Monday, November 30, 2009

NAIA Women's Championship Day 1


At the end of a long day of cold, wet soccer, here are the results.

Game 1
#4 Azusa Pacific 2: 1 #13 Indiana Wesleyan

Game 2
#3 California Baptist 3:2 #14 Auburn Montgomery

Game 3
#1 Lindsey Wilson 4:0 #16 Southern Nazerene

Game 4
#2 Lee University 4:0 #15 Trinity Christian

I'll post some behind the scenes photos tomorrow from the Jack Allen Complex.

Sit Down With Andy Zorovich

NPSL Commish Interview

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Andy Zorovich, the President of Rocket City United and the NPSL South Region Commissioner to talk about many topics including some behind the scenes looks at the NPSL and RCU.

As part of my first post for the NPSL Insider website, we talked about what's new in the South Region for 2010 and the process for the acceptance of new teams in the league. Check it out here.

RCU Presidential Interview Part 1

After the NPSL questions, Andy put on his RCU hat and he answered some RCU specific questions. Here's the first part of four RCU specific vids in which Andy discusses how he came to run a soccer team and why he selected the Huntsville/Madison area as the location.

Rocket City United President Andy Zorovich Part 1 from Ryan Harbaugh on Vimeo

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Name This Keeper: Answer

Who is this goalkeeper?

None other than the world famous striker, Pele. He is shown playing in goal during a practice game in preparation for the 1966 World Cup in England. The image is from a terrific photo essay by Life Magazinge in honor of the 40th anniversary of Pele's 1,000th goal.

Pele makes the save.

Pele tells us of his goalkeeping career.
"I also played in goal for Santos Football Club," he says, reminding even hardcore soccer fans of a little-known fact about his astonishing career. "I played several games."
Incredibly, Pele was serving as the third goalkeeper for the Brazilian squad in England 1966 and would have taken his place between the sticks in an injury emergency.

Pele soars for a bicycle kick

But this is the image most of us think of when we think Pele.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Name This Keeper

The goalkeeper in this photo had a tremendous career, breaking several records, and winning many trophies. Can you name him?

Photo: Art Rickerby./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images



Friday, November 27, 2009

Announcements: I'll Be Busy Next Week

I've Got A New Gig

I'm honored to have been asked to do some periodic blog postings for the NPSL Insider blog. I'll be focusing on the South Region, including news, vids, and photos from Rocket City United and all of the other clubs in the National Premier Soccer League's hottest region. So, bookmark npslinsider.com now! I'll let you know when I've posted there, but check it out for all the inside news from the NPSL.


Another Gig: 2009 NAIA Women's Soccer Championship Webcast

John Moran, right, and I will be calling the 2009 NAIA Women's National Championship in Decatur, AL

The 2009 NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship is coming to Decatur, AL next week. Along with my broadcast partner, John Moran, I will be part of the play by play team calling the action beginning on Monday, November 30th through the Championship Final on Saturday night, December 5th, at one of the nations premier soccer venues, the Jack Allen Soccer Complex.
If you can't make it out to Decatur to catch the action, check out the webcast at http://www.watchnaia.com. Here's the Round of 16 schedule:

Monday, Nov. 30
Game 1 (10:00 a.m.) #4 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) vs. #13 Indiana Wesleyan
Game 2 (1:00 p.m.) #3 California Baptist vs. #14 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)
Game 3 (4:00 p.m.) #1 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) vs. #16 Southern Nazarene (Okla.)
Game 4 (7:00 p.m.) #2 Lee (Tenn.) vs. #15 Trinity Christian (Ill.)
Tuesday, Dec. 1
Game 5 (10:00 a.m.) #5 William Carey (Miss.) vs. #12 Graceland (Iowa)
Game 6 (1:00 p.m.) #6 Concordia (Ore.) vs. #11 McKendree (Ill.)
Game 7 (4:00 p.m.) #8 Vanguard (Calif.) vs. Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
Game 8 (7:00 p.m.) #7 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) vs. #10 Northwood (Fla.)

Look out for some posts from the broadcast booth next week.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Local vs National: NASL League Website

For a few weeks now, I've been posting some news on the dust up between the two minor league soccer circuits, the USL and the TOA which is now called the North American Soccer League. And I've been doing some poking around the Internet to get some more info on the NASL. Today, I was curious whether anyone was smart enough to do some domain name speculation on the soon to be coveted NASL.com. Guess what I found when I typed the now valuable address into my browser? The North Alabama Soccer League!!!


Bravo! You guys might be getting a phone call with a big offer soon!

Thieving Baboons! This Time I'm Not Talking About FIFA

Baboons Hooligans on the Loose in South Africa

Evidence of where the Baboons learned their hooligan tactics?!

Wild baboons in Cape Town are doing more than just looking cute and taking handouts. They're breaking into cars to steal food from tourists. Yet, another thing to be mindful of, if you're going to next year's World Cup!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Nuggets

Technology Debate Continues

Do you see a foul? Of course not!

The Hand of Henry fall-out continues, fresh with an illustration of what the referees saw, or more correctly, what they did not see. FIFA has scheduled a special meeting prior to the World Cup Draw to address the situation while more big names call for instant replay.


Things Are Getting Interesting


So, the new TOA league will be called the NASL. And I've read more than once that the USL will drop its second tier USL-1 league to consolidate its third tier USL-2 league. This is in the midst of the USL issuing a press release threatening legal action against the TOA. Here is an article with plenty of nuggets from Inside Minnesota Soccer, which has been at the forefront of this whole debacle.


Wynalda Admits Mistake In Coming Back To US

Former US International Eric Wynalda

Eric Wynalda is the best entertainer in American soccer. He's never been one to check with his head before his mouth runs down a dangerous path. And that's what makes him blog gold. Here, in an interview for Yanks Abroad, he admits that he made a mistake in returning to the US to play for the upstart MLS in 1996. Aside from whining about his missed opportunities, Wynalda is championing the plight of the underpaid MLS player. There is no doubt that players in MLS are undervalued, and Wynalda feels that some of the cause for this is MLS tight-fistedness.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

US Will Win It All In South Africa 2010

US Soccer Daily has made the bold statement that the US will win the World Cup next year! Here's their argument.

This trophy is ours!

Now, that's some positive thinking!

Friday, November 20, 2009

MLS and NASL (Really NASL!) Stuff

Stats of MLS Cup Final

The "heat map" shows where the action is taking place.

ESPN is throwing out all the stops for the MLS Cup broadcast. The newest innovation is the introduction of something called optical tracking data which will show "the distance and average speed players travel during the game, the number of sprints taken, and the amount of time spent in various parts of the field."

New League Rumored To Be Called NASL; Adds Two More Teams


Looks like this new US division two league is starting to take shape. USL News, an independent site covering all minor league soccer in North America, is reporting that the new league started by the TOA may be called the "North American Soccer League". Yep, just like the one that went under in the mid-80s. Apparently, they've filed patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office on the name.

Also, the league announced the addition of Crystal Palace USA and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, bringing their numbers up to 9 teams.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

World Cup Teams and HASL Premiership Champion

World Cup Teams Decided

Here's the list of the 32 World Cup Qualifying teams. The draw will be held on December 4th.




AFC: Australia, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea




CAF: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and host South Africa




CONCACAF: Honduras, Mexico, and United States




COMNEBOL: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay




OFC: New Zealand



UEFA: Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland

Who you got winning it?

HASL Premiership Division Champions
Foot Clan claimed their second consecutive HASL Premiership Divison Championship with a 0:0 draw against Turtles. The result left them even on points with the Law Dogs, but Foot Clan took the title with a better Goal Differential.

Let's Talk About That Handball

If you haven't heard about it, Thierry Henry settled a free kick with his hand that led to the deciding goal to send France through to the South Africa at the expense of Ireland. The referee was apparently screened from seeing the infraction, but Henry admits he did it deliberately.


So, the question becomes, what does FIFA do about it?

Well, the right thing to do would be to suspend Henry for a game and replay the match before the World Cup draw on December 4th. The one game suspension may sound harsh, but with such a high profile case, it would send a message that cheating in soccer is not tolerated. Let's assume France wins the replay (big assumption, I know), Henry would only miss the replay. However, if you know anything about FIFA, you know that they will completely ignore this incident for two reasons.


1. FIFA has no backbone. Did they do anything about the 1986 Maradona "Hand of God" goal, even though it occurred in the actual World Cup? No.
2. FIFA would prefer France in the World Cup. France is a team filled with superstars. France will sell far more tickets than Ireland.

