Friday, October 30, 2009
Fortunately for us, the US Men's National Team has a pretty good track record of jersey designs and the guys over at Project 2010 reviewed every jersey worn by the USMNT since 1984.
Of the 29 USA jerseys reviewed by Project 2010, I only own one. Unfortunately, I bought it in the build up to the 1998 World Cup and wearing it brings back the horrible memories of the USA's last place finish in France. So, I only wear it rarely, even though I think it's a nice looking shirt.
There are a few that I didn't really like when they came out, but now I wish I had gotten. I guess my only option is to hope someone cleans out their closet and put them up on eBay or Craigslist.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Fueled by two second half goals by Abraham Kassaye, Alabama A&M recorded thier fourth win of the season by upending regional foe the University of Memphis Tigers 3:1 last night at Mike Rose Stadium in Memphis, TN. The Bulldogs only had 6 shots to the Tigers 16, but made the most of those shots while A&M goalkeeper Paul Musoke did his best to disrupt the Tigers attempts at goal by making 8 saves on the night.
Cesar Ramirez got A&M off on the right foot by converting a 31st minute pass from Eric Kamya from six yards out. In the 53rd minute, A&M doubled the lead when when Moses Semakula put Abraham Kassaye behind the Memphis defense to find net. Memphis pulled one back when Parker Duncan was hauled down in the area and Thomas Shannon converted from the spot. However, Kassaye's goalscoring wasn't finished and in the 73rd minute, he bent a shot from the left side of the penalty area into the opposite corner of the goal for the final goal of the contest.
A&M will take on intra-state rival University of Alabama-Birmingham on Sunday afternoon. UAB comes into the match ranked at No. 20 in the nation.
UAH Held To A Scoreless Draw In the final home match of the season, University of Alabama-Huntsville and Christian Brothers University battled to a 0:0 tie. Junior UAH goalkeeper Tyler Early was undoubtedly the man of the match making 8 saves in his third shutout of the '09 campaign.
UAH Goalkeeper Tyler Earley talks about the game and the conference tourney
The overtime period was a back and forth affair that somehow had neither team really threaten the opponents goal.
The draw earns UAH the second seed in the upcoming Gulf South Conference tournament next weekend in Pensecola, FL where they will meet this same CBU team in the conference semifinals. UAH coach Tafadzwa Ziyenge thinks provided the right mental focus, the team could do well in the tournament.
UAH coach Tafadzwa Ziyenge discusses the season and the GSC tournament
Note: I have to apologize for the fuzzy look of the game footage. My little handheld video camera just isn't designed for that sort of thing.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
There's a lot of debate every year around this time about whether MLS should drop its playoffs in favor of the "single table" to crown their champion. In essence, many soccer aficionados claim that for MLS to be a legit soccer nation, MLS should award the title to the team with the most points at the end of a regular season where teams play each other the same number of times as do their favorite European leagues.
However, Brian Straus over at Fanhouse has articulated the most cogent argument that I've ever heard for the MLS playoff system.
Head of US Soccer Addresses Inferiority Complex
As illustrated in the bit above, there is no doubt that the US soccer community has an inferiority complex. The US may have shown up late for the soccer party, but as US Soccer President Sunil Gulati points out in a Q and A with the New York Times Goal blog, we may just be the biggest soccer nation on earth.
"...the U.S. makes the largest TV rights payment for the World Cup; Americans are the No. 1 ticket buyers to the World Cup; the U.S. has more registered players; our women’s team is unparalleled; and no one is taking the men’s team for granted anymore and we’re in the mix to be seeded [in the 2010 World Cup]. No one would have thought those things 20 years ago."The US are "soccer minnows" no more! Gulati also has some very interesting comments on coach Bob Bradley and the USA bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
As you know, I'm a pretty big fan of beer. I'm a proud member of the Free the Hops organization that strives to expand the presence of good brews in Alabama. It is known that I have a proclivity to post anything that strays from the world of beer into the realm of soccer.
Now, I've never been a big fan of the wonder midget, Diego Maradona, but I had to crack a smile when I saw that a Mexican brewery has produced a special brew in honor of the biggest little cheater in World Cup history (just google "hand of god" if you think I'm being harsh).
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The MLS Playoffs will feature a home and away series to decide the Conference Finalists followed by a one game Conference Final to be held at the higher seed's stadium. The MLS Cup Final will be held at Quest Field in Seattle.
Conference Semifinals - Game #1
Thursday, Oct. 29, 9PM, Houston Dynamo at Seattle Sounders FC, ESPN2
Saturday, Oct. 31, 5PM, Columbus at Real Salt Lake, Direct Kick
Sunday, Nov. 1, 1PM, Chicago Fire at New England Revolution, FSC
Sunday, Nov. 1, 4PM Los Angeles Galaxy at Chivas USA, ESPN2
Conference Semifinals - Game #2
Thursday, Nov. 5, 7PM, Real Salt Lake at Columbus Crew, ESPN2
Saturday, Nov. 7 , 7:30PM, New England Revolution at Chicago Fire, FSC
Sunday, Nov. 8, 2 PM, Seattle Sounders FC at Houston Dynamo, Telefutura
Sunday, Nov. 8, 6:30PM, Chivas USA at Los Angeles Galaxy, ESPN2
Conference Championships (times TBD based on match-ups)
Thursday, Nov. 12, ESPN2
Saturday, Nov. 14, FSC
MLS Cup 2009
Sunday, Nov. 22, 7:30PM, ESPN
Time to start planning that MLS Cup viewing party now!!!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Keeping to the script of scoreless first halves, UAH found net 4 times in the second half to come from a goal down for the 4:1 victory at Delta State. Finding themselves trailing by a David Horstman goal in the 52nd minute, UAH responded via hot handed Oscar Leon who converted from a Andres Flores feed in the 57th minute. Sean Kerber found the game winner in the 73rd minute when Kyle Gonclaves found him for the first of his two assists on the day. Kota Kashiwagi provided the rest of the UAH offense with two goals in three minutes and by the 80th minute the contest was over at 4:1.
MLS Playoffs Set
After an amazing weekend, the MLS teams have either claimed thier positions in the post season or started the offseason early. To start the fun Saturday night, Toronto FC was eliminated from the playoffs after being trounced 5:0 by an bottom of the table New York Red Bulls who were playing their last game in Giant Stadium. The LA Galaxy won the west with two goals from Landon Donovan's foot for a 2:0 defeat of San Jose. Real Salt Lake beat fellow Rocky Mountain squad Colorado 3:0 and Seatle beat FC Dallas 2:1 for wildcard spots. On Sunday afternoon, Houston topped Chivas USA 3:2 as both teams qualified for the playoffs and New England beat Supporters Shield winner's Columbus 1:0 for the final wild card spot available.
The wildest game of the weekend had to be the DC United v Kansas City Wizards match up where DCU needed a win over the already eliminated KC squad. After going down a goal in the first half, DC United fought back to tie the match and then pulled out all of the stops. After the 3 allotted substitutions had been made, DCU defender Julius James suffered a leg injury in the 75 minute. He was repositioned from central defense to center forward where he would be expected to do nothing more than hobble around and occupy space. However, despite the damaged leg, it was James who became the improbable goalscorer when he out leaped a KC defender to nod home the go ahead goal in the 80th minute. Unfortunately, as has happened all season for DCU, they could not hold the lead when in the 91st minute, a goal bound ball was stopped by the elbow of Fred. The Brazilian was shown the requisite red card and KC converted the PK. The excitement didn't end there however as DCU rookie Rodney Wallace's last ditch effort from 18 yards beat Kevin Hartman in the KC goal but agonizingly struck the inside of the post only to flash across the wide open goal mouth and referee's whistle blew the end of both teams' season.
Now here's the playoff match-ups:
Columbus vs Chivas USA
Chicago vs New England
Houston vs Seattle
Los Angeles vs Colorado
I'll pass along the TV schedule when details are worked out.
Arsene's Arsenal Built With Brains
The EPL Talk site has a terrific article discussing how Arsene Wenger has built a perennial top club with a fraction of the expenditures that the other top world clubs have.
"Arsenal has finished in the top four every year for the past decade, and under Wenger has collected three Championships, six FA Cups, and went undefeated for the 2003-2004 EPL season. He has done this while spending a small fraction of what his rivals have spent in the transfer market. If you add up all of Wenger spending since he joined the team in 1996 and subtract his sales in the transfer market over that time, his net expenditures are a measly £17 million – less than £2 million per year."
The article goes on to describe the unwritten rules followed by Arsenal in their player acquisition strategy. Simple, really. Buy low, sell high, right? :)
Friday, October 23, 2009
Then a friend of mine gave a copy of the Eurosport catalog. It was about 50 pages filled with more shoes, clothes, balls and other soccer equipment than I had ever seen. I would spend days looking at the action shots of pros in distant leagues I had never heard of. You see, cable TV had not come to my part of the world yet (Hard to imagine, right kids?). Eurosport was part of my soccer education and I would spend days scheming on how I would save up money to buy an Italia 90 World Cup t-shirt or Addidas three striped socks.
Ahh, the olden days...
Nowadays, I've been desensitized by overexposure via FSC, GolTV, soccernet.com, etc. I still get the catalog in the mail, but the anticipation of spending hours pouring over each page is no longer dripping from every pore. Normally now when I open my Eurosport catalog, I just peruse the latest version of the soccer gear that I consider way overpriced and the catalog hits the trashcan a few minutes later. It is rare that I actually see something that I get excited about like I did in my youth.
However, the other day when I got my latest edition, I casually flipped through it and had to flip back because something interesting caught my eye. It was with particular nostalgia that I spent a minute or so on each of the 10 balls offered as part of the Adidas Historical World Cup Match Ball Set. Glorious!
Each ball is made using the same materials and methods used to create the original. I could imagine knocking around each ball to test the difference that 40 years makes in football technology... Then, I saw the price... $849.99!!! In this economy! Fortunately, for those of us not in the top 1% of the economy, they also have a mini-ball set for $99.99. It'll make a nice Christmas present for myself.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Prior to the sale of USL, several team owners had become upset about the handling of many league issues by USL executives and set up a group called the Team Owner's Association (TOA) to address those issues with the league offices. It had been hoped that new ownership would bring about changes on that front, but it appears that is not to be the case and the relationship between the TOA and the USL league offices has deteriorated to the point that the TOA is seriously considering splitting from the USL to form a competing league.
The blogs Inside Minnesota Soccer and the Kartik Report have been following this story very closely, and the guys from these two sites got together on the Inside the Six podcast a few days ago for a highly detailed account of the happenings. Very interesting stuff for the soccer geek!!!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
So, who will make the playoffs? The permutations of results are way too numerous for me to try to figure out. Added to that complexity are the MLS tiebreaking rules that have to consider the imbalanced schedules and only someone with money on the line would attempt to figure it out.
Well, I don't know if he has money on the games, but fortunately for us Kyle McCarthy at Goal.com did the dirty work and gives us the skinny on the how the wild weekend of matches could work out including the tiebreaking scenarios.
The fun starts tonight with Chivas USA and Chicago Fire going at it at on ESPN2 at 7PM.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Sunday saw the weather turn for the better, but the results didn't follow suit as UAH hosted Lambuth . It was as if UAH sophomore Oscar Leon was playing a game within the game of post-post-crossbar when two of his shots hit woodwork in the first half before he bulged the twine in the 57th minute. However, Lambuth's Gavin Smith's two goals in two minutes undid Leon's work. Smith bent a ball into the far corner for the first strike in the 63rd minute before Jaun Garzon drew a penalty and Smith stroked home the winner. All of the life was not drained from UAH however, as Leon would finish his game of post-post-crossbar by again finding woodwork in the 75th minute before Myles Harding would try to join in Leon's fun by hitting the crossbar as time ticked away in the 2:1 loss.
I have to say that this is good news for the US soccer aficionado after the debacle of the Dave O'Brien/Marcelo Balboa partnership that was such a train wreck in the Germany edition of the World Cup. The hire of Tyler will insure that a "football" expert will be calling the games, and will not talk the game down. You can also be sure that Tyler will not come down with the diarrhea of the mouth that O'Brien was known for. Tyler will let the game speak for itself.
This hire could be described as coup for ESPN, but not everyone is entirely happy with this move. The Kartik Report has an interesting take that ESPN is going a little too British in its coverage of the world's game.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Now that the US has qualified for the World Cup, are you going? If you're thinking about it, here is an excellent article by Grant Wahl about what to expect.
BTW, round trip airfare from Huntsville to Johanessburg via Delta (one stop in Atlanta) is currently running about $2100.
Will the US get a seed?
Despite the heroics the US team showed by scoring the injury time goal to win the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group, it may not do anything to help them get a seed in the all important WC group draw.
Unbelievably, FIFA hasn't yet decided how it will apply the seedings. This sort of make-the-rules-up-as-you-go shenanigans are typical for FIFA and lead to the well deserved suspicion that FIFA isn't the epitome of integrity.
So, how will FIFA decide the seeding question? This article attempts to explain the issues involved, and it doesn't look good for the chances of the US getting a seed.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
A&M Lose Low Scoring Affair to SIUE
Alabama A&M traveled up to north for Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville's homecoming soccer game. The wet conditions and boisterous crowd of about 1500 seemed to dampen the Bulldog's spirit as they were limited to 6 shots. A&M keeper Paul Musoke made six saves but couldn't keep stop SIUE forward Chris Anzalone's 66th minute rebound sitter that would prove to be the games sole score.
RCU Announce SuperLiga Tryouts
Tryouts for the RCU SuperLiga team will be held on Wednesday October 28 and Wednesday November 4th at 7pm at Madison County High School. The SuperLiga will feature some of the south's premier amateur clubs. Players wanting to tryout for RCU should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, October 9, 2009
The 35 year old surfer/soccer player was called into the US Mens National Team camp to replace Clint Dempsey who is out with a shoulder injury ahead of the crucial clash with Honduras (which no one in Huntsville will see). Illustrious soccer writer Grant Wahl dropped the news with this gem of a tweet.
Frankie Hejduk called into USA camp. Use of "dude" in player interviews will increase exponentially.Wahl followed that one up with this nugget.
Frankie Hejduk on the secret to his longevity with the U.S. national team: "It's this new beer I've been drinking ..."Nice! Note to self: Find out what brand he's drinking and see if the Nook carries it. Who am I kidding, the Nook carries everything (Well, everything that's legal in Alabama!).
Speaking of Frankie and beer, our friends over at Free Beer Movement have started a petition to recruit Sir Surfs-A-Lot to serve as the spokesman for their "righteous cause".
Help a brother out and sign the petition here.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
UAH dominated possession throughout the first half, but looked destined to head into the interval at 0-0. But with two minutes left in the half, substitute midfielder Ori Ben Shalom slipped a fine ball into Tony Stock in the TNW box which Stock fired high into the right corner of Miguel Valadez’ goal. 1-0 to UAH at the half.
