Thursday, December 13, 2007

Other Moments in a Soccer Players Life

By way of Dunord, funny post from Mcsweeny's. Sort of along the lines of the Italian players training camp:

It's the off-season. Sergio stands before Sheri, his gorgeous cocoa-skinned girlfriend of nearly one week. They're in his South Beach mansion's movie room. She claims that she loves him ... but she really wants to choose the movie tonight.

"Please, Sergio? I love-love-love Brad Pitt and George Clooney," she says.

Sergio falls to the fine carpet, screaming, holding his hands over his heart as if he had been kicked there. The pain is too much for him to bear! He might not be able to take it one second longer!

Sheri relents.

"Fine. You pick what we watch," she sighs.

The pain suddenly erased from his heart, Sergio stands and kisses Sheri on the cheek.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Football Obsession

Hat tip to the for pointing me to this article.

Some managers are so obsessive that football seems to be the only thing on their minds. Take Ivica Osim, who was managing the Japan national side when, on November 16, he suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. For two weeks his family, much of Japan and most of those who knew him rallied round and prayed for what, at the time, looked like an unlikely recovery. Two weeks later he regained consciousness, his wife, Asima, by his side. And, according to reports, what were the first words out of his mouth? “How’s the match going?”

Also a great piece on Real Madrid and their bench acting as a way to light a fire under some of the veterans they were going to replace. Read more...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mind Over Body

This article from the NY Times isn't focused on soccer but talks about training, and about how you can achieve a lot more than you think you can. The key I think is to take care of your body, eat healthy, get your sleep, and keep your eyes on what you want to achieve. And, if you have an injury, take care of it and don't push yourself. But your body and can a lot more than you think it can--so when you're training go the extra step. If you're in good shape everything else will come easy in soccer.

The moral of the story? No matter how high you jump, how fast you run or swim, how powerfully you row, you can do better. But sometimes your mind gets in the way.

“All maximum performances are actually pseudo-maximum performances,” Dr. Morgan said. “You are always capable of doing more than you are doing.”


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Raul Is Cool As Ice

Raul is in good form this year for Real Madrid but he's always been a cool goal scorer and wise player - making smart runs off the ball and always in the right place at the right time. Now, as he gets older, he's doing whatever he can to maintain his form. Hat top to for the article.

Raul Gonzalez's ice-cold precision on the soccer field is no fluke.

The Real Madrid striker is bathing in ice and sleeping in high-altitude conditions, and he's off to his best start in nearly a decade with eight goals in 14 Spanish league matches.

"I've done it because of the love I have for this team and this club, and I have never thought about how it could hurt me," Raul said Tuesday about his ice baths, which can last up to 10 minutes.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Best Soccer Player in the World Poll

Messi win the best player in the world poll. I think well chosen. He's playing the best soccer right now and is capable of surprising you whenever he touches the ball.

However, as the title chase in each league and Champions League moves into the later rounds, then we'll know who the best players are, the great ones show up for the big games and score goals. Thanks for voting.

Messi 42 (29%)

Ronaldinho 38 (26%)

Kaka 21 (14%)

Cristiano Ronaldo 24 (17%)

Henry 13 (9%)

3 (2%)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Beckham Show Starts Up Again

After the tough loss to Croatia, where Becks came on in the second half and fed Crouchinho with a laser perfect first time cross, he touched down in Australia in a private jet for the Galaxy's friendly match. Beckham, who is a class player still at the top his game in my overall opinion, has a lot to make up though, in terms of his run with his MLS team. After battling a number of injuries, his team went on a 9-10 game winning streak to get into the MLS playoffs without Beckham, only to lose out in the last game of the season with Beckham miss playing the ball that led to Chicago's goal late in the game.

The former England captain apparently wants no other special treatment while Down Under for the Galaxy's exhibition match Tuesday night against Sydney FC before a sellout crowd of 80,000 at the former Olympic stadium.

Beckham's visit has spurred sales of his Galaxy jersey - 20,000 have been sold in Australia in the past month.

That's a lot of jersey's. I'm looking forward to the coming year for the Galaxy, and now they've got Ruud Gullit no less leading the Beckham Show ship that is the LA Galaxy. I'm sure they'll be bringing in some more stars to lift this team out of the gutter of the MLS.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Houston Dynamo Dynasty

Houston 2 New England 1

Is it a Boston baseball curse or just Caddyshack: "You aint got it today Noonan. Miss it, miss it, Nonnan, Noonan, Aaaaah!"

Tough loss for New England – can you say Noonan, no, no it wasn’t his fault. It was Pat Onstad who saved the Dynamo late in the game as a point blank header off the red hair of Larentowicz went just off his leg. Onstad stayed big in the goal and preserved the win.

Yeah, Houston is a Dynasty, going back to their days as the San Jose Earthquakes—even saw one Earthquake jersey in the orange crush of fans at the game. The same collection of players make up this same Houston team, san Landon.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

England Can Say Thanks to Israel

Israel/England 2 Russia 1

It’s was almost a bit of arrogance by the Dutch master, Gus Hiddink, which could have foreshadowed Russia’s defeat to Israel. Gus said England didn’t deserve to go through. Almost like President Bush, on the aircraft carrier saying, ‘Mission Accomplished’. Way too soon to be making those types of statements. Sure, the phrases aren’t nearly analogous, but you get the picture. And the Gus Hiddink quote wasn’t quite so bad in context, but with news pieces you try to grab a bit more attention and often this is done by taking a phrase a bit out of context—you know.


Friday, November 16, 2007

MLS Cup Offers Familiar Faces

By Jeff Kassouf

When the final whistle blows on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium, several trends will have either been officially continued or finally halted. For the third consecutive year and astoundingly for the fourth time in six years, the New England Revolution find themselves in MLS Cup.

Either New England can end their misery and finally get over the hump to claim a league title, or the Houston Dynamo will have won their second straight title over their Eastern Conference foes. If they were to do so, they would bring the Rev’s record to 0-4 in MLS Cup, and they will have added themselves to the top of New England’s grudge list along with the Los Angeles Galaxy.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Please, Anything but Seattle United!

By Andrew Winner

By now you’ve heard – the MLS is expanding to Seattle. Personally, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I know how hard many people, especially Adrian Hanauer, have worked for this over the past several years and I share in the excitement.

The ownership group signed the papers on Friday afternoon and the official announcement, delivered from the top floor of Washington’s tallest building on a glorious Seattle day, came yesterday.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Robinho Shines Again for Real Madrid

Real Madrid 4 Majorca 2

If there are any forwards who want to learn how to make runs, watch Raul of Real Madrid, and Ruud for that matter. But Raul checks to the ball at just the right moments. He’s there right in front of the goal for Robinho’s cross. Have I mentioned yet again how Robinho’s challenging Messi for the best soccer player in the world? Then again Robinho can't make maze runs like Messi--think Messi's still clear at the top right now. We'll see how the poll plays out though on the right of this blog. The bits and pieces of the Real Madrid versus Majorca that I saw were highlight moments of Robinho: a back heel and then continuing his run to get on to a header and score and beating his defender down the line to cross to Raul. Ruud scored another great goal--what if Man U still had him upfront? However, the slender genius is running the show in Madrid. He was sipping water from the bench when he came off like it was champagne--as if this is too easy. He’s a pleasure to watch.

What with Barcelona losing to Getafe, Madrid took full advantage. Although they conceded a goal early on, Real Madrid fought back to secure the win and go cleanly on top of La Liga--tapas and beers for all tonight in Madrid.

Hat tip to for the video.

Over in England, Cristiano scored two and Chelsea tied, putting Manchester United clearly ahead of the table in the land of fish and chips.

You talk about politicians spinning facts and news, how about Ferguson's quote about Scholes knee surgery:

'The surgeon has reported that the condition generally of his knee was excellent with no concerns.

'He will be back, refreshed and eager, in January. It will be like signing a new player in the transfer window for the second half of the season.'

The thing is, I think he's right.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Houston Beats Kansas City

Houston Dynamo 2 Kansas City 0

How about them Houston Dynamo cheerleaders? No really, fun game to watch and looking forward to the final.

What a great atmosphere down there in Houston, in the range of 30,000 fans and the announcers said about half were Hispanic, and there aren’t any Latin players on the Houston team. I think this is a special team. A team other clubs should look to model themselves after and the MLS should strive build clubs like this team. LA Galaxy wants to go sexy and Hollywood, where Houston has shown that hard work and a team that sticks together brings titles. But don’t forget LA almost snuck in to the playoffs with a late run. Another interesting point was made by the announcers, no big bad stars on this team or on New England, no Blanco or Beckham, no big money. I’m becoming more of a fan of the MLS no doubt.

Houston looks like they're building a following, and they ain't coming just for the cheerleaders.

Soccer Coaches as Public Speakers

By Andrew Winner

I still remember the first soccer game I covered. I was 19 and I had just been recruited by my friend Sunny to cover the women’s soccer team for the University of Washington student newspaper. Having put exactly zero thought into sports writing as a profession at that point, I nevertheless agreed. (At that age, being asked to hang around female college athletes wasn’t a hard sell.)

I headed down to the University of Washington soccer field with one of the senior reporters, a guy named Amirav. I forget who the Huskies beat that day, but after the final whistle Amirav went to round up some quotes from one of the players and I went to talk to the coach.

This was my first interaction with a real-live coach and I had no idea the decorum that applied to such a meeting, much less the questions I was expected to ask. So I headed over to the Huskies coach, Lesle Gallimore, and bleated out an awkward question.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Ruud Gullit Goes to Galaxy

Klinsmann passes to stay on with Germany, so LA goes Dutch. Gullit is there to coach by the way, not to play, although maybe he could. Here's a classic video of Gullit's Dutch side.

It took a while to find out how much Ruud Gullit was going to make coaching the LA Galaxy, seems like they should put that right upfront on the news wires--money says it all you know.

Ruud Gullit and LA Galaxy were last night in final discussions over a three-year contract worth about £5million.

