Wednesday, November 21, 2012

[VIDEO] More Player on Referee Violence in Argentina

One of the latest incidents of players blowing up and attacking a referee occurred in a Jorge Newbery v. Huracán de Arribeños match down in Argentina:

No matter whether you agree with a call or not, this type of response is uncalled for and horrific. FIFA clearly needs to do more, have more draconian responses, to these types of incidents, but seeing how it seems incompetent to end racial abuse at the highest levels of the sport, it's unlikely to make much difference in unsportsmanlike conduct in the lower levels of the so-called beautiful game.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Houston Dynamo Advance to MLS Eastern Conference Final

Photo by Nigel Brooks

This morning, Sporting Kansas City and its fans are left pondering what it is that keeps enabling the Houston Dynamo to knock Kansas City out of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Last season the Dynamo beat Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Finals and back in 2007 the Dynamo eliminated the then Kansas City Wizards from the playoffs.

Although last night's match finished with a score line of Kansas City 1, Houston 0, the Dynamo came into the match with a 2 goal aggregate lead thanks to a 2-0 victory over Kansas City in Houston on Sunday afternoon. The two legged affair was essentially an elongated version of Houston's 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire in the MLS Knockout Round.

Not surprisingly, on Sunday the Houston Dynamo took advantage of the fact that they were playing at BBVA Compass Stadium and took the fight to Kansas City, a tactic that paid off first in the 18th minute when Adam Moffat fired the ball into goal and then in the 75th minute when Will Bruin did what Will Bruin does, scores goals.

On Wednesday, the Dynamo took a much more conservative, defensive approach, and although this caused some Dynamo fans to needlessly freak out and have anxiety attacks, the tactic paid off and the Dynamo held Kansas City to one goal, which was scored by Seth Sinovic in the 64th minute.

As of yet, the Dynamo do not know who they will be facing in the Eastern Conference Final because the RedBull New York - D.C. United match was postponed as a result of the Nor'Easter that hit New Jersey last night. That match was rescheduled for tonight.

In light of provisions in the collective bargaining agreement, an MLS team can not play two matches in three days; therefore,(and read this closely because despite the blatant announcements yesterday evening there was a great deal of confusion among Dynamo fans and person that cover the Dynamo) the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final will be at 3:00 p.m. central time on Sunday November 11th at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Houston Dynamo Eliminate Chicago Fire from MLS Cup Playoffs in a 2-1 Win

Photo by Nigel Brooks

It was treats for the Houston Dynamo and only tricks for the Chicago Fire in Bridgeview, Illinois on Halloween night as a Will Bruin brace gave the Dynamo a 2-1 win, eliminating Chicago from the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Bruin's first goal came in the 12th minute with a header on a set piece and then he picked up his second goal early in the second half. The fact that the Dynamo led throughout the match put the pressure on Chicago to attack instead of sitting back and waiting on opportunities to counter. With 19 shots, 7 of which were on goal, Chicago did not give the Dynamo defense much rest and a goal by Alex in the 83rd minute gave hope to Chicago and its fans that they had a chance to catch up with the Dynamo. But this hope proved to be false when referee Baldomero Toledo blew the whistle approximately 4 minutes after regulation time.

The Dynamo victory means that the Chicago Fire are done with the 2012 MLS Season. The Dynamo advance to a two-leg affair against Sporting Kansas City. The first match will be at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on Sunday November 4th at 2:30 p.m. central time. The second match will be hosted at Livestrong Park in Kansas City, Kansas on Wednesday November 7th at 8:00 p.m. central time. Sunday's match will be broadcast on NBC.

As Wednesday night's victory by the Dynamo suggests, when it comes to the MLS Cup Playoffs you can't look to the Dynamo's regular season results to predict how they'll fair in the playoffs. Prior to this victory, the last time the Dynamo beat the Chicago Fire was in 2010. The fact that the Dynamo did not have the best record against Kansas City this past season means nothing going into the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Things Get Ugly in Utah High School Girls' Soccer Match

This video is from a recent high school girls soccer match between East High and Woods Cross in Utah. The girl that gets the shin/knee to the face is Makenzie Clark and Petiola Manu is the owner of said shin/knee. The other day USA Today had a short write up of the incident on its website:

Utah high school player kicks opponent in face, apologizes for her frustration

Salt Lake City's KSL also covered the incident:

East High knee to opponent's head caught on video

They best part about the clip is the fact that Clark didn't go all Cristiano Ronaldo or Carlos Ruiz or Fredy Montero after the incident.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

With Win Over Guatemala The United States Advances to the Hexagonal

United States fans got an early scare on Tuesday night when Carlos Ruiz scored a goal in the 5th minute for Guatemala as it was taking on the United States in Kansas City during their final group stage match of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers for Brasil 2014. In the end, there was no need for US fans to begin the mourner's Kaddish or commission a requiem for the United States National team, because after 90 minutes plus change, it was the United States that was advancing to the Hexagonal thanks to one goal from Carlos Bocanegra and two goals from Clint Dempsey. In fact, the match was pretty much over at halftime with the United States going to the locker room with a 3-1 lead.

Despite their substantial lead at halftime, the United States never really took its foot off the gas and Clint Dempsey came oh so close to picking up a hat trick. The second half highlighted the difference between the USMNT under Jurgen Klinsmann and Bob Bradley - in the Bradley era the US would have gone into bunkering mode with a 2 goal lead in the second half.

Ruiz's early goal caused some dismay among numerous US fans who seem to forget that defense, with the exception of goalkeeper, has not been a strong feature of the USMNT in recent years. Even under Bradley the defense struggled to clear the ball and could leak goals like a sieve. In the world of soccer, defenders rarely get much respect, an issue compounded in the United States where all the parents seem to want their kid to be the team's leading goal scorer. When it comes to the USMNT, spreading the field and keeping pressure on the other team's defense gives the US defense the time, space, and field of vision it needs to keep the lead.

The Hexagonal begins in February 2013 and comes to an end in October 2013 with the top three teams advancing to the World Cup Finals in Brasil. In addition to the United States, the other CONCACAF teams advancing to the Hexagonal are Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Panama. The USMNT's last match of 2012 will likely be a friendly against Russia in Krasnodar on November 14th.

In addition to the Hexagonal in 2013, the CONCACAF Gold Cup will be taking place next summer, giving Klinsmann the opportunity to juggle rosters and look to see which younger US players will be able to provide much needed depth on the US bench.

One big lesson that the USMNT and its fans need to take away from the group stage of CONCACAF qualifiers is that while the USMNT has improved over the years since 1990, so has the rest of CONCACAF and the Hexagonal will be no walk in the park. One of the biggest reasons that the level of soccer in CONCACAF has improved is the presence of Major League Soccer. While MLS is not on the level of the top leagues in Europe, it is better than most of the other top leagues in CONCACAF (except Mexico) and gives more CONCACAF players the much needed opportunity and environment in which to grow the game in the region.

Friday, October 12, 2012

SiriusXM FC - A 24/7 Soccer Channel - Set to Launch

At 6:00 a.m. central time on Monday October 15, 2012, SiriusXM will launch a new channel devoted to soccer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The channel, called SiriusXM FC, will be on Sirius 94, XM 207, and online channel 960. Additionally, certain programs on the new channel will be available on SiriusXM's On Demand feature. In addition to daily broadcasts of The Football Show and Counter Attack, the channel will feature English Premier League matches, FA Cup matches, and MLS Cup playoff matches. SiriusXM's coverage of American soccer will ramp up more with this new channel since it will be airing MLS Extra Time in addition to the MLS playoff matches. Grantland based Men and Blazers will also be featured on the new channel. Additional programming from talkSport will be used on SiriusXM FC to help round out the 24 hour broadcast schedule.

SiriusXM is a subscriber-based satellite radio company. While SiriusXM is built into many new automobiles, it is possible to retrofit an older vehicle with the service, and it is possible to purchase an online subscription only. For more information about subscribing to SiriusXM, home to The Howard Stern Show, visit: SiriusXM's Subscriptions page.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Must Win Match for the Houston Dynamo?

It's really difficult to call any given Major League Soccer match a must win match for one or the other club (unless, maybe, it's the last match of the regular season), but it seems that many Houston Dynamo fans believe that their team's next match is a must win if the Dynamo want to make it to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

On Saturday evening, the Houston Dynamo will host the New England Revolution at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo currently sit at 5th place in the Eastern Conference standings, with 46 points, while the Revolution sit at 9th place with 29 points. While the Revolution obviously don't have any shot at passing the Dynamo in the standings, this isn't Serie A, this is America, where lowly teams love to play spoiler. After the Dynamo's 1-3 loss to the Union, another low standing team, in Philadelphia this past Sunday, Dynamo fans are obviously concerned about Saturday's match.

I don't begrudge Dynamo fans their concerns, I've been a follower of Houston professional sports long enough to know that Houston teams have a bad tendency of playing to the level of their opponent, but it's a little too early to proclaim Saturday's match a "must win game."

The Dynamo still have four more regular season matches, including Saturday's match, before the end of the season. Three of these matches are at home, where the Dynamo have yet to lose this season, and then the last match of the season is away at the Colorado Rapids on October 27th.

There's an old cliché in sports: "We're taking it one game at a time." That's what the Houston Dynamo have to do right now, and that's what the Houston Dynamo's fans need to do right now too. The team and its fans need to focus on Saturday's match right now. Not on what's going on in the rest of MLS or the Eastern Conference, and not on the standings or the playoff race.

If the Dynamo focus solely on the match before them, focus solely on winning that match, and go out there and try to win that match, then, ultimately, everything will fall into place.

There's no point freaking out over the standings or getting all emotional and irrational based on the last result. Take it one game at a time, go out there and win that game, and everything will be fine.

Saturday's match begins at 7:30 p.m. central time and will be broadcast on KPRC Channel 2 in Houston, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

U.S. National Team Picks Up Win Over Jamaica in World Cup Qualifying

After the United States National Team lost to Jamaica, 2-1, in Kingston, Jamaica in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier on Friday, the US fan base went into full on Chicken Little - "The Sky is Falling!" - hysteria mode, fretting that the US would not make it to the Hexagonal Stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

Last night in Columbus, Ohio, the US got a chance to redeem itself against Jamaica, which they did with a 1-0 win against a Jamaica side that came into the match clearly hoping for a 0-0 draw. Jamaica's "park the bus" approach to the match gave the US numerous shots on goal early in the first half, many of which were denied by the woodwork.

The winning goal finally came for the US in the 55th minute when Herculez Gomez got the ball by Jamaica's keeper on a gorgeous free kick. After the US goal, Jamaica finally turned up the heat offensively, but it was too little, too late as the US picked up the 3 points.

The US is now tied at the top of Group A with Guatemala and Jamaica on 7 points, but the US and Guatemala lead on goal differential. This stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying wraps up next month when the US heads to Antigua to play Antigua & Barbuda on October 12th and then hosts Guatemala in Kansas City, Kansas on October 16th.

One thing that has become increasingly evident in recent years is that CONCACAF is a much tougher Federation to play in as more players from the smaller countries, such as Jamaica, have gained valuable experience and development in leagues such as MLS. Last night's match was a reflection of this since Jamaica started 5 MLS players while the US only started 1 MLS player. This is a reality that fans of the US, and fans of Mexico, need to start accepting and coming to terms with.

The CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying structure is still weighted in favor of Mexico and the US, but said teams and their fans need to stop underestimating the other CONCACAF teams. That's a lesson the US learned this past Friday.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Houston Dynamo Get 1-0 Win Against Real Salt Lake Thanks to Late Penalty

Photo by Nigel Brooks

Between the weird scheduling of the match on a Thursday night, the questionable officiating, depleted rosters, and the rather languid play, last night's match between the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake took the "beautiful" out of the beautiful game. Until the final seconds of the match, it appeared that the score would stay at 0-0 and the Dynamo would have to wait until September 29th to finally pick up their first MLS home win since August 3rd, but then Macoumba Kandji was fouled in the box and Colin Clark converted giving the Dynamo a 1-0 win and breaking their 4 match streak of not winning an MLS match.

Going into Thursday's match, things did not look promising for the Dynamo squad, which had been decimated by injuries, international call-ups, and some sort of vicious stomach virus. Instead of starting the match with the typical 7 substitutes on the bench, the Dynamo managed to only put 5 players on the bench and had to cancel the reserves match due to the lack of available players.

For over half of the match, it appeared that the Dynamo were in a preventive defense, just trying to hold off the Salt Lake attack in hopes of picking up a draw. Late in the second half, the Dynamo managed to regroup and put more pressure on Salt Lake Keeper Nick Rimando, who put on a stellar performance that surely foreshadowed his future at the international level.

Hope of a goal appeared in the 75th minute when Will Bruin picked up a penalty, and Brad Davis was given the green light to take the kick, but, to the chagrin of Dynamo fans, Rimando, who is one of the best keepers in the MLS at saving penalty kicks, prevented Davis' attempt from going into the net.

In the end though, Rimando turned out to be his own worst enemy because he was the player that fouled Kandji, thereby setting up Clark's match winning penalty kick.

The 3 points that the Dynamo picked up last night will potentially prove crucial as the Dynamo fight to ensure the squad a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Next up for the Dynamo is a visit to Livestrong Sporting Park to face the current leaders of the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City, on Friday September 14th at 7:00 pm cdt. The match will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thoughts on Les Alexander's Reported Interest in Buying the Houston Dynamo

Yesterday afternoon, Mark Berman over at Fox 26 here in Houston reported that Leslie Alexander, owner of the Houston Rockets, was in negotiations to purchase the Houston Dynamo. Not surprisingly, the reaction of Dynamo fans on Twitter was not very positive, in my opinion, the concerns of these fans are misplaced.

The Dynamo are currently owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Oscar de la Hoya, and Gabriel Brener, all based in California, not Houston. As most MLS fans and all Dynamo fans know, AEG also owns the Los Angeles Galaxy, which has amounted to the Dynamo being the red headed stepchild of the AEG family, hoping to at least get some of the table scraps discarded by the favorite son, the Galaxy.

Despite the absentee ownership situation, the Dynamo have managed to win two MLS Championships, have made it to the MLS playoffs in all but one season, and even made it back to the MLS Cup final last season, where they lost to the Galaxy. As of this season, the Dynamo occupy a brand new stadium in the form of BBVA Compass Stadium and have managed to become one of the hottest tickets in Houston. The Dynamo are a franchise and brand that most any professional sports team owner would be proud of, but they still don't seem to get much attention from their current owners.

Enter Les Alexander, a resident Houstonian who bought the Houston Rockets in 1993, who is apparently interested in buying out all three of the Dynamo's current owners. Despite the concerns of many a Dynamo fan, I think it would be a great thing for Les Alexander to take over the ownership of the Dynamo, he has a proven record of being the kind of owner who is willing to do what it takes to put a winning product out there for the fans.

Those of you concerned with an Alexander ownership are probably looking at that last sentence and scratching your collective head.

Yes, the Rockets have been fairly abysmal recently, caught in the NBA purgatory of not being good enough to make the playoffs and not being bad enough to take advantage of the lottery. But, some of us remember 1994 and 1995, the back to back NBA Championship victories brought to Houston by Alexander's Rockets, the first real professional sports championships ever brought to Houston (in the early years of the American Football League, the Houston Oilers won a couple championships, but considering how the AFL was regarded it's hard to put those in the same league as what the Rockets did in the 1990s). In the late 1990s, Alexander took a gamble on the fledgling WNBA and his Houston Comets won the first four WNBA Championships.

In the years since 1995, the Rockets have made some runs in the NBA playoffs but have not been able to make it back to the finals, but that, and the current woes of the Rockets, are not a major indictment of Alexander as an owner. Alexander is no stingy Drayton McLane, the man has been willing to write big checks, Drayton would not have brought a Tracy McGrady to town. With Yao Ming and McGrady heading up a strong supporting cast, the Rockets could have made it to at least one or more NBA finals, but for the constant injuries suffered by said players, not to mention McGrady's whining and checking out near the end of his stint in Houston.

Despite his willingness to spend money on talent, Alexander is no Jerry Jones, he does not act like he's the owner, general manager, and coach of his team. Alexander is smart enough to know what he does not know and willing to hire people to fill that knowledge gap and run the day to day affairs. I know many current Rockets fans have issues with Daryl Morey, the current General Manager of the Rockets and someone who occasionally tells Alexander to put the checkbook away, who has managed to put together solid, mid-table teams, but has been unable to lure a big name, a top player to the Rockets since the retirement of Yao Ming. I think some of the criticism is correct, but some of it is misplaced considering the current state of the NBA and the personal preferences of the league's top players who seem interested in creating superteams on the right and left coasts.

Considering how well Dynamo President Chris Canetti and Coach Dominic Kinnear have been able to cobble together winning teams despite the constraints of the current ownership situation, it is unlikely that Alexander will make any management changes if he buys the Dynamo. If anything, Alexander's willingness to open up his sizable checkbook will help Canetti and Kinnear in their efforts to sign players that AEG et al balked at buying. As an owner, Alexander will put the Dynamo on the same level as the Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and RedBull New York in the sense that the team could afford to have multiple designated players, if Canetti and Kinnear so wished.

