FOOTBALLS ARE ROUND!

Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things


November 5, 2006

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY


by @ 9:29 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer, Miscellany, The Good The Bad and the Ugly, The International Game

The Good: Congrats to the New England Revolution for getting to MLS Cup for the 3rd time in their history. The last two times they’ve lost to LA Galaxy 1-0. Well, no Galaxy this time, so perhaps this is the year. I’m hoping if they win Mr. Kraft will spring for a new stadium and get them out of Foxboro forever. I had considered selling my tickets to the game when Dallas got knocked out, but I think I’ll go. Let’s face it, it’ll proabably be the last time we’ll see Clint Dempsey in an MLS uniform. And, I like the Revs better than any other team in the East, and seeing them win would assuage (a little) the pain of not seeing my own team there.

The Bad: The Rapids were unmasked for the overachieving, prima donna pretenders that they are. Enjoy your winter.

The Ugly: What is the story with this?

Ugliest Soccerball Ever

The English Premier League is actually using this as their winter “high visibility” ball. Did they lose a bet to someone at Nike?

September 13, 2006

MEMO TO MY WIFE: DO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE


by @ 11:37 am.
Filed under The International Game

Can we all try to avoid the Christmas rush and start hating Chelsea now?

They have all the money in the world, they get every player they want, they’ve won the Premier League twice running, but, somehow, everybody is against them.

What am I on about? Just “The Special One”, complaining about the dark conspiratorial forces at UEFA trying to cheat him out of his rightful place as 06-07 Champion:

Jose Mourinho has hinted that Chelsea were being targeted by European football’s governing body UEFA after they earned four yellow cards in their 2-0 Champions League victory over Werder Bremen.

Mourinho said he was at a loss to explain why so many of his players find their way into the referee’s notebook when they play in Europe. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Didier Drogba were booked against Werder in Tuesday night’s Champions League opener, and the key quartet are now one booking away from a ban.

The Chelsea boss suspects UEFA have a hidden agenda against him but chose his words carefully as he checked the statistics from the first round of matches. Mourinho said: “I don’t want to speak about this, because I spoke lots over the last three years. But the reality, when you look, is Barcelona have no yellow cards, Bayern Munich one yellow card, Liverpool no yellow cards, Valencia one yellow card, Roma one yellow card, Chelsea four yellow cards.”

Valencia actually had two players booked – Edu and Roberto Ayala – and Mourinho overlooked the fact that Inter Milan had four booked away to Sporting Lisbon.

 

Oh, puh-leeze. It’s like Steinbrenner wanting the Yankees to get four strikes or something. Is the man mad? Or is he just preparing the excuses beforehand, knowing he still may not have what it takes to win in Athens this May?

On the other hand, maybe he’s just trying to make trouble and have a little fun, while providing geeks like me fodder for blog posts.

In which case, sir, I salute you.

But I doubt it.

August 5, 2006

MLS 1 – CHELSEA 0


by @ 9:24 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer, The International Game

I think the thing that impressed me most about this win was that the MLS All-Stars clearly belonged on the same field with Chelsea. I’ve seen big upsets before, the biggest being the US victory over Brazil where Kasey Keller became the stuff of Romario’s nightmares. But it was still clear, even in that match, that the US team was not in the same class as Brazil.

That was not the case today. Even though Chelsea were not at match fitness, and have about a month to go before they’re ready for the Premiership (which begins in two weeks), they should have had the upper hand, upset or no.

They didn’t. They were beaten by a team of their peers. Maybe some of the younger guys felt a bit intmidated by mighty Chelski, but DeRo wasn’t; Jaime Moreno wasn’t; Ronnie O’Brien wasn’t, even young Freddy Adu wasn’t. Heck, Troy Perkins wasn’t intimidated by Chelsea, and he’ll earn this year what Frank Lampard earns just for getting out of bed on Monday.

Let’s not overestimate the importance of this win, but let’s not forget it either. It’s one of the millions of tiny turning points that MLS and American Soccer are going to go through before they end up being seen as equals on the international scene.

June 7, 2006

I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE . . .


by @ 4:11 pm.
Filed under The International Game

Here’s the next big name in Brazillian (and therefore, world) soccer:

Kerlon.

This kid has made up a move called “The Seal” where he gets the ball to his head and just runs down the field, heading it to himself over and over. Usually it ends with some cynical defender trying to cave in his ribcage, but it’s fun to watch.

Check this out. 

June 1, 2006

CROUCH-BOT


by @ 7:56 pm.
Filed under Miscellany, The International Game, World Cup

I’ve liked Peter Crouch since the first time I saw him for Southampton. It’s such an incongruous sight to see this gangly 6′7″ man playing such skilled soccer; you can’t not like him.

Then I saw him so this the other day, after scoring for England in a pre-WC friendly against . . . somebody.

So now, I like the guy even more.

Best. Celebration. Ever.

If you’re a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll have to agree that when they make the movie version of The Silver Chair, Peter is a shoo-in for the role of Puddleglum the Marshwiggle.

May 3, 2006

BROKEFOOT MOUNTAIN


by @ 10:14 am.
Filed under Media, Random Thoughts, The International Game, World Cup

Here’s an interesting phenomenon to keep your eyes on. Go to Google, and type “nike + metatarsal”, then do it once a week over the summer. Let’s see how the number of articles and webpages blaming Nike for Wayne Rooney’s broken foot increase in that time.

I’d like to be a fly on the wall at the offices of Nike’s law firm right now. Sweatin’ a little, are we, boys?

April 14, 2006

GREATEST PUB TEAM EVER


by @ 2:09 pm.
Filed under Media, The International Game

If you don’t know anything about the history of English soccer for the last 40 years or so, this won’t mean much to you, but, if you do, stop what you’re doing and go watch this brilliant commercial for Carlsberg beer.

If you’re in the former category, just know that having a Sunday league referee give Jack Charlton a yellow card, after having to ask him his name, is like Hank Aaron getting tossed out of a slow-pitch church league game. And having Stuart Pearce, one of the fiercest defenders ever to play, get a call from his mum in the dressing room would be like, oh, Atilla the Hun getting grounded for not cleaning his room.

THE REAL KAISER


by @ 1:29 pm.
Filed under The International Game, US National Team, World Cup

Sure, they call Beckenbauer “The Kaiser”, but, does he live in a castle?

No, I don’t think so.

Now, you take a great like Kasey Keller, he lives in a castle.

Plus, Kaiser alliterates so well with Kasey Keller. I hereby declare Kasey’s new nickname to be “The Kaiser”.

Help spread it around.

March 22, 2006

IMPOSTER!


by @ 5:31 pm.
Filed under The International Game, US National Team, World Cup

I don’t know who hacked my blog and wrote that last drivel about the US/Germany game, but he sure doesn’t know anything about soccer.

What?

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST


by @ 10:59 am.
Filed under The International Game, US National Team, World Cup

A full strength Germany will be able to manage nothing better than a draw with the injury depleted USA in today’s friendly. Thus continuing the irreversible downward spiral of German soccer that began in earnest with Italy’s 4-1 thrashing of the 3-time champions last month.

You heard it here first.

March 20, 2006

SPORTSMANSHIP LIVES, AT LEAST IN ITALY


by @ 5:41 pm.
Filed under Miscellany, The International Game

(Channel4.com) Daniele De Rossi’s ‘confession’ has earned praise from the Roma Coach and his teammates, who also give an update on Francesco Totti’s recovery process.

De Rossi had knocked the ball into the net for the Giallorossi’s second goal, but confessed to the referee that he had done so with his hand and asked for the goal to be disallowed.

Simone Perrotta had opened the scoring and also praised his teammate for his honesty in this situation.

“Daniele was absolutely right and we need to start from these gestures if we are to improve football,” said the midfielder.

I’m afraid that Mr. De Rossi’s honorable acts would get him flayed in the American media. I can just see Kornhiser and Wilbon mocking him, calling him a loser and using the incident to reinforce the pathetic stereotypes about soccer in this country.

But you know what? They’d be wrong.

Mr. De Rossi’s act was noble, mature, courageous (given the temperament of Italian soccer fans), and sportsmanlike. If there’s anything lacking in modern professional sports, it’s, well, all those things.

I hope this simple act will shine like a beacon in the hearts and minds of Italian children, and will act as a small seed of change in the culture of sport.

(Top of the cap to another great and honorable soul, Bruce of Du Nord)

March 2, 2006

LET’S HEAR IT FOR CUBAN HEALTH SPAS!


by @ 9:18 am.
Filed under The International Game

Diego Maradona has gone from this:

To this:

in a fairly short time. The second picture was taken yesterday at a charity match in Chile. “El pibe de oro” didn’t score, but played for 40 minutes in the second half. I’d love to see some video of his perfromance. He’s only 45, you know. The man has made more comebacks than Freddie Krueger.

February 27, 2006

BRUCE ARENA NEXT FOR MAN U?


by @ 10:46 pm.
Filed under The International Game, US National Team, World Cup

Okay, it’s just a rumor. And, frankly, a rumor that I’ve just started, here in this very forum

But read this quote from il Bruce’s recent interview with leaguemanagers.com, and tell me if it’s a little less outlandish than it might have been just a few weeks ago:

Your record at International level speaks for itself. Do you have aspirations to test yourself in European club football and could we see you managing in the Premiership one day?

I do have aspirations to coach in Europe. I would love to have an opportunity to manage in the Premiership. As with any manager or player, moving to a new club or country requires a period of adjustment. However, I believe with the right club and the right time to adjust, I could be successful.

Hmm…. Manchester United is owned by Americans . . . Bruce has a good World Cup . . . Fergie’s about ready to retire . . . hmm…..

Remember you heard it here first.

(Thanks to the always high-quality du nord for the link)

February 8, 2006

IF I HAD A BILLION DOLLARS


by @ 8:06 pm.
Filed under The International Game

So I’m watching Chelsea and Everton play their FA Cup 4th Round replay today, and it occurs to me that the field looks like my backyard after a heavy rain, except my backyard has more grass.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Roman Abramovich own all the oil in Russia or something? Didn’t the man just spend something on the order of 150 million dollars on players?

You’d think the guy could spring for 100 grand or so to get some grass laid down, wouldn’t you?

Instead of spending $5 million on Freddy Adu, he needs to call George Toma and see what it will take to get him over there.

YOU CAN’T SPELL MIDOL WITHOUT “MIDO”


by @ 8:48 am.
Filed under The International Game

Tottenham Hotspur and Egypt prima-donna Mido went ballistic upon being subbed out for Amr Zaki with 11 minutes remaining in Egypt’s semifinal match with Senegal in the African Cup of Nations. Quoth the official Egyptian new agency MENA: “Ahmed Hossam Mido objected to Hassan Shehata and expressed his anger at his decision to substitute him yesterday…using unacceptable language with Shehata when he left the pitch.”

To get the real scoop, though, you have to go to Agence French-Presse, who report the following dialogue between coach and player:

“Why are you taking me off?” asked a furious Mido.

“Because I am the coach,” replied Shehata.

“You are nothing but a donkey!” stormed Mido.

“No it is you who is the donkey,” replied Shehata.

Boy, you gotta hand it to those Egyptians when it comes to witty repartee’.

So here’s the best part of the whole story: Mido’s substitute, Zaki, takes the field and promptly scores the winning goal. Sweet justice.

Mido gets a six-month ban from the Egyptian national team for his troubles (ooooooh, harsh); all it really means is that he misses the final against Cote d’Ivoire this weekend.

November 16, 2004

New Aussie Soccer Blog


by @ 6:18 pm.
Filed under The International Game

I’m happy to add Stephen’s A-League blog to the links list . Beginning in August the A-League, sponsored by Hyundai, will be the new First Division league down under.

March 16, 2004

Marc Connolly


by @ 10:16 pm.
Filed under Media, The International Game, US National Team

A fine article by ESPN’s Marc Connolly on one of my favorite players.

I’m Just Not Sure


by @ 12:00 am.
Filed under Miscellany, The International Game

I just watched about 10 solid minutes of goal highlights from Argentina.

I’m not sure if Argentina has the finest finishers on the face of the earth, or the worst goalkeepers on the face of the earth.

Thoughts?

February 25, 2004

Yanks Abroad


by @ 10:28 am.
Filed under The International Game

Not only did Clint Mathis AND Brian McBride score this week overseas. . . AGAIN, but even Brad Friedel got into the act! Brad lived every ‘keeper’s dream by sidefooting a last-minute goal against Charlton to level the score at 2.

The fact that Charlton turned right around and beat Friedel for the winner less than a minute into injury time notwithstanding, that’s gotta be the coolest thing I’ve seen this season.

America RULES!

FEAR US!

February 21, 2004

John Charles, R.I.P.


by @ 9:25 pm.
Filed under Media, Miscellany, The International Game, Uncategorized

From The Sunday Express (UK). Notice especially the last line. An amazing life, and amazing legacy.

Sporting, political and personal tributes from across the world have flooded in for former Welsh football legend John Charles who has died, aged 72.

During his career, Charles played for Wales, Italian giants Juventus, Leeds United, Cardiff City and Roma and was known as “the Gentle Giant”.

Earlier this month, part of Charles’ right foot was amputated in Milan due to gangrene caused by circulation problems, a month after he underwent heart surgery.

Last weekend, he was flown to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. He died there at 4.30am, this Saturday morning.

Wales’ first minister Rhodri Morgan led the tributes to the “world legend” and said: “We have lost one of the greatest Welshmen of the 20th century.”

The 6ft 2ins, 13 stone legend had iconic status among Italians where he was “almost regarded as a saint” for his powerful, professional and above all gentle manner, never having been booked or sent off throughout his career.

Stupidity Alert


by @ 1:43 pm.
Filed under The International Game

It’s not as if Leeds aren’t having a horrendous season as is. They are nearly bankrupt, and are hovering over the pit of relegation by a frayed thread. Their fans must be asking, “what else could happen?”

Well, that is the one question you should never ask, isn’t it?

With a huge match looming against Manchester United this weekend, Leeds find out a few days before the match that Mark Viduka will be ineligible. Why? Injury? Drugs? Arrest? Abduction by space aliens?

No. Even more unbelievable than the space aliens angle, the Australian Soccer Association invoked a FIFA regulation to punish Viduka for not taking part in the recent Australia v Venezuela friendly. Yes, you read that right. The ASA kept Leeds from using their best player in a league match.

Note the two operative terms there. Venezuela. Friendly.

Viduka’s club, you know, the ones who pay his wages, desperately needed a result against ManU (well, let’s face it, they desperately need a result, PERIOD). Viduka is still recovering from a minor injury as well. Is it surprising he doesn’t want to fly to Caracas in the middle of the week for a friendly?

If you were Mark Viduka, would you ever play for Australia again? If you were a European club, would you be willing to shell out money for Australian players? If you were an Australian, would you be calling for the head of the moron who made this decision?

I’m not sure if the ASA is a government entity, but this level of stupidity suggests it is.

But, as so often happens in these situations, adversity brought strength. Leeds played heroically Saturday, coming from behind in the second half to pull out a 1-1 draw. Which, if you’re Leeds, is like a win. You’ve never seen such spirited play, such heroic defending, such fight. It was good to watch.

So here’s to you, Mr. Faceless Australian Soccer Bureaucrat:

February 18, 2004

Tales Too Strange To Be Fiction


by @ 8:05 pm.
Filed under The International Game

If you thought America was increasingly over-litigious, check out this excerpt from an AP story from Spain:

About 30 fans plan to sue a referee for awarding a last-minute penalty against their team in a Spanish league match.

The fans hold Pedro Tristante Oliva and the Spanish soccer federation responsible for the “penalty mistake” in which Real Madrid was awarded a penalty kick against Valencia. They are asking for one euro per person in damages, or $1.29 each.

“We want the error to be publicly acknowledged and compensation paid as professional negligence has been committed,” Andres Sanchis, the lawyer representing the fans, said in the sports daily As on Wednesday.

This is outrageous! What if the plaintiffs prevail in this matter? What if other fans, from other sports, quit yelling “Kill the ref!” and start yelling “Sue the Ref!”

I mean, if you do the math on this, even at $1.29 a mistake, all professional sports will be bankrupt by the time the summer Olympics roll around.

Then what would we have? No professional sports? People playing sports just for the pure enjoyment of it? An Olympics without professionals? No millionaire athletes? No Yankees? No Steinbrenner?

Wait.

I just changed my position on this one.

Never mind.

January 24, 2004

Coffee With Scarborough


by @ 8:54 am.
Filed under The International Game

I actually got up at 6:30 to watch the live broadcast of the 4th round F.A. Cup tie between Chelsea and Scarborough. Chelsea being the Premier League giants with the New York Yankee-esque payroll, and Scarborough being one level below the Third Division, or in other words, the fifth level of English football.

The reason I love the F.A. Cup is that this kind of match-up can actually take place, and that you can see semi-professionals playing their guts out and holding their own with pampered overpriced millionaires.

Though Chelsea ended up with a 1-0 win, Scarborough did themselves proud, and had one or two excellent chances to tie the game. Not to mention that they suffered an egregious non-call on a clear handball in the box. However the clear difference between the teams was not skill, but speed.

All of Scarborough’s players could at best match the skill of Chelsea’s, or at very least the difference was not huge. But the difference in pure raw speed was so telling. I’ve heard the axiom before that speed is the difference, in upper and lower level football, but I had never seen it displayed so clearly as today.

Still and all, it was well worth getting up early on a Saturday. And there aren’t many things in this life I can say that about.

January 8, 2004

I Ain’t Right


by @ 11:40 pm.
Filed under Miscellany, The International Game

Here’s how bad my soccer sickness is.

I was reading the Associated Press article about Carlos Bocanegra, ex-Chicago Fire defender, signing with Fulham of the Premier League, and within seconds of reading this paragraph:

He would become the sixth American player to play in England’s top division, joining U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, Brad Friedel, Tim Howard, Kasey Keller and Jovan Kirovski.

I had mentally corrected them, knowing, as all of us should, that John Harkes and Cobi Jones have also played in either the Premiership or its predecessor, the 1st Division.

Two things struck me about this knowledge.

First, not one in a million, by conservative estimate, know this information here in the U.S. of A.

Second, it does me absolutely no good on any practical level to have this information on immediate recall.

I’m a little conflicted by this knowledge. There’s a mix of perverse pride in knowing this level of esoterica, along with the distinct feeling this puts me way out in front for the geek of the month award. Oh, did I mention my other hobby is chess? Yeah, that plaque will look good on my wall.

December 22, 2003

Claudio!


by @ 4:12 pm.
Filed under The International Game, US National Team

I was just watching Manchester City v Leeds on FSW. Claudio Reyna looks in terrific form. He was robbed by a save off the line in the first half, and came less than a foot from hitting the winner late in the second. His distribution and ball control are as sharp as ever. I’m glad he’s in his stride coming in to World Cup qualifiers. With Armas back, Donavan full of confidence, and a slew of quality newcomers, and a healthy in-form Claudio, qualifying looks bright.

The game ended up 1-1. I was rooting for Man City, because of Reyna, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed to see Leeds get the three points. Man, those guys are too full of talent to be in the relegation zone. They’re the Dallas Burn of the Premiership.

August 16, 2003

Hail, Fair Albion


by @ 11:41 am.
Filed under The International Game

EPL is Back!

Ah, August. The Premier League is on Fox Sports World and all is right with the (football) world.

Currently watching Arsenal v Everton. The pitch at Highbury is so beautiful, even if there was no game today people might have paid just to gaze upon it.

Blistering pace, offensive pressure, great goalkeeping. I love it.

Arsenal in early trouble, with Campbell being sent off at 25 minutes for a professional foul on Graveson. Everton looking dangerous from the outset. I love this game.

My EPL fantasy team consists of Stern John, Robby Keane and Michael Owen up front; midfield of Kieron Dyer, Keith Gillespie, Jamie Redknapp and Nicky Barmby. John O’Shea, Rio Ferdinand and Steve Howey in back, and Jens Lehman in Goal.

I don’t have a favorite team in the Premiership, per se, I generally root for the newly promoted teams to stay up, and whatever team is fielding Yanks on their roster. I’m hoping to see Bobby Convey have a great year for Tottenham, and Tim Howard to dominate for Man U.

Well, Arsenal just earned a penalty, which Thierry Henry, predictably, made easy work of. I better start paying attention.

Cheers, as they say over there.

July 23, 2003

Stream of Consciousness: Gold Cup Semis


by @ 11:33 pm.
Filed under Stream Of Consciousness, The International Game

Gold Cup Semifinal . . . ARRRRRGGHHHHHH

Well, I was right. At least until the 88th minute. Once again our boys snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Yeesh.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS MATCH REPORT™ :

U.S Lineup:
Keller, Hejduk, Bocanegra, Gibbs, Convey, Stewart (Beasly 83), Mastroeni, Reyna (Mulrooney 71), Lewis, Donavan, McBride (Mathis 30)

Brazil Lineup:
A bunch of guys with only one name.

I liked our lineup, although I expected Ralston would have earned himself another start.

The U.S. had the better part of the play for the first 20 minutes. We looked dangerous, but never tested the keeper. Good ball movement, but not quite the crossing we needed to be a threat.

Then Brazil started realizing they weren’t going to beat us by dancing with the ball. They started stringing passes together and had two very serious chances. First was a nicely slotted ball through the right side, brick walled by Keller. The second chance was a well taken shot from the top of the box, which was handily turned aside by the right post.

I was right in my assessment that the US would come out playing physical defense. Not dirty by any means, but good clean hard tackling. It was great to see. Even greater to see was the referee, Mr. Bartres of Guatemala, handing out an early yellow card to Brazil for diving. Despite my clearly partisan joy at seeing the card handed out, I’d like to say (with objectivity as pure as the driven snow) that such a call is good for the game no matter who gets busted for it.

The Brazilian momentum lasted about 20 minutes, with quite a few good chances(coughcough KELLER! coughcough) and about 65% of the possession. Generally the defense did a creditable job shutting down most of Brazil’s attacks, if not preventing them in the first place.

McBride took an elbow in the 27th minute and Bruce Arena immediately pulled him in favor of Clint Mathis. Brian had quite the mouse under his left eye. Not the first time we’ve seen that, of course. I imagine Brian had no intention of coming out and would have willingly played through it if given the chance.

Pablo Mastroeni picked up a yellow for a blatant foul that reminded me of Pat Fischer of the 1970’s Washington Redskins (that is to say, a desperate shoulder-grabbing takedown from behind).

The U.S. attack picked up a little steam in the last five minutes of the half, but still no shots on goal.

All in all, 0-0 was a fair score at the halftime whistle.

Kasey once again was put to the test early in the second half. Bocanegra was tight on his man but still gave up a scorching near-post shot that KK just managed to deflect wide. Brazil owned the first 15 minutes or so, and all we could do was defend for a while. The way we were packing it in defensively you’d have thought we had a one goal lead.

Mastroeni again fouled his man from behind after getting beaten in his own end, and was lucky not to see red.

The aggressive defense from the first half disappeared early in the second; we seemed happy to mark space for a while and just let Kasey pull our fat out of the fire (again and again). Keller is huge against Brazil for some reason. He is pure nemesis. When this man is 60 years old he’ll probably still be getting caps whenever the U.S. and Brazil get together.

Bocanegra, I’ve noticed, is the best tackler in the penalty area we’ve had since Alexi Lalas was a regular.

Brazil put the ball in the net in the 60th minute after some extremely lax defending on a free kick, but the play was (fortunately and probably incorrectly) judged offside.

Finally and utterly against the run of play, Reyna played a free kick from the right side of the field, about 40 yards out. Of all people, Carlos Bocanegra found some ups and headed the ball down and in. 1-0 for the good guys in the 63rd!

I’ll have to look it up, but I’m pretty sure that is Boca’s first international goal. By the bye, have you checked out the columns he’s been writing on ussoccer.com? He’s been keeping a journal at both the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup. Very entertaining stuff. The kid can write, who knew?

More intense pressure from Brazil. Good clearing header by Convey to save a goal. A bit of the defensive tenacity started to return for the United States. Earnie Stewart in particular. I wish Earnie was about 10 years younger. I think the next world cup will be his last, and I hate that.

Mulrooney in for Reyna in the 71st. I don’t understand this, unless Claudio took a knock or is still not quite fit after coming back from knee surgery. I don’t think Mulrooney has seen a cap in quite some time. Must be a University of Virginia thing (oh wait, he went to Creighton . . . hmm).

Our two best defensive players (Keller and the right post) combined to rob Kaka in the 73rd.

Gibbs was unlucky to give up a free kick from 25 yards out in the 76th (Mr. Bartres can’t see all the dives, after all) that was hit way high by Baptista.

Finally a little pressure by the U.S. in the 78th. Frankie did well on the right wing and was fouled rather hard by Carlos Alberto (no, not THAT Carlos Alberto), but the free kick was wasted.

