31 December 2007

This blog is 50% effective

I'm pretty sure he's talking about Liverpool for the stats-obsessed "big team." And yeah. What he said. I don't know a whole lot about baseball (except drinking in the stands is fun), but it seems like positions are a lot more defined there than they are in soccer -- you have strikers making saves and defenders taking shots pretty much all the time in soccer, and I don't think you have shortstops playing right field in baseball. So I'm doubtful about how much the stats really say about a game; doesn't everyone know by now that possession statistics are meaningless? And the team with more shots doesn't always win (As Nate pointed out). So. I'm skeptical. Especially if stats mean Liverpool doesn't start Torres every game. Because, honestly.

19 December 2007

...In Spain!

I love Sid Lowe. That's really all I've got today. We're not talking about the Carling Cup. Or the Premiership.

Most pointless blog post ever, I know.

06 December 2007

England in actually-competent shocker

...I shouldn't jump the gun on declaring them competent, I guess, if past history is anything to go by. (Scolari and Hiddink, anyone?) But at least they seem to be looking at real candidates this time. I'm kind of surprised at myself, but I tend to think Mourinho's a good choice. I loathed him at Chelsea, but I think he might be good for England. If that team needs anything right now, it's someone who won't be overawed by the glamor of all the famous people on the team. Considering Mourinho apparently bought Shevchenko just to not play him and prove they could win anyway, I think he fits. Klinsmann, Capello, and Lippi would also be interesting -- I know Klinsmann speaks English, but I don't know about the other two. Mostly, though, I'm relieved to see that the FA isn't looking under every rock and bush trying to find an English coach who can do it. If McClaren taught them anything, it should have been that midlevel Premiership coaches aren't really up to the job. Even if they are English.

In other news, I'm more than a little ashamed to admit this, but I kind of love BobbyBoswell.com. Though someone needs to tutor Marc Burch on run-on sentences and the difference between its and it's. Just saying.

05 December 2007

Final-in-three-hours news

Liverpool's game against Besiktas may have been fixed. (Though not by Liverpool, it seems.)

Um, wow. I mean, odds are that whatever investigation is done won't be finished before the Champions League ends this season -- assuming Liverpool can make it to the knockout stages anyway. ("Odds are" was probably a bad choice of words there, huh?) I know this is all pretty idle speculation at this point, but ... wow.

I do have to wonder, though, how you fix an 8-0. Like, that's not just one win, that's enough goals for several wins. Wouldn't fixing a 3-0 or something be easier? You'd avoid the costs of kneecapping your defenders, anyway.

28 November 2007

Redknapp sketchy -- who knew?

I guess this takes him out of the running for England. Though I guess you can't really transfer players on a national team, so maybe he was never in the running to begin with.

As Footie Girl said: "Next week: The exclusive revelation that Jose Mourinho is a bit conceited!"

(And yes, presumption of innocence and all that. I'm just saying.)

26 November 2007

Question of the day

So, I'm new to the whole MLS thing, in that I only started watching games over the summer. And now it's the off-season, and players are moving all over (DC to San Jose to Columbus, for one), and I am so confused. Anyone want to explain the MLS transfer market to me? In small words?

Waiting-too-long-to-post news

Between travel and Thanksgiving, my post about England, Russia, Israel, and Croatia is pretty much entirely moot now. England only needed a draw against Croatia (who had already qualified) at home to make it to Euro 2008. They couldn't do it, McClaren got fired, and now no one wants the job.

I have to say, I'm not surprised by any of this. England lucked out that Israel won on Saturday to keep them alive this long. They lost to too many teams (and too many bad teams) along the way for me to say they deserved to qualify. At some point, being a big name doesn't get you anywhere, and they reached that point. McClaren didn't have any ideas that Sven didn't have earlier -- by the end, they were still trying to play Gerrard, Lampard, and Beckham all in the same midfield. Like, weren't they trying this before? And didn't it fail horribly then? They're just out of ideas, and chose to bring someone in who would just do more of the same. I don't know how anyone's surprised that they didn't qualify. (And yeah, injuries and all that. Wouldn't have made a difference if they'd done what they needed to earlier.)

And I really can't blame anyone for not wanting the England job, either. The media and the public think you've got a better squad than you do (Paul Robinson, starting keeper. Honestly.), you'll be blamed for absolutely everything, and anything less than winning the World Cup is a failure. I understand having high standards and all, but really, shouldn't the team be able to qualify consistently (and well) before they worry about winning anything? O'Neill's apparently ruled himself out, and I wasn't horribly thrilled with the idea of him regardless, so what the hell. Mourinho for England. Most of those players need their egos taken down a step or two, he'd be more interesting at press conferences than McClaren, and they might stand a chance of making it to the World Cup. (Yes, I know, easy qualifying group. Didn't they say that about Euro 2008?) Based on sheer entertainment value, I'm backing Mourinho. Not that the FA listens to me, but at least I make more sense than Brian Barwick.

19 November 2007

I would have guessed seventh grade.

Via Dan Loney:

cash advance

It must be the semicolons. I like semicolons.

Posts about the internationals from this weekend and MLS Cup are forthcoming. But I'm currently in the middle of a marathon paper-writing session, so this is the best I can do right now. Sorry, y'all.

16 November 2007

Redesign and watch party

I'm fixing to head out to DC, but some quick things before I hit the road:

  • I redesigned the blog. This also involved editing my blogroll; I had to take off some dead links and I added some new blogs that I've been reading recently. (How did I not know about Soccer Insider until now?) If you were on there before and I dropped you, leave me a comment.

  • Mourinho to New York? I won't lie, this would be pretty awesome. If Bruce Arena was too outspoken for the league's taste, I shudder to think what they'd make of Jose. But at least it'd be fun to watch. I may not like him, but he's definitely entertaining.

  • If you're in DC this weekend, there's a US/South Africa watch party going on. I can't promise I'll be there -- I don't do well with early mornings. But it looks like a good time, so I wanted to pass the word along.

15 November 2007

Rainy Thursday MLS blogging

Because, kids, the MLS Cup is this weekend, and your humble blogger is going. This is actually my first MLS game ever, and even though I don't care much for either of the teams, I'm excited to go. I'm actually sort of going in as a neutral; I'm from Texas and all, but most Texans don't claim Houston as their own, and Boston's winning everything else this year, so I don't want to see them win MLS Cup, too. Not that either of those are really good reasons to dislike a team, but who said sports fandom was rational? I'll probably end up cheering for Houston, since the friend I'm going with has decided to support New England, and I'm contrary like that.

I'm not going to get into the whole "playoffs mean the best team doesn't win" thing, because 1) that's true of every sport, and 2) that's true of foreign cup competitions, too. Does anyone really think Liverpool were the best team in Europe in 2005? Or Milan were last year? No (or at least, they shouldn't). But that's how it works. I would have liked this final to be DC/Chivas, since they were the teams with the best overall records this season, but that's not how knockout competitions work.

I'm just thinking of this as the equivalent of the FA Cup final, and an excuse to go up to DC, drink in the stands, and tell the New England players to suck it. Because, really, isn't that what being a sports fan is all about?

13 November 2007

Pointless link of the day

Alexi Lalas and his incredibly tiny and adorable Yorkie.

What is it with super-masculine managers and Yorkies? First Mourinho, now Lalas. I love Yorkies, but aren't they a little, well, girly for that type of guy? If I were that dog, I'd be worried about Lalas accidentally stepping on me. Dude's tall, is all I'm saying.

09 November 2007

Friday linkspam

With an international twist this time, since we're coming up to the last round of Euro qualifiers.

  • McClaren recalls David Beckham. Because for a must-win game against Croatia, you totally want an oldish midfielder that has barely played a game since he went to MLS. If anyone ever doubted that McClaren is completely out of ideas, this should be all the proof you need.

  • The US named their roster for the friendly against South Africa. I'm glad to see some of the younger players get called up, like Altidore and Edu and Kljestan (...and Eddie Lewis. I don't know.) I kind of wish they were playing a European opponent, but I guess that's hard to do with the Euro qualifiers. Anyway, South Africa should be an interesting opponent, and it's probably a good idea to go down there before the World Cup. Um, assuming they qualify.

