Saturday, July 31, 2010

US Soccer Stars Turn Out For The NPSL All-Star Game

Rocket City United's Desmond Armstrong was not the only US soccer celebrity in the Madison City Schools Stadium Friday night.  Several US soccer stars were in attendance for the NPSL All-star game featuring Rocket City United and the NPSL All-Star squad.

In the stands was 1998 and 2002 USA World Cup player Jeff Agoos who was scouting the match for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.  Agoos had 134 caps for the USA and won 5 MLS championship, the most of any player.

Also in attendance was former 1994 USA World Cup player Fernando Clavijo.  Clavijo was representing Traffic USA, a player agency based in Miami, FL.  Clavijo earned 61 caps for the USA and has coached MLS clubs the New England Revolution and the Colorado Rapids and the Haitian National Team.

John and I posing with some of our USA heroes.
Left to right, Ryan, Desmond, Fernando, Jeff, and John

NPSL Finals Tonight in Madison, AL

Chattanooga FC will face the Sacramento Gold at 7:30 PM Central at the Madison City Schools Stadium in Madison, AL.

RCU Falls To NPSL All-Stars

RCU Shut-out By All-Stars 2:0

Despite dominating possession for the majority of the match Rocket City United gave up two late goals to the NPSL All-Stars in the team's final appearance of the 2010 season.  RCU looked the better team in first half as forward Andrew Nkurunungi menaced the back four of the All-stars with his speed and strength, but his lack of finishing the plays frustrated RCU coach Desmond Armstrong.  "[Nkurunungi] was very exciting in the first half.  He got himself into some great situations, taking on one and two players at one time and getting into the goal area and then, he doesn't pull the trigger."  That lack of killer instinct in the box would cost RCU on the night.

As would be expect for a team that had less then twenty-four hours to prepare for the match, the NPSL All-stars struggled to connect well.  The talent was evident, but RCU held the advantage until the 70th minute when Armstrong emptied his bench and the RCU reserves made crucial mistakes.  On a free kick from 45 yards out, Spencer Shastri of the Pocono Snow ran through the heart of the area completely unmarked and powered a header easily into the net for the NPSL All-stars to take the lead.  Shortly thereafter another bad giveaway from the RCU defense, led to FC Tulsa's Abed Elkour converting from 15 yards for the games final goal.

Earlier in the night in the NPSL Third place match, FC Sonic defeated the Madison 56ers 3:1 on the back of 3 goals in the first 25 minutes.  Madison was able to pull a goal back in the final seconds, but the team from Lehigh Valley, PA claimed third place.

A Chat with Chattanooga's Sheldon Grizzle

I was able to speak to Chattanooga FC's Sheldon Grizzle about the organization's highly successful year.  He discusses the team's trip up to DC and announces that DC United will be coming down to Chattanooga next year to return the favor.   

After winning the semifinal, the team is expecting several hundred Chattahooligans to make the short drive down US 72 to cheer on the Blues.  It should be a raucous atmosphere at the Madison City Schools Stadium tonight.

Friday, July 30, 2010

2011 NPSL Finals To Be Hosted By Rocket City United

In Thursday's press conference prior to the kick-off the 2010 NPSL Final Four, NPSL Commissioner Dan Trainer announced that Rocket City United had won the bid to host next year's Final Four.

"[Due] to all of the community support [in the Huntsville/Madison area], we are also awarding the 2011 Finals here.  That is the first time that we have done it back to back.  Andy [Zorovich], Rocket City United, and all of the local municipalities have done a great job of welcoming us here and making sure that the facilities are good."

Following the announcement, I was able to ask Dan about the decision to award the 2011 Final Four to Rocket City United and the future of the NPSL in general.

NPSL Commissioner Dan Trainer

UPDATE:  The league is looking to expand into the south-central US states (TX, AK, OK) and re-establish themselves in the southwestern states (southern CA, AZ, NM, NV).  So, to include all of the regional champions, next year's event will no longer be called the NPSL Final Four.  There may be as many as six teams from the various regions taking part in next year's event. 

RCU Faces NPSL All-Stars Tonight and NPSL Video Broadcast Info

Rocket City United has the unenviable task of playing the a team made up of the top players from around the NPSL tonight in the NPSL All-Star match at 8 PM at the Madison City Schools Stadium.  The NPSL All-Stars head coach Matt Driver is very excited about the opportunity for these players to be seen by professional scouts.

FC Buffalo star Dan Stevens isn't too happy with the humidity in Alabama, but is very excited about playing in the All-Star game.

Chicago Fire NPSL goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz is predicting a win for the All-Stars.

Game time for NPSL All-Stars v RCU is 8PM.  The game will follow the NPSL Third Place match featuring the Madison 56ers v FC Sonic at 5:30 PM.  Tonight is Military Appreciation night and several hundred soldiers from Redstone Arsenal will be honored by RCU during the game.


If you can't make it to the stadium, you can watch the action live streamed on the Web on Ustream. 

NPSL Semifinal Recaps

FC Sonic 1:4 Sacramento Gold

After taking a lead in the 72nd minute on a Cody Altinini goal, Northeast Region Champion FC Sonic gave up four goals in the final 18 minutes to fall to the Sacramento Gold FC in the first match of the NPSL semifinals Thursday night. 

The Altinini goal woke up the game that had been a bit listless in the first 70 minutes.  West Region Champion Sacramento pushed into the attack in an effort to equalized and found paydirt when Manolo Pina's cross was mishandled by FC Sonic goalkeeper Sam Bishop.  Bishop's attempt to clear was slapped down off off his own defender AJ Barnhold's leg and into his the net.

Minutes later Sacramento scored two goals that would not be mislabeled as "golasos".  Hector Bermudez created some space at the top of the penalty area and rifled a left-footed curling shot into the far side of the net.   As FC Sonic switched into full attack mode in an attempt to save their season, Sacramento struck again.

This time it was the NPSL's leading goal scorer, Manolo Pina, who made an impressive solo run down the right side of the field.  As he rounded the final defender and charged into the penalty area at a tight angle, Pina showed why he's had such success this season.  Seeing that he had no help, he slapped a low drive with the outside of his right foot that eluded Bishop and nestled into the far post to ice the match.

Sacramento substitute Chris Akwaja added an empty netter deep into injury time for the final scoreline of 4:1.

Chattanooga FC 2:0 Madison 56ers

Southeast Region Champion Chattanooga FC has given up the fewest goals of any team in the NPSL this year and it was their stellar defense that led them to their 2:0 victory over the Midwest Region Champion Madison 56ers in the second NPSL semifinal on Thursday night.

Centerback Thomas Clark provided the difference on both sides of the field as he headed home the game winning goal from a corner kick in the 51st minute.  Clark was making his first start in the place of CFC captain Russell Courtney, who went down to a knee injury in last Saturday's friendly against DC Untied's Super-20 team.

Madison looked dangerous in the midfield, but were only able to break through the CFC defense on a single occasion.  Minutes after CFC's goal, 56er's forward Henry Aiyenero found himself with a free header from 8 yards.  Aiyenero powered his shot toward the corner, only to have it palmed away by Richard Masters in goal for CFC.

Madison continued to pressure the CFC defense but were consistently denied by timely tackles from Clark and fellow center back Andy Stewart.  As Madison threw numbers forward, CFC sealed the match in the 85th minute on a beautifully executed counter attack goal.  Substitute Sasha Viatrov found himself breaking down the left side with fellow substitute Robbie Hill streaking across the field on a 70 yard run from inside his own half.  Viatrov played a brilliant cross that left only Hill with a chance to play the ball, and Hill did not leave any doubt as he redirected the ball back against the grain and into the 56er's net.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NPSL Final Four: FC Sonic Coach, NPSL PR Director, Broadcast Info

Meet FC Sonic's Coach Dave Whitesman

I was able to talk to FC Sonic coach Dave Whitesman at his teams final training session prior to the NPSL Semifinal against Sacramento Gold FC tomorrow night at 5:30 PM at the Madison City Schools Stadium.

