Thursday, June 30, 2011

River Plate Relegated: Scenes from a Riot

Anyone familiar with world football knows that River Plate, in Buenos Aires, is one of the biggest, most storied clubs in Argentine club football. This past Sunday, the unthinkable happened, River was relegated to the second division, Primera B Nacional, after a 1-1 draw against Belgrano de Córdoba in relegation playoffs (Belgrano beat River 2-0 on Wednesday in the first leg of the playoff tie).

One of the riveting aspects of watching River Plate get relegated for the first time in its 100 plus year history was the reaction of the fans, the raw, painfully emotion on display, as well as the swelling anger. Obviously, things got a little out of hand as seen in the video below.

I know there are certain segments of soccer fans in the United States who want Major League Soccer to work with the lower divisions like NASL and USL to create a promotion/relegation system. Such a system definitely creates more reasons to watch, pay attention to the teams at the bottom of the standings, and prevents fans of said teams from becoming completely apathetic. Considering how MLS has only recently found true stability, while NASL and USL have had rocky existences, it's highly unlikely that promotion/relegation will be economically feasible in the United States anytime soon, but one day it may just happen.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Houston Viewing of "Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story"

At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday June 28, 2011, the Houston Dynamo are hosting a screening of "Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story" at the Children's Museum of Houston. Tickets are only $5.00 per person, with all the proceeds going to help fund this film project. Click Here to reserve tickets in advance. Click Here for more information on helping to fund the film.

Your Monday Goals

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - The Final: Mexico Wins

Over 93,000 soccer fans filled the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California to watch Mexico and the United States face off in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. After 90 minutes and 6 goals, it was Mexico that emerged victorious on a 4-2 scoreline.

Despite the end result, it was the United States that scored first in the match, thanks to Michael Bradley:

In the 23rd minute, it was Landon Donovan who picked up the US's second goal:

With an early 2-0 lead, things were looking good for the United States, but then, in the 29th minute, Pablo Barrera put Mexico on the scoreboard:

The United States was unable to maintain its lead going into halftime, with Andrés Guardado getting a goal in the 35th minute:

While the United States started the first half with an early goal, it was Mexico who picked up an early goal in the second half, thanks to Barrera:

The United States was unable to score again, but that didn't stop Giovani Dos Santos from picking up an insurance goal for Mexico:

With this victory, Mexico has earned a spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. Meanwhile, US soccer fans are left wondering if changes will be made, or if the current coaching staff will remain intact as the US looks ahead to World Cup qualifiers.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I think big changes need to be made at Soccer House, but I still want USA to win tonight.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stuart Holden Hanging out With Sons of Ben

On Wednesday night, American midfielder Stuart Holden, who plays for Bolton in the EPL, was in Philadelphia for the Union v. Sporting Kansas City match and spent some time with Sons of Ben.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Semifinals: US & Mexico Advance

Photo by Katy Umaña

Wednesday night a sold out crowd of over 70,000 soccer fans was on hand at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas for the semifinals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, featuring the United States playing Panama and Mexico playing Honduras.

Just last week, the US had lost its first ever Gold Cup group stage match to Panama, so Wednesday featured a rematch between the two sides. On Tuesday, US players said they obviously wanted to win the semifinal match, but it wasn't an issue of revenge. In the end, it was native Texan Clint Dempsey who played the hero for the United States picking up the match's only goal in the 76th minute. Post-match audio from members of the USMNT can be heard in the most recent episode of The Zygo Soccer Report Podcast.

Mexico had been dominating the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and going into it's Wednesday night match against Honduras it was expected that Mexico would win the match and advance to the final. Honduras, however, chose not to go quietly into that dark night and managed to hold Mexico to a 0-0 scoreline through the end of 90 minutes, sending the match to extra time. In the 92nd minute, Mexico's Jesús De Nigris finally broke the scoring drought, giving El Tri the lead, and ultimately the win. In the 98th minute, Javier "Chicharito" Hernández picked up the insurance goal for Mexico.

On Saturday, the United States and Mexico will meet at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California for the final. In 2009, the US lost to Mexico in the Gold Cup final, but this year a slot in the Confederations Cup is on the line and US has brought it's A team, but will that be enough to get by Mexico?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 Gold Cup Edition of The Zygo Soccer Report - Part 2

The United States Men's National Team beat Panama 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Reliant Stadium on Wednesday night thanks to a goal from Clint Dempsey. As of the posting time, it appears that Mexico will beat Honduras by 2-0 to also advance to the final. Here is raw, and I mean raw, audio from the US side following their victory. The audio includes Clint Dempsey, Bob Bradley, Sunil Gulati, Eric Lichaj, and Freddy Adu.

Photo by Katy Umaña

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Gold Cup Edition of The Zygo Soccer Report - Part 1

Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and the United States are all in Houston for the semifinals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Got some audio today from Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, and Sacha Kljestan after the USMNT's practice at Reliant Stadium, as well as the audio from the entire Bob Bradley and Landon Donovan press conference.

Music by Ozomatli, Pat Green, and Calexico.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hope Solo Featured in ESPN Video for 2011 World Cup

The 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup finals in Germany begins on Sunday June 26 with Nigeria playing France in Sinsheim and then Germany playing Canada in Berlin. The United States starts play on Tuesday the 28th against North Korea in Dresden.

As part of its promotion of the World Cup, ESPN posted this video of Hope Solo up on ESPNW.

Bonus "This is Sportscenter" commercial with Abby Wambach

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Quarterfinals Night Two: US & Panama Get a Rematch

Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, the United States hosted Jamaica and Panama played El Salvador to determine which teams would advance to the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas on Wednesday night.

It was US hoping to get past Jamaica in the matinee match, and get by Jamaica they did thank to goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey. Coming into Sunday's match, Jamaica had scored multiple goals while keeping clean sheets in all of its group stage matches. Despite looking dangerous from time to time, Jamaica was unable to score and its keeper, Donovan Ricketts, managed numerous saves, but couldn't stop them all.

RFK Stadium was packed with fans of El Salvador hoping to see their team beat Panama and advance to the semifinals. It was El Salvador that scored first, when Rodolfo Zelaya put the ball in the net in the 77th minute, but it only took 12 minutes for Panama's Luis Tejada to respond with a goal of his own. The match was tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation time, forcing it to be decided on penalty kicks. Panama ends up advancing to the semifinals after beating El Salvador 5-3 on penalty kicks.

Sunday's results mean that the United States and Panama will face each other in a rematch on Wednesday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jermaine Jones & Clint Dempsey Propel United States to CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinals

It might have been unsaid by Soccer House, but Bob Bradley's job as coach of the US Men's National Team was on the line heading into today's CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals match against Jamaica. Thanks to the following two goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey, Bradley has received a stay of execution as USMNT advances to the semifinals in Houston on Wednesday.

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Quarterfinals Night One: Honduras & Mexico Advance

The first night of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals took place on Saturday at The New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. Costa Rica and Honduras squared off in the night's first match, while Mexico faced Guatemala in the second match.

Honduras picked up the first goal of the night, early in the second half of the first match, thanks to Jerry Bengtson, but the lead didn't last long because Dennis Marshall scored for Costa Rica in the 55nd minute. The match stayed tied at 1-1 through the rest of regular time forcing it to be decided on penalty kicks. Honduras ended up winning on penalties, 4-2.

Early in the second match of the evening it looked like Mexico's hopes of advancing to the semifinals weren't as strong as expected because Carlos Ruiz scored for Guatemala in the 4th minute. Guatemala managed to hold its lead, but a halftime substitution for Mexico paid off as Jesús De Nigris scored in the 48th minute. In the 65th minute it was none other than Javier "Chicharito" Hernández who scored the winning goal for Mexico.

Mexico and Honduras will play each other at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Wednesday night.

Today, the United States will play Jamaica and Panama will face El Salvador.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Episode 31 of The Zygo Soccer Report: Houston Dynamo 0-2 Columbus Crew

On Saturday June 18, 2011, the Houston Dynamo lost an important Eastern Conference match to the Columbus Crew.

Photo by Katy Umaña

Music by The Descendants and Hole.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Episode 30 of The Zygo Soccer Report: Dynamo 2 - 1 Chivas USA

The Houston Dynamo finally picked up their first win last Saturday, after going 7 matches without a win, when they beat Chivas USA 2-1. On the other hand, the United States National Team has managed to win two of their group stage matches in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but they've looked unimpressive in the process and have to get past a dangerous Jamaica this Sunday.

Featured music from R.L. Burnside, Kermit Ruffins, Gil Scott-Heron, and The The.

photo by Katy Umaña

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Nine: The US Squeaks Through

The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup came to end Tuesday night at the new Livestrong Stadium in Kansas City with Canada playing Panama and the United States taking on Guadeloupe.

In the night's first match, Canada took an early lead over Panama in the 61st minute when Dwayne De Rosario converted a penalty kick after being fouled by Eybir Bonaga. Canada managed to hold onto its slim lead for almost 30 minutes, but in stoppage time Luis Tejada picked up a goal for Panama. The 1-1 draw enabled Panama to clinch Group C. Panama will play El Salvador on Sunday night at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

In light of the result in the Canada-Panama match, the United States knew that they could not win the group, but they could advance to the quarterfinals with a win or draw against Guadeloupe. It was Jozy Altidore who proved to be the hero for the United States on Tuesday night when he picked up a long range goal in the 8th minute of the match. Despite numerous chances to pick up more goals, the game ended 1-0 and the United States advanced to the quarterfinals where it will face a strong and dangerous Jamaica at RFK Stadium on Sunday.

While the US and Panama play in the quarterfinals on Sunday night, the quarterfinals actually start on Saturday with Mexico playing Guatemala and Honduras playing Costa Rica at The New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beware The Soccer Sniper

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Eight: Another Shutout for Jamaica

Group B action wrapped up in Harrison, New Jersey on Monday night as Guatemala played Grenada and Honduras faced Jamaica.

Grenada has been giving Cuba a run for its money as the whipping boy for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and Monday was no different as they gave up 4 goals to Guatemala while being unable to score a goal of their own. Guatemala's goals came from Jose Del Aguila in the 15th minute, Marco Pappa in the 21st minute, Carlos Ruiz in the 53rd minute, and Carlos Gallardo in the 58th minute. With its win, Guatemala advance to the quarterfinals.

The second night of the match, Jamaica v. Honduras, only saw one goal scored, but that's the only goal Jamaica needed to maintain its winning streak and advance to the quarterfinals. The goal came in the goal came in the 35th minute and there is some disagreement as to whether the goal was scored by Jamaica's Ryan Johnson, who plays for the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS, or whether it was an own goal off of Noel Valladares.

The Gold Cup's group stage ends Tuesday night in Kansas City as Canada faces a dangerous Panama and the United States seeks redemption against Guadeloupe.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Houston Dynamo Beat Chivas USA 2-1: A Pictorial by Katy Umaña

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Seven: Mexico Continues Run

Round three of the group stage, the last round of the group stage, in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup began at Soldier Field in Chicago last night with Mexico facing Costa Rica and El Salvador playing Cuba.

Cuba has proven to be the whipping boy of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the little team from the baseball island did manage to score a goal last night thanks to Yenier Márquez who put the ball past the keeper in the 82nd minute. But in the end, it was El Salvador who walked away with a 6-1 victory thanks to goals from Rodolfo Zelaya, William Romero, Mark Blanco, José Alvarez Hernández, and Eliseo Quintanilla.

Coming into Sunday night, Mexico had already qualified for the quarterfinals, but that didn't mean the defending CONCACAF Gold Cup champions were taking it easy against Costa Rica. It was Rafael Márquez who put Mexico on the scoreboard first in the 16th minute, then Andrés Guardado picked up a brace, and finally Pablo Barrera picked up a goal in the 38th minute. By halftime, Mexico lead 4-0. Mexico took a break from scoring in the second half, but Costa Rica finally managed to pick up a goal thanks to Marcos Urena in the 68th minute. In the end, Mexico walked away with a 4-1 victory.

Monday night features Group B action with Guatemala playing Grenada and Honduras facing Jamaica at RedBull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

ESPN's Coverage of South Africa 2010 - Just a Beginning?

Earlier this week I received my review copy of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, so the first thing I did was jump to the index to find any sections that deal with soccer. Based on the directions that the index sent me in, and I should note the index seems a bit poor, the book only focuses on soccer in the context of the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, which isn't a bad thing, but it seems to leave out the World Wide Leader's dabbling with the Beautiful Game during the bulk of its 31 years.

In the book, which is written as an oral history, ESPN's treatment of the 2010 World Cup finals is presented in a very positive light. The voices heard in this discussion primarily belong to Ian Darke, Landon Donovan, and John Skipper.

Although ESPN/ABC had broadcast the World Cup finals in the United States prior to 2010, those earlier ventures involved sub-licensing through Soccer United Marketing. The first time that ESPN/ABC, in conjunction with Univision, obtained the direct World Cup finals broadcast rights from FIFA was for the 2010 finals, rights that they almost lost to NBC because previous Vice-President of Content, Mark Shapiro, had little interest in soccer.