  • I really have no comment on this story. Except that man needs a job, and fast.

06 November 2007

Derby > Besiktas?

Darn right, kids. I just hope they didn't use up all their goals in this match. They'll need at least one or two more for Porto and Marseille.

All right, Liverpool

It's time to get your act together, kids. Well, really, the time to have gotten your act together in the Champions League was a couple of months ago. Being bottom of a group with Besiktas, Marseille, and Porto is an absolute embarrassment. As is the fact that Liverpool have yet to win a game against any of those teams. I don't think Liverpool are going to win anything this season -- especially considering they can't seem to win in the league -- but going out in the group stage of the Champions League is completely humiliating. Particularly when you can't even make it into the UEFA Cup. Just ask Manchester United a couple of seasons ago. I don't really understand how Liverpool are playing so badly right now; I know they're dealing with a lot of injuries, but were Alonso and Agger so essential that they can't put anything together until they return? Right now, the midfield distribution is horrendous. Sissoko can't manage to even pass successfully, we don't have a single fast defender, and I'm starting to screech every time I see Kuyt picked over Crouch. Right now, I don't care how pretty they play, I just want a win. And all our injured players back. And a pony.

In MLS playoff news, all of the teams I wanted to make it to the final (DC, Chivas, Dallas) are out. Now I'm going to have to cheer for Houston or Kansas City, I think, because I refuse to cheer on a team with Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Ugh, he's such a whiny little bitch. Hate. I don't love the MLS playoff format -- if you're going to do home-and-away, you need to have away goals -- but I don't really know enough about the league to say what would make it better. Though I did just look here, and seriously, the semifinals are just one game? Well, that's crap. Anyway.

In non-playoff MLS news, Alexi Lalas wants a 'sexy type of candidate' to manage the Galaxy. I'm not sure what that means, but if he thinks he's getting Mourinho, he's fooling himself. Player/manager David Beckham. That's all I'm saying.

24 October 2007

Can't-think-of-a-title news

WAGs are inspirational and good role models. As far as I can tell (and I don't really understand the British educational system), getting GCSEs is basically the minimum level you have to do to finish school, right? So this is like calling people good role models for graduating high school. Which is, I guess, better than not finishing high school, but really, is that all we expect of women?

Oh, Liverpool. Y'all better put something together today, or it's pretty much over. I was glad to see that Alonso was traveling to Istanbul, but who knows if he'll start. I hope he does -- Sissoko's had an awful season, and wasn't ever really a playmaker to begin with. Alonso can be inconsistent, but he's still a lot better than the nothing they have there now. And I don't want to be the one to do it, but someone should tell Steven Gerrard that he needs to be playing on the right instead of in the center. Maybe Rafa's goatee can break that news.

22 October 2007

Greg Ryan out as US Women's coach

Oh, thank god.

Should have happened right after the World Cup, but better late than never. I would have liked them to have a replacement lined up. Everyone remembers the clusterfuck after Arena got dumped, right? Not that I'm anti-Bob Bradley, but still. That was a lot of drama no one needed, especially after the keeper drama.

I promise this isn't becoming an MLS blog

But I am going to DC next month for the MLS Cup, so I have been paying a little more attention to the playoffs than I normally would be (i.e. more than zero). I'd like it to be a DC/Chivas final, but since they have the best regular-season records, it probably won't happen. Anyway. So I was reading about the Columbus/DC game, and came across this quote:

Both goals came from the 20-year-old Rogers, who was an influential player on the U.S. under-20 national team at this past summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup. . . . "He's a good player," said Schmid. "He had a good under-20 World Cup and sort of fell in a hole when he came back. But he got out of there in time and if you look what he's done the last two weeks, he's showing that he can be a player that has very, very bright future."
And maybe that's just an American phrase (like PKs or "in the cage"), but he "fell in a hole"? Really? Taken literally, that's pretty great. If a little disturbing -- he fell in a hole in the summer and is only out now? No one thought to look for him?

Thoughts on Liverpool/Everton -- Basically, ugh. I mean, an away win is always nice, and away at Everton is better, especially considering how they lost this one 3-0 last time. But the midfield's still a mess without Alonso, and without a couple of sketchy calls, it would have been a draw at best. The injuries aren't really their fault, but man, the sooner Agger and Alonso get back (to say nothing of Torres), the better. It's a little bit embarrassing to be behind Man City, you know?

16 October 2007

Not dead yet.

Honestly, if England did this, they might get me to care about them again.

Um, yeah, I'm still alive. Sad to say, I don't have anything stunning to report. Liverpool don't seem to be into it this season, which makes it hard for me to care that much. I'll get excited for the Everton game this weekend, but they drew at Birmingham and lost to Marseille, and ugh. The only change I'm seeing this season is that we have a more expensive striker that Rafa's refusing to play consistently, and we've switched from a slow start to the season to a slow October. It's still not great for our title hopes. I do think they should be able to beat Everton, but the sooner Agger and Alonso come back, the better. As my rec-league team can tell you, you need some sort of connection between the defense and the attack, and Steven Gerrard flailing around just isn't enough.

And yeah, I have to admit it. I've lost the England love. I may come back around by Euro 2008, but they've got to start playing better (3-0 against Estonia doesn't count, sorry). They keep making the same mistakes and McClaren's afraid to drop big names, and it's kind of like Sven never left. Which isn't surprising, but it's depressing nonetheless. (And seriously, the US team is just so cute. I don't think England chicken-fights, and more's the pity.)

28 September 2007


Frustrated with the sports blogging world today, so I'll just say I wish this were real.

Oh, and also, if I hear another comment about how lame women's soccer is, yeah. It'll be way too soon. And I'll think you're an asshole.

23 September 2007


I have to say, I'm loving the Chelsea implosion. It's probably setting me up for all kinds of bad karma when Rafa leaves Liverpool (whenever that may be), but god, what a little bitch John Terry is.


Midway through the first half Rosenborg scored, after Miika Koppinen beat Terry at a set piece. When Mourinho then directly criticised the centre back's defending at half time, Terry refused to accept responsibility for the goal or even to respond to his manager. . . . The club subsequently asked Mourinho for his resignation, which he refused to tender, but ultimately settled on dismissal by 'mutual consent'. Later on Wednesday, Mourinho sent Terry a text message sarcastically thanking him for talking to the club's hierarchy.

Again, really.
Mourinho made a final trip to the training centre at Cobham to pick up his possessions and say goodbye to his squad. There was a message in each farewell. For most there was a Latin embrace and warm words of thanks. For Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard the emotions were so strong that both men were reduced to tears, Lampard retreating to the shower room in an attempt to hide his. For Shevchenko and Terry there was nothing but a handshake that, in the words of one observer, could have 'frozen a mug of tea'. No one was in any doubt about who he considered the true captains of his team.

McClaren better watch his back. Not that he doesn't deserve to be fired, but you know. You'd think your captain would be on your side, right?

20 September 2007

LOL Chelsea

Goodbye, Mourinho. I guess this means Rafa wins? (And I'm pretty sure it means Chelsea's out of the title race this season.)

And if I didn't love the Guardian forever, this slideshow would seal the deal.

10 September 2007

What I've been reading

A few blogs I've been meaning to link, but haven't. Because I'm lame. But I really enjoy making lists in HTML, so here we go.

  1. First of all, a newish women's soccer blog, Kickster. British, and seems to be in the Who Ate All the Pies family of blogs. Georgina Turner, who I've missed a lot at The Guardian, is writing there, and so far I really like it. It's one of my perennial resolutions to pay more attention to women's soccer, so I'm definitely going to be reading this one.

  2. Another new blog, Dying Midseason, from a friend of mine. Liverpool-focused, but also has some American football and Argentina and Spain, too. I have to say, I don't care about the NFL, but this is good stuff.

  3. I already linked the US Women's blog this morning, but I would be remiss if I didn't link the US Men's blog as well. They're both mostly active when the teams are in camp (obviously), but they're pretty great then. I'm always in favor of team blogs, and the USMNT one is particularly cute. It's kind of refreshing to read about a national team where the recreation is Playstation and marathon keep-up, not, you know. Partying with hookers.

International round-up

  • England 3 - Israel 0. I'm not feeling the England love lately, and I had an elsewhere to be, so I didn't watch this one. (Remember how I said school was kicking my ass this semester? Still true.) Since I was absolutely convinced that England weren't going to qualify, though, this is kind of good to see. And it's especially good to see Michael Owen score again, especially when he doesn't break something immediately after doing so. A lot still depends on Russia, but this is fairly encouraging. I do wish I believed that Steve McClaren had even the slightest clue about what he was doing. I feel that as soon as Lampard's fit, he's back into the lineup, and that's just a bad plan for everyone.

  • Brazil 4 - United States 2. I did watch this one, and the score is flattering to the Brazilians, honestly. Their first goal was an own-goal, and the US was unlucky to concede a penalty while getting at least two penalty calls against Brazil denied. I thought the US played pretty well overall -- the usual striker problem continued, though. Dempsey's goal was solid, but Wolff should have done better. The midfield was pretty solid, I think, and by the midfield I mean "Michael Bradley." I think I've already talked too much here about my thoughts on him, but he was absolutely everywhere in this game, and totally unafraid to take on Ronaldinho or Kaka, which is great. Well, great for most of the game -- just like it happened in the Gold Cup semi, he made a bad tackle in the last few minutes and became a liability, conceding that penalty for Brazil's last goal. Feilhaber and Donovan disappeared for large parts of the game, which wasn't unexpected (especially for Donovan), but was a little disappointing. The defense seemed overwhelmed for a lot of the game -- there were a lot of panicky clearances -- but even with that, they did pretty well, the own-goal excepted. (Yeah, I'm still not an Onyewu believer. You need more than being massive to be a good defender.) And then there's Tim Howard. While I would have liked to see Chris Seitz get capped, this wouldn't be the ideal first game, and you've got to respect Tim Howard for playing with a dislocated finger. Pretty awesome. I mean, Brazil was Brazil, and I never thought the US was going to win. But they made a good strong showing, and it's nice to see them not get intimidated. (Also, dear Kaka, I don't think Jesus likes it when you claim an own-goal as yours. Shut up, darling.)

  • And finally, the Women's World Cup starts today in China. The US are the favorites here, and while they haven't gotten a ton of media coverage, the games are being shown live on ESPN/ESPN2 -- admittedly starting from 5:00 to 8:00 in the morning, but still. Also, they blog. The other team I'll be paying attention to is England. Unlike the men, the women aren't favorites here, and they definitely don't make $200,000 a week (or even a year). I can't pretend to know a whole lot about most of these players, but I am pretty much always pro-Rachel Yankey. Though not as much as I am pro-Kristine Lilly. Just saying.

05 September 2007


So, Footie Girl is currently pestering me to update, and I admit it's long overdue. My problem, along with the start of school completely kicking my ass, is that Liverpool are top of the table for just about the first time since I've been following them, and I don't really know what to say, to be honest. Torres isn't choking, we're beating up on newly-promoted teams (and Villa), and ... I really can't complain. Which doesn't leave me with a lot to say.

So instead I'll hit and run with this link I've had saved for a couple of weeks -- apparently it should be mangoes at halftime and not oranges. The FA, tackling the important issues since never.

17 August 2007

Friday linkpost

  • Liverpool/Chelsea this weekend. While this almost always means a lackluster game, it always means managerial sniping. Which was fun a few years ago, but guys, seriously. Just kiss already. You know you want to. That said, though, "Abramovich has done a really good job"? BURN.

  • England squad named for Germany friendly. Calling up injured players because you don't want to try new things? It's like 2006 all over again! And seriously, did Scott Parker run over someone's puppy?

  • Speaking of stories we've been seeing for years, Michael Owen is almost fit again. Until he actually plays a game, that is. He used to be one of my favorites, but man. It's been a long time.

  • David Beckham scored, and no one was there. Except 17,000 for a midweek game, especially a non-league one, isn't that bad. Especially when no one thought he was going to play, let alone start, let alone score. Ooops. I know the backlash has begun in earnest, but is anyone pretending that most fans 1) know or 2) care what the Superliga is? Because, no.

  • And finally today, another American goes to a doomed Premiership team. I like Benny Feilhaber -- yeah, that's not a secret -- but I still don't think Derby has a chance. Maybe he can commiserate with the three Americans at Fulham.

14 August 2007

What about Graeme Souness?

Apparently Rafa's a trendsetter.

I'm surprised they're even giving odds on Torres growing a mustache. Skinny thing that he is, I sort of doubt he can grow stubble, let alone a full-on goatee.

12 August 2007

He's still better than Dave O'Brien

So, if soccer is on ESPN, I'll pretty much watch it. For most of the good stuff (at least until the Champions League starts), you have to go to FSC or Univision, but I want to encourage ESPN to show soccer, so I watch the random internationals and MLS games.

It's all good, but I've decided my favorite part is the halftime "other soccer news" report that ESPN News does. The value of this isn't really in the news they deliver -- it's usually stuff I already know. The amusement value comes from two things: 1) trying to guess how they'll shoehorn David Beckham in, and 2) waiting for the mispronunciations to begin. In the last two games I've watched (Galaxy/United and US/New Zealand), the poor ESPN newsguy has mispronounced:

  • Feilhaber
  • Derby
  • Hleb
  • Birmingham
  • Ballack

Somehow he got "Szetela" and "Essien" right, though, both of which I would have thought were more difficult than, you know. Derby. I feel there's a drinking game in the making here, but it needs a little more thought.

In other news, Kristine Lilly continues to be absolutely badass.

10 August 2007

Friday linkpost

08 August 2007

Pre-season preview

Once again, Sven asks the questions, I answer them. Including where I would get a Liverpool tattoo, for all you pervs reading.

And so there's actual content here, I'm not sure Rafa's goatee is the answer to all Liverpool's problems. I think it's mostly a fairly harmless midlife crisis.

05 August 2007

Fight test

It's supposed to be a friendly, boys. Not a fight.

I shouldn't be this amused, but I am. I kinda love my dirty little team.

23 July 2007


United Dong longs to prove critics wrong

The bored Soccernet headline writer strikes again!

20 July 2007

Friday linkpost

18 July 2007

Speaking of the shallow end

Quiz time! Here we see:

a) a farmer-tan convention
b) the US Copa team

16 July 2007

The second annual end-of-season awards

Yes, Footie Girl and I are doing it again. Yes, we realize that the Premiership is already pretty much back in season, with friendlies and summer tours and meaningless cup competitions. But like everyone always says, the season's not over till Argentina choke in a major way, so here we are. Some of the categories have changed since the last time -- different season and all that. Anyway. With apologies for the delay, here are the Second Annual Footie Girl and You'll Never Blog Alone End-of-Season Awards!

Chav of the Year: Steven Gerrard. While his wedding wasn't quite as gloriously tacky as we'd all been hoping for, the best man's toast tipped the scales all the way over to chav. It takes a lot to have a tackier wedding than John Terry (Lionel Richie, that's all I'm saying), but Steven managed. Good job, kid.

Runner-up: Rio Ferdinand. For the Myspace page alone.

Most Valuable Spaniard: Pepe Reina. He had a good season overall, really, but basically, this award comes down to one thing: penalties. I've never really seen an alleged "penalty specialist" who lived up to the hype like Pepe does. I don't have a lot to say here, since the video really speaks for itself. Basically, though, our keeper's a total fucking stud, and maybe the best buy Rafa's made.
Runner-up: Cesc Fabregas. Scored basically no goals, but really grew into his central midfield role, and grew up enough (apparently) to be Arsenal's new vice-captain. Stop throwing pizza and see where it gets you, kids?

