Monday, June 27, 2011

On Vacation

I'll be away on vacation and won't be posting for a few weeks.  Take care all!

Friday, June 24, 2011

RCU Away to Georgia; American Outlaws Huntsville Become Official

RCU Travel To Meet NPSL SE Surprise Georgia Revolution
Rocket City United will be looking to change the tenor of their season and build toward the future in this weekend's match away to NPSL Southeast region newcomer Georgia Revolution.  GAR have been the surprise of the region topping the table for several weeks and now sit in second with 11 points.  While not mathematically eliminated, RCU is essentially eliminated from contention for the NSPL Southeast region title.  As a result, RCU is expected to use the remaining matches of the season to build confidence and experience for its younger players. 

Local American Outlaws Chapter Becomes Official
The hard work and enthusiasm of its founding member Andrew Adams has its rewards as Huntsville has been granted an official chapter of the American Outlaws.  It was announced Thursday AOHA has become the 55th AO chapter in the US.  The Brickhouse Sports Cafe will server as the club's local bar to view all the US matches, including Saturday's Gold Cup final (Gametime is 7:30 PM).  Drink and food specials will greet chapter members.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gold Cup Final: USA v Mexico Watch Party at Brickhouse on Saturday

Gold Cup Final Watch Party at Brickhouse
 The Gold Cup Semifinal watch party last Wednesday night was a huge success.  The place was standing room only; songs were sung; the ubiquitous U-S-A, U-S-A chant rang out; and most importantly the US won

USA vs Mexico is the final everyone wanted and that's what we got.  So now, join the American Outlaws - Huntsville for the Gold Cup Final watch party at the Brickhouse Sports Cafe on Saturday night at 8PM.  It's bound to be a classic.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another RCU Loss to CFC, USA v Jamaica Watch Party at the Brickhouse on Sunday

RCU Loses to CFC Again
They say "the third time's a charm", but that wasn't the case for Rocket City United as they fell to Chattanooga FC by the same 2:0 scoreline for the third time in 4 weeks.  Goals from CFC's Mark Sharrod and Chris Ochieng sealed the three points for the Blues while torpedoing RCU's chance to play in the NPSL Championship in Madison at the end of July.

Gold Cup Quarterfinal: USA v Jamaica Watch Party at Brickhouse
The US Men's National Team's form hasn't been very good, but that is not for lack of support from the American Outlaws, and the local would-be Huntsville chapter has been stellar in that regard.  They have had terrific crowds for each of the three first round matches, and are hosting another watch party for the Gold Cup Quarterfinal match between the USMNT and Jamaica at the Brickhouse Sports Cafe on Sunday at 1:30PM.  Come out and join us and bring your father, too!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

RCU at CFC, CFC Fall In US Open Cup, My New Favorite Writers

RCU Try To Be First To Win At CFC Since 09
Rocket City United have had a strange season so far.  Undefeated on the road and winless at home (2-3), RCU will try to keep that undefeated part going this Saturday at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.  RCU will have to overcome inconsistent play if they want to be the first team in years to come out of Finley with three points.  The team has looked disjointed at times, perhaps due to the revolving lineups as players have joined the squad late.  I spoke to RCU veteran Brian Hadley who is the ranking player on the roster, having been with the team since 2008.  He's optimistic that the team will come together soon.

CFC Can't Hold On To Lead, Fall in OT
Chattanooga FC may be a little tired for this weekend's match with RCU after they bused around 24 hours to and from Pittsburgh and played 120 minutes before falling 3:2 in the US Open Cup match on Tuesday.  CFC held a 2:0 lead with about 30 minutes left to play, but gave up two goals late and one in overtime to lose 3:2 to the USL Pro's Riverhounds.  Only one of the four NPSL teams in the tournament survived the first round as the Madison 56ers beat USASA team AAC Eagles 4:0.  

Writers Rip US team, Becomes My Hero

We all know the US team has played terribly in the past two weeks.  This AP writer gives it to us straight saying Clint Dempsey failed to finish a chance "a third grader should make".  NICE! She's not the only one criticizing the US team.  This writer compares coach Bob Bradley to George Lucas, and if you've seen Episodes 1-3, you know that's not a compliment.

Monday, June 13, 2011

CFC at Pittsburgh in US Open Cup, Hassli Golazo!, Alaska Airline Commercial

CFC travel to Pittsburgh Riverhounds in Round 1 of US Open Cup

The NPSL Southeast Region's representative in the US Open Cup, Chattanooga FC will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the USL-Pro (3rd division) Riverhounds on Tuesday night.  We spoke with CFC's coach Brian Crossman about the rigors of the Open Cup match midweek between two NPSL matches against Rocket City United.