Thanks to Chuck Blazer, who either feared NBC treating the World Cup finals like it treats the Olympics or knew about an impending power change at ESPN, the FIFA deal with NBC was delayed, giving the new ESPN Vice-President of Content, John Skipper, a chance to meet with FIFA officials and steal the broadcast rights away from NBC. Skipper was a fan of soccer thanks to his earlier work with ESPN's Soccernet.

While soccer fans might have complaints about certain aspects of ESPN's coverage of the 2010 World Cup finals, the reality is that the network took the tournament seriously, being one of the first broadcast networks on the ground in South Africa to prepare for the finals, and making it possible for Americans to view every single match. Not surprisingly, there was positive focus on the Landon Donovan goal against Algeria the viral aspect of US fan reaction on YouTube.

The impression left on the reader is that ESPN has even bigger plans for future coverage of the World Cup finals.

After checking out the book's coverage of ESPN's relationship with the Beautiful Game, I started reading it from the beginning. So far it has been very entertaining, I'll give you my final verdict here when I'm finished.

[Video Highlights] Luck Shines on the Houston Dynamo in 2-1 Victory over Chivas USA

- Photo by Katy Umaña

Prior to Saturday night's match against Chivas USA at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas, the Houston Dynamo had gone seven matches without a win. After losing the lead to RedBull New York three weeks ago and losing badly to the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend, Dynamo fans were starting to get very impatient with the Dynamo's seeming inability to hold onto a lead or shut down inferior offenses.

Since May 25th, when the Dynamo lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, the Dynamo had played Dallas (tie) and San Jose (loss), with Chivas USA being the last of the Dynamo's run of playing Western Conference teams. Dynamo needed a win, especially a win at home, to change their momentum before having to face two of its biggest Eastern Conference rivals in the next couple weeks, Columbus Crew and D.C. United.

The match appeared to start on the right foot for the Houston Dynamo when Bobby Boswell put the ball into the net during the first five minutes:

Unfortunately, the goal was disallowed because of a foul committed by Dynamo defender Hunter Freeman.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Dynamo in the 7th minute when Marcos Mondaini tricked Dynamo keeper Tally Hall and scored for Chivas USA:

Twenty-two minutes later, Geoff Cameron, off of a Brad Davis free kick, scored for the Dynamo on this lovely header:

When halftime rolled around, the score was tied at 1-1 and Geoff Cameron was the star of the moment:

The Dynamo sealed up the match in the 56th minute when, on a Brad Davis free kick, the ball deflected off of Chivas USA's Heath Pearce and into the goal:

Not surprisingly, the mood in the Dynamo locker room after the match was one of relief, especially when you consider that not only did the Dynamo pick up 3 points but that Brian Ching finally got back on the pitch.

Despite their seven match streak without winning, the Dynamo find themselves tied with Columbus Crew at 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, at 18 points, while both New York and Philadelphia Union are tied in first place with 22 points.

Audio from the Houston Dynamo locker Room will be forthcoming on this week's episode of The Zygo Soccer Report.

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Six: Panama Shocks USA?

Group C wrapped up the second round of Gold Cup group stage matches on Saturday night in Tampa. In the night's opening match, Canada and Guadeloupe were both looking for their first group stage win while the United States and Panama met in the second match with both teams looking for that win that would secure a quarterfinals berth.

The only goal in the Canada-Guadeloupe match came in the 50th minute on a penalty kick that was converted by Dwayne De Rosario. It was De Rosario's 16th international goal. While the Canadian players are happy with the win, it wasn't a convincing win considering Canada played with a man advantage over 85 minutes of the match because Guadeloupe's Jean Luc Lambourde picked up a red card in the 2nd minute after fouling Will Johnson. The win keeps Canada in the mix for advancing to the quarterfinals and they may be helped by the fact that Panama, as detailed below, already qualified and won't have to take Tuesday's match as seriously.

