Saturday, April 30, 2011

RCU Cancels Red/Black Game

Rocket City United has canceled the annual Red/Black intra-squad game scheduled for Saturday night in Athens due to the aftermath of Wednesday's tornadoes. 

HASL Suspends Season

The Huntsville Adult Soccer League has suspended its season (Men's and Women's Leagues) until further notice due to the aftermath of Wednesday's tornadoes. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tennessee Valley Tornadoes

Let's all take a moment to think about the people who were impacted by the terrible tornadoes that blew through the area on Wednesday.   Many in the Tennessee Valley Soccer Community have friends or family who lost their homes and/or lives.

My family and I have been fortunate enough to be able to evacuate the area.  The majority of Northern Alabama is still without power and will be for days to come.  If you can help, please do so by donating to the Red Cross.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RCU Shuts Out Nashville Metros In Preseason Finale

Rocket City United used some flukey goals and a solid defensive effort to beat their regional rival Nashville Metros 3:0 Monday night in Pulaski, TN.   In their final preseason match of the year, RCU started quickly when they were awarded a penalty after ten minutes.  Jacob Letsholo setpped up a slotted the PK home.  Just sixty seconds after the PK, RCU scored the first of two fortuitous goals on the night.  A shot from Ryan Maxwell took a beneficial deflection off of forward Bradley Sanford and eluded the Nashville goalkeeper for the early 2:0 lead.

Nashville dominated possession in the remainder of the half in an attempt to get back into the match.   The Metros got several good looks at goal but were denied each time by RCU goalkeeper James "Jaffa" Colman.  It looked like the breakthrough had finally come when the PDL team were awarded a penalty in the 40th minute.  However, the resultant spot kick clattered off the left post.

In the second half, RCU's "bend but don't break" defensive efforts were impressive as the Metros grew increasingly frustrated with their impotence in the attacking third.  When they did crack the code of RCU's back four, second half sub Jeffrey Preston was up to the task in the goal.  As the half wore on without a goal, the Metros expressed their frustration with physical play.

RCU didn't seem rattled by the rough tactics as a good spell of possession and some more good fortune led to the final goal of the match.  After several trips around the RCU back four, a good diagonal ball found Brian Hadley in the penalty area.  Hadley's controlling touch fell to Bradley Sanford.  Sanford's scuffed shot took on a spin that sent the ball skyward and the Metros goalkeeper reeling.  When the ball came down, the disoriented netminder lost his bearings and pawed the ball into his own net for the 3:0 final score.

RCU now has two weeks of training with an public intra-squad "Red and Black" scrimmage in Athens on Saturday before the NPSL season opener in Knoxville on May 7.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NPSL News, CONCACAF Champs League Leg 2

Chattanooga, Knoxville Will Host Mexico's Monterrey
RCU v Monterrey in 2008
Mexican soccer power Monterrey's U-20 team will tour Tennessee this summer and take on NPSL Southeast teams Chattanooga FC and Knoxville Force.  The Rayados will return to the US after a successful 2008 tour when Rocket City United hosted them at Alabama A&M's Lewis Crews Stadium in an exciting match in which won by the Mexican side 6:3. 

New Supports Group in Cleveland

Chattanooga has the Chattahooligans and now Cleveland has its own supporters group.  The 6th City Syndicate has been organized to root on the city's NPSL team AFC Cleveland who is set to join the NPSL in 2012.  

CONCACAF Champions League Final: 90 Minutes In Salt Lake City Will Determine Champ

Real Salt Lake hosts Leg 2 of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night (9PM on FSC).  Here's the latest behind the scenes look at the build up to the match.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

NPSL News, RSL Earns Draw in Mexico, USSF Releases Coaching Curriculum, and Atlantic Cup On ESPN2

The NPSL PR arm is in full effect as the league prepares to kick into full gear.  League Commissioner Dan Trainor has described the league as a "democracy in action" with the team ownership making decisions about the best way to develop players and also financial structures of the clubs.

Speaking of developing players, the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves sees its team as "an avenue to move guys into the professional ranks."

Meanwhile, the new Knoxville Force have released a series of Facebook videos in which fans were allowed to ask the coaching staff questions like, "What formation will you be playing?"; "What will be the toughest challenge for the Knoxville Force this year?"; and "What style of play will Knoxville have?".

RSL Earns Road Draw in CONCACAF Champions League Final

Real Salt Lake earned an exciting 2:2 draw in Monterrey in Leg 1 of the CONCACAF Champions League Final Wednesday night.  It looked as if RSL would have to settle for a road goal as consolation for its efforts when Javier Morales scored a great goal in the 89th minute to pull even.  Now, RSL goes back home where they haven't lost in years (literally) with two road goals.  Check out the highlights.

US Soccer Releases Coaches Curriculum
The US Soccer Federation has released a 123 page US Soccer Coaching Curriculum to guide the nation's coaches in developing players.  USSF Youth Soccer Technical Director Claudio Reyna introduced the curriculum Tuesday at the US Soccer Player Development Summit.
"The curriculum is designed to improve development of players representing the largest organized player base in the United States. The curriculum concentrates on improving the youngest players by creating more organized, age-appropriate training sessions, developing coaching practices and creating an environment that is fun for the players."
If you are a youth soccer coach, you need to download, read and follows this doc.  (But beware the download is nearly 100MB!)  The PWT-blog will have a guest post on this in the near future.

MLS Game of the Week:  DC United v NYRB

I've rarely posted about my favorite MLS club, DC United, here on the PWT-blog.  Mainly because they have provided much worth writing about since I started the blog two years ago.  They've played some pretty horrible soccer in that time.  However, with the introduction of some exciting new young players like Charlie Davies, things are looking up for the Black and Red.  On Thursday night at 7PM on ESPN2, they'll take on the star studded NY Red Bulls in the latest match in the rivalry that has been dubbed the Atlantic Cup.  Here's a preview of the game.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RCU v Nashville Metros, American Signs With Barca, RSL In Champs League Final

RCU to face Nashville Metros
Rocket City United will take on the Nashville Metros in the final preseason tune-up next Monday (April 25th) night at 7PM up at the Martin Methodist College Soccer Complex.   The game against the USL PDL team should prove a good test for RCU who are still trying to identify the final 11 who will step on the field in the NPSL season opener against Knoxville on May 7th.

American Signs With Barcelona
I debated with myself about whether to post this.  We as a soccer culture tend to over hype our young soccer players who show even a modicum of talent.  So, please folks, can we agree not to go the Freddy Adu route here?  Thank you.

Yes, it is true that an American has signed with FC Barcelona, but no, it's not Jaun Agudelo.  It's a 10 year old from LA.  This kid has signed with the same FC Barcelona Academy that produced Messi, Xavi, and a host of the other stars that play for the super club.

Champions League Leg One is Tonight!

Real Salt Lake take on Monterrey tonight at 9PM on FSC in the first leg of the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.  This is the biggest match for an MLS team in years.  YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS MATCH!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CONCACAF Champions League Final, Freedom of Press In Qatar?, Robots Sports Journalists, Quote of the Week

RSL Prepare for CONCACAF Champions League Final

Real Salt Lake plays Monterrey in the first leg of CONCACAF Champions League Final on Wednesday night (9PM FSC).  Here's a video as the team prepares for the big game in Mexico.

Press Crew Arrested In Qatar
A team of Swiss sports journalists were arrested in Qatar recently.  Were the Qataris trying to hide the fact that they bought right to host the World Cup?  Nah, everyone already knew that.  Whatever the reason, that ain't good.

Robots to Write Sports Articles

NPR has an interesting story about a program that compiles data from sporting events and writes articles about the games.  Does this spell the end of sports reporters?  Don't worry, the Perfectly Weighted Through Blog will not be assimilated!  :)

Quote of the Week

One of the PWT-blog's favorite writers Raphael Honigstein brings us another great quote.  Speaking about the 5:1 thumping of Bayer Leverkusen by perrenial Bundesliga power Bayern Munich, Honigstein evokes a former Leverkusen General Manager who said,
Leverkusen... turned up "wearing Pampers."
Absolutely brutal! I love it.

NPSL Team Goes Public
I've heard of EPL and La Liga teams that have going public, but this is a first for me.  NPSL Western Region team San Diego Boca FC has gone public.  The American Soccer Corporation which owns the first year club is being listed on German Boerse Exchange.  It'll be interesting to see how the model works out for them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

RCU Loses One, Wins One in Weekend Preseason Action

Rocket City United are still working out the kinks and Saturday they fell to Montevallo University 1:0.  The team were without legitimate forwards and struggled to maintain possession in their attack.  On Sunday, the team fared better with the introduction into the lineup of returning players Brian Kimbugwe and Andrew Nkurunungi.  After a scoreless first half with Belmont University, RCU made some adjustments and the 2010 leading scorer for RCU, Nkurunungi picked up were he left oft with a nice lob of the keeper to open the scoring.  About 15 minutes after the opening score, midfielder Tyler Cunningham volleyed a first time shot over the keeper to seal the match.

"Both games were played at a high level, and both opponents provided strong opposition," said Director of Operations, Jan Henner.  "It's good to have games on that level at this stage of the preseason.  We are getting the right conclusions out of the games, and we feel that results at this point are secondary.  We have three weeks of hard work ahead of us, but we are pretty confident that we can field a good squad on May 7th and that's the game that counts."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NPSL US Open Cup Schedule, Work for RCU, Are Players Also Fans

NPSL SE Region US Open Cup Qualifying Schedule Released
Rocket City United and the rest of the NPSL Southeast Region will play a mini-knockout tournament in Chattanooga over the Memorial Day weekend (May 27-29th) to determine a representative from the region for the 2011 US Open Cup.  Two days of double header matches on Friday and Saturday will determine the finalists for the Sunday match.  RCU will open play Friday at 8PM EDT and if they win, they'll take on Chattanooga FC who received a bye through the first round.  The final will be Sunday, May 29th at 7PM EDT.  All games will be played in Chattnooga FC's home ground, Finley Stadium.   

RCU Wants You

Rocket City United is has some openings they are looking to fill.  If you are interested in hosting a weekly podcast, tracking team stats, or serving as a video analyst, contact RCU's director Jan Henner.  The team is also looking for game day volunteers to work the home matches. 

Are Players Also Fans? Not Really
Ryan Knapp on Soccer Player and/or Fans?

Former NPSL PR Director Ryan Knapp has written a great blog post about the disparity between being a soccer player in the USA and being a soccer fan.  Ryan's come to find that being a soccer player does not guarantee that you will be a fan of the game.  His former life as a promoter of the game has exposed him to the frustrating fact that a large majority of the US soccer community does not regularly support their local club.  I've personally experienced this phenomenon many times.  I'd try to discuss the big game on TV or at the local stadium with my teammates and would be met with blank stares and questions like "Oh, are they playing again?"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

RCU Preseason, Soccerfest Announced, No Alabama US Open Cup Teams, and

RCU Go on the Road to Play Preseason Friendlies

Rocket City United will take to the road this weekend when they play the University of Montevallo on Saturday and Christian Brothers University on Sunday.  RCU is continuing to assemble and evaluate playing talent and will use these two matches to that aim.  

UPDATE:  The Christian Brothers match on Sunday has been replaced with a match against Belmont University.  The match will take place in Pulaski at the Martin Methodist East Campus Soccer field. 

RCU Announces Season Kick-off Festival
RCU has announced that it will host a season opening Soocerfest at the Hogan Family YMCA in Madison on May 5th.  Two days later RCU will open the 2011 NPSL season in Knoxville against the new Knoxville Force.  There will be a player meet and greet and other fun for the family.

Despite Hosting Qualifying Tournament, Alabama Will Have No US Open Cup Teams Playing
The 2011 USASA Region III US Open Cup tournament qualifying tournament will be held in Tuscaloosa and despite the opportunity to compete on home soil, no Alabama clubs will be participating.  Instead teams from Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas will compete for a spot in the nationwide tournament.  Last year, RCU and Pumas of Birmingham took part.  However, the NPSL has been granted automatic berths into the US Open Cup and RCU will travel up to Chattanooga over the Memorial Day weekend in an attempt to gain one of those spots.

New Soccer Channel in the Works?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Univision is planning on launching a sports channel that will focus on soccer.  The new US Spanish language station will be called Univision Deportes likely cover Mexican League matches and other Latin American competitions.  That's more good news for soccer heads like us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

RCU Wins One, Ties One in Preseason Friendlies

Rocket City United beat UAH 3:0 and drew Young Harris College 1:1 in Saturday's preseason friendlies.  The two 60 minute games gave the RCU staff a good opportunity to gauge the team's preparedness and to trial several players in a game situation.  With about a month to go until the season opener, the team is looking to fill out depth in several positions and looked at 8 new players to fill those needs.

 In the day's first match against UAH, RCU came out flying netting 3 goals in the first 10 minutes and then let the foot off the gas and coasted to the victory.  The second game an hour later saw a tiring RCU squad much less sharp against Young Harris College.  After RCU went up with a nice goal early in the second half, Harris Young equalized with a nice headed goal from a corner.

Building a team:  RCU's Director of Operations Jan Henner (left), President Andy Zorovich (center), and Gerry Cleary (right) discuss what they saw during Saturday's matches
RCU coach Gerry Cleary was pleased with the outing that exposed the team's lack of fitness.  "It's just fitness.  They need to run on their own... But it was better than last week."  The team has 4 full weeks of training prior to the May 7th opener in Knoxville.  Most of the team will be in camp by next weekend.  However, there are several players who will join the team at the end of April due to school commitments.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Local Sides in Action Today

Rocket City United, UAH, Martin Methodist College and Georgia's Young Harris College will take the field for a series of freindly matches Saturday morning in Decatur.  RCU is preparing for the NPSL season while the college sides are getting in some spring workouts.  The games are open to the public and will be held at Wilson Morgan Park.

9am MMC vs. UAH
10am RCU vs. UAH
11am  Harris Young vs. MMC
12am Harris Young vs. RCU

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another New NPSL Club, USA U-20s Out of World Cup, and Dumb Send-offs

Hollywood United Defects to NPSL from PDL

Hollywood United, the celebrity filled LA based club has moved from the USL's PDL to the NPSL for the 2011 season.  The club often fields celebrities for charity matches like actors Anthony LaPaglia, Dermot Mulroney and Donal Louge (who stars in one of my favorite movies, The Tao of Steve); musicians Ziggy Marley and Steve Jones (Sex Pistols); and ex-soccer stars Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Vinnie Jones, and Frank LeBoeuf.  However, the club's Hitmen team is a serious contender in the NPSL's West Region

US U-20s Crash Out of World Cup Qualifying

The USA's rising stars were brought back down to earth by losing 2:1 to Guatemala in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying tournament.  The loss eliminates the Young Yanks, but sent Guatemala to its first World Cup appearance of any age group.  To be fair to the heavily favored US team, injuries and the prospect of playing the home team in front of a hostile 30,000 fans, tilted the match against them, but the USA's missed early chances came back to haunt them.

Vancouver's Hassli Tossed for Removing Shirt!?

The Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli was tossed from Wednesday night's game after celebrating his PK goal by taking off his jersey to reveal a short sleeved version of the same jersey.   It was Hassli's second caution of the match, and he was shown a red card.   Idiot!  But should he been thrown out from the match?

The FIFA Laws of the Game state a decision from the IAFB:
Players must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising. The basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.  A player removing his jersey or shirt to reveal slogans or advertising will be sanctioned by
the competition organiser. The team of a player whose basic compulsory equipment has political, religious or personal slogans or statements will be sanctioned by the competition organiser or by FIFA.
But Hassli "undergarment" was exactly the same as his outer garment!  Does that count?

Fortunately, FIFA released a position paper to further elaborate :
A player who removes his jersey to celebrate a goal must be cautioned for unsporting behavior...  It doesn't matter if the player has anything on underneath nor does it matter exactly what the player may have on underneath (including an exact replicate of the removed jersey).  Bolding added for emphasis.
So, let this be a lesson to any players out there.  Don't take off your shirt!  BTW, if Grant Wahl had been elected FIFA President, these types of cautions would be eliminated. 

UPDATE:  You think that send-off was dumb, check this one out from Santos' Neymar.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Side Volleys

Holy smokes, did you see the Stankovic goal?!  If not, here it is.

That was a great goal, but there was another right footed side volley that was more important yesterday.  Real Salt Lake's Jamison Olave second half side volley form 8 yards put the MLS club into the CONCACAF Champions League Final.  Despite losing the match, RSL came out on top 3:2 in the aggregate score to qualify for the home and away style final with games on April 20th and 27th.

This is a big deal for US soccer, since no US club has made it to the final of the CONCACAF championships since the format went to a Champions League.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Champions League Tuesday

Today is a huge day for Champions League on two continents.  In addition to the more globally popular UEFA Champions League quarterfinal matches, the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second leg match is tonight with Real Salt Lake heading down to the purple cauldron of Saprissa with a 2:0 aggregate advantage. 

RSL is the standard bearer for the MLS who as a league has an attrocious record away from home in international tournaments.  Should RSL come away with victory in the tie, they would face the winner of the Monterrey v Cruz Azul tie. 

You can watch the match live on FSC at 9PM from San Juan, Costa Rica. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Photos from Nashville

Here are some of my photos from Tuesday's match in Nashville along with several from friend of the PWT-blog Mario. 


RCU's Andy Zorovich (left) and Jan Henner (right)

FSC's sideline reporter Brian Dunseth delivering the dirt

Waiting for 2nd half kickoff

Final score
On the bus ride home, through the wet city streets

RCU Signs Omondi, Jacksonville United, and Law Dogs Over-30 State Final

RCU Signs 2009 Standout Joseph Omondi
Omondi (left) will suit up for RCU again in 2011

Rocket City United has signed Joseph Omondi for the 2011 season.  Omondi marshaled the RCU back-line on their way the 2009 NPSL SE Region Title and the clubs only appearance in the leagues championships.  Omondi, a native of Nairobi, Kenya, is coming off another successful year at Bethel University, where he led the Wildcats to NAIA quarterfinals while being named to the TransSouth all-conference team.    

Jacksonville United Confirmed As 6th NPSL SE Region Team
The NPSL Southeast Region schedule was released and it confirms the rumored Jacksonville United has indeed joined the league.  The new club from northeast Florida will round out a 10 game schedule for each of the NPSL SE Region teams. 

HASL's Law Dogs Play in Over-30 State Cup Finals
2009 Over-30 Champions Law Dogs will look to capture the title again Saturday

Local side Law Dogs are set to play in the Alabama Over-30 State Cup Championship match on Saturday in Birmingham.  They'll play Iguanas of Birmingham in a rematch of the 2009 final in which Law Dogs were triumphant in penalties