Friday, February 26, 2010

New PWT-blog Feature: Huntsville Soccer Bar Reviews

From yesterday's post you know I've been itching more and more lately to get out of the house and to find a local establishment to enjoy my soccer viewing. After speaking with many like minded soccer aficionados, I've decided that it's time for we as a soccer community to take things into our hands. We need to demonstrate prior to the World Cup that we are a clientele worthy of being catered to.

The Richmond Arms Pub in Houston, TX. They do the soccer bar right!
Photo by Bill Olive for the Houston Chronicle.

So, the PWT-blog is going to start a feature that reviews local establishments and assigns a rating for their "soccer bar potential" and we need your help. While we may not be able to find a true soccer pub in Huntsville (like this one in New York), we should be able to identify a sports bar or pizza joint that truly respects the game and goes out of their way to cater to the soccer fan clientele. We'll try to review one bar a week leading up to the World Cup. Hopefully by then, we will have identified the best places in town to watch soccer and we'll frequent those establishments during the tournament. Hopefully, these establishments will recognize by the growth of business during the World Cup that Huntsville has a large soccer watching population and will consider hosting soccer viewing events in the future.

Wanted: Establishments and Reviewers

This is what we need now.
  1. A list of potential soccer pubs. These could be bars, restaurants, or clubs that may be willing to show games.
  2. We need reviewers. We're looking for soccer guys/gals to go these places and review them for their potential as a soccer bar.
Packed soccer joint watching the big screen.

Criteria: What we are judging?

Here are the criteria and categories on which to judge and some of the questions I think we should be asking.
  • TVs: How many/what size? Are they HD?
  • Soccer Priority: Do they carry the soccer channels (FSC, GolTV, FSE, FS+, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, Univision, Telemundo, etc)? Will they order special pay-per\-view soccer events? Are they willing to open their doors at 6AM to catch the afternoon matches in Europe? Are they willing to show soccer despite what other events may be on? (We'll probably need to ask the management about these things.)
  • Food: Does the food taste good? (Not a major hang-up for me, but it may be for some finicky folks.) Is the food expensive?
  • Beverages (Beer): Do they have a good selection of beer? On Tap? No beer!? Other beverages? Is the beer expensive?
  • Other: Does the place have a good ambiance? Does the place allow singing, chanting, cheering when your team scores? Does the place allow smoking, dancing, karaoke, etc that may distract us from the games?
Having many quality beers on tap certainly wouldn't hurt!

Soccer Bar Index Rating: Is it a legit soccer pub or just a place to watch the game?

Once I receive the review from a reviewer, I will rate the establishment based on the above criteria and assign it a "soccer bar index rating" (sounds spiffy, doesn't it). The descriptions below will give you all and idea of what the rating indicates.

4 soccer balls- Bar is bona fide soccer establishment and will show any game, at any time, no matter what. Has great beer, great food, great atmosphere, etc. Since I have been searching Huntsville for years without luck, I doubt any bars will earn this rating.

3 soccer balls- Bar has soccer TV packages and will show games, has good food and beer selection.

2 soccer balls- Bar does not have soccer TV package but will show soccer if they have it on their channels, doesn't have good food/beer selection.

1 soccer ball- Bar will show soccer if it's on their channels, prioritizes other events, bad food/beer selection.

0 soccer balls- Bar will not show soccer. Crap food, crap beer.

Would you, the Huntsville soccer community, like to help with this effort?

If you would like to volunteer, send me an email at ryanogol [at] gmail [dot] com. I'll send you a review questionnaire that will guide you through what to do and ask for while reviewing an establishment for soccer bar potential.

Volunteers to meet at Steve McQueens for US vs Netherlands Next Wednesday

I think we can get a good start on this by meeting next Wednesday afternoon for a late lunch at Steve McQueen's in Madison (on 72, used to be Indigo Joes) to watch the US v Netherlands match (game starts at 1:45 PM). I've heard that SMcQs may be interested in hosting "soccer viewings". So, it will be a good place to start our little venture.

If all else fails...

If for some reason we can't find a way to identify one, I may just have to buy one of these portable blow-up pubs, blow it up in my backyard, put a keg and a big TV in it, and invite you all over!

USMNT Away Kit, USA World Cup Buttons and Beer Coozies, and MLS CBA Expires

US World Cup Away Jersey Revealed

Dempsey sports the USA Away Kit w/ the other Nike World Cup jerseys. From left to right, Slovenia, Australia, USA, Portugal, Brazil, Holland, South Korea, New Zealand, and Serbia.