Vancouver's Eric Hassli is perhaps more famous for his tendency to attract red cards, but it's that chip on his shoulder that led him to attempt and score with this strike.  Un-real!

Portland Coach Stars in Alaska Airline Commercial

This commercial staring the Portland Timber's Scottish Coach John Spencer tickles me.  Enjoy!

Soccer Book Review: Brian Boyd on "Bloody Confused" by Chuck Culpepper

We at the PWT-blog don't just sit around and watch soccer all day.  We're more refined than that.  We also read about soccer, and today, I present to you friend of the PWT-blog Brian Boyd's review of the Chuck Culpepper soccer book called "Bloody Confused! A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer".

I just finished reading "Bloody Confused!" and as a fan of soccer and the English Premier League it is both entertaining and informative. Chuck Culpepper decides that in the 2006 / 2007 season he is going to follow one team in the English Premier League as a fan. He chooses Portsmouth FC that plays in Fratton Park.
He describes so well for us the highs and lows that true soccer converts feel as they follow their team. For example, Portsmouth in this season remains highly ranked all year and can move up with a win over Fulham FC in Craven Cottage. Portsmouth goes up 1 - 0 on an early goal and Chuck describes the agony of watching your team hang on minute by minute through the second half as the home team pounds your goal. He writes, "We even made it to ninety minutes, and through a good bit of the four minutes of added time. Added time had begun at 4:51pm, but I couldn't be sure how many seconds had passed within that minute, so I felt confused. I reached the point where you think just one or two more solid defensive plays might finish off matters."
Fulham nets a goal in the waning seconds of added time tying the score. The Portsmouth faithful feel as if they lost 3 - 0 and despair sets in. After games like this one, they end up drinking enough beer in a pub to "numb a yak".
The next week Portsmouth plays Manchester United, who is vying for the title, at Fratton Park. Portsmouth again goes up 1 - 0 early in the game and again agony sets in. Then in the 88th minute, Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United passes back to goalie Edwin van der Saar and somehow the ball rolls and rolls and rolls and ends up in the net. Chuck describes it as being in slow motion and somehow shock registered throughout Fratton Park. He writes "So as Fratton Park palpably went from this moment of vague confusion to this moment of grand realization, and as the realization seemed to spend a lagging second creeping up the rows and across the sections and into the top corners and the wigs and the drummers and the buglers and at least one blue bear, and as I began to absorb the truth probably another second after everybody else, something happened to me that I would not confess to just anybody. I cried. I hopped and hopped in disbelief, and the tears rolled."
Any true convert to soccer has experienced the highs (elation) and lows (depression) that accompanies the wins, draws, and losses of your team.
If you want to find out what is being sung in some of the songs, what the fans think of the center referee, how you buy tickets, how you travel to and from games, what watching from an English Pub is like, and much more, then this book is for you.
"After a year following the biggest league on earth, I may know a little about a little and not much about much, but I do know one thing. I think it's hard to be a fan."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

RCU Drop Another Heartbreaker To CFC 2:0

It's a script we've become used to around the Madison City Schools Stadium.  Rocket City United play well enough to win, but after 90 minutes come away with zero points.  This time losing 2:0 to Chattanooga FC.
 This time it was at the hands of Chattanooga FC who weathered the pressure from RCU for 80 plus minutes and found a nicely created goal against the run of play.  In the 83rd minute, CFC forward Chris Ochieng received a pass in the area, and realizing he was well marked, spun quickly to slide a pass for an on rushing and unmarked Michael Brooks.  Brooks took his time and slotted home to take the wind out of RCU's sails.  Then, deep into added time, it was Brooks earned his brace and sealed the match for CFC with another nice finish.

Now, RCU has to go on the road next Saturday against the same CFC team.  They'll have to show real mental fortitude to win in Finley Stadium, where no NPSL team has won since 2009.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

RCU v CFC, Greg Petersen Update, AOHA US v Panama Watch Party, Book Review

RCU Host CFC Saturday Night
Rocket City United will be hosting defending NPSL Southeast Region champions Chattanooga FC on Saturday night.  The teams are familiar with each other after CFC beat RCU 2:0 in the US Open Cup qualifying tournament 2 weeks ago.  Coming off the heart breaking, soul sucking, gut wrenching loss to Atlanta last week, this match is huge for RCU.  The team is 0-2 at home and needs to get a win in the Madison City Schools Stadium Saturday to have any chance of winning the region and the spot in the NPSL championships which is also being held at in Madison.  Expect a fairly large amount of traveling fans from Chattanooga to provide some atmosphere that has been somewhat lacking at the MCSS this season. 

