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.


No, wait a minute:


OK, that's right.

Fallas' story here.

July 25, 2008, 2:29AM
Dynamo acquire forward Kamara from San Jose
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!