FOOTBALLS ARE ROUND!

Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things


June 25, 2008

New Home


by @ 9:54 am.
Filed under Miscellany, Uncategorized

I’m moving the World Headquarters of Footballs Are Round over to BigSoccer.com for new posts, but I’m leaving the Archives here, because they were too heavy to pack in the U-Haul.

March 16, 2008

Is it just me….


by @ 2:04 pm.
Filed under The Good The Bad and the Ugly

Is it just me, or is the human/machine hybrid theme in the new Puma ads just way too creepy and grotesque?

February 24, 2008

Two Unlikely Occurrences


by @ 2:31 pm.
Filed under Uncategorized

Spurs win a Cup Final, and I write a prayer:

May all of our Joy be as intense as Cup Final Joy, and all our Sadness be as fleeting as Cup Final Sadness.

February 20, 2008

A CALL TO ACTION


by @ 1:24 pm.
Filed under Uncategorized

Now that the British government has nationalized Northern Rock in an attempt to save the floundering Home Loan company from insolvency, shouldn’t they take the obvious next step and nationalize Newcastle as well?

Couldn’t hurt . . . .

January 15, 2008

I HATE OFF SEASON


by @ 6:33 pm.
Filed under Random Thoughts

Not only am I having serious FC Dallas withdrawals, I don’t even have Fox Soccer Channel or GolTV right now, because of the inability of the Dish Network contractor to attach a dish to my house. What gives?

Random Thoughts:

August 1, 2007

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: SUPERLIGA MATCHDAY 3


by @ 10:32 pm.
Filed under FC Dallas, Stream Of Consciousness

I don’t even know where to begin with this game.

I’m not 100% sure there actually was a game.

I think it very well could have been a hallucination, dream, LSD flashback, or perhaps some sort of alternate universe cause by Wesley doing experiments in the Holodeck.

But whatever it was, it wasn’t a regular soccer game.

I actually would have been at the game, except for some lady who called my office last Friday, wanting to make an appointment for legal consultation. In a moment of pure unthinking stupidity, I told her 2:00 Tuesday would be fine, not remembering I was planning to be halfway to Frisco by then. Even more stupidly, I didn’t get her phone number to reschedule. So I’m waiting around the office Tuesday, wishing I was on the way to the game, and guess what?

She doesn’t show up.

At the time, I was perturbed. Now, I think it may have been for the best. It was tough enough watching that mess on television; I’m not sure I would have survived seeing it in person. My only real regret is that I didn’t get to hold up my “POSH WANTS ME” sign.

The game started at 7:00, but I didn’t start watching until about 8:00 (Hey, Cindy likes the Reba show, what can I say?).

Uncharacteristically (because I’m normally a Black Belt in Tivo) I goofed up and started watching in the middle of the first half instead of the beginning, so I did what any grown man would do in that situation: I shielded my eyes, I started yelling “Lalalalalalalala I Can’t Hear the Game Lalalalalalal” While Cindy rewound it to the beginning.

My youngest daughter, not hip to the whole protocol involved in pre-recorded games (she’s just a wee lass, and not yet wise to the ways of the world), chimes in and says, “The score is zero to four”. I give her a brief lecture on how we never, EVER tell Daddy the score of a game that’s been Tivo’d, but I laugh it off, because I know, as surely as I know anything, that the score can’t be 4-zip in the middle of the first half.

Yeah.

After watching about 15 minutes, it occurs to me that Youngest Daughter may have been right, so, in a panic, I start to fast forward. This is where the whole thing gets kinda Alfred Hitchcock-y. Two goals . . . three . . . .FOUR? Four @#$%&$ goals in 20 minutes? How can this possibly be?

Says the lovely Cid: “I saw the score too, but I didn’t want to upset you . . .”

As I feel reality, objectivity, and the very fabric of the space-time continuum start to melt around me, I see Arturo Alvarez Pull one back right before halftime.

“Okay”, I say to myself, “We pulled back three against United, we can pull back four against these losers.”

The rest of the game is really a blur, with only a few things sticking in my conscousness.

The first thing that I remember is that no matter how bad the referees were for the first two Superliga games, those two clowns, combined, can’t be worse than Kevin Stott. Unless he takes to calling games blindfolded and hopping on one leg, he’ll never have a worse game than this one.

But, given that we gave up six goals, one can hardly, in good conscience, blame Kevin for the loss.

The second thing I remember is that Landon Donovan had the gall to make a throat-slashing gesture at the crowd. First of all, it’s classless and pathetic. Second of all, most of the people there paid to see a guy on HIS TEAM. Idiot.

He may as well go play for Mexico if he’s going to be act like that. Though I doubt they’d have him.

Landon is now #1 on the all time MLS punk list, having overtaken Kyle Beckerman and Hunter Freeman in one fell swoop. I can’t even imagine rooting for Landon when he wears the Red, White, and Blue anymore. Even Cobi Jones got my love when he put on the colors, as much as I enjoyed hating him in league games.

I also seem to recall that Joe Cannon, sometime over the course of the evening, grew to be about eight feet tall and somehow gained the ability to move faster than the speed of light. It seems counterintuitive to say this about a guy who gave up 5 goals, but, I swear by Lev Yashin’s ghost the man was incredible. Unbelievable. He made saves that were absolutely not possible to make. I mean if you did the math, the equation wouldn’t come out even. If they made a movie of his performance, it would be under “Fiction” at Blockbusters.

He’s a god amongst men, that Joe Cannon. Or at least a demiurge.

And that, I think leads me to the conclusion of this strange, strange evening, which is just as screwed up and nonsensical as everything else that happened: Despite spotting the Galaxy a four-goal lead, despite getting robbed by Kevin Stott, despite that punk Donovan being so frustratingly good, despite ALL that . . .

If Joe Cannon wasn’t some sort of superhuman mutant magic uber-keeper, we would have won that game.

That’s almost too much for me to contemplate, while simultaneously holding on to my increasingly tenuous grasp on reality.

So I’ll see you Saturday, for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Rapids.

(Oh yeah, Mom, I was just kidding in the third paragraph, I never did LSD. And Wesly hasn’t been allowed in the Holodeck in several hundred Parsecs).

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.

Powered by ScribeFire.

June 12, 2007

BECKHAM RULES MEMO


by @ 12:21 am.
Filed under Major League Soccer

From: D. Garber

To: All players

RE: Mr. Beckham

As you know, Mr. Beckham will be playing in Major Leauge Soccer sometime this summer, for an unspecified number of games, if he is free. Having a player of this stature is an honor and privilege for all of us, and is something we should not take lightly. We will all have to act responsibly to ensure that Mr. Beckham’s time in the League is pleasant, safe, and successful.

In that spirit, I am announcing several new rules, to be observed in any game involving Mr. Beckham, and, in the event of breach of said rules, the corresponding, non-appealable, immediate, and irreversible suspensions:

Failing to yield to Mr. Beckham on a 50-50 ball: 1 game

Recklessly blocking a Mr. Beckham free kick or cross: 2 games.

Giving Mr. Beckham a dirty look: 2 games.

Speaking to Mr. Beckham without having been spoken to first: 3 games.

Being fouled by Mr. Beckham: 1 game.

Failing to say “thank you” after being fouled by Mr. Beckham: 2 games.

Making any disparaging remarks about Her Highness the Queen during the run of play: 1 game.

“Nutmegging” Mr. Beckham: 5 games

Referring to Mrs. Beckham as “Baby”, “Scary”, “Sporty”, “Ginger” or “Morrisey” during the run of play: 5 games.

Making fun of Mr. Beckham’s haircut during the run of play: 10 games.

Goalkeepers Only:

Handling any ball last touched by Mr. Beckham: Immediate expulsion from Major League Soccer.

Galaxy Players Only:

Implying, stating, or in any way, either publicly, privately, or in one’s personal thoughts advancing the opinion that Mr. Beckham’s play is either not up to standards, or is lacking in some aspect: 10 Games.

Implyng, stating, or in any way communicating to Mr. Beckham during the run of play that he should be coming back to play defense: 10 games.

Gentlemen, I’m sure you’ll all agree that these rules are fair, and that they are promulgated in the best interests of American Soccer. I know if we all enthusiastically embrace Mr. Beckham and these minute changes in the rules necessitated by his presence, we will all, in the end, be better off.

DG/jm

enclosure: illustrated version of rules, for posting in all MLS locker rooms

June 11, 2007

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: FCD v Galaxy


by @ 1:04 am.
Filed under Stream Of Consciousness

Let me just start by saying how much I despise Chase Bank. I mean, if a guy needs cash for a road trip, should it take AN HOUR to determine that the ATM, which had a software crash in the middle of his transaction, was never, EVER going to give him his card back, much less the cash needed for said road trip? Should it take two separate calls to customer service to determine that not a single solitary person in the entire organization knows anything about the software that runs those damn machines?

I mean, it’s a multi-billion dollar financial empire. They can’t get Automated Teller Machines right?

