on the road.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Looking Forward To This Refereeing Documentary

I have a great amount of respect for referees. It's not easy to perform a job where you know that even if you do not make a single mistake all day, you are going to have some jerk yelling at you. I've been known to raise my voice in frustration a time or two when my view of a play doesn't match up with the opinion of the referee, and so I make it a point to sincerely thank the referee for his efforts after every match.

I have even taken the referees course twice in the last 10 years to better acquaint myself with the rules of the game that I thought I knew from over 30 years of playing and coaching. Boy was I wrong. I knew the basics, but as simple as the game of soccer is, the managing of a match when you are in charge of the whistle is terribly complicated.

I donned the whistle for a few league matches around Huntsville and if you were so unfortunate as to be playing in one of these matches, I apologize. I don't think I did a poor job, but I'm sure some of the players in those matches would volunteer a few words to explain my shortcomings.

I had an even tougher time when asked to run the line as an AR. It is an absolute crapshoot to get the offside call right. I found it nearly impossible to see the passer of the ball, the position of the second to the last defender*, and the position of the receiver of the ball at the exact instant when the ball is struck. By the very definition of the rule, the AR must be looking at three things at the same time. It's no wonder there are so many botched calls all around the world. I did my best, but if there was ever a whiff of doubt that the attacker was onside, I gave the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player. I'm sure I blew quite a few calls, but we all make mistakes, right?

And so I've learned that a French documentary has been released called Les Arbitres (formerly titled "Kill the Referee but now just "The Referees") about that gives us a behind the scenes look at the referees of the Euro 2008 tournament in Switzerland/Austria. In it, we see a glimpse of the pressurized environment in which these guys deal with at the highest level of the game. Here's the official trailer for the film.

Les Arbitres clip one

It is interesting to me how nervous these guys look before the game. If it weren't for the uniforms, you might think they are preparing to play in the matches. As a player, you never think that the referee may be experiencing the same butterflies.

Les Arbitres clip two

This looks to be a fascinating peek at the men who are charged with seeing that the laws of the game are upheld. Somehow, I don't think most soccer fans in the USA, let alone the general public will share my fascination. So, I may have to Netflix this one. :)

* Note: It is the second to the last defender, not the last defender. One of those two defenders is usually the goalkeeper, but not always. I think that's one nuance that I didn't realize for may years when I was in my youth.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Southern Supporters Group BOSS Launches Website

A few weeks ago the Brotherhood of Southern Soccer (BOSS) officially launched their website. BOSS is a soccer supporters group founded with the aim of bringing more professional soccer to the south with a strong focus on bringing MLS to Atlanta.

In an email interview, I spoke with BOSS spokesman Will Clearman about the group's goals and origins.
"...This is a grassroots group that was started by true southern soccer fans. We all firmly believe that in order for MLS to grow, it is absolutely necessary for the league to gain a presence in the southeast and with Arthur Blank (NFL Atlanta Falcons owner) considering an MLS investment, Atlanta currently provides us with the best chance to see top class soccer..."
Will laid out the group's goals to:
  1. Bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Atlanta and act as the base for the formation of Atlanta's first MLS supporters group.
  2. Demonstrate Atlanta's potential as an MLS market to both Major League Soccer and to potential investors by enlisting the support of Atlanta's many soccer fans from multiple ethnic backgrounds.
  3. Unify the Southeast's soccer fan base into one collective voice to advance the development of soccer, and Major League Soccer, not just in Atlanta, but in the entire region.
  4. Provide potential owners and investors with a direct line of communication to the metro area fan base and to provide Atlanta soccer fans the mean to voice their support for the movement.
He goes on to say,
"[BOSS is] as much a movement as an organization, we will rally support for the cause of southern soccer while organizing the already strong base of local soccer fans into one voice to proclaim our preparedness and collective will to bring a franchise home and will continue to pursue our goals until they are achieved. "
If you are interested in joining the group, visit the Join BOSS page on the website.