The second half started out a bit scrappier, and just 5 minutes in, UAH ‘keeper ‘Tyler Earley was fortunate to escape a penalty call as he appeared to foul TNW forward Mitchell Slawson in the box. The visitors continued to look dangerous, nearly capitalizing on a UAH giveaway in their own box, but Earley made the save on Slawson’s right-sided effort. With 27 minutes to go in the half, Slawson slipped behind the entire UAH team with the ball at his when hustling Brian Hadley sprinted 40 yards and helped disrupt the freshman striker’s shot, which passed wide of Tyler Earley’s left post.
With 18 minutes left in the match, Tony Stock was awarded a penalty kick after being brought down in the TNW box. He calmly converted the penalty himself for a 2-0 UAH lead. Two minutes later, Charger defender Devin Schlief added a third, as his well-struck free kick deflected off the TNW wall and into the net. Final score UAH 3, Tennessee Wesleyan 0. Next up for the chargers is a critical Gulf South Conference showdown with W. Florida at Charger field October 16. Both teams are 2-0 in conference play.
Posted by Chris
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The first incident in question occurred a few weeks ago during a Swedish league match. Goalkeeper Kim Christensen was caught on video moving each goal post a few inches together to make the goal smaller.
Now, I used to play in goal sometimes in my youth and would also do this from time to time. In fact, in a highly unscientific poll, every goalkeeper I've spoken to about this bit of gamesmanship has done this. When asked about it, Kristensen said, "I got the tip from a goalkeeping friend, and since then I have done it from time to time." Of course, it only works on posts that are not driven into the ground. Now, I wonder, if every goalkeeper does it, is there really an advantage gained?
The other incident may be a little more unique. During this past weekend's MLS match between the Columbus Crew and the Seattle Sounders, Columbus midfielder Eddie Gaven was taken down in the area and Columbus was awarded a PK. This is where the gamesmanship comes in. Here's what happened as described by the Crew blog "The Black and Gold Standard"
"After referee Ricardo Salazar whistled Jhon Kennedy Hurtado for bodyblocking Eddie Gaven in the box, Hurtado and James Riley undertook a lengthy appeal. Hurtado and Riley remained in Salazar’s face for nearly a minute, keeping the referee occupied. It was the perfect diversion for Sounders defender Tyrone Marshall, who went to the penalty spot and got to work with his cleats. Marshall earnestly dug into the spot as if he were a slugger prepping for a crucial at-bat. He raked his cleats and back and forth, back and forth, over and over again. He jammed his heel into the ground when more force was needed. By the time he was finished, there was barely any evidence left of the white dot. There was a crater in its place."Photos of the area in question can be found here.
Columbus star midfielder Guillermo Barros Schelotto then stepped up and pulled his PK attempt wide.
To his credit Schelotto took the blame for the miss, but did mention the pitch defilement when he said, “It’s my fault, I know,” he said. “I feel terrible for the missed penalty. I shoot bad and put the ball outside. They broke the floor before the penalty, but it is my fault.”
Did this "yard work" get into Schelotto's head? Maybe and there will never be scientific proof as to the advantage gained through the mutilation of 12 inches of sod comprising the penalty spot, but I don't think anyone in Seattle cares to whether it actually made a difference. The fact is that the penalty was missed, and there is a precedent now for other defenders with a green thumb (or toe) to try this one out.
Maybe I'm a curmudgeon, but these incidents certainly confirm the old saying that soccer is a gentleman's sport, played by ruffians. Ahh, the olden days...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Well, the Huntsville Times is reporting that Mayor Tommy Battle has passed on the purchase of a parcel of land called Griffis Glen in southwest Huntsville originally intended as a housing development that some in the city believe would be perfect for another soccer complex.
The article goes on to say,
It's time to let your city government know that this purchase would be highly beneficial to the thousands of residents who play the sport. Clilck the links to contact the mayor and the city council. The mayor also has a Facebook account here.
"City Councilman Bill Kling said he hopes the city can find a way to acquire the land for a future soccer complex. Nearby soccer fields at John Hunt Park and Merrimack Park stay so "jam packed" that some youth teams have to practice in Madison, he said.
"There's a great need for more recreational soccer fields in the city," Kling said last week. "Turning that property into a soccer complex could turn out even better than single-family housing."
Kling suggested adding the land to the city's capital projects budget and paying for it over several years, so officials wouldn't have to come up with all the money now.
"There's not too many large parcels left in the central part of the city," he said."
Monday, October 5, 2009
If you must see this match live and in English, you won't have to go all the way to Chi-town after all. You'll only have to drive 4 hours to Fado Irish Pub in Atlanta. Atlanta's version of the Irish Pub chain is at 273 Buckhead Ave, Atlanta, GA 37305, (404) 841-0066.
Also, word is that GolTV announcers Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson will be calling the game for English speakers. Let's just say that I'm glad I'm not going to be able to see this one.
A&M: One Goal Is Enough For Win
Moses Semakula scored the only goal of the match in the 69th minute and gave Alabama A&M the 1:0 win at home over the College of Charleston.
UAH Fall to Lincoln Memorial
A second half Rob Eckensweiler headed goal wasn't enough for UAH as they fell 2:1 at home against Lincoln Memorial University.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Of course, if you don't mind traveling you can catch the nearest English language broadcast of the game in Chicago. Or you can save yourself 8 hours and go a little ways up or down I-65 to visit one of the establishments listed below to catch the match in Spanish.
328 Valley Ave, Birmingham, AL 35209 (205) 945-4900
Catch the women's wrestling and wet t-shirt contest after the game!
2209 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN - (615) 259-2566
It's rumored the Gallagher brothers owned this place until they got in a fight and sold it.
I don't advise going to this place wearing your USA garb. :)
I've never been to any of these places. So, I can't vouch for them in any way. BTW, if I hear of a place showing the game in town I'll let you all know. (All 5 of you who read this).
Thursday, October 1, 2009
UAH took hold of a 66 minute one-man advantage to down University of Montevallo 2:1 for its third consecutive victory after going winless in its first six contests. Good work by Gulf South Conference player of the week Kyle Gonclaves got UAH started quickly. In the 6th minute, Gonclaves got behind the UM defence and was hauled down in the area for a kick from the mark. Junior Rob Eckensweiler's spot kick was denied by Robert Mueler in the UM goal, but the referee ordered a rekick due to encroachment by the UM defenders. Tomoaki Matsuo stepped up for the second attempt which Mueler was unable to stop.
In the 24th minute, UM junior foward Petar Triva was sent off for a second bookable offense. UAH doubled the lead in the 67th minute when Devon Schleif pushed into the attack from his normal left back position to unleash a wicked shot from outside the area. The left footed bender froze Mueler in his tracks as it settled into the near post netting.
UM would get a consolation goal in the 86th minute when sophomore midfielder Phil Jackson was awarded a penalty. Jackson stroked the spot kick home for the 2:1 final result.
A&M Fall To Dayton 3:0
Despite taking 18 shots, Alabama A&M could not convert and was shut out for a 3:0 loss at the University of Dayton. A first half goal from Ben Murray and second half goals from Evan McCreary and Alex Torda were enough to seal the deal for the Flyers.
A&M host their first home match of the season against the College of Charleston on Saturday at John Hunt Soccer Stadium at 1 PM.
It is obvious that the time has come for this technology to be adopted. Recent tests have demonstrated 100% accuracy of the system.
In the letter, Hawkeye refutes point by point the issues that Blatter recently spouted about why goal line technology is not up to snuff. Could it be that Sepp "Blather" Blatter doesn't know what he's talking about?
Or could it be something more sinister? There are many reasons to mistrust the people at the highest level of football's bureaucracy. A quick web search of "FIFA crooks" will give plenty of evidence of wrong doing and back room money changing hands. So I ask... why does FIFA still drag its feet when a technology has been clearly been developed?
I guess someone needs to be paid.