Thursday, July 30, 2009
The field has seen a wide variety of athletic events including serving as home to several minor league baseball teams, high school football games, midget car racing, ice skating, track and field, boxing and even wrestling matches. It's even hosted concerts and a circus.
In 1982, public outcry saved the stadium from demolition and repurposed the stadium into one of the first "soccer specific stadiums" in the country. Since then Breese has been used at times as the home field of several teams including the University of Wisconsin, Edgerwood College, and is currently the home of the NPSL's Madison 56ers.
It has some very interesting architectural features including a covered grandstand on the west end and seats just under 4900 spectators. It featured an ivy covered wall until recent necessary structural improvements forced the removal of the plants. Local referee, coach, and chairman of the committee in charge of recent restorations of the stadium, Eric Bertun, told a reporter at the time, "Breese Stevens Field is sort of the Lambeau Field or Wrigley Field of soccer in Wisconsin."
Breese also hosted the NPSL Championship in 2006. I'm really looking forward to checking this place out.
and then click on the "Click here to listen" link to catch all of the action. For more information on keeping up with the games including live blogs and tweets, check out the NPSL Insider Blog.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
RCU coach discusses the semifinal opponent and the mentality of the team
RCU's opponent in the semifinal of the NPSL Final Four, Erie Admirals SC, was established in 1995 and has an extensive youth system. In their first season in the NPSL, Ireland native John Melody has coached the team to an undefeated regular season record of 9-0-1 in the Keystone Conference of the Northeast Region. The Admirals beat the Atlantic Conference's Boston Aztec 2:0 for the birth in the Final Four.
The Sonoma County Sol are the favorites to win the NPSL Final Four after qualifying for thier third consective appearence (fourth overall) after an undefeated season of 9-0-3. The attack first mentality of the Sol led them to the highest goals scored with 42 (3.5 per game) in the NPSL. RCU coach Greg Petersen is well aware of the style with which the Sol plays since the Sol's coach, Ben Ziemer, was a colleague of Petersen's at the Ajax School for Excellence. The Sol have also enjoyed tournament success this year by making it to the second round of the US Open Cup and the semifinals of the USASA Open Cup.
The St Paul Twin Stars battled their way to the NPSL Semifinals with a 5-2-1 record and hold the stingiest defense in the Midwest Region with 7 goals allowed. Coaching the team is Liberian Youssef Darbaki who may soon be doing double duty as coach of St Paul and the National Team coach of the troubled African nation.
I'll be making the trip up to Madison, WI to perform my broadcasting duties. So, I'll try to post anything interesting I may encounter.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Tournament Director, Jacob Noffke, breaks down the tournament
The Golden Boot awards and other results from the RCI can be found here.
Second half goals from Rafa Barbosa, Jason Sabio, Derek Pirtle, Sutton Shults, and Paul Willoughby insured that Rocket City United ended the season undefeated at John Hunt Soccer Stadium. The 5:0 victory over the USL-PDL's Nashville Metros was a warm-up match for this weekend's NPSL Final Four.
RCU defender Kirk Childers on the Nashville Metros game
RCU defender Brian Hadley discusses RCU's night against the Nashville Metros
The last of the four NPSL Regional participants was determined this weekend. The St Paul Twinstars will represent the Midwest Region. The semifinal games will be played Friday night with RCU (5 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw) taking on the Northeast Region's Erie Admirals (9-0-1) in Semifinal 1 at 6PM. Semifinal 2 will feature the West Region's Sonoma Sol (9-0-2) against the Twinstars (5-2-1) at 8PM. The NPSL Championship Final will be played the next night at 7PM.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
RCU will have their hands full as the Admirals qualified for the Final Four by winning the Keystone Conference of the NPSL Northeast Region posting 9 wins, 1 draw, and no losses in the process. They then defeated the Atlantic Conference's Boston Aztec 2:0 for the honor of representing the Northeast Region in the Final Four.
I'll have more details on the match-up next week.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
RCU Head Coach Greg Petersen has a successful history with the club from Nashville. In 1997, Petersen led the Metros to the fully professional A-League which was considered the second tier in the US Soccer pyramid. After a guiding them to a 17-11 record, they qualified for the playoffs and made it to the semifinals. In 1998, Petersen and the Metros won the Central Division title with a 20-8 record and also knocked off the Kansas City Wizards of MLS in thier successful US Open Cup run. Petersen moved on when the club ran into financial troubles in 1999.
RCU Coach Greg Petersen discusses his time with the Metros, this week's game, and the opponents in the upcoming NPSL Final Four
This week's match will be used as a dress rehearsal for the NPSL Final Four matches the following weekend. Petersen indicated that he will use a first choice selection for much of the match to help keep the sharpness of the players at a high level.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The final RCU home match of the 2009 season is also going to be "HASL Night". All Huntsville Adult Soccer League players will get $5 off their tickets for the match against the Nashville Metros this Saturday, July 25 at 7:30 at the John Hunt Soccer stadium.
RCU To Hold Silent Auction To Benefit Rocket City Soccer Foundation
In a silent auction, RCU will auction off the RCU player posters that bedeck John Hunt Soccer Stadium during the home matches. All proceeds will go to the Rocket City Soccer Foundation to provide free coaching and playing clinics for area soccer organizations in need. Bidding will begin at 6 PM on Friday night at the World Soccer Challenge viewing at Parkway Place Mall and winners will be announced at half time of the RCU v Nashville Metros match on Saturday night.
RCU Player Autograph Session At World Soccer Challenge Viewing
RCU players will be available for autographs at the World Soccer Challenge viewing at the Parkway Place Mall food court. Players will begin signing at 6:30 PM near the Rocket Realty kiosk next to the food court prior to the showing of the AC Milan v Chelsea match.
This one should be even more fun, as they have plenty of extra curricular activities planned in conjunction with the games themselves. Here's a breakdown of the tournament festivities.
- 12 teams in the Open Divsion (including an RCU team), 4 in the Rec Division, 4 in the Over-30 Division and 4 in the Co-ed Division.
- Each participant will receive a "sweet" official Rocket City Tournament beverage koozie.
- Each team will play multiple games on the Stadium fields.
- World Football Challenge viewing at Parkway Place Mall on Friday night and Sunday afternoon
- Mist tent provided by Cool Temp
- Music will be pumped through the stadium PA throughout the tournament.
- Rocket City United tent with various promotional goodies
- RCU Kid's Zone will be going for the kiddies
- Forevergreen Golden Boot award for top goal scorer in each division
- Crossbar challenge contest with the Finals to be held at half time of the RCU match. 50% of the proceeds will go to Kitty's Miracle Fund.
- Discounted tickets to RCU game that night against Nashville Metros PDL team
- Tournament party at Leeann's down town. Drink specials for all participants!
- 10% of tournament proceeds to Kitty's Miracle Fund
"As for the seeding for the National Finals:
It will go by average points earned during the season as each region plays a different amount of matches. Erie has a 2.8 ave, Sonoma has a 2.6 (these are off the top of my head), and Rocket City and the Midwest team (no matter who makes it) are tied with a 2.0 points per game earned.
The 3rd and 4th seeds would be settled by Goal Differential I believe, and we won't have that until this weekend."
Monday, July 20, 2009
Apparently, Mun2 is a sister station to the Spanish language network Telemundo. NBC, which owns Telemundo and Mun2, holds the English and Spanish language broadcast rights to all Mexico National Team games played outside the USA. So, instead of showing the English match on NBC or even selling the rights to ESPN, NBC has decided to use this match as an advertisment for thier new youth oriented station, Mun2. Mun2 has shows both in English and Spanish and will broadcast the English version of the match while the Spanish broadcast will appear on Telemundo.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The team is focused now on preparing for the test ahead as they will face the Sonoma County Sol from the West Region, the Erie Admirals from the Northeast Region, and the yet to be determined Midwest Region champion.
Freddy Okello on and his goal and the job ahead
Friday, July 17, 2009
Just days after B'ham rumors were ignited by Mayor Larry Langford's announcements regarding the new domed stadium, MLS Commissioner Don Garber talked to Brian Lewis of the New York Post about the league's priorities when choosing the next few markets for expansion.
"We're not south of Washington, D.C. Markets like Atlanta, Carolina, Florida, we have to figure out how we capture another 50 million people in this country,'' said Garber, who felt the Southwest wasn't a priority and recent expansion has helped cover the West Coast.
"But you get east into the Midwest, we're feeling a little weak there. We need a team in St. Louis, and we're trying to figure out how to make that work.''
Notably missing was a mention of B'ham. That's not good.
Just as an aside, a few years ago my buddy, who is a big MLS fan but will remain nameless, saw Don Garber at a US National Team game and asked him about the chances of a team landing in B'ham. Garber's reply... "No chance."
I know, it's one of those I-know-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy stories, but I just thought I'd toss it out there. This is a blog after all!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
RCU forward Rafa Barbosa scored the lone RCU goal in the early season loss to Saturn FC
SFC followed the win over RCU with an impressive 3:2 victory over Atlanta FC. Since then though, the SFC run of form has been less than impressive with Saturn FC losing the next 5 league matches in a row to slide a the bottom of the table (2-0-5). Couple the abysmal SFC record on the road (0-0-3) with the RCU's perfect home record of (3-0-0) and the predicted outcome would seem to be clear, but the USA v Spain predictions were similarly clear, and we all know how that one ended.
Coach Greg Petersen is not taking Saturn FC lightly
However, a loss would lead to RCU, Atlanta FC, and Chattanooga FC sitting at 13 points at the end of NPSL Southeast Region league play, and this is where things get interesting. In case of a tie in the final League standings, here are the tiebreakers:
1. Head to head results between the tied teams.
2. Goal difference in the head to head results.
3. Most wins in conference competition.
4. Goal difference in conference competition.
5. Fewest losses in conference competition.
6. Coin toss.
Head to head results between CFC and RCU give RCU the edge, with a win at home and a tie on the road. Head to head results between AFC and CFC don't resolve that tie with both teams winning one match. AFC would receive the nod over CFC in head to head goal differential (+1), due to a 3:1 win at CFC and a 1:0 loss. So, CFC would be eliminated from contention.
Head to head results between RCU and AFC doesn't resolve the tie as both teams won their home match. However, Atlanta won it's match 2:0, while RCU won 2:1 leaving AFC with a +1 goal differential and RCU a -1 goal differential. As a result of having having better goal differential in head to head results, Atlanta FC would win its second consecutive Southeast Region title and punch a ticket to Madison, WI for the NPSL Final Four.
So, it boils down to RCU getting more points than AFC, and to do so, they need at least a point against SFC.
I'll have more about the game itself later.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
MLS commissioner Don Garber has stated in the past that for a municipality to be taken serious for an expansion team, it must have two things; a stadium and a strong ownership group. So, with the announcement of the building of the dome, we have one of the two.
Another thing going for B'ham is that MLS has not had a team south of DC since the contraction of the two Florida teams in 2002. I'm sure that MLS would love to have a larger presence in the South and with the success of the Columbus and Salt Lake franchises, it has been demonstrated that a small market can support an MLS club.
So, one of my first question is who is the ownership group to whom Mr. Langford refers? Look, if you are reading this you probably realize that professional soccer is here to stay in the USA, but MLS has a slow growth business plan and that requires very deep pockets to cover any losses that may occur over the lean times in the economy (like the one we are in now). That's one of the reasons they dropped the Florida teams. The ownership of those two squads either weren't dedicated to the product (Tampa) or didn't have enough cash to do so (Miami). If this ownership group is not fully committed to the long term outlook and have the dollars to do so, then MLS will not take a Birmingham bid seriously.
So, right now there are just too many questions that will need to be answered before I get excited about a B'ham team in MLS. BTW, I'll leave the whole discussion about whether soccer should be played in a domed stadium for later. :)
RCU will host Saturn FC this Saturday, July 18 at 7:30 at John Hunt Soccer Stadium with a birth in the NPSL Final Four on the line. A win or a draw will see RCU take the NPSL Southeast Region title. Each regional champion will be drawn into a mini single elimination tournament in Madison, WI played on the last weekend in July. I'll have more on Saturday's match later in the week.
North Downs South in State High School All-star Game
The best players from the 2010 graduating class met in the Alabama State High School All-star game last night at John Hunt Soccer Stadium. Goals by Oxford's Ian Martin and Grissom's Bobby Copeland led the North to a 2:0 victory over the South.
RCU Hosts "Military Night" This Saturday
RCU will salute the military by hosting a meal and providing tickets for 180 soldiers from Redstone Arsenal to Saturday night's crucial match versus Saturn FC.
Monday, July 13, 2009
RCU responded well and in the 12th minute, Paul Turner, who was making his first start for RCU, beat several defenders prior to slotting a nice pass into Freddy Okello who made no mistake for an equalizing goal. Six minutes later, Turner again took the role of provider with a nice ball into Rafa Barbosa who beat the keeper but had his shot turned off the line by a trailing defender. That clearance only went as far as Barbosa, however. After regaining possession, Barbosa cut the ball back to gain a more advantageous angle at goal and made no mistake with his second bite of the cherry giving RCU the 2:1 lead. RCU debutante Michal Mravec, who made his first appearance of the year for RCU after a serious knee injury, showed well in the central midfield with a calming presence on the ball and good vision. Brimming with confidence, RCU carried most of the play remaining in the first half, but could not add to their tally.
A full scale change in RCU personnel after the break and a concerted change in tactics from LFC led to more disjointed play in the second half. LFC head coach and Alabama A&M alum, Moses Williams, used liberal substitutions to break up RCUs rythm and led to poor RCU ball possesion through the midfield. In the 83rd minute, with RCU looking to close out the game, an RCU giveaway led to a LFC goal. Akil Veferitas's nicely slotted shot to the far post gave no chance to second half addition Jeffrey Preston in the RCU goal. The remaining 7 minutes saw both teams striving for the winner, but the match ended even at 2 goals a piece.
RCU will play their NPSL Southeast Division finale on Saturday night at John Hunt Park at 7:30PM against Saturn FC of Atlanta.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Willoughby makes defenders look silly
It doesn't hurt that Paul exhibits what could be described as "teen idol" good looks and is generally considered a very nice young man. This has made him especially interesting to a certain demographic that RCU may want to consider marketing to more heavily. :)
The unofficial Paul Willoughby Fan Club
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
On Saturday night at 7:30PM at John Hunt Soccer Stadium, Rocket City United will host the US Open Cup Region III Champion, Lynch's Irish Pub FC. Check out the cool radio ad for the game here.
This is not what one would term a typical Pub team. Lynchs FC was one of only two teams to qualify from the USASA Region III to the US Open Cup where they lead Miami FC before falling 2:1 to the professional USL squad.
LFC also have some top talent. Former LFC forward Nurdin Hrustic recently signed for Vfl Bochum of the German Bundesliga.
RCU win return leg with Brilla
After giving up an early second half goal to Missisippi Brilla FC's Ruben Diaz, Rocket City United got two goals from Fernando Sanchez and Freddy Okello to remain undefeated at home. Full match report can be found here.
"Madison Night" at Next RCU Home Match
In conjunction with the Madison City Chamber of Commerce, RCU is hosting it's first Madison Night. All Madison City residents will recieve $3 off the next Rocket City United home match. So, it's time to represent 35757 y'all. (and 35758, I think).
RCU wants your blood
This Saturday from 10AM to 5PM, RCU will partner with LifeSouth to hold a blood drive in front of Moe's Southwest Grill on Airport Road.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I spoke with Man of the Match Derek Pirtle at halftime about the goal he scored and the one he help set up.
John Moran speaks with RCU newcomer Kyle Timm
It's a year away and I'm already getting pumped up about watching the World Cup. I told you the other day about ESPN's expanded coverage of the 2010's biggest sporting event, but in an interview with Sports Illustrated, ESPN's Executive Vice President for Content John Skipper revealed some of the details behind what the type of coverage will be offered. Here are some of the highlights:
- Documentary style interviews with every living player who has scored in a World Cup Final;
- A long form feature on at least one player from each of the 32 teams participating in 2010 edition;
- A full time reporter assigned to the US team (provided they qualify);
- Three roving reporters assigned to all other teams;
- Two "on-site" sets for SportsCenter broadcasts;
MBFC compete in the Premier Development League of the United Soccer Leagues and are based in Clinton, MS. They currently sit in second in the Southeast Division of the Southern Conference behind the Bradenton (FL) Academics.
To keep with the Independence Day theme, RCU is handing out free RCU-LifeSouth "United We Stand" t-shirts to the first 100 fans through the gate, and offering half-off admission to anyone bringing in an American Flag.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
"The Network" has announced that it will provide over 65 hours of on-site coverage of the World Cup. Here are the highlights.
- SportsCenter at the FIFA World Cup;
- World Cup Live – the daily, 30-minute news, highlights and analysis program (30 episodes) aired each night of the tournament on ESPN or ESPN2;
- Live 30-minute pre-match, halftime (15 min.) and post-match shows on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2;
- World Cup segments on ESPNEWS, First Take on ESPN2, and Outside the Lines.
How We Follow Up That Performance
A decidedly different looking US Men's National Team will follow up the incredible Confederations Cup run with a run out in the Gold Cup tournament that they won in '07 to qualify for the Confed Cup. Coach Bob Bradley will use a squad made up of mostly untested players who did not participate in the Confed Cup. Jacob over at Southern soccer has all the info on how you can catch the games on TV.
Huntsville Times Caught Up In Soccer Fever
The Huntsville Times ran a recent story about where the interest the USA v Brazil final has garnered, and where in the Valley you could go to watch the game.
Beckham Book Provides Juicy Gossip
Grant Wahl is a terrific soccer scribe and his soon to be released tell-all book about the machinations of the Beckham move to the LA Galaxy is sure to raise some eyebrows. Check out an exerpt of the book here.
Jacob Chimes In
Our buddy Jacob drops some knowledge about the recent Confed Cup performance and some other tidbits on his blog.