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.