Monday, December 15, 2008

If the De Ro trade is still getting you down



I'm trying to stay positive with the whole "Trust in Dom and Canetti" mantra ringing through my brain, pausing only for a quick repetition of "Moreno/Ngwenya! Jaqua! Kamara! WHOOP!"

However, I have found this video surprisingly helpful. Read more!

Friday, December 12, 2008

So long Dwayne. We'll always have DC.



First thoughts:

There was too much DDR is going to Tor chatter going around not to take it seriously. Hopefully, this will be another Moreno/Ngwenya deal, which you have to say in some way affected the outcome of the last two championships!

Ms. Thertek's first response: "What? Well, I guess Dynamo just got tired of winning."

Must. Resist. Negativity.

Must. Resist.

Look book over the last three seasons and find, I tell you, find a deal that went truly bad. The worst you can find is the Tony Caig as backup keeper thing. (Running slightly ahead of Franco Caraccio).

But, I will submit, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that those are peanuts PEANUTS!, to the multiple examples of true brilliance from Messrs. Canetti and Kinnear over the years. Ngwenya/Moreno; Jaqua I; Boswell/Wells; Jaqua II; Kei Kamara;

Need I go on?

Like Bill Lee once said about the National League All-Star lineup in 1976 (yes, I AM that old), "I ain't pitching against them. These guys just don't make outs."

So, fare thee well Dwayne De Rosario. Enjoy your years back in your hometown, where we would always want to wind up in our lives. You have earned our love and respect and, and I mean this in all sincerity, I hope you take it as the deepest measure of personal respect and true love when Dynamo come to BMO Field next season and crush you like a grape.

In the spirit of true sportsmanship of course. Read more!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The past is prologue?

I've heard that the past is prologue. One can hope.



Here is the official press release:

HOUSTON, TX (Wednesday, December 10, 2008) – The Houston Dynamo were drawn against Mexican power FC Atlante for the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals when the draw was held today at CONCACAF headquarters in New York City.

The Dynamo will host FC Atlante in the first leg of the two-game, total-goals series on a date to be announced February 24-26. The second leg will be played in Cancún, Mexico March 3-5. The winner will advance to the regional semifinals. The tournament champion, to be crowned in late April, will advance to the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup, to be held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, in December.

Houston qualified for the quarterfinals by placing second in Group B during group play in the first edition of the Champions League. The Dynamo reached the semifinals of the tournament’s predecessor, the Champions’ Cup, in both 2007 and 2008.

The other quarterfinal matchups are:

Pumas UNAM vs. Cruz Azul, Montreal Impact vs. Club Santos Laguna, Puerto Rico Islanders vs. CD Marathon

Tickets for the Dynamo’s home leg of the quarterfinal series are currently available via Dynamo season ticket packages. The Dynamo have also qualified for the 2009-10 Champions League group stage, which will take place August 18-October 22.

The Houston Dynamo are a Major League Soccer franchise that has won two MLS Cup championships in its first three seasons and represented the United States in three consecutive regional championships. The Dynamo will begin their 2009 MLS campaign on Saturday, March 21, taking on the defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew. For more information, please log on to www.HoustonDynamo.com or call (713) 276-7500.
Read more!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Calling Joseph Ngwenya.. Where are you?




At the conclusion of the Dynamo/Firpo game the night before Thanksgiving, Mister3D and I were lamenting the loss of Nate Jaqua to the nor'westerners. Then Mister3d says this to me:

"No big deal as Joseph Ngwenya is coming back."

"Whaaa?!?" sez I.

"Just trying to start a rumor," he replies with a mischievous grin.

And that got me to thinking. Where is Joseph Ngwenya anyway? Last I heard, he was in Turkey, plying his trade, trying to get noticed after his high-profile tryout with Bayern Munich, of all teams, in the summer. So this morning, participating in this discussion over at Dynamo Planet, I set about looking for our man Joseph, and what I found is something of a mystery.

He supposedly was playing for ANTALYASPOR A.Ş. in Turkey, which currently sits just out of the relegation zone, at 15th in the 18-team Turkish Super League. However, looking over the team's Web site (which, unfortunately for me, is entirely in Turkish), I can find no mention of our man on the 27-player roster. So the mystery deepens... Where is Joseph Ngwenya?

And then, curiouser and curiouser. The Turkish Football Federation site still lists him as being under contract to Antalyaspor, but I can find no appearance by him with the Scorpions after October. Read more!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Setting priorities for 2009




(Continuing the thread from El Naranja's "So...What now?" post on Dynamo Planet. Check that one out for a great discussion in it's own right.)

With the 2008 year now completely concluded for our Men in Orange, I think it's time to look ahead at the offseason on-field priorities (as opposed to Dynamo Park, which is Priority "All" off field I would think) for Chris Canetti, Dominic Kinnear and the rest of the Brain Trust.

Here, in no particular order (other than the first ones that come to my caffeine-addled mind) are several.

1. Re-signing Bobby Boswell. The man was to my mind at least the co-MVP of the season this year. He had a horrific start, but then picked it up around early May and clearly was the best defender on the pitch for long stretches. He anchored the best defense in the league. I know he can probably make much, much more money were he to go to Europe, but looking at the team, I would say bringing the Boz back to town would be among the first objectives.

2. Bringing in a new back-up keeper to replace Tony Caig. To be fair, Caig wasn't always awful this year and I'm sure there are many, many keepers out there who are worse than him. However, Zach Wells may be back on the market, and who wouldn't love the all-around punkjob that be to one day in 2009 beat DCU with Boz in the middle and Zach Wells in goal? Also, I'm thinking Troy Perkins and, especially, the out-of-contract Matt Pickens might be available. All would be improvements over Caig. Super Canuck is nto getting any younger in the No. 1 role, though he seems to indicate that he intends to go another year or maybe two (!). If his reaction time slows appreciably, this could become a HUGE hole for this team in a hurry.

3. Replacing Nate Jaqua up top. Don't get me wrong. I like Kei Kamara and don't want to go anywhere, but Nate was truly spectacular at times this season, clearly a better player than he was in 2007. It was shown this year that Chris Wondolowski is not the guy here, and neither is Kyle Brown. So the team will have to look elsewhere. (Though, wait a minute, who knows? Maybe Geoff Cameron in this spot?) He seems to be a head case, but perhaps Arturo Alvarez could be prised away from San Jose? I had a few other names on my mind when I started this paragraph, but they have flitted away. This is a big need because let us not forget that while Ching did play the whole season this year without an injury (an amazing feat for anyone, but for him, stunning), we can't rely on that all the time. Again, I'm thinking that this is the prime area for bringing someone in from outside the organization. Thoughts and ideas?

4. Time for you guys to fill in the blanks here..... Read more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The date, it is circled. Orange ya glad you won't be yellow Mar. 21?

Of course, CONCACAF starts a month earlier than this, but March 21 is still a date to circle and DAMN! if I'm not already salivating over knocking out those Little Yellow Crewmen, who seem to think that holding onto our cup for a year means they own it or something.

It's Champions v. Champions March 21 here at Robertson Stadium, and since Mister3D and I have already re-upped for '09, we'll be there. And if you want to know what happened last time around, here you go.



