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Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things


July 29, 2007

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: SUPERLIGA MATCHDAY 2


by @ 8:17 pm.
Filed under FC Dallas, Major League Soccer, Stream Of Consciousness

First off, I think it’s very brave of Pachuca’s keeper to be playing so soon after Chemo.

What?

Clarence Goodson nearly scores in the second minute off of a wicked header. Calero makes a good save and doesn’t even muss up his doo-rag.

The lovely Cid chimes in with “Oh, look, it’s a halloween team”. This totally negates any smart comments I was going to make about Pachuca’s horrid orange and black uniforms. I know when I’ve been bested.

Dario is back in the lineup, and Bobby Rhine is in for Drew Moor, who forgot the whole “It’s the second guy that always gets tossed” rule, and got himself bounced from the Chivas match. I sincerely hope Dario isn’t rushing himself back too soon. With the way RayJ played the other night, he doesn’t need to take chances. On the other hand, our guy Dario is a gamer of the highest degree, so I don’t really expect he’d be willing to play it safe.

Which is one of the reasons we all love him so dearly.

TeleFutura is showing the Inferno a lot on tonight’s broadcast. Which is only proper.

Once again we’re holding our own, if not playing much better than, a top team of the MFL. Richardinho is dangerous at every turn. He’s another player we’re going to have to struggle to hold on to after a season or two. And the kid is only 19. What an upside, if we could keep Toja and Lil’ Ricky. I’d hate to have to get used to being perpetual contenders, but I could probably swing it.

Unfreakinbelievable save by Dario in the 38th minute. Just a little bit of fingertip on a hard shot gets it to hit the post and ricochet across the face of the goal. Fortunately no one from Pachuca was poaching, because it would have been a tap-in from there.

Really poor attendance tonight. Horribly poor. Of course, the Superliga games, inexplicably, are not a part of the season ticket package, and the advertising for the matches hasn’t been what you would call “saturation marketing” either. But, this is the first SuperLiga, so you can’t expect miracles.

Did you know the first Super Bowl wasn’t a sellout either? It’s true. You could look it up.

Clarence gets absolutely ROBBED of a goal right at the stroke of 45:00, by a bush league offside call. He hit his second great header of the evening, beat Calero clean, but couldn’t beat the Assistant Referee. Apparently the $1,000,000.00 prize prevented the organizers from budgeting for professional officiating.

I’ll bet they used professional refs in Super Bowl I.

This is really getting out of hand. Clarence Goodson gets a yellow card for a push on the man he is marking just outside the area, while the offensive player, who blatantly reached out and played the ball with his arm, gets a free kick for his trouble. I’ve seen some really questionable officiating in the years I’ve been watching MLS (which is to say, all of them), but this is really starting to top all of that. It’s surrealist bad. It’s like having Hieronymus Bosch call a game with Dali and Max Ernst running the sides.

Apart from horrendous calls, though, there’s not been much to write about in this half. At least with Chivas in town you can bitch about what obnoxious thugs they are. Pachuca just play good hard-nosed football. Which is good for the game, but the kiss of death for a hack writer trying to find stuff to be smart-assed about.

I may have to start bagging on Chivas again, just to fill out the column.

On the other hand, that’s kind of like picking on the kids who ride the short bus. Except the kids on the short bus aren’t reprehensible punks.

Dominic Oduro in for Ricardinho with 20 minutes to go. This will liven things up. I wish I had Hi-Def, so I could see the look on the Pachuca defenders faces when they see the fastest cat they ever saw rush past them in a blur.

But I don’t have Hi-Def. Annnnnd probably won’t for the foreseeable future.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A handy little cross by Bobby from the right side gets to Oduro and Calero at the same time. Oduro either gets a toe on it, or gets in Calero’s way and causes him to spill it. In any event the ball rolls through to El Capitan Ruiz, who pops the ball in from five yards out. Two goals in two games for the Lil’ Fish. Our boy is back.

That’s not good: Dario is down on the turf holding his left knee. The official word was that he had strained his MCL and had some swelling, and I think he got it knocked in a collision with a Pachuca player right after the restart. Of course, Dario, since the knee is still attached to the leg, keeps on playing. ‘Cuz he’s tough like that.

Clarence just took a forearm to the face courtesy of a Pachuca attacker during a corner kick scrum. It looked bad, but since none of our guys got all up in the man’s grill, it must have been incidental.

Come Awn! PK against the good guys. Looks like Adrian Serioux clipped the heels of his mark. It was de minimis contact, but the player from Pachuca, being from Mexico, instinctively fell to the ground like he’d been lightnng struck. It has to be something they teach in the schools down there, like in kindergarten. Either that or it’s genetic. Or maybe they have a secret laboratory where they genetically mutate guys to fall down like that. Something.

Good save by Dario in extra time preserves the draw. Birdman nearly scores twice before the final whistle but his finishing isn’t quite sharp enough to get there.