Most Emo Player: We've got a tie! This one goes to both Jose Antonio Reyes and Julio Baptista. Either Arsenal is really awful, or Reyes and Baptista both need to get a sunlamp or two and just deal with it. It's not like Real Madrid was the happiest place on earth, either.
Runner-up: Andriy Shevchenko. Left Milan in the summer, and pretty much immediately started batting his eyes at them again. Now he might go back, he might not, but ugh. We're over it.

Clusterfuck of the Year: England. Runaway winners in this category, especially after Real inconveniently ended up winning La Liga. For the analysis here, I'm just going to quote Footie Girl: "For the entire World Cup fiasco, the endless process of replacing Sven that ended up with ... Steve McClaren (woo), dropping Becks and then bringing him back, the ongoing attempts to shoehorn Steven and Lameass into the same midfield, the failed experiment with 3-5-2, etc., etc." Add in the incredibly lackluster, and likely doomed, Euro qualification campaign, and you've got a big old mess, and one that's not going to get better anytime soon.
Runner-up: Chelsea. There are so many links I could dig up here, but I'll just go for this one.

Gayest Team: Italy. The Internets are being remarkably uncooperative with photographic evidence right now, but come on. Gattuso was pretty much naked before they even laid hands on the trophy, and apparently the Italian way to congratulate your keeper for winning a penalty shootout is to straddle his crotch. Not that we're against either of those things.
Runner-up: Arsenal. Still and forever.

Best Fight: Craig Bellamy, John Arne Riise, karaoke and golf clubs. Everyone's heard about this one by now, but it's still awesome. The facts alone are probably enough for this to win, but the part where these two idiots -- and I say that with love -- went on to score in the Barcelona game? Seals the deal. I don't want to say it was ironic, but it was at least Alanis Morrissette ironic.
Runner-up: Inter/Valencia. Like, play with that much energy and one of y'all would probably have scored.

Douchebag of the Year: Mike Newell. Knowing that you're a sexist doesn't make it any less douchey, sunshine. (Yes, I did just call Mike Newell "sunshine." He's lucky that's all I'm calling him.) We would also like to take this opportunity to point out that Rachel Yankey wins. Unlike Mr. Newell or his team.
Runner-up: Jose Mourinho. No new links, but basically he gets this for everything he's ever said at a press conference ever. Also getting arrested over a dog.

Special Achievement Award: Daniel Agger. We'd like to be all high-minded here and say that this is for his goal against West Ham. Or even for his goal against Chelsea, which was less pretty but more important. But we have to be honest. Those helped, but this is really because somewhere along the line, Dan got hot. If this makes us shallow, we can live with that.

That's all for this season's awards! Hopefully next year they'll be done before preseason.


Railhawks beat Chicago Fire 1-0 to advance to Open Cup quarters. Aw. Good job, boys. Maybe I can actually make it to the game next time. This one doesn't sound like it was much of a thriller, but knocking out the holders is always a pretty sweet feeling. Just ask Arsenal about that FA Cup match.

Sorry, y'all, this is what you get when Liverpool's boring me. (Babel's a good signing, but I know nothing about him, and I can't get worked up about friendlies.) Consider yourselves lucky I'm not talking about the u20s anymore.

09 July 2007

And it's better than a camera on Donovan.

This is lame, but odds are I'll watch.

And, really, train a camera on Zidane for an entire game and you've got yourself an art film, so who knows. Let's call it nationally broadcast installation art. Who knew ESPN was so pomo?

Well, and also, I can't mock Chelsea if I don't watch them. So there's two reasons.

06 July 2007

Friday linkpost

05 July 2007

I blame Footie Girl for this.

Because instead of writing about the Torres deal (thumbs up!) or Rafa's new facial hair (thumbs down!), I'm being forced to defend the US's team selection for Copa America. Note: this is not defending their performance, because I can't do that. They lost concentration and allowed Argentina back into the game, and their finishing was absolutely dire against Paraguay. But those were both problems during the Gold Cup too, and so I don't think that's really down to team selection. Given the constraints they had to work under -- club commitments, fatigue, and the need to win the Gold Cup -- I don't think the team selection was that bad. And it certainly wasn't bad enough to be singled out by CONMEBOL.

The general criticism of the Copa America squad is that it was second-tier and too inexperienced; usually people argue here that Bob Bradley or US Soccer or whoever should have picked the more experienced internationals for Copa America and let the younger players handle Gold Cup. But that's based on a misunderstanding of current priorities, and, I think, a desire for prestige now instead of later. While I think everyone would agree that Copa America is the more prestigious tournament, it's also not entirely relevant to the US's immediate goals. Winning it -- which they were never going to do, even with their strongest squad -- would have gotten them nothing in terms of the Confederations Cup or financial reward. Copa America is essentially a no-stakes tournament for the US. Even the best result for them would have been pretty much meaningless, like winning a friendly. While getting to the quarters, or even further, would have been nice, that's all it would have been. For better or worse, the US is in CONCACAF, and I don't think you can fairly blame them for the weakness of the conference. In the short term, winning their conference tournament still has to be the priority, since it gets them both immediate rewards (money) and future payoff (Confederations Cup, and more international experience).

Therefore, since there was no real benefit to winning, it seems like the US decided to treat Copa America as essentially a practice tournament, calling up next-generation players and a few more established ones. One of the things they were faulted for after the World Cup was only playing against weaker teams, which hurt them when they got drawn into one of the tougher World Cup groups. Well, again, it's not the US's fault CONCACAF is weak, and they're absolutely required to play Gold Cup. But now a lot of the players likely to be in the mix for 2010 (assuming qualification) will have experience against more quality teams. So, yeah, this is really a developmental squad, but I don't think that's necessarily bad. In addition, it's not like the US is the only country who took that approach. Brazil, a CONMEBOL team, exempted its two best players and took a more untried team as well. And yet the US are the only ones getting called out by CONMEBOL. Doesn't make a lot of sense.

Finally, you have to look at the issue of availability. Since Copa America isn't the conference tournament for the US, releasing players for it was optional on the part of their clubs. Especially with European clubs starting training so early, this meant that many of the more experienced players had to return, like Dempsey, Howard, and Bocanegra. So the US was, I think, hampered to a large extent by the fact they were only invitees to the tournament and not required to play, unlike Brazil, Argentina, and the other CONMEBOL teams. (And even that doesn't take into account the fatigue issues present in playing two tournaments back-to-back.) In addition, the u-20 World Cup started immediately after the Gold Cup ended, which meant that some of the more experienced younger players like Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu were committed to that instead. So even if they had wanted to pick the exact same team as for Gold Cup, there was no way they would have been able to. (A side issue here is that there don't seem to be a lot of mid-level players; people tend to either have 30+ caps or under 10. I don't know why that is, but I blame Arena.)While I agree it's a significantly weaker team than I would have liked, I think it'll pay off in the long run. A lot of the players in the Copa America team now will be in their mid-20s by the next World Cup, which is when it'll really matter.

28 June 2007

Managerial wife swap!

(What can I say -- I'm sick to death of the "managerial merry-go-round" headlines. Let's change it up a bit.)

Uh. I don't dislike Coleman, but. What? I'm not sure this was the best decision for Sociedad.

And speaking of bad decisions... Not that I love Capello, but this is weird. And seems like an odd way to reward someone for winning the league. Not in the most stylish fashion, true, but can Real really afford to be so picky, considering it was their first trophy in three seasons? They think they can, I guess, and that's all that matters. Maybe we can get a switch going -- Capello to Chelsea, Jose to Barca, Rijkaard to, um. Somewhere else. That's where it all falls apart.

Liverpool? Still haven't bought anyone. Though I do like these Torres rumors. A lot, if we're being honest.

25 June 2007

Pretend this is embedded

Dorkiest national team ever? Signs point to yes. But stuff like this makes me wish more teams had Youtube channels. (And before any of y'all say anything, I totally love Benny Feilhaber for his mind.)

Anyway, enjoy winning, boys. Just don't get used to it. Copa America will be rough.

24 June 2007

Bad news, good news

First, the bad news. Charlton are shutting down their women's team. The justification is supposedly that they need the money because the men were relegated. And that may be their reason, but it doesn't make a lot of sense regardless:

Despite their relegation, Charlton will receive parachute payments of £11million a year for the next two seasons, while the impending sale of Darren Bent to Tottenham is set to bring in £16m.
Killing the women's team will only save them about 250,000. Which they could get from selling a youth player or two. It's ridiculous, and really disheartening. Charlton are one of the most successful teams in English women's football, and they don't deserve to be shut down because the men couldn't cut it this year. So basically, this is complete bullshit, and I hope they can find a way to keep the team alive.

And now the good news:
  • US 2 - Chile 1 (U20 men, friendly). I didn't get to see all of this one, but this is a good way to warm up for the U20 World Cup, starting next week in Canada. They've apparently drawn the Group of Death (again), so this should be interesting.

  • US 2 - Brazil 0 (women, friendly). I watched all of this one, and god. How badass is Kristine Lilly? More national team appearances than anyone ever -- not anyone in the US, or any woman, but anyone. Admittedly, this was an under-strength Brazil team, but the US completely dominated this one. It bodes well for the Women's World Cup, I think.

  • US 2 - Mexico 1 (men, Gold Cup final). This was the only competitive match of the three, and the one I was most invested in. The first half wasn't all that impressive -- Onyewu had an absolute shocker throughout, and they missed far too many chances. With that, though, things got a lot better in the second half; the defense tightened up and they were able to retain possession better. Ching and Beasley still threw away too many chances, but I can't really criticize too much. They did what they needed to, and Feilhaber's goal was absolutely gorgeous. I have a thing for long-range shots like that, and that was just about perfect. The most important thing here is that they qualified for the Confederations Cup in 2009, which should build some confidence. Now comes the Copa America, where they'll probably crash and burn. But it's good that they're going, and it should be some good experience for the younger players and the MLS-based ones. But, man, I fear that Argentina squad.

19 June 2007

Is it can be transfer tiem now?

Because nothing is happening in Liverpool's off-season (in that we have not bought anyone at all, really), and all I seem to be able to talk about these days is uniforms and the US national team, today I bring you an article about both.

Now, this really annoyed me more than it should have, and I'm not entirely sure why. I'm, at best, a casual US fan, and even then it's during off-summers when there's nothing else going on. But, come on. Even I know that every team has a third kit. Also, even countries where they have a consistent home shirt -- he uses Argentina and the Netherlands as examples -- change those kits. Not as drastically, but they change. As nice as it would be to have some FA totally immune to the whims of Adidas or Nike, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

This, though, is ridiculous:

[After beating Colombia in the 1994 World Cup] Perhaps betraying a lack of confidence, the Americans changed uniforms for this game—an odd move for a host country.
HI THAT IS CALLED BEING THE AWAY TEAM. Even if you're playing a tournament in your home country, every team has to have an away kit, because you always have a home and an away. This is why Milan had to wear white and Liverpool got to wear red in Athens -- even though neither team was native to Greece, you always have a home and an away. If the US was "away" for that game, they were away. It's not a crisis of faith to change shirts when you're required to.

Also, I refuse to take anyone seriously who advocates for this kit. Leaving aside the blue shorts with stars, really? Red and white hoops? They'd look like candy canes. Or candy stripers. Neither of those are really likely to inspire confidence, I don't think. (Also, he seems to have this thing for fans wearing the team's jerseys. Imagine the average American sports fan in horizontal stripes. Yeah, that's totally a good idea!) Or this one. They all look like they're regional finalists in the Miss Teen USMNT pageant with that sash thing. And, seriously. You've got to know Michael Bradley's got that title sewn up, since he is, in fact, a teenager (though Donovan could make a late run for it, since he's a girl). Anyway. Those are both, while not absolutely horrendous, certainly not the best kits in the world, and the first one is more than likely going to get anyone laughed off the pitch.

And I actually really like the current kits. The stripe is simple, but the colors are strong, and I really like how the stripe carries down the shorts and the socks as well. It's not iconic like the Netherlands kit, but it doesn't really have to be. American soccer has really only been around in its current form for about 20 years. Give them time and they'll work something out.

God, Liverpool, will you hurry up and sign someone already? My posts can't get much more frivolous than this.

15 June 2007

Friday linkpost

14 June 2007

Lazy Thursday blogging

First of all, hi to Soccerblogs and Seven Guys Short! I've been using Soccerblogs for a while now, and Seven Guys Short is new to me, but I wish I'd been reading sooner.

Second, the Premier League released the fixture list for the upcoming season. Here's Liverpool's schedule (pending Champions League qualifiers, cup replays, and, as always, life-threatening fog.) This is nice, in that it puts us all a little closer to the start of the new season, but it's still two months away. I know some people get really excited about this, but I'm not really one of them, I guess. Didn't we know that every team plays every other team twice? But it's the off-season, and Liverpool's not setting the transfer market on fire at the moment (Benayoun? Huh), so you blog with what you have. If you want a real look at the calendar, though, Sven's got it covered.

Speaking of off-season boredom, I seem to have fallen into watching the US men in the Gold Cup. I'm not entirely sure how this happened, really, but I think I blame their friendly against China. While Landon Donovan is, sadly, in the team -- I admit he's skilled, but I just do not like him -- they retained a lot of the younger players from the China game as well. So it's the US, but it's a different look for the US, and one I like a lot more. I think getting their asses absolutely handed to them at the World Cup last year, after going in ranked in the top ten by FIFA, was a really humbling experience. A lot of the players from that side have retired or are aging out, and Bob Bradley seems to be focusing on bringing in a lot of European-based players, which is only good for the team in the long run, I think. I'll be interested to see how they do in Copa America, where they'll be facing much better opposition than in the Gold Cup. The fact that they're even going to Copa America, after turning down invitations for years, is nothing but a good sign; even if they have to play a weakened team, getting more players in the rotation and playing more challenging internationals is worth it.

As far as the Gold Cup, the US was apparently in "el grupo de la muerte" -- sorry, I don't get Fox Soccer, so I've been watching on Spanish TV -- but qualified for the quarters with a game to spare, and absolutely destroyed El Salvador 4-0 in their final group game. So far, it doesn't seem like they've really been tested, though the first game, against Guatemala, was pretty scrappy. Like I said, it's good to see the new boys getting a lot of playing time, and I continue to like the midfield with Feilhaber and Bradley together in the center. Twellman's goal was absolutely gorgeous as well, and the whole team seems to be working pretty well, I think. They meet Panama in the quarterfinals Saturday, and yeah. I'll be watching en vivo.

In slightly related news, I'm about 93% certain that Bob Bradley is a robot. It's the steely eyes that do it.

07 June 2007

The opposite of transfer speculation

First of all, this is a pretty nice little article about the Carolina Railhawks from the local indie weekly. (Named, cleverly, the Independent Weekly.) I'm going to my second USL game tomorrow night, and it's good to see them getting media coverage. The Triangle seems to love its minor league sports, and hopefully that'll hold true for soccer as well. Also, like I mentioned before, that game against Chivas was indeed awesome.

Second, in Liverpool news, Pepe signed until 2012. I never really thought that he was likely to leave, even with Valencia supposedly sniffing around, but I'm glad we have that confirmed. Of course, this leaves the question of his backup open, but Scott Carson's probably coming back from loan, so maybe that will work out.

Also in non-transfer news, Xabi Alonso and Momo Sissoko are supposedly going to sign new deals as well. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner this happens, the better, especially for Xabi. He doesn't seem like the sort of player to do that whole Steven yes-but-no-but-yes thing, but the rumors have been persistent, and pretty credible, that a lot of clubs are interested. Even though he had sort of an off season, Liverpool doesn't really have another player with the same skills, so while I'm happy that they seem to be close to a deal, I can't really rest easy until it's signed. And Momo is good, too, though I wonder what we're going to do with him and Mascherano. It's always good to have cover, though.

Finally, Alexi Lalas really needs to quit while he's behind.

06 June 2007

They can has away kits.

Chelsea's new away kit has been leaked.

See, all you Liverpool fans complaining about their new kit? It could be worse. It could have all those weird little squiggles, and be neon yellow. (Though it will be useful if Chelsea's team-bonding activity this season is deer hunting.) I guess this is the advantage to not being owned by Abramovich -- I doubt Hicks or Gillett care what colors Barcelona wear.

Of course, the disadvantage is that Chelsea steal all your transfer targets. Damn Alves.

In other news, You'll Never Blog Alone has been named Who Ate All the Pies' blog of the week. I'm incredibly flattered, so thanks!

04 June 2007

Transfer speculation, or not.

Steven and Carra sign until 2011.

So this is what a summer without endless speculation over Gerrard's future at the club feels like. I could get used to this.

Seriously, though, I'm glad they signed so quickly. I never really thought either of them were going anywhere, but with the ownership changes and all that, it's still nice to see this. Now if they could just get Alonso's contract sorted, and quickly, I'd be happy. (If you're going to sell one central midfielder, make it Sissoko. I love him, but Mascherano's better, and they're pretty much the same player.)

In which I remember I'm an American

US 4 - China 1.

I know this doesn't really matter, and I know that China's lower than Jamaica in the FIFA world rankings, but still. I watched this game, and y'all, the US national team is really growing on me. It helps that a lot of the "name" players were committed to their MLS clubs for the weekend -- leaving aside the issue of MLS not releasing players for scheduled international breaks, I tend to like the national team a lot better when I don't have to see Landon Donovan prancing around midfield. I don't have any kind of statistics on this, but it seems like most of the new players they called up were playing in Europe, which was good to see. I know that the Dutch and Swedish leagues aren't exactly the same as the Premiership, but at least they're established and taken seriously in a way that MLS isn't yet (and honestly, may never be). I'm not one of those people that thinks Europe is always the best place to play, but it's good to see the national team rewarding players who go abroad with callups.

And overall, this was a pretty good game. I really like the new midfield; I was a little concerned about Michael Bradley getting called up, since he's the manager's son and all, but I think he proved himself in this game. That pass to Beasley was pretty much perfect, and indirectly led to the first goal. I also liked Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan (and their podcast, which is kind of hilarious in that stoned-college-boy way), and they both did really well in this game, with Kljestan assisting for Feilhaber's goal and Feilhaber providing the corner that led to the Dempsey goal. The new defenders weren't really tested all that much, but they also did well, and were able to get forward more than they'll probably be able to against better teams (and I pretty much always approve of Jonathan Bornstein, bad hair aside).

Overall, while this wasn't the toughest game that the US will ever have to play, I think it's a good sign that they won as easily as they did. In the buildup to the World Cup, the US was playing teams like Morocco and Jamaica, around the same place in the FIFA rankings as China, and drawing, or even losing. While I know that beating the lower-ranked teams isn't the answer to all of the issues with the US national team, I think it's good to build up some confidence before figuring out the rest of the plan. Honestly, though, right now I'm more optimistic about the future of the US team than I am about England, and that's a weird place to be. I could maybe get used to it, though. Especially if they drop Donovan.

31 May 2007

I can has away kits

So, I know these have been leaked for a while, but Liverpool officially launched their new away kit today. I've seen a lot of complaining about it, and I have to say, I don't get it. The red things on the top don't really bother me -- and really, has everyone already forgotten we're coming off of a season in which this monstrosity was the away kit? White isn't the most exciting color, I guess, but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to these sort of things, and yellow/orange/whatever flatters no one. My soccer team had orange jerseys this spring, and I absolutely hated them. (When you have red hair, wearing orange makes you look like a pumpkin. It's true.) So white, even with some little red squiggles, is fine with me. And I almost always approve of black shorts.

However. In that link to the order page, you know why Pepe's out of focus? Because that keeper kit is among the fugliest things I have ever seen. It's running this beauty a close second as the ugliest keeper kit ever, I think. Like, I understand that Adidas' new thing seems to be throwing red onto random places on the kits. But the stripes on the sleeves don't have to be red. Really. And if you feel compelled to insert those weird little white half-sleeves so you're not putting red on green, maybe that should be your tip-off that the stripes shouldn't be red. With all-green sleeves and white stripes, this would probably have been okay. But as it is, I agree with Footie Girl that this makes him look like "one of Santa's elves." Ugh. And with white shorts? Ew.

In other news, Tevez to Liverpool? Yes please.

27 May 2007

Champions League final

Okay, I guess I have to talk about this, huh? Over at Sven's, I predicted Milan 2 - Liverpool 1. God, I hate being right.

Even with that, though, I think we did a lot of things right. I was a little dubious when I heard that we weren't planning on man-marking Kaka, since he's pretty much the conduit for all of Milan's attacks. But the zonal marking worked really well, especially in the first half. As opposed to the first half in 2005, where they were running all over us and pretty much destroying the defense, the midfield managed to restrain Kaka really effectively for a lot of the game. In the first half, too, we were getting a lot done down the right flank -- I've been a critic of Pennant before, but he was more effective in this game than I've seen him be in a lot of others. My only thing with him here is that he tended to hold the ball for too long before trying to send in a cross, so defenders had time to get back and cover him. He was definitely more effective than Zenden, though, who seemed to be still recovering from whatever injury he had. Even at full fitness, though, Zenden? Not really a winger. Ugh. Overall, though, we had more shots and were definitely attacking more than Milan, so I felt pretty good going into halftime.

And then the flukiest goal ever happened. Conceding free kicks in that area is always dangerous with Pirlo in the Milan team, but this was a really horrible way to concede the first goal, and the worst possible time to do it. Also, god, I hate Inzaghi.

Milan managed to get more of the upper hand in the second half, but it didn't really go all to hell until we decided to take off Mascherano (taking off Zenden was a good idea, and probably should have happened sooner). Without someone tailing Kaka more attentively, and with Liverpool getting tired -- they hadn't played a full match for ten days or so -- the second goal was almost inevitable. I don't know who that Liverpool defender is who's walking back there, but man. You just can't be that slack in a final, against a team like Milan. Gah. Sloppy, sloppy play, from the midfield on, and you just can't let Inzaghi play himself onside like that. He's so annoying, and I hate trying to defend against guys like that, because they just hover and make it really difficult to mark them. Oh, and also, he's a ratfaced little bastard. Seriously, hate that guy.

So eventually we got a goal back, but it was really too little, too late. Especially with all the timewasting Milan did -- I haven't been able to find video of Inzaghi's ridiculous faked injury, but seriously. I used to think that Milan didn't dive that much, but no.

Even with that, though, I'm proud of my team. They played well overall, but the squad as a whole still isn't strong enough for the 4-5-1 to work to win games. If we had a real left-winger or a stronger striker, this could have worked. (I love Kuyt, but he works a lot without getting great results.) So I think we got a lot of the strategy right, but we're not there yet in terms of the squad. It sucks, and I think Liverpool were the better team for most of this game, but sometimes that's not what matters. I'm glad we're not making excuses, but we've got to strengthen the squad this summer. Two Champions League finals in three years is amazing, but we've got to start challenging for the Premiership as well, too.

22 May 2007

Champions League final watch party

I know, short notice and all, but if anyone's in or around Cary, North Carolina tomorrow, Dave of Dave's Football Blog and your humble blogger will be joining many others (hopefully) at The Hibernian in Cary to watch the Champions League final.

Make an excuse at work and come on out! Hell, that's exactly what I did. Hope to see you there!

21 May 2007

Coming soon to a blog near you . . .

So, I was thinking about doing a Champions League final preview over here, and then I realized I'd already done one. Being Sven rounded up some of the best Liverpool bloggers around (and me) to give their thoughts on the season and the upcoming final.

You can read the whole thing here -- I was especially interested to see how much agreement there was between us about some things. Anyway, it's a good read, and it was a lot of fun to do, so y'all should check it out!

And since we're previewing coming attractions here, stay tuned for the second annual end-of-season awards. I'm particularly excited for these; we've introduced a new "Clusterfuck of the Year" award, and that's about the tightest race I have ever seen.

19 May 2007

Welcome to the off-season

I guess this is what you do when you don't have a cup final to prepare for. Fine by me, though I do have serious issues with the choice of belt.

Also, who thinks Miss Simpson knew that Arsenal even existed before this very moment? Anyone? She's from Texas, and I know for a fact they don't have that kind of football down in Plano.

16 May 2007

Shameless schadenfreude corner

I'm not at all surprised that he owns a Yorkie.

I mean, if you're going to get arrested over a dog, shouldn't it at least be something bigger than a purse? That commentator who described him as the Paris Hilton of the Premiership probably didn't know how right he had it, what with the arrests and the ridiculous choice of pets and all.

Though at least Jose doesn't flash the paparazzi. Er, yet. Who knows what the future holds?

14 May 2007

Today in BBC Sport

The actual article isn't that interesting, but I love the picture. Apparently Jose and Sheva have decided to settle things through a stubble contest. First to a full beard gets to stay at Stamford Bridge.

...Hell, I'd like to see it.

11 May 2007

Podcast pimping

A short conversation with Being Sven earlier this week reminded me that I've been meaning to post about soccer podcasts for a while now. Even though it's almost the end of the season, there's no time like the present. I listen to three sports podcasts on a regular basis -- I used to listen to World Soccer Daily, but it was just too much. I'm sure there's more out there that I should be listening to, and I'll have an hour drive time to my summer job, so if there's something that I have to start downloading, let me know in comments.

  1. Football Weekly, from the Guardian (and the team who brings you the Fiver). This started out as the World Cup Daily podcast and then evolved into its current format. There's a rotating cast of commentators anchored by James Richardson, and honestly, this is the only one of these podcasts I want to go on longer. It focuses mostly on England, with James Richardson covering Italy and Sid Lowe (the best thing about this podcast) covering Spain. (And occasional dips into France, Germany, and South America.) If you like the Fiver, which everyone should, then this is basically the Fiver in audio format. This is my favorite of the podcasts. Highly recommended, and I'm sad they're going off the air for summer break.

  2. ESPN Soccernet Extra. This one's more straight news than Football Weekly, and three times a week. It's also Premiership-focused, but a bit more wide-ranging in its coverage of other leagues; they've covered the Dutch and Australian leagues, and even MLS. I didn't love this one at first, but now the commentators are showing a bit more personality and getting used to the format, it seems. Quality stuff, and hopefully they'll continue to improve.

  3. BBC Sportsweek. This one is the most hit-or-miss; since it's all sports, sometimes that means five minutes of soccer and forty-five of cricket or swimming or something else. However, the strength of this podcast is that they can get the big names to come on, and they don't hold back in interviewing them. It's pretty awesome to hear (for example) the new owner of West Ham called out. If this were entirely a soccer podcast, it would be incredible.

So, what else should I be listening to?

God has left the building

Aw. Bye, Robbie.

I wish I'd been a Liverpool fan back when he was in his prime; seeing highlights isn't quite the same thing. I guess if the fans call you God, you must be doing something right, though. I'm happy he was able to come back to Liverpool for a second time, especially since his exit the first time was so nasty. This was never going to be a long-term deal, though, and Liverpool really needs a fully fit, traditional striker next season (well, and for the past several seasons). It's sad to see him go, but hopefully he can indeed go out with a few more goals and a Champions League medal. I think everyone would like to see that.

09 May 2007

Carolina Railhawks-Chivas USA

I might be in love with a USL team, y'all.

I mean, this was like their fourth game ever, so there's not a lot of history there, but they were pretty awesome. And by that I mean mostly they were adorable. (No, I don't know what a Railhawk is.) This was pretty clearly the Chivas B-team, in that I didn't recognize a single player's name, but it was really a good time. It was raining off and on all night, and it did my heart good to see all the slide-tackles and players going for it intensely. After the second goal, the players all came over to the fan section (the end behind the goal) and jumped up and hugged the people standing there, and it was so incredibly cute.

I realize that they're probably not actually going for cute, but too bad. In terms of play, it was pretty solid, but not that great; both teams had trouble keeping possession, but that may have been a factor of the wet field more than anything else. Mostly it was a good time. Since I'm here over the summer, I may try to go to a few more games. It's always hard for expansion teams at first, but they seem to have decent support already. The park wasn't sold out, but it got about 5,000 there, which is pretty good for a Tuesday night, I think. And for what it's worth, there's a fan section with flags and chants and a drum and all that; right now, that all seems a little bit forced to me, but maybe in a year or two it'll feel a bit more organic. Not that anyone besides me cares about that, really, but you know.

Anyway. In conclusion, it was a good time, I wish the Railhawks site had pictures, and I may try to get to a few more games this summer. Oh, tinies. I wish I had defenses against you.

04 May 2007

More bad idea theater

Dear English Premier League:

YouTube is the best advertisement for your sport in several decades. Leave it alone.

an American fan too poor for Fox Soccer

I can almost get trying to shut down the streams; that's the entire game, in real time, and a much bigger violation. But highlights? There are entire shows, both here and in England, based around sports highlights. If you want people to talk about your sport and your league? They need to be able to see what happened. If you want to control access, at least set up a channel like Chelsea did. Otherwise, have fun trying to enforce a million C&Ds and throwing away whatever goodwill you have.

01 May 2007

(Slightly) more coherent thoughts on Liverpool/Chelsea

Liverpool 1 - Chelsea 0 (Liverpool advance on penalties, 4-1).

Like I said, slightly more coherent thoughts. It still hasn't sunk in that they've somehow managed to get past Chelsea again. (Though, really, every time John Terry cries after playing us, a little baby angel gets his wings.)

That wasn't the most outstanding game I've ever seen; if I were a neutral, it may even have been boring (and hell, as a fan, it got boring toward the end of regulation and extra time, when everyone kinda figured out that it was going to penalties). The thing that made this a good game to me was the tension. While this was a friendly rivalry early on, it's been three seasons now, and I don't think there's any doubt that these teams just do not like each other at all. It made for a really physical game, especially early on as they both found their feet a bit. I think the ref did a good job not calling too much and letting things sort of even out -- and it's nice to see someone not get fooled by Drogba's drama.

Speaking of Mr. Drogba, how about Liverpool's defense? It got a little frenetic at times, but starting with Pepe, everyone did a great job of shutting down the Chelsea attack; to be fair, Chelsea may have been hindered a bit by Shevchenko's groin injury (read: fit of pissiness) keeping him out of the side. However, considering how ineffective he's been recently, I think the bigger factor was that the defense figured out how to deal with Drogba better. Even before the goal I was glad to see that Rafa left Agger in the starting XI. He didn't have a good game last week (as I think everyone will admit), but keeping him in here seems to have boosted his confidence, and Carragher was once again a total fucking stud.

It's cleverly worded analysis like that that keeps y'all coming back, right?

Moving up the field, I was worried (and screeched again) when they started Zenden in midfield, but he had a decent game, and the first penalty was vital. So, well done. I still don't care for him, but well done. Mascherano had another solid game, and he and Steven combined to completely and totally shut down Lampard early on -- like, to the point where I didn't even remember that he was on the pitch. Not that I doubted the superiority of our midfield, but that was awesome. Lampard managed to get back into it later in the game, after Steven moved out right, but still. Deflected kicks and all, he can be a threat, but one that was neutralized effectively. (Also, Robben who?)

The attack wasn't as effective as I would have hoped. Kuyt had a couple of good chances and one very dubious offside call, but Crouch didn't do a whole lot and when Bellamy came on, he did even less. Whoever we meet in the final, we really need to work on the attack. I love Agger, but he's not a high-scoring defender, and a goal from open play would be nice, too.

So, there's definitely things to improve on -- I screeched more than I would've liked to, but we were never going to come out and run over Chelsea. Overall, though this wasn't the prettiest game I've ever seen, our penalty luck continues, and I will see all of you in Athens! (Where we hopefully won't need penalties.)

YNWA times 100


More coherence later tonight, probably. But right now all I can do is flail. I love you, boys.

30 April 2007

CL Semis, Leg One

For once, I got to watch both of these live. And also for once, they were both decent games. In really different ways, obviously, but both worth taking a few hours away from studying to watch.