And here's the whole slate for MLS First Kick opening weekend:

Thursday, March 19 (ALL TIMES CENTRAL)

New York Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders FC, 8 p.m. (ESPN2/Deportes)


Saturday, March 21

Columbus Crew at Houston Dynamo, 7 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Español)

Toronto FC at Kansas City Wizards, 7:30 p.m.

Chicago Fire at FC Dallas, 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids at Chivas USA, 9:30 pm (Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Español)

New England Revolution at San Jose Earthquakes, 9:30 p.m.


Sunday, March 22


D.C. United at Los Angeles Galaxy, 2 p.m. Read more!

Friday, November 21, 2008

How I felt after the Red Bulls game



Target Practice - video powered by Metacafe


Through after almost two weeks, I'm doing much better now and totally focused on Firpo Wednesday night.

Really.

(This is Michael Ballack in an adidas ad for the Predator boots.)

Though this one with Xavi Alonso and Steven Gerrard is even better:



Clay Pigeons - video powered by Metacafe
Read more!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

FCD notwithstanding, it's tough not to root for the big guy

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Kenny Cooper is the only FC Dallas player I fear. For me, he's completely shrouded in what I've always called the Pete Rose (pre 1987) Effect. The guy who you can;t stand to see playing against you, but who you'd give your left, er, arm to have on your side.

Fortunately, being an American, I got that last night. And of course, that free kick from Freddy Adu was a marvel to behold. I still think Adu will not prosper abroad, though could have a Landon Donovan-style career in MLS.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dynamo Park demonstration Thursday



The season may have only one game left, but Dynamo fans are all needed to head out to the new stadium site Thursday. Here's an e-mail that is making the rounds.


PLEASE READ THIS VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO THE END AND RESPOND! THIS IS OF PRIME IMPORTANCE TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE EAST END!

The final funding for the Houston Dynamo stadium to be built east of downtown surrounding the intersections of Dowling and Rusk depends on Harris County Commissioners voting to participate in TIRZ 15. (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) The proposal is that the first $10 million of additional economic dollars generated by the stadium for Harris County taxes would be invested in the stadium. After that all the tax dollars generated for the County by the new development would remain with Harris County.

Harris County Commissioners want public support to encourage them to vote to participate in the TIRZ. (The County is presently participating in six TIRZ so this is not a unique request.) The negotiations to build the Dynamo stadium have been ongoing since January, 2007, and if WE DO NOT HAVE THIS FINAL FINANCIAL INCENTIVE APPROVED BY DECEMBER 31st, the Dynamo will be forced to consider alternatives offer outside of the city!

A Press Conference to show the County Commissioners that the public supports their participation in the TIRZ will be held THIS THURSDAY, November 13th from 10 - 10:30 AM on the stadium site at the corner of Dowling and Rusk Streets. PLEASE attend this short but VERY important conference and please encourage EVERYONE from your business or neighborhood to attend! WE NEED TO PACK the city block so we can make the County Commissioners comfortable to vote FOR the TIRZ! I cannot stress the importance of numbers at this event enough--PLEASE help us!!!

ALSO, we have a petition online that we ask you and ALL your staff, friends and neighbors to sign. Just click the link below and fill in the short form. It will take only a minute and it will directly impact the future of the East End!

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keepthedynamoinhouston?e

We have more than 1500 signatures on signed petitions already, but we need THOUSANDS!!! PLEASE pass this note on to your mailing lists, and everyone you know and ask them to sign the petition and attend the press conference!

Help us give the County Commissioners the support they need to give us the stadium we need! Thank you--YOU ARE A TRUE EAST END FRIEND!
Read more!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Insert glowing commentary about the Dynamo here

I would love to, really, but seeing as how just about everyone handicapping Sunday's game in the blogosphere is talking about how the Orange will be dominant at home in front of 30,000+ fans, I think the best thing to do is repeat the winning mantra of earlier this week:

Fired Up!
Ready to Go!



and then there's this one from the May win over NYRB at The Rob. See you Sunday!

Read more!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What do you think about making Away Goals count more?


As most of you probably know, in most leagues around the world that play two-leg series, away goals are the first tie-breaker. This really does completely change the complexion of first-leg games. Now to be perfectly honest, I have always opposed implementing this rule in MLS games. But after reading this excellent, excellent column from Pat Walsh at Goal.com, I have changed my tune.

(And I am not just homering this because it would benefit Dynamo. The truth is we got hurt by away goals earlier this season by "losing" the mythical cannon (biggest open secret around here, it does not exist) to fc frisco due to away goals after all three games ended in ties.)

Check out this great column:

Walsh’s Word: MLS Needs The "Away Goals" Rule

By Pat Walsh


What a bland weekend of MLS soccer last week was. Four playoff games, three of which were nationally televised -- and just five goals.

In the past five years, the first legs of MLS’s Conference Semifinals series have never provided more than two goals per game. This is due in large part to the away teams playing defensively, looking to win at home in the second leg.

Of course, that’s their prerogative. Steve Nicol has been a master at this tactic over the years. As a result, New England has advanced to five straight conference finals, every single one since the current MLS playoff structure was implemented. Only once in that time did the Revolution play their first leg at home.

While the Midnight Riders can celebrate that success, it doesn’t mean the casual fans of the league are enjoying the ride. The rest of us around the country are subjected time and again to first legs in which each team seemingly would be just as happy to have the coin flip determine whether the game results in a draw or a one-goal win for the home team. Then each can go about preparing for the more important second leg accordingly.

But, unlike NBA playoff games, the first halves of these series can matter.

The remedy to this scenario is simple: the away goals rule. The widely spread reason for not using this tiebreaker is that the casual American fan will not understand the concept of the away goal rule. I don’t buy it.

This is a land in which NASCAR has grown dramatically in the past decade, roughly the same time as MLS has been in existence. Casual fans of the driving-in-a-circle sport have quickly grasped the complex system of bonus points for the sprint to the cup, or whatever it’s called these days. Is the away goals rule more complicated than that?

Here’s the real danger. After an amazing season that provided a great playoff race, the postseason is not building on that success and positive energy.

The playoffs are the time that the major leagues draw in the casual fans. Case in point, the aforementioned NASCAR amended its rules in 2004 to provide its fans with a playoff system. Even the PGA has jumped on board, instituting the playoff-ish FedEx Cup last year.

But in MLS, the playoffs -- especially the first legs of these conference semifinals -- are the worst of times, not the best of times.

In five years under the current format, only once have all four first-leg matches averaged two goals. Last year hit rock bottom as only three goals were scored on the first weekend.

This year wasn’t much better with just five goals over the four games. Of course, Yura Movsisyan’s cheeky backheeled goal will be remembered. And Steven Lenhart’s last-second tally provided a great finish in Kansas City. But those moments were too far and in between.

Let’s compare those numbers to the UEFA Champions League, which goes to two-legged series from the round of 16 through the semifinals. The past three years, the first leg has been the higher scoring leg, averaging well over two goals per game. That’s not to say there’s a flip flop and no goals are scored on the return leg as even those games averaged at least two goals per game. But it shows that if the team that plays away in the first leg has more incentive to score, they will look to get into the attack and the games will wind up with more goals.

