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.