Naturally, by the time that whole fiasco was finished, it was well past the time we could get from Edmond to Frisco in time for the first half, so we had to scrub the trip. According to my wife, I’m not a patient man in the best of circumstances, so you can imagine how utterly annoyed I was by this whole deal.

Really and truly though, the second I saw the machine re-booting and noticed a Microsoft logo, I should have given up immediately and just hit the road. But nooooo, I had to have a modicum of faith in the competence of huge corporations, and wait.

Stoopid.

Okay, so what were we supposed to be talking about here today?

Oh yeah. The game.

Thank God we beat the dirty dirty Galaxy in this one; I really don’t know, the way my week had been going up to that point, if a loss wouldn’t have just driven me completely over the edge of sanity.

Not to mention the thanks I give that the game was on Direct Kick. Had it been one of those HD Net exclusives, well, see preceding paragraph.

So I guess this was Steve Morrow’s “Here’s your chance to shine” lineup, wherein guys who usually come off the bench get to start. That’s good coaching, in my view. You rest some guys, you give other guys a chance to impress. You have to have the locker room to do this kind of thing, of course. If you don’t, you get guys bitching and pouting and your team chemistry goes down the porcelain throne. But Steve is in control of this team, and the boys are behind him. Good things can happen when you have that.

Toja. What can you even say about Toja? He was like two or three players worth of good on the night. What can you say? Except he’s so good someone’s going to snap him up and take him to the Continent before too long. We can only hope he finds a girlfriend in Dallas who doesn’t want to leave Texas. It may be our only hope of keeping him around. Love is a funny ol’ thing, and can cause a man to do crazy things.

I guess.

Speaking of Mr. T, he scores from a crazy insane acute angle for the first goal. He’s over the end line at a full run and somehow manages to square up on the ball and left foot it past Joe Cannon. If you tried to graph that shot on paper, the math wouldn’t work. Who makes goals like that? Who? I mean, really – how many guys you’ve ever seen play soccer could have pulled that off?

Dominic Oduro is another one. What a joy to watch. He was making the LA midfield look silly at times. And often he gets loose on a breakaway but then has to stop because no one is as fast as he is. Not a bad problem to have. The minute his first touch and passing are as good as the rest of his game (and they’re not awful now, mind you), he’ll be gone too.

As for the PK that Dominic earned, well, it was kind of tough on Ty Harden for that to be a penalty. I mean, he did foul Dom, and Dom did make the most of the foul, theatricality-wise. But let’s be fair, Dominic was never going to catch up to that ball before it went out.

But on the other hand, if Dom was never going to get to that one, why bother fouling him? So, hey, tough luck kid, welcome to the bigs.

That was a nice little goal L.A. Managed to pull back right before the half. A beautiful touch by Kyle Martino finds an inexplicably unmarked Cobi Jones. Cobi’s shot gets past Dario, but Chris Gbandi makes an incredible back-heel save off the line. Sadly, it rolls right to some guy (Finley I think) who taps it in. Ah well.

Once again, The Inferno looked big and sounded great. The Toja chants were great, as was the “Cannnnon…..Cannnnon” bit they started up as the game wound down. Joe C usually takes the Inferno’s abuse pretty well, but he seemed to have exhausted his supply of good humor for most of the evening. Probably wondering why he had to leave Colorado just when they were getting good.

Here’s another reason why I love Steve Morrow: He’s ahead 2-1, there’s 25 minutes left, and he tells Kenny Cooper to get warmed up. Not Bobby Rhine, a defender, but Coop, a goal scorer. I love that. Why is it so difficult to understand the best way to protect a one-goal lead is to make it a two-goal lead? I can’t even begin to tell you how long the fans of this team have been waiting for this kind of strategery.

Even Drew Moor got into the act. Not content with shutting down what’s left of the Galaxy’s offense, He sneaks up on a free kick and makes a sweet diving header to put the game out of reach late. Tyrone Marshall, shockingly, was too busy tugging on Kenny’s shirt to defend the free kick. Idiot.

And what does Marshall do for an encore? A couple minutes later, [KIDS, TURN YOUR HEADS AND DON'T READ THE REST OF THIS SENTENCE] the son-of-a-bitch goes after Kenny with his studs up, and breaks his leg. Snaps his tibia. What goes through the mind of a person to make him do something like that? Sure he got a straight red for his trouble, but that’s hardly enough. Kenny is out for two months, minimum. There was no rationality behind that tackle.

If Don Garber and Joe Machnik want to continue to be taken seriously, not just by the American fanbase, but internationally, then they have to come down hard on this nonsense. Six games isn’t too much for a broken leg, if it’s just enough for a fake knockout.

Besides, let’s face it, when David Beckham gets here, Don and Joe will be suspending guys for not getting out of his way fast enough, never mind trying to cripple him. Let’s hope they’re not going to wait until sometime in July or August to start cracking down on thugs like Marshall.

By the way, you just gotta love assistant coach Marco Feruzzi. As soon as Marshall had done the dirty deed, Marco went after him and had to be restrained by the Assistant Referee. He got sent off, but in my book, the man deserves a raise. I like that the fire this team has extends to the coaching staff as well as the players. I also like that El Capitan Ruiz (away on Gold Cup duty with Guatemala) called the team before Kenny’s X-Rays were even dry to check on his condition. That’s a Captain.

That’s all I got. Between Chase Bank and Tyrone Marshall, I’m so put out I can hardly see straight. See you next week, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

June 5, 2007

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: Houston Road Trip Edition


by @ 11:02 pm.
Filed under Stream Of Consciousness

Speaking strictly in terms of climate, if Hell has a foyer, it must be Houston. Seriously.

Please, understand, this is by no means a reflection on the people of Houston, whom I find to be uniformly pleasant (with the exception of the Nimrods of El Batallon, whose problem is not being Houstonian, it is being rank morons stuck in the worst kind of perpetual adolescence).

For example, in Houston, the police and security folks are wonderful; cheerful and professional. As opposed to say, the cranky nitwits who make up the security staffs of Kansas City and Chicago.

And the Dynamo fans (apart from the previously-mentioned morons) are gracious and friendly. Even when they razz us, they go it with cheerful good nature. You gotta like that. I mean in Europe, if one team’s supporters were foolish enough to go anywhere near an opposing team’s supporter group tailgate, there would be a full scale riot. Here, we meet new people, share food, drinks and laughs, and take big group photos.

But goodness, people, how do you live with that humidity? Getting off the bus at Robertson Stadium was like having a hot wet wool blanket thrown over my head. I’d rather attend a game in La Paz – at least if I couldn’t breath, it would 20 degrees cooler.

I guess the humidity is useful in its own way. For example, had I actually burst into flames from the heat, the super-saturated air would have put it out immediately, especially combined with the totally and completely unreasonable amount of sweat my body was generating in a frantic attempt to, like, not DIE.

Anyway.

Oh, and I don’t want to blow my own horn or anything (lie), but I have to be the best fan in the history of this franchise – I got up at 5:00 am, on the road by 6:00, arrive in Big D by 9:30, several hours on the bus to Houston, all for a two hour game. Then back to Dallas on the bus and drive back to OKC; home at 3:30 am.

Oh, and all this was in spite of the fact I had my first day at the new job just a few hours after getting home. Do I rock, or what?

Not that the bus ride was a burden or anything. Being confined in a small space with The Inferno and a dozen or so full-to-bursting coolers full of icy malt beverages isn’t the worst way to spend a few hours on the road. Somebody even brought a bunch of tiny servings of Jello. Wasn’t that sweet? Mine kinda tasted funny though. One even had a little worm in it. Wonder how that got there . . .

All in all, it was a perfect day.

Or would have been, had we had skipped the game completely and just kept drinking.

Oh, the game.

What can I say? We scored first on a really nicely constructed goal by Abe Thompson, assisted by Kenny and Dax. Very pretty. We looked in control. Then in the second half it kinda all went bad. Dynamo players started slipping through cracks in the defense like cockroaches squeezing through your baseboards.

Except cockroaches are way more charming.

And cockroaches never would have been dumb enough to leave San Jose for Houston.

And cockroaches look better in orange.

And cockroaches . . .

eh, that’s all I got.

So all the sudden, in the time it takes to get a five-dollar Diet Coke, we’re down 2-1. How does that happen?

And what’s more, I didn’t see either second-half goal. The first one, I was at the concession stand trying desperately to rehydrate myself before fainting and permanent blindness set in, and on the second one, I was busy screaming witty insults at Pat Onstad. For example, stuff like “Hey, Pat, socialized medicine is a really bad idea!” and “Hey, Pat, who’s the chick on your money?”

Yeah, I like to save my ‘A’ material for the Dynamo.

Speaking of Brother Onstad, he really should get at least a three game suspension for his foul on Arturo Alvarez. Three yards outside the penalty area and not even pretending to go for the ball, he went studs up straight to AA’s lower leg. He missed for the most part, thank goodness, but it was still pretty cynical. Not cool, Pat, not cool.

Sure, he got a straight red, but that hardly does justice, not only for the blatant larceny, but for the whole “I’d rather break a guy’s legs than give up a goal” vibe the play had. For pity sakes, man, you’re Canadian – shoulder check him into the boards or something, but not that.

On the upside, Michael Kennedy can say he got at least one call right on the day on the season. Good on you, Michael.

Oh! This Saturday is the first time the Galaxy will visit PHP this year. I can’t wait. I’m so excited to see David Beckham I can hardly sta . . .

What?

Really?

Crap. The kids are going to be so disappointed. I’ve had them practicing anti-British slurs all week and everything. I guess I’ll just tell them Beckham is the speedy little balding guy playing up front. They’ll never know the difference.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. See you post-Galaxy beatdown for some more Streamy goodness.

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

April 12, 2007

MY WIFE . . . NOT A BECKHAM FAN


by @ 9:12 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer

“Making all this fuss about one British guy is such a disservice to the league. It’s like saying to all the other players, ‘You’re no good‘. It’s stupid . . .  plus, he’s married to a woman named ‘Posh’ . . . what is that?”

– The Lovely Cid, 4/12/2006

 

April 8, 2007

WHY DARIO IS GREATNESS . . .


by @ 12:48 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer

Quote from an article in Al Día by Gabriel Cabarrouy:

“Sometimes you don’t need the best talent to play, just your best friends,” goalkeeper Darío Sala said. “It’s the great groups that win championships, not the great teams.”

April 7, 2007

OPENING DAY TOP TEN


by @ 11:28 am.
Filed under Major League Soccer

Top 10 Reasons I Love Opening Day

10. Don’t have to watch that sub-par English and Italian crap exclusively anymore.

9.  Cindy stops lusting after Jose Mourinho and starts lusting after Sigi Schmidt

8.  I can finally debut the interpretive dance I choreographed to go along with the new MLS Anthem.

7.  If this is Opening Day, then Home Opening day is only three weeks off!

6.  Withdrawal symptoms for hearing the dulcet tones of Hopkins & Bretos will finally go away

5.  Trade obsession for Deal-No Deal for obsession with MFLS

4.  I’ve joined a pool to guess how many minutes it takes Wynalda to make a Dick’s Sporting Goods Stadium joke

3.  Can’t get enough of the balanced and thoughtful commentary on BigSoccer Rivalries Forum

2.  Buzz will quit calling me in the middle of the night asking me ‘Dude, how long until opening day?’

And, the number one reason I love Opening Day (drumroll, Anton!):

1.  A guy can only write so many Stream of Consciousness: Snow Shoveling Edition columns

HAPPY OPENING DAY EVERYONE!

March 30, 2007

THEY’RE BAD, THEY’RE NATIONWIDE


by @ 8:02 am.
Filed under Uncategorized

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

Sissies.

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

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY


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

THE GHOST OF CHARLES PONZI


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

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: SATURN CUP EDITION


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

STRIKERS UPDATE: WEEK 2


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

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY


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

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY


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.

THE BAD:
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.

February 26, 2007

LIFE WITH A CHELSEA FAN


by @ 1:50 pm.
Filed under Uncategorized

So, I check my cellphone after my soccer game yesterday, and I see that Cid has called me. Well, I had just talked to her right before the time indicated on the missed call screen, so I figured something must be up. Like the dutiful husband I am, I immedately call her.

“OH MY GOD, DAVID, YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED!”

Immediately, images of family tragedy, death, destruction and mayhem flash through my brain, and I mentally begin to prepare myself for bad news.

“JOHN TERRY GOT KNOCKED OUT DURING THE CUP FINAL AND THEY HAD TO CARRY HIM OFF ON A STRETCHER! IT WAS TERRIBLE!”

Relief floods through my system as I realize the house hasn’t burned down and none of the children has lost a limb in a terrible bicycle accident or anything.

“Okay, don’t tell me anymore, I want to watch it when I get home”.

“Okay, I won’t say anything else, but I thought you needed to know”.

I love that woman.

February 23, 2007

FISH GOTTA SWIM . . .


by @ 8:45 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer

Carlos Ruiz is upbeat, positive, in shape, and thriving in training camp under the watchful eye of Steve Morrow.

All that is enough to make my heart soar like a hawk, but check out this quote on MLSnet.com:

We have a long season ahead of us with the Lamar Hunt (U.S. Open) Cup, which we want to win in his memory . . .

That positively gives me chills. Don’t be surprised to see el Pescadito wearing the captain’s armband this year. Simo is no longer with the team, and SM will be looking for someone with fire and enthusiasm to wear it. My guess is Carlos, or perhaps that other fine Latin American player Ricardo Mulrooney, or (and this is my choice) my main man Darío Sala.

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