Another disappointing, poorly officiated draw. Great. We’re just going to have to put the wood to the dirty dirty Galaxy next Tuesday so we can advance to the next round. Which will be fun to see anyway.

I hear Los Angeles have some new English guy who’s supposed to be pretty good. And apparently his wife used to be in Bananarama or something like that. Of course, there’s been no media coverage, so it’s hard to get details.

It might have been The Bangles, now that I think of it.

Anyway, see you Tuesday.

KICKIN’ IT OLD SCHOOL


by @ 5:21 pm.
Filed under Miscellany

I am a huge fan of the “FA Archives” show on Fox Soccer Channel. They show matches from 20 to 30 years ago, and it’s worth it just from a cultural wayback machine point of view. Seeing the stadium signage for 3M Diskettes and Sperry Computers, for example.

And the haircuts – oh my word the haircuts. Everything from wildly unkempt 70’s hair to the Union-mandated soccer mullets of the 80’s. It’s priceless.

Oh, and let’s talk uniforms. To call them ‘form-fitting’ would be understatement; Cindy likes that part, especially. One thing I really appreciate is the old-school goalkeeper look. You wear the team shorts, and a plain green long-sleeve jersey. The way it should be.

Finally, it’s a gas watching, say, the 1985 FA Cup final, and recognizing at least 1/3 of the players who are now coaching either in the Premiership, Championship, or National level. Peter Reid, I wouldn’t have recognized, but there was no mistaking Gordon Strachan or Mark Hughes.

This show is so going on my Tivo ‘record series’ list.

July 25, 2007

OTHER GOOD STUFF


by @ 11:21 am.
Filed under Major League Soccer

Right up there next to Dan Loney’s MLS Power Rankings (He’s ranked them by elevation above sea level, most college guys, oldest goalkeepers, and, my favorite, alphabetical order), the other really great regular list on the internets of soccer is “The Freezer” over at the DCenters blog. Its ‘official’ title is the US Soccer Fragility Index Ratings; the more fragile an entity is, the deeper in the freezer they go (“Dante only had 9 Circles of Hell, We Have 13″).

I was especially gratified to see ESPN deep in the list for the horrendous job they did of over hyping the second coming
the whole David Beckham deal, especially on the broadcast of the Chelsea Friendly. My poor wife is so disgusted by all this nonsense, it’s actually turned her into a Landon Donavan fan out of sympahty. That’s pretty extreme; if you knew Cid, you’d understand.

July 24, 2007

STREAM OF COSCIOUSNESS: SUPERLIGA EDITION


by @ 10:41 pm.
Filed under FC Dallas, Major League Soccer, Stream Of Consciousness

Holy crap! Ray Burse, Jr, startin’ in goal!

I don’t say that out of concern, just surprise.

I’ve seen Ray play, and I know the young man gots serious game. I just found out today Darío goobered up his knee, and that Shaka was having back spasms, but I was under the impression that one or the other would play.

What a huge day for Ray. I wonder if he woke up knowing he was getting his first professional start, or what. I’d have liked to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation. I’m happy for him; he’s worked hard and been patient. He’s ready. I knew that the first time I saw him play against Kansas City in the prestigious Saturn Cup in 2006.

Lil’ Ricky is in the lineup too. Why in the world would our government take so long to give Richardinho a visa? Do diminutive teenage Brazilian forwards present some sort of national security risk I’m not aware of?

Oh! Carlos Ruiz just misses scoring from 50 yards out. Ernesto Michel did well to parry it away. That would have been the goal of the year, no competition. As is typical of soccer broadcasts in the United States the director, instead of following the ball, cut to a close shot of Carlos. This added absolutely nothing to the quality of the viewing experience, and in addition, completely missed what was without a doubt the most compelling moment of the match up to that point.

I don’t go around thinking I can do other people’s jobs better than they can. Normally. I mean, I don’t go to the dentist and think, “damn, I coulda done that extraction way better!” When I fly on an airline, rarely do you hear me say “You call that a landing . . . ?” No, I stick to what I know in life (mostly being a smartass and arguing about stuff). But I’m telling you here and now I could do a better job directing and announcing soccer matches than the vast majority of those currently employed in the field. And I have no idea how to direct a television program. Still, give me 45 minutes and some sort of manual, buddy, I’m there.

Really.

Freakin’ Ray Burse has already made two huge saves. HUGE. I have nothing but confidence in this guy. He’s got the talent to be a long-term pro, and he’s under the tutelage of both Darío and Shaka, two guys who know what’s what.

Whenever I see Ray before of after a game, I usually say something along the lines of “Your time is coming Ray, be patient”. And that’s the rock solid truth. Of course, Ray probably thinks I’m some middle-aged loser with a man crush, but I like to think he is encouraged by my pearls of wisdom. Though, to be fair, Ray and I are MySpace friends, which, in the internet age, makes us nearly family, or at least bestest friends forever.

Which, let’s face it, is one of the really creepy aspects of the internet age.

The Chivas keeper just tried to act like Ricardinho gave him on a faceful of boot on a breakaway. Of course, he did no such thing, there was barely any contact, if there was actually any contact. Oh, okay, Michel got up with a tiny bit of a bloody nose. But I’m sure that’s just the blow.

(Kidding. I kid. I’m a kidder)

Of course, one of the Chivasites responded by knocking the kid down a few minutes later with a shoulder. That guy, whatever his name is, should thank his patron saint that Simo Valakari isn’t around anymore. He’d have learned the Finnish word for “deep thigh bruise” in short order.

Again, a player for Chivas falls like he’s been shot by a sniper after a no contact at all, or at best, minimal contact. Do these guys have no pride at all?

Oh, and Richetti gets a yellow out of that? This is like Bizzaro soccer.

Arturo just misses from 20 yards out. We’re taking it to these punks. This is the best I’ve seen us play all year. You know the difference? Confidence. We’re playing with confidence. Swagger almost. It’s nice to see.

For example, both times Chivas players have gone down like sissies, four or five others will gather around our guy and start talking smack (though, in my imagination, they’re saying things like “I’ll scratch your eyes out sister!“) When this happens, El Capitán Ruiz justs steps up and stands there between them, staring them down and making it clear who’s in charge.

Ray is playing like he’s been a starting professional goalkeeper for years. There’s nothing whatsoever, either in his posture or in his play, that belies nervousness.

Serioux made a mistake at midfield and gave Salazar a breakaway, but I’ll be doggone if Clarence Goodson didn’t chase that mug down and negate the chance. He’s a baaaaad man.

No score at halftime, and I think we had the better of the overall play, though Chivas clearly had the most dangerous chances (not counting Ruiz’s long bomb).

I already knew Ray was a really good shot stopper, but I had no idea he was so aggressive coming off his line. Twice he’s come way out to cut off potential breakaways. It takes speed, commitment and sound judgment to play that way. He’s got all that.

Another great save off of a point blank header. Part of me doesn’t want it to become common knowledge how good this kid is. I want him to be the goalkeeper of future, not a high-priced transfer target, ya know?

Gooooooooooooooal! Dipsy Selelowane what a goooooooooooal! Arturo Alvarez!

That, my friends, was a goal-scorers goal. AA gets the ball around the top of the box, and instead of trapping, looking, and shooting, he lets the ball run as he glances up, and when he sees the keeper in no man’s land he deftly flicks the ball with the outside of his left foot. Just ever so slightly out of the keepers reach and into the net. Arturo has made huge strides this year in both skill and professionalism. He could end up making it very difficult for Steve Morrow not to make him a lock starter.

ANOTHER great save by Ray Burse, this time on a low headed ball – one of the hardest shots to stop.

Annnnnd, we just got robbed. Olvera scores after clearly, and I mean crystal clearly, handling the ball to get it at his feet. Every single soul in Pizza Hut Park, no, every single soul in Collin County, saw Olvera touch the ball with his hand, except, ironically, Mr. Quesada of Costa Rica. Nice.

Admittedly, it was a terrific goal. But you know what? If we’re going to go ahead and stipulate that it’s okay to use your hands to set up your shot, you could get my out-of-shape pugdy behind out there to drill one into the upper corner too. This ain’t Gaelic football, people.

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Reynoso throws a blatant elbow to Drew Moors face, and gets . . . wait for it . . . nothing. Drew, however, gets tossed out of the game when Reynoso falls like a baby harp seal after Drew gets up and touches him. Mind you, Reynoso’s elbow happened during the run of play, directly in front of the Assistant Referee and wasn’t seen. Drew’s contribution happened 30 yards away from the ball, and got a straight red card.

I’ll grant you, Drew screwed up on this one; you just can’t give these cabrons an opportunity to take a dive like that. But that hardly excuses this kind of Sunday-league reffing.

Bobby comes in to shore up the defense, but we’re still pressing for the winner. That’s a good compromise for Steve to make. He’s not one to play for a draw at home, even a man down. Which is why I’m so glad he’s the coach.

Final whistle. Somebody call a cop.

This will have to go down as the biggest screwjob since Shawn Michaels pinned Bret the Hitman in Montreal, back in ‘97. I was scanning the crowd there at the end to see if Vince McMahon was around.

I’m planning on road-tripping to the next Interliga match, against the Galaxy next Tuesday. If you’re watching on TV, I’ll be the guy in the Inferno section holding the sign that says “POSH WANTS ME”.

Until then, my friends.

AH, THE OLD DAYS


by @ 5:49 pm.
Filed under US National Team

I just like watching this goal now and then:

I also like seeing the ‘90 National Team Unis (the plain white shirt and blue shorts, not the one with the horrid diagonal shoulder stripes). Given the latest version, they don’t look too bad. And come on, seeing all those guys rockin’ the mullet is always good for a grin.

July 17, 2007

WHAT?


by @ 5:20 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer, Uncategorized

So the MLS All-Stars are playing the Boston Celtics?

I gotta start paying attention.

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