Former RCU Coach Finds Home in Plant City FC

Former Rocket City United coach Greg Petersen has been hired as Technical Director by Plant City FC outside of Tampa, FL.   Petersen who has been a strong critic of US youth soccer in the past was impressed with the community involvement in the club, and sees this as an opportunity to play his part in changing the youth soccer culture.  "Ultimately, I see this as the ideal opportunity to really establish a proper club in the U.S., a club in the European style, where the Club is the focal point of the whole community. "

AOHA US v Panama Watch Party at Brickhouse  

The second of three US Gold Cup group matches will be against Panama on Saturday night and the American Outlaws-Huntsville will be hosting another watch party at the Brickhouse.  The game starts at 7PM and the fun lasts all night.

Friday, June 10, 2011

RCU and Beer News

RCU Reserves in Action Wednesday
The Rocket City United reserve squad saw action Wednesday night as they traveled down to Birmingham to take on Birmingham United Soccer Association's U-19 squad.  BUSA is a member of the US Soccer Development Academy and provided stiff opposition for RCU.   Huntsville native Alex Clay scored the first goal for BUSA.  RCU Kyle Simmons looked good for RCU and added a goal to his tally and despite good play from RCU, BUSA would prevail 2:1 on a late goal from Cristos Noisiadis.  Director of Operations Jan Henner was happy with the play overall. "It was good.  We were able to get a run out against very good competition and we were able to draw some conclusions on a few things."

Saturday Is Youth Night
Remember that Saturday is Youth Night at RCU's home match against rival Chattanooga FC.  All kids wearing their youth soccer jerseys get in for FREE!

Brewery Modernization Act Signed Into Law
As a Free the Hops member I'm proud to report that beer lovers across the state of Alabama can rejoice as another bill designed to update the antiquated restrictions on brewing and selling beer was signed into law by the governor today.  The Brewery Modernization Act will allow breweries to have tap rooms and tours.  It will also allow Brewpubs to sell the beer they brew outside of their location.  As the man from the Redstripe commercial says, "Hooray, Beer!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Soccer Bar Review: The Brickhouse Sports Cafe

It's been a while since I've done a Soccer Bar Review.  Honestly, I'd gotten kind of turned off on doing the reviews because it didn't seem worth the effort.  Often, the places that I went to were just not really interested in being a soccer bar.  Or the places that were reviewed went out of business a few months after I posted the review.
Well, hopefully we've found a place that can surpass expectations in the Brickhouse Sports Cafe.  Located in the Village of Providence, the Brickhouse is a sports bar with a nice beer selection, lots of TVs and pretty good food.   It's a major plus that the Brickhouse has embraced the soccer community.   It has been selected by the Hunstville Chapter of the American Outlaws as its home bar, and Rocket City United can be seen there eating their pregame meals when they are at home on Saturday nights.

Since it's been so long since I've done a Soccer Bar Review, you may have forgotten the criteria that I use to produce the rating.  If so, check it out here.  I visited the Brickhouse three times to watch the UEFA Champions League Final, the recent USA v Spain friendly, and the first US match in the Gold Cup against Canada.  So, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of the review.

The Brickhouse has plenty of TVs.  The bar itself has three TV above the beer taps, and many others around the bar area.  The dining room has a TV for nearly every table.  They have a satellite TV system and get the typical soccer channels.  They are also capable of ordering pay-per-view events (like the USA at Honduras World Cup Qualifying match in '09).  

Soccer Priority
The Brickhouse is a sports bar, and so, it caters to sports fans and understands that fans can get rowdy.  I've heard chanting and singing a few games and the staff didn't bat an eye.   BTW, the bar area has really great acoustics and our chants and songs sounded really, really loud.  The USA v Canada match went head to head with Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but the priority was definitely given to the USA v Canada game.  I'd say there 70% of the TVs had the US game while the remainder was split between NBA and various baseball games.

Soccer and beer go hand in hand.  The Brickhouse recognizes that fact and have a good selection of beers on tap including local brews Straight to Ale and Bluepants (I am a little disappointed in the lack of Guinness).  The beer is moderately priced, and there will be drink specials during all US Men's National Team games. 

I've had three meals at the Brickhouse and have enjoyed all three.  I'm not a finicky eater, but they do seem to have a large selection to choose from at moderate prices.

The Brickhouse is a sports bar that has a pub type feel.  There is plenty of sports banners  and memorabilia (SEC banners, Huntsville Havoc jerseys, Golf photos, etc), but sadly no soccer gear on display.  That may be remedied soon as I've been told that they will be hanging an American Outlaws banner soon.  I like the fact that they focus on a set of clientele that are focused on watching the game with their pals without any gimmicks (a la skimpily clad bimbos, karaoke nights, etc).  That type of establishment suits the soccer fan nicely.

The Rating
Brickhouse: 3 and 1/2 Soccer Balls

So, all tolled the Brickhouse is a sports pub that serves the needs of soccer fans better than any other place in town.   The only thing that prevents me from rating them a full four soccer balls is the general sports bar theme with no visible recognition of soccer.  I do think the Brickhouse has the potential to turn into a terrific soccer bar if they expand their hours to include morning matches, and cater directly to the soccer fans that are willing to patronize their bar, for example, an EPL keg and eggs special.

Monday, June 6, 2011

AOHA Gold Cup Watch Party: USA v Canada at the Brickhouse

The Huntsville Chapter of the American Outlaws are at it again.  They'll be having Gold Cup watch parties for all of the US matches in the Gold Cup starting Tuesday night at 7PM at the Brickhouse Sports Cafe.
Here's the US Gold Cup schedule:

Date, Opponent, Kickoff Time, 
Tuesday June 7, Canada, 7 p.m.
Saturday June 11, Panama, 7 p.m.
Tuesday June 14, Guadeloupe  8 p.m.
Sat/Sun June 18/19, Quarterfinal, TBD
Wednesday June 22, Semifinal, TBD
June 25, Final, TBD

The US is a favorite to make it to the final.  So, there will be plenty of chances to join the AOHAs at the Brickhouse for a game.  So, mark your calendar.

If you're still on the fence about joining the American Outlaws, here's a brief interview with the man behind the Huntsville Chapter, Andrew Adams.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

RCU Fail To Hold Late Lead, Lose to Atlanta

It is said soccer can be a cruel game.  Rocket City United found out just how true the saying is on Saturday night in the Madison City Schools Stadium.  Holding a late 1:0 on a goal from newcomer Fatai Alabi, and with reports filtering into the stadium that the other NPSL Southeast Region matches had ended favorably for them, RCU needed only to see out the remaining few minutes of their match against the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves to see themselves alone at the top of the table.  However, any hopes of first place in the region faded as a poor defensive effort led to the first ASR goal.  As RCU pushed for a goal to regain the lead, a busted defensive assignment on a set piece led to the second ASR goal late into added time and a gut wrenching 2:1 loss for RCU.

Winless at home, RCU will now have to regroup quickly as the defending region champions Chattanooga FC come to town next Saturday in what turns out to be a must win for both teams.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

RCU Host Atlanta on Saturday

Rocket City United will attempt to get their first home win of the year on Saturday against the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves.  Head coach Gerry Cleary will be missing some first teamers in Kenniel Hyde who is out with a hamstring injury and Brian Kimbugwe who will be getting married. 

AOHA USA v Spain Watch Party at Brickhouse

The group of rabid soccer fans who are attempting to start an official American Outlaws in Huntsville are getting together at the Brickhouse Sports Cafe on Saturday to watch the USA v Spain match at 3:30PM.
The watch party is open to all, and AOHA officers will be there to help register new members.  The group is just a few members away from the minimum necessary to be officially designated as the 55th AO chapter in the country and the first from Alabama.

The US faces the World Champions as a warm up to the Gold Cup beginning on Tuesday against Canada.  I think it will be very interesting to see who steps on the field against Spain and who is rested for the main event next Tuesday.


The World Cup in 11 years from now will be played in temperatures 20-25 degrees hotter than it is outside in Huntsville today (for those not in H'ville, it was a high of 100 degrees).

Give that some thought...

Now tell me they didn't buy the World Cup 2022.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

RCU Recap; CFC Into US Open Cup, Will Face Pittsburg Riverhounds; Worst Miss Ever?

RCU Back From Open Cup, Focus on League 
After a weekend testing their mettle in Open Cup qualifying, Rocket City United turns its focus back to league play where they sit in third place with 7 points after 4 matches.  Their opponents this Saturday will be the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves who currently trail RCU by one point, despite playing an extra match.  Gates open 6:30 PM and kick off is 7:30.  Members of the YMCA get in for half off!

RCU will host a meet the team event at the Little Gym in Providence and Jones Valley on Friday at 4-6PM. 

CFC Qualifies for US Open Cup
Chattanooga FC qualified for the US Open Cup by beating the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves 1:0 in the finals of the NPSL Southeast Region qualifying tournament.  CFC will now travel to Pittsburgh to face the USL Pro's Riverhounds (who I saw play last month in Charleston) in the opening round of the US Open Cup on June 14th.  If CFC should pull off the upset, they would take on the winner of the Dayton Dutch Lions vs Richmond Kickers match in the 2nd round. 

Worst Miss Ever?!

Holy moly!  I've seen (and had) bad misses before.  But this miss is so bad!!!