Archive for September, 2009

It Pays To Get Up Early

Giggs: The Man of the Derby

Giggs: THE Man at the Derby

With the rich storylines, coaches banter and drama coming into the United – City match, it would have been easy for the actual Derby to be a disappointment. Thankfully, that was not the case as this morning’s Derby was one for the ages.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch at least the second half, figure out a way. And when you do watch, grab a few folks that aren’t really interested in soccer and you may just make fans out of them. I’m not just saying that because the second half featured five goals, each arguably more dramatic than the last. Rather, it was nearly the total package in terms of a great soccer watching experience.

In the second half alone…

You had one team controlling the run of play, but an opponent that wouldn’t give up and found a way to answer ALMOST every blow.

man derby

You had the crowd at Old Trafford in it every step of the way.

You had stellar scoring chances stymied by equally stellar goalkeeping. (Hey Matthew, the announcers had the perfect summation of Berbatov after being denied by Shay Givens on two point-blank headers…”he did everything except score a goal.”)

You had Scotsman Darren Fletcher bang home two with his dome for United and Welshman Craig Bellamy score two for City in breathtaking fashion.

You had a 35-year old Ryan Giggs triggering the attack and, to use an NBA term, dropping dimes on his way to accumulating 4 assists.

You had two managers underscoring the drama by coaching from the technical area and leaving them ten feet apart as they visibly reacted to every high and low

And, finally, you had (free transfer) Michael Owen slotting home an improbable winner in the 96th minute.

I am sure there are all other sorts off things I missed, but I simply watched and enjoyed (almost as much as I enjoyed the Jets victory over the Patriots later in the afternoon).

As the game entered stoppage time, a controversial one at that, the announcer summed up the classic best (and I am paraphrasing here):

The eternal shortcoming of football is that it lasts but ninety minutes.

The American Soccer Landscape

Frankie believes that last pass is what separates MLS from the EPL.

Frankie believes "that last pass" is what separates MLS from the EPL.

[TSG: Thanks to @AOBoston on Twitter for passing along the link to the article.]

The Columbus Dispatch ran an interesting story today entitled, Soccer’s Footprint is Expanding. The wide-ranging article tackles a variety of topics including the popularity of MLS, the rising tide of support for soccer in the US, the influence of European clubs and television coverage of the sport.

A couple of the things in the article jumped out at me…

The Gap Between MLS and European Clubs

Frankie Hedjuk produced this opinion on the gap between MLS and European club teams.

“”The biggest difference is the (European teams) have pure finishers and that’s the next level for our game. We are physical enough and can run up and down the field with them, but it’s that last pass that is the difference maker between those teams and MLS teams.”

From the MLS and European soccer I have watched, the gap seems bigger than “that last pass.” I’d probably throw game speed (not fitness) and touch in there as well. What do you think?

The Rise of “Tribal Like Passionin the MLS

Perhaps I am just getting old, but it was surprising to read that the MLS commissioner Don Garber would remark that “[I was] walking around the field with Clark Hunt before a playoff game last year and I did not feel comfortable walking close to [The Nordecke] supporters section (and) I shouldn’t.” (Emphasis added by me.)

Believe me, I am all for the “tribal like passion” as Garber calls it, but I draw the line at suggesting that intimidation of other fans, and executives in this case, is somehow a good thing and what MLS clubs should be striving for. Please let me know if I am lacking some historical perspective here relative to Garber, the MLS, etc.

European soccer hooliganism is not something that should be emulated by American supporters of US club teams or our national team. Not to mention that such activities would just seem fake given the corporate upbringing of MLS clubs. Do we really want opposing fans / families concerned about attending MLS games given the current state of support for soccer in America? The sport needs all the fans it can get.

(Aside: I am a firm supporter of  heckling opposing players within bounds of decency.)

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Say What?…Soccer Quotes

Sadly, Dr. Evil did not make the list.

Sadly, Dr. Evil did not make the list.

I have a fondness for words and quotes.

In the USMNT nickname discussion, commentor Baquito Alyeska jokingly suggested the name “The Wynaldas” and remarked that there is a “limitless supply of Wynalda quotes to put on the t-shirts” and provided a couple including this gem:

On Mexico: “Once I step on the field, I hate ‘em. Nowhere is it written that I have to say I like them. That’s just the way it is.”

While I won’t get on-board with calling the USMNT the Wynaldas, it did inspire me to search for interesting quotes about / on soccer. So, below are 10 plus a “bonus”.

Add your favorites in the comments.

“Soccer is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening–it is without doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”
~ Unknown

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Week 5: EPL and More: It’s All About Sunday

Week 5, where you start paying attention to where your team is in the table:

Sunderland, Burnley in stoppage time

Sunderland, Burnley in stoppage time

• We start with Burnley vs. Liverpool Sunderland, a 4:40 AM PST start on ESPN2.  Thanks ESPN. You’re not going to get me up for that one, even with 5 red bulls, four jelly donuts, and naked cheerleaders (all with their teeth perfectly aligned). Sorry ESPN. I’m betting on no match-up piece this week.

• A quick note and apology, TSG doesn’t cover the UEFA Cup/Europa League. We’re a small publication and we’ll start covering more of the Champion’s League once the knockout rounds begin.

• It’s all about Sunday this week. You have Chelsea and Tottenham facing off and then the derby everyone’s been waiting for:  United vs. City. Sadly, the shiny new City sportscar is missing a couple horsepower with Adebayor now suspended for three games for his premeditated stomp and Big Mouth Tevez afflicted by injury and most likely out of the contest.

Some more notes from the derby:

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Medic!…Jermaine Jones Woes [UPDATE]

JJ: More time in cardigans than jerseys lately

JJ: More time in cardigans than jerseys lately

September 17th Update

A short piece posted on the Schalke website yesterday (9/16) revealed that Jones is NOT slated for a second surgery. However, all is not well with the metal plate that was inserted in his leg. Here is a quote from the Schalke update:

During surgery at the end of June the midfielder had a metal plate inserted that is now causing him problems. There are no plans to perform a second operation, however. The 27-year-old will spend the next three weeks working with Egil Eliassen, the new head of the physiotherapy department, in an attempt to remedy the problem.

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[TSG: Originally posted on September 14th]

A big thank you to Goal.com (via German publication Bild) who alerted us this morning that everyone’s favorite German might be delayed even further in reaching the U.S.

Good job on getting that out there Goal.com–thank you.

Read the short piece here.

The US hasn’t had an injury saga like this since the days of standout Claudio Reyna.

Omniscient: Nguyen to London

Nyguen: Currently the highest paid player in Vietnam

Nyguen: Currently the highest paid player in Vietnam

No sooner did TSG get a write-in vote for former Indiana Hoosier Lee Nguyen and comment on it last week than word comes that the USMNT fringe player is unpacked in London to train with Arsenal’s reserve squad for three weeks.

Wow, nice move from Nyugen, who arose out of the Dallas Texan youth program. Clint Dempsey is the other notable alum.

Good luck to Nyguen at Emirates; get after it.

Read blurbs here (scroll to the bottom) and here.

We can’t call him Arseguyen yet, can we? (That was terrible.)

USMNT: The “Yanks” Need a Nickname

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(Update: Thanks for all the commentary. Well appreciated. Keep it coming.)

(Update 2: Even more astute commentary still coming. Updated below)

(Update 3: We’ll have a follow-up piece in the next few days)

Sure, we’ve got the Yanks….but maybe that’s only because Nigeria took “the Super Eagles.” That’s a good one–man, that’s good.

T&T’s Soca Warriors, very cool.

Not what we're going for...

Not what we're going for...

Much better than “the Stars & Stripes.” (“All men starboard, we’re tacking due north! Man the jib!”)

Cue Larry Ellison. What is this the America’s Cup?

The Nats? Alluding to a pestering insect that often ends up swatted is not the imagery we want to conjure.

What should the U.S. soccer nickname be? Do we have it already with the Yanks or does that conjure up too much Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle and more importantly a game with a stick and gloves?

Vote in our poll on the right. We threw out some choices, but they’re probably way off.

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