Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Texas Beats Italy 1-0: The United States Finally Beats Italy on Italian Soil

It might have only been a international friendly in a non-World Cup finals year, but history was made today at the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris in Genova where the United States beat Italy 1-0 thanks to a Clint Dempsey goal in the 55th minute. While the United States has played the four time World Cup champion Italy on several occasions, including in the World Cup finals, this marks the first time that the US has beaten the Italians. Not only did the US beat Italy, but they beat them on Italian soil.

Today's victory marks the 4th straight victory in the J├╝rgen Klinsmann era of US Soccer. Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as coach in September of 2011, following the US's failure to win the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. After losing four of his first five matches, signs of US fans losing their patience with Klinsmann were evident. With these recent victories, Klinsmann may not have won over all US fans yet, but he's pretty much secured the position for the rest of the 2014 World Cup finals cycle.

While one of the biggest differences between Klinsmann and Bradley appears to be Klinsmann's focus on bolstering the US's attacking creativity, the fact that the last three victories were clean sheets evidences a quiet revolution in the US's defense, an area that was always suspect during the Bradley era. One of the biggest defensive highlights today was the play of second half sub Jonathan Spector who proved crucial in keeping Italy off the scoreboard.

The US schedule is quiet until May, when it will host friendlies against Scotland, in Jacksonville on May 26th; Brazil, in Washington, D.C. on May 30th. The US will play Canada in friendly in Toronto on June 3rd and then begins World Cup Qualifying with matches against Antigua and Barbuda, on June 8th in Tampa, and Guatemala, on June 12th in Guatemala.

Sports Crossover: Mike Piazza Attended the United States - Italy Friendly, In Italy

-via @thatsonpoint

American baseball player Mike Piazza was in the stands at the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy today for the international friendly between the United States and Italy. From 1992 through 2007, Piazza played catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Florida Marlins, the New York Mets, the San Diego Padres, and the Oakland A's. Piazza may not yet be in Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but has been inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago.

Own Goal Sinks Bosnia-Herzegovina's Shot at Draw with Brazil

Yesterday, Bosnia-Herzegovina took on world powerhouse Brazil in an international friendly in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The Brazilians took an early lead when Marcelo scored in the 4th minute. The early goal suggested that Brazil might ultimately overpower the Balkans side, but in the 13th minute Vedad Ibisevic picked the equalizer for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The match staid at a 1-1 scoreline through the rest of regulation time, and when it looked like Bosnia-Herzegovina was going to hold the Brazilians to a draw, Sasa Papac managed a stoppage time own goal, giving Brazil a 2-1 win - one of those perfect Southwest Airlines 'Gotta Get Away' moments.

Speaking of own goals, here's one scored by Galatasaray's Semih Kaya in this past weekend's match with Besiktas, an own goal that got Deadspin to bring up the issue of match-fixing:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Roosevelt Bar Allegedly Discriminates Against Dynamo Players, Dynamo Players Get Arrested

On Saturday evening, Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric and midfielder Warren Creavalle were arrested outside of the Roosevelt Bar on Washington Avenue in the Heights. The various reports indicate that Deric and Creavalle as well as Will Bruin and Alex Dixon were denied entry and they believed that the grounds for said denial were based on the bar's apparent racist policies. The Houston Police Department ended up arresting Deric for assaulting a public servant and Creavalle for interfering with public duties.

HPD claims that Deric punched Ramon Perez, an off-duty Houston Police Officer who was working security at the Roosevelt. Knowing the propensity of law enforcement to circle the wagons whenever one of their own is involved in an incident, I for one don't really believe the HPD's claims of what all occurred outside the Roosevelt on Saturday.

Here are some well detailed news stories concerning the incident involving the Dynamo players and the Roosevelt's history of racial discrimination:

Two Dynamo players arrested after altercation - Houston Chronicle

Dynamo players arrested after scuffle outside Washington Avenue bar - KHOU

Video Shows HPD Shocking Dynamo Player - Fox 26

Attorney: ‘Sad’ that Tyler Deric has to go through this - Houston Chronicle

Deric and Creavalle Arrested: What We Know and a Couple Thoughts - Dynamo Theory

Report: Houston's Deric arrested for assaulting officer - MLS

Rappers Accuse Washington Avenue Club of Racism - Fox 26

Getting Past the Bouncer: Local nightclub door policies aren't always black and white - Houston Press

Yelp reviews of the Roosevelt Bar seem to have running theme concerning the club and racism.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dozens of People Killed as Al-Masry & Al-Ahly Fans Flood Pitch in Egypt

Tragic news is coming out of Egypt following today's match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly in Port Said. After Al-Masry won the match, 3-1, its fans invaded the pitch, forcing Al-Ahly players to flee to the locker room, where they became trapped. Apparently, Al-Ahly Ultras took to the pitch too, and the long, violent history between the two clubs was extended as fans from the opposing clubs fought with each other, as well as with security forces. The violence was spurred by political conflict steaming from the events in Egypt last year.

The most recent report from the BBC places the number of dead at 73.

I'm sure that Al Jazeera will continue to update its stories as more information comes out.

In the wake of the Arab Spring and the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, professional football matches in Egypt have seen an uptick in violence as Ultras take advantage of the decreased amount of security in the stadiums.

Meanwhile, in Cairo a match between Al-Ismailiya and Zamalek was called off, either to mourn those who were killed or to prevent the violence from spreading. The decision to call off the match was not well received by fans who managed to set sections of the stadium on fire.

While today's events in Egypt are extreme, it does highlight the potential for danger whenever "fans" invade the pitch. While yesterday's pitch invasion at Goodison Park in Liverpool ended up proving harmless, the intent of the pitch invader was unknown when he exited the stands and the potential of a threat to players, coaches, officials, etc. existed. I'm not sure what more stadiums could do to increase the response time to pitch invaders, but now is a good time for the officials that run stadiums to take a hard look at the problem and see if they can come up with some new, reasonable solutions.

Updated at 9:00 pm:

Here's the latest from the New York Times - Riot in Egypt Kills More Than 70, and Many Blame Military