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.