DeMarcus Beasley in for Stewart with about 7 minutes remaining. I thought we’d see him tonight. Short of being hit by a bus, I don’t see him missing many important games for his country in the foreseeable future. Earnie nearly went out in style, cracking a shot from 35 yards just before going off. It went wide, but not by too much.

Bocanegra got a cheap yellow on a really good tackle in the 85th minute. Why not, he’s done everything else tonight! He’s the man of the match without much argument.

Frankie with a great defensive play with three minutes left to keep Brazil frustrated. Ewtherton had a sitter with Kasey out of position until Frankie saved the day.

No matter. For about the millionth time since I’ve been following this team, the inevitable last minute goal was given up. A beautiful through pass found Ewerthton, who beat Gibbs and got off a good shot. Keller, of course made a tremendous save, but couldn’t prevent a rebound which Kaka slotted in easily from six yards out.

I wish I had a buck for every time this has happened since I’ve been following my National team (since 1989, in case you’re wondering). The heartbreak of watching the United States play soccer comes often but not early. They always wait until the 90th minute to break your heart.

Extra time was just a blur to me. I can’t really describe it because I was busy biting my nails down to an obscenely short length. I saw the handball by Gibbs. I don’t blame him in the least. Who among us wouldn’t have done the same thing? I held out brief hope that Kasey would attain an even more godlike status by once again breaking the heart of an entire nation. But I kinda knew we’d blown it.

It’s like being a Cubs fan. You know what’s going to happen, but you still love them, and you know every once in while they’ll produce some magic that will keep you coming back again and again and again and again (e.g., Caliguri against Trinidad & Tobago in 1989, The 1998 Gold Cup semifinals win against Brazil, WC 2002 against Portugal and Korea).

But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when they let one like this slip away.

This one hurt.

My Gold Cup Prediction: Semifinals


by @ 5:20 pm.
Filed under The International Game

My Gold Cup Prediction: Semifinals
Mexico 2:1 Costa Rica

United States 3:1 Brazil

If the US/Brazil score sounds bold, keep in mind that Brazil sent their Olympic team. By definition, an Olympic team is an Under 23 side. I saw Brazil play in the group stage, and while they were entertaining and bold, they also had trouble finishing. With Keller in goal, scoring becomes exponentially more difficult. Especially since Keller gets 9 feet tall and bullet proof when playing against Brazil, historically speaking.

Also, the US side won’t be afraid to push these young’uns around defensively, thus disrupting the flow of samba-ball.

Alright. I’ll report back later, to either gloat or eat crow.

July 12, 2003

Outrage!


by @ 2:14 pm.
Filed under Media, The International Game

The US v El Salvador Gold Cup Opener . . .

. . . is not televised!

Outrageous!

Oh sure, it’s on closed circuit television, sure enough . . . thank you so much for that. I’m willing to bet good money there’s not an establishment within 300 miles of here carrying this game on CCTV. Yeesh.

Which means I’ll have to follow it on U.S. Soccer’s Matchtracker, which is a step below listening on radio (not that the match is on radio, either, I’m sure).

I shouldn’t complain, because it wasn’t too long ago that the idea of seeing televised soccer at all was a pipe dream. These are the salad days for the longsuffering American soccer lover, my friends, make no mistake about it. When I was kid I craved soccer coverage even more than I do now, and there was nothing. The only time you were going to see soccer was occasionally on PBS (Mario Machado doing English First Division games, Toby Charles doing Bundesliga games . . . ahh sweet memories), or perhaps the rare NASL broadcast. Maybe highlights of the World Cup final. Maybe.

So I really shouldn’t complain.

I shouldn’t complain about the NATIONAL TEAM PLAYING A MAJOR REGIONAL TOURNAMENT ON HOME SOIL NOT BEING TELEVISED FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

I shouldn’t, but I will.

June 26, 2003

More on Marc Vivien Foe’


by @ 5:18 pm.
Filed under The International Game

More on Foe

This is a quote from the live match report from Eurosport.com:

71 : Foe is down! He took a hit to the back of the head! There is not much movement from him! It could be serious!

The Sports Illustrated website however, reports that no one was around him when he collapsed. It will obviously be a while before we really know what happened.

A brief bio can be found here: Marc Vivien Foe.

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