NPSL PR Director on NPSL Final Four

Ryan Knapp, the NPSL PR Director, has a nice little post on his personal blog about the NPSL Final Four and the important part leagues like the NPSL have in the US soccer community.

"It is still shocking to me the stigma carried by anything less than MLS in the US.  I’ve seen  plenty of amateur games played in the NPSL and PDL and have been mostly impressed by the quality I’ve seen."

Following the Action:  Your Choices
 John calls last years NPSL Final

If you can't make it out to the Madison City Schools Stadium, you can still follow the games by tuning into the audio webcast or via several twitter feeds.   My broadcast partner, John Moran, and I will be calling the play-by-play on the field that will be streamed live by Teamline.  There's also been a rumor of a video webcast, but a few of the details need to be worked out.  I'll let you know if it will comes to be.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Funny Goal Celebration, GolTV in HD, Chattahooligan NPSL F4 Preview

It was THIS BIG!

I've heard of fishing stories, but that was a pretty good catch.

If GolTV falls in the woods... 

It was announced that GolTV will broadcast this Emirates Cup friendlies in high-def, but unfortunately, no one is currently getting the GolTV in HD, yet.  There have been rumors that DirecTV may add the channel as early as next Wednesday, but that does us no good.

NPSL Final Four Preview, Chattahooligan-style

Chattanooga FC's supporters group, the Chattahooligans have written up a pretty nice little preview of the Final Four.  They're hoping to bring down around 250 of their friends to cheer on the Blues when they take on the Madison 56ers in the night cap of Thursday's NPSL Semi-finals.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rocket City Invitational and More NPSL Final Four

Rocket City Invitational Set To Kick Off on Saturday
This year's Rocket City Invitational will be held on Saturday and Sunday in Madison at Dublin Park.  The small-sided adult tournament is being held in conjunction with the NPSL Final Four and the Soccer Wars Festival.  In addition to the fun format of soccer action on the field, all RCI players are also invited to take in the action of the NPSL Final Four and will be special guests at the Station II at Bridgestreet for a tournament party on Saturday night after the NPSL Championship match. 

The RCI is still looking for female players to fill out one more team in the Women's division.  So, if you know any female players have them register for the fun.

NPSL Final Four Audio Webcast On Teamline

All of the matches during the NPSL Final Four will be broadcast on a live audio webcast.  Click here to listen live to the matches.

CFC Drops NPSL Final Four Warm-up to DC United

NPSL Southeast Region Champions Chattanooga FC traveled up to my home town to face the MLS club DC United's Super 20 team in a friendly this past Saturday.  CFC used this match in RFK Stadium as a warm-up to the NPSL Final Four, but hopes the result are a little better than the 3:0 shut-out loss they received at the hands of the DCU.  CFC's coach and I are from the same area in the DC suburbs and he was featured in the Annapolis paper, The Capital.

RCU President To Appear on Lite 96.9

RCU's President Andy Zorovich is doing a lot of appearances lately to promote the NPSL Final Four and the Soccer Wars Festival.  Listen in on Wednesday when he will appear on Lite96.9.

Friday, July 23, 2010

NPSL Final Four News

RCU President Andy Zorovich To Appear On Madison Weekly Radio Show

Monday's broadcast of the Madison Weekly Radio Show on WTKI 1450 AM and 92.9 FM will feature RCU President Andy Zorovich.  Zorovich will discuss the NPSL Final Four and RCU on Monday morning at 8AM.  Click here to listen live

NPSL Final Four News Links

Here are some articles about the teams in the NPSL Final Four.

