FOOTBALLS ARE ROUND!

Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things


May 20, 2007

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: FCD v RSL


by @ 11:00 pm.
Filed under Stream Of Consciousness

May 21, 2007

You know what I hate? I hate when one logs onto the MLS Live on one’s ‘puter, then before one can even get five minutes into the game, one sees the the score of the very game one is watching scroll across the bottom of one’s screen.

Whose idea was this? Did it not occur to anyone at MLS that when one uses this service, it’s probably because one couldn’t catch it live, and that perhaps one doesn’t want to see the score? I mean, wouldn’t that be an elementary assumption to make? Oh sure, there’s a little button to turn off the scrolling scoreboard, but one doesn’t notice this until after one has already seen the score, does one?

And when I say “one”, of course, I mean “DJ”.

So yeah, I’m annoyed.

Of course, I need to own my part of the blame here. I should have been at the game myself, as a season ticket holder and loyal Inferno member. But I was fortunate enough to have been invited to play in the inaugural Tom Danaher Memorial Poker Tournament, and I simply couldn’t miss it. Not that any of you know who Tom Danaher was, but take my word for the fact that he was a wonderful human being and a heck of a poker player, and that it was very important for me to get together with a group of great friends and honor his memory.

And, I won 30 bucks.

Don’t laugh – you can almost get half-a-tank of gas with that kind of money.

So, here I am, watching the game at 2:00 am Monday morning on a computer screen, instead of getting the sleep I so dearly need in order to look and feel my best at work in a few hours.

But I’m a trooper, what can I say?

Just for the record, it is now twice in one week I’ve seen JC Toja use his right foot. He just banged a beautiful cross using the formerly unheard from appendage, after also using it to score a goal against Chicago on Thursday. So no more Daniel-Day Lewis jokes, okay?

Wait, is it Daniel-Day Lewis, or Daniel Day-Lewis? I can never remember. I hope he’s not reading this – how embarrassing would that be?

Though to be quite frank, I feel fairly confident he’s not, in fact, reading this. For that matter I’m not terribly confident anyone is reading this. It’s sort of a “tree falling in the forest” paradox, but in a literary-internetty kind of context.

You can tell I’m tired if I’m using ‘internetty’ as an adjective.

So what’s the story with this lineup? Cooper and Nunez out – Alvarez and Oduro in? Not that I mind, terribly (especially since I just watched Arturo score a Goal of the Week candidate to make the score 1-0), but what the thinking was behind the changes, I can’t help but wonder. I suppose it’s combination of resting some tired legs and giving a starting shot to a couple guys who have been loyal and hardworking off-the-bench performers.

Whatever the reason, AA is certainly making the most of it; that goal was a beauty. He  scorched two defenders, breezed into the penalty area, and drilled a left footer past Nick Rimando.

Never hurts to make the coach look like a genius, either.

Speaking of coaches, wow, this guy for Real Salt Lake looks uncannily like Jason Kreis . . .

What?

Really?

Why am I always the last to hear about these things?

Gosh, if only there was some sort of international system of interconnected computers one could access in one’s home, to read about these things as they happen.

That would be cool. I’m going to write Al Gore.

Anyway, enough of my pie-in-the-sky dreaming; back to reality.

Hey, I know people complain about this all the time, but let me just say -  if there’s one thing I can’t stand in this world it’s seeing those unsightly lacrosse lines on a perfectly good soccer field. It’s an outrage. I’m going to go post on BigSoccer about this as soon as the game is over.

Freddy Adu just got a yellow card, I believe for back-talking to the referee. He’s become such a little potty-mouth since moving to Utah. You know how rowdy and incorrigible those Mormons are – I suppose it could be rubbing off. Or I guess it could also be all that free Xango he’s chugging in the locker room.

Don’t kid yourself, that Xango will make you crazy.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Oh no, not by a longshot.

First it’s the Xango, then it’s nutrients from Herbalife, and before you know it you’re snorting Avon scented talcum powder and annoying all your friends with invitations to “parties” where you try to get them addicted too. It’s an ugly irreversible downward spiral, and the only way to stop is to never start. We may have to have an intervention for young Freddy if this keeps up.

Where was I?

The Inferno really sound good today. Kudos to you all for a great effort.

Whatever a kudo is. Sounds like some sort of exotic Asian animal you can only get from a smuggler

Oh come awwwwn! Alex Yi just got called for a foul in the box. That was kinda soft, from where I’m sitting (200 miles away, looking at a tiny low-resolution computer video feed, several hours after the fact).

In any case, Freddy nails the PK to tie the score.

Nunez and Cooper have come in for Dax McCarty and Dominic Oduro. Dominic was unlucky not to have scored just before he was subbed out. He ran right down the gut of the RSL defense, beating four defenders, only to have Rimando make a pretty good save on his shot.