So, $6,300,00 in US dollars over there years, if I'm right, and then roughly $2,100,000 per year. I'll double check this as more news comes in, think that was a preliminary contract discussion--check my numbers too.

The Offside
has a good run down on some of the highest paid coaches.

Highest Paid Football Managers in 2006

1. José Mourinho (Chelsea) - 10 million Euros
2. Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) – 6.1 million Euros
3. Fabio Capello (Real Madrid) – 5.8 million Euros
4. Sven-Goran Eriksson (ex-England) – 5.2 million Euros
5. Guus Hiddink (Russia) - 5 million Euros
6. Giovanni Trapattoni (Salzburg) – 4.6 million Euros
7. Frank Rijkaard (Barcelona) – 4.5 million Euros
8. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) – 4.4 million Euros
9. Roberto Mancini (Inter Milan) – 3.4 million Euros
10. Felix Magath (ex-Bayern Munich) – 2.8 million Euros
10. Rafael Benítez (Liverpool) – 2.8 million Euros

More Via the LA Times:

Gullit next coached Newcastle United, also in the Premier League, but again he lasted for only one season and a few games. His most recent coaching role was back with his old club, Feyenoord, in 2004-05. Since then he has worked primarily in television in England and the Netherlands, once having Beckham and his wife, Victoria, on his talk show as guests.

Accustomed to playing alongside or coaching players of a much higher pedigree, the challenge for Gullit, who has shown a short fuse as coach, will be to accept that and also to accept the constraints imposed by MLS. That includes the inability to simply go out and improve the team by throwing money around as top European clubs do.

The reason Frank Yallop opted to leave was too much of a Beckham show. The pressure of the media was taking away from his ability to coach, and more, he just wasn't used to it. The Galaxy wanted someone who is used to dealing with the media, think they've found their man. It will be exciting to see what he's able to do with the club. I'm sure there will be many new signings and changes on the pitch for the Galaxy.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Combo - Not Fast Food

'The apprentice salutes his mentor'.

Line is from a video from back in the day called Tor, about the Euro Cup in which Holland won with Marco Van Baston, Ruud Gullit (word on the street is he's the new LA Galaxy manager), and Frank Rijkaard. But the combo is about players who seem to know where one another are on the field instinctually. Eyes in the back of the head. Make the pass even before anyone else accept the intended realizes there's a chance. They play the game at light speed. They play keep away amongst themselves. It's not the fast food combo that you wish you didn't order, no biggie sized type deal, it's the good pass between two great players.

Today, at Manchester United, there's the Tevez and Rooney combo, mimicking or trying to mimic the duo of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. They used to call Yorke, 'the Smiling Assassin' and Man U had another assassin at the time, the baby faced one in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer--both killers in front of goal. Then there's the nearly brotherly partnership of Ronaldino and Messi, sometimes they'll pass the ball back and forth to one another like it's a warm up, only to break towards goal at speed moments later. Henry's trying to break into this combo, is there room for three?

Soccer (football) is all about combining with other players, the give and go is the basis or foundation of soccer, when you have two players in sync, it's beautiful to watch. Beckham could always pick out Ruud Van Nisterooly during his days at Man U and Real Madrid. It seems like the good players always find their equally good teammates.

Zidane, he was just given the ball at every instance, as he should have been. What about McManaman and Robbie Fowler, for me, that was a fun team to watch--a class Liverpool side.

Maybe Kaka and Clarence Seedorf. Robinho and Guti? Who else? Arsenal is a team full of players who seem to be developing pairs that combine together in a read your mind type way, but almost to a fault. I heard they changed their style against Man U when they went down a goal. That's a sign of a great team. Barcelona is another team with developing partnerships, Iniesta is a player who probably doesn't get enough attention for his play, but maybe he just needs to score more goals.

More to come later.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Barcelona Versus Real Betis - Sunday Stroll

Barcelona 3 Real Betis 0

At the camp nou, an opposing team is already nearly behind when the game kicks off. And in reality, Real Betis was down one goal when Iniesta fed Henry with a through pass which Henry poked through the legs of the on rushing keepers hands. Henry’s teammates were happier than he was after the goal. Perhaps, they understand all the pressure that’s been placed on Henry of late, his form not as sharp as it was with Arsenal. Henry has said that he doesn’t get the ball as fast as he did at Arsenal. It’s a slower build up rather than quick counters that favors Henry’s speed. Did Barcelona really need to sign Henry? I don’t think they did. I hope he can shine at this club. Get the ball early and be able to run at defenders. But with Etoo in the wings, who seems to mesh better with this club better than Henry, and then the youngsters De Santos and Bojan, both slight figures who seem like they can’t stand up to the punishment of top leagues, but do, Henry seems superfluous. Messi nearly scored as he mazed through a few defenders, cutting the ball back as he glided towards goal, turning the defender around, only to have the ball miss the far post.

It was Ronaldinho who stepped up in the second half and buried a free kick from deep. The announcer referring to how fans are comparing him to Beckham, both only good for free kicks now, but the announcer disagreed with this opinion as most should. Later, Ronny would add another goal via a free kick, scrapping the post with a free kick at the top of the box, as the Real Betis wall jumped and spilt, opening a space for the ball. It was all Barcelona, short little teasing passes throughout the game, at times not as sharp as they could have been. The win could have been in the double digits, this was like a Sunday stroll on Las Ramblas, without the pickpockets.

Videos of the goals to come.

Watching Roma in Rome

This is an article from a while back but a great snapshot of what it's like to watch a game in Europe. As we passed under the icons of Olympic grandeur, the marble celebrations of the athlete and warrior, I couldn’t help but to envy the Roman fan who gets to enjoy their team in real life. I stopped at the concession stand and bought a red and yellow scarf of Roma. It may have been just another day at the Stadio Olympico for Romans, but, for me, it was one of the most extraordinary and unforgettable days of my life.
Read the article...

Also, check out a snapshot of Barcelona versus Valencia, when Rivaldo scored a hattrick, and the third goal was a wonderful bicycle kick no less. Have you seen an amazing game, send us the article and we'll post it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Champions League - Robinho Can Dance

Can't say enough about Champions league soccer, great action, runs, moves, and goals. Who's the best soccer player in the world? I have to add Robinho to the list too. But the NY Times has an interesting piece on Clarence Seedorf and Robinho, it's worth a read. Here's a sample, and below are the goals and highlights of AC Milan and Real Madrid's CL games.

Robinho apparently missed his flight from Rio de Janeiro after dancing the night away at the Catwalk discotheque. His dance steps on the pitch - the balance, the awareness, the extraordinarily quickness of foot - drew a standing ovation from 77,400 Madrid aficionados Wednesday.

Real Madrid

AC Milan

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mr. Demarcus Beasley

Rangers 0 Barcelona 0

I only caught bits and pieces of this Champions League draw but it's pretty amazing to see DaMarcus Beasley out there on the same pitch as Ronaldinho, Messi, Henry and so on. I thought I just saw him strutting his stuff in an episode of The Wire, talking trash and playing the game. No, no, it's just that I'm watching all the past shows via on demand and it's such a great show I had to mention it. The first season of the Wire is genius. Beasley's got the verve to play the game, whether it's on the Wire or the pitch. I think John Harkes maybe was the first American to play Champions League soccer, no maybe that was score in the FA Cup. Who was the first, must be Kasey Keller or Reyna or Ramos?

But Beasley is a go getter. He doesn't shirk from pressure or exposure, rather, he seems to like it. He seems to seek it out and wants the challenge. In one instance, Beasley stole the ball from Henry and then raced up field, put the ball through the on rushing defender, but was was chased down by Henry and bumped to the ground. As Henry ran back down the field he motioned with his hand for Beasley to get up off the pitch. Henry should have scored earlier with a header. He was in clean, the goal his own after a cross.

But how wonderful is it for young US soccer players to have someone like Beasley, playing against these legends, to look up to. As a kid, almost naively, you think you can get to any level, but now, with American players, more and more, actually playing in Europe, it seems like a bridge has been built, and a wide one, that more and more youth players will cross and play in Europe. After the game, Beasley was shaking hands with Ronaldinho, smiles on both their faces. Who's shirt did he get? Rangers held Barcelona to a draw, despite a nearly 70% possession stat in favor of Barca.

Let's hope Adu gets a run in the Champions League with Benfica. Does he remind me of the Kobe Bryant of soccer? No, not in terms of other worldly type talent that Kobe has, but a bit of arrogance in his play, maybe a bit selfish. Adu is young, like Kobe, and has a long way to go yet, a young kid who might get jacked on the Wire but learn from it quick.

Barcelona's New Stars - Bojan, Giovani

New Barcelona star Bojan Krkic Perez scores against Villareal. Bojan's dad played for Red Star Belgrade and after he married a Spanish women, when he moved to Spain, he became a scout for Barcelona. His son is the new next Barcelona star.

There's all this talk about Ronaldinho fading away, and new young players taking his place. Sports are a cutthroat business. One day you score a hattrick to put your team into the Champions League, as Rivaldo did for Barcelona, and before you know it you're gone. But Ronaldinho is just 27, let's hope he emulates Zidane and continues to play at the elite level he plays at for years to come. Of course I love seeing these new young players come up, Iniesta is tremendous, and Messi is the best in the world right now, but don't want to see amazing players pushed out and pressured by fans when they've done so much for the team already. Then there's talk of Ronaldinho partying too much or not being in shape. There's an interesting piece on the new young talent at Barcelona and more about Ronaldinho:

Wenger believes he has the next Fàbregas, possibly the next Ronaldinho, under his wing already. He is grooming Denilson, a Brazilian youth, just as Barcelona grooms Giovani, Bojan, Crosas.

What's also interesting about this is who's developing the best young talent, Arsenal or Barcelona or teams in Argentina?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Galaxy Season Ends, Fire Still Burn

Chicago Fire 1 LA Galaxy 0

Beckham is making $6.5 million this season and Blanco making $2.7 million. Thorrington, the game winning scorer, was waived by the Fire in March, and trained with LA Galaxy in pre-season. He signed with the Fire just last month. Thorrington was once a reserve with Manchester United when Beckham was the teams star.

Thorrington recalled his days as a young player at United with Beckham.

"I played the same position as him on the youth team and reserves. So it was funny being on the same field as him," Thorrington said.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

LA Galaxy Verus New York Red Bulls

LA Galaxy 1 New York 1

They now need Kansas City to lose and then beat Chicago.

Beckham must have been eager to get out there, not just because he hasn’t played in a while but it must have fired him up even more watching England lose recently, and frustrated he was playing for that team either. Probably calling Tom Cruise for spiritual guidance this past month, or maybe just getting poshed by Posh more often. Not sure what that means.

I was looking forward to this match, and can’t say I’ve really looked forward to too many MLS games in general, but the last few years I’ve become more of a fan of the MLS. I only caught the second half but here’s my take on a few things.

The LA Galaxy pushed it through till the end but the question was should Beckham play or let the team that was on the streak stay intact. Really, Yallop should have left Pavon on the bench and started Buddle or Clinton, and then left Vagenas on for the remainder of the match rather than the rookie Tudela. Who didn’t play poorly, rather, he was sharp and nearly scored off a Beckham corner at the top of the box, but Vagenas is a warrior and has great fight. Can’t second guess too much though, sure, maybe they should have left Beckham off entirely, but I think he brought the game to another level. He swung the ball to the corners and settled the ball on occasion. In one moment there were four or five sharp passes and Donovan was put through with a chip. Donovan is a class player there’s no question, and just didn’t get enough of the ball as the game wound down. That’s the thing, it’s really Donovan’s team and he has to get the ball.

My hats off to Beckham, with all the hope on his shoulders, almost replacing Adu as the savior of the league, I think he shows he’s a professional of the highest level. He stepped right in a battled in this game only to have his fitness take a bite out of his fight towards the end.

New York, deserved a penalty kick and Angel missed a great chance when he was setup nicely by the speedster Dane Richards. Jozy Altidore has to stay upfront. He's a forward. The kid's just 17, a lot of money headed his way. He's trying too hard though, wants to do so much.

Go LA LA LA. Hope they can get into the playoffs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Adu's Heel & Mr. Edu

USA 1 Switzerland 0

Freddy Adu came into the game, in the last fifteen minutes or so, as if it was a pickup game down the street. His first touch was a sublime back heel, and then from there he almost scored, was kicked in the face, and hit a weak but eager free kick. It's great to see Adu do some good things and get over all the pressure put upon him as the MLS's savior. Now, hopefully he can get in a few games for Benfica.

Edu, just 21, played his first game for the national team with a lot of toughness and seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Sure, he was a bit rusty at times, missing passes, but looks like he's going to be a regular in that spot. He wins balls and is athletic, but also can do something special from time to time. Don't think he'll be playing on Canadian soil much longer or US soil for that matter. US players are good but also cheap compared to most.

The USA gets a win in Europe and the youngsters bring the energy. Danny Szetela, like Edu, also won his first cap and was the one who put the cross in that led to the goal. Bradley, the son not the dad, notched his first goal and the win for the USA in the closing minutes of a soaked pitch--that was like a slip in slid and times.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Will the LA Galaxy Make the Playoffs?

The old story book or Hollywood ending. Was it all planned? Beckham gets hurt. His team wins without him. They're hesitant to bring him back. In the end they do and he scores the game winner in the final. Galaxy sells another big chunk of Beckham jerseys. How many have they sold so far? I don't know if that's all going to happen, but I'm sure pulling for the Galaxy to win the rest of their games and keep playing. You got to tip your hat to Donovan--he's the engine of this team.

The other big topic is will Beckham leave on loan in the winter. I think he should and it would be good for all parties. Sure, they need Beckham to actually play for the Galaxy and be healthy, but I think it helps brand Beckham if he also plays in Euro 2008, which he wants to do. Beckham is still young and plays great soccer. I'd like to see him in the EPL when the snow starts to fall in England and the sun is shining in LA.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Where's the Best Soccer Being Played?

Most would say in England or perhaps Italy or Spain. But let's take a closer look.

The pace of the English game makes it the most exciting. Every player that comes to England from South America or another European country takes at least few games, if not more, to adapt to the pace of the game. There's a certain style of play in Spain and Italy, a sharpness, where every positional player is skilled, and that puts those leagues towards the top of the list.

Then there's Argentina, as far as the most skilled players, I think my hats off to them. The way players turn, cut, control, and strike the ball, it's a joy to watch, and maybe their league plays the best football. Boca versus River, I wish I could watch a game there someday. I think I’ll have to.

I've also wondered when a player should start to play structured football (soccer), you don't want to lose or cut out the freedom of a player, his innate instincts. The greatest players it seems have always spent a lot of time playing on their own and on the streets, developed a style you can't really teach. Can you teach a player how to play like Messi? Barcelona sure had him at a young age, but he already had the gift it seems, a cross between George Best and Maradona, minus the booze and chalk that Fowler tried to celebrate with.

Back to the theme of the post. Africa, how's their football--Ghana was fun to watch in the Cup? I don't or haven't seen club level play in Africa. I would like to see it, maybe after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, they will have a league. Brazil, strangely, you'd think it would be a great league to watch, is all dribbling. Mexico, a class league but the play is at a snails pace compared to Europe, although I've enjoyed watching a few games on the Mexican channel of late. They keep flashing for a few moments to las chicas in the stands, who's needs cheerleaders. But the camera men are skillful like the players, always getting back to the game at the right moments.

What about the Women's Wold Cup? I had to mention it, because one of the best goals I've seen in a while was put in by a women. Will a women's soccer player ever join a men's team? Marta could nearly play in the MLS, and she's just 21, who needs a posh Beckham.

Then there's the World Cup--is that the best soccer and most exciting? I almost think the Champions League is the most exciting soccer being played today. But the World Cup brings you the passion of an entire country, their cultures and histories clashing underneath, while a soccer game is being played. Not much beats that.

What's the best game you've seen live. I think mine has to be Barcelona versus Valencia. I don't know how I was so lucky to witness that game.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Marta's Goal and KeeperGate

Marta scored an amazing goal against the US, a very sad ending to a tough defeat. Now, all the talk is about the decision of the American coach, Greg Ryan, to place Briana Scurry in goal over Hope Solo. Scurry, who played previously against Brazil this year and won, and is renowned for her quickness and shot stopping, didn't play that many games overall the past few years. A few of the women's games past stars weigh in with their thoughts and insight:

Foudy: "There are so many talented players out there, and you wonder, 'Is this program building? Is it growing? Is that the best soccer we can produce? Is this the direction we want to go in?' I don't think it is."

Chastain: "People say this is a step back, but I think Greg Ryan has put us three steps back – all the way to the starting gate," said Chastain, the 1999 World Cup hero who watched Thursday's loss from her home in Northern California. "He lacks the ability to communicate and is not in tune with his players, and he's obviously not a tactician or he wouldn't have made the decisions he did.

More Foudy
: "You see some of the sub patterns, and you say, 'What the hell?' " Foudy said. "You take out one of your fastest players (Heather O'Reilly) and put in a marking back (Tina Ellertson) to man-mark (Brazil star striker) Marta? If you're going to make the bold move of changing the keepers but then go ultra-conservative when you're down 2-0, as if you're in a bunker mentality, what are you doing?"

More Chastain: "To be fair to Greg, the goalkeeper change didn't really bother me, because I know Bri and trust her so much in that context," she said. "The thing I didn't like about it was the timing, how he sprang it on the girls, and how it had to have affected their mood. When I saw the Brazilian players walking off the bus at the stadium (on television) dancing and high-fiving and smiling, and our players were all tensed up, I knew this would be a tough deal."
From Yahoo Sports...

Others weigh in, from ESPN

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Roma Versus Fiorentina - Giuly Factor

I usually don't watch a lot of the Italian league. Fox soccer channel just doesn't show too much and I've been sucked into the EPL the last ten years or so. But I caught Roma versus Fiorentina the other day. And, what with Roma set to face Manchester United in the champions League, it was good to see them and sets the stage for a great match. Roma beat Man u in Italy and then were scorched in Manchester, 7 goals notched against them I believe.

Roma is tied with Inter Milan at the top of the table, with stars like Giuly, Mancini, Pizarro, Cicinho, and so on, no wonder they're at the top. And Totti of course, but he didn't play against Fiorentina. I was more intrigued as the game wore on. The pace was comparable to the EPL, and the skill level a bit above, Mancini beautifully chipped the keeper after a Giuly dummy, and then Aquilani dummied for Giuly who struck home for Roma again. But Roma gave away a penalty late otherwise they would have been on top alone.

Giuly, maybe he's the x-factor this year in the Champions League, like Larsson the last few years, first helping Barca win the Champions League and then Manchester United in the early rounds. What a great pickup he was for Roma. Can't wait for the game next week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Barcelona Versus Sevilla

Barca 2 Sevilla 1

No Ronaldinho tonight, not sure why exactly he was left out. Perhaps they were just resting him, but then I’ve heard he was benched since his form wasn’t as sharp—seems ridiculous.

Sevilla were dressed in a new pink strip and Barca in their traditional set. A full crowd roaring Messi’s name as he imitated Ronaldinho’s hang loose trademark after each of his goals. Henry hit the post once, setup Messi once, and glided along a few times as if he was in England.

At first I was almost going to write about how Henry isn’t going to fit in with this side. They are too good and play the play too sharp and quickly for him, doesn’t that seem ridiculous to write. But in the first half there were three or four moments where Iniesta or Deco played the ball in to Henry, who was always posting up, and were looking to play the ball back to Henry but he wasn’t ready and miss controlled the return ball.

Then, there were a few times where Henry was in on a clean header but missed connecting to the ball. But jump to the second half and a new Henry appeared. He’s always best when he gets the ball on the wing, and he can go at players and serve balls in. He did just that, lasering a ball into the feet of Messi, whose first touch put the ball up in the air, but he was able to nail the ball on the volley.

Later, there was a quick one two with Henry and Deco and then Dos Santos, where Henry first timed the ball in a lovely manner right into the path of maybe Deco or Messi without breaking stride. It was a quintessential Ronaldinho, Deco, Etto, Xavi, Messi—the Barcelona collective type moment, where they seem to know where one another are all the time and delivery the extra one touch pass that almost seems too much but works. I can’t wait to see more of Barcelona and Ronaldinho and Henry and Dos Santos and so on. Great stuff to come.


After both Messi goals the Argentine paid a very public tribute to Ronaldinho by holding 10 fingers aloft for the "injured" Barcelona No 10. Ronaldinho was not in the stand alongside the other injured men, Samuel Eto'o and Carles Puyol, to see the show of solidarity.

Barcelona claim he was having treatment on the calf strain that had kept him out of the game – an injury that 70 per cent of fans, responding to a poll organised by the Barcelona paper Sport, believe not to exist.

It seems being accused of breaking a 48-hour pre-match curfew before the Osasuna match 10 days ago, being substituted twice in his last two appearances and being whistled by some home fans in the midweek Champions League game against Lyons, were the real reasons behind the Brazilian's decision to rule himself out of the Seville game.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Billions at stake for a piece of Premier League

From the Sports Economist - some great quotes on the big money involved in the English Premier League:

Henry Winter interviews Richard Scudamore, the Chief of the English Premier League. Here are some choice quotes:

On revenue streams: "International TV rights were 10 per cent of our income, and are now 28 per cent of our income. We could be at 50 per cent of our income in three years' time [with international rights touching £1billion]."

On battles over rights to information: "We have a class action against Google and YouTube in the US. They have no appetite for taking down clips. If every clip of every goal is available on YouTube, what appetite will Virgin Media have for buying them?"

On the influx of foreign ownership: Scudamore rejects the suggestion that the Glazers, Lerners, Abramovichs and Shinawatras are here solely for the money. "They could get better returns making other investment decisions. It brings them a credibility, a profile, a reputation, whether in their home country or this one, which you can't get with other investment. Any financial aspirations they may have only work if they deliver success. Their interests are aligned to the fans. You don't buy a Rolls-Royce and try to turn it into a Ford Fiesta."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ronaldo Header Lifts Man U

Great header by Ronaldo and Manchester United take the first Champions League game. Anytime Man U plays a team the younger players of the opposing team must be thinking in the back of their minds--how do I impress Fergie and get picked up by them.

That said, Man U never faces a team who's not ready or up for the game. But at the same time, once Man U gets that first goal, teams have a tendency to wilt rather quickly. That was the case with Sporting. Where Cristino Ronaldo scored against his old club and looked like he avoided a big celebration. Instead, holding his hands together in praise to the crowd--a show of respect. When he was pulled from the game, the crowd also gave him a warm applause.

Cristiano Ronaldo returned in red to haunt former club Sporting Lisbon and ensure Manchester United made a winning start to their latest Champions League quest with a 1-0 victory.

Ronaldo spent seven years wearing Sporting green before he left for Old Trafford in 2003 with a £12.2million price tag and became a megastar.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Rainn Wilson & Kanye West on the Emmy Awards

Not soccer related, well in some was, Rainn is doing an ad for Nike, but pretty damn funny. Best part of the show and James Gandolfini got robbed.

Who's Going to Top Chastain's Strip

What with the Women's World Cup now in full swing, thought it would be timely to post about an article that I came across. It's about Chastain's shirt removal after she scored and the US won the World Cup. Turns out, Nike was already developing a sports bra for women soccer players. Then, Brandi rips off her shirt and Nike sped up production. Didn't hurt either that Brandi ended up on the cover of SI without her shirt--did have the bra on, it's not Playboy. Her strip is interesting in terms of the economics of soccer and it's a girl taking of her shirt--even though I wish it was Mia doing the shirt taking off. Sure, it's not the 'bro' or the 'mansear' but the sports bra--but a critical piece of clothing for women's soccer players no doubt. You try running...

Today, there's an English women's soccer player who takes off one of her shoes after she scores a goal. What player is going to top that or Chastain, and rip of another part of their clothing? I doubt it will be one of the North Korean players but I'm guessing it will happen. I remember when the FIFA president said women's soccer players should wear shorter shorts--I think they are now, thanks to Nike.

If you caught any of the Emmy's last night hopefully you saw the best part, Rainn Wilson singing a Kanye West song - Stronger, well he's also taking of his clothes for Nike and Women's Soccer. To clarify, that's Rainn Wilson from the Office doing the disrobing for Nike and not Kanye.

But here's the Chastain article:

But whether spontaneous ebullience or planned product placement, the star's move has exposed, in addition to her rippling abs, a whole set of issues related to female athletes and body image and earning power. And it has brought instant attention to a piece of clothing that is humble and practical – not a traditional bra of shine and lace and cleavage, but a sturdy compression garment. The sports bra is the cloth symbol of Title IX's success. Last year, $230‚million worth of them were sold, up from $205‚million the year before.

Only about a dozen female athletes in the United States have significant endorsement contracts, and they range from only $75,000 to $350,000 – a pittance compared with male athletes' earnings – says Bob Williams, president of Burns Sports, a Chicago marketing firm that matches advertisers with athletes. Chastain's agent, John Courtright, said last night he expects to usher her to the top tier of those athletes.

He mentioned WNBA players and soccer teammater Mia Hamm, whose Nike shoe contract and Gatorade work help bring her an estimated $1 million in off-field income and said, "I would like to get her to that level."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Euro 88 - The Final: Holland vs USSR

The other Ruud, Ruud Gulit that is, and not the amazing Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Real Madrid. Don't forget this amazing Dutch team as we move into more and more Euro 2008 qualifiers - with the likes of Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Ronald Koeman - all coaches now for some of the best clubs. Take a look at the volley by Van Basten.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

LA Firm Buys Chicago Fire

There is money to be made in soccer, and more and more investors want to get on board. The new owners of the Fire have produced movies and have interests in other sports and entertainment properties. Terms of the deal were not disclosed:

AEG, a unit of Denver-based Anschutz Co., will continue to have interests in two other MLS teams, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo, and Hammarby Football Club in Sweden. The company, recently sold the operating rights to DC United for a league-record $33 million.

Hauptman said he bought the team because of the growing popularity of soccer worldwide and the enthusiasm of Chicago sports fans.

"Who in their right minds wouldn't want to own a sports team in Chicago?" Hauptman said. "It's the global game. We're interested in seeing it grow further in the U.S. and in Chicago."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Women's Soccer League to Start in 2009

What great news that must be for all women's soccer players but especially for the women competing in the World Cup in China. It gives the players more of an incentive to play well and earn a contract with a pro team in the US. What will the players earn?

The investors decided to wait to start the new venture until after this month's Women's World Cup in China and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

''We did not want to impact the various national teams between these two events and we did not want our league to take the focus away from these two great events for our players or our fans,'' said Michael Stoller, managing partner for Boston Women's Soccer, the ownership group of the Boston Breakers.

The seven ownership groups are: AEG L.A. Women's Soccer; Boston Women's Soccer; Chicago Professional Women's Soccer; Hendricks Investment Holdings (Washington); St. Louis United Soccer; Sky Blue Women's Soccer (New Jersey/New York); and Sting Soccer Group (Dallas).


Soccer Finance - Transfer Spending in England

I'm always interested in how the money flows. It usually cuts to the chase and avoids politics or any other let's say drama. If you read the business section you'll better understand the world than if you read the front page. Newspapers have to sell papers and a lot of the time the news can get mixed up with trying to create controversy. Sure, it happens online as well, and I might do it from time to time, it's the way things work--but I do hope I pull together and write interesting articles not touched on by other sites. But anyway, the money flowed into the EPL because of TV deals and thus the transfer market shot up:

Despite winning the Premier League last season, Manchester United were the biggest spenders during 2007, shelling out £51million on players.

They were closely followed by Liverpool (£50million), while Tottenham spent £40million in their quest for Champions League qualification and newly-promoted Sunderland spent £35million.

Twelve clubs spent more than £20million on players, up from three in 2006.

Overseas clubs did well out of English sides, receiving £250million for players which accounts for half of all spending by Premier League teams.

Real Madrid were 2007's biggest spenders in Europe, with an outlay of around £80million, while Thierry Henry's transfer from Arsenal to Barcelona pushed the Catalan team's spending up to around the £50million mark.


Monday, August 27, 2007

The Contest

No, not the one on Senfield. Sorry, it was an easy reference. But a contest where you can win a La Liga, EPL, Italian League, or MLS jersey if you choose, for posting soccer tips. Send us your favorite soccer move, what player is an expert or does the move and a link to the YouTube video, we will select a winner, who will win a soccer jersey of their choice from Eurosport.

Simply post the move and links within this blog post and we will choose the winner. Or, if you choose, you can send us the move and link via email to:
info @ (remove the spaces when you send the email)

UPDATE: Selected winner will receive $60.00 to buy a jersey via Eurosport. Payment will be sent via Paypal.

Monday, August 20, 2007

LA Versus New York Red Bulls

The highlights

New Soccer Training Blog

We're starting a new interactive blog. Feel free to post comments or make suggestions. Thanks for your support and thanks for visiting our site, Soccer Training Info.

Time is Now for New York

If the New York Red Bulls cannot attract new fans after Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Galaxy, then they might as well just hang up the cleats. 66,237 people turned out to see Beckham make his first MLS start, but they weren’t all star-gazers.

The boisterous crowd booed Beckham on every set piece, though he was initially able to quiet them with two assists in the first eight minutes. Taking this one in from the stands instead of the press box, I was able to get a genuine feel for the crowd.

Read more....