A&M and RCU news

Kentucky Free Kick Downs A&M

Freshman University of Kentucky forward Matt Lodge's free kick from 30 yards in the 26th minute was enough to secure Alabama A&M's 5th loss of the season. A&M goalkeeper Paul Musoke was the man of the match recording 6 saves and keeping the Bulldogs within reach of the 22nd ranked Wildcats.

RCU South Region Champions T-shirts Available
RCU's Champions T-shirt

Today is the last day to pre-order your 2009 NPSL South Region Champions T-shirts. They are $10 and will be available by September 30. To pre-order a shirt, please e-mail with requested size.

RCU All-time Scoring Leader Heads Home

RCU's Rafa Barbosa will be sorely missed

RCU's captain and all-time scoring leader Rafa Barbosa is moving back to Brazil. The dynamic forward who has lead RCU in scoring for both of the clubs two seasons has decided to return to his native country to help with his mother's business. He leaves RCU with a world class production rate of 18 goals and 8 assists in 22 matches.

Always a class act, I caught up with Rafa earlier this week at the UAH men's soccer match. "It's been fun," he said in his understated delivery.

With a wry smile he added, "I talked to Andy [Zorovich, RCU team president] about maybe coming back next summer for an appearance." A testimonial match for the lanky Brazilian would be a terrific recognition for the most prolific player in the club's history.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UAH Has Heart Broken Again

University of Alabama-Huntsville junior goalkeeper Tyler Early was having a stellar match against Martin Methodist College; confidently marshaling his penalty area, making timely charges outside the area to clear through balls and making 3 crucial saves. In the end though, it wasn't enough as UAH felt the cruelty that the game can level on those that play it with a 1:0 defeat.

For most of the match it was the UAH defenders in front of Early that were getting the better of their opponents, limiting the internationally represented MMC attackers to wayward shots from 20 plus meters. Only once was Early seriously tested when in the 17th minute, the MMC sophomore Thiago Reichert found his way in alone on the UAH goal. Facing down the MMC forward with teeth bared, Early made the save look routine.

The match continued to display more industriousness than attacking flair with both teams grinding it out in a vain attempt at midfield possession. However in the 75th minute, it looked as if UAH would have the breakthrough when sophomore Kyle Gonclaves streaked into the area battled off one defender and calmly slid a shot under MMC keeper Hunter Jamison. UAH celebrations were cut short when the ball defiantly clambered off the far upright.

In the 88th minute, MMC would thrust the dagger of despair as freshman midfielder Fabio Souza latched onto a loose ball in the midfield and patiently drew the defenders to him before slipping a ball to junior Renato Castro alone in the area. Castro loaded up for a shot low to the far post. Early sprung to block it, but Castro misfired fortuitously over the left shoulder of Early and into the goal for the lead.

UAH GK Tyler Early discusses the loss

Despite freshman forward Tony Stock's two best efforts to equalize in the remaining 90 seconds, the Chargers could not find the equalizer and as has been a frequent refrain for this season, UAH again fell to a late game winner.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More TV Tidbits

DirecTV Is Awesome!!!

It's not just me who is raving over the new coverage of the UEFA Champions League now that Fox has taken over the broadcasting. Bruce over at DuNord just posted his love that all of the matches on each matchday can be seen via DirecTV's UEFA Champion's League mix.

Another great feature is the ability to set your DVR to record from any computer. I just remembered that I forgot to set up the DVR for the ManU v Besiktas match. No problem. I went to the site, logged on, found the game on the schedule, clicked record and bang! I'll be able to watch tonight when I get home. Nice!

USA v Honduras Broadcast Debacle Is Not Awesome!!!