This isn’t to say goals will lead to better games. But goals are good for the casual fan. More importantly, goals and the initiative to create more goals gives the games the kind action that draws in casual fans, like Javier Morales’s playmaking and vision in setting up Movsisyan’s goal. Then again, Real was at home, meaning they had the pressure to score, which helps explain their constant attacking mindset, especially compared with Chivas USA’s seeming reluctance to cross the midfield stripe.

Of the other away teams, Columbus and Houston went forward the most and were rewarded with the only two road goals, both after the 85th minute. Chicago rarely tested New England’s Matt Reis in their 0-0 draw, confident they would finish off the Revs this Thursday at Toyota Park.

Had Columbus, Houston, Chicago, and Chivas known that an away goal mattered even more, there is a good chance they would have pressed from the beginning. Instead, we didn’t see the best out of the some of MLS’s best teams because the risk was more than the reward was worth.

And it is the casual fan that loses the most.

Pat Walsh writes about Major League Soccer for Goal.com.
Read more!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Seven steps to Heaven

A quick detour to Scotland and the Bhoys. Those who know me know about my love for Celtic FC, the true Hoops ( My blood boils when people refer to Dallas as the Hoops. Morons.). This is a goal from the the Bhoys' 3-1 win over Kilmarnock in Scottish Cup play earlier this week. Seven passes (seven!) until Aiden McGeady slots it home. Even if you're a Rangers fan, you've got to appreciate how fun this is. Enjoy.

Read more!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The "I" in team


You wouldn't know it from looking at the results over the last month and a half, but we have three games left in what really is the worst stretch of the schedule all season for the Men in Orange. With games in no less than five countries, thousands of miles of travel, multiple games of high pressure, drama and significant consequence, Dynamo are meeting a challenge unlike that faced by any MLS team ever.

And now it's time for me to come clean on my reaction. No matter how tough it has been for the team, I have literally loved every second of it.

Now, to be perfectly frank, had Dynamo come to this stage of the Great Gruelfest with more losses than wins, I would have been screaming bloody murder. No one would have been louder than I in raging about the rank unfairness of it all, how the MLS schedule-makers are a bunch of no-brained morons who can't realize the obvious importance of international play in the growth of the MLS brand, how, despite all evidence to the contrary, the league refuses to accept the reality of the what growing the game here really means beyond adding a new squad in every podunk burgh in North America.

And I know all of that is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. But thanks to the team-making skills of Dynamo Chief Operating Office Chris Cannetti (i.e. the guy who makes every coin), the game management of Dom Kinnear (the guy ON every coin) and the total, unflagging commitment of our heroes in Orange (the coins in question), we enter the final three games of this stretch unbeaten, with the No. 1 seed in the west and on the verge of qualifying for knockout stage play in Champions League.

And it has been brutal on the guys, no question about it. But if it were up to me, and I had to have them do it all over again, I have to come totally clean here and admit that as a supporter I wouldn't change a thing. (Other than the hurricane part of it. I mean, I'm not crazy.)

How many times have we all left Robertson Stadium wishing there was another game tomorrow night? How many times have we Just. Not. Gotten. Enough. of watching and cheering the team on to wins? How many times have we just wanted the feeling at Robertson to last on well into the night, to keep going and going until the last bit of juice has been squeezed out?

Well fellow Planeteers, since Sept. 23rd, we have gotten all of that and more. And make no mistake about it, it has taken all the Dynamo can give to make it happen, and over the next five weeks, they are going to have to keep going to make it even better, to find the pot of gold again that makes this all worthwhile.

After all of this, there are four home games remaining, Wednesday against Pumas, the first playoff game Nov. 9, the Western Conference championship match Nov. 16 and the rescheduled CL match against L.A. Firpo Nov. 26. (Add to this four away dates, to las chivitas Saturday, El Salvador next Tuesday, the first playoff game Nov. 2 and one last little date in Carson, California on Nov. 23rd.)

Eight games in five-and-a-half weeks, right on the heels of eight over the last four. Call me a torturer, call me unsympathetic, call me one who delights in the hardships of my beloved team, but among all other things, call me There.

And as a wonderful postscript, walking into the Dynamo game Saturday, enjoying the heck out of the great giveaway scarf that my 11-year-old says is "The best giveaway ever.", season book partner mister3d takes a look at the tag on the scarf and says "Hey, that's me!" And there he was, the guy holding up the scarf with a towel over his head (maintaining his secret identity) on the tag. And even though my first reaction (to be totally and brutally honest here) was "Hey, I was standing right next to him there. Where am I? (I know, I am a cad.), I have to say that I am absolutely thrilled about the whole deal. I think I'll frame the tag after I get him to autograph it! Read more!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dyna-tunes for sale



Saw this post over at Dynamo Planet. For those of you who just can't get enough of those rockin' Robertson tunes from El Battalon, now you'll be able to hear them at all times. I'll definitely by hookin' up with one of these beauties.

As some of you are aware, we (EB) have been working on getting a CD out for a while now. The CD features 7 tracks from songs we sing in the stadium performed by a group that plays Cumbia Villera music direct from Argentina. Im not trying to oversell it but its like winning the 2006 MLS Cup in Frisco and the 2007 MLS Cup in DC combined, so you should get a copy! Its only ten bucks and we will be selling it in front of the stadium by the ticket booths or you can find us at our usual tailgate spot at the north west corner of the parking lot, accross the street from Popeyes on Scott.To hear a sample of some of the songs included on the album you can check the EB site at http://www.elbatallon.com or you can check out our EB Music Myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/elbatallonsongs. Profits from the sales will fund EB efforts in supporting the Dynamo.


And here's a little taste:

Read more!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dynamo MVP talk

With just three MLS regular season games remaining, I have yet to see much talk about the season MVP. Perhaps it's my background in baseball, but I think the MVP of the season should be distinct from the whomever might be the MVP of the playoffs. So in that vein, here we go.

When you take the team down to the areas of the field, I think 4-5 realistic candidates emerge.

FORWARDS


First, let's take a look up top. Brian Ching leads the team in goals scored and I think there' no getting around the fact that he has bee a monster up there all season. Even when he isn't scoring, the Flyin' Hawaiian is drawing the attention of the defense, creating openings for his teammates and then passing to the open guy. If a major element of MVP consideration is making your teammates better, then Ching has that in spades. In pure numbers, let's look at this: 12 goals and five assists in 22 games, 21 of which he started. He has three game-winning goals and one game-winning assist. Only Brad Davis (more on him in a sec) has a better combined total there (1 GWG and 4 GWAs). From the forward corps, Chingy clearly is the representative in this discussion.

MIDFIELD


Brad Davis has been a real force when he's been in the game. He's played in 23 games, tied for fourth on the team with Captain Wade-merica, and has been an assist machine. The consistent quality of his deliveries into the box both in the run of play and on set pieces has been devastating to opponents. He instills confidence in his teammates and is a constant threat. He leads the team in assists with eight, three better than anyone else.


