Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday Soccer Roundup

Good news for Iraq, FIFA lifted the 1 year suspension that would have prevented Iraq from participating in World Cup Qualifying matches and the Confederations Cup.,19528,11996_3624377,00.html

It's official, but not much of a surprise, Roberto Mancini has parted ways with Inter Milan. I highly, highly suspect that we'll be seeing Jose Mourinho passing the side of the pitch at the San Siro next season. Word is, he has spent the last 5 months learning Italian. It appears that the Special One is urging Inter to go after Frank Lampard, Ricardo Carvalho, and, of course, Didier Drogba.

After last Thursday's devestating loss to the new San Jose Earthquakes, the Houston Dynamo had a small rebound on Wednesday night when a stoppage time goal by Dwayne DeRosario gave Houston a 2-2 draw against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. This match, which was moved from its originally August date to make room for Ozfest, is the only Dallas leg of the Texas Derby this season.

Siena has a new coach, Marco Giampaolo.

Will World Cup 2010 really take place in South Africa? In light of recent violence directed at foreigners, could be the breaking point for FIFA and result in moving the World Cup to another country. Said violence resulted in the death of 56 people. A South African caller into a daily soccer program stated that this violence was planned and he now doubts his country is capable of hosting soccer's premier event. Where could the games be relocate too? England, Germany, Australia, or the U.S., probably the country that could most easily put on the Cup with little notice.

Donadoni has named his squad for Euro 2008:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Marco Amelia (Livorno), Morgan De Sanctis (Sevilla)

Defenders: Cristian Panucci (Roma), Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Andrea Barzagli (Palermo), Marco Materazzi (Inter), Fabio Grosso (Lyon), Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)

Midfielders: Rino Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Massimo Ambrosini (Milan), Daniele De Rossi, Simone Perrotta, Alberto Aquilani (Roma), Mauro German Camoranesi (Juventus)

Forwards: Luca Toni (Bayern Munich), Marco Borriello (Genoa), Antonio Di Natale, Fabio Quagliarella (Udinese), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria)

Standby: Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina)

Stay tuned for Episode 12 of World Soccer Wrap: Serie A, with expected topics including the final week in Serie B, the promotion of Chievo Verona, transfer rumors, Mancini, is Roma for sale or not, and much, much more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dynamo Fans Develop Website to Promote Stadium

In an effort to show their support for and increase support for a Houston Dynamo stadium in downtown Houston, a group of Dynamo fans have developed their own website for the purpose of promoting and advocating the development of a soccer specific stadium in downtown Houston.

You can visit the site at:

So please do so and show your support for the development and growth of soccer in the U.S.A.

De Rosario & Onstad called up for Friendly

The Houston Dynamo's Dwayne De Rosario and Pat Onstad have been called up for Canada's friendly against Brazil on Saturday May 31, 2008 in Seattle, Washington.

Not surprisingly, since it seems that the MLS goes out of its way to schedule club matches on FIFA International breaks, the Dynamo Midfielder and Goal Keeper will miss the Dynamo's home game against Red Bull New York, also scheduled for May 31.

The Iraq Situation

On Monday May 26, 2008, FIFA suspended Iraq from all international competitions for at least year. This decision comes in the wake of the Iraq government's May 20, 2008 decision to dissolve the Iraqi National Olympic Committee (INOC) and all national sports federations, possibly including the Iraqi Football Association (IFA). However, FIFA has provided the Iraqi government with an escape clause, if the Iraq government annulls or reverses the May 20th decision by midnight Sydney, Australia time on May 29, 2008, then FIFA will lift the suspension.

With the upcoming 2010 World Cup, this suspension could seriously destroy the Asian Cup Champions' chances of making it to South Africa. As it stands, Iraq has World Cup Qualifying matches scheduled against Australia this coming Sunday and then against Dubai next week.

At this point, the Iraqi government appears to have no desire to reverse the May 20th decision.

It appears that the heart of this standoff may come down to either a misinterpretation of the May 20th decision or a miscommunication between FIFA and the Iraq government. Iraqi Sports Minister Jasem Mohammed Jaafar has been quoted as stating that the May 20th decision did not cover the country's soccer federation.

However, the IFA's assistant secretary, Tariq Ahmed, has stated that the government has not informed the IFA that it was exempt from the May 20th decision.

In addition to the FIFA ban, because the May 20th decision encompassed the INOC, at this point Iraq will not be allowed to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing, China.

Hope may be found in the fact that Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has openly urged President Talabani to step in and urge the reversal of the May 20th decision.

