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.