Dwayne De Rosario's immediate impact on any game could be best seen in the San Francisco clash last week. That goal he scored in the 88th minute will forever be etched into my mind. As soon as he came on, both teams had a charge put through them. We all just knew that the game had been elevated. How many players in MLS can you say that about? His numbers have been pedestrian -- second on the team with five goals and he also has only two assists. But his influence clearly goes beyond the numbers. Easily on just about anyone's Best XI in MLS at anytime. He's also the only Dynamo player to actually convert a penalty kick this year.


Brian Mullan was a co-winner of this award last year, and deservedly so. Mully's runs are amazing, but all too often you wind up with "Wow, what a move!" quickly followed by "Damn, what happened?" As a generator of chances, he's unparalleled. As a finisher, well.... Numbers-wise, three goals and five assists is nothing to sneeze at, but Ithink he'll wind up in Honorable Mention this year.

Also getting votes: Ricardo Clark. He and Shalrie Joseph are the best holding midfielders in the league. Simple as that.

DEFENSE


It's time for me to come clean. After the Pan-Pacifics, the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the first week or two of the season, I was ready to call a quick and nasty end to the Bobby Boswell era. Well folks, that's why Dominic Kinnear is where he is and I'm sitting over here at a computer. Boswell has become the anchor for the second-best (maybe even THE best at this point) defense in the league. The guy is a titan of toughness in there, has been impressive at shutting down so many opposing threats and lighting a fire under the rest of the defense. He's still prone to the occasional brain fart, but how many time have we seen him make up for it on the very next play with a fantastic stop or put down of opposition attack? Earlier in the season, when the offense Just. Could. Not. Score. it was Bozzie that kept us in game after game. No one else on the defense (other than perhaps Wade Barrett?) has been so consistent, so healthy and such a monster.

GK

What more is there to say about Pat Onstad, the best keeper in the history of this league? Maybe he's been a little slower of step than last year, but with a second-best in the league GAA of 1.08 on a team that started as slowly as they did this year, folks, you are looking at excellence personified.

MY VOTE (FOR NOW)
If I had to rank these candidates right now, I'd go;

1. Ching
2. Onstad
3. Boswell
4. Davis
5. De Rosario

When you score more than twice as many goals as the second place guy on your team while still being away for US MNT duty and maintaining your health the way Ching has never done in his career, you get my vote. Still, there are three more MLS games for these other guys to come up with some amazing heroics that could alter my vote. What do you think? Read more!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Offsides explained

Would that I could use all of my journalistic know-how to explain offsides half as well as this.

Read more!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

1-2-3-GO!

One of these days, someone's going to do an MLS version of Slap Shot. Right now, though, here's to the best actor of all time.

Read more!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sarah Palin of golazos

OK, OK, I take it all back. Even Abi Okalaja wouldn't have screwed up this call.

Or maybe he would

Hmmm.

The point is, he didn't.

At least not yet.



The Ghost Goal Watford Linesman Referee - video powered by Metacafe
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Becks is the man

You know. my estimation of David Beckham goes up every time I see more of him. The guy is an ultimate competitor, and his defense of Marc Burch here illustrates that.



There's no way that's a red card, even though I think Burch is a punk overall. Becks' defense of him is a slap in the face to MLS officiating, and a well-deserved one at that. Good thing it wasn't Abi Okalaja, though, or Burch and 2 or 3 DCU players who weren't within 30 yards of the play would have been sent off as well. Read more!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I do NOT like Ike, but I do love these golazos


The storm blew and blew here at Nutmegged World Headquarters, and even though Dynamo will somehow have to fit a rescheduled L.A. Firpo game into their criminally crowded fixture slate, Houston still is surviving well.

Power is still out across most of the area, but the energy from Brian Ching's little "Hey, we're responsible for the stars on your jersey as well as our own" performance as a late sub in drawing even with the Bay Area Wanderers last weekend ought to power up Robertson all on its own this weekend. Assuming the game is on. Word is imminent about that.

In the meantime, here's some wondergoals that I ran across while wasting my still-very-limited Internet time today. Enjoy.



And try this one at home, especially the second one!:



And of course, this great golazo from Gorgeous Giorgio was a sight to see:




Then finally, just for grins, there's this one, which has a nicer result than the real thing!

Read more!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Nice art, but what does it all mean?



Now that is one very fine fake photo, don't you think? (It's actually an enhanced (in more way than one, if you ask me) version of the HDC, site of Dynamo's third championship postgame celebration.) Unfortunately, I can not take credit for it, which goes instead to the excellent blog The Original Winger.

The link brings you a great post of Sept. 1 about the state of Dynamo Park negotiations.

My official position is still "Give me a signed deal and I'll start thinking about it again." but if the only sticking point is getting $10 million from Harris County, and commissioner (and Dynamo season book holder Sylvia Garcia), we all really have every reason to feel optimistic. Still, sign the deal and I'l feel good. Until then....... Read more!

Color those frequent flyer miles orange



Courtesy of Bernardo Fallas' blog on the Chron site, check out this schedule from now until Halloween for Dynamo, playing CONCACAF Champions League and MLS (not to mention WCQ games for some of them):

Sunday: vs. K.C. at Robertson, 2 p.m. MLS
Sept. 13: at San Jose, 9 p.m. MLS
Sept. 17: vs. L.A. Firpo at Robertson , 9 p.m. CONCACAF
Sept. 20: vs. San Jose at Robertson, 7:30 p.m. MLS
Sept. 23: at San Francisco (time TBD). CONCACAF
Sept. 27: at Toronto FC, 2:30 p.m. MLS
Sept 30: at UNAM Pumas (time TBD). CONCACAF
Oct. 4: at Colorado, 8:30 p.m. MLS
Oct. 7: vs. San Francisco at Robertson, 9 p.m. CONCACAF
Oct. 12: vs. D.C. United at Robertson, 6 p.m. MLS
Oct. 18: vs. Los Angeles at Robertson, 7;30 p.m. MLS
Oct. 22: vs. UNAM Pumas at Robertson, 9 p.m. CONCACAF
Oct. 25: at Chivas USA, 9:30 p.m. MLS (or at least one team is)
Oct. 28: at L.A. Firpo, (time TBD). CONCACAF

Especially take a gander at the Sept. 23-Oct. 4 stretch. That's starting in Panama, then Canada, then Mexico, then Denver. That's three games at altitude and a fourth in the Great White North. According to the Google Earth, that's a grand total of 1,741 miles from Houston to Panama City, 2,380 miles from Panama City to Toronto, 2,043 miles from Toronto to Mexico City, 1,445 miles from Mexico City to Denver and then another 867 miles from the Front Range back to Houston. That's 8,476 miles in a span of 15 days. Now the discussion over at Bernardo's Soccer y Futbol cafe covers the absolute ridiculousness of all this, so I direct you to that discussion there. Just suffice it to say that, even though the Men in Orange get to spend the next three weeks here in Houston after all of that, my reaction to the concentrated travel is pretty much unprintable. I know that MLS denies players the use of chartered jets because (it seems) the care and comfort of their highly specialized and talented workforce is beneath the Don's interest, but this is beyond stupid.

Let's see the Cuba Cinco try that amount of travel!

Here's a great song I found from the Screaming Trees about this:

ORANGE AIRPLANE

Can't take a train you know they move too slow
Gotta take to the airport where I wanna go
Heart beating like a million miles an hour
Listening the wind is turning sweet to sour

Orange airplane
Take me to a new day
Little orange airplane
Take me to a new day

I land downtown in the middle of the day
I'm coming down hard so get out of the way
Looking up to heaven trying to find a clue
Said I'm too far gone, gotta pay my dues on

An orange airplane
Take me to a new day
Come on
Little orange airplane
Take me to a new day

I'll be heading into orbit on a sunday morning
My legs are broken and my ears are ringing
Orange airplane takes me to my home
Take me to the graveyard and bury my bones on

An orange airplane
Take me to a new day
Come on
Little orange airplane
Take me to a new day

Take me far away
On an orange airplane Read more!

The Cuba Cinco are true American heroes



That image right there is courtesy Grant Wahl's very fine FanNation blog and it showcases five very brave American heroes who are willing to defy official persecution to support their country's national team.

Here's Wahl:

HAVANA, Cuba -- The U.S. national soccer team arrived here yesterday from Miami for its first-ever World Cup qualifier against Cuba, but they weren’t the only Americans who found their way to Havana. On Thursday night I met up in the Plaza Vieja with five hardcore U.S. soccer fans who defied the U.S. government’s ban on unlicensed travel to Cuba and got into the country by flying separately through a third country.

I won’t be naming them here for obvious reasons, so I’ll call them the Cuba Cinco: four men and one woman ranging in ages from 28 to 38 and hailing from California (two), New York (two) and Colorado.


I have blogged several times this year over the completely gutless lack of effort from U.S. Soccer to arrange a way for US soccer fans to travel to Cuba to support the Rattlers in our WCQ against the Red Menace on Saturday. (Here, here and here.) And what did the esteemed home of the world's game on these domestic shores do about it? Not. One. Damn. Thing. They hid behind the old "The U.S. State Department says...." wussy excuse.

Now comes Wahl profiling these five true patriots who are rising to the occasion and taking matters into their own hands to support our country and our team. As one of the Cuba Cinco say, this is not about politics. This is about our team.

“It was pretty much a no-brainer,” said one who travels to every U.S. road qualifier. “The U.S. is playing Cuba and we follow the U.S. team. Then there’s the historical significance of the game. For people who are really fans you can’t miss it. The team’s playing here, embargo be damned. We’re not going to make a political statement. We’re just going to watch the game and take in a new culture.”


And this, my favorite part of the story:

The Cuba Cinco says they’re aware of the risks that come with traveling to Cuba. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, criminal penalties for violating U.S. sanctions against spending money in Cuba range up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in individual fines. Yet it’s hard to imagine a Stars-and-Stripes-waving U.S. fan would face such harsh punishments.

“I’m fine with [the risks],” said one. “I don’t mind being the person that ends up asking for a hearing and then becoming the big constitutional civil rights case. Because I don’t think it’s constitutional for the U.S. to make it illegal for Americans to spend their money in Cuba.”

“If you think about it, too,” added another, “we’re here to support the U.S. national team in another country. If they were going to make an example of us, what kind of example would that set?”

“I will go anywhere our team plays to support our team, which is thereby supporting our country,” said another. “I’m not doing this to hold the middle finger up to the country or the government or anything like that. It’s just that I don’t really care about any arbitrary law that’s going to restrict my ability to travel. We’re supposed to be free. I consider that to extend to the right to travel.”

All five admit they were nervous coming into Cuba and will be again when they return to the States. But each one said the effort and the risks are worth it. “We all know that [the U.S. players] are coming to a stadium where their fans are outnumbered 10,000 to 1,” one said. “I want to be that one guy there supporting them--and show that I’m a fan and I’m willing to spend my own nickel and come out here to see you play.”

“Do the U.S. players know they have fans coming out to support them in Cuba?” one member of the Cuba Cinco finally asked.

I told them I didn’t think so.

“Well, they’ll have at least five.”


More power to them. Read more!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Don't throw a bag or urine at us because we're beautiful

Found this over on TOR and thought it was worth a post.








I especially liked Deuce's contrast between playing in Europe vs. playing away in CONCACAF. Clearly there's more to it as those on the receiving end of racist taunts in parts of Europe could attest. Many say the issue is one of passion, and I think this is partially true, but mostly it all goes under the heading of "Contrasts (see "culture")". And this is a subject I have always enjoyed exploring. What do you think?

(I remember a baseball player once telling the story of playing in El Salvador or Nicaragua one time and getting a bag of iguanas thrown at them ON THE FIELD. Now that will get you into the clubhouse fast.) Read more!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Losing in the Olympics and other blessings, er, I mean curses


OK, I'm not afraid to admit it, when the US lost in the Olympics to Nigeria the other day, my secret thought was:


"Man, I can't get enough of that Natalie Coughlin...."

Er, um, I mean, my OTHER secret thought was "Well thank you Petr Nowak for delivering the coaching job I always expected of you. Now I get to have Stuart Holden and Pat Ianni back here in Orange that much faster."


So does that make me an unpatriotic swine? Go ahead, sling them stones at my glass house. I can handle it. The fact of the matter is that when Dynamo is not playing, I am all U-S-A!!! But during the season, I wind up dumping the red, white and blue for Orange faster than a Dutch fanatic. I can't help it. It's just the way my emotions seem to run.

Now, does that mean I root against the US? Heck no, I'm not THAT much of a scumbag. Winning the Gold Cup last year was beyond awesome. And if the US had advanced into the quarters in Peking (Oops, dating myself here), Beijing, I would have rooted for them. But admit it, how many of you watch these games rooting for the US but at the exact same time are praying to whatever happens to be your deity of the moment that your player, meaning your club's player, doesn't go down with some horrific injury? Let's be honest here.

W
ell, just as I find myself getting settled in to the idea that Holden and Ianni are coming back from that polluted sinkhole to my hometown polluted sinkhole (Hey, native Houstonian here. I can get away with that.), along comes the news that Brian Ching, the Flyin' (though easily grounded with injury) Hawaiian, has been called up to the national squad for the qualifier against Guatemala. And I'm not ashamed to say my first thought was "INSERT EXPLETIVE SERIES HERE!" Now he still gets to play for Dynamo Friday against RSL here at the Rob, but will miss next week's match against (Thank you Dan Loney for my all-time favorite putdown fake name for a team) Bizarro Chivas. Now las chivitas will be without Sascha Kljestan for that game as well, but still.


But of course, like so many other multimational clubs, we wait the call-ups for the Canadian National team. I fully expect that good-looking hirsute fellow to my left will be playing for Canuckistan, as well as one Mr. Patrick Onstad. Will this madness never end?

Oh, well, if you can't beat 'em... U-S-A!!!! (Just please don't get hurt Brian.) Read more!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Petr Nowak's Silly Olympics

I don't know about you, but somehow today, this just makes me think of Petr Nowak.



And then there's this one, which kind of summarizes the whole US Soccer effort, now doesn't it:

(Background music: Sportscast intro)

Newscaster: And right now it's time for athletics, and over to Brian Goebells in Paris.

Goebells: Hello, well you join us here in Paris just a few minutes before the start of today's big event: the final of the Men's-Being-Eaten- By-A-Crocodile event. I'm standing now by the crocodile pit where- AAAAAAHHHHH!