This decision comes 3 months before upcoming elections, and the decision also apparently established a temporary committee with full power to hold the elections and prepare a new law for the Olympic committee. The official reason for this action is that the Iraqi government was concerned that the committee, which should consist of 11 members, lacks legitimacy because it does not have a quorum. Committee chairman, Ahmed al-Hijiya, and three other committee members were kidnapped and have not been released. Subsequently, two other members resigned.

One of the first organizations to condem the May 20th decision was the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), whose president, Mohammed bin Hamman, was quick to state that the Iraqi government had no right to disband what is a body controlled by democratically elected officials. The AFC, it appears, refuses to work with the temporary committee.

This is an issue that Americans need to take notice of - sports in general, and soccer in particular, has been one of the few things that has unified Iraqis since the start of the war and the subsequent civil war and insurgency. If anything, the U.S. government should push the Iraqi government to do more to promote its national sports and atheletes. Iraq's victory in the Asian Cup last year was a major blow in the face of those who want to rip the country to shreds, a balkanized country in the heart of the Middle East. Sports unifies people on a national level, that lifts them above politics and religion, it is an important factor in creating a peaceful Iraq.;_ylt=AsKLLOn_8vTZGR4KmA5WvvELewgF,21985,23764715-11088,00.html,19528,12010_3613060,00.html

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Houston Leones remain unbeaten at Home

Just southwest of Houston, where the coastal plains get flatter than flat, surrounded by old cotton and rice fields, as well as enchroaching housing developments, sits the Soccer World Center, home of the PDL's Houston Leones.

The Leones opened their debut PDL season with a 3-0 victory over the New Orleans Shell Shockers, but then lost their first three road games against Austin Aztex and El Paso Patriots (whom they played twice in a row).

On Saturday May 24, the Leones returned home to take on Mississippi Brilla FC.

It was a hot and humid, but windy night, with the southerly winds occasionally carrying the scent of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico with it.

The Leones got off to an early start when Antonio Chavez scored a goal in the 6th minute.

Leones' captain, Miguel Hurtado, scored a goal in the 17th minute when he headed a free kick from Jose Miranda.

The Leones' final goal of the night came in the 64th minute when subsitute Angel Hernandez scored his first goal of the season.

The Houston Leones had the opportunity to go up by one more goal in stoppage time when Mississippi's Dwayne Demmin received a red card that resulted in a Leones' penalty kick. Erick Acevedo made a hard, low shot, but Brilla keeper, Jason Williams was able to make a save.

After a rough couple of weeks on the road, Saturday's win was much needed relief, relief that might carry them through next weekend's two matches when the host the El Paso Patriots on Saturday and then the DFW Tornados on Sunday.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Episode 10 of World Soccer Wrap: Serie A

Some technical difficulties delayed the release of Episode 10 of World Soccer Wrap: Serie A, but it is now available on iTunes and at:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Houston Dynamo Ricardo Clark to Join USMNT in England

Ricardo Clark, a midfielder for the MLS' Houston Dynamo, has been called up by the U.S. Soccer Federation to join the U.S. National Team in London where the U.S. will play the England National Team on Wednesday May 28, 2008.

This call up, while an honor to Clark, means that he will miss the Houston Dynamo's first, and only, 2008 regular season game in Dallas. Late last season Clark received a 9 game suspension after kicking then Dallas player Carlos Ruiz during the Dynamo's last 2007 regular season game at Dallas.

The international friendly between the U.S. and England will be at 2:00 p.m. CST next Wednesday, and will be aired on ESPN Classic. There should be a decent, showing of U.S. fans in the stadium, as of date over 1,300 tickets for the U.S. supporters section have been sold.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Serie A 2007/08

Well, real quick, here's a toast to Inter Milan and their third straight Scudetto. Congratulations.

Yes, I wish my Roma could have overtaken Inter today, and at half we were able to dream such was the case, but Ibra came on and worked his magic. So, for us Roma fans it is wait until next year. For Inter, it could get very interesting since I doubt Mancini will be around much longer and I suspect he will be replaced by The Special One - Jose "I am Fantistic" Mourinho.

But, before summer and the silly season, we do have Roma and Inter playing for the Coppa Italia at Stadio Olimpico in Roma on Saturday.

Anyway, Episode 10 of World Soccer Wrap: Serie A is in the can and should be released on iTunes between now and Sunday morning. Just cause the season is over doesn't mean the show goes on break, we'll be looking at the Silly Season, who is getting promoted, the history of Italian Football, Euro 2008, and maybe even Football Americano, while we wait for the start of the 2008/09 Serie A season.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TSU Pushes for Downtown Dynamo Stadium

Charles McClelland, the Athletic Director for Texas Southern University, has met with the City of Houston's negotiator on the potential Dynamo Stadium to discuss the opportunities that a downtown Dynamo stadium would have for TSU.

Dynamo trying to get Ngweyna Back

Joseph Ngweyna was a crucial player in the Houston Dynamo's ability to win the MLS Cup last season, between his speed and goal scoring abilities he managed to help the Dynamo stay in the hunt at times that all other factors weighed against them. Following the end of 2007 season, Ngweyna made the move to Austria, but has seen very limited playing time. The season there is over and so is his contract.

In light of the Dynamo's recent scoring woes, the return of Ngweyna would be much welcomed by the Dynamo, who are in need of the offense he provided last season.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Episode 8 of World Soccer Wrap: Serie A

Is now available on iTunes and at:

Dynamo Report

Saturday night’s MLS match in Houston featured two teams looking to snap streaks - the Houston Dynamo were fighting to break their winless streak while Chivas U.S.A. was looking to halt their three game losing streak. The Dynamo entered the game looking for a win, but were frustrated by a Chivas side that was happy settling for the nil - nil result, an issue recognized by Dynamo Midfielder Richard Mulrooney following the match

A morning cool front reduced the typical Houston humidity and the crowd of 20,058 that in attendance at Robertson Stadium were not only treated to beautiful night of soccer but also to an intense and exciting soccer match full of emotion, so much so that on several occasions the tension between the teams almost transformed the match into a hockey game.

For the first 15 minutes of the match it was all Dynamo attack, featuring some serious pressing by forward Franco Caraccio during the first 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the first Chivas shot didn’t occur until the 17th minute when Maykel Galindo shot the ball wide to the right. Galindo regrouped quickly in the 18th minute with a clean shot on goal, but he was denied by Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad who made the first of three saves for the night.

The Dynamo continued its offensive push during the second half of the match, but for as much pressure as they were putting on the Chivas defense, the Dynamo seemed hesitant about taking shots, and especially on break-aways where this reluctance gave Chivas defenders time to pull back into the box.

The real issue overshadowing the match was the mystifying and exasperating officiating by referee Jazef Batko, who called 35 fouls, and issued 8 yellow cards, 4 to each team, and 1 red card, which went against Chivas’ Cladio Suarez in the 82nd minute. Several of the cards issued by Batko punished soft penalties, while several hard penalties were ignored. More frustrating for the Dynamo was that despite Batko’s seeming intent to assert control over the match, he did little about the time wasting and delay tactics employed by Chivas. The style of officiating employed during the match, clearly added to the ongoing Dynamo frustration, as can be see in the post match comments of Dynamo Goal Keeper Pat Onstad:

While the Dynamo are still having trouble getting the goals that put them in the lead, the team and its fan can take heart in the fact that the Dynamo defense, which was misfiring in the CONCAF Champions Cup and in the first couple matches of the season is starting to mesh and work well as a unit, a bright spot that Pat Onstad discussed after the match

Despite the fact that the Dynamo lockerroom was quieter then I have ever seen it, and despite the sense that this draw felt like a loss, there was some levity in Coach Dominic Kinnear’s press conference.

Elsewhere in Houston area soccer news, the Houston Leones made their PDL debut on Saturday night with a 3 - nil victory over the New Orleans Shell Shockers.

Finally, Dynamo co-owner, Oscar de la Hoya, defeated Steve Forbes in the ring at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Saturday night.

To hear the audio report, including the post-match audio from the Dynamo lockerroom and Coach Kinnear's press conference, download the latest episode of World Soccer Wrap from iTunes or listen here:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Today in Houston Soccer

The Dynamo return to Houston today for only their second home game of the season. The men in Orange will be hosting Chivas USA at Robertson Stadium this evening (7:30 p.m. CST). The Dynamo, who have yet to win a match this season, will be awarded with their MLS Cup Champion rings, hopefully that will be part of the spark that gets the Dynamo back to their old winning ways. Unfortunately, the Dynamo will again be missing Brad Davis, who is suffering from a groin injury. It appears that Stuart Holden will be starting as a result of Davis' injury.

Chivas USA, meanwhile, is looking to break a three game losing streak. Last season, Chivas finished ahead of the Dynamo in the Western Conference, but lost to the Kansas City Wizards in the playoffs.

Since it has been almost a month since the Dynamo played at home, I suspect that the Dynamo faithful will celebrate freedom from withdrawals and bring some of that atmosphere that could give the Dynamo the edge.

Meanwhile, in the suburban city of Richmond, on the southwest edge of the Houston Metro Area, the Houston Leones will make their PDL debut, hosting the New Orleans Shell Shockers at the Soccer World Center. The match starts at 5:00 p.m CST.

For information on their schedule and tickets: