Celtic FC fans: Just warming up
This ones for the newbies.
Shaun commented earlier this week on Arsenal, their style of play, and the Invincibles–the magical 2003-2004 season where the Gunners went a staggering (and record) 49 matches without a loss.
Arsenal will take on Celtic Tuesday in the inaugural match of the UEFA Champions League opening rounds. Celtic, for their part, have as glorified, or more, a history.
Celtic, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, coupled with their home city rivals the Rangers, perhaps present one of, if not, the most storied (and bloody) rivalries in all of soccer and probably all of global sport. Kind of makes the Red Sox-Yankees look like a backyard wiffleball game.
If Bill Simmons (ESPN.com’s “Sports Guy”) commentary on the US – Mexico powder keg got your blood percolating, I implore you to purchase (yes purchase it, you will not be disappointed) the book, “How Soccer Explains the World” and take a read of Chapter 2. It will, without question, knock your socks off.
For a quick excerpt, courtesy of Google, see here.
*Live commentary from Shaun on the Arsenal-Celtic clash after the page break
(Update 2: That’s right, Iceman is the winner here by a nearly 60/40 split for Holden’s uncanny resemblance to Val Kilmer’s Kazanski in Top Gun. Uh, the plaque for alternates is down in the ladies room folks.)
(Update: Iceman is pulling away here)
And then there were 2….
Two poll answers left that is. Will Stu Holden be christened Iceman or revert to his nickname of legacy, Disco Stu (of Simpsons lore) on TSG?
Get your vote on….and get your friends to weigh in. The vote is closer than Gore-Bush–don’t worry Florida won’t be a problem.
(Note: One of the reasons that TSG is coining nicknames is that when we’re writing a piece on a player, we need a few other monikers throughout the piece to make it read well. It’s really tough to write and read a story where it follows, “Stu this” and “Stu that” or “Holden this” or “Holden that.” We’ll have all our current nicknames up shortly.)
Unfortunately, due to some commitments, I had little time to watch and play as much soccer as I usually do on the weekend.
US against Mex: 1 SOG, Cooper for Munich? 7
A big thank you for our guest commentator Shaun and to the commentary that our fans have added here on the site, Rayment, Kevin, Matthew, etc.
As Mark mentioned, we’ll be getting a Commentary Hall of Face going so don’t be shy and who knows you may win something.
Here’s a just a few tidbits of plots that I found intriguing this weekend with a smaller dose of the sport than usual:
Soccer at Home
– C’mon ESPN…are you kidding me? No win for the U.S. Wednesday and the coverage of US roundball and global soccer in general takes a nose-dive on 1st page promotion on ESPN.com — one more time, are you kidding me? ESPN.com at about 20M “unique users” (internet speak for “viewers”) is the largest sports site in the United States and looked at as the authority in sports reporting in America. Yet with EPL season starting (remember: ESPN is hosting a series of games), a compelling post-Mexico US story, the college season starting (TSG will be attending games for 30th ranked USF this year) and MLS back in full swing, not a single soccer story could muster itself to the first page.
Meanwhile your TV brethren had a feature on the Premiership at Drogba’s goal included in Plays of the Week.
Shame on you ESPN.com. It’s your ratings, not ours.
Our good friend Shaun will be offering up commentary from time to time. Shaun plays on a team here in San Francisco, but more importantly for his commentary he grew up across the pond — a fan of the Reds, accent and all.
I will never forget Shaun exaltation after Liverpool game back against Milan in the Champions League cup just a few short years ago.
Here’s Shaun’s quick take on this weekend as a lead in to other things.
Where are we going from here?
(While soccer / football purists may disagree I believe making analogies to the more well known US sports are helpful for Americans in understanding the game.)
I couldn’t help but think of my beloved New York Jets (of the NFL) as I watched US-MEX on Wednesday. For those unfamiliar with the Jets of 2002 – 2007 they were a model of inconsistency with yearly wins of 9, 6, 10, 4, 10, and 4 during those years. And their style of play was a bend-but-don’t break defense coupled with a predictable and limited offense.
I just finished watching the Hull City vs. Chelsea match on ESPN2. Big thanks to the man upstairs for DVR as there was no way I was getting up at 4:40am local time.
Hull and US fans still waiting for Altidore
Although Jozy Altidore is still sorting out work permit issues and didn’t take the pitch, his new squad may not seem that far off from his summer squad, the USMNT.
Unfortunately for Hull City, the game was reminiscent of the US-MEX game this past Wednesday. Hull, a decided underdog versus Chelsea, produced an early goal after a George Boateng blast was defended right to a waiting Stephen Hunt who buried it in the back of the net to take an early, unexpected lead. Drogba then answered for EPL contender Chelsea off a set piece from 20+ yards before the half. And when it looked like a draw was a near certain, Drogba produced again with a fantastic goal from a near-impossible angle in stoppage time to crush Hull’s hope of walking away from Stamford Bridge with any points.
Chelsea was just a joy to watch all game—controlling possession, efficient passing and blast-after-blast toward the Hull goal, but not necessarily on frame. (If a friend wants to give soccer a test-drive, sit them down for a Chelsea game.)
Hull meanwhile, was in a defensive posture most of the match, but played with a lot of heart. While the system at Hull will be different for Jozy (they played a 4-3-3 today), he may find himself in the familiar counter-attacking offense with a fair amount of tracking back on defense based on the quality of Hull relative to the rest of the EPL.
Regardless of Hull’s standing in the EPL, the most important thing for Altidore, and ultimately the USMNT, is that he works his way into the line-up and gets playing time. Let’s get at it Jozy!
The Soccer Mom
From time to time at TSG, we’re going to have our mom–who is quite a prescient sports fan–weigh in with commentary. Like most of your moms I’m sure who read this publication, your mom was there to bring you to (in our case) soccer, baseball, basketball practices and games even after a long day of work.
Beyond our appreciation for the support of our sports career, our mom has probably watched nearly 3 times the amount of sports game that we have.
She typically roots for the underdog.
And she’s not afraid to speak her mind. Countless times I’ve watched games with my mom and her commentary is always so simple and succinct. Some of her favorite lines are, “Go! Go! Go!” and “Oh, he’s so stupid, how could he do that.”
Some of the players across sports that she’s rooted for over time: Derek Jeter, Landon Donovan, Tony Meola, Kasey Keller, Roger Federer and Tim Howard to name a few. (Our mom loves the goalie position).