In the hours preceding the United States-Panama match, it was easy to get a sense from US fans on Twitter and Facebook that they considered it a slam dunk win for the United States and that the US would end the night securing a quarterfinals berth. Unfortunately for the United States and its fans, Panama decided it wasn't going to play by that presumed script. Luis Tejada gave the US notice in the 18th minute when he picked up a rebound off of US keeper Tim Howard. It was 2-0 in favor of Panama come halftime thanks to Tim Ream fouling Blas Pérez in the box, giving Panama a penalty kick that was converted by Gabriel Gómez in the 35th minute. The United States wasn't able to get onto the scoreboard until the 67th minute thanks to a Clarence Goodson header. The late goal breathed a certain sense of urgency into the US side, but it was too little too late as they lost a group stage match for the first time in Gold Cup history. The 2-1 victory over the United States secured a quarterfinals spot for Panama.

Group C wraps up group stage play in Kansas City on Tuesday night with Canada playing Panama and the United States playing Guadeloupe.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Five: Lucky Seven for Honduras

Friday night's gold cup action featured Group B action with Jamaica facing Guatemala and Grenada playing Honduras in Miami.

In the night's first match, Jamaica picked up a 2-0 victory against Guatemala thanks to a Demar Phillips brace in the second half. With two wins in its first two matches of the tournament, Jamaica has qualified for the quarterfinals and is proving to be the best Caribbean side in the 2011 Gold Cup.

Grenada, another Caribbean team, didn't fair well at all as they lost to Honduras, 7-1. Although Clive Murray picked up a goal for Grenada in the 18th minute, the "Spice Boys" never really had a chance, giving up three goals to Honduras in the first half and another four goals in the second half. Carlos Costly picked up a hat trick for Honduras with other goals coming from Jerry Bengtson, who picked up two, Walter Julián Martínez Ramos, and Alfredo Antonio Mejía Escobar.

Tonight's Gold Cup action takes place in Tampa and features Canada playing Guadeloupe and the United States facing Panama.

Friday, June 10, 2011

[VIDEO] Horrible Mistake by Goalkeepr in ENPPI v. El Masri Match

Mohamed Abougabal, the keeper for ENPPI, made this recent, horrible mistake in against El Masri in Egypt:

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Four: Mercy Rule Time?

Round two of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup began on Thursday night as Group A played in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring El Salvador versus Costa Rica and Mexico taking on Cuba.

On Sunday night, Costa Rica picked up a 4-0 win against Cuba while El Salvador lost 4-0 to Mexico. Coming off of its loss, El Salvador seemed to be the team with the most to prove on Thursday, and they were the first to score thanks to Rodolfo Zelaya picking up a goal off of a free kick in the 44th minute. El Salvador managed to hold onto its slim one goal lead for over 45 minutes, but in stoppage time, Randall Brenes scored for Costa Rica and ending the match in a 1-1 draw.

The second match of the night featured Mexico and Cuba, and after the opening matches on Sunday, there was an 8 goal gap between the two teams. Considering the mismatch, most people expected Mexico to rest some of its starters against Cuba, but that was before the news broke on Thursday afternoon that five Mexican players had tested positive for clenbuterol, a drug used for fat loss. The five players who tested positive were Guillermo Ochoa, Francisco Rodriguez, Edgar Duenas, Christian Bermudez, and Antonio Naelson. Not surprisingly, Mexico has taken the position that said players ate contaminated meat, most likely chicken; however, Mexico provisionally suspended all five players. In my opinion, it seems unlikely that 5 players on the same team were all taking a substance known to be in violation of the anti-doping rules.

Whether it was the events of the day or an arrogant attitude, Mexico did not begin scoring goals on Cuba as quickly as was expected. But, it was Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez who finally picked up the first goal for Mexico, scoring in the 35th minute. It wasn't until the middle of the second half that Mexico opened the goal floodgates. Giovani Dos Santos made himself relevant again when he scored in the 63rd minute and then Jesús De Nigris, who was subbed on in the 63rd minute, picked up a goal in the 64th minute. Dos Santos picked up his second goal of the night in the 67th minute. Finally, Chicharito picked up his second goal in the 75th minute, and Mexico seemingly imposed its own mercy rule on the match.

CONCACAF officials will meet today, Friday, to determine if Mexico can call up players to replace the suspended players for the remainder of the tournament.

Tonight's Gold Cup action in Miami will feature Jamaica playing Guatemala and Honduras facing Grenada.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bizarre Penalty Kick Helps Termeno Earn Promotion

A recent promotion playoff match between Dro and Termeno in Italy went into penalty kicks where the bizarre penalty kick shown below helped Termeno earn promotion. Termeno's Michael Palma took the shoot which hit the crossbar, but as the Dro keeper, Loris Angeli, ran out of the box to celebrate with his teammates, the ball took a favorable bounce for Termeno and rolled into the net.

The on the field ruling by the officials is being appealed by Dro.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Ryan Giggs Affair Gets Animated: Part II

In light of the recent developments concerning Ryan Giggs and his alleged trysts with his brother's now wife, the good folks and Taiwan went back to the drawing board to bring us this:

[VIDEO] A Look at Some New Nike Soccer Commercials

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Three: Guadeloupe Falls Short

Group C finally saw action in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday night in Detroit where Panama faced Guadeloupe and Canada took on its neighbor to the south, the United States.

In the night's first match, Panama dominated early with Blas Pérez picking up a goal in the 28th minute and Luis Tejada picking up a goal in the 31st minute. While Panama did not score again in the first half, they got another boost in the 37th minute when Guadeloupe's Mickael Tacalfred picked up a red card. Panama had to be feeling good about its situation at halftime, but it was a Gabriel Gómez goal in the 56th minute that proved to be the game winner for Panama. Despite being down a man, Guadeloupe managed to battle back picking up two goals thanks to Brice Jovial who scored in the 64th minute and again in the 78th minute.

By the time the second match of the evening started, there were just over 28,000 on hand at Ford Field to see Canada take on the United States. Despite the fact that the Canadian team has been improving in quality over the past few years, they were unable to make any kind of statement against the United States, losing 2-0. The United States' first goal came in the 15th minute from Jozy Altidore, who put the ball into goal off of a rough angle. Clint Dempsey got the insurance goal, off of another tough angle, for the United States in the 61st minute. US keeper Tim Howard kept a clean sheet, but he was only challenged with three shots on goal by Canada. While the United States' recent 4-0 loss to Spain in a friendly on Saturday gave many US soccer fans a scare, it's not surprising that the US's performance against Canada was unaffected by the recent loss, after all, the US went into the Spain match just looking to keep all its players healthy for the Gold Cup, a goal that it accomplished.

Now that all three groups have seen action in this year's Gold Cup, it appears that Group C might be the most competitive group, making the US's victory all that more important as it looks to make it to the final in Pasadena.

Today is a rest day in the tournament with action resuming on Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina as Costa Rica faces El Salvador and Cuba will attempt to avoid giving up double digit goals to Mexico.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Two: The Reggae Boyz Rule

Tuesday night in the 2011 Gold Cup saw two Caribbean teams, Jamaica and Grenada, and two Central American teams, Honduras and Guatemala, play each other in Group B action at the Home Depot Center in Southern California.

The night's opening match between Jamaica and Grenada continued the one sided, multi goal scoring match that started the tournament in Arlington, Texas on Sunday night. Jamaica managed to keep a clean sheet while scoring four goals, two in each half. Jamaica's goals came from Luton Shelton, Ryan Johnson, Demar Phillips, and Keammer Daley.

The second match in Monday's doubleheader ended in a 0-0 draw between Honduras and Guatemala.

Tonight Panama will play Guadeloupe and the United States will play Canada in Group C action at Ford Field in Detroit.

Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night One: Mexico Gives Notice

The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup got off to interesting start Sunday night with Group A action at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. While there was a much ballyhooed attendance of over 64,000 at the United States v. Spain friendly at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night, there was over 80,000 on hand to watch Costa Rica take on Cuba and Mexico play El Salvador. When the night was over, there 10 goals, 5 each in very one sided affairs.

The first match of Sunday's doubleheader featured Costa Rica taking on a hapless Cuba. So far, to the best of my knowledge, none of the Cuban players have defected yet, but after losing 5-0 to Costa Rica last night, some of them might be seriously considering defecting if for no other reason than to avoid further embarrassment in the tournament. Costa Rica picked up its first goal when Marcos Urena scored in the 6th minute and then it's second with an Alvaro Saborío goal in the 40th minute. Cuba's fate was sealed within the first two minutes of the second half as Urena picked up his second goal and Heiner Mora quickly followed up with a goal of his own. Costa Rica's last goal was picked up by Joel Campbell in the 70th minute.

The night's marquee match featured Mexico v. El Salvador. At the end of the first half, the score was 0-0 and some folks on Twitter were speculating as to whether Mexico was going to be a dominant team in this year's tournament. The speculation came to an abrupt end in the 55th minute when Efraín Juárez scored for Mexico and opened the floodgates. By the 60th minute, Mexico lead 3-0. Mexico's young forward, Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, showed that he doesn't need Wayne Rooney on the pitch with him in order to score, as he bagged a hat trick, the first hat trick for a Mexican National Team player since 1997.

With it's 5-0 win over El Salvador, Mexico made it clear that they're taking this tournament seriously and they should not be underestimated.

Tonight's action will feature Group B, as Jamaica takes on Grenada and Honduras battles Guatemala at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Houston Dynamo Lose 2-0 at San Jose: A Sloppy Night on a Sloppy Pitch

On Saturday June 4, 2011, in a homecoming of sorts, the Houston Dynamo's lack of offense resulted in a 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in Santa Clara, California. Steven Lenhart and Simon Dawkins stepped up for San Jose in the absence of Chris Wondolowski, who was on national team duty, giving the Earthquakes the win. Lenhart scored his goal in the 69th minute while Dawkins sealed up the San Jose victory with a goal in second half stoppage time.

The majority of players who made the move from San Jose in 2006 are no longer with the Houston Dynamo, but the San Jose fans still remember the departure and the match still had a rivalry feel, at least from the San Jose perspective. The Earthquakes have struggled mightily this season, sitting down near the bottom of the Western Conference table, but Saturday night they stepped up in a way befitting a team with a better record.

Although the Dynamo came out attacking during the first half, they were never able to capitalize on any of their chances. While there are plenty of excuses for the Houston loss - missing regular starters due to national team call-ups, a sloppy pitch, a still recovering Danny Cruz, etc. The reality is there is no excuse for the Dynamo's now seven (7) match winless streak, especially considering how solid they had looked during their early season unbeaten streak. An away draw last night would have kept the Dynamo fans a little more content, but the manner in which the Dynamo lost, combined with their recent inability to hold onto leads, is not sitting well in Houston, a city that is currently experiencing a serious sports slump, save the minor league Houston Aeros who are playing in the Calder Cup.

Not surprisingly, last night's loss has the Dynamo fans grumbling louder than normal, and even the once unheard of notion that maybe it is time that longtime Coach Dominic Kinnear should move on has been uttered. While I'm not close to saying it's time for Kinnear to move on, I do think that it is time for an Assistant Coach step up and fill the void that was left by John Spencer, who took over the coaching job at Portland Timbers last summer.

Two pluses that Dynamo fans can take away from last night's match is that Geoff Cameron is back in central defense where he excelled in the 2009 season, and Colin Clark, who continues to look solid, picked up his first start with the Dynamo.

Up next for the Dynamo is a home match against Chivas USA on June 11th. The Dynamo need to take this week to get focused, work on the mistakes, work on communication, and end their current streak. There's plenty of time in the MLS season for the Dynamo to make up this lost ground, but they need to start the forward progress now if they want to ensure a return to the MLS Playoffs after missing out last season.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spain Beats USA 4-0: So What?

So What? Seriously, SO WHAT? What difference does this loss make in the greater scheme of things? None!

This afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts the Spanish National Team put on a soccer clinic, at least for the first half, against the United States National Team. During the first half, which saw US Coach Bob Bradley field a squad with little serious international experience, Spain scored three goals and came close to scoring several more. At halftime, the general consensus on Twitter was that the United States was lucky to have only given up three goals to the World Cup Champions.

In the second half, Bradley subbed in Clint Dempsey, Steve Cherundolo, and Michael Bradley, among other players. Bringing in these three experienced players made a noticeable difference, not only did they help stop the goal bleeding, with one exception, the presence of these veterans enabled the US to finally have some serious chances of their own, though they did not manage to capitalize on any of those chances.

Spain's first half goals came from Santi Cazorla and Álvaro Arbeloa, while it was Fernando Torres who finally broke his scoring drought by picking up the only goal in the second half of the match.

Despite the claim that the US was taken to school by Spain, the US should not feel embarrassed by today's result because winning this match was clearly not on the agenda for them today. As mentioned above, Bob Bradley did not start several of his veterans and didn't even bother having the team captain, Carol Bocanegra, and one of his best players, Landon Donovan, suit up for the match. The one true veteran who got the start, Oguchi Onyewu, might as well have been relaxing on the pitch in a lawn chair. For Bob Bradley and his crew, today's goal wasn't winning, today's goal was surviving without any serious injuries.

While today's match was ostensibly a warm up for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which starts on Sunday, the US team would have benefited more from scrimmaging domestic club or college teams instead of playing Spain. The reality is that today's match was all about marketing and money.

