It's a slow Friday, tomorrow Roma host Atalanta in a rather important match, so forgive me if I decide to devote a column to my favorite player.
Things got ugly in Wednesday's Bosnian Cup match between FK Velež Mostar and HŠK Zrinjski Mostar in the ethnically divided town's derby match when Zrinjski fans invaded the pitch to chase visiting Velez players. The incident occurred in second half stoppage time right after Rijad Demic scored for Velez.
The folks at the World Wide Leader have put together another soccer related This is Sportscenter commercial, this time it features the lovely Alex Morgan and the lovely Hope Solo.
Jone Samuelsen scored this amazing mid-field header during a recent match between Odd Grenland and Tromso in Norway. Odd Grenland ended up winning the match, 3-1.
MLS's latest entry in their video series, Soccer Jobs, features Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti. Canetti has been with the Dynamo since 2006 when he moved to Houston to serve as the club's first Chief Operating Officer. Canetti was promoted to team president in 2010, after the club's first president, Oliver Luck, left Houston to become the Athletic Director at the University of West Virginia.
Leave it to Diego Maradona, who is currently coaching Al Wasl in Dubai, to kick a fan trying to ruin Maradona's photo opp with a banner. As you can see in the video below, a fan tried to lift the banner in an effort to see the footballing legend, Maradona, who was already getting frustrated with people trying to get into the photo frame, decided to teach the fan a lesson by kicking him in the hand.
Al Wasl went on to win the match against Emirates with a 3-0 scoreline.
Last night the Copa Sudamericana match between Nacional of Uruguay and Universidad de Chile had to be called off early in the second half after a linesman was hit in the head by a streamer, yes a streamer. As you can see in the video below, the linesman ended up collapsing to the ground after the streamer roll hit him on top of the head. Universidad de Chile was leading the match, 2-0, when it was called off, meaning the Chilean side advances to the round of 16 on a 3-0 aggregate.
On Tuesday night, the Copa Sudamericana match between Emelec (Ecuador) and Olimpia (Paraguay) was also suspended in the second half after Emelec fans threw objects at Olimpia's keeper, Martin Silva. Highlights from that match are embedded below. Olimpia ended up advancing to the round of 16 with an aggregate of 4-2.
There was a scary moment in Serie A's big Saturday evening match between Inter and Roma at the San Siro in Milan when Roma Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was kicked in the head by Inter's Lucio. Although the kick to the head does not appear to be intentional, Stekelenburg clearly lost consciousness before hitting the ground and Lucio was awarded a yellow card. Stekelenburg ultimately regained consciousness in the locker room before being transported to the San Carlo Hospital for medical tests. Italian news agencies are reporting that Stekelenburg did not suffer any major injuries, though, it's not clear if the Italians consider a concussion to be a major injury or not.
I can't say I've ever seen David Beckham on a sports talk show pimping MLS or soccer in America, but he seems to be a regular on the Ellen Show now. Here's his latest non-soccer related bit on the Ellen Show. Thanks to Godman for alerting me to this video.
On a recent visit to Sporting Kansas City's training facilities, U.S. Women National Team Goalkeeper, Hope Solo, was treated to a poem/rap from Kansas City's C.J. Sapong.
Until there is a serious crackdown on diving in professional and international soccer, we'll probably being seeing dives even more horrific than this one by Ryuji Bando in a recent AFC match between Cerezo Osaka v Jeonbuk FC. While all sports have a certain level of gamesmanship, a certain level of crossing the lines, the fact that players in club football, like Bando, think there is something to be gained if they take such a blatant, horrible dive is evidence enough that football officials need to crackdown and issue stiffer penalties for diving.
Earlier this month, the United States Men's National Team lost a friendly against Belgium, in Belgium. Here's a video feature from Belgium television focusing on the US ex pats who got to enjoy watching their national team play in Belgium.
Last week, Juventus unveiled its new stadium, called Juventus Stadium until naming rights are sold. The 41,000 seat stadium is smaller than the Old Lady's previous home, the Stadio delle Alpi, but that is a good development in that there is no longer a running track between the fans and the pitch. The more intimate venue will provide a better football atmosphere not only for those in the stands but also for those watching on television. In recent years Italy's bigger football clubs have been expressing the desire to escape their cavernous multi-use stadiums, such as the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, for soccer specific venues. As it is, security issues concerning the large, aging stadiums that many of the clubs play in result in tickets not being sold for entire sections during most matches, something that has been clearly noticed by football fans in other countries watching Serie A matches on television - they might hear the fans, but rarely do they see the fans.
While I am not a Juventus fan, I respect the club's history, and I hope that the new stadium will prove a successful venture for the club and prove to be the first domino of many falling when it comes to the building of new soccer stadiums in Italy. FYI, Juventus won its first game in its new stadium this past weekend, beating Parma 4-1.
The Houston Dynamo's playoff hopes took a severe hit, but were not completely killed, Saturday night in Kansas City where Teal Bunbury's brace helped give Sporting Kansas City a 3-0 victory and first place in the Eastern Conference.
Bunbury's first goal came in the 9th minute and, although it would prove to be unnecessary for the win, Bunbury picked up his second goal in the 73rd minute. Sporting's third goal of the match came courtesy of C.J. Sapong in the 79th minute.
After a poor start, the Houston Dynamo started to find some form and began to control possession, but they were unable to score and the frustration only grew as the match continues. This frustration proved dangerous to the Dynamo when, in the 64th minute, Carlo Costly picked up a red card. Meanwhile, as the match wound done with no indication that the Dynamo were going to pull off a miracle, the frustration of Dynamo fans grew. This was the second straight loss by the Dynamo, who have yet to win a road match.
Despite Saturday's loss, the Dynamo sit in fourth place on the Eastern Conference table, with 35 points. On Wednesday, the Dynamo take on Columbus Crew, who are tied at the top of the Eastern Conference, at Crew Stadium (6:30 pm central), and then return home to host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday the 17th (7:30 pm central). With DC United and RedBull New York close on Houston's heels, the Dynamo need to pick up maximum points in these two matches or risk falling out of playoff contention.
I've seen some bad, some horrible, penalty kicks over the years, but this one "taken" by Amir Sayoud, an Algerian striker playing for Al Ahly in Egypt, during this recent match between Al Ahly and Kima Aswan in the Egyptian Cup. Thankfully for Sayoud, who received a yellow card for this bit of, shall we say, stage fright, his team won the match 4-0, and it seems unlikely that his performance had anything to do with the clashes between police and Al Ahly supporters after the match.
This week it was announced that American midfielder Michael Bradley, who was on the outs with German side Borussia Mönchengladbach, managed to secure a transfer deal to Chievo Verona in Serie A, along with a multi-year contract. Bradley, son of former United States National Team Coach, Bob Bradley, will be the only American playing in Serie A this season. He's the first high-profile American to sign with an top flight Italian side since Oguchi Onyewu's recent, but doomed, signing at Milan. The last high profile American player to see serious playing time in Serie A was Alexi Lalas, who played for Padova for a couple seasons following the 1994 World Cup finals.
Bradley, who is coming off a lackluster loan at Aston Villa, has a bit of a reputation of being a red-ass, so it will be interesting if the 24 year old can keep his temper in check as he adjusts to a new team, a new league, and a new culture. Once criticized for a boring defensive style of play, in recent years Serie A has become known for a more aggressive and open attacking style that, along with financial issues, has created a level of parity not found in most top flight leagues in Europe. If he gets some serious playing time, expect to see growth in both Bradley's technical skills and soccer IQ, which will be a benefit to the U.S. National Team.
Not sure about you, but I'm looking forward to the first time Bradley and Gennaro Gattuso of Milan are on the pitch at the same time, which should be on November 27th, assuming the current player strike comes to a swift end. But before that date, we need to see how quickly Bradley gets playing time. If the player strike gets resolved in time, Chievo Verona is set to host newly promoted Novara on Sunday September 11th at 8:00 a.m. central time.
Here's video of Michael Bradley saying hello to the fans of Chievo Verona (note that the club's nickname is The Flying Donkeys):