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.