Over 64,000 fans were in attendance at Gillette Stadium for this Saturday matinée match and, more importantly, the match was broadcast live not over ESPN2 but over The World Wide Leader's Flagship station, the infamous four letter network, ESPN. This match was a 90 minute infomercial for the Gold Cup, a tournament that matters this year because the winner will qualify for the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. The added bonus is that US Soccer, Soccer United Marketing, and ESPN most likely made a nice little profit off this match, thanks to scheduling one of the highest profile opponents possible.

Heads will not roll at Soccer House because of today's loss. Bob Bradley's job is not in jeopardy and none of the players who saw playing time today will lose a starting spot in the Gold Cup because of today's performance. No, the sad part about today is not that the US lost, it's that this match did nothing to improve the US National Team, with the exception of some younger players learning they can face Spain on the pitch and still be alive at the end of the match.

In general, I'm all for the US scheduling friendlies against superior teams like Spain, this is one of the best ways for a middling team like the US to improve itself in the long term, but I don't like the idea of scheduling a team like Spain right before an important tournament. The team benefits the most when it plays its starters against a superior team, that's not what happened today, and that wasn't going to happen when Bradley's focus is making sure his best players are fit for the impending Gold Cup.

Finally, while on paper, and even on video highlights (which you can watch below), today's loss looks horrible, soccer fans in the United States needn't worry about this loss hurting "the growth" of soccer in the United States. The fanbase for soccer in the United States is strong and isn't going any where; however, that strong fanbase is comprised mainly of people who are focused on European and Mexican football clubs. Even Travis Rodgers, the former producer for Jim Rome and current host of the daily afternoon show on Sporting News Radio, recently stated that Soccer Fan is no longer annoying because Soccer Fan has plenty of his own to talk to now and is no longer earnestly trying to convert non-soccer fans. Of course, the example Travis gave was that an EPL fan has plenty of EPL fans he can talk to about the EPL without bothering those who are ignorant of the EPL.

Today, the Jehovah Witness of soccer in the US is the primary US/MLS fan trying to convert the primary Europe/Mexico club fan. While today's loss won't help the cause of these Witnesses, it won't hurt it either. Most Europe/Mexico club fans are familiar with US/MLS and often watch, even attend matches and root for the US and/or an MLS side. These fans don't blindly gush over US/MLS, they recognize it as an improving product that still needs to grow more. Today's loss won't have much impact on the primary Europe/Mexico club fan, while it might reinforce his view, it's not going to make him stop paying whatever kind of attention he already gives to US/MLS.

In the end, the US will likely make it to the 2011 Gold Cup Final in Pasadena on June 25th, and the team will most likely face Mexico in that match. The result of that match will have a bigger and longer impact on US soccer than today's loss could ever have.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Your Friday Goals

Photo by Katy Umaña

The first one is from a high school match in California between Irmo High and Wando High, which starts with a flip throw-in.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Diego Barretto Commits Every Goalkeeper's Worst Nightmare

On Tuesday night, Santos, from Brazil, and Cerro Porteño, from Paraguay, squared off in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final. Tuesday's match resulted in an exciting 3-3 draw and Santos advanced to the Copa Libertadores final on a 4-3 aggregate. Santos managed to go 3-0 in the first half, but Cerro Porteño battled back in the second half scoring 3 goals of its own, but could not find a fourth goal. Cerro Porteño would not have needed that fourth goal but for a horrible mistake by its keeper, Diego Barretto, in the first half of the match:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Episode 29 of The Zygo Soccer Report: Houston 2-2 Dallas

In an interesting 4 match stretch that started on May 14, 2011, when the Houston Dynamo played at Real Salt Lake, the Dynamo have only managed to pick up 3 points, but they remain near the top of the Eastern Conference table, currently tied for 3rd place with DC United. This episode includes post match audio from Saturday night's 2-2 draw with Dallas.

Featured music includes Raphael Saadiq, Son Volt, Fitz & The Tantrums, and Die Antwoord.

Pictures are by Katy Umaña.

Marco Materazzi Celebrates Winning the Coppa Italia by Soaking TV Announcers

Inter did not win the Scudetto this season, but they did beat Palermo 3-1 to win the Coppa Italia on Sunday.

Those Aren't Snipers, Those are Bees

A swarm of bees managed to bring a match between Corumbaense and Itapora in Brazil to a complete stop: