Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marco Materazzi on Chiambretti Night

Another Serie A player was on our favorite Italian television show recently, the infamous Marco Materazzi from Inter (and the Zidane head-butt) was on Chiambretti Night on February 4, 2011:

Link: Marco Materazzi Chiambretti Night 4-2-2011 1 parte

Friday, February 25, 2011

All in a Half: Glorious Hamsik Header, Napoli Fans Collapse Guardrail, & Rossi Gets the Winner

While the UEFA Champions League gets all the attention, it's the Europa League that is home to some of the best gems in European club football. For example, the first half of the Villarreal - Napoli match at the El Madrigal Stadium contained some of this week's most fascinating moments in football.

In the 17th minute, Hamsik headed in a beauty of a goal and several celebrating Napoli fans went tumbling to the sideline when the stadium guardrail broke:

As beautiful as that Hamsik goal was and as excited as the Napoli fans were, it was all for naught as Nilmar got the equalizer for Villarreal in the 42nd minute and then the Boy from Teaneck, Giuseppe Rossi, got the game winner for the Yellow Submarine:

A New Low in Diving? Player Uses Opponent's Arm to Hit Himself

In a recent U20 match down in South America, a Chile's Bryan Carrasco grabbed the arm of a player for Ecuador and pulled that player's fist into his own face. Carrasco's trick work, drawing a foul on the Ecuadorian, but Ecuador won the match 1-0.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why Did Both Renteria & Bochers See Red in CONCACAF Champions League?

Tuesday night marked the return of the CONCACAF Champions League, with the Columbus Crew - Real Salt Lake tie being the focus of Major League Soccer fans. Ending in a 0-0 draw, it wasn't the most exciting match, but considering that this was the first competitive match either side has played in months, it could of been much worse. In some ways, the most active person on the pitch in Columbus last night was referee Jair Marrufo, who handed out three red cards.

In fact, Marrufo issued a double sending off to Nat Bochers and Emilio Renteria for off the ball fouls in the 72nd minute. Since the Bochers-Renteria scuffle occurred off the ball, television viewers only saw this:

While Bochers can clearly be seen throwing either his arm or elbow into Renteria, viewers were left scratching their heads as to why Renteria was also sent off. Apparently, according to Bochers, what the television viewers saw was his retaliation after Renteria had elbowed him in the throat.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, this is what Bochers had to say about the incident:

"If you want to use an analogy, I think what I did was petty theft and what he did was a first-degree felony," Borchers said. "I hope they caught it on tape. I thought it was a very unfair judgment against me. Hit me right in the neck. Had I not backed off him and (had) he connected, I might be speaking to you through a breathing tube. I thought it was bad. In the heat of the battle you do stupid things, but that was bad from him. Unfortunately the refs didn’t catch it."

Both Renteria and Bochers, along with Real Salt Lake's Tony Beltran, who picked up a red card in the first half, will not be available when the teams meet in the second leg of this tie on March 2nd in Sandy, Utah.

When Your Teammate is Named Pele, Let Him take the Free Kick

In a recent match, Eskisehirspor's Sezer Ozturk fought with teammate Pele over who was going to take a free kick, here's what happened:

With that goal, Eskisehirspor beat Sivasspor, 2-1.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grant Wahl Wants to Challenge Blatter at FIFA - Who Wants to Challenge Gulati at USSF?

In the tiny world of soccer journalism in the United States, there really aren't any journalists whose names elicit an instant, gut reaction from soccer fans. There is no Skip Bayless, Jay Mariotti, or Jason Whitlock, or even a Jerome Solomon, of US soccer journalism.

While a good number of US soccer fans dislike, possibly hate, Jamie Trecker, that reaction doesn't stem from a visceral gut response, no, it stems from the "circle the wagons" mentality of soccer fans, who, let's face it, are not used to the unvarnished, sometimes brutal, criticism that is a staple of sports columnists and sports talk radio hosts who populate mainstream sports media in the United States. Sadly, too often soccer fans remind me of new parents who are overly protective of their first born, trying to protect him or her from germs and the realistic unfairness of life. But let's face it folks, you need exposure to germs to develop a strong immune system and you need to know that life isn't fair so that you can try to stack the cards in your favor.

The worst part about this "circle the wagons" attitude of US soccer fans is that it enables US Soccer, aka USSF, aka Soccer House, to operate in a way that surely makes former Bush White House Press Office staffers green with envy. Soccer House doesn't take too kindly to run of the mill criticism from journalists, let alone criticism that questions how Soccer House operates at its core. If Soccer House isn't happy about a recent column or article, or even press conference questions, from a journalist, it's not shy about limiting said journalist's access and/or even yanking his or her press credentials. The end result is there is little incentive for US soccer journalists to rock the boat.

There is a small, but surprisingly vocal, segment of US soccer fans who aren't happy with Soccer House and have a tendency to accuse soccer journalists of collusion with Soccer House cause they don't ask the hard questions or hold Soccer House's feet to the fire. In defense of my colleagues, it's hard enough to convince most media outlets, especially mainstream media outlets, in the United States to devote any time, column inches, or bandwidth to the Beautiful Game, imagine what it would be like to get your boss to allow you to cover soccer and then you have to tell him that your access and credentials were yanked cause you pissed off the wrong person.

This week American soccer journalist Grant Wahl managed to capture the attention of non-soccer sports media, hard news media, and foreign media outlets when he announced his intention of running against Sepp Blatter for the position of FIFA President. While I applaud Grant for his efforts, I can't help but think that it's safer for Grant to challenge FIFA and how it operates, than it is for him to challenge Soccer House and how it operates.

On December 2, 2010, FIFA announced that Qatar, not the United States, would be hosting the 2022 World Cup finals. This announcement instantly angered Soccer House, which had spent a ton of time and money on the 2022 bid, and US soccer fans who were sure that the US had a bid that would result in the most profitable World Cup finals ever. Meanwhile, England had lost out to Russia for the 2018 World Cup finals, making England and the US unlikely allies in the world of International football.

Thanks to that fateful day in early December 2010, Grant is able to use his "candidacy" to highlight the sins and corruption of FIFA in a manner that doesn't offend Soccer House and gains allies among the influential English football media. I gotta admit, I'm kicking myself for not coming up with the idea first.

Earlier this evening, a discussion with a colleague, who wishes to remain nameless, inspired me to write this column. While I appreciate what Grant is doing, and while I recognize that FIFA is one of the most corrupt sports authorities in the world, the issue dear to my heart is the growth of soccer in the United States.

Where? Where pray tell is the Grant Wahl who will challenge Sunil Gulati for the presidency of US Soccer? Where is the candidate who will say: "I want Soccer House to be something better than a house of mediocrity!"

I wish I could toss my hat into that ring and run against Sunil, but I am not worthy. In fact, as Richard Pryor's character pointed out in Brewster's Millions, "I'll only make things worse . . . and that's a promise." Let's be honest here, once I misused my power at Soccer House to get Alex Morgan's cell phone number, I'd neglect all of the job's responsibilities and find myself the subject of a story at Deadspin.

So, I ask you good reader, who will be my Soccer House Grant Wahl? Will you be my Soccer House Grant Wahl?

(FYI - Grant Wahl will be a guest on The Orange Slice on 1560 The Game in Houston on Saturday February 19, 2011. The show airs between 9:00 and 10:00 am central time. To get the online stream, CLICK HERE. In full disclosure, I am still on suspension from the show because of the disparaging comments I made on-air about Romanians named Bogdan.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

[VIDEO] Peter Crouch Scores & Gattuso Slaps & Headbutts Joe Jordan

For several summers, Tottenham Hotspur was often touted by the pundits as a pre-season favorite to break into the top four in the English Premier League, no matter how poorly the team had fallen off in the previous season. Well Tottenham finally finished in the top four last season, and are trying to prove last season's finish was not a fluke. In addition to currently being fourth on the EPL table, Tottenham picked up an important away win against Milan in the knockout stage of the Champions League.

The Spurs win came courtesy of a lovely break away by Aaron Lennon who crossed the ball over to a waiting Peter Crouch:

Meanwhile, the British footballing press has gone into self-righteous indignation mode because Milan's Gennaro "Mad Dog" Gattuso slapped and headbutted Tottenham coach Joe Jordan. Jordan apparently called Gattuso a "fucking Italian bastard." Still on your high horse British press?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

[VIDEO] Samuel Eto'o Submits his Entry for Miss of the Season

The evening of Sunday February 13, 2011 featured the Derby d'Italia as Juventus hosted Inter in Torino. Inter, after a rocky start under Rafa Benitez, has found new life under the coaching of Leonardo and came into Torino on a 3 match win streak. Meanwhile, Juventus has been suffering an inconsistent season in which hopes of winning the Scudetto have switched to hopes of just making the Champions League cut. In Sunday's Derby d'Italia, Juventus took the early lead thanks to a Alessandro Matri goal in the 30th minute, but Juventus almost gave up 2 points in the 89th minute when Maicon's pass to Samuel Eto'o tricked Juventus keeper Buffon into diving, giving Eto'o a great view of the net:

[VIDEO] Jozy Altidore at Work in Turkey

This video is from American Jozy Altidore's debut with Bursaspor in Turkey on February 12, 2011. Would be nice to see him use that kind of footwork when he suits up for the U.S. National Team. Go to about the 40 second mark to see what I'm talking about.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Andres Cantor for Soccer Clocks

You too can properly make a Goal call:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Episode 23 of The Zygo Soccer Report - Houston Dynamo Stadium Groundbreaking

The Houston Dynamo held their stadium groundbreaking this past weekend, here's some audio from the event as well as other thoughts on the upcoming 2011 Dynamo season.

The 2011 Major League Soccer Season is Around the Corner - A Tribute

The full 2011 MLS schedule will be released on Thursday and the season opens in about 5 weeks. As you can see from this video, at least one MLS fan is ready for the 2011 season to start:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

That Torres El Nino Banner Looks Awfully Familier

Yes, supporter groups copy each other, so it isn't surprising to see Chelsea supporters displaying a banner reminiscent of a Liverpool banner at Sunday's Chelsea-Liverpool match at Stamford Bridge. After all, Fernando Torres was in a Liverpool kit just last week and now he's in Chelsea blue facing his old team from the north.

But to leave the Shankly Gates in the banner too . . . tsk tsk Chelsea fans.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Players Predict this Weekend's Chelsea - Liverpool Match

On media day at the Super Bowl, some players were asked who they were pulling for in Sunday's match between Chelsea and Liverpool.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Houston Dynamo Stadium Update

In late 2006, when the then San Jose Earthquakes announced they were relocating to Houston, a city that had never had a MLS franchise, the thinking was that it would be easier for the team to get a stadium deal done in Houston than it would be to get one done in the San Jose area. It's taken over four years, but all the necessary government votes, financing, and red tape has been handled so that the Houston Dynamo will be able to break ground on Saturday February 5, 2011 at the stadium's location on the east edge of downtown Houston. The official groundbreaking ceremony will take place from 2:00 to 4:00 on Saturday afternoon.

More pictures and information on the stadium after the jump.

Let Croatian Ultras Keep You Warm on a Cold Winter Morning

It's cold throughout most of the United States this morning, hell they're predicting sleet and snow here in Houston over the next 36 hours, so why don't you let the Ultras at this Dinamo Zagreb - Hajduk Split match:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is Charlie Davies Going to DC United Really a Good Thing? Is it Really?

Yesterday MLS announced that it would be making a "major" announcement today - that announcement turned out to be that the 2011 MLS All Star Game would be played at RedBull Arena this summer. I think former MLS player and General Manager, Alexi Lalas, summed up this announcement best when, on Twitter, he stated: "2011 MLS All-Star game at Red Bull Arena...and the word 'major' feels it has been taken advantage of yet again."

But it wasn't the All Star Game news that had MLS followers, fans, and commentators all abuzz on Twitter and the blogosphere today, no, it was the news that Charlie Davies was going on a week long trial with D.C. United.