Nike released the kits of the teams they sponsor at the World Cup. The USA away kit is navy blue with a white sash feature that is a nod toward the 1950 jersey which the USMNT hopes brings them some juju from the famous team who upset England in the World Cup. Personally, I think the jersey is great, although I do think that the Miss America sash jokes are funny.

BTW, after a little bit of Internet sleuthing, I found out that Joe Gaetjens, who scored the game winner against England in the 1950 World Cup, wore #18. That's the name and number I'm getting on my customized replica!!!

USA World Cup Flair!!!

You wanna be like Brian, don't ya? Well, then feel free to express yourself with USA World Cup flair!

As the World Cup approaches, it's time to gather your assortment of USA paraphernalia that shows just how much of a fan you are. Sure, anyone wave a flag but a super fan will think of the little things, including chotchkies!

Well, here's a USA World Cup chotchkie I'd like to get my hands on. And it's for a good 'cause. Each beer coozie sold will help send a US fan to the World Cup in South Africa.

Keepin' 'em cold with USA World Cup Beer Coozies

CBA Expires: World Does Not Come To An EndI've stayed away from the MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement story for the most part, but the CBA that the league and the players were operating under for the past few years expired yesterday. I'll let Tom Dunmore from Pitch Invasion to describe the major issues and why the players haven't gone on strike and why the owners have not locked the players out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Watching at Home vs Bar vs Stadium, Fox Soccer Plus,, and Jens Lehmann Clowns Around Again

With whom do you watch the game?

I've been beating the Huntsville soccer bar drum pretty loudly, lately. Maybe it's the long, cold winter we've been having. And it may be because I'm getting cabin fever while sitting alone on my couch, screaming at the TV over missed goals and terrible calls. I need a change of venue. I need a social outlet, a place where I can hang with my fellow soccer pals and shoot the bull while taking in the game.

Jesse Chula categorizes the various types of soccer viewers in his post for EPL Talk. While I suppose I qualify as a guy who lives close enough to visit the stadium during the RCU season, the NPSL season is only a few months long. So, I mostly identify with what he calls the "All Alone Football Fan".

Good news and bad news about Fox Soccer Plus,

I'll go with the good news first. Fox Soccer Plus will be offered as a replacement of Setanta by DirecTV beginning on March 1. The bad news? It will cost the same as Setanta, which runs $14.99 per month. As I wrote last year in my review of Huntsville soccer on TV options, I don't think the programming justifies the cost. And it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks it may not be worth it.

In related news, will live stream EPL matches (and maybe other leagues) beginning on March 6. They also be taking over where Setanta online presence left with pricing at $4.95 a game, $14.95 a month and $49.95 a season. Again, the question is, "Is it worth the money?" This time, I'd say maybe. It really depends on how many and which games they are going to be streaming, but $50 for a season's worth of games doesn't sound too bad.

Jens Is At It Again

Tuesday's Barcelona v. Stuttgart Champions League match had a lot of entertainment value, but not just for the soccer played. PWT-blog's favorite goalkeeper turned circus clown, Jens Lehmann, cranked up crazy again.

Jens up to more antics

First, Jens takes out a photographer. Then, he performs a flying leg drop that would make Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka proud. This is just weeks after peeing on the field and stomping an opponent.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Champion's League, FIFA Elections, and Soccer Shirts

Champs League Knockouts Today

For all sceptics and know-it-alls: How can you still doubt the AR's decision?

FC Bayern Munich scored a blatantly offside goal in last week's first leg of the Champions League knockout tie against Fiorentina, but the funny photo above from a German soccer blog,, shows Miroslav Klose was clearly onside! :)

BTW, I'd like to take a long lunch today and watch the rest of the Champions League games, but I don't have a soccer bar in which to watch it. Barcelona play at Stuttgart (1:30 PM FSE) and Bordeaux travel to Olympiacos (1:30 PM FSC).

FIFA Presidential Elections: What it means to the USA World Cup bid?

FIFA President Sepp Blatter will face stiff competition in the next election.

Bill Archer writes an interesting blog post on how the 2011 FIFA presidential elections could affect US Soccer and the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Uh-oh...

Wearing Soccer Shirts, Sending Messages

I was out on a family outing to the local shopping center yesterday, and we went into Marshalls to look for cheap toys for my daughter's birthday party. When lo and behold, in the Men's section, I stumbled upon two sweet DC United shirts for less than half the original price!

Now, the guys at EPLTalk try to explain just what I'll be communicating non-verbally when I wear those DC United shirts.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Weekend Warrior Vids, US World Cup Pay, Scorpion Kick Goal, and TV Soccer This Weekend

Weekend Warrior Vids and Polls

Jacob over at Southern Soccer posted a ton of videos from the successful Weekend Warrior tournament held this past weekend. He's also updated some polls to help get an idea of how they can make the tournament better in the future.

USMNT Player Bonuses For World Cup

For some of the guys playing in Europe, the bonuses that they earn from playing in the World Cup are nothing more than pocket change, but for some of the MLS players who are not making astronomical salaries, the money is a big deal. Stephen Goff gives us an idea of just how much the World Cup is worth to the US players.

Sweet Scorpion Kick Goal

This vid from the Portugese League has been tearing up the web in the past few days and for good reason.

It's an audaciously taken goal.

What I'll Be Watching This Weekend

While I wait for DirecTV to upgrade their satellite, so I can get FSC in HD, I'll be watching the following games this weekend, mostly in SD. :(

Bundesliga, Hoffenheim-Moenchengladbach 1:30 p.m GolTV

EPL, Everton-Manchester United 6:30 a.m. ESPN2 (IN HD)
Bundesliga, Hamburg-Eintracht Frankfurt 8:30 a.m. GolTV
EPL, Wolves-Chelsea 9 a.m. Fox Soccer Channel
La Liga, Barcelona-Santander 1 p.m. GolTV
Serie A, Inter Milan-Sampdoria 1:30 p.m. FSC
Campeonato Brasileiro, Corinthians-Rio Branco 3:30 p.m. GolTV

Manchester City-Liverpool 9 a.m. FSC
Italy, Bari-AC Milan 1:30 p.m. FSC

Thursday, February 18, 2010

RCU Website, NPSL Insider on the Chattahooligan, and Soccer America goes Quarterly

RCU Adds Features To Website

Rocket City United has added some cool new features to it's website. They've added a weekly poll for fans to get register their opinion of various RCU and soccer related questions. They've also added a scrolling news feature that allows you to see all the latest announcements from the home page.

NPSL Insider Post on Chattanooga Fan Blog

I've posted an interview with the guys who write the Chattahooligan blog over at the NPSL Insider. They are really excited about the Chat FC season and the buzz the team is creating in their city.

Soccer America Shutting Down The Presses

It's a sad day for soccer media in the US. Soccer America, the US's only real soccer periodical has decided to shut down it's monthly printings to focus on special issues released quarterly.

I remember a time before the Internet when the only information I could get about soccer was via the magazine rack at the bookstore 40 miles from my house. At the time, I was a youngster without a car and so only made it to the bookstore infrequently. While perusing the copies of Soccer America, Soccer Digest, and FourFourTwo, I could get an idea of what was going on in the sport that was completely ignored by the normal news media, but I was growing to love anyway; maybe because the normal news media ignored it.

FourFourTwo was a British publication and so focused on the game across the pond. It was interesting to see the Brit take on the game, but I couldn't really identify with the "lads" on the field.

Soccer Digest was frustratingly focused on the indoor version of the sport, which for some reason I didn't regard favorably. Perhaps because I realized it was a bastardization of the real sport, that relied on gimmicks to garner attention. At that young age, I was already a soccer traditionalist. :) Also, I realized that Soccer Digest was just another version of the cookie cutter sports publications that were prominent at the time. A few inches from Soccer Digest on the bookstore magazine rack, you could find Football Digest, Baseball Digest, and Basketball Digest. And the writing for the magazine was vanilla, as if it was written by someone who was just drawing a paycheck until they could be promoted to writing for Baseball Digest.

So, I relished the coverage of the sport that Soccer America provided. It covered the American game putting the focus on the outdoor leagues, the college game, and some smatterings of the game beyond our shores but always with an American slant. It gave me a take on the game that I could relate to, and it featured some really good writing. It was obvious that these guys knew the American game and were really interested in the health of the sport that wasn't particularly healthy at the time (remember the USMNT hadn't qualified for the World Cup in decades).

Soccer America's latest special issue: The Complete Guide to MLS 2010

I eventually talked my parents into letting me subscribe Soccer America. At the time, it was weekly tabloid print publication, but as the rise of the Internet occurred in the late 90s, SA reduced its publication frequency to a monthly glossy periodical. Like so many magazines and newspapers recently, SA has suffered greatly form the instantaneous access of information on the Internet. I didn't see the point of reading about things I already knew about 3 weeks after it occurred, even if I did miss some of the insightful commentary that the SA writers provided.

Years later, it appears SA is still struggling to carve out its own niche in the soccer media landscape. In the meantime, SA's website is offering free membership to its online catalog. I think I'll give it a try, if just for old time's sake.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

UAH Alumni, Haiti Rebuilds, Dives, and Ugly 1860 Unis

UAH Alumni Game Still OnDespite the departure of the former head coach, UAH will go on with its Alumni match on March 27th. Interested players should contact interim head coach, Joe Nemzer.

Haitian Football Federation President Vows To Rebuild

The Haitian Football Federation Headquarters were destroyed in the earthquake. Photo via Getty Images.

During the earthquake that devastated the country the Haitian Football Federation's offices were destroyed along with over 30 Federation employees. Dr. Yves Jean-Bart survived and now vows to reconstruct the offices and the remainder of the soccer infrastructure in the country. He said this about the Haitian love for soccer.
"There is not one Haitian that has not touched a soccer ball. Football is part of the everyday life of Haiti, even with the scary living conditions in Port-au-Prince, even with the fields being occupied, they still play soccer. It is the only entertainment reserved for everybody. At the federation we had the great idea of distributing in the temporary shelters the few soccer balls we were able to recover and it was an explosion of joy. I think it is necessary and mandatory, to help with the psychological recovery of a major part of the population, to free the fields and allow the people to release some stress."
As you know, I am collecting soccer equipment to help bring their beloved game back to them. Please make your way down to Pete's Soccer Shop to donate your new or used shoes, balls, or any other equipment. Thanks, again.

Is It Always A Dive?
Studs Up is a comic strip about soccer. Today's strip is a funny look at diving.

1860, Was Denken Sie?


Let me be clear. Bayern Munich is my team, but ever since I visited Bavaria in college, I've had a soft spot for 1860 Munich. I love the classy look of their light blue kits with the lion crest. But they may have taken the prize for ugliest uniform ever with their shirt to celebrate their 150th year shown above. Yes, you are seeing that right. It's a collage of blue tinted historic photos on a soccer jersey with gold trim.

Oh, that's not so bad.

Well, maybe the powers that be anticipated this reaction because they made the shirt reversible and reveals a shirt that's not quite as revolting. Ahh, that's better.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wintry Weekend Warrior, US World Cup Jerseys, RCU and MLS News

Weekend Warriors Battle Wild Wintry Weather

Open Champions High Life work the ball around Blaze defenders in the final.

Nearly 20 teams competed at John Hunt Park in the Weekend Warrior tournament put on by Jacob and Rob from Southern Soccer. In addition to the action on the field, the tournament raised money for the The Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund at Huntsville Hospital and collected used soccer equipment to benefit the Haiti earthquake victims.

Conditions prior to Sunday's action

The tournament had to deal with various forms of wintry weather this weekend, but in the spirit of the Weekend Warriors, the teams battled on. Saturday featured frigid temps in the 30s and brutal winds that made it feel even colder, while Sunday started with snow that soon changed to sleet turning the fields into not much more than muddy bogs.

The Championship Trophy!

The Open Championship went to High Life who outlasted the Blaze from Columbus, MS while Schurke took down BrO-kiN-toE in a tight contest for the Rec Championship.

US World Cup Jersey To Be Unveiled in March 3rd Friendly

According to Sports Illustrated reporter Grant Wahl the US National Team will debut their World Cup uniform on March 3rd when they play in the Netherlands.

RCU To Run Spring Break Youth Soccer Camp

Rocket City United will offer a Spring Break Soccer Camp
for kids ages 5-16 featuring the RCU players and head coach Desmond Armstrong at Dublin Park in Madison, AL from March 15-19th.

MLS Notes
I've strayed away from commenting on the MLS collective bargaining negotiations because there hasn't been much to say, but as this article from reports, the issue that the MLS have to work out with their players are minuscule when compared to the issues that the NBA will face when they sit down to negotiate.

FIFA has decide that the referees in MLS are not up to snuff, but the standard of play and the media coverage of the league and the sport in general is getting better and better.

Friday, February 12, 2010

More Weekend Warrior, Ref's Sweet Backheel, and Eurosnob Smackdown

Weekend Warrior Is Upon Thee

Don't forget to bring your new or used soccer equipment to benefit Haiti out to the Weekend Warriors tournament this Saturday and Sunday. They'll also have a juggling contest to benefit the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund at Huntsville Hospital with some great prizes including Rocket City United gear and season tix. PWT-blog will be on hand to bring you highlights of the fun from John Hunt Park this weekend. Lastly, they'll be selling T-shirts featuring the logo above.

Nice Backheel, Ref!

Apparently, fancy footskills aren't the sole domain of players anymore. When Spanish referee Alvarez Izquierdo accidentally got in the way of a pass, he decide the fair thing to do was to return the ball to the intended player with a nonchalant backheel. Nice pass!

You're So Vain, Eurosnob!