So, let's assume FIFA does nothing about this incident. What to do to prevent the missing of similar calls in the future? Some would say add another ref or two either on the field or as a "goal judge" who only calls fouls in the box. This would definitely help, but there would still be missed calls.



Others suggest instant replay for all goals. I think this is a great idea. I suggest having a replay official in a booth who is charged with taking one minute to review all goals from available data from TV cameras to decide if foul play led to the goal. It usually takes more than a minute for the referee to restart the game from a goal anyway due to the players celebrating and grabbing water, etc. Use this time to review the goal and signal the ref to indicate that goal was illegal.

If FIFA were to implement this and the goal line technologies available, disputed goals would be all but eliminated.

Anyone have any other ideas?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Exciting Day

Final World Cup Qualifiers Today


Who's it gonna be? Here's a great rundown of the matches taking place today that will decide the last to make it into the 32 who have qualified for South Africa.


Nice New Podcast

I guess you could say I have a man crush on Greg Lalas, the insightful and intelligent soccer journalist who just happens to be the younger brother of the former US Men's National team player, Alexi. Greg is former MLS player and is a columnist for several sites including Sports Illustrated and Goal.com. He is the host of the Extratime Internet show for MLS and is the TV color commentator for the New Egland Revolution. He is the only reason I can bear to watch the New England's local TV broadcasts on the MLS Direct Kick package. The play-by-play guy is an unbearable homer and Lalas will call him out on it frequently. It's great! I wish there was a button on the remote to mute just one person on a show. It would make watching those games much more enjoyable.

Greg Lalas interviews his more famous brother, Alexi

Anyway, Greg now has launched an American Soccer podcast with co-host Adam Spangler of This is American Soccer called Waiting for Gaetjens *. I think it's great that someone with the soccer chops that Lalas has is doing this podcast. If you go to the iTunes store, you can find hundreds of soccer podcasts and even a few that list themselves as American Soccer podcasts, but so few actually deliver. I find that most are hosted by ex-pat Brits who trot out the same boring topics of how MLS will never be a top league and complain that the USMNT will never win the World Cup. Waiting For Gaetjens will bring you insightful views on American soccer from guys that grew up playing, watching, and living American soccer.

* Note: Waiting for Gaetjens is named after Joe Gaetjens, the Haitian-born scorer of the famous goal that beat England 1:0 in the 1950 World Cup, who some claim was the best ever American player. Waiting for Gaetjens is the neverending quest for the best in American soccer.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rumored USA World Cup Jerseys

I guess I should have waited a week or so to do my USA jersey post, because a few photos of the rumored US Home World Cup jerseys were leaked recently. Here they are:

Dempsey modeling the rumored World Cup uniform

Close-up of the shirt

My first impression is that it's a little bland, and I'm not big on the ringed collar. It's not bad, but I've always liked an actual polo style collar on my soccer jerseys. Maybe because if it has a collar, I can get away with wearing it to work on casual Fridays. :)

I'll let you know once the Away jerseys are released.

What Did I Miss?

I was busy visiting family for the past week or so. Here's what's gone down since then.

USA Men

Oh yeah, that's a foul on Bornstein (in the dark uniform)!

Call it sour grapes, but the USA lost 1:0 to Slovakia on a terrible PK call. If that play had happened at midfield, the Slovakian guy would have been cautioned for the rugby tackle he laid on Bornstein. Check out the USMNT Youtube Channel for highlights. Oh well, that's the type of experience you want to gain in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup and not in it. Referee's see things differently in other parts of the world. Remember Gooch's PK giveaway to Ghana? They'll be playing taking on another World Cup opponent in Denmark on Wednesday.

Here's a pretty good retrospective on the past 20 years of the USMNT. In 1989, when Paul Caliguiri hit the "shot heard around the world", qualifying for the World Cup was a massively unexpected result. Today, it would be a massively unexpected result if they did not qualify.


MLS Final Set: LA vs Salt Lake



Real Salt Lake pulled a NY RedBulls by qualifying last for the MLS Cup Playoffs and running the bracket to the final. The RSL shootout win over the hard-luck Chicago Fire was certainly more exciting than the 2:0 LA victory over Houston despite the 120 minutes of scoreless soccer. I was on the East Coast while watching the LA game and it was a marathon affair of boring soccer with a few of power outages sprinkled into the late night borefest. So, it's on to Seattle for RSL and LA. Let's hope the final has some goals or at least some exciting attacking football.

HASL Division Champs Crowned

Four of the five Huntsvill Adult Soccer League divisions have crowned champions while the Premership will be decided on Wednesday night. Here are the other HASL Division Champions:

Division I: CD Venom
Division II: Arsenal FC
Division III: Chivas USA
Division IV: Juventus

Wow, we have a team from the EPL, MLS, and Serie A winning Divisions in HASL! :)

Twickenham Rovers

BTW, this season's Best Team Name Award goes to the Twickenham Rovers. Nice British sounding name with a nod toward old Huntsville.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

RCU Press Conference Rescheduled to December 11


Rocket City United have postponed the press conference originally scheduled for today. The press conference will be held at the Madison City Hall on December 11. RCU will announce 2010 season plans and introduce their new Technical Director at that time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tidbits

Nashville Still Bidding To Be World Cup Host City

Nashville's LP Field rocking during March's USA v TnT World Cup Qualifier

Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau talks to Tennysean.com about how the bidding process is shaping up to become a host city for the USA's bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The list of possible host cities will be cut to 18 from 27 in December by the US Soccer Federation. Judging from the very successful hosting of the Olympic Qualifying tournament in 2008 and the World Cup Qualifier earlier this year, Nashville, which is less than a two hour drive from Huntsville, has a very good chance to become one of the cities chosen.


MLS Conference Finals Decided

As expected, the second legs of the conference semifinals had much better soccer than the dismal contests in the first legs. In the east, RSL upset defending champions Columbus on Thursday night. After going down 2:0 in the first half and 2:1 on aggregate, RSL stormed back to win 3:2 (4:2). Chicago packed the house Saturday night against New England and brought the fans a terrific result, winning 2:0 (3:2).


In the west, after an exciting 0:0 draw between Seattle and Houston in the first leg, the second 90 minutes also saw no goals, but Houston would prevail on a sweet swiveling side volley goal from Brian Ching in the overtime for a 1:0 (1:0) win. The second leg of the Superclassico between LA and Chivas would see none of the horrible defensive error from the previous week and a Landon Donovan PK would send the Galaxy through 1:0 (3:2).


Here's the TV line-up for this week's games:

Friday
Western Confernce Final: Houston at Los Angeles, 10 PM, ESPN2

Saturday
Eastern Conference Final: Real Salt Lake at Chicago, 7 PM, FSC


GSC Champs Don't Get Automatic Bid?

UWF and Huntsville native Paul Willoughby (#20) must now wait and hope for a NCAA DII tournament spot.

Here's an article from the Pensecola News Journal discussing the dilemma that the University of West Florida who beat UAH to become the Gulf South Conference Champs face waiting for the NCAA DII tournament bids to be published tonight because the NCAA does not grant an automatic bid to the GSC.

Salisbury University Qualifies for NCAA D-III Tournament


This has nothing to do with Huntsville, but since it's my blog, I've taken the liberty of posting it anyway. My alma mater, Salisbury University of Salisbury, MD, has qualified for its third straight NCAA Division III tournament.

The Seagulls posted a 14-3-1 record including a win over then #1 Christopher Newport University. Salisbury was a great place to go to school and playing for coach Gerry Dibartolo was an absolute treat. SU will host first and second round matches and will take on Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday where the winner meets the winner of the Johns Hopkins vs Misericordia.

It just so happens that I'll be traveling up to MD this weekend to visit family will get to see the Seagulls play for the first time in over 5 years! Go Gulls!

College Roundup

A&M Wraps Up Rebuilding Year With A Loss

Alabama A&M finished the year on the road with a 0:2 loss at Central Arkansas University on Saturday. CAU's Joseph Cervantes provided all the offense that was needed. A&M finished the rebuilding year with a record of 4 wins, 12 losses, and 1 tie. A&M head coach Salah Yousif is looking forward to next year as he expects several prospects to strengthen a line-up that has gained valuable experience this year.

UAH Falls In GSC Final
University of Alabama-Huntsville fell to the University of West Florida in the Gulf South Conference Final on Sunday afternoon. UAH's stellar defensive corps could not stop the creative UWF attackers. In the 35th minute, UWF's Jay Mainville caught UAH on a breakaway and was able to slot the shot past Tyler Earley for the 1:0 lead. That scoreline held through the half.

In the 64th minute, UAH got a break when UWF's Sean Reynolds was ejected after a second bookable offense. While UAH pressed for the equalizer, it was UWF who added to their lead when in the 68th minute, Stephen Munoz stroked home a penalty to make it 2:0.

The teams were back on level footing in the 70th minute when UAH's Christian Ramirez was shown his walking papers after a second caution. In the remaining 20 minutes, the Chargers could not come up with the vital goals and the Argos were crown GSC Champions for a fourth straight year.

UAH had several representatives on the All-tournament team:

2009 GSC Men's Soccer All-Tournament Team

Most Outstanding Player
Frank Cope, West Florida

Stephen Munoz, West Florida
Matt Tanner, West Florida
Tyler Earley, Alabama-Huntsville
Kyle Goncalves, Alabama-Huntsville
Brian Hadley, Alabama-Huntsville
Oscar Leon, Alabama-Huntsville
Devin Schleif, Alabama-Huntsville
Tony Stock, Alabama-Huntsville
Robert Mingo, D, Christian Brothers
Payam Pourjavard, Ouachita Baptist

Saturday, November 7, 2009

UAH Grab First GSC Tourney Win In 10 Years


University of Alabama-Huntsville took the rematch to last week's 0:0 draw with a hard fought victory 3:1 over Christian Brothers University in the Gulf Conference Semifinals in Pensacola, FL. The win sees UAH through to the Finals and is their first GSC tournament win since 1999.

UAH hit the ground running when in the 13th minute, sophomore forward Kyle Gonclaves scored the opener. CBU pressed for the equalizer and got the crucial goal in the 44th minute through Andrew Ballard who pounced on a loose ball in the area.

However, with the score knotted at ones, UAH came out in the second half determined to fight for a spot in the finals. They would find the breakthrough at the hour mark, when Toamaki Matsuo hit a long ball behind the defense for Gonclaves to run onto. Gonclaves finished off the lightning quick counterattack with aplomb to put UAH on top 2:1.

With their season in the balance, CBU charged forward leveling shot after wayward shot at Tyler Earley in the UAH goal. Of the 20 CBU shots, fully three quarters were off target and Earley was up to the ones that were. UAH snipers were more proficient with 5 of their 7 attempts on goal find the frame.

UAH found the insurance goal in the 75th minute. Junior midfielder Brett Hughson cashed in on a Sean Kerber corner to make the score 3:1. The UAH defense mopped up the rest of the way and UAH had punched a ticket to the GSC Final where they will meet top seeded West Florida on Sunday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today's Bits

NAIA Women's Championships Coming To Decatur

The 2009 NAIA Women's Soccer Championships will be held in Decatur, AL from November 30-Dec5. A 16 team single elimination tournament will be held at the beautiful Jack Allen Soccer Complex with all of the matches broadcast live via webcast.

RCU Press Conference Scheduled

Rocket City United will hold a press conference to announce a new head coach and other plans for next season on Thursday, November 12th at 9:30AM at the Madison City Hall. I plan on bring you all the news as soon as it happens.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Minute By Minute Champion's League Food Fest Part 3

In Part 3 of our gastronomic tour of UEFA Champion's League matchday 4, Chris watches the tape delayed match between AZ (prounounced ah-zet) Alkmaar and Chris' club Arsenal with some nice cold Heinekens and Good Humor Ice Cream...

4:00pm: Time for AZ Alkmaar @ Arsenal, the third and final leg of this UEFA orgy. Since Alkmaar is in Holland, it’s also time for a Heineken. Then again, when is it not?

Important note: In the interest of full disclosure, I am an Arsenal fan. Not only will this colour (note UK spelling) my coverage of this game, it also requires some very specific pre-game preparations. My Arsenal baseball-style cap must be retrieved from the car and be brought into the room in which I will watch the game. It may not be worn before or during the game. Likewise my Arsenal jersey from the glorious double winning side of 1998 must be in the room, but not worn. Then a slew of other stuff I’d rather not write about. The fact that this game is already over does not matter. It’s new to me, I don’t know the result, I’m stuffed with crap from Walmart and enjoying a second wind, probably provided by the Heineken.


As the camera pans the stands of the Emirates Stadium in London, AZ’s traveling fans are jumping up and down and singing prior to kick off. Some of them are wearing cheese wheels on their heads, a la Green Bay Packers fans. Edam! I should of thought of it. Edam is Dutch cheese and Walmart probably carries it, but it’s too late now. There is, however, a nice Good Humor/Green Bay/Cheesehead tie-in.

Kick-off: Hey, they didn’t show the UEFA Anthem. Outstanding. Two weeks ago Arsenal squandered a one-goal lead at Alkmaar late in the game. They need to put this thing away.

10’: Arsenal playing good passing combinations. They really should score soon.
This is Arsenal Coach Arsene Wenger’s 187th game in European competition. Alkmaar has a player named Pelle, but he is Italian. Arsene Wenger has never beaten Alkmaar Coach Ronald Koeman.

14’: Arsenal continues to dominate and play attractive soccer, but, as is often the case, have no goals to show for it. I think Ronald Koeman can read Arsene Wenger’s mind.

15’: Clearly, I need a chamber pot.

20’: Still no goal. Maybe drinking Heineken is working against Arsenal. Nahhh. “It’s not been a vintage start, that’s for sure.” Obviously the referee, along with Interpol and the “Dutch Underground” are conspiring against Arsenal. Wenger should cover his head with aluminum foil. (I just can’t call that stuff ‘aluminium.’)


25’: GOAL ARSENAL. Midfielder Cesc Fabregas beats AZ ‘keeper to the near post from 18 yards. Cesc Fabregas is on my fantasy team. I’ll drink to that.

33’: This is by far the most dynamic, fluid soccer I’ve seen today. Both sides are creating and attacking. Although Arsenal’s Sami al Nasri, recently returned from injury, has been a complete non-factor.


43’: GOAL ARSENAL. Sami al Nasri has scored. Shut my mouth. Nice assist from Andrey Arshavin, the friendly Russian.

Halftime: 2-0 to Arsenal and off to the potty.


46’: And we’re back. My head is swimming, stomach roiled and Arsenal in command.

52’: GOAL ARSENAL. Cesc Fabregas has scored his second off a fantastic feed from Arshavin, curling his shot around AZ ‘keeper Romero. This is fun for me but, wait, what’s this? The AZ fans aren’t sad or mad, they’re actually singing. They sing in their shirts, they sing in their shoes, they sing in their cheeseheads with suspenders and booze. Whoa there, Dr. Boddington’s. “An extraordinary amount of work now for Alkmaar to restore parity in this fixture.” You think?

67’: Cesc Fabregas is subbed out the game, dashing my hopes for a fantasy hat trick. Brazil–born Croat (really) Eduardo comes on for Robin Van Persie.


72’: GOAL ARSENAL. Eduardo played an incredible back-heel to Arshavin near midfield. Arshavin split the defense with a pinpoint through-ball to Abou Diaby. Goal Diaby. Well I’ll Diaby’d. 4-0 to Arsenal. With the game all but over, it’s time to dig into a Good Humor cookies and cream bar. Now, if I could just get out of the chair…

82’: GOAL AZ ALKMAAR. Well, there goes the shutout. Jeremain Lens has scored for AZ. I never should’ve opened that Unilever product. My bad, Arsene.


Fulltime: Arsenal 4-1 AZ Alkmaar. Arsenal have clinched advancement to the knockout stage.


Now, if I can make it to midnight, the good people at Fox Soccer Channel will be showing the Dynamo Kiev/Inter Milan game from today. Not very likely.

Minute By Minute Champion's League Food Fest Part 2

In part 2 of our "fine" dining review of UEFA Champion's League matchday 4, Chris enjoys some Boddington's and pommes frites while taking in the Liverpool at Lyon match. Check out the first match of the day here.


1:30pm: Finally a game with an English team. Time to crack a Boddington’s. Goals, please.
FSC analyst Warren Barton: “Liverpool’s whole season is at stake here. They can’t win the English Premier League. The Champions League is it for them. They must win…” Did he mention Geico?

Now FSC gives us a look-in at every stadium where a game is about to kick–off, along with a bit of commentary. This is refreshing.
Bad sign for Liverpool: aging central defender, team captain and Anfield legend Jamie Carragher is starting at right back due to a spate of injuries.

Geico, Heineken and Fifa Soccer 10 ads run constantly. Now I see an ad for XL Soccer Tours. Didn’t they go out of business last year, ignominiously removed from West Ham jerseys DURING the season. Hmmmm. Must be a different XL Soccer Tours.

1:40pm: Since all remaining games today will kick-off at 1:45 and I don’t want to spoil the result of Arsenal/Alkmaar which I’ll be watching on tape delay, all communications devices are turned off.


OK, here’s the Stade de Gerland in Lyon. The teams are lined up and the Champions League Anthem is playing, again.

Our referee is Frank De Bleeckere of Belgium, a second-generation FIFA ref.

Commentator Richard Kaufman sets the scene: “It’s a massive night in the gastronomic center of France.” Hey, that was my line.

Let’s hear Matt Millen come up with something like that.

1:45pm: Kick-off

5’: I’m not ready for the fish and pommes frites yet. Another Boddington’s should aid in tapas digestion. Both Marseille and Bourdeaux won in UCL yesterday. If Lyon wins today, all three French teams will have won on matchday four. Sacre Bleu!

14’: Commentator: “Should Liverpool lose tonight, it would be their worst run of results in fifty years.” Sacre bleu! I don’t think referee Frank De Bleeckere likes Liverpool’s captain Jamie Carragher, as if he didn’t already have enough to worry about.

17’: OL ‘keeper Lloris denies Dirk Kuyt with a fantastic save. Wait a minute…I have Kuyt on my UCL fantasy team. Lloris must die.

21’: Liverpool’s rarely used Ukrainian midfielder Andriy Voronin has fallen over backward, dirtying his ponytail. Voronin is like a Ukrainian version of “Zoolander.”
Doesn’t Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov look like actor Andy Garcia?

28’: Voronin almost scores. Great save again by Lloris. Shocking.

35’: This game is mercifully more end-to-end than Rubin/Barca. OL seem, perhaps, to be lacking that “je ne sais quois.”

40’: OL Coach Claude Puel forced to use 2nd substitute in first half due to injury. This doesn’t bode well for OL.

Halftime: 0-0. Three halves of top-notch European soccer yields no goals. Time for the last Boddington’s. I’d better heat up the oven for the fish et pommes frites. My stomach thinks otherwise. Has my mind made a promise my body can’t fill?

According to the Geico gecko, “(Liverpool Coach) Rafa Benitez doesn’t want to lose this game.”

46’: Someone please score a goal.

51’: Liverpool star striker Fernando Torres gets his second touch…of the game.

55’: Refs Frank De Bleeckere and Konrad Plautz should form a musical combo.

60’: I’m not eating these fries with mayonnaise, no matter what the French custom is.

64’: OL’s first corner of the game. What exactly does he mean, “a sniff of a chance”?

68’: Mercifully, Andriy Voronin is subbed out for Dutchman Ryan Babel.

69’: OL ‘keeper Lloris with another great save, denying Lucas. This is the high point of the day so far.

73’: OL striker Sidney Govou comes in for Gomis. Govou has been in the doghouse of late due to photographs printed in a local paper showing him leaving a nightclub in “poor condition”. Hey Sid, you should be here.


83’: GOAL Liverpool. A “wonderstrike” from sub Ryan Babel has the Reds up 1-0. It really was a great effort from 20+ yards out into the upper corner. “A bolt from the blue from Babel.” Ah, alliteration, the commentator’s best friend. My decision to postpone a bathroom break until the end of the game has paid off.

86’: Man I need to go to the bathroom.

90’: Just a couple of minutes to kill and Liverpool will get the win they sorely need.
GOAL OL. Lisandro equalizes for OL off a Bastos flick-on. Agony for Liverpool.


Fulltime: 1-1 OL has clinched advancement to knockout stage of UCL. Impressively, Olympique Lyon have made it to the knock-out stage eight consecutive years. Less impressively, they have not made it to a final. Liverpool no longer controls their destiny. “Heart-break for Liverpool.” Bathroom break for me.


Chris watches that AZ Alkmaar vs Arsenal match in the 3rd and final episode in Part 3.