Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mess with the Bulls you get the Horns

While the defending champions University of Maryland are off to a solid start this year (including a late goal on Friday for a 1-0 win over UNC), their little brother is starting to put together a solid season. University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) raised their record to a perfect 9-0-0 last night with a 3-0 win at La Salle. Two more goals were scored by sophomore Andrew Bulls. Bulls is the nation's leading scorer with 12 goals this season.
Bulls, who manged to confuse Soccer By Ives (thought the team nickname was Bulls not Retrievers), is helping Pete Caringi's team gather some attention. As a Freshman, Bulls was the Team's MVP (started all 17 games, 8 goals, 2 assists) and has not let up in 2009.

So how does a kid like this end up at UMBC? He was a member of the 2006 and 2008 national club championship with the Casa Mia Bays (a top club team in the US that has a relationship with Chelsea). and a 2007 Adidas High School All American at McDonogh. He was recruited by ACC, Big 10, and Big East schools but I guess it help
s to get a kid to come your school when your brother was a 4 year member of the program.

Here is hoping the success continues for the past president of the McDonogh's cricket, scrabble and table tennis clubs, Andrew Bulls.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Juventus/Livorno Serie A Matchday 4

I am really curious about the Livorno players’ high jersey numbers. They started with only Nico Pulzetti sporting a single digit number. It reminded me of a spring training baseball team loaded with minor leaguers trying to make the big squad. The game featured lots of end to end action in this game, and the teams were relatively evenly matched, save for two players: Gianlugi Buffon and Mauro Camoranesi. Without these two, this game surely ends in a draw or Livorno win.

Buffon’s value to Juventus cannot be understated. A la Cech and Van der Sar, he has the stereotypical, tall, lanky keeper’s body. His imposing frame is matched by his ability to always get into the right position, and his quickness to react. My game notes show 6 different times where I made a point to write down that he made an excellent save. The thing that kills me about him is he seems so cool about everything as well. It really must drive opposition strikers mad. Livorno played well throughout the match, but when their own finishing didn’t fail them, Buffon was always there to protect his goal.

The scoring began when Juve struck first in the 8th minute when Vincenzo Iaquinta neatly headed home Camoranesi’s cross from outside the box. The bianconeri added a second goal in the 30th minute when Claudio Marchisio chipped a shot over Alfonso de Lucia. Mauro Camoranesi assisted both goals and was all over the pitch all night. He tracked back to strip Livorno players of the ball. He pressed forward to feed his own strikers. His work rate was excellent. His positioning reminded me a bit of Andrea Pirlo, but with perhaps a little bit more ambition forward. Last week I wrote that I thought that perhaps Mauro was a bit overconfident. This week his play supported all of his self-assurance.

On a night when stars Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro del Piero were unavailable due to injury, both Buffon and Camoranesi imposed their will on the game to ensure a Juve win.

Monday, September 21, 2009

FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009

The FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009 gets underway on Thursday.

The biggest news coming out of qualifying is that two-time defending champion (and 5 of the last 7) Argentina didn't not qualify out of South America. They had a disasterous tournament and were beatn out by Venezuela! It hasn't been a good year for Argentine football.

Here are the groups. Top 2 teams plus top 4 3rd place team advance to the knockout stage.

Group A - Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Italy
Group B - Nigeria, Venezuela, Spain, Tahiti
Group C - USA, Germany, Cameroon, South Korea
Group D - Ghana, Uzbekistan, England, Uruguay
Group E - Brazil, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Australia
Group F - UAE, South Africa, Honduras, Hungary

Players to watch:

Giuliano - Brazil
Abel Hernandez - Uruguay
Gavin Hoyte - England
Fran Merida - Spain
Hernan Perez - Paraguay
Brian Perk - United States
Roger Rojas - Honduras
Ransford Osei - Ghana
Cho Young-Cheol - South Korea
Richard Sukuta-Pasu - Germany

A Few Questions Come To Mind:

Will Brazil win? Brazil are always favourites but have only won twice win 1993.
How many goals will Tahiti concede? I'll say 12.
Can Czech Republic take that extra step and improve on the 2007 Silver Medal.
How far can a CONCACAF team go? If the US gets far, perhaps they should play more games in Africa.

What is your prediction? I'll take Ghana to win it all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Matchday 1 Marseille/Milan

Fox Soccer's coverage of the Champions League games is something to behold. No longer are we tied to ESPN's choice of which game we are allowed to watch. 10 of this week's 16 matches are available either live or on a delay. That is unbelievable, and a massive step forward.

It poured rain throughout the game in Marseille on Tuesday, and Milan's white Champions League kits do not have a sponsor. It's a good thing this isn't the women's champions league. Or maybe it isn't. Pato, Pirlo and Flamini all play an attractive style of football and I was excited to see what they could do against Marseille. Early on, the cameras caught Ronaldinho chewing gum on the bench. That certainly won't help him in his losing battle to appear less ugly.

The two man announcing booth did a good job calling the game. They were never overbearing, but they added comments and descriptions when needed. The Marseille crowd was consistently into the game, singing in full voice throughout the downpour. Milan is an excellent passing team. If they only had the youth to take advantage of such gilded opportunities, they could be a force in both the scudetto race and Europe. Clarence Seedorf had a nice dribble towards goal, then set up Pipo Inzaghi for his 67th European goal in the 28th minute. Marco Storari had a massive save in added time on a shot from Cheyrou.

Gabriel Heinze leveled the home side in the 49th minute with a nice header off a free kick that ultimately nutmegged the keeper. The crowd remained fully involved after the goal. Champions league group stage crowds are great. Manuel Flamini earned a yellow in the 61st minute for a two footed tackle that probably should have been a straight red. Marseille had more gas in the tank at this point in the gam, but their inability to advance offensively ultimately let them down. Seedorf fed Inzaghi again in the 74th minute for Milan's second goal.

Even though the rain never let up, the pitch stayed in perfect condition. nice work groundskeepers. Milan has to be happy with the away win against a plucky Marseille side. Marseille's problem after this game is that they're one match down against their main rivals to finish second in Group C behind Real Madrid.

Who throws a shoe? Honestly?

Besiktas/Manchester United - CL Matchday 1

The lineups were introduced and Besiktas’ consisted of a bunch of guys I’ve never heard of with a lot of accent marks and umlauts in their name. Man U started with Neville, Vidic, Evans and Evra in the back, two English speakers playing center midfield (Scholes and Carrick), two Portuguese speakers on the wings (Anderson and Nani), and Rooney and Valencia up front. New man, Antonio Valencia ended up playing a little behind and a little wider than Rooney, but 4-4-2 it is.

FSC’s coverage was not so good. Only one man in the booth? No crowd noise? C’mon Fox, you’re better than that. While they fixed the lack of crowd noise problem around 10 minutes into the match, they never get around to fixing the announcer problem. Tim White grew more frustrating as the game went on, announcing all of the scores for the other CL games being played. I understand that the game was not aired on television in the states until 10 pm EDT, but I imagine lots of viewers recorded a few of the Matchday 1 games and planned to watch them on delay. If you spent all day avoiding updates, it’s no good to have the announcer ruin it for you. Also, at one point in the second half he referred to Besiktas as “Fenerbahce”.

United controlled the play during the first half, but had nothing to show for their efforts. Valencia, while talented, seemed just a bit off throughout the opening half.

The Red Devils came out of halftime buzzing around the pitch, looking even more dangerous than before. Patrice Evra continued to make bombing raids down the left side. He really has quite a motor. Besiktas were dangerous in spurts, but both the defense and keeper Ben Foster continued to deny them a goal. Sir Alex removed Carrick for Berbatov in the 63rd minute, and shortly thereafter he called off Rooney for Owen. Rooney was none too happy to be replaced, shaking his head the whole way off the pitch. The camera caught Wayne gesturing to the crowd just above the visitor’s bench, and throwing his boots down in disgust.

United finally got their well deserved goal in the 77th minute after a nice set up by Nani and Valencia led to a Scholes header into the upper right corner. The Ginger Ninja was left without a marker, and buried the chance. Park came on for Valencia in the 84th, and helped close out the 1-0 win.

Denizli’s men will certainly rue losing at home, especially after keeping the game scoreless for over an hour. However, United proved to be too much last night, and the Turkish club’s Champions League chances are bleak considering Wolfsburg’s thrashing of the Muscovites.

Chelsea's First Loss of the Season

Chelsea FC's chief executive Peter Kenyon has resigned from the club effective October 31st. He'll remain as a non-executive director and ambassador. This is an unexpected move by the club since it was Kenyon's move to Chelsea in 2003 from Manchester United that some say sparked the London club's revival. During his time at Chelsea, Kenyon oversaw the signings of huge stars (Shevchenko), up and coming stars (Drogba, Robben, Essien) and a few busts (Shevchenko, Maoluda, Alex). But he also oversaw the running of a team that won the EPL title twice, two FA and League Cups and a UEFA Champions League Final in 2008 that they eventually lost to Manchester United.

Now, is this a move by someone that has done as much as he could for the club and wants a new challenge or is it a move by the club in response to the Big Phil Scolari hiring by Kenyon? Hard to know for sure but after a period of undeniable success, the failures of the past couple of seasons - UCL Final loss, a one year FIFA transfer ban, a revolving door of managers, the debacle that is Frank Arnesen - may have finally caught up to Kenyon. It will be interesting to see the fallout from this over the course of the season as well as who Chelsea bring in to replace Kenyon. I hear Rick Perry is still looking for work.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Serie A Matchday 3 Lazio/Juve

Looking at the Serie A table going into last weekend, the Lazio/Juventus matchup presented the most promise. Each team had won its first two games. Would this game produce beautiful, flowing football that might serve to entice a Serie A neophyte? In a word, no.

The first half was almost completely forgettable. Other than Aleksandar Kolarov’s exceptional run past two Juve defenders, which ultimately led to a fine save by Buffon, there was little to keep a mind from wandering until Lazio had a goal disallowed in stoppage time. Referee Andrea Gervasoni made the correct call to disallow the goal as Julio Cruz clearly impeded a Juve man in the box to free up room for Sebastiani Siviglia’s shot. Maybe the players were distracted by the magenta kits worn by the referees. Words cannot describe their hideousness, and I cannot find a picture anywhere on the intertubes. You’ll have to take my word for it. Speaking of uniforms, Lazio appears to be following Man U and Everton in their attempt to be outfitted as ugly as possible this year. When you have such a great blue as your color, why would you screw it up by adding a vee-neck stripe thingy?

Watching Serie A on FSC is perplexing. The match announcer added almost nothing to my experience. When watching sports, I don’t normally appreciate a color man in the booth. However, in a game where I know very little about either team’s backstory, it would have been helpful. As it was, the announcer was Captain Obvious, adding nothing helpful to any viewer with two working eyes.

The game started to finally pick up as each team began to get stuck in around the 64th minute. Juve had an excellent display of passing, and began to look threatening, only for David Trezeguet to meekly roll the ball towards Fernando Muslera. Tiago replaced Mauro Camaronesi in the 69th minute. I can’t determine what I think of the Oriundi. He certainly has talent, but I get the feeling he thinks he is better than he truly is. That overconfidence leads to him wasting opportunities.

Juve new boy Martin Caceres opened the scoresheet in his first game for the bianconeri in the 72nd minute, pouncing on a ball in the box and slotting his shot past the Lazio keeper. As Lazio pressed for the tying goal, Juve got their second goal in the 4th minute of added time as David Trezeguet scored his first goal of the campaign.

The teams were pretty evenly matched on the day, but Juventus finished where Lazio could not. As it were, Juve completed the “away to Rome” double by week three.

The Champions

Group stages begin shortly. Matchday 1 for groups A-D brings us the following matches:

Atlético APOEL
Beşiktaş Man. United
Chelsea Porto
Juventus Bordeaux
Maccabi Haifa Bayern
Marseille Milan
Wolfsburg CSKA Moskva
Zürich Real Madrid

followed tomorrow by groups E-H

Dynamo Kyiv Rubin
Internazionale Barcelona
Liverpool Debrecen
Lyon Fiorentina
Olympiacos AZ
Sevilla Unirea Urziceni
Standard Arsenal
Stuttgart Rangers

The Besiktas/Manchester and Marseille/Milan fixtures are already scheduled to the DVR for today. Inter/Barca is can't miss football for tomorrow.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Are Man City For Real?

Manchester City passes their first test as they defeated Arsenal 4-2 to remain undefeated in the English Premier League.

I expected Arsenal to control play with the better midfield but in fact it was the Man City midfield of Wright-Phillips, De Jong, Barry and Ireland who controled the entire match.

Adebayor haunts his own team with two goals and over-celebrating. He might be reprimanded for that.

It'll be interesting to see how Man City does in their 8 matches against the BIG Four. Match 1 of 8 passed with flying colours.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The leagues are back. It feels like it was much longer than two weeks. While I enjoyed the World Cup Qualifiers, I am happy to be back to club football. Managers across the globe must be infinitely frustrated by having to have a long break at the beginning of the season.

There are some tasty fixtures on tap this weekend.
On FSC has the EPL's third place United at second place Tottenham at noon Saturday. They follow with Juventus at Lazio from Serie A. Those four teams have taken 33 of a possible 36 points this season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Big World Cup Qualifying Matches

There are a bunch of big matches today.


Group 1

Portugal must win or else Ronaldo will be staying home next year.

Group 3
Northern Ireland-Slovakia

Northern Ireland could take the lead in Group 3 with a win. Incredibly the two teams in the group who made Germany 2006, Czech Republic and Poland have had disasterous campaigns.

Group 5

Bosnia are 4 points ahead of Turkey for 2nd place and can secure a playoff spot with a win.

Group 6

England, who have a perfect record, are 4 points ahead of Croatia and with a win will qualify for the World Cup.

Group 7

Serbia are 4 points ahead of France and with a win will qualify for the World Cup, reducing Les Blues to a playoff spot.

Group 9

Scotland need a point ensure 2nd place in the group. However the worst of the 2nd place teams doesn't make it to the playoffs and with a draw, Scotland's 11 points may not be enough. Scotland would be in a more comfortable position with a win against a possible weakened Dutch side.


Group A

Incredible Gabon currently leads this Group of Death. Gabon can take a big lead and almost ensure qualification with a road win here.

Saudi Arabia-Bahrain (0-0)

2nd leg of the Asian playoff in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia should be favorites after a 0-0 in Bahrain.

Winner plays New Zealand for a trip to South Africa

South America:


Argentina are on the ropes. A Paraguay win qualifies them for the World Cup and could possibly knocked Argentina down to 6th place with 2 matchdays to go.

Chile qualifies for the World Cup if they beat Brazil.


Honduras and USA are tied at the top with Mexico on point behind.
No one can qualify in this round but can take one important step closer.
Consider it moving day.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Argentina On The Ropes

I don't know how the schedule for the South American qualifying was made but for Argentina to have a week where they play Brazil at home and Paraguay on the road is as hard as it gets. It's even worse when they lose 3-1 to Brazil.

Maradona's team looks lifeless and I can't see them getting anymore than a draw in Paraguay. If Ecuador beat Bolivia and Columbia beat Uruguay, Argentina could find itself in 6th with only 2 more matches to go. Even in 5th place, they would have to be in a playoff. If Maradona is somehow still at the helm, they'll lose that playoff no matter who their opponent is.

A World Cup without Argentina? The last time they failed to make it to the dance was in 1970 when they were knockout by Cubillas' Peru.

Friday, September 4, 2009

To a Career Well Done

We are not closed, just not open for to the public

The 30-year old National Soccer Hall of Fame is shutting its doors to the public and reducing staff from 8 down to 2 according to this story. This is a shame as I have never been and wanted to add it to the list of HOFs on my bucket list. Well you can't expect anything less when a US Open Cup out draws its annual attendence.

National Champions Start Their Defense

Packed house in College Park, MD for the #8 Maryland Terps v. #9 UCLA Bruins. Unlike tomorrow's football game in California, the Terps are not 22 point road dogs. Terps havehad good home field support in recent years which has pushed for expanding the stadium this year (now holds 7000). Maryland students (as you can see in the picture) sit right behind the visiting goalie and make sure they are in his year all game.

As for the Terps, well they have a returning goalie from that national championship, but all 4 full backs are replacing folks now in the Pros.

Also in action this weekend is the DC College Cup with top 20 George Mason. They are coached by an ex-MLS staff and have Fro Adu (yes Freddy's brother).


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why are Croatians still going to the EPL?

In an uneventful transfer deadline, transfers included two Croatians going to the EPL.

Spurs sign Niko Kranjcar from Portsmouth
Bolton sign Ivan Klasnic on loan from Nantes

Why are Croatians still going to the EPL? Don't they know they're gonna get a hurt real bad?

Croatian FA president claims his footballers are deliberately targeted in Premier League

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2nd Half Thoughts

* See my comments below in the Check Your Head Post
* Fair amount of extra time
* Seattle deserved the win, they were the better team
* Actually a pretty well officiated match
* Keller's aggressive long outlets created some great changes. He is old but can still play
* The We Win Trophies campaign is going to be put back in DC's face

Check Your Head

Seriously? Stomping on the guy who just scored on you? Bush league.

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

In like a lion, out like a lamb. OK, so the transfer window is not during the month of March. Nonetheless, there was very little activity at the deadline.

Maybe there was no one left after Real Madrid purchased Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso, my mom, your mom, and Andrew Shue.

Maybe the down economy left most clubs with no money left to spend.

Maybe team owners around the world all agreed to sit tight, knowing someone would post this awesome picture of a lamb.

Whatever the reason, this was a boring end to the transfer window.

First Half Thoughts (Open Cup Final)

1.) Montero is a very good player but not having his best night. The MLS recently acquired his contract, which is good because he will get sold to Europe. However, I wonder how much will get passed on to his original team and how much will stay with the MLS.
2.) Wicks is standing on his head tonight and making up for some dodgey defending on through balls by Seattle.
3.) FSC announcers make me want pine for ESPN coverage.
4.) Atmosphere at RFK seems pretty good. Can't remember why I did not go to the game tonight.

Time to Lift a Cup

Tonight 7:30 US Open Cup Final

DC United returns to defend one of the oldest trophies in the US against Drew Carey's boys. There have been a few words between the organization because Seattle felt they should have gotten the chance to host the game. Sure Seattle has sold more season tickets than the Mariners. Sure Seattle packs the stadium and plays in an outstanding stadium. When the only game time you can offer is 1PM on a Tuesday, you are not going to get to host a Cup final. This is especially true when everyone in the MLS and US Soccer are trying to make this tournament more meaningful.

So DC United will get to host the game at RFK and successfully host all of their games in the this year's Cup. (Many of the games were held at a small stadium in the Maryland Suburbs and DC refused to sell hosting the game to USL competitors because of travel concerns for the packed DC schedule). DC has been pushing this game pretty heavily in the community. They launched the We Win Trophies web site and have been having trophy events at bars throughout the city. Last year DC drew just over 8000 fans to a midweek game for the US Open Cup. This year they have already sold 12000 and expect a strong walk up (it is going to be a beautiful night in the city). DC is also offering $2 16-ounce beers, $2 dogs and ticket prices starting at $12 and going up to $30. Pretty good deal for a championship match (FOX Soccer will be broadcasting live).

DC is playing A TON of games right now because of the MLS and CONCACAF Champions League and not playing all that well. However, they got a 1-0 win at Chicago over the weekend. Seattle is a good team and I think the favorite, but DC has been here before.

Although it is not locked in yet, much like last year the winner of this game should get an invitation to the CONCACAF Champions League next year.

Here's to DC lifting another trophy

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rainieri To Become Roma Coach

Many reasons to smile!

Former Chelsea and Juventus manager Claudio Ranieri is set to be named Roma's new coach, according to the Italian's lawyer.

Ranieri, 57, would take over from Luciano Spalletti, who resigned after Roma began Serie A with two defeats.

Amazing to me that Spalletti survived numourous calls for his head and votes of confidence as Roma struggled to a 6th place finish last season.

After all that, it only took 2 matches this year before he resigned. Now what can Ranieri do? I know it's a long season but 6 points is alot fo make up already for the title. Can they a Champions League spot?

Is Maradona Loco?

Diego Maradona has selected Martin "I missed three penalties in a match" Palermo for the crucial World Cup clash against Brazil this Saturday.

What? Palermo might be still banging in the goals in a mediocre Argentine League but he can't possibly keep up with players both 10 years younger than him and making their money in the best European Leagues. Lucio would eat him alive.

Palermo's last appearance for Argentina was in a World Cup qualifier in November 2000, a 2-0 win over Chile. There's a reason for that. Cause he's crap.

Ah the memories.