There will be no live TV broadcast of the USA at Honduras World Cup Qualifier on October 10th. The Washington Post is reporting that the Honduran soccer federation sold the English and Spanish broadcast rights to a Spanish company called MediaPro who are asking a price that neither ESPN nor the USSF is willing to pay. So, if the game will be shown at all, it will be via closed circuit pay-per-view. Not nice at all!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A&M Shut Out At UNC-Wilmington

Alabama A&M dropped it's 4 consecutive match with a 2:0 defeat at the hands of University of North Carolina-Wilmington. A 10th minute goal by Etienne Boulanger and a 59th minute strike by Shawn Guderian was enough to propel UNC-Wilmington to the shutout win and the UNCW/Courtyard by Marriott Classic title. A&M's Abraham Kassaye and Terence Jones were named to the all-tourney team.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A&M, UAH Both Fall Late

UAH Gives Up Late Hat-trick To Clayton State

Rocket City United midfielder and Clayton State University captain Kyle Timm got the best of his RCU teammate Tyler Early, as CSU downed UAH 3:0 behind sophomore forward Leighton Fedricks' first career hat-trick. Early had kept his team in the match with some stellar saves until the breakthrough in the 77th. Four minutes later, Timm fed Fedricks for the second goal and in the 83rd minute, Fedricks made it 3 in the span of 6 minutes.

A&M Fall To Late Appalachian State Penalty In OT

Alabama A&M ran out of legs as they twice built and surrendered of one goal leads before finally succumbing via an Appalachian State penalty with less than two minutes left in the second period of extra time. Rogers Atugonza had a hand in both A&M goals as he assisted the 27th minute strike by Abraham Kassaye and cleaned up a loose ball from close range for the second goal in the 60th minute. The Atugonza poach was bookended by AppState goals from Nate Latigue and Sean Dreybus. It was all tied up at the end of 90 minutes and AppState got the better of the chances in the extra time prior to the dramatic penalty whistled for a handled ball. Arie Muniz converted the spot kick and handed AppState the victory.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Must Have: FootieFox

If you are reading this you are probably a soccer lover and you are probably at least moderately internet savvy. If you are both of these things, you need to know about FootieFox. It's an award winning add-on for the Firefox web browser that provides real-time updates on soccer matches from around the world.FootieFox was released by two German soccer fans and web developers in 2005 and has expanded to include over 200 leagues and cup competitions; all a click away from you normal Firefox browser. I've been using it for a few years now and thought I'd share it with you all.

Here's a screenshot of this weekend's Bundesliga fixtures and the leagues that I'm keeping tabs on.
When a goal is scored in any match that you have selected, a FootieFox goal indicator pops up in the lower right corner of the browser with the team who scored the goal and the score of the present game. This one's in German, but you get the picture.

It's a great little app that lets me keep track of all the games that matter while I'm doing other stuff (like work).

Edit: There is also an FootieFox iPhone app that can be found here. I've not used it, because I don't have an iPhone, but let me know if it works for you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Superliga Returns

The top amateur teams from across the south will meet in the 2009 edition of the Superliga. In addition to returning teams Rocket City United (Huntsville, AL-NPSL), Atlanta FC (Atlanta, GA- NPSL), Nashville Lions (Nashville-TN), and Law Dogs (Huntsville, AL-HASL), teams from as far as Dallas, TX, Tulsa, OK and Little Rock, AR are showing interest in playing in select match days.
There will be 3 match days :
  • November 7 in Nashville, TN
  • November 21 in Atlanta, GA
  • December 5 in Huntsville, AL
Other teams rumored to take part are Pumas FC (Birmingham, AL-NPSL), Lynch's Pub FC (Jacksonville, FL-BASL), Mississippi Brilla (Clinton, MS-PDL), Chattanooga FC (Chattanooga, TN-NPSL), and Saturn FC (Atlanta, GA-NPSL).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

College Roundup

Both of Huntsville's teams were unable to hold onto a 2 goal leads, as Alabama A&M were downed against Sacramento State and University of Alabama-Huntsville were only able to come home with a point at Trevecca Nazarene.

A&M, playing the second match of the St. Mary's of California tournament, held the lead after 39 minutes from two strikes from Abraham Kassaye. The first was set up nicely from a Cesar Ramirez cross, while Kassaye ran onto a lead pass from Eric Kamya for the second score.

After pulling one back in the 40th minute on a rifled 25 meter goal from State's David Norton, the game was altered significantly in the 66th minute. A&M goalkeeper Paul Musoke was sent off for taking down Max Alvarez in the area. A&M's backup goalkeeper Daniel Obfinsua was unable to turn back Alvarez's kick from the spot. With the match tied and State brimming with confidence, A&M futilely attempted to diffuse the Sacramento attacks. It took 10 minutes for State's Alvarez to notch his second goal of the match and the game winner. State's Scott Crandall cleaned up a rebound for the final tally of the day and a final score of 4:2.

A&M's Terrence Jones and Abraham Kassaye were named to the all-tournament team.

UAH also built a 2 goal lead in their match against Travecca Nazarene University in Nashville. UAH got off to a good start in the 22nd minute as Brett Houghson scored from a feed from Brandon Lemier. UAH continued to apply the pressure and it paid off in the 38th minute with a goal from Kyle Goncalves for a 2:0 lead. TNU would not lie down however, when in the 63rd minute, Jordan Ennix drew one back, and 7 minutes later Benji Bussel fed Javier Delgados for the game tying strike.

The overtime periods saw UAH pepper the TNU goal looking for the game winner that would not come and the referee blew full time on the 2:2 draw.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

VW Goal Celebration Lessons

I posted lesson one earlier, but I thought it was worth a full post. So, here's all of the lessons.

VW is really doing some good things for soccer in the US and the world. They sponsor several teams at various levels in the US soccer pyramid including MLS squad DC United and NPSL side Chattanooga FC. To help spread awareness for VW's Junior Masters World Final, they've released these great little vids with MLS stars giving goal celebration lessons. Watch and learn.

  1. As I showed you earlier, Clint Mathis and "the rockstar".
  2. Wilman Conte and "the bullfighter".
  3. Geoff Cameron and "the bunnyhop". I've never seen this one done, and I'm not sure it would go over well on any men's team.
  4. Javier Morales does "the pinata". Note: Perform with caution. PWTblog is not responsible for injuries incurred from whacking teammates while performing "the pinata".
  5. Guillermo Barros Schelotto demonstrates "toot the boot". Classic!
  6. Kei Kamara strikes a pose in "the photo shoot".
  7. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado makes "the power lift".
  8. Steve Ralston performs "the cranky donkey".

A&M Suffers First Loss

Alabama A&M was held to three shots in a 1:0 loss to St Mary's College of California. The Gaels took an early lead as A&M keeper Paul Musoke made a good save on Emmanuel Sarabia's 13th minute drive, but redshirt freshman Justin Girder was on hand to convert the rebound. St. Mary's stifled the A&M attack throughout the rest of the match for the one goal victory.

On Sunday, the Bulldogs play Sacremento State in the second match of the St. Mary's tournament. Sacremento State defeated UC Riverside in their first match of the two match tourney.

Friday, September 4, 2009

World Cup Qualifying Saturday and Other Tidbits

What I'll be Watching

While most leagues are taking a hiatus for World Cup Qualifying matches, MLS is still playing a few matches. With the MLS playoff battle heating up, there are some vital points on the line in the US league. There are also some interesting WCQ matches including the USA v El Salvador which is a must win at home of the Yanks. Here's what I'll be watching.

  • Scotland-Macedonia, WCQ, 9 AM, GolTV
  • England-Slovenia, Friendly, 11:30 AM, FSC
  • Spain-Belgium, WCQ 3 PM, GolTV
  • Georgia-Italy, WCQ, 4 PM, FSC
  • USA-El Salvador, WCQ 7 PM, ESPN Classic
  • Kansas City-New England, MLS, 6:30 PM, Direct Kick
  • Dallas-D.C. United, MLS, 7 PM, Direct Kick
  • Colorado-Toronto, MLS, 9 PM, FSC

I'll be doing some channel hopping during some of the day, but I shouldn't miss too much.

USL TOA interested in the NPSL?

The folks over at MLS Talk have been speculating as to whether the group of USL team owners known as the Team Owners Association (TOA) are serious about their threats of breaking away from the USL to become an independent league. They have even gone so far as to say that the TOA may be interested in taking thier teams to the NPSL. Currently, the NPSL is an amatuer only league and is not built around the professional model. I'm awaiting comment from the league's public relations office, and will let you know what I find out.

VW Coaches You Up On Goal Celebrations

First Lesson: The Rockstar with Clint Mathis. I can't wait to learn some more.

College Soccer Has Its Place

I played college soccer and understand that it is not the greatest way for a country to develop professional level players, but, as is pointed out quite well by this blog post, it does have its place in the American soccer landscape.

Guest Post: Random Musings on Soccer Lit Part 4

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. This is the final part of Chris's list. Here's part one, part two, and part three.

Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life, Alex Bellos

Well-written, researched and presented with an uncommon understanding of the wholesale manner in which soccer permeates EVERY facet of Brazilian society and culture, Bellos demonstrates why Brazil produces so much soccer talent and why Brazil will probably continue to win nearly one of every two world cup finals. My fondest memory from this book (I do not have a copy at hand) has to do with fringe players in the Brazilian professional scene and their deep-seated desire to play professionally in Europe. Two young Brazilian players, co-opted by their agent, no doubt, end up playing professionally in the Faroe Islands. Yes, technically Europe, but…yikes. Unfortunately the guys are perpetually cold, homesick, and must work part time in a fish cannery to make ends meet. The witch doctor planting ritualistic objects around the Vasco de Gama ground also stands out. Silly? How about all that Boston Red Sox stuff they found in newly poured concrete at the new Yankee Stadium?

“Gazza Agonistes,” Ian Hamilton

Technically this piece on former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne is an article, but an extremely long one. It can be found in the December 1993 UK literary magazine “Granta.” This can be purchased on Amazon…I checked. Amazon wasn’t around when I got my hands on it. Oddly enough, the editor of issue #45 of “Granta” is none other than the aforementioned Bill Buford, not the former Yes and King Crimson drummer. I include this article here for two reasons: 1.) it was the first serious piece about soccer I ever read, and 2.) for those too young to have seen Paul Gascgoigne play at his peak and even for those who did, his talent, vision and creativity were such as almost never seen in English footballers. Indeed, his skills were reminiscent of South American or Mediterranean distributing midfielders. The fact this his story ended up fitting the sad clich√© of talent squandered on booze and sloth, and perhaps some serious mental health issues, was apparent even at the time this piece was first released.

Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby

By virtue of being an Arsenal fan, I hereby recuse myself from reviewing this book. Let’s just say it’s a lot like everything else Hornby has written: adult male, seemingly doing alright, is really an immature boy at heart and desperately needs to grow up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A&M Wins Season Opener

Alabama A&M kicked off the 2009 regular season yesterday with an 2:1 victory on the road over Mercer University. Junior forward Abraham Kassaye led comeback for the Bulldogs with a goal and an assist on the day.

Despite being outshot 16-12 by Mercer and giving up the opening goal in the match, A&M persevered. In the 72nd minute, Mercer broke the deadlock when Chrispine Ong'Ango slid in to clean up a rebound off a good save by A&M goalkeeper Paul Musoke.

A&M responded immediately as Kassaye played a terrific ball for junior Eric Kamya to slot home. With less than 5 minutes remaining, it was Kassaye who gathered a loose ball in the area and drove home a far post shot for the game winner.

A&M will now travel to Morgana, CA to participate in the St. Mary's Tournament where they will face the hosts, St. Mary's College of California, on Friday and Sacramento State on Sunday.

Guest Post: Random Musings on Soccer Lit Part 3

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. This is part three of Chris's list. Here's part one and part two.

Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football, Phil Ball

No English language writer knows Spanish football better than Phil Ball. A longtime resident of San Sebastian (he recently returned to the UK after a decade in Spain) and spouse of a Spaniard, he speaks the language, knows the game, and perhaps most importantly, understands how powerful regionalism is in its affect on Spanish history, culture and sport. Morbo is a serious book, and if understanding the Real Madrid-FC Barcelona rivalry through the lens of Catalan nationalism vis-√†-vis Franco’s fascism is not your idea of a good time, this may not be the book for you. For those who persevere, however, the payoff is great. Who knew that Huelva is the cradle of Spanish Football? Is there enough Basque football talent to keep Atletic de Bilboa in La Liga in the coming years, or will their management be forced to field non-Basque players?

Once in a Lifetime: The Incredible Story of the New York Cosmos, Gavin Newsham

It usually bodes poorly for a book’s prospects when the cover is festooned with the words “now a major motion picture,” and Once in a Lifetime is no exception. Author Gavin Newsham of the Brit-Tabloid school of journalism provides an intimate (read: anything racy, lewd or embarrassing) portrait of the bizarre colossus that was the New York Cosmos. Newsham, who also wrote Letting the Big Dog Eat, a biography of John Daly (one of the few professional golfers colorful [or stupid] enough to be tabloid fodder), is particularly brutal on Georgio Chinaglia. On second thought, maybe there is something to like about this book.

Among the Thugs, Bill Buford

Hooliganism used to be known as “The English Disease,” but those days are passed, along with the Falklands War, Maggie Thatcher, and the ultra-right National Front, a UK political party heavy on xenophobia, racism and soccer hooliganism. Hooliganism at its height in England in the 1980’s wasn’t solely the purview of the National Front, as Buford makes clear, but was symptomatic of English societal issues that, mercifully, have changed as has the socio-economic background of the average English soccer fan. As a glimpse back in time, Buford’s study has some value. However, his self-righteousness following his immersion in and, at least tacit encouragement of hooliganism smacks of hypocrisy. In today’s world, serious hooliganism is far more of a problem in Italy and Argentina than in England, although Millwall fans alone, perhaps to compensate for the quality of their side’s play, seem to cling pathetically to violence that’s twenty years out of date in England and never was anything about which to be proud.

Chris covers the final three books in his list in Part 4.

There Can Be Only One: US Open Cup Final

Remember back in late May, when Rocket City United traveled down to Jacksonville, FL, where the air was so thick you could taste it, to take part in the Region III play-in for the US Open Cup? Well, tonight the final two teams standing in that same tournament meet to determine who will hoist the Dewar's Cup, the oldest trophy in US team sports, in the final of the 2009 US Open Cup.
FSC will be showing the match between the defending US Open Cup Champions, DC United, and the upstart MLS expansion squad, Seattle Sounders FC, at 6:30 PM.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two for Tuesday

USL Sold, Owners Upset, Team Coming to Birmingham?

NuRock Soccer Holdings, owners of the PDL's FC Atlanta Blackhawks, has purchased the United Soccer Leagues from Nike beating out bids from MLS and other interested parties including a group of USL team owners. Now, it appears a group of those owners known as the Team Owners Association (TOA) are upset with the sale to NuRock and "has accelerated its pursuit of all league options for the 2010 season and beyond." What does that mean? Could there be yet another breakaway league in American soccer's future? I'll keep an eye out, but it's a pretty confusing situation, right now.
One interesting detail released during the announcement of the sale: NuRock also owns the rights to open a USL-1 franchise in Birmingham, AL.

Another Great Quote

Raphael Honigstein of the Guardian has quickly become my favorite read of the week with quotes like this about Bayern Munich who has added several big-time attacking signings while ignoring their defensive deficiencies.
"Bayern's top-heaviness is fast approaching Marge Simpson proportions."