Man U 3 - Milan 2. By now, shouldn't Milan have figured out that they can't really take their foot off the gas in Europe? I hate to be the fan that's always bringing up the 2005 final, but here I am. Milan were really hurt by Gattuso's having to come off early in the second half due to injury -- and speaking of that, I think the Man U fans were booing because they thought he was faking it. If they know anything about Gattuso, they should have known that he's probably #1 on the list of Italians least likely to dive or fake it. But I guess not. Stay classy, kids. I also think taking Maldini off at the half was a bad decision; I know you have to be wary of his health, since he's, what, 400 now? But Milan looked so much weaker at the back when he left, so unless he was just unable to continue, I would have kept him in longer. Even though they lost this leg, I think Milan have the advantage going into the return this Wednesday. They just need a 1-0 to advance (or failing that, they just can't allow more than two goals). I know they've struggled some at home this season, but you'd think that their fans would come out for this one.

Chelsea 1 - Liverpool 0. This was also a decent game, though incredibly frustrating. All I really wanted from this was an away goal as a little bit of insurance going into the second leg, but no such luck. Cech's getting back to his pre-injury form incredibly fast, and Joe Cole picked just about the most annoying time to come back into the side. Liverpool couldn't really get anything together, maybe because of Rafa's confusing team selection -- I've started screeching unattractively every time Zenden's named as a starter, and I have yet to be proven wrong. Honestly, I don't have a good feeling about the return leg here; as much as I'd like to think the Anfield crowd will make a big difference, I think we've had too many games like this for Chelsea to be surprised or intimidated by the atmosphere anymore. (Seriously, playing each other 14 times in three seasons? It's ridiculous.) They may surprise me, and I hope they do, but right now, I'm not seeing it. Maybe playing the B-team (and Xabi) at the weekend will help, but I don't know. I'm having a hard time seeing this as anything but Chelsea making it through.

Speaking of that weekend game, it's time for Dudek to go. You can either complain about not getting starts anymore, or you can play like that when you do start. You can't do both. I realize it sucks to be effectively dropped after winning the Champions League, but that's the game.

In completely unrelated news, Arsenal Ladies are on course for a quadruple. While this sort of thing irritates me on the men's side, I'm just glad the women are having this kind of success, because they're adorable. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it.

Hi to Being Sven! I always enjoy good Liverpool bloggers, especially ones who can cut it in the demanding Deadspin commentariat.

22 April 2007

Linkpost due to finals

So, I got called out, and the last thing I want to do is disappoint my loyal, um, fan, so here we are. (In my defense, it's finals season here, and I've got my Ethics final tomorrow -- on my birthday! -- so I've been a little bit distracted.)

Here, a few things that have caught my eye:

04 April 2007

CL quarters, day one

Okay, first of all, I know this has been linked absolutely everywhere (well, everywhere in the small section of the sports blogosphere that cares about MLS), but it's too hilarious not to share. A completely trashed Eric Wynalda, and his thoughts on the US team and MLS. It's absolutely brilliant, and um. He's not wrong about a lot of things. Though I'm not sure this interview will do a lot for his aspirations within US Soccer. Anyway.

I know there were Euro qualifiers, and I know Steven Gerrard scored goals like this, but I don't really care. It's sad to say that about England, since they're the reason I got into this sport, but god. Those were two dire games. I don't know if they're going to qualify for Euro 2008, but my instinct is that they will, since they've gotten most of the tough away fixtures out of the way. Based on the way they're playing at the moment, though, I don't know that I want them to. But I also don't think McClaren will be there when Euro rolls around, so hopefully some things can change. Because right now, I do not care about this team, and I don't like feeling like that.

Also recently, Liverpool killed Arsenal in the league, and proceeded to kill the team that knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League. I was just happy to see them not slip up here; I know PSV aren't nearly as good as they have been, but this is just the sort of game that Liverpool would lose a couple of seasons ago, so it was good to see this win. PSV were hurt by the injury to Alex, probably their best defender, and the underperformance of a couple of their other players. This wasn't Liverpool's best performance, but I think it's hard to have your "best performance" away in Europe these days, since away goals are so crucial and home teams go defensive. When you can still score three away goals, it's pretty awesome, though. (And I hate to admit when I'm wrong, but I'm coming around on Mascherano. If he can manage to keep the ball better than Sissoko does, I may be all the way sold.)

Speaking of crucial away goals, Munich got two of 'em against Milan yesterday. I only half-watched this match, so I don't have a lot to say about the quality of the play. I really have two things here: 1) I don't think Kaka dove (because Jesus would be mad at him), but that was the softest penalty call ever, and 2) man, Bayern's reserve keeper is pretty cute. Maybe I'm biased because I've been looking at Kahn in that uniform for so long, but um. Yeah. Milan missed a couple of absolute sitters here, one from Kaka and a few more from Gilardino, and really should have put this game away. I can't feel all that bad about it, though, since it gives both teams everything to play for in the second leg. With PSV needing to win by four clear goals to advance, at least Bayern/Milan will provide one competitive game next week.

17 March 2007

Draws, celery, and girl-on-girl action.

Sorry, everyone. It's hard to pay much attention to this blog when Liverpool haven't played in a week and a half. Stupid FA Cup (and yes, that is my bitterness talking). I'm still planning to talk about the remaining Champions League round of 16 matches, but not right now. Instead, a couple of articles I've been meaning to talk about, while I watch my NCAA tournament bracket collapse even further. (Also, if I never hear about Hansbrough's facemask again, it will be too soon.)

  • Getting rid of draws = bad idea. However, I don't know why the Guardian felt the need to throw in this little nugget:
    Just because the Americans can't get their heads round a non-result doesn't mean the rest of the world should fall in line. We should be proud of our superior tradition, just as we in Europe are proud of our wine, our cheese and our beer. Ever tasted any American cheese?
    I mean, I'm with him as far as the cheese and beer. But I know a lot of American soccer fans, and honestly? I think we've got more of a problem with diving than with draws. So maybe you want to work on that first, guys. The article doesn't talk about Americans besides that, and it doesn't seem like the no-draws idea in the League came from an American. In fact, Mr. Wilson, MLS has draws, and we seem to be just fine with that (to the extent we watch MLS). So in conclusion? Whatever.

  • Chelsea sets up "celery hotline." Because Chelsea fans like to throw celery at the opposing team, it seems. I know this is a problem and all, but . . . it's celery. No matter what club you're talking about, this sentence will always be hilarious:
    The statement went on to direct fans to a hotline they could call to report others seen carrying celery, promising that "all calls will be treated in confidence".
    Just. It's celery. Rogue fans carrying celery into stadia is, I believe, inherently funny.

  • And finally tonight, I think I prefer the England women's team to the men. I'd totally forgotten that it's a Women's World Cup year, probably because as little as they cover soccer over here, they cover women's soccer even less. I don't think I realized how ghettoized the sport is in Europe, though, till I read this article. You never hear about male footballers having to work another job to pay their bills, but even the women playing at the highest level have to have a day job. I can't imagine -- I can barely handle school on its own. This is what sealed my liking for them, though:
    Aluko, Asante and the 18-year-old Arsenal striker Lianne Sanderson sit watching a replay of a men's game, Arsenal v Manchester United, on TV. Hot topics for debate include Arsene Wenger's passing game; who they would rather go out with, Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney; and whether either of them is gay.
    I swear I've had that exact conversation. Several times.

12 March 2007

At least now we know a little Portugese.

Mourinho calls ref "son of a whore," escapes FA punishment.

"If you listen to me speaking I say the kind of word you mention 10 times in every 15 words," [Mourinho] said. "If you have a microphone on the dugout, I say that during the game 20 times, easy. The word can be abusive if you understand it as an abusive word."

Um, I think most people would consider that abusive, sunshine. The insult isn't the funny part of this, really, just his insistence that it wasn't supposed to be offensive. Seems like there should be more of a difference in how you talk to your players and how you talk to the refs. But I guess that's why I'm not the Special One.