Friday, February 25, 2011

RCU To Announce Coach, Schedule Next Week

Rocket City United has announced a press conference to introduce their new coach who will guide them through the 2011 season next Wednesday March 2nd at 9:30 AM at the Madison YMCA.  RCU will use the new Hogan Family YMCA located off Hughes Rd in Madison that opened last fall to announce a partnership with the YMCA.
RCU is also set to unveil the 2011 schedule which will feature matches against the two new NPSL Southeast Region clubs, the Knoxville Force and Georgia Revolution

Let me know if you have any questions that you want answered.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CONCACAF Champs League, Chattanooga MLS Friendly

CONCACAF Champions League Freezes Goalmouth Shut

I called it.  The first match of the 2011 US soccer calendar landed with a cold thud.  Real Salt Lack-of-feeling-in-my-toes held the Co-numbness-is-spreading-to-my-extremities Crew to a 0:0 draw.  Check out the frigid action.

Chattanooga MLS Friendly Update
 Finley Stadium to host MLS friendly

Chattanooga FC is hosting an MLS friendly on Sunday, March 6th at 4PM between the previously mentioned Columbus Crew and the New England Revolution.  You've already seen the Crew in action above.  Now, word out of the Boston Herald is that the Revolution have suspended their best players, Shalrie Joseph and Kevin Alston.  The players were sent home from a preseason training camp in Florida, and may rejoin the team in Atlanta in time to take part in the game in Chattanooga.  Let's hope so.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And So It Begins

 With tonight's CONCACAF Champions League match between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake, the 2011 US domestic soccer year will begin.  It'll be a 10 month voyage to the MLS Cup, and I'm looking forward to it with relish.  My couch, which will likely suffer a dent in one or more of the cushions from my time in front of the TV, is probably not looking forward to this season. 
Tonight's match feature's the 2009 MLS Supporter's Shield winner in Columbus vs. the 2009 MLS Cup Champion and 2010 Runner-up, Real Salt Lake.  So, in theory this should be a good game.  The reality is that this match will be held in arctic temperatures with two teams in preseason form.  The game-time forecast calls for 27 degrees and light snow.  So, it's likely that this first match of the calendar year will be a frozen dud, but I don't care.  After a few months without it, I can suffer through an ugly match.

More Sabio
Filipino International and Huntsville Native, Jason Sabio
The Huntsville Times has a nice little article about Huntsville native Jason Sabio's action for the Filipino National Team.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

SI Reporter For FIFA President

Grant Wahl, the Sports Illustrated soccer reporter and author of the Beckham Experiment, has decided enough's enough with the lunacy at FIFA.  He's decided to challenge Sepp Blatter in the run for the FIFA presidency.  No, really.  He's serious. 

He's running on a pretty great platform.  If elected, he will:
  • Instant replay for all close calls on the goal line
  • Referees for the World Cup will be chosen on merit alone with no limits per country
  • Referees will also be required to address the media post-game to explain calls
  • Yellow cards will not be automatically given to players taking off their shirts to celebrate goals
  • FIFA transparency by releasing all FIFA documents to the public
  • FIFA presidential term limits of two four-year terms
  • Eliminate FIFA's sexism by appointing a woman to General Secretary position
Unfortunately, he needs a country's soccer federation to nominate him for the election.  That may be pretty hard to do, unless he can find a country that isn't afraid of the FIFA machine politic to stick their neck out and put his name forward.
Wahl running for FIFA President

Any ideas which country would be willing to help "cure the Blatter infection"? 

NPSL Gains Automatic Berths In US Open Cup

US Soccer has released its schedule for the 2011 US Open Cup, and for the first time, the NPSL has gained four automatic qualification slots.  The qualification process for the NPSL slots has not been finalized and will be released in a few weeks.
The US Open Cup is single elimination tournament similar to the FA Cup in which teams from all level of the game in America compete.  In the past, the NPSL teams would participate in the US Amateur Soccer Associations (USASA) regional qualification process.  Atlanta FC (now the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves) qualified through this process in 2008 and was knocked out of the tournament the fully professional Charleston Battery.

RCU has participated in the tournament each of the past three years, but has failed to qualify for the US Open Cup.  The addition of 4 automatic berths may benefit NPSL teams.  The late spring timing of the USASA's qualification often punished NPSL teams who were largely composed of college players who had not been released from their school commitments and could not participate.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RCU Signs Maxwell, Olde Towne Closes Doors

Rocket City United announced the signing of Jamaican Youth International Ryan Maxwell this morning.  Maxwell is a midfielder who starred at the University of Tampa before being drafted in the first round of the 2009 MLS Superdraft by the New England Revolution.
RCU's newest player, Ryan Maxwell

Maxwell also has some international experience with the Jamaican U-20 national team.  MLS scouting expert, Buzz Carrick of the blog 3rd Degree, said this after seeing Maxwell at the 2009 MLS Combine, "Crazy fast wide mid, arguably the fastest player at the combine.  With or without the ball he beat players to get results."

NSR:  Olde Towne Brewing Co. Says Goodbye
Former RCU sponsor Olde Towne Brewing Co. is ceasing operations.  Established in 2004, Olde Towne blazed the trail that many Huntsville Breweries have followed.  A farewell party will be held this Saturday afternoon at the Nook with many of Olde Towne's employees in attendance.  Time to go to the local beer joint and stockpile all the Olde Towne.

UPDATE:  According to the Huntsville Times, Olde Towne may not be closing, but may be sold to fellow Huntsville brewing company Straight to Ale.   One thing is for certain, they are shutting down the bottling line indefinitely.  So, stock up on the bottles.

Soccer Trick Shot Video

Last week, the interwebs were abuzz about a UConn's second-string quarterback's trick shot video in which he displays his throwing ability by hitting targets from various distances.  Well, not to be outdone, Lassi Hurskainen, a gifted goalkeeper from UNC-Ashville has posted his version of a trick shot vid.  There are some slick skills here.  Enjoy.

If I were the Bulldogs coach, I'd be pulling this kid out of goal to take any free kicks in the attacking third.

UPDATE:  This guy really likes Lassi's video.  :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sabio Appears for Phillipines

Huntsville native Jason Sabio came on as a substitute in the 70th minute and provided the pass that led to the second goal as the Filipino National Team recorded a 2:0 victory over Mongolia in the first leg of the AFC Challenge Cup tie.

After a world class first goal by Emelio Caligdong in the 43rd minute, the Azkals pushed hard for a second goal.  Deep into second half stoppage time, Sabio ran onto a ball on the right flank and found Phil Younghusband in the penalty area.  Younghusband's first shot was knocked right back to him and his second bite of the cherry found the net for a much needed second goal.  The teams will meet each other again on March 15th for the return leg.

The Man in the Funny Looking Shirt: The Goalkeeper

When I was a kid, I was very athletic and had a decent ability to catch a ball.  So naturally, my soccer coaches often put me in goal... and... I... HATED... it.  In my opinion, goalkeeping is best described long stretches of boredom mixed with briefs stints of terror (hmm, sounds like combat) followed by either complete dejection when a goal is scored or exhalations of relief when a goal is prevented.  Those emotions are played on repeat hundreds of times a match. 

During those long stretches while the ball was at the other side of the field, my boredom led my thoughts to many of the same philosophical questions that are expressed in this brilliant story from NPR's Radiolab program.  Enjoy!

Looking back on it, perhaps I hated it, because I didn't have the concentration required to stay in the game.  I was a kid after all.  Anyway, it is lonely between the sticks. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Worst of the Weekend

Whether we're talking about Bayern Munich's collapse in Cologne to lose 3:2 after a 2:0 halftime lead or even worse, Arsenal giving up 4 after leading by 4 to Newcastle, there were a lot of choke jobs this weekend.  But the worst of all was this incredible see-nothing effort put on by the refereeing crew in Costa Rica.

If ever there's a case for goal line/replay technology...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NPSL Southeast Region: Atlanta FC Partner with NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks

As announced on both club's Facebook pages today, the NPSL's Atlanta FC have reached an agreement with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the second division North American Soccer League.  The team will compete in the NPSL's Southeast Region as the Atlanta Silverback Reserves.

The Silverbacks, who just announced the hiring of the former Mexican World Cup star Jose Manual Abundis, are back in professional soccer after a two year hiatus.  The Reserves will be continue to be coached by Ricardo Montoya, who led Atlanta FC to the 2008 NPSL Southeast Region championship.

This is a very exciting development as now players on the Silverbacks Reserves will have the opportunity to develop in front of the watchful eye of the professional training staff.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Soccer on TV News

Good news:  Huntsville soccer fans won't have to shell out pay-per-view prices to watch the next two European Championships tournaments. 
ESPN has won the rights for the 2012 tournament hosted by Poland and Ukraine and the 2016 tournament in France.   ESPN did a pretty good job with the 2008 tournament in Switzerland and reaped the rewards with good ratings.

Bad news:  Next week's planned US Men's National Team match against African Champions Egypt has been canceled due to the political unrest in the country.  I was really looking forward to see how the USMNT would handle a game in a hostile environment, but that was before the use of the term "hostile" went from hyperbole to merely apt. 

Here's an interesting read about the how the country's soccer clubs have played a big part in the protests against the current regime.