(FX: Crocodiles eating, French exclamations and sirens)

Newscaster: Ah. Well I'm afraid that we've lost Brian. While they're sorting that out, we have a report from Barry Loothesom in Lughtborrow on the British preparations for this most important event.

Loothesom: Here at Lughtborrow are the five young men chosen last week to be eaten by a crocodile for Britain this summer. Obviously, the most important part of the event is the opening 60 yard sprint towards the crocs. And twenty-two year old Nottingham schoolteacher Gavin Watterlow is rated by some not only the fastest but also the tastiest British morsel since Barry Gordon got a bronze at Helsinki. In charge of the team is Sergeant Major Harold Duke.

Duke: Aww, well, you not only got to get in that pit first, you gotta get EATEN first. When you land in front of your croc, and 'e opens his mouth, I wanna see you right in there. Rub your 'ead up against 'is taste buds. And when those teeth bite into your flesh, use the perches to thrust yourself DOWN his throat...

Loothesom: Duke's trained with every British team since 1928, and it's his blend of gymnastic knowhow, reptilian expertise and culinary skill that's turned many an un-appetizing novice into a crocodilic banquet.

Duke: Well, our chefs have been experimenting for many years to find a sauce most likely to tempt the crocodile. In the past, we've concentrated on a fish based sauce, but this year, we are reverting to a simple bernaise.

Loothesom: The British team are worried because Olympic regulations allow only the competitor's heads to be sauced. Gavin Morolowe...

Morolowe: Yes, well, I mean, (clears throat) you know, four years ago, everyone knew the Italians were coating the insides of their legs with bolinaise, the Russians have been marinating themselves, One of the Germans, Biolek, was caught actually putting, uh, remolarde down his shorts. And the Finns were using tomato flavoured running shoes. Uh, I think there should either be unrestricted garnishing, or a single, Olympic standard mayonnaise.

Loothesom: Gavin, does it ever worry you that you're actually going to be chewed up by a bloody, grey crocodile.

Morolowe: The only thing that worries me, Jim, is being the first one down that gully.

Loothesom: Well, the way things are going here at Lughtborrow, it looks as though Britan could easily pick up a place in the first seven hundred. But nothing's predictable in this tough, harsh, highly competitive world where today's champion is tomorrow's crocodile shit. And back to you, in the studio, Norman. Read more!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How 'bout that American hero Stuart Holden?

LIke the commentator said, Marvell Wynne may have done the work on the flank, but it's only as good as the finishing. So my question is, just where has that left foot been all year Stu-boy? And, you do plan to bring it back to the States with you when you get back, right?

Right?



And here are some postgame comments:

Read more!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

An old-fashioned beat down

Just came back from the Dynamo/Columbus game. Like I said up top, an old-fashioned beat down. (Here's a running account from Bernardo Fallas.)

Columbus was not without chances in the second half, but that's why Pat Onstad, bless his 40+-year-old Canadian self, is still one of the top keepers ever to play in this league, to stop those chances cold, and in the most dispiriting fashion possible.

What might have gotten lost in the goal scoring and strong up front play was the play of Rhode Island rookie Geoff Cameron in central defense. Physical, aggressive, ranging all over the field, the young man is making a name for himself in this league. Alejandro Moreno in particular, while nursing his bruises tonight, must be thinking "What must I do?" Cameron, a third round SuperDraft pick mind you (which brings up a whole other discussion for another time on what is the SuperDraft really), is the real deal.

And if you missed it, here you go:

Read more!

Friday, August 1, 2008

OK, alright, maybe one of the best, flukiest goals of all time

What's Korean for "I don't believe what I just saw?"



Or better yet, what's the French for it, because it's clearly what's on the face of the Ivory Coast "keeper" here. Read more!

One of the worst back-passes I've ever seen and more reasons why I can't stand Lee Naylor

Boy, you see this and you just have to wonder what Paul Hartley was thinking. Obviously, he didn't see Bent, but if I were his youth coach, I'd of had to really calm down or li'l Paul's parents would probably have had me removed from the field!



And watching Lee Naylor screw this up is just reason No. 572 why I ended last season hoping I had seen the last of the guy in the Hoops. What the we ginger one continues to see in this guy is just beyond me.

Read more!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What more needs to be said?



Unfortunately, Atlante couldn't get the job done against New England, so now the SuperLiga final will be in front of 5,000 in Gillette instead of the 20K+ that would be here at The Rob. Ah well.

Still, what a great game last night. I hope Dynamo play los Tuzos every year in meaningful games, maybe in Champions League next. Read more!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Waibelinho in the NFL?



A friend sent me this release from Rice University this morning. Apparently, Craig Waibel was spotted over with the Houston Texans yesterday, going all Tony Meola with those guys for some local kids. I am searching for video, so if anyone has any, please let me know.

Craig Waibel is so tough, the tackling dummies ran and hid when he showed up yesterday!

Rice Volunteer Soccer Coach Craig Waibel Helps Local Youths With Charity Kicks


Rice volunteer soccer coach and Houston Dynamo star Craig Waibel made a total of 10 football field goals to help send 30 youths from local hospitals to the Dynamo's SuperLiga semifinal match against Pachuca on Tuesday (July 29).

Waibel and Houston Texans kicker Chris Brown arranged to have three kids from local hospitals receive free tickets to the Dynamo game for every field goal Waibel could make after the Texans' practice last Sunday (July 27). With Brown as his holder and coach, Waibel put on a place kicking display. The Owls' volunteer soccer coach made 10-of-14 attempts, including one eye-opening kick from 63 yards. For his effort, 30 local kids will now get to see the Dynamo in action.

Waibel, who helped lead the Dynamo to back-to-back MLS Cup championships each of the last two seasons, has been a volunteer soccer coach at Rice since 2006. Rice soccer went 12-7-2 last season. The Owls open the 2008 season with a home match on Aug. 22 against regional rival Sam Houston State. The Rice soccer program has the honor of hosting the Conference USA Tournament in November at the end of the regular season.


UPDATE: Video is here, courtesy of the Chron.



And here's a photo from Bernardo Fallas' blog:

Read more!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kei fuh-reakin' Kamara. Thank you Dom


Very simply, and I'm looking through the precise blog-writer's phraseology book right now to express my emotions on this point...

Uh, OH, here it is.

Yes.

No, wait a minute:

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

OK, that's right.

Fallas' story here.




July 25, 2008, 2:29AM
Dynamo acquire forward Kamara from San Jose
By BERNARDO FALLAS
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
As Major League Soccer prepared to host the All-Star Game on Thursday, the Dynamo were busy in Toronto nailing a deal to bolster their forward line.
They got it done just in time to enjoy the show. The Dynamo acquired up-and-coming forward Kei Kamara from the San Jose Earthquakes for a first-round pick in next year’s draft and allocation money.
The deal got the league’s approval less than an hour before the MLS All-Stars were to take on English club West Ham United at BMO Field.
Kamara, 23 and a Sierra Leone native, is in his third season in MLS, where he has tallied seven goals in 45 appearances. A powerful and speedy forward, the 6-3, 186-pounder is expected to bring pace to the front line.
“We’re happy to add another forward to the team,” coach Dominic Kinnear said. “With the crowded schedule coming up, we need a strong squad, and we feel Kei adds strength to our squad.”
Kamara, who had two goals in 12 appearances with San Jose this season, comes with the benefit of not counting toward the Dynamo’s salary cap or the 18-man senior roster because of his status as a Generation Adidas player.
Kamara, who played two years at Cal State Dominguez Hills, has four caps for the Sierra Leone national team.
He becomes the second striker addition to the team in as many weeks. The Dynamo recently re-signed Nate Jaqua and released Argentine rookie Franco Caraccio.
"We expect (Kamara) will play a positive role as we head into the second half of the season,” Dynamo chief operating officer Chris Canetti said.
Both Jaqua and Kamara will be added to the roster ahead of Tuesday’s SuperLiga semifinal against Mexican club Pachuca at Robertson Stadium, the team said.


Is Kei Kamara this year's Joseph Ngwenya? Actually, I think he's better than Ngwenya. Though Juergen Klinssman might disagree as Joe is still, inexplicably, on Bayern Munchen's roster (I saw him on GolTV the other night as they got drilled by Borussia Dortmund.).

He's bigger, more physical and every bit as speedy. Thank you Frank Yallop for coming to your best pal Kinnear's aid on this one.

Looking at the New England Revolution this year, who has easily been the class of the league, one area that we had no match for was their pace on attack with Dube and Nyassi. Kamara at least puts us in the same ballpark with those guys now. So our attack up front (speaking in depth terms) is now Ching, Jaqua, Kamara, DDR, Brian Mullan, Brad Davis, Corey Ashe and Stuart Holden. That is very stout my friends.

Here are some shots of Kamara in action. The first came just days after the death of his brother:



And here's the Game Before the Game from late May.



And finally, here's Special K scoring against us:

Read more!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pachuca? YESSSSS. Dancing for joy

This is what I felt like when I found out Dynamo was going to play Pachuca in the SuperLiga semifinals. Not because it will be easy, but because I have come to love this rivalry. I love playing Pachuca, much more so than playing the candystripers. This is a real rivalry, steeped in respect, fiercely competitive and you walk out of each game hoping for nothing more than another one, no matter how it turns out.

Again, this is how I felt:


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo. Read more!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thanks for nothing U.S. Soccer, you bunch of wusses


Last March, I joined a group of bloggers in posting about the need for US Soccer fans to put some pressure on the US Soccer Federation to put together a travel plan for fans who want to travel to Cuba to watch our Rattlers take on los Cubanos in World Cup qualifying later this year. Well, we finally have our answer from the USSF, and what a (hmmm, what is the proper blogger term here) completely flaccid, wussy, tepid, completely unbecoming of a major competitor nation sort of response it is. Follow the link or check it out here:

Men's National Team
Information Regarding Travel To Cuba

CHICAGO (July 14, 2008) - In the past few months, U.S. Soccer has received numerous inquires from U.S. fans that are interested in traveling to Cuba for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Sept. 6.

U.S. Soccer has been informed by the United States Department of Treasury (the United States Government agency of jurisdiction with respect to regulating travel to Cuba), that travel to Cuba for tourism or for the purposes of observing specific public performances, including sporting events, is prohibited under U.S. law.

While U.S. Soccer is unable to assist fans wishing to make the trip, the match will be shown live on ESPN2 and Galavision to provide our fans the chance to follow the team's continuing efforts to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.


You mean to tell me that the USSF, a non-profit organization set up for the EXPRESS PURPOSE of celebrating the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, is prohibited from organizing a group of American fans to go celebrate those self-same United States?! This is beyond stupid and is easily the most moronic sporting situation I have ever encountered.

Now, I know the USSF can just throw up their collective hands, point to the Treasury Department, and say "Hey, it isn't us. Them's the rules and they make the rules." But that would be just another capitulation showcasing a lack of imagination and guts.

Non-profit organizations make trips to Cuba all the time for a variety of reasons, and while I know that the embargo (the overall value of which is a discussion for another time and place) exists and has its rules, I also know that it is directed not at nonprofits, but rather at individuals who might spend money to enrich the targeted nation, in this case Cuba.

After all, US Soccer is already organizing, in the words of their release, travel "for the purposes of observing specific public performances, including sporting events." Or do they not plan on bringing anyone from the front office, including Sunil Gulati? If the USSF were to organize a fan trip just for the game and for the game only, to return at the conclusion of it, I fail to see how this would violate the terms of the embargo as listed in the USSF's "I didn't do it, it's them" release.

Morons. Read more!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quick hits going into the weekend




So I start today with a quick look at tonight's game and some other items of not to me over the last week and looking ahead.

Contrary to what many say, Dynamo do not "need" to win tonight at Rice-Eccles Stadium. While a win would be a great way to say sayonara to MLS until July 22 and put the team into first place, however temporarily, we all know that in the playoff-driven MLS, just hanging around and then getting hot is the route to a championship.

Remember, Dynamo finished second in the west in both 2006 and 2007, but you don't see that on those nifty little championship ring replicas that hang from my keychain. Also, it's important to remember that those seven ties, while quite annoying, are not losses. Dynamo also led the league in ties in 2006, and we all know how that turned out.

Now, that being said, Dynamo have done very little to distinguish itself as an elite team so far in 2008. Great runs met by truly sloppy defending. Head-up game followed by true stinkers. No momentum of any kind whatsoever. So the news today in the Chronicle that Nate Jaqua is about to come back (and then be traded to Seattle as soon as the season is over) comes as no surprise. It's just the same sort of mediocre, hey this is great, except for this one little thing, sort of news that we've been getting all season.

(Now would be the time to speak more of the here-it-is-no-it-isn't-and-back-again Dynamo Park, but I am swearing that subject off for now, despite Fallas and my brother's best efforts to pull me back into it. Must. resist. Must. resist.)

In any event, despite my heart saying Dynamo win tonight 1-0, my head seems drawn to a 2-2 result. Another tie.

Apparently, the Dynamo reserves lost to Charleston again in U.S. Open Cup play earlier this week. My only reaction to that is "Good." With SuperLiga, Champions League, the Olympics, WC qualifying and, oh yeah, MLS already dotting the calendar that was the last thing we needed to worry about. I have kind of a so-so attitude about the USO Cup. I like it and all and I am well aware of its history, but really, can't it be done earlier in the season, especially now that Champions Cup is gone? Right now, my attitude is that I root for whatever USL team is doing well in USO play, and if an MLS team that plays Dynamo is still in the thing, I root for them to keep playing long, drawn out emotionally wrenching matches that distract them.

Is it time to bring up again how superfluous SuperLiga has become with the onset of Champions League? I mean, as Mister3D and I posted back in the spring, SuperLiga was awesome last year and we loved it, but there is nothing it does that Champions League doesn't do better. I think SuperLiga should become the tournament for teams that don't make it into the Champions League knockout stages. Keep the format and relationships and keep it from overcongesting the calendar.

Viva Espana. I honestly say I liked both teams and could not lose in the Euro final. I have mentioned to Mister3D and Playtherapy many times, and I think there will be a longer blog post about this when the seasons start up again, but after my first full European season with GolTV and FSC, I fell in love with the Bundesliga. The speed was surprising and the physicality was amazing to me. I can't wait to start following them again.


