Sunday, January 30, 2011
BNN Presenter Filemon Wesselink got tossed into the shower by players from RKC Waalwijk, which had just won their Dutch Cup quarterfinals.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Last week, Chelsea Coach Carlo Ancelotti decided to take in a FA Youth Cup match featuring Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately, for Ancelotti, but fortunately for us, the Italian figured he could sit any seat he so desired; however, he chose the seat of an elderly Arsenal fan who was not having any of it:
Sunday, January 23, 2011
It hasn't been a good week for Lazio, on Wednesday they lost to Roma in the Coppa Italia and today they lost 3-1 to Bologna and fell below Roma on the Serie A table. To make matters worse, it appears that Lazio's Mauro Zárate managed to make contact with a referee when throwing a punch during a post match dispute with Bologna players.
Friday, January 21, 2011
The great French footballer Eric Cantona has made news this week when it was announced that he was appointed as the Director of Soccer for the new New York Cosmos. While this reanimation of the New York Cosmos is currently not a member of any professional soccer/football league, though it seems they hope to join MLS, the Cosmos are really good at getting media attention. The Cantona announcement garnered coverage in England, where the BBC's Olly Foster made this little Freudian slip:
As all football fans know, the use of the term "friendly" to describe pre-season and exhibition matches has often been a misnomer. This fact reared its head again in a recent "friendly" between Banfield and Estudiantes de Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
It was the Derby della Capitale on Wednesday January 19, 2011 as Roma hosted Lazio in the Coppa Italia. Considered one of the biggest and fiercest derbies in Europe, if not the world, Wednesday's match lived up to its billing as 90 minutes of fierce play saw Roma win their fourth straight derby.
The atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico along with Ray Hudson's take on the Derby della Capitale are captured in the following two videos:
Considering the atmosphere in the stands, it's not surprising that the first half saw each side pick up yellow cards. Lazio's Stefan Radu picked up the first yellow card when he kicked Roma's Nicolás Burdisso in the face in the 18th minute.
It didn't take long for Roma's Daniele De Rossi to pick up a yellow card for a hard challenge on Lazio's Alvaro Gonzalez in the 29th minute.
There were some uneasy minutes late in the first half when Lazio's Giuseppe Biava went over the back of Roma's Adriano and almost landed on his head and neck.
Lazio dominated the first half with a vigorous attacking style of play and while they came close to scoring, it never happened and the half ended without any goals. Roma's Coach Claudio Ranieri made two substitutions during the half, putting Jeremy Menez on for Leandro Greco and Mirko Vucinic on for Adriano. Whether these substitutions were game planned by Ranieri or made on the fly, the presence of Menez and Vucinic completely altered Roma's style of play. From the start of the second half, Roma attacked Lazio with a fury that was completely absent during the first half.
Ranieri's half time adjustments paid off when Lazio's Stephan Lichtsteiner was called for a handball in the 52nd minute, setting up a penalty kick that was converted by Marco Borriello.
Roma's lead didn't last long though because in the 57th minute Juan tripped up Zarate in the box, setting the stage for a Lazio penalty kick that was made by Hernanes.
With the score tied at 1-1, both sides turned up the pressure looking for that one goal that would give them the lead and a spot in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals. In the 77th minute, Roma's Fabio Simplicio scored a goal that is better seen than described:
Sadly, the match lived up to its billing in unfortunate ways too. Prior to the match when rocks were thrown at both teams' buses and fan was stabbed during fighting between the teams' respective ultras.
Wednesday's victory means that Roma will face Juventus in the Quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia. Roma and Lazio will next meet each other on March 13th.
Here's some post match reaction from Roma after the jump:
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
On Wednesday January 19, 2011, Lazio and Roma will meet at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for a rare Coppa Italia version of the Derby della Capitale. While the match's result does not impact either club's standing in the 2010/2011 Serie A Scudetto campaign, a place in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals and capital city bragging rights are on the line.
The teams last met on November 7, 2010, when Roma won, not without some controversy, 2-0 thanks to penalty kicks by Marco Borriello and Mirko Vucinic.
Lazio had a stronger start to the 2010/2011 Serie A season and are currently tied with Napoli at second place on the table, each with 37 points. Roma, which had another slow start that saw them languish in the relegation zone for several weeks, sits right behind Napoli and Lazio with 35 points.
This past weekend saw Lazio pick up a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria, Lazio's first win since the winter break, and this coming weekend Lazio travels to Bologna. Lazio's depth is not as great as Roma's depth, and Lazio coach Edoardo Reja will have to choose between resting key players like Hernanes and Brocchi for Sunday's match with Bologna and trying to appease Lazio fans hoping for redemption against their bitter rivals.
Going into this past Sunday's match at Cesena, troubles were brewing behind the scenes at Roma, troubles linked to the team's most famous player, Francesco Totti. The aging Totti has been unhappy with his playing time this season and what he perceives as a marginalized role under coach Claudio Ranieri's recent roster and substitution decisions. Possibly at the bequest of club president, Rosella Sensi, Ranieri started Totti this past Sunday and chose to leave Totti on the pitch while substituting out Mirko Vucinic and Jérémy Menez, who were both having better matches than Totti. Vucinic, visibly upset by being subbed off, headed straight for the team's dressing room, but soon emerged as a bizarre sequence led to an own goal by Maximiliano Pellegrino, giving Roma a shocking victory over a team that troubled them so back in the season opener. It's hard to say if Sunday's victory has healed all wounds at Roma, but the news from Trigoria has been upbeat and positive.
Most of the predictions I have seen say Roma will win 1-0.
The match starts at 1:45 pm central time and will be broadcast live in the United States on GolTV.
I tend not to watch award shows and I didn't watch Sunday night's Golden Globes on NBC. Therefore, I am very thankful that the internet allows me to enjoy the best pieces of the Golden Globes without having to watch all the boring handing out of awards parts that make up the bulk of the show. He may of offended some, he might not be asked to host the Golden Globes again, but he was damn entertaining. Ladies & Gentlemen - Ricky Gervais:
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Don't know what it is about college students, music, and video cameras, but the University of North Carolina's soccer team is the latest group to bring their "musical" talents to YouTube with this parody of Black & Yellow:
Friday, January 14, 2011
I'll be the first to acknowledge that I'm not the biggest fan of college soccer . . . but I'm also willing to admit that Akron is one classy college soccer organization. On the eve of making history in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, the school honored their Championship team:
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The abnormally cold and snowy winter in the United States and England have given some MLS fans ammunition, really just blanks, for their favorite off-season argument: "MLS can't change it's season to a fall-winter-spring schedule, it's too cold!" As I'll point out, once or twice in this column, I really don't care about the MLS schedule, there's lots of bigger issues the league needs to deal with first, but I am sick and tired of the schedule argument and I need to vent.
Face it folks, if MLS wants to change the schedule so that the season starts in the fall and ends in the spring, winter is not going to be a problem. From heated pitches to heated benches to cold weather gear, the game can go on without trouble during cold, snowy conditions. More importantly, all of the MLS cities where snow is a regular occurrence are cities that are properly equipped with snow removal equipment. Remember, the snow related problems in England haven't been about the pitches, it's been about the fact that most of the cities there aren't properly equipped to remove snow from its streets, sidewalks, railroads, etc.
Yes, there will be the occasional time when blizzard conditions will make it difficult for fans to get to certain stadiums and once and awhile snow and ice might impact a more southern MLS city, like Dallas, that isn't as used to such weather, but let's admit it folks, this will be the anomaly, not the norm. Kind of like the rare occasions when severe thunderstorms or hurricanes create problems for MLS matches held in the summer months.
Some people are concerned that since MLS is still trying to establish a solid fanbase changing its schedule so that more matches are played in winter weather would result in lower attendance. This might be a small concern, but considering some of these cities have trouble getting good attendance numbers in summer . . . yes, I'm looking at you New England, Columbus, and Colorado. Maybe the MLS marketing folks can take advantage of the winter conditions for promotions. As one person stated on twitter, they can turn the unused side of Gillette Stadium into a bunny slope for skiing and sledding.
Finally, I'm a bit disappointed in the hardcore MLS/soccer fans who moan and whine about the prospect of changing the MLS schedule. I thought soccer fans were the most hardcore, crazy fans in the US. At least that's the image many want to project. If NFL fans can handle these conditions for games that take over three hours, I think MLS fans can survive two hour matches in the same winter conditions. Come on soccer fans, you're not gonna let NFL fans prove they're crazier and tougher then you, are you?
Despite my comments about attendance above, I do believe that if MLS is seriously considering shifting its season so that it starts in the fall and ends in the spring MLS needs to take a serious look at the economics. I'm not a finance or business guy, but my gut instinct tells me it could be a bad financial move for MLS to do away with its current schedule.
The biggest problem for MLS if its change to a fall-winter-spring schedule is that it will be competing directly against professional and college football from August through February. American football will get priority when it comes to television and radio broadcasts as well as priority when it comes to scheduling matches at shared stadiums. Face it US soccer fans, EPL matches on ESPN do well rating wise cause their only sports competition is hunting and fishing or sports news programing, meanwhile MLS would be going head to head with American football for at least 6 months. After the Super Bowl, there might be a couple weeks where MLS can attract some attention, but the sports focus in America will quickly shift to college basketball and March Madness.
MLS cannot avoid competing with other American sports. Under the current schedule, MLS goes head to head with the start of the baseball season, NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, and the start of the American football seasons, but it does have some big chunks of the summer when it's only competition is the bloated slog that baseball is from May to mid-August. In many places, it is cheaper for a family of four to catch an MLS match than it is to go see a movie, and I suspect seeing an MLS match as a family creates more long term memories than seeing a movie as a family.
Speaking of family, and I know some MLS fans aren't keen on MLS teams being overly family friendly, the current schedule makes the league more accessible to families looking for cheap, fun things to do when school is out for the summer. I'm not sure what it's like in other MLS cities, but you can notice an attendance decline here in Houston when the Dynamo play on school nights.
Finally, we have to admit that with its current schedule, MLS fills a void in the soccer world, if only for a few months during the heart of summer. While he might not admit it publicly, even the most adamant EuroSnob will tune into MLS during the summer to get his soccer fix. Changing the MLS schedule would mean the loss of the EuroSnobs who secretly watch MLS during Europe's silly season.
Like I said at the beginning of this column, I really don't care if MLS changes its schedule or not. There's pluses and minuses to both changing the season and leaving the season alone. But I am tired of people tossing out silly and inaccurate arguments about the weather or FIFA when it comes to the MLS schedule.
I know, I know, some people think MLS needs to change the schedule to make FIFA happy. But face it, if the decision to give the 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar didn't make you realize that FIFA, under the leadership of Sepp Blatter, has no interest in giving the World Cup finals to the United States, then nothing will.
Let's face it folks, Don Garber and the other MLS suits probably prefer MLS fans to focus their attention on silly arguments like when the MLS season should take place. These kind of arguments district MLS fans from real problems like youth development, salaries, the convoluted designation player system, and the utter silliness that is the SuperDraft.
US Soccer fans what hath thou wrought?
First the NFL employs a playoff ad campaign that mimics the viral video of fans celebrating Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria during the group stage of the 2010 World Cup finals. Now, now . . . somebody gives the same treatment to Nick Folk's game winning 32 yard field goal from this past weekend's wildcard game that saw the New York Jets defeat the Indianapolis Colts. Seriously . . . a filed goal in a wildcard game? This is getting out of hand folks . . .
Monday, January 10, 2011
On Sunday, Real Madrid hosted Villarreal in an entertaining, goal filled match that saw Real Madrid come from behind to beat Villarreal 4-2. The hero for Real Madrid was Cristiano Ronaldo who's hat-trick propelled Real Madrid to victory; however, Ronaldo's third goal was not without controversy:
With Ronaldo's third goal, the scoreline was 3-2 in favor of Real Madrid, but Villarreal, who had led twice during the match, showed no signs of giving up and was clearly capable of getting an equalizer at the Bernabeu. However, Villarreal's hopes of leaving Madrid with at least a point were dashed in the 82nd minute when Kaka, who subbed on for Raúl Albiol in the 70th minute, scored. As a result of Kaka's goal, Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho decided to celebrate in front of Villarreal's bench:
As you can see, the Villarreal bench did not take too kindly to Mourinho's celebration and Cani threw a bottle at Mourinho. While at least one person suggested the draconian response of arresting Cani and banning him for two seasons, common sense prevailed at the Bernabeu and Cani received a red card, and only a red card.
Villarreal, currently third on the La Liga table, host Osasuna on Saturday and Real Madrid, second on the table, face Almeria on Sunday.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I regret to report that Richard "Dick" Winters has made his final jump - he has passed away on January 2, 2011 after a long illness; Major Winters had suffered from Parkinson's disease for several years. A quiet and humble man, Winters received a level of fame he wasn't used to after HBO turned the Stephen Ambrose book Band of Brothers into an acclaimed mini-series in 2001.
Winters served as an officer in the 101st Airborne Division's 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Easy Company. As a Lieutenant on D-Day, Winters led a successful assault on German artillery battery, consisting of four 105 mm howitzers, at Brécourt Manor. By taking out these guns, Winters and his men made it easier for Allied troops to land at Utah Beach. Winters' superior officer, Colonel Robert Sink nominated Winters for the Congressional Medal of Honor, but the award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross as a result of a policy of only awarding on CMOH to any single division for the events that occurred on D-Day.
Winters went on to earn the rank of Major before Germany surrendered in 1945.
Winters was 92 years old.
As the Major would say - Hang Tough!
For more information on the Major, the men he served with, and efforts to get him awarded with the CMOH - CLICK HERE
In a match that saw three red cards, Sampdoria battled back from going down a goal in the first half to win and pick up three points.
Mirko Vucinic scored the match's first goal in the 17th minute:
Sampdoria got the equalizer in the 58th minute after Roma Keeper Julio Sergio fouled Angelo Palombo in the box giving a penalty kick to Sampdoria, which was converted by Nicola Pozzi:
Former Roma player, Stefano Guberti picked up the game winner for Sampdoria in the 83rd minute:
Despite seeing Sampdoria go down to nine men after Stefano Lucchini received a red card in the 86th minute and Daniele Gastaldello received a red card in the 90th minute, Roma was unable to pick up a second goal.
Today marks the last matchweek of the first half of the 2010/2011 Serie A season. Next Sunday, Roma is away at Cesena and Sampdoria travels to Rome to face Lazio.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
On his twitter feed today, Beau Dure said, "Just saw an NFL ad that looked quite a bit like the YouTube montages of people celebrating Donovan's World Cup goal."
So, here are the videos - you be the judge: