Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Handcuffed to a Goalpost at Goodison - With Video

Photo via @TheKeogh

Late in the first half of today's Everton - Manchester City match at Goodison Park in Liverpool, an individual invaded the pitch and handcuffed himself to a goalpost. Not sure why this man was handcuffing himself to a goalpost, but it only took a few minutes to get some bolt cutters and remove the man from the pole.

Everton ended up winning the match, 1-0, with thanks to Landon Donovan who helped set up the goal.

Updated 2/1/2012

Turns out, the man who handcuffed himself to the goalpost at Goodison yesterday is John Foley, who was protesting Ryanair's staff training methods. Manchester City is the favorite team of Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair.

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/video?vid=9c161911-4bb5-4c60-beed-756c08421845" target="_new" title="">Handcuffed fan stops the match</a>

Dominic Kinnear, Geoff Cameron, & Eddie Robinson Featured on Dynamo All Access

With the Houston Dynamo's preseason well under way, it's not surprising that last night's Dynamo All Access with Glenn Davis on Sports Talk 790 in Houston featured interviews with Geoff Cameron, Dominic Kinnear, and Eddie Robinson. If you missed last night's show, you can catch up via the podcast:

Dynamo all access 1 30 2012 Hr 1: Geoff Cameron joins Glenn on the show to talk about the National team and his performance.

Dynamo all access 1 30 2012 Hr 2: Tony Dicicco, Dominic Kinnear and Eddie Robinson are this hour of Dynamo All Access

Monday, January 30, 2012

David Beckham Will Be In The Super Bowl - Well In A Super Bowl Ad

In recent years, Swedish clothing retailer H&M has made strides in growing its brand in the United States, and it seems they've decided to take a major step in brand recognition by paying $3.5 million to air a commercial during Sunday's Super Bowl. What better way to make a splash in your first Super Bowl commercial than by having it star one of the world's most recognizable football players, David Beckham?

This looks like one commercial that the women (and some men) will be looking for on Sunday:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Camp Cupcake" Wins Two

Last night the US Soccer's "Camp Cupcake" Team followed up Saturday night's 1-0 win over Venezuela with a 1-0 win over Panama. I admit that the "Camp Cupcake" moniker is not my favorite for the annual US Soccer winter camp that primarily gives numerous MLS players and some European journeymen an extended audition for the US National Team, but I think it's important to use this moniker in light of the apparent "every match is a live or die match" attitude that seems to dominate the most vocal of the US Soccer fan base.

My favorite comment last night though came from outside that extreme portion of the US fan base, and is a comment that best sums up the whole concept of Camp Cupcake:

While it was nice that Ricardo Clark managed to pick up a late goal to beat Venezuela and while it was nice that the team managed to maintain the early lead that Graham Zusi's goal gave them against Panama, despite going down to ten men for over 35 minutes, the important thing about these matches and the winter camp in general is that they gave US Coach J├╝rgen Klinsmann and his coaching staff a rare opportunity to work directly with players who caught their eye and then evaluate these players when they're tossed into the semi-deep portion of the USMNT pool.

The primary thing that I take from the fact that both of these matches were victories is that there is finally a glimmer of potential USMNT roster depth. The Venezuela and Panama squads, while clearly not the best in the world, contain enough talent to provide tests for a large number of American players who, if called up for meaningful matches, would spend a substantial amount of time on the bench; therefore, the fact that these raggedy squads of players straight out of off season break managed to pull off these two, rather ugly, victories is a testament to the slow but surely improving world of American soccer.

