Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things

March 30, 2007


by @ 8:02 am.
Filed under Uncategorized

Which country has the worst hooligans? England? Holland? Germany?


The Greeks are now the undisputed champions of hooliganism:

ATHENS, Greece – The Greek government suspended play in professional soccer, basketball and other team sports for two weeks Friday after a fan was killed in a volleyball riot.

The ban lasts until April 13.

A man was killed and five others were hospitalized Thursday when fans from rival women’s volleyball clubs Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiakos Piraeus fought near Athens.

Volleyball hooligans.

Greece is so hardcore, they have volleyball hoooligans.

Not just volleyball hooligans, but women’s volleyball hooligans.

That buzzing you hear is the sound of Aristotle spinning in his grave.

March 26, 2007


by @ 2:54 pm.
Filed under The Good The Bad and the Ugly

The Good:

The USA jumped all down Ecuador’s throat 3-1 Sunday in Tampa. The somewhat maligned Landon Donavan scored a hat trick, which should keep folks off his case for a while. To me, he’s one of those guys I love when he’s wearing the R,W&B, but despise when he’s playing for his club. Kind of like ol’ Cobi.

The Bad:

Showing no gratitude whatsoever for the Balfour Amendment, Israel seriously damaged England’s shot at the Euro Finals next year by holding them to a draw in Tel Aviv. Steve McLaren is less popular in England than Guy Fawkes right about now, and unless his boys hang a half-a-dozen or so on Andorra Wednesday, he’s probably gone. It wouldn’t hurt England’s chances if Wayne Rooney would grow up, too.

The Ugly:

The coach of Brazil’s Botafogo blamed the ball boys for his teams loss last weekend. Yeah, the ball boys. They were too slow getting the ball to his players, which caused them to lose. I’m very nearly lost for words by such stupidity. Hopefully he woke up Monday morning realizing what a poor excuse for an excuse that is. If he sticks by his statement, it may be time for him to go on Dr. Phil and get some help.

March 24, 2007


by @ 4:39 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer

Go read Dan Loney’s excellent two-part series about what a joke it is to have Herbalife as an MLS shirt sponsor. Not only is it a direct competitor to the main business of Chivas USA’s owner, it’s also a multi-level marketing scam.

Not only that, it’s not even the first one in the league. Apparently RSL’s sponsor, XanGo, is the same type of deal.

This can only mean one thing:

March 20, 2007


by @ 8:39 pm.
Filed under Stream Of Consciousness

Wow, only a 30 minute drive to see an FC Dallas match! This must be what it’s like to live in Plano.

John Crain Field at the OU Soccer complex is a really nice soccer facility. Small, but not the least bit shabby, like, say, the hole they played the Saturn Cup at last year. I don’t get to Norman much, despite living so close, but since I couldn’t possibly care less about OU athletics, there’s no call for me to make the trip. Unless I get a sudden urge to play slots or something, in which case, just try to keep me away.

The kid who did the player introductions may have started a new tradition for the Inferno when he introduced Shaka Hislop as “shuKAH HE-slop”. The rest of the evening whenever he touched the ball we couldn’t help but scream “ShuKAH!” in a very high-pitched, macaw-like manner. It never got old, even after the 10 millionth time.

The kid also pronounced Chicago’s coach as Dave suh-RACK-in; don’t think I’m EVER going to get sick of screaming that at Brimstone matches.

The Inferno was strategically placed directly behind the Chicago bench, so that not one gratuitous insult or razor-sharp taunt was misplaced. I imagine a lot of those guys will have serious emotional scarring from the experience. My personal favorite of the night: When Caleb Carr subbed on, somebody yelled “Girl goals count double!”

Come on . . . that’s not bad for pre-season.

I went over at halftime to give a fair amount of grief to Oklahoma’s only Fire fan, Mike Segroves. Many of you know and love Mike from his fine work on BigSoccer, so it won’t surprise you to learn that while I was giving him grief, his cellphone rang, and it was Miss Charlie Helms calling all the way from Dallas to give the man grief as well.

Because we’re all about the love, that’s why.

So the first half was interesting in that we witnessed somewhat of a “lightbulb” moment for the boys. For 20 minutes they played extremely tentative soccer. Not pretty at all. Then, as they say, the lightbulb came on, and all the sudden, they remembered how to play. It was a different game after that. A good game, and an entertaining game; in the second half, as a matter of fact, not unlike an indoor game (volume of goals-wise).

I’ll leave the blow-by-blow descriptions to actual journalists (like Gina), but I will take a moment to attempt to do justice to Dominic Oduro’s winner in the 83rd minute.

Did you ever see the Roadrunner cartoons? You know when the Coyote is chasing him, keeping up with him stride-for-stride, just about to catch him, and then the Roadrunner goes “beepbeep” and leaves him in the dust?

Yeah, it was like that.

Dominic picked up the ball on his own side of the field, right at the circle, and blew by his two defenders with a burst of speed not seen in Norman since the days of Joe Washington. I half-expected to hear Keith Jackson saying “Whoa Nelly, look at that man fly . . .”

It gave one hope.

Now, I’d be remiss as a journalist (if I was a journalist, that is) if I didn’t address Shaka’s night. He had a bad night. His heart and mind were in the game, but his legs took the night off. He’s hurting. You can see it plainly in the way he moves, and in his just-not-quite-quick-enough reaction time on shots. I don’t know if he’s carrying an injury, or if it’s just that no-good S.O.B. Father Time wailin’ on the man’s knees. But he’s not at his best right now.

Which is fine. It’s pre-season. He’ll either get up to speed or not. He’s a professional, and a man; he knows what he has to do. What I didn’t care for was the vitriol spewed his way by my beloved fellow Infernites.

He’s our guy – support him.

The only time it is ever acceptable to go negative on your own players is if they’re not giving it their very best effort.

It sure as hell isn’t going to help his game to hear his own fans ragging on him, is it? And don’t tell me that shouldn’t matter, because you know it does. Our support makes them play better sometimes, doesn’t it? Well what do you think our negativity does?

‘Nuff said? Okay – I don’t want to have to have this conversation again. Now go to your room and think about what you’ve done . . .

Anyway, it was one of the great FC Dallas experiences I’ve had, even for a pre-season game. A good sized Inferno contingent, a killer tailgate, some kids from OU who adopted us (or vice-versa, I’m not sure) for the evening, and a victory over the Fahr.

And, Cid swiped the “FC Dallas Locker Room” sign, with the help of Bobby Rhine.

Don’t get much better than that, kids.

Opening Day draweth nigh. See you then.

March 5, 2007


by @ 1:46 am.
Filed under Strikers Update

To the superficial observer, the fact that we lost 5-1 might seem like, you know, a bad thing. But I want to go all “glass-half-full” on this deal, and point out the upsides:

* Though we scored half as many goals as last week, we gave up one less goal. Defense wins championships, people, and we’re making measurable strides.

* For 45 minutes, we’re hell on wheels. With no training camp or pre-season, our group conditioning is less than optimum, true. But for a bunch of guys who are out-of-shape, not to mention relative strangers, we played a really good first half.

* Personally, thanks to the miracle of albuterol, I was breathing better, and I was needing to sub-off less than last week.

* Our goalkeeper made some serious highlight-reel quality saves. And he didn’t even get really pissed off when we started defending like a really bad U-6 team there late in the 2nd half.

* It looked like the rest of the guys had as much fun as I did, and I had almost too much fun. Good guys, good weather, (some) good soccer. I don’t know if you can ask for much more than that in this life.

The only real complaint I have is that I really wanted to play in an over-30 league, but it seems we’ve been merged into Division 3, due to a lack of over-30 guys signing up. To compensate, there needs to be some sort of by-law in this league limiting the number of players with flat bellies to a bare minimum. It just ain’t fair.

March 3, 2007


by @ 12:21 am.
Filed under The Good The Bad and the Ugly

THE GOOD: The first televised FC Dallas game of the season comes a week from this Sunday when they take on Da’ Crew at Pizza Hut Park. This is the first-ever Pioneer Cup game, in honor of the late, great Lamar Hunt. Fox Soccer Channel is airing it, bless there hearts, and I’m so there. Unless I just decide to road trip to Big D my own self and join the Inferno for some Spring-Training taunting of Jon Busch whoever Columbus has between the pipes.

THE BAD: I joined an outdoor soccer team (The Strikers) here in the Oklahoma City area. Our first match was a 6-2 loss. I played okay, in between long bouts of gasping and wheezing and trying to re-create some of the old DJ speed (and when I say old, I mean the last time I was fast was during the Reagan Administration), and find something resembling the touch and control I believe I once had (though memory, at my age, is always the first to go). Fortunately, it was a pre-season match, as it turns out, and we’re not yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

THE UGLY: I was reading Andrew Fifields’s otherwise fine piece on Manchester United’s Chinese midfielder Sun Jihai when I read the following paragraph:

For Sun, there is at least a chink of light at the end of a long, dark season. His knee injury – which has resulted in him making just one Premiership appearance all season – has healed and he is in contention to feature in Sunday’s meeting with Blackburn Rovers.

Are you kidding me? a chink of light? What was that man thinking? And how long will he have a job once more people read this? And does the man not have an editor? Unbelievable.

March 1, 2007


by @ 11:21 am.
Filed under The Good The Bad and the Ugly

THE GOOD: Brad Friedel shuts out Arsenal to drag Blackburn Rovers kicking and screaming into the 6th round of the FA Cup.

It seems the guys from the Guinness commercials are running Arsenal these days.

“Leave your best goal-scorer out of the two most important cup ties of the season? BRILLIANT!”

THE UGLY: It was hardly a “brawl”, more like old ladies swinging handbags, but the last few minutes of the League Cup Final between Chelsea and Arsenal, combined with the very scary sight of John Terry laying rigid and unconscious on the ground, have to make that one of the ugliest games in the history of the competition.

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