Has anyone else seen the TOFFS site, the Old Fashioned Football Shirt Company. SF has written about it over at The Offside Rules and Ronaldo at 101 Great Goals pimps them as well. I think my first purchase over there will be the '67 Leones di Lisbon kit. Their range of NASL gear is great, though still nothing from my old Houston Hurricane. :< Only a matter of time though.

One other thing: I have enjoyed reading about Joseph Ngwenya getting a trial with Bayern Munich (nice links here and here). Good going Joe. See, it pays to network, especially when you're networking with Juergen Klinsmann. But my absolute favorite thing about this is that I don't think there's any way at all he's going to catch on with Bayern, which means that when this three-week trail is over, the chances of him coming back here look even better.

Happy Fourth everyone! Read more!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back on the scene and what do I find?


Finally, a little bit of time to write, and oh, what a series of topics there are. Here's a quick rundown:

FORZA: Dynamo vs. little d tonight in the Thursday ESPN game. (Here's Jeff Carlisle's always-excellent advance here and the Chron's here.) I know, I know. Journalistic objectivity should compel me to write the team's name properly and all that. But my journalism hat is over there somewhere and I have no love at all for that team. I had to miss the home opener and this is my only chance this season, unless it happens in the playoffs again, to abuse Drew Moor for screwing up twice (TWICE!) allowing Jonny Magallon to score for Mexico against the US here last February, and spew my hatred toward Andres "Cock"Rocha. Kenny Cooper continues to scare me, as does my fellow St. Thomas alum Arturo Alvarez (technically, I guess, he's not an alum, since he left after his sophomore year to go to Mayde Creek High School just west of here, but hey, a successful pro is a successful pro. The Eagles maintain their claim on him!).

No Eddie Robinson and no Richard Mulrooney, but yes to DDR, yes to Chingy and yes to SuperCanuck between the sticks. Add to that a rabidly anti-Dallas crowd and that ought to be enough. My pick, 3-1 l'Orange. And maybe it's my Celtic-leaning ways, but the sooner that the candystripers drop that whole "Hoops" nonsense the better. There is only one Hoops, and they are the three-time (and counting) SPL champions. And the stripers look more like FC Bayern anyway.


LAHM LAYS DOWN THE LIONS: My head and just about every other part of me, especially the part of me that's half German (my mother's father and my father's mother both full-blood), knew that Turkey would fall yesterday. But my my heart, thrilled by yet another Turkish Houdini act, leapt when they tied it late. But when Lahm scored, my final thought was, "How fitting." (Highlights here.) You just don't tease the devil like that again and again and again without at some point it coming back to devour you. The Turks were definitely THE most entertaining story of this tournament, the sort of thing that draws us all to sports over and over again, and we all owe them a huge round of applause for that. Now, if the Germans don't win the whole shebang, it'll be their own damn fault.

And for the record, I won't be surprised to see either Spain or Russia win today. But if I had to bet, it'd be Spain by a goal, which of course means the Battle of Leningrad will be Sunday.


TODAY (AND TOMORROW) ROBERTSON, IN 2010, WHERE?: Bernardo Fallas had much to say yesterday about where Dynamo will play in the coming years. The deal with UH to stay at Robertson should be worked out very soon, which is really great news. But Fallas also said that he expects a Dynamo Park deal to come this summer, with Texas Southern University as a partner and the financial details with the city worked out sans referendum, and with a move-in date sometime in 2010.

After predicting this to happen, in order now, before New Year's Day, before the Pan Pacifics, before the start of the season and before Memorial Day, I am out of the prediction business. Still, Fallas' stories are warming my Orange heart. Now I will look away and not look back at this, nope, not even a peek. (One little one). NO!! Thanks Bernardo, for screwing up my life!

Read more!

Friday, June 20, 2008

I hate HDNet; The TURKS!!!; Welcome home to the Flyin' Hawaiian and other thoughts (music and afield) heading into the weekend



Watching the Turks today rip the spleens out of the Croatians has restored my faith in the anything-can-happen aspect of this wonderful sport. I was watching with my sons and when Semih Senturk fired that equalizer all three of us let out loud LOUD screams of surprise and amazement. Not having a dog in that hunt, we felt terrible for the Croats, amazed at the Turks and, speaking for myself, are those Turks straight out of central casting or what? From the coach on down, those guys are straight out of the "Hey, get me a Turkish looking guy for that part" universe. Awesome. Halfway through the second half, I just blurted out loud, "The Turks are going to win this game. I guarantee it." And when Kidney Boy scored with a minute to go, I doubted, but somehow not fully. These guys are the 2004 Greeks (though I'm sure they'd say the 04 Greeks are the 08 Turks) and the 2007 Asian Cup-winning Iraqis. They will not be denied.

Of course, that guy up at the top of the page is not Turkish, but is Haleah's very own Brian Ching, back in Orange Saturday for Dynamo's game against Commerce City (Read the link, another well-written piece from Jeremy Rakes, who used to work for me. I taught the kid everything he knows!). (Fave quote from Dom Kinnear in Jeremy's story: "Scoring is helpful.") Missing will be Pat Onstad and Dwayne De Rosario, who of course played for the Maple Leafs in their 4-1 victory against St. Vincent and the Grenadines (though how they took on two teams at once is something of a mystery to me!).

That means that Tony Caig will be back in goal for this game. The sentence itself says everything I want to say about the guy. If Colorado takes no shots on goal, we're sitting pretty, but it's when the other team takes aim at the net that Caig's deficiencies start to become evident. I resisted the urge to go negative on the guy earlier in the season, but after watching his "performance" against New England with my own two eyeballs, I have to say he has some work to do to get back in my good graces. Maybe we can get Rustu here after the Euros are over. Dreaming, I is.

Of course, seeing as how I won't be heading to a bar tomorrow night (date with my longtime leading lady takes precedence), there'll be no way I can DVR the game as it's once again on HDNet, the network I have come to hate. Games on HDNet = games I don't see. Bastids! I don't even hold it against Comcast for not carrying them. Now that's saying something, hating HDNet more than Comcast. Are the highlights even going to be on MLSNet? Right now, it looks like no. HDNet must die.

Stepping out of the footy for a second: Three pieces of music that Tiger should listen to while rehabbing his knee or at
the very least I expect to wind up on several people's year-end best of list:

The Odd Couple by Gnarls Barkley (Listen to a wonderful interview with the pair from Fresh Air here.)
She & Him Volume One by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (Listen to another great interview with Deschanel and Ward from World Cafe here.)
Rain by Joe Jackson (Still one more wonderful interview with Herr Uber -pianist here from World Cafe.)

I just got all three of these CDs last week and they are definitely worth your time. If you're not foot-tapping and totally into Danger Mouse and Cee Lo Green's Gnarls Barkley's tunes then you get your Nutmegged registration fees refunded. It's a lot of fun.

I've been a fan of Jackson's since waaay back with Night and Day. Body and Soul I think I completely wore out a needle on back in the day as well. It's some awesome Jumpin' Jive. Rain will have you amazed at the man's continued virtuosity.

And Deschanel and M. WArd have put together a very, very fun disc. Enjoy. Read more!