Adrea Canales of calls out the American born Eurosnob in her weekly column. She lays it down on the fools who for years dissed Landon Donovan, who is currently tearing it up for Everton in the EPL, because he choose to play in MLS rather than sit the bench for a European team. They claim that Donovan's years of playing for San Jose and LA have stunted his growth as a player and has subsequently hurt the USMNT. Suddenly, those same fools are his biggest fan, and Canales let's 'em have it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

RCU Press Conference, Ribbon Cutting, Schedule Release and Possible Players?

Rocket City United has announced that on March 4th they will hold a press conference and ribbon cutting ceremony for their new corporate offices at the Southern Convention Services complex on County Line Road in Madison, AL. According to the release on RCU's Facebook page, RCU will release it's full 2010 season schedule along with details about it's season ticket package and plans for the NPSL Final Four to be hosted by RCU.

Left to right, Andy Lubahn, Justin Luthy, and Yoram Mwila are on RCU TD Armstrong's list of signing targets.

In addition, RCU Technical Director Desmond Armstrong will be on hand to announce some player signings and reveal the 2010 RCU jersey. I asked Armstrong about new players in the December press conference. He mentioned Wake Forest midfielder Andy Lubahn, Boston College goalkeeper Justin Luthy, and forward Yoram Mwila of the NCAA Division I finalist University of Akron as the type of players he has coached in the past and hopes to target for RCU. If RCU can sign players of the pedigree of those listed above, this year's RCU team should be exciting to watch!
Immediately following the presser will be a social gathering sponsored by returning RCU sponsor Olde Towne Brewing Company! I know this is the tagline from a different brew, but it needs to be said... Hooray, beer! Well done, RCU for partnering again with this great local business.

World Cup on 730 the Ump? Bud House, Soccer HoF, and Cool Book

World Cup Matches On Local Radio?
It appears that ESPN will broadcast all of the matches from the World Cup in addition to it's radio affiliates in addition to TV, internet and mobile device coverage. EPL Talk is reporting that everyone's favorite leprechaun soccer analyst, Tommy Smyth, will be providing the color for the broadcasts. Zack Bennett, the program director for 730 The UMP was noncommital when contacted to verify whether the local ESPN Radio affiliate would be airing the broadcasts, "We have not announced our intentions concerning World Cup coverage for the 2010 event, and we cannot comment at the current time." PWT-blog will let you know, if they decide to air any of the coverage.

King of Beers Looking For World Cup Fans

I'm not a big fan of some of Bud's products, but I like some of their commercials and they do sponsor soccer in a big way. Well, this publicity stunt looks right up my alley. Budweiser is looking for fans from each country in the World Cup to be in what looks to be some sort of Real World: World Cup edition called Bud House. Check it out. Although, I'll warn you now. There's a 14 page application and they will expect you to drink their beer!

Soccer Hall of Fame Is Leaving Oneonta
Seriously, where the heck is Oneonta? Maybe that's one reason the US Soccer Hall of Fame is closing its doors. It's rumored that many of the exhibits will be housed in MLS stadiums where soccer fans actually can see them. Good move.

Cool new book

This is an ad for what looks to be a pretty cool book coming out in May with the personal accounts from many of the sports greatest players about how they came to love the game. Could be a great gift for the soccerhead in your family.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

CL Final On Fox, RCU Schedule, and Beer for Strong Bones

Champions League Final Will Be On Fox!

Fox will show its first soccer match ever when it broadcasts the 2010 Champions League Final on Saturday, May 22 at 1:30PM. This is huge news for two reasons. First, it will be on the flagship over the air Fox network available to millions, not Fox Soccer Channel or as previously reported FX. Second, the game is on a Saturday which is a change from years past when the final was on a weekday and required one to take off work/school to catch the action live. Nice!

I have an inquiry into Fox54 to verify that they will indeed be showing the match on their affiliate. I'll let you all know when I hear from them.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Zaideman from WZDX confirmed that Fox54 will indeed be broadcasting the game. Hooray!

Rocket City United To Release Schedule in March
RCU president and NPSL Southeast Region Commissioner Andy Zorovich has told the Pwt-blog that RCU will release its schedule in March. The Chattahooligan blog had posted a schedule for Chattanooga FC which included the dates with RCU, but Zorovich called the release premature. Zorovich went on to say, "There is a probability of changes on what is seen at Chattahooligan."

Beer, Good for Strong Bones

This has nothing to do with soccer, but being a member of the Free the Hops organization that aims to rewrite Alabama law to bring high quality craft beer to the state, I thought I'd pass this nugget along anyway. It's now been proven that beer is good for you. Turns out, those "Got Beer" t-shirts weren't just a hokey rip-off the old milk ads. :)