56ers to face Chattanooga FC
Chattanooga FC to Face Madison 56ers In NPSL Final Four 
Sac Gold win division, head to Final Four
RCU to Host Final Four Tournament 
Soccer Wars to be held July 29-31 in Madison 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

High School Elite, More NCAA, College Player Development

Times Releases Elite High School Players List

The Huntsville Times has released its list of Boys and Girls "TimesElite" High School soccer players.  Grissom swept the Player of the Year awards with Jonathan Ray and Courtney Hurt being honored.

NCAA Men's College Cup Coming To Alabama

Yesterday, it was announced that the 2011 NCAA Men's College Cup would be hosted in Hoover.  Here's a video on the announcement.

Is There Room For College Soccer In US Player Development

Speaking of college soccer, there's a debate raging within the US soccer community (and in our comments section) over the role that college soccer has in player development.  Some feel that reliance on the college game to develop truly elite players is hindering the progression of US soccer and that the better options is developing players in a professional environment.  Other feel that college soccer allows a good environment for players who mature later than their counterparts in the professional ranks. The Washington Post has an interesting article with quotes from some big names in the college game.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NCAA Championships in Alabama, More Atlanta Soccer News, NPSL All-stars Announced

Hoover to Host 2011 College Cup

The city of Hoover, AL has been awarded the 2011 Men's NCAA National Championships including the semifinals on Dec. 9th and finals on Dec 11th.  The University of Alabama-Birmingham will serve as the host institution for the first NCAA Men's Soccer Championships to be held in Alabama.  The matches will be held at Regions Park Stadium, home field of the Birmingham Barons baseball team, and will be reconfigured for soccer.

Alabama has become a destination for college soccer as Orange Beach, AL will be hosting the 2010 and 2011 NAIA Men's Soccer Championships.  Decatur's Jack Allen Soccer Stadium was the site for the 2009 NAIA Women's Soccer Championships and will host the Women's Championship again this year from November 29-December 4.

Atlanta Forms "Soccer Cabinet"

A few days ago I wrote about a rumor that an EPL team was interested in starting an MLS club in Atlanta.  I was somewhat dismissive about the veracity of the rumor, because, let's face it, we've heard it all before.  Now, a group of business officials from the Atlanta area have created a "Soccer Cabinet" to explore ways to engage the soccer community in Atlanta and help Atlanta's international reputation by embracing the world's game.  They've even come up with a five point plan to address those goals.  Maybe something good will come of this.

NPSL All-star Roster Announced

The NPSL has released the list of players who will take on Rocket City United in the NPSL All-star Game that will be played next Friday, July 30th at 8PM at the Madison City Schools Stadium as part of the NPSL Final Four festivities.

NPSL Final Four Match-ups Set

The full NPSL Final Four schedule has been released.  Rocket City United is hosting the three day event that will feature five matches including an All-star match featuring the best players from around the NPSL taking on RCU.

The seeds for the Final Four tournament were determined with a points per match formula due to the uneven schedules between the Regions.  Northeast Region Champion FC Sonic-Lehigh Valley earned the first seed, followed by Chattanooga FC , Madison 56ers, and Sacramento Gold FC.   The semi-finals will be a 1v4 and 2v3 matchup with the losers playing in the 3rd Place match on Friday while the winners are given an extra day of rest to prepare for the Finals on Saturday.  Friday night will also feature the NPSL All-stars taking on Rocket City United.

Here's the schedule of the matches.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

5:30pm NPSL Semi-final 1 --FC Sonic (Northeast) v Sacramento Gold (West)

 8:00pm NPSL Semi-final 2 -- Chattanooga FC (Southeast) v Madison 56ers (Midwest)

Friday, July 30, 2010

5:30pm NPSL 3rd Place Game (Semi-final 1 loser v Semi-final 2 loser)
8:00pm NPSL All-Star Game (NPSL All Stars v Rocket City United)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

7:30pm NPSL Final - (Semi-final 1 Winner v Semi-final 2 Winner)

Since the part of the NPSL's charter is to develop aspiring professional players, the NPSL will host several player combines where coaches and scouts from various professional organizations will be able to see promising NPSL stars up close in a training environment.   This is a great opportunity for of the players to be "discovered" during three sessions on Thursday and Friday.