Even if the team had lost both of these matches, I still think the 2012 Camp Cupcake would have been a success in that we are not getting a sense of the core second team, and potential future first team, that is developing in this new chapter of US Soccer history. Many US Soccer fans might not have recognized the team that played these last two matches, but in the next couple years some of the players on the 2012 Camp Cupcake team will become regular fixtures in US kits.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Houston Dynamo Reload for 2012 MLS Season

The Houston Dynamo have always seemed to have a love-hate relationship with the MLS SuperDraft. In the franchise's early years in Houston, Dynamo Coach Dominic Kinnear seemed to have no qualms about trading away a top draft pick in order to obtain a player who filled a need or role right away for his squad. The result of this was that the Dynamo often picked late in the draft. Additionally, the Dynamo had no qualms about using draft picks on players like Marcus Tracy and Euan Holden, despite the fact that those players were clearly going to skip MLS for opportunities in Europe.

Despite this somewhat casual attitude towards the draft, the Houston Dynamo were fairly decent at picking up quality players like Corey Ashe, in 2007; Geoff Cameron, in 2008; and Danny Cruz, in 2009. After a rather dismal 2010 draft, the Dynamo seemed to take a new attitude towards the 2011 draft where they managed to pick up Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie.

This year the Dynamo showed signs that their 2011 approach was not a fluke, not only making serious use of the SuperDraft to pick up talent but also using the Supplemental Draft as a means of trying to address the team's weak spots, primarily, it's midfield and offense.

With their first pick of the 2012 draft, which was the 18th overall pick, the Dynamo drafted a forward, Colin Rolfe, who played at Louisville, the Big East conference champion. Then, in the second round, the Dynamo drafted midfielder Warren Creavalle, who played for the University of Central Florida.

In the 2012 Supplemental Draft the Houston Dynamo picked five players: Brian Ownby (forward); Karo Okiomah (forward), Eder Arreola (midfielder), Philip Aseweh (forward), and Daniel Roberts (home-grown midfielder).

The fact that the Dynamo are taking a look at four new forwards suggests that the team is doubtful that it will be able to trade for Brian Ching and has chosen to focus on trying to find the team's next generation of strikers. I know that many Dynamo fans really want to see Ching dressed in orange on May 12th when the new stadium opens, but fans need to ask themselves are they willing to ransom the team's future for one, aging player?

The Dynamo start preseason training camp on Monday January 23rd and have their first scrimmage on January 28th, against the Dynamo Academy. Additional preseason games in Houston include scrimmages against San Jac College (Feb. 1), HBU (Feb. 4), and SMU (Feb. 18). The Dynamo will spend a few weeks training in Carson, California, where they'll scrimmage against the Montreal Impact, L.A. Galaxy, Portland Timbers, and San Jose Earthquakes (in Venture). The Dynamo will close out the preseason by participating in the Disney Pro Classic in Orlando, where they'll play Sporting Kansas City, the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Montreal Impact.

The Houston Dynamo start their regular season on March 11th when they play Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Houston Texans Fans Acting Like Houston Dynamo Fans

For the first time in franchise history, the Houston Texans have made it to the NFL Playoffs. On Saturday January 7, 2012, the Texans hosted their first ever Playoff game at Reliant Stadium, and prior to that game there was an indication that the Texans' front office had paid attention to the tifo displays that have occurred down the road at Robertson Stadium, former home of the Houston Dynamo, because, as evidenced by the above picture, they managed to orchestrate a tifo display worthy of any major football club in Europe. You can see the display starting about 30 seconds into the below video clip.

The Texans went on to win the game, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10.

Today the Houston Texans will take on the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Division Playoffs at M&T Bank Stadium in Charm City. Yesterday, when the Texans arrived at their hotel in Baltimore they were surprised by the large amount of travelling fans on hand to greet them:

Travelling fans aren't a completely new concept in the NFL, when I lived in Wisconsin it was amazing to see how many people traveled to away Green Bay Packers games, but here in Houston, it wasn't until the Houston Dynamo came to town that the concept of a large contingent of travelling fans came into vogue in the Bayou City. The Dynamo have much more experience being a playoff team than the Texans do and they are used to having a good contingent of travelling fans on hand no matter where they play, especially in the playoffs.

I'm not saying that the fan treatment the Texans are getting would not have occurred but for the presence of the Houston Dynamo, after all, Texas is football country and Houston has been starved for NFL Playoffs since 1993, but there is a good amount of sports fan crossover in this city, with many local sports fans supporting all the professional teams, so there probably has been some cross-pollination between the Texans and Dynamo.

The Texans-Ravens game starts at Noon Houston time and will be aired on CBS.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fabio Cannavaro Among Big Names Joining India's PLS

Last year the Indian Football Association announced it would be launching Premier League Soccer in early 2012, with six franchises. The franchises are located in Kolkata, Howrah, Asansol, Midnapore, and Siliguri. When the league was announced, IFA also stated that each team would have one icon player and a maximum of three overseas players and one overseas player from Asia. At least six players on each team have to be of U-21 years and a maximum of 10 players can be from anywhere in India.

This weekend it has been confirmed that Italian player Fabio Cannavaro will be joining PLS as an icon player. The World Cup winner will be joining the likes of Robert Pires, Juan Pablo Sorin, Jay Jay Okacha, Hernan Crespo, and Robbie Fowler. Icon player contracts are only for a 10 week period.

The PLS season seven week season is set to start on January 25th.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MLS in Pop Culture - Are You There MetroStars?

First, no, I did not watch NBC's new show "Are You There Chelsea," but someone I follow on FaceBook did watch it and she posted this screen capture, & in her defense, her caption was: "This stupid ass show got interesting."

Nike Soccer Commercials - Early 2012

Seeing that it's 2012 and I've been getting a bunch of hits concerning Nike, time for some new Nike Soccer Commercials & Related Videos:

Hmmm, looks like Nike needs to get to work.

Houston Dynamo Defender Eddie Robinson Announces Retirement

In his eleven seasons playing in MLS, Eddie Robinson has only played for one team. In 2001, Robinson signed on with the San Jose Earthquakes and he stayed with the team when it moved to Houston in 2006 and was rechristened as the Houston Dynamo. During his tenure, Robinson became a fan favorite for his rough, no nonsense style of defense, despite the fact that he was prone to injury and being carded.

Since Robinson is a defender, it's not surprising that he only scored 9 goals during his time in MLS; however, what is surprising is that in the only cap he received from the US National Team, he picked up a goal.

Although he was part of the original squad of players that made the move from San Jose to Houston, Eddie will not play in the new Houston Dynamo Stadium, because today he announced his retirement. The 33 year old is not leaving Houston though, he'll remain with the Dynamo organization and will work as a coach for the Dynamo Academy.

American Robbie Rogers Signs with Leeds United

BBC News and Sky News are reporting that American Robbie Rogers has signed a deal with Leeds United of England's Championship. The 24 year old winger has been capped 18 times by the United States National Team and most recently played for the Columbus Crew in MLS. This isn't Rogers' first signing with a European club. In 2006/2007, Rogers was at Heerenveen in Holland, but did not see any playing time with the first team.

Leeds United, once a dominate team in England's top flight, has been trying to rebound from financial troubles that ultimately saw the team fall to the third tier of club football in England. In recent seasons, Leeds United has shown a strong desire of earning promotion back into the Premier League and almost managed to make it into the promotion playoffs last season. The team is currently in the top half of The Championship table, and it appears that coach Simon Grayson is hoping that Rogers will improve Leeds' offense and help get the team into solid shot at promotion.

The contract with Rogers, who has been at Elland Road on trial, will not be complete until a work permit is secured. According to Greg Seltzer at No Short Corners, the deal between Rogers and Leeds is for two and a half years.

Pre-Match Video Clip from Roma v. Chievo Verona

After a rough start to the 2011/2012 Serie A Season, AS Roma is currently enjoying a 3 match winning streak (4 match unbeaten streak). This past Sunday, before the start of Roma's match with Chievo Verona, this video was aired in the Stadio Olimpico:

Today, Roma faces Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia. The last time Roma lost a match was to Fiorentina, 3-0, on December 4th. This Saturday, Roma heads to Sicily to play Catania.