Carlos Ruiz just got a yellow card, which means he’ll be sitting out the next game.    We’re going to have a lot of these ‘accumulation’ suspensions coming in the next month or so – we actually lead the league in fouls committed at this point in the season. Which is actually okay with me. We’re playing a tougher brand of soccer this year. Not dirty, just tough. Maybe it’s the South American influence. Or maybe Steve just told the boys to get more yellow cards this year. Either way, I like it. I don’t want a team of Dema-like thugs, but I don’t want the boys to be soft either. They’re striking a good balance to this point.

Dario just beat Chris Klein with a beautiful sliding kick save from about 15 yards off his line. Bet Chris didn’t see that one coming. It was especially slick, since 99% of the keepers in the world probably would have committed a foul there and given up a PK.

Chris Klein, by the way, has been around forever in this league, and he’s still gettin’ it done. He’s never been a fancy finesse player, but more of a grind-it-out, hard-nosed kind of guy who, every once in a while, pulls some really sublime soccer out of the hat. Reminds me of Chris Armas in that way.

Abe Thompson comes in for Arturo Alvarez. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Arturo play any better than he did today.

OHHHHHHHHHHH DIPSY SELELOWANE WHAT A GOAL BY CHRIS GBANDI!

Great googlymoogly – what a strike that was. Left side of the field, 20 yards out, left footed ROCKET to the upper right corner. Are you kidding me?

I am stupefied.

You know what else? I’m now actually glad I didn’t go to the game today, because I would have fainted dead away from the excitement of seeing that in person. I would have passed out, and cracked my skull on the railing of section 116, and poor Chris Gbandi would have been responsible for my untimely demise, simply by scoring the best goal of his life.

So, as you see, everything works out in the end.

OH! Kenny Cooper just rang the crossbar like a church bell. He did the same thing at Chicago Thursday. They can still hear that one in Bridgeview, and this one was about the same.

Game!

Man what a good win. Three in a row, and we’re looked better each time. Steve Morrow has to be an early candidate for coach of the year if they boys keep up this level of play.

It’s also the 3rd straight victory by a score of 2-1. Which is not a complaint – it’s just fine with me – I’ll not be complaining about any score of any win at any time.

All can say it we must be butter, because we’re on a roll.

See you next week for Club Deportivo Goats USA.

May 13, 2007

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: KC Road Trip Edition


by @ 10:56 pm.
Filed under Uncategorized

May 13, 2007

The main thing that separates American soccer from European soccer (apart from, you know, stuff like salary, tradition, attendance, and quality of play) is that American supporter groups get together and share drinks and good cheer before and after the matches, rather than pelting each other with cobblestones and hitting each other with blunt objects. Now, call me an Ugly American if you will, but I think our custom is better.

But that’s just me.

Not only that, but if you’re really, really lucky, you tailgate with people like the Cauldron in Kansas City, you get home made barbecue and Newcastle Brown Ale on tap.

Newcastle.

On tap.

At a tailgate.

It’s like finding one of the Seven Lost Cities of Gold. But with soccer. I’ll take that over a cricket bat upside the head any day.

I met Dax McCarty’s Uncle at the tailgate – a terrific gentleman who told some really cool “young Dax” stories. That was one of the highlights of the day.

I also got to see the great Bruce McGuire, who writes the DuNord soccer blog. Usually when you hear someone mention Bruce and DuNord, you see the word “indispensable” thrown in there, and rightly so. If you’re not reading it every day, you should be.

Bruce was covering the game for Top Drawer Soccer, and actually had credentials around his neck. Every amateur soccer blogger’s dream come true. Very cool gig for him, but it kept him from having enough time to hang out and drink some of the Cauldron’s beer with me. Such is the journalist’s life.

I guess.

Arrowhead Stadium is cavernous. It’s a beautiful stadium – old, but not in a decrepit run-down way. You could mistake if for a new stadium if you didn’t know better. It has the third best grass in MLS, outside of PHP and PHP Field 1. George Toma invented modern professional sports grounds keeping, and this is his house. The turf looked like a snooker felt, and probably played just as smooth.

For soccer, the only problem with Arrowhead is that the 70,000 empty seats detract mightily from the passion and enthusiasm of the 10,000 or so that actually come to the game. And for a small crowd, they are a good crowd. I’ve said many times in the past that the people of KC are stupid, in that they have a jewel of a soccer team, but fail to support it. It would be a crime if this franchise got moved, and it would be a slap in the face to the small but loyal group that actually show up.

Wake up, people!

The Cauldron supporters group, as a matter of fact, have grown threefold from last season. Part of the growth comes from a small but hardy group of Argentinian expatriates who have brought South American style enthusiasm to the group. They also moved from behind the goal to the TV side of the field, halfway between the endline and midfield. I think this makes them more visible, and lets them be heard quite a bit better. Behind the goal at PHP is terrific, because you’re close to the action. At Arrowhead, you’re wayyyy back. It was a good change of venue for them.

The Inferno was given a good section in the corner, on the expensive seat side. We made it to our seats toward the end of the FC Dallas warm up, and it was gratifying to be close enough to start some chants to the boys, and see them react. One of the things I love about road trips is that I really believe our boys appreciate the effort.

I may be naive, but I believe it means something to them, as much as it means something to us to know that it does. Seeing Richetti smile when we starting calling out his name, well, I’ll pay $3.20 a gallon and drive to Missouri any old day for that.

We came up with a new chant for the coach, sung to the tune of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”. You know: “Steve Morrow, Steve Morrow, we love ya, Steve Morrow, you’re only a game away . . .”

Not bad for improvisation.

We tried to get something going for Richetti to the tune “On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese . . .”, but we’re still working on it. You can’t rush genius. You just can’t.

And Dario was back. He was as glad to see us as we were to see him, I know, because he saw us from the field.

Oh, and in case you were wondering if he’d be rusty after the long layoff, let me sum it up concisely.

No.

He was sharp. Razor sharp. He had his first save in the first minute on a wicked header by Sasha Victorine that he tipped over the bar with lightning reflexes. Without a doubt, he was ready to play.

We had a great time in our little corner, singing, chanting, and, in the second half, abusing Kevin Hartman. Class act that he is, he responded in the way that a gentleman and professional should.

That’s right – he turned to us and grabbed his crotch.

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin.

I hope your Mom was watching. I’m sure that made her Mother’s Day one to remember. “Eight pounds, twelve ounces, and now he’s grabbing his crotch in front of 10,000 people. I’m so proud”.

And of course this only caused us to give the boy our full and undivided attention, which has driven better keepers than him to therapy and long-term medication. We brought out the big guns, commencing a chant that called into question the dimensions, indeed if not the actual existence, of certain aspects of the man’s physiology.

As this is a family website, I’ll only say that the chant rhymed with “beetle stick” and let it go at that. If your kids read this and want further elaboration, please, by all means, don’t hesitate to drop Buzz an email. He loves stuff like that.

Now, this was cute. Over to our right, there was a group of half-a-dozen youth soccer players, no more than 8 or 9 years old, all in their uniforms and everything. Good home team kids that they were, they were loyal to the Wizards, and were taking umbrage at our vociferousness. They starting chanting “Let’s go Wizards”, incessantly, and in a highly pitched if not loud chant, for the rest of the match. It was charming.

Unsuccessful, but charming.

Also, there was a young lady several rows above us who yelled abusive epithets in our direction and kept flipping us the bird.

Okay, that wasn’t so much ‘cute’ as it was ‘entertaining’. Especially when a grandfatherly-looking security guard took her aside and lectured her for her very un-ladylike behavior. Kansas City is a very respectable town, don’t kid yourself.

Parrish got her phone number. Expect a Spring wedding.

Sadly, every single goal scored in the game was at the far end of the stadium, so we barely saw them. Of course, that didn’t stop Harlan some unidentified person from lighting off a smoke bomb in our section, in celebration.

Memo To All MLS Supporters Groups Contemplating KC Roadtrips: I have it on good authority that the entire security staff at Arrowhead stadium has had their sense of humor surgically removed. This is apparently a prerequisite for getting the gig.

The only thing the Greenshirts at Arrowhead hate worse than road flares and smoke bombs, it seems, is unauthorized paper products. They rushed our section and stomped out the smoke bomb, sure, but they got downright huffy when we threw confetti, and actually threatened one of our number with a night in jail for throwing a streamer up in the air.

Now, let’s parse that out, briefly, shall we? One of the security staff at Arrowhead Stadium threatened to:

1.arrest a person and take them to jail
2.for throwing a streamer
3.straight up in the air.

Not a glass bottle or a ball peen hammer or a gardening brick, mind you. No, a rolled up stream of of crepe paper.

And not on to the field, mind you, where it could have put someone’s eye out. No, straight up in the air, so that it remained at all times, in our very own section.

Guys, really, ease up. We’re not a bunch of faux-fascist hooligan eurotrash here. We’re a bunch of folks from out of town, enjoying a game. Take some advice from the great Bill Murray and “Lighten up, Francis”.

But troopers that we are, we refused to let the man keep us down, and continued to enjoy our evening of Major League Soccer (Experience the Passion!).

When the final whistle blew (after a late KC goal and an interminably long four minutes of extra time), the team, to a man, came over to our section and gave us some love. Handshakes, high-fives, and attaboys all around. It was a great win on a great night.

Sometimes, life is just good like that.

See you Thursday for the first Brimstone match of the year.

May 9, 2007

COULDN’T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF . . .


by @ 3:34 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer

Every time Dema Kovalenko takes the field, soccer dies a little.

– Dan Loney

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