In addition, there are several fun soccer related games and activities for kids and parents alike going on as part of the Soccer Wars Festival adjacent to the field at the Madison City Schools Stadium.  The festival will culminate with a parade a 5PM on Saturday from downtown Madison to the Madison City Schools Stadium.

Monday, July 19, 2010

RCU Crushed By CFC, NPSL Final Four Field Set

RCU Falls Hard 4:0 In Front Of Record Crowd

Rocket City United didn't start well on Saturday night by giving up a goal in the 3rd minute.  It didn't get better from there.  A record crowd of 5, 137 fans saw Chattanooga FC run away with a 4:0 win.  The attendance was the largest ever crowd in NPSL history and gives CFC an average crowd of nearly 4,400 for the 2010 season.

The game was end to end from the opening as both teams traded chances, but CFC converted their chances.  In the 3rd minute, CFC forward Irvin Espinal's angled shot deflected off RCU defender Tom Winspear's trailing leg and nestled into the far corner of the net.  RCU tried to battle back and despite some good possession play from RCU, they could not translate that possession into goals.  CFC took advantage of poor giveaways in the midfield to strike quickly catch RCU on the counter attack.  In the 29th minuet, one such giveaway exposed the RCU central defense and CFC forward Luis Salazar calmly beat Michael Gustavson for the 2:0 halftime lead.

Another midfield giveaway led to the third goal in the 53rd minute, when Drew Courtney received a gift-wrapped chance when the ball fell to his feet after Gustavson's punched clearance deflected off an RCU defender back.  Courtney emphatically stroked the ball into the open net from 2 feet.

RCU kept battling, but it wouldn't be their night as in the 70th minute Alexi Munro worked some magic to get the ball to the end line and slotted it back to the onrushing Andrew Nkurunungi who side-footed home, but the near sided (and perhaps nearsighted) AR judged wrongly and raised his flag for offside.

Shortly thereafter, CFC capped their night with a strong solo effort from Thomas Clark who muscled off a defender and the goalkeeper for the final goal of the night.

NPSL Final Four Teams Set

The other regional championships in the NPSL came down to the action during the final weekend.  Here's a brief recap of how the teams joining Chattanooga FC in the Final Four qualified.

Midwest Region: Madison 56ers
From the Madison 56ers website:
The Madison 56ers ended their regular season play with two victories to clinch the NPSL Midwest Championship this weekend finishing with an 8-2 record. After defeating the Minnesota Kings FC on Saturday 4-0, the 56ers finished off the season with a 2-1 victory over the St. Paul Twin Stars Sunday afternoon.

Northeast Region: FC Sonic Lehigh Valley
From the Morning Call:
FC Sonic had talent when it was needed and luck when talent wasn't enough.

The Lehigh Valley chapter of the National Premiere Soccer League defeated its toughest opponent of the season in the New York Red Bulls, a U23 development team affiliated with the MLS club of the same name.

It was Joe Sales' goal — coming with just six minutes left in the game — that gave FC Sonic the 3-2 win...

Northwest Region: Sacramento Gold FC
From Sacramento Gold Facebook page:
It's on to the National Premier Soccer League championship playoffs for the Gold (9-2-1) after defeating San Diego Boca 3-2 Sunday night in a Nortthwest division-elimination final at River City High School. Foward Manolo Pina had both of his Sacramento goals in the first half. He now leads all NPSL scorers with... 15 goals despite missing the final three games of the regular season with a fractured cheek. San Diego (5-3-3) finished the season 0-3 against the Gold. Ernesto Carranza also scored for the Gold. Anthony Chimienti had two assists.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Minor League Soccer, World Cup Onion-style,

Reshaping US Minor League Soccer

Brian Quarstad from Inside Minnesota Soccer has posted a four-part series on the future of minor league soccer in the USA.  The story focuses mostly on second division professional soccer which is currently in turmoil with two ownership groups, USL and NASL, competing for legitimacy off the field while competing on the field in a interim league being run by the US Soccer Federation, but it also questions how the overall structure of the lower divisions of soccer in the US (including the NPSL in which Rocket City United plays).  

If you are a soccer fan in the USA, this series is well worth the read.  The timing is right for a reshaping of the soccer infrastructure in the USA to get control of player development away from the youth club focus and into a professionalized structure, but before that can happen the professional structure itself needs stability.

Part of the solution to provide stability seems to be an effort to keep travel costs down by regionalizing the lower professional leagues.   This would to take a page from the NPSL who currently have 4 regions and intends to expand into more regions in the future.  The regions are comprised of teams who are geographically proximate enough to allow them to travel without a tremendous cost associated.  The author provides a list of cities that may support the hypothetical regions, including Huntsville.

The Onion's Highlights of the World Cup

The humor news organization, the Onion, has released their list of highlights of the World Cup.  My favorite:
"Portugal scores 7 goals against North Korea after the goalkeeper makes a break for it, dashes into the crowd, runs up the stairs, and jumps over the side of the stadium."

Atlanta Still Being Considered For MLS Expansion

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes to say that an unnamed EPL team is currently looking to invest in an expansion MLS team and is considering Atlanta as one of the markets for the team.  Ho-hum... I wouldn't get too excited about this.  This rumor seems to crops up every summer when an EPL club comes to the States to play an exhibition match.  And guess what?  Manchester City will play Club America in Atlanta in a few weeks at the Georgia Dome. 

RCU Travel To Chattanooga To Face New Champs

Rocket City United will make their way up Route 72 to Chattanooga tomorrow night for their regular season finale where they'll take on the newly crowned NPSL Southeast Region champion in front of a raucous crowd expected to reach nearly 4,000 at Finley Stadium.  Chattanooga FC locked up the title with a 3:2 win over Pumas last weekend and booked their ticket to the NPSL Final Four to be hosted by RCU at the Madison City Schools Stadium from July 29-31 .

Chattanooga's hopes of an NPSL championship took a major hit, however, as star forward Chris Ochieng suffered a broken ankle during training Thursday night.  Ochieng has been a big part in the success of CFC this year scoring 5 of the Blue's 15 total goals.  The team will now have the RCU match and an exhibition match against MLS club DC United's Under 20 squad to work on the strike partnership of local Chattanooga players Luis Salazar and Ivin Espinal before the NPSL Final Four.

In the meantime, RCU will travel up to Finley Stadium hoping to remain unbeaten against CFC, but will face a Chattanooga team that is intent on changing the recent history.  “Rocket City is consistently a tough opponent for us,” CFC coach Brian Crossman told the CFC website. “We’ve never beaten them before, so our guys are pretty motivated for this one.”

If you've never gone to an RCU away match, this would be the one to attend.  RCU's traveling contingent will be meeting prior to the match at the Big River Grille (222 Broad St. next to the aquarium) for food and drinks at 5:30pm Eastern.  If you can't make it to Chattanooga, you can follow the action on Chattanooga's ESPN affiliate, 105.1 The Zone.  Follow the link and click the the listen live button to hear John Moran and myself join a true radio professional, Nick Bonsanto, call the came.  The game kicks off at 6PM Central.
Finely Stadium before kick-off.  Big-time atmosphere!

Finley Stadium is the best atmosphere in the NPSL with a rowdy bunch of supporters who consistently sing and beer stands in the seating area to provide the consumer a view of the action while they wait to be served.  Chattanooga leads the league in attendance, averaging over 3,000 per match and would like to get over 5,000 for the RCU match.  Chattanooga's NBC affiliate WRCB a nice little video of what you can expect at the game on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

World Cup Revisited

The Final

Zonal Marking does a great job of breaking down the tactics of pressing in the Final.  The most interesting tidbit to me was the fact that the most common passing combination in the first half for the Netherlands was Mathijsen and Stekelenburg  (the Dutch center back and goalkeeper).  That's not a good stat for an attacking team.

Overall Records of the US
Climbing the Ladder has an interesting look at the Yanks' win-loss record and the teams they beat/lost to over the World Cup qualifying cycles in the modern era (1990 to present).  It gives you a good look at just how the team has gotten better.  Take a real close look at the opponents in recent years and in which columns they are located.  

ESPN Announcers

The Soccer America's resident curmudgeon, Paul Gardner, writes to tell us just how bad ESPN's British announcers were and they're "disrespect" for the American audience.  For the most part, I watched the Univision feed online.  So, I only watched a few of the ESPN broadcasts.  However, I wasn't blown away by them.

Now, I certainly know that commentating is much harder than it appears, but I was also disappointed with the supposed best English language broadcasters in the world.   For me, I thought Ian Drake was very good. Martin Tyler was just OK; maybe he was just over hyped or maybe it was his understated delivery, but he just seemed tired to me.  He was certainly lacking the enthusiasm that a real "football" person would have when watching the World Cup live. 

British-Nigerian Efan Ekoku was horrible.  Honestly, ESPN couldn't get a better color guy than this?!  He showed no understanding of the game outside of the British Isles, and this, from a supposed African soccer expert. And I hate to agree with Gardner on anything, but he is right on when he says that many of the commentators have no clue when it comes to the actual rules of the game (excluding Tyler, who seems to know his laws of the game.   

One more thing...  I absolutely loved the pre-game and post-game crews.  It was good entertainment sprinkled in with good analysis.  They had a lot of controversial figures saying controversial things and then they had Juergen Klinsmann and Roberto Martinez sprinkle in great insights.  Excellent stuff!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All-Stars: NPSL and High School

NPSL All-stars to take on RCU

Rocket City United will have one more home game after all.  They fell short in their attempt to qualify for the NPSL Final Four, but they will take part in the action on the field during the Soccer Wars Festival by facing the NPSL All-Stars on Friday, July 30.

NPSL Final Four Qualifying

In other Soccer Wars news, Chattanooga FC is the only team to have qualified for the NPSL Final Four so far by winning the Southeast Region Championship.  I've broken down the other regional qualifying campaigns over at the NPSL Insider blog here.

AHSAA All-Stars
The South All-stars came from behind to score 2 second half goals for the 3:2 win over the girls from the North at the John Hunt Soccer Stadium last night.  In the nightcap, the North All-Stars crushed the South 7:1 in the boys match.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Local Happenings: RCU, AHSAA All-stars, Women Wanted, Decatur

Now that the World Cup is over, it's back to the regular life, and back to a more local soccer focus for PWT-blog.

RCU Thumps Atlanta FC 5:1

After learning that they would not return to the NPSL Final Four, Rocket City United took out its frustrations on Atlanta FC with a 5:1 victory.  Chattanooga FC had already claimed the Southeast Region Championship with a 3:2 win at Pumas on Saturday night, but that only seemed to spur RCU's offensive firepower as Andrew Nkurunungi's hat trick paced RCU.  Late goals by Norbert Webley and Calvin Mbata finished off the scoring for RCU.

RCU will now prepare for its season finale when it takes on the newly crowned champions next Saturday in Chattanooga.  My broadcast partner, John Moran, and I will be on hand to call the game for Chattanooga's ESPN Radio, 105.1 The Zone.  If you have the chance, I highly encourage you to travel up to Finley Stadium to take in this match.  The crowd and atmosphere are top class.

AHSAA All-star Games Tonight

The best high school players in the state will take the field tonight at John Hunt Soccer Stadium for the AHSAA All-star Sports Week.  The Girls game will be at 5PM, followed by the Boys game at 7PM.

Women Wanted For The RCI and HASL

The organizers of the Rocket City Invitational soccer tournament are looking for women players to complete a four team Women's divsion.  Adult female players can sign up as individuals and will be placed on teams for the 6 aside games.  If the tournament is a success, there is interest from HASL in starting a women's division.  Now's your chance ladies!  And gentlemen, if you know any women who may be interested in playing have them follow this link to register a team or individual.

Decatur Is Looking For More Soccer

Here's an interesting article Decatur's Jack Allen Soccer Complex and the economic impact that it brings to the city.  It looks like they'd like to bring more high-profile soccer to the area.  Cool!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup: Watch Parties, Brazil 2014, and Refs Missed 4% of Calls

World Cup Finals:  Where you watching?

There will be new blood in the royal lineage of World Cup winners.  That, to me, is a fitting end to what I think was a terrific World Cup.  There have been so many intriguing matches, controversies, and wonder goals.   I can't wait to see what the final has in store for us.

While I'll be watching from the comfort of my living room, I've heard of two specific groups getting together to watch the match at Knucklehead's and The Stations 2.  Where are you watching the game?

Getting Excited for 2014

This World Cup isn't even over and I'm already excited for the 2014 World Cup to be held in Brazil.  I've already hit my Brazilian friends up for places to crash while I take in the matches down in the land of samba. 

World Cup Refereeing

I have one last comment to make about the refereeing at this World Cup.  You would think that with the amount of high profile gaffes committed by multiple referees in this year's tournament, FIFA would be low-key about the quality of the "men in the middle." But no, that's not their style.  FIFA's head of refereeing Jose Maria Garcia-Aranda held a press conference to tell us that after analysis of the matches in the world cup 96% of the "decisions" were correct.  Hmm, that just leaves 4% where the screwed up royally!  :)

I sympathize greatly with the referees, and that's why I fully support goal line technology, the addition of goal mouth referees, and the video review of every goal scored in big-time first division leagues and tournaments.  This is big business and big entertainment.  These changes can only help the guys with the whistles get it right.

Friday, July 9, 2010

RCU Will Know Their Fate When They Face Atlanta On Sunday

Rocket City United's match against Atlanta FC has been pushed back one day from Saturday night to Sunday at 7:30PM at Hoskyn Stadium in suburban Atlanta.  The change allows Atlanta FC to host a make-up match with FC Tulsa on Saturday.  The change will also allow RCU to know Saturday night's NPSL results and if they will still have a chance to qualify for the NPSL Final Four which the club will be hosting at the Madison City Schools Stadium from July 29-31

Atlanta (0-1-4, 1 pt.) are coming off a stinging 6:1 defeat at home against Pumas last Saturday.  Perhaps the absence of their coach, Ricardo Montoya, who has been in South Africa coaching a US team in the FIFA Football for Hope Festival for much of the season.

Things are getting interesting in the NPSL Southeast Region table.  Due to some early season game postponements, the current NPSL table is a little deceiving.   Four of the five teams remain mathematically in the hunt, but Chattanooga is squarely in the driver's seat.  CFC (4-2-0, 14 pts.) sits on top, but RCU (2-3-1, 9 pts.) trails by 5 points with 2 games left to play for each team.  Pumas FC (2-1-2, 7 pts.) and FC Tulsa (1-1-2, 4 pts.) are still not eliminated and have extra matches in which to make up the difference. 

If CFC drops points to Pumas FC in Birmingham on Saturday night, RCU will know that a win over Atlanta on Sunday night will go a long way in keeping them in the hunt for the Final Four and will set up what could be a winner-take-all match between CFC and RCU in Chattanooga on July 17th.  However, a CFC win on Saturday night in Birmingham will clinch the Southeast Region title for the Blues and the spot in the NPSL Final Four.