As an owner, Alexander will take advantage of the Dynamo brand and work to extend its market, especially its market beyond the shores of the United States. The lessons learned during the Yao Ming era will likely be applied to the Dynamo. While this might include signing a Mexican player with commercial appeal in Mexico, don't be surprised if Alexander attempts to get the Dynamo into more "exotic" and financial lucrative markets.

The time has come for the Dynamo to get free of AEG, to get free of the conflicts created by AEG's ownership of the Galaxy. The Dynamo could do a lot worse being sold to someone other than Les Alexander, but considering Alexander's commitment to Houston and his track record as a professional sports team owner, you would be hard pressed to find many better potential owners.

As Rudy T said: "Never Underestimate the Heart of a Champion!"

Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Even after all these years, seeing John Starks so sad makes me smile.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hope Solo On MSNBC's Morning Joe

USWNT Goal Keeper Hope Solo made an appearance this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss the team's winning the gold medal in London, her new memoir, and the various "controversies" that seem to surround her.

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United States Gets Historic Win at Estadio Azteca

With an unlikely goal by Michael Orozco Fiscal in the 80th minute of last night's international friendly between Mexico and the United States at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, history was made as the United States beat Mexico, 1-0.

For the first time in its 75 year history, the United States, featuring a young, cobbled together squad, managed to beat their CONCACAF rival, Mexico, on Mexican soil. It was just a friendly, and a mid-August friendly at that, but it is proof-positive to the US National Team that it is possible for them to beat Mexico at the forbidding Azteca.

Despite the historic win, this was not necessarily one of the best performances by the United States. For the bulk of the match, Mexico controlled the ball, primarily in the US's half, and out-shot the US. In fact, but for the goal keeping of Everton's Tim Howard, Mexico should have picked up at least four goals.

The fact that Mexico was putting so much attacking pressure on the US, but was unable to score, highlights one of the bright spots for the US, its defense. The combination of Howard in goal and Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu, Edgar Castillo, and Fabian Johnson on the back line showed great strides in the ability of the US team to shut down the attack; however, clearing the ball is something the defense still needs to work on.

The US's midfield was a bit of shambles, failing to play much of a role in either the defense or attack. The absence of Michael Bradley, who is now with A.S. Roma, and Clint Dempsey was evident in the midfield's ability to accomplish anything positive for the US. Meanwhile, Landon Donovan was apparently hampered by his left hamstring and left the match after halftime.

Herculez Gomez started the match as the lone forward but it's hard to put 100% of the blame for the US's lackluster attack during the first 77 minutes of the match on Gomez's shoulders since he wasn't getting much service from the midfield. The fact that the US only started one forward is disappointing not because US Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has promised a more attacking style from his side, but more because history tells us that the US tends to attack poorly when it only has one player up top.

Next up for the United States is the start of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying as they travel to Kingston, Jamaica to face the Jamaican National Team on September 7, 2012. The win over Mexico should give the US some good momentum going into the qualifiers and should give them a boost of confidence the next time they face Mexico at the Azteca, which, should be, a match that matters in the hexagonal.


Monday, July 23, 2012

[VIDEO] U.S. Women's Team Does Party in the USA

After all the hype of "Call Me Maybe" this summer, the US Women's team decided to go a different direction in having a little fun before the 2012 London Olympics:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Neymar: The Brazilian Promise?

It's a slow Thursday morning, scouting the internet for something, came across these Neymar fan videos:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hero: The Official Film of the 1986 World Cup

Here's a little something for you to watch as you wait for today's Euro match - Hero: The Official Documentary of the 1986 World Cup.

The 1986 World Cup finals, which were held in Mexico, is best known for Maradona's "Hand of God Goal" against England in the quarterfinals as well as being known for the birth of the "Mexican Wave." Here's the official documentary, which is narrated by Michael Caine. Not sure how long these videos will be up on YouTube, so watch it now if you've never seen it.

Houston Dynamo Take Fans on Roller Coaster Ride While Picking up 4 Points

One can forgive Houston Dynamo fans if they're feeling rode hard and put away wet this morning, it's been a long, emotional week for them, and the week isn't even over yet.

This long week began on Saturday when the Dynamo hosted their rivals from North Texas, F.C. Dallas, at BBVA Compass Stadium. This was Dallas' first visit to the new Dynamo stadium and the only match between these two clubs this season.

The Dynamo got off to a quick start thanks to a Will Bruin goal in the 3rd minute. In light of the rough season that Dallas has had, many fans, especially Dynamo fans, suspected that the early Dynamo goal would demoralize the Dallas players, and it did for the rest of the first half.

Schellas Hyndman must of fired up his players with a good halftime speech, because Dallas started the second half like it was a whole new game. When Jackson picked up the Dallas equalizer in the 59th minute, there was a sense that Dallas was not going to be content to leave Houston with a draw and one point.

Any plans Dallas had for picking up the win pretty much died in the 63rd minute when Jair Benítez picked up a red card for an off the ball elbow to Colin Clark. Then, in the 76th minute, Adam Moffat scored a goal from distance, giving the Dynamo the win and bragging rights.

Last night, Toronto FC paid its first visit to BBVA Compass Stadium and, despite sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, started the match like a team determined to win the league. In a chaotic first 22 minutes Toronto went top first with a goal by Jeremy Hall in the first minute. Bobby Boswell managed to tie things up for Houston with a lovely header in the 20th minute, but then Danny Koevermans put Toronto ahead in the 22nd minute. Thanks to second Koevermans goal in the 45th minute, Toronto had a 3-1 lead over the home side at the half.

Those of use who grew up Houston sports fans are used to our professional teams playing to their competition - putting up great performances against top teams while losing to the bottom feeders they should easily beat. But, based on twitter, it seems that many Dynamo fans are not familiar with or used to that Houston sports dynamic, because their tweets during halftime suggested that the world was coming to an end, that this was the worst Dynamo match ever, and the season was over. I was almost surprised I didn't see any fire Dom tweets during the half.

For the second half, it seems that the Dynamo managed to channel their inner 1993-1994 Houston Rockets, the team that turned Houston from Choke City into Clutch City, and decided that Toronto was not going to leave Houston with 3 points. Will Bruin ended up playing the role of Houston hero by picking up goals in the 73rd and 90th minutes, giving Houston a 3-3 draw.

The Dynamo's week is not over, they head north of the border to face Montreal on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports Houston.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's A Good Thing: Ireland Fans Sing Even When Losing

Let's face it, the off-pitch news swirling around Euro 2012 has not been pretty. Before the matches started there was a huge focus on how much racism players would face in the Eastern European countries hosting the games, Ukraine and Poland. Then there were the violent clashes between Poland and Russia fans the other day, which have raised concerns about the specter of hooliganism at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

Despite all this bad press concerning football fans, yesterday one group of fans acquitted themselves quite well, serving as an example of why and how football fandom can be fun, should be fun. Despite the economic situation in their country and despite the fact that their team lost to Spain 4-0 and previously lost to Croatia, 3-1, the Ireland fans stayed for the full match, serenading their team, their country with The Fields of Athenry.

The cynic can easily, and rightly, point out that Euro 2012 was Ireland's first appearance in a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup Finals; therefore, its fans have low expectations and can frivolously enjoy just being at the Euros. On the other hand, I think that the fans of more "serious" teams (England, Russia, etc.) would do well to take a moment and try to learn something from the Ireland fans, because, when all is said and done, football is just a game and sometimes you don't need to win to feel good about your country, and to feel good about yourself.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thug Life: Nigel De Jong Is Now Fouling Children

Nigel De Jong has a reputation of being something of a thug on the pitch, willing to commit a hard foul with no remorse. Now De Jong, who is with The Netherlands side in Poland for Euro 2012, has extended his attitude to a friendly match against a group of children:

Here's some of De Jong's "Greatest Hits":

[VIDEO] All of Clint Dempsey's Goals for Fulham in 2011-2012

This week Texan footballer Clint Dempsey was named Fulham's Player of the Season, this is the second straight year that the 29 year old has received this honor. Here's a look at all 23 of the Deuce's goals for Fulham in 2011-2012:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mario Balotelli Gets a Haircut Because His Time is Now

As Euro 2012 approaches, Italian striker Mario Balotelli has made the news because of his reasonable response to the potential racist atmosphere in Poland and the Ukraine and now he's featured in the new Nike line of Football commercials - My Time is Now:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Neymar & Brazil Beat USA 4-1

Last night a crowd of 67,619 was on hand at FedEx Field in suburban D.C. to watch the United States host Brazil in a friendly, the second friendly for the US as it prepares for CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers. After a 5-1 drubbing of Scotland in Jacksonville on Saturday night, the US entered Wednesday's match with a little extra momentum, but Brazil is Brazil and they picked up two goals early in the first half, one of which was a penalty kick converted by Neymar in the 12th minute.

The US gained some ground at the end of the first half when Herculez Gomez, with some help from Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson, scored for the US.

The US played strong in the second half, with numerous shots barely missing goal or being heroically saved by Brazil's keeper Rafael, but the US was not able to pick up another goal, let alone enough goals to beat Brazil. Brazil, which was primarily fielding a U-23 Olympic squad, managed to add two more goals thanks to Marcelo in the 52nd minute and Pato in the 87th minute.

While last night's match against Brazil marked the 16th time that the US has lost to the South American powerhouse, the US side acquitted itself well. The 4-1 loss to Brazil is a small stumble in the Juergen Klinsmann era, but Wednesday's match evidenced both growth and the further need for growth by the US national team. The never die, never quit attitude of last night's US side was refreshing to see and definitely sets this squad apart from the Bruce Arena side that played in Germany in 2006. On the other hand, the US needs to learn how to defend better against sides like Brazil and needs to learn how to finish some of those excellent goal scoring opportunities that they had last night.

One thing seems clear after last night, Michael Bradly and Herculez Gomez have secured national team roster spots for the foreseeable future.

Up next for the US is a friendly against Canada on Sunday June 3rd. Meanwhile, Brazil faces Mexico at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas on Sunday June 3rd.

Monday, May 28, 2012

PRESS RELEASE: Scorpions Prepare To Take on Dynamo of Major League Soccer

Since it's a holiday, I'm going to be lazy and post a press release I received from the San Antonio Scorpions regarding Tuesday night's US Open Cup Match with the Houston Dynamo:

SAN ANTONIO, TX (May 28, 2012) - The San Antonio Scorpions will face off with the two-time Major League Soccer champion Houston Dynamo in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, May 29 at Heroes Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

This matchup will be the first time the San Antonio Scorpions take on a team from Major League Soccer.

A win against the Dynamo would set up a fourth round matchup at Heroes Satidum with either FC Dallas of MLS or the Charlotte Eagles of USL-PRO (Third Division). The potential match would be played on June 5 at 7:30 p.m.

The Scorpions are making their U.S. Open Cup debut this year, which is the oldest soccer competition in the United States.

Tickets are still available for the match and can be purchased at


The Dynamo currently find themselves in the middle of the pack of the MLS Eastern Conference standings with 16 points, good for sixth place in the conference. With a 2-1-0 record in their new home, Houston remains unbeaten at BBVA Compass Stadium. But the road has been less friendly for the Dynamo, who have just two wins in eight road matches this season.

Offensively, Houston has struggled to find the back of the net, scoring 12 goals in 11 games this season. Only three MLS teams (Chivas USA, Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union) have scored less than the Dynamo this season. Forward Will Bruin leads all Dynamo scorers with five goals so far this season.

But on the defensive side of the ball, Houston has been solid, allowing just 12 goals this season. Only Kansas City and Seattle have allowed fewer goals this season.

Originally the first edition of the San Jose Earthquakes, the current Houston team was dubbed the Dynamo in 2005.

This will be first match of the U.S. Open Cup for the Dynamo in 2012. Since becoming the Dynamo, Houston is 2-2 in third round games and has advanced to the semi-finals twice, but never farther.

Houston has been one of the most successful teams in the MLS since they started playing in 2005. The Dynamo won consecutive the championships in 2006 and 2007. Last year, the Dynamo lost 1-0 to the 2011 MLS Champions Los Angeles Galaxy. They are currently seventh in Eastern Conference.


The San Antonio Scorpions extended their unbeaten match streak to six games by earning a draw at Edmonton on Sunday, May 27. The Scorpions overcame an early two goal deficient to earn a crucial point in the road trip, keeping them within striking distance of the first place Puerto Rico Islanders.

The Scorpions fell behind when Edmonton midfielder Yashir Pinto scored a goal in the 37th minute off a header from well-crossed ball from Shaun Saiko.

Saiko scored for the Eddies in the 54th minute as he blasted a shot past the Scorpions keeper to push Edmonton's lead to 2-0. San Antonio finally got back into the game off a Josue Soto goal in the 61st minute, who delivered a strike from just outside of the box.

The Scropions never gave up and Aaron Pitchkolan earned his second goal of the year, knocking in a free kick from Hans Denissen with a header to tie the game at 2-2 with less than 10 minutes to play.


The Scorpions are one of the hottest teams in the NASL, riding a six-game unbeaten streak and have not lost a game since their April 15 home loss to the Puerto Rico Islanders. San Antonio has steadily risen in the NASL standings and after Sunday's draw the Scorpions find themselves in third place, but just two points behind first-place Puerto Rico Islanders. STRONG BACKLINE

The Scorpions have been one of the stronger defensive teams in the league this season, allowing just one goal per contest and posting four shutouts this season. San Antonio is third in the NASL in goals allowed this season (9), allowing just over one goal per contest.


Daryl Sattler is 4-1-0 this season as a starter in NASL play and has only allowed three goals during that span for the Scorpions to go along with three shutout performances.

His 0.60 goals against average is among the best of all NASL goalkeepers.


Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson will face a couple of his former players in a coaching battle. Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear and assistant coach Steve Ralston both played under Hankinson when he coached the Tampa Bay Mutiny in the late 90s and early 2000s.


Although this will be the Scorpions' first-ever match against an MLS team, there is no lack of MLS experience from the Scorpions. Seven players on the current San Antonio roster have played for various teams in MLS.

Defenders Greg Janicki, Blake Wagner, Ryan Cochrane and Wes Knight, midfielders Matt Gold and Kevin Harmse, and forward Pablo Campos all played with MLS teams prior to coming to San Antonio.

Cochrane played in Houston's inaugural MLS season in 2006 when the team originally moved from San Jose and played there until 2007. Harmse also had a brief stint with Houston in 2010, but never played due to injury.


The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States and is among the oldest in the world, beginning action in 1914. The tournament is open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the country, and U.S.-based NASL teams will be competing for the first time ever in 2012.

This year's edition of the U.S. Open Cup, which features teams from professional and amateur level soccer in the United States, features a modern era record 64 teams that includes all U.S.-based MLS, NASL and USL PRO teams for the first time ever.

The first four rounds of the tournament will take place in back-to-back weeks from May 15 all the way through June 5. The quarterfinals will be held on June 26 and the semifinals are set for July 10.

The tournament final will be played on Aug. 7 or 8 and the winner of the tournament earns a CONCACAF Champions League berth.

The Seattle Sounders of MLS have won the tournament each of the past three years and defeated the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup Final in 2011 by a score of 2-0.


The Scorpions will return to NASL play this weekend when they face the defending NASL-champion Minnesota Stars FC on Saturday, June 2 at Heroes Stadium. San Antonio sits just one point behind the second-place Stars, and could potentially jump to the top of the NASL table with a victory.

For those of you can't make it to San Antonio for the match, you can listen to it on Sports Talk 790 in Houston - Click here for the online stream for Sports Talk 790.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dynamo Best Galaxy, 2-1, On A Hot & Humid Saturday Afternoon

When the MLS schedule was set, Saturday's match between the Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy looked to be a good rematch of the 2011 MLS Cup Final, and possibly a potential preview of the 2012 MLS Cup Final, but the Galaxy have been struggling, having only won 3 matches this season, and big names like Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, and Geoff Cameron weren't available due to international call ups. With a 1:30 p.m. start line, the bigger question was how well the Galaxy would hold up in Houston's heat and humidity.

It was the Galaxy who scored first, when, in the 10th minute, Edson Buddle scored his first goal in ten weeks. Whatever life the Buddle goal pumped into the Galaxy was quickly sapped away as the heat began to take its toll on the away side. When Brian Ching's shot hit the crossbar and bounced off of the Galaxy's Mike Magee and into the net in the 38th minute, it looked like the Galaxy were ready to head back home with a draw.

Not long after the second half started, Houston was awarded a corner kick, which Brad Davis took. When Davis put the ball in the air, Dynamo defender Andre Hainault leaped up, heading the ball past Galaxy keeper Brian Perk. That goal, which came in the 57th minute, was all that the Dynamo would need to pick up the win, despite a few minor offensive bursts by the Galaxy before the match ended.

Obviously, the heat was an issue that was addressed by both teams after the match. While Dominic Kinnear and his team don't necessarily enjoy playing on a hot afternoon in Houston, they've seemed to accept it as something that they have to deal with from time to time. Meanwhile, the Galaxy were a little less accepting of the situation. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena not only complained about having to play in the Houston heat, but having to do so after just having played in San Jose on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Beckham complained about both the heat and the officiating.

After the win over the Galaxy, the Dynamo have 16 points and are currently in 6th place in the Eastern Conference.

Up next for the Dynamo is a US Open Cup match against the San Antonio Scorpions at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio at 7:30 pm on Tuesday evening.

Web Redemption for Victoria Zarlenga, Who Sang the National Anthem Before US v. Scotland

My Twitter feed typically blows up whenever the United States National Team is playing, but last night it blew up before the match started as a result of 18 year old Victoria Zarlenga's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It's a tough song, and I'd never want to sing it live in front of tens of thousands of people and on national television, that can be disconcerting. In the vein of Tosh 2.0, I'm giving Victoria her own little web redemption. First, last night's version:

Here is a statement that Victoria, a Jacksonville native, posted on her Facebook page:

In response to the comments I have received about tonights National Anthem ... I totally hear you, this was not a good performance and I take full responsibility for it! I did not realize I would need ear buds as monitors to block out the stadium sounds. Therefore, I had to borrow a pair from the sound crew that were too large for my ears and were popping out. Watching this video you can see that I was trying to hold the left ear bud in with my hand. That said, I was unable to hear myself and was only hearing the delay of my voice in the stadium. To add to the challenge, the crowd was singing in sync with my few seconds delay. It was like I was singing the song twice word after word after word. I heard from a few fans that said the view on the Jumbotron was not in sync with what they were hearing. Apparently the TV recording and stadium sound were two separate systems - you had to be present at the stadium to see and hear the delay. I was very disoriented with all these variables!

I would like to share with you a previous rendition and live performance of the National Anthem from about six months ago without the technical challenges!

I for one applaud Ms. Zarlenga for her mature response to last night's song.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Some Random Thoughts on Promotion & Relegation in U.S. Soccer

Earlier this spring, Ternana, a football club in Terni, Italy, mathematically qualified for promotion from Lega Pro Prima Divisione to Serie B for the first time since 2006. To give their fans a chance to fully celebrate this promotion, the club held a friendly earlier this month. The picture above and the videos below are from that friendly.

These images attest to the type of excitement that promotion and relegation adds to the support of a football club in Europe, especially for those who support clubs in the lower divisions. There's always the hope, the dream that one day your club will climb its way into your country's top league, and, if you're lucky, stay there.

In light of the extra zest that promotion and relegation add to football in Europe, it's not surprising that there is a segment of soccer fans in the United States who want to see promotion and relegation adopted by Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League, and United Soccer Leagues. While some of these fans hope that promotion and relegation will happen sometime in their lifetime, there are others who have adopted an almost evangelical zeal for the concept, wanting it implemented immediately.

To be honest with you, I've never cared one way or the other about whether or not we should have promotion and relegation at all levels of American soccer. When pestered by one of the pro/rel zealots, my response tends to mirror the response of Tommy Lee Jones in the "Fugitive." But seeing the images from Terni made me wonder a bit as to how feasible promotion and relegation is at the moment.

To me the feasibility of promotion and relegation for US soccer revolves around money, which is dependent on fan and sponsor support. I completely reject the purist argument that just because promotion and relegation is employed in many other countries' leagues, we must have it here in the US. It is perfectly allowable for a sports league in the US to adopt the format of other sports leagues in the US. There is no promotion and relegation in NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB; therefore, it is acceptable for MLS to follow the format of those leagues. Meanwhile, since promotion and relegation is a prominent part of professional sports leagues in Europe, it is acceptable for the American football leagues in Europe to adopt promotion and relegation as part of their respective structures. I'd be curious to know if there are any American football fans in Europe who argue that promotion and relegation should be dropped because the NFL does not use promotion and relegation.

After 12 years of growing success, fan support, expansion, and new stadiums, I believe MLS is here for the long haul. There are still some financial issues at play in MLS, but a whole lot would have to go wrong before the league found itself on the verge of financial collapse. That being said, I believe it would be prudent for MLS to strengthen its financial foundation some more before toying with the idea of promotion and relegation. The other part that needs to be in place before MLS considers promotion and relegation is the existence of stable and financially viable lower divisions. I'm not an expert on the NASL or the USL, but I get the impression they still need several more years to put themselves in a position where they would be financially viable to enter into a promotion and relegation arrangement with MLS.

As fans, it is easy to lose track of the fact that professional sports, especially in America, is a business, and as such those who've invested millions of dollars in teams need to succeed at a financial level, otherwise there's no point to keep investing in the team/sport. There is no financial incentive for MLS and its owners/investors to adopt promotion and relegation at this time. Maybe one day, but not now.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Will Ferrell at Soccer Aid with Kenny Dalglish

My first post of the morning dealt with the darker side of soccer, so I need to balance that out with a look at the positive that soccer can accomplish. This Sunday celebrities and football legends will gather at Old Trafford to raise money for UNICEF.

The England team will be captained by Robbie Williams and the Rest of the World team will be captained by Michael Sheen. To be honest, the Rest of the World team has own of the more interesting squads, including Will Ferrell, Gordon Ramsey, and Woody Harrelson, while being managed by Kenny Dalglish.

Click Here for More Information on Soccer Aid.

Soccer Player Shuts Racist Up by Scoring a Lovely Goal

Sometimes the best way for a soccer player to make a racist shut the f**k up is to show the racist why he's an ignorant idiot sitting in the stands and why the player being taunted is on the pitch making more money than the racist could ever dream of making. Karma's a bitch.

Not sure what match this is from, if anyone knows, feel free to post in the comments.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just in Time for the Euros: Nike's "My Time is Now"

Nike likes putting out big concept commercials connected to major soccer events, here's the latest:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Beautiful Night, But An Ugly Draw: Houston Dynamo 0 - 0 Portland Timbers

Photo by Nigel Brooks

Last night the weather was behaving when the Houston Dynamo hosted the Portland Timbers in the first ever night match at BBVA Compass Stadium, but the play on the field never matched the loveliness of the evening weather.

The Dynamo, playing their third match in 7 days, had to shuffle the starting lineup in order to give some players a much needed rest, thereby, ostensibly, giving the Portland Timbers, coming off over a week of rest, an advantage, but the only advantage the Timbers seemed to have was some questionable calls and no calls by the officiating crew.

After a little over 90 minutes, it was the Dynamo who, despite looking lethargic at times, dominated the match with 18 shots, 7 of which were on goal, and controlling possession for 59 minutes. By contrast, Portland had only 9 shots, just two of which were on goal. In the end, the Dynamo squad are right to be happy that despite the grind of their schedule, they managed to maintain a clean sheet and can now take a few days to recover before heading to New England to face the Revolution on Saturday night.

Saturday's match starts at 6:30 p.m. central time and will be broadcast on KPRC Local 2 in Houston, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790.

The Dynamo's next home match will be on Saturday May 26th when they host the Los Angeles Galaxy. That match starts at 1:30 p.m., yes 1:30 p.m, and will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Houston Dynamo Pick Up First Win At BBVA Compass Stadium

Last week the Houston Dynamo franchise was feeling the love as numerous media outlets in both the United States and outside of the United States gave positive reviews to the team's new stadium, BBVA Compass Stadium, and although the positive reviews were important they would ring hollow if the Dynamo failed to deliver when they hosted DC United for Saturday's inaugural match. Winning Saturday's match was an important goal for the Dynamo, not just because it was their first match in their new home, but to also turn momentum around after dropping their last two away matches.

Since it was the prospect of getting their own stadium built that lured the former San Jose Earthquakes to Houston, the story line that most Dynamo fans and media were looking for was one involving a first goal or a game winning goal from one of the last two players who had made that move from San Jose to Houston in 2006, Brian Ching or Brad Davis. Over the past 6 season, it has been Brian Ching who proved to be the face of the Dynamo franchise, but on Saturday it was Brad Davis who scored the first MLS goal at BBVA Compass Stadium, giving the Dynamo a 1-0 victory over their Eastern Conference rivals.

The Dynamo aren't getting much time to savor Saturday's victory since their second match at home is set for Tuesday night when they host the Portland Timbers at 7:30 pm.

Where you at the game on Saturday? Be sure to share your thoughts of opening day at BBVA Compass Stadium on tonight's Dynamo All Access with Glenn Davis, broadcast on Sports Talk 790 am here in Houston. The show, which hits the air at 8:00 pm central time, also streams live over the internet: Click Here for the 790 Stream.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rock Center Takes a Look at Concussions & Girls Soccer

On Wednesday night's episode of Rock Center with Brian Williams, reporter Kate Snow took an in depth look at the issue of concussions in girls soccer:

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Click here for the article to the above video.

Former US soccer player Brandi Chastain provided tips on how young players can protect themselves:

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Soccer Matters' Houston Dynamo Stadium Inaugural After Party at the Orange Bar

The Houston Dynamo's extended away tour to start the 2012 MLS Season came to an end with a 1-0 loss to RedBull New York last night in Harrison, New Jersey. Wednesday's loss gave the Dynamo a 2-3-2 record to start the season. While many Dynamo fans would have liked a couple more wins, or at least a couple more draws, the team's goal was to pick up at least 7 points during their first 7 away matches, and they achieved that goal. Now it is time for the Dynamo franchise and fans to stop dwelling on the past and get ready for the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, when the Houston Dynamo finally get to play an MLS match in a stadium of their own.

Saturday's match against D.C. United starts at 3:30 p.m. central time and will be broadcast on NBC Sports.

Following the match, Glenn Davis & Soccer Matters will be hosting the Houston Dynamo Stadium Inaugural After Party at the Orange Bar. The party begins at 6:00 p.m. central time and entertainment will be provided by DJ Sun and The Are. The Orange Bar is located at 1617 Richmond Avenue, Houston, Texas 77006.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Kids Are All Right, Despite The Schedule: A Dynamo Update

Let's face it, it's been an a very unusual start to the 2012 MLS Season for the Houston Dynamo, but come May 12th, Dynamo fans will likely decide this unusual start was worth it.

In just over three weeks, the latest jewel in the Houston stadium scene will open in the east side of downtown, BBVA Compass Stadium, the new home of the Houston Dynamo, gets its hard opening on Saturday May 12th when the Dynamo host DC United in a home of their own. Gone are the days of using Robertson Stadium on the University of Houston campus, this season the Dynamo will lay claim to being the first Major League Soccer team to have their own stadium in a downtown locale.

In order to accommodate the construction schedule, MLS sent the Dynamo on an extended road trip to start their season. When May 12th rolls around, the Dynamo will have played 7 away matches. While this appears to be a daunting task for any MLS team, though not a new task since both the Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City have dealt with similar circumstances, the Dynamo have handled it well, already besting their desired goal after only 5 out of said 7 matches.

Via several interviews, the Dynamo have indicated their goal was to pick up at least 7 points during this 7 road game stand. With last Saturday's 2-2 draw with the Crew in Columbus, the Dynamo now sit in 4th/5th place (tied with the Chicago Fire) on the Eastern Conference table with 8 points. While the Dynamo are substantially below Sporting Kansas City, who have run off with 21 points out of 8 matches, things are going all right for the Dynamo who still have 3 games in hand against Kansas City.

This weekend the Dynamo face DC United, the number two team in the East, with 12 points, and then the head to New Jersey to face the RedBulls on Saturday May 9th, before making their return to Houston for their first match at BBVA Compass Stadium when they host DC United in a sold out match on May 12th.

Neymar in Ascendancy

So both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are now out of the UEFA Champions League . . . is it time for a skinny kid from Brazil to take center stage in Europe?