Thursday, December 30, 2010
I can't believe I missed this . . . I don't know how I missed this. Apologies good reader - mi dispiace - mi scusi . . ..
Back in April, Juventus' Alessandro Del Piero was on the Italian television show Chiambretti Night. I'm nine months late on this, but here is the video I've found on YouTube - the first few videos are just some excerpts, but the rest seem to cover his full appearance, though the quality is not great.
Here's the full version:
Just some of the more interesting and unique moments in football in the year that was:
And the Money Shot:
Have a Great 2011 Everyone!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Today, Italy and the Football world mourn Enzo Bearzot, the man who lead Italy to victory in the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain. Bearzot, 83, died in Milan after battling a long illness.
Bearzot, a defender, began his playing at Pro Gorizia in 1946 and went on to play for Inter, Catania, and Torino before retiring as a player in 1964. Following his playing career, Bearzot became an assistant coach at Torino and, in 1968, the head coach at Prato.
In 1975, Bearzot, who only had one cap with the national team, was named as a coach of the Italian National Team, becoming sole coach of the team in 1977. Bearzot had previously been coaching the Italy U-23 squad between 1969 and 1975.
Italy, under the guidance of Bearzot, won the 1982 World Cup by beating West Germany 3-1 in the final. Before reaching the final and after a rough first round, Italy managed to defeat both Argentina and Brazil in the second round.
Bearzot retired in 1986, after coaching the national team in 104 matches.
Less than year after leaving the Houston Dynamo and MLS for Europe, Stuart Holden has made a splash not only at his club, middle of the table Bolton, but in the English Premier League itself.
On its website, the British paper The Guardian allows its readers to submit player ratings for each game played in the EPL. The Guardian recently tabulated and analyzed the reader submitted player ratings and determined that its readers have ranked a young American midfielder, Stuart Holden, as the top player in the EPL so far this season.
CLICK HERE to read the story from The Guardian.
Other players who made The Guardian readers top XI include Richard Kingson (Blackpool), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Leighton Baines (Everton), Samir Nasri (Arsenal), Luka Modric (Tottenham), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham), Johan Elmander (Bolton), Andy Carroll (Newcastle).
Since joining Bolton in this past January's transfer window, Holden has become a regular member of the team's starting XI and has picked up two goals this season, including the game winner against Blackburn earlier this month.
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Holden grew up in the Sugar Land suburb of Houston. After stints at Clemson University and Sunderland, Holden earned a star role with his hometown Houston Dynamo and with the United States National Team, being part of the 23 man roster at the World Cup finals in South Africa 2010.
Young American players interested in playing in the EPL or elsewhere in Europe can take heart in the recent success of Americans like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Stuart Holden in England. It appears that these are the players who are best positioned to pave the way for more American players to get a serious shot from European clubs.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Friday morning will be the annual 1560 The Game & Klein's Jewelry Christmas Party in the parking lot of Klein's. The party starts at 7:00 am and will be at - 6100 Westheimer Suite 108, Houston, TX 77057-4535, and will run till sometime between 10:00 am and noon.
Here's a taste of what will be going on:
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Based on the picture below, courtesy of Erin Dutka, it appears that defender/midfielder Hunter Freeman is joining the Houston Dynamo:
This move has not been officially announced, but the above flyer was created and issued by the Houston Dynamo.
Freeman, a native of Allen, Texas, had played for the Colorado Rapids, RedBull New York, and Toronto FC before heading to Norway in 2009 where he played for IK Start. While Freeman has earned some playing time in the U.S. National Team's youth system, he has not been capped by the senior squad.
The Dynamo have confirmed that Freeman is joining the team, here's the article on their sight - CLICK HERE.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The Zygo Soccer Report has learned that American Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella is on trial with União Desportiva de Leiria of Portugal's Primeira Liga.
Attinella, a native of Florida, most recently played for the University of South Florida Bulls where, in 2009, he was named a first-team NSCAA All-American, a first-team All-Big East member, and the Big East Goalkeeper of the Year. Attinella played every minute for USF in the 2009 and 2010 seasons and holds the USF records for shutouts in a season, breaking the record that was held by Troy Perkins, and career clean sheets.
In addition to his trial with União de Leiria, Attinella is one of five goalkeepers invited to the MLS Combine scheduled for January 7-11, 2011, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The MLS Combine gives MLS teams a chance to scout the top college soccer prospects before the MLS SuperDraft. Attinella is expected to be one of the first goalkeepers to be drafted in the 2011 SuperDraft.
Last month, Attinella was featured on Soccer By Ives' College Spotlight - click here for that feature.
Here's some video of Attinella in action:
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Houston's own Stuart Holden, a former midfielder with the Houston Dynamo, scored today's winning goal for Bolton in its match with Blackburn Rovers. Holden, who was coming off an injury, scored the goal while Bolton was down to 10 men.
It's December, that time of year when we look back on the year that was and try to sum it up as best we can. In that spirit, here are, in my opinion, the top Houston Dynamo stories of 2010, in chronological order.
Stuart Holden & Ricardo Clark Head to Europe:
Last December, the matter weighing on the minds of Houston Dynamo fans was whether Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark, who were out of contract and fresh off high profile stints with the U.S. National Team, would sign new contracts with Houston or ply their trade in Europe.
Ricardo Clark, who had been linked with European clubs like Livorno during the summer of 2009, signed with Eintracht Frankfurt in mid-January. A few days later, any notion that Holden would return to the Dynamo was dashed by his signing with Bolton.
The departures of Clark and Holden left holes in the Dynamo midfield that were never completely resolved during the 2010 season.
Geoff Cameron's Knee Injury:
With the departures of Clark and Holden, Geoff Cameron, who was a core part of the Dynamo's 2009 back line, was moved up to midfield with hopes that his speed and versatility could help the Dynamo reach the playoffs for the fifth season in a row. Cameron started the season strong, working well with Jamaican International, Lovel Palmer, who was new to the team, but during a match in Chicago this April, Cameron ruptured his right PCL.
Initial reports indicated that Cameron's injury was season ending; however, he returned to the line-up in August, but by then the team's fate had been all but sealed.
Brian Ching Excluded from 2010 World Cup Finals Squad:
Although Dynamo forward Brian Ching had missed the 2009 Confederations Cup due to injury, Ching was a vital part of the US National team's World Cup qualifying efforts and was one of the few US players to show maturity, experience, and leadership during the team's loss to Mexico during the 2009 Gold Cup final.
This past May, as the US team prepared for South Africa, it appeared that Ching had recovered from a hamstring injury and was a lock for the World Cup squad. But to the shock of Dynamo fans, US Coach Bob Bradley did not include Ching on the final 23 man roster, and Ching's leadership up top was missed by the US team as it failed to get past the knockout stage.
The Departure of Louis Angel Landin:
In late 2009, the Dynamo signed Louis Angel Landin as its first designated player. Landin, who was signed during the off-season in Mexico, was clearly out of shape and never made a huge impact during the tail end of the 2009 season. Dynamo fans were left hoping that Landin would use the MLS off-season to get fit so that he could player a bigger role with the team in 2010.
Unfortunately, Landin never found his groove with the Dynamo or MLS and he was released in July.
Brian Mullan Traded to Colorado Rapids:
As the MLS trade deadline approached, the Dynamo's playoff hopes looked dim and it was time for the front office to start building for 2011. In September, the Dynamo traded Brian Mullan, a fan favorite, to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for an injured Colin Clark and allocation money. As a result of this trade, the Dynamo now have an extra $200,000.00 or so of cap space to play with this off-season and the trade clears the way for Danny Cruz to play a bigger role in midfield.
The Houston Dynamo Fail to Make Playoffs:
Since moving to Houston for the 2006 MLS season, the Houston Dynamo won two MLS Cups, got knocked out of the first round of the 2008 playoffs, and made it to the 2009 MLS Western Conference final, which they lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy. The 2010 MLS season was the first season that the Dynamo failed to make the playoffs. It was a new and uncomfortable feeling for the club and its fans to not be playing in November.
Dynamo Stadium Progress:
While 2010 was not the best year for the Dynamo on the pitch, it was a great year for the Dynamo's efforts to obtain a soccer specific stadium. While the stadium progress has been slow, earlier this month the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority approved construction of the stadium, which will be located on the east end of downtown, and a 30 year lease agreement covering the stadium. Once the Sports Authority's actions are rubber stamped by the city and county, construction on the stadium can proceed.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Let's admit it, from the perspective of the average football fan, the idea of holding the World Cup finals in a country controlled by Sharia law (though the civil judicial system also contains the Adlia court with roots in British common law). The World Cup finals, from the vantage point of the typical football fan, involves drinking numerous alcoholic beverages, the presence of many scantily clad women, and the consumption of numerous pork products. All three of these, and many other things, including homosexuality and drug use, are either illegal or highly restricted in Qatar.
For many football fans, attending the World Cup finals is akin to a pilgrimage, and something that many football fans only attend once in their respective lifetimes. The act of attending the World Cup finals, for some fans, is the culmination of years of planning and saving money. So, when it comes to choosing which World Cup finals to attend, how likely will the average football fan choose a finals that does not include this:
Since FIFA announced its decision to award the 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar, there has been some discussion about whether or not this will result in some cross-cultural opportunities to exchange ideas and maybe, just maybe cause Qatar to change some of its more discriminatory laws. I note that I have not heard any discussion of westerners adopting Qatar's ways of governing.
But let's be realistic here folks, don't expect Qatar to change the laws that its citizens and guest workers live under. (Please note that by "guest worker" I mean the workers who are primarily from Asia and do the manual labor necessary for the country to survive.) Instead, I expect that Qatar will find a way to easily accommodate the needs and desires of the average of football fan in a manner that will not require Qatar to change or adopt its laws for the long haul.
Accommodating the needs of westerners is nothing new to Middle Eastern countries that rely on Sharia law. The reason that a country like Qatar can accommodate the financial investment required to hold the World Cup finals is all thanks to oil. And thanks to that oil, emirates like Qatar have a long history of housing western workers in compounds where Sharia law is not strictly enforced.
I predict that Qatar will create massive "fan zones" that are much larger then the fan zones of the past because they will include hotels, bars, and restaurants established solely for the purpose of accommodating the football fans there for the World Cup finals. In these fan zones, visitors will be able to drink copiously and women won't have to worry about whether they are showing too much skin.
While the businesses in these fan zones will be owned by the Qatar government or Qatar citizens, all of the workers will be guest workers from places like Vietnam, the Philippines, India etc. Therefore, Dutka will be able to drink all the beer she wants and Prairie Rose can sport her World Cup themed belly dancer outfits without offending any citizens of Qatar.
Mind you, World Cup visitors will not be locked into these fan zones, they will be allowed to visit "real" Qatar, but, when they do so, they will be expected to comply with Sharia law. As for the stadiums, don't be surprised if Qatar citizens are segregated in their own area, and said area will be comprised of men and only men.
In other words, I think Qatar will create a western "Disney Land" for all the foreigners attending the 2022 World Cup finals, and said foreigners will only experience the real Qatar should they choose that option.
With another weekend of Serie A matches about to start, I suspect that while Bari's Francesco Caputo hopes to score another goal, his teammate Emmanuel Rivas hopes that Caputo won't punch him again.
This past Sunday, after scoring the equalizing goal in the 64th minute of Bari's match against Cesena, Caputo celebrated by punching Rivas in the face. It should be noted that Rivas got the assist on the goal.
It's not clear if Caputo intended on re-enacting the following goal celebration:
But if he did, it would have been good of him to warn his teammates in advance.
The match ended up in a 1-1 draw. This weekend, Bari plays at Sampdoria at 8:00 am central time on Sunday.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Considering the United States isn't a soccer country in the myopic eyes of some, the local media in Houston did a good job of covering both FIFA's decision to award the 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar and the news that the Houston Dynamo and Harris County-Houston Sports Authority have reached a lease agreement on the forthcoming Houston Dynamo soccer specific stadium. Not surprisingly, Erin Dutka a/k/a SuperFan weighed in on these topics:
Today in Switzerland FIFA announced that Russia would be hosting the 2018 World Cup finals and Qatar would be hosting the 2022 World Cup finals. And with that announcement the dreams and hopes of millions of soccer fans in England and the United States were dashed. The hope of seeing World Cup finals soccer played in a stadium nearby was completely dashed for some and all but dashed for others.
That England had lost out to Russia is not that surprising. Russia's increasing sphere of influence has been increasing lately, and if England is not careful, the RPL could conceivably be a big adversary of the EPL by 2018. A certain segment of the modern Russian society has the kind of money to spend on football and footballers that the upper economic classes in England seem to lack. The increase in foreign investors in EPL highlights the monetary footballing imbalance between England and Russia.
While I don't believe FIFA when they talk about "legacy," the reality is that Russia is a prime market for "growing the game" and holding the finals there would smack of a certain post-Cold War symbolism. In reality though, I think selecting Russia was an easy way for FIFA to give England a figurative slap in the face. English football fans might not like to hear this, but FIFA thinks England has an overgrown sense of entitlement when it comes to the World's game - nobody is allowed to have a bigger sense of entitlement than FIFA, okay.
As for the 2022 World Cup finals, solely on paper, the United States looked like the front runner - a solid, though low profile, professional league; giant stadiums - several with retractable roofs; good transportation infrastructure, good lodging facilities, and sponsorship money galore. Maybe it was politics, maybe it was money, maybe it was this legacy thing, but FIFA went with Qatar over the United States. Qatar has wicked hot summers and is smaller than the state of Connecticut. Not sure what Qatar will do with all the necessary stadiums come mid-July 2022 - they say they'll dismantle them and ship them to smaller, poorer countries, but I got a bridge in Brooklyn I will do that with too.
The biggest loser when it comes to the 2022 World Cup finals is the fan. While Qatar might be small and probably somewhat easy to get around (so long as you don't break down in the desert) it's social environment is alien to a tournament that has witnessed Australians drinking a German restaurant dry. Not to mention that any homosexual soccer fans are essentially unwelcome since homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
The only bright side - Football folks in England and the US won't feel dirty for spending the next few years in the same grimy bed with FIFA.
UPDATE: Video of Sepp Blatter & Jack Warner celebrating after announcement: