Posts Tagged ‘ CCFC ’

Old Futbol Extra–Kits and Crests

Encountered some articles and posts about jerseys and club crests during my travels around the interweb, so I thought I would put together a quick post and share.

Football Shirts posted a story which caught my eye—small Greek teams getting creative for their sponsorship deals.  Paliopygros FC have a local funeral home across their chests while Voukefalas promote a brothel on their kits.  Times are tough.

Watching Champions League highlights from Match Day 2, I saw Celtic’s away kit in their fine result against Spartak Moscow.  AH-Mazing.  All black looked stunning, especially without Tennant’s across the chest.  The Anniversary crest really stands out on a jersey using the #PurpleReignPaint template that goes on the dark side.  Might put this on the wish list.  (And credit to my brother for letting me know about Celtic jerseys and to Kit Nerd FB page for the home anniversary kit, complete with awkward Neil Lennon video.)

Michael Hann looked at the EPL home kits for the Guardian and had some unkind words for some of them (Arsenal, Fulham, QPR and Manchester United).  He echoed my #StoptheSleeve sentiment for Everon’s kit as well.

In the same vein, Classic Shirts tweeted out a link to their jersey Hall of Shame.  Some of these are absolutely atrocious.

Recently a lot has been made about Catalunya breaking away in some fashion from the rest of Spain.  I don’t pretend to understand the history and ramifications but it has led to the possibility of Barca wearing a very striking uniform next season—the senyera.

This seems to more of a political statement than a marketing one as James Horncastle examines for the Score.  I also found a google translation of an editorial in El Pais by Jordi Badia, former director of communication for Barca, that looks at how Rosell is trying to position himself in the debate.

Moving on club badges, a facebook friend shared this post from the Bleacher Report due to the Cork City crest.  This was in reference to the crest I designed for my over 30 team.

Austin Long

Editor’s Note: The other team in our league wanted representation.  (see comments)  So in the spirit of equal time:

Grand Saints

FC Nordsjaelland’s crest was sharp and probably my favorite of that group.

This sent me on an internet shame spiral.  I found this club football badge quiz which will test your knowledge.  I also downloaded a club football logo app for my Droid phone.  I’m almost done with Spain, England and Italy.  Germany and France are proving to be a little tougher.

Old Futbol Buffet–Couch Potato Edition

Saturday was a beautiful autumn day in Lansing, with citizens out and about shopping, enjoying the weather and tailgating for the big MSU/OSU football game.  How did I enjoy the day?  Sat inside a home or bar and watched over eight hours of footy.  The day began with the 7:45am Arsenal v Chelsea and ended with the 4pm Sevilla v FC Barcelona match.

Arsenal 1  Chelsea 2

Arsene Wenger probably did not sleep Saturday night.  The Gunners are the most eye catching team in the Premier League at the moment, yet the results are not following.  The hosts dominated the European Champions but were sucker punched twice and got nothing from the match.

The first Chelsea goal came out of nothing as Arsenal shambolically defended a free kick.  The Ox, on for the injured Diaby, left David Luiz open.  The Brazilian missed the header but Torres was able to volley home as Koscielny got twisted around.

The Gunners struggled without Diaby initially but eventually found their attacking strategy, which was to get into wide areas.  Eventually the alien known as Gervinho made up for last week’s debacle with a fantastic finish.  Halftime came with matters all square and Arsenal having every chance of winning.

They kept pressing after the interval but were wasteful in front of goal.  Arteta did a solid job of winning the ball back, but he was slightly culpable for Chelsea’s second goal. He was slow to react after losing the ball and put Vermaelen in trouble.  The resulting set piece was floated in by Mata and the bending ball was not dealt with. Then AFC put on their subs but these changes unbalanced the team, as the Ox ran around all over and Theo was marginal.  Giraud should have equalized towards the end but his effort hit the side netting.

Chelsea put in a veteran performance and the Gunners did everything but convert their chances. The Blues probably only had a handful of chances, scored two and Torres, who was meh, made a hash of a break away.  The back line for CFC was solid and Cech made two great saves.  As for Arsenal, Cazorla was decent but missed two chances outside the box.  Jenkinson was fantastic, showing real drive and determination at right back.  Still waiting for more from Podolski though.

The Arseblogger tried to keep things in perspective after the Chelsea game, noting that Arsenal were superior for most of the match but failed to take their chances and made mistakes at the defensive end.  Fair comment and I think the Gunners are a top four side, with one caveat—can they do it against the smaller clubs?  When they play Wigan and Stoke and Reading can they unlock packed defenses and maintain concentration for the one or two moments they are under pressure?  If the Gunners can, then they will be right there.  If not, then a fourth place (or lower) awaits them.

Zonal Marking was not impressed by this clash of London teams (although he was impressed with Oscar), focusing his analysis on the each team’s left side and Arsenal’s substitutions and shape after going down 2-1.  What I saw as Arsenal unbalanced after Diaby’s exit, ZM explained as a move to width as Ramsey moved inside and the OX, naturally a wide player, played in the right hand channel.   As for the Gunners finish to the game, their lack of shape (ie almost no linked midfield) allowed Chelsea to maintain possession and kill off the game rather than keep it the high tempo which kicked in after the Blues’ second goal.

Fulham 1  Manchester City 2

The Cottagers got off to a great start as Mark Halsey, the villain of last week’s Liverpool/Manchester United match, awarded a very soft penalty.  Petric converted and for 85’ minutes, it looked as if Fulham would hang on for a point.  But alas, the Citizens overwhelming talent won the day.

Kun Aguero canceled out the opening goal just before halftime and then Mancini threw on attacker after attacker in search of the winner.  Eventually it was Dzeko who won the points scoring almost immediately after his introduction with minutes remaining.

Big result for City given the outcomes of the day.  Unfortunately for Fulham, who tried to hold into the second half, Riise’s poor clearance created the half chance for Dzeko. David Silva was head and shoulders the best player on the field, gliding past defenders, creating chances and pulling the strings.  Special mention must be made of Brian Ruiz who did everything he could for the hosts.

I must have been watching a different game than Kristian of Cottagers Confidential.  He felt that Fulham deserved a draw.  True, they defended well and did whatever they could to stop the Citizens but they were hardly dangerous.  Also, he didn’t feel Ruiz did enough, which, considering the circumstances, he did all he could for the cause.  Fulham were surprisingly good for me.  As I told my mate, I wouldn’t have thought that Baird and Sidwell were a Premier League center midfield pairing, but they marshaled the game well.  The team as a whole was well organized and will give lesser teams trouble.

Suffering Bruin jotted down some thoughts after the game for the Bitter and Blue blog.  Can’t agree with him enough about using some sort of video to weed out fouls and resulting penalties like the one on Riise.  Despicable.  He also mentioned the lack of pace for City.  I don’t see it that way.  I see clever, technical players who are able to maintain possession in tight spaces and create chances in other ways (example would playing in Zabaleta in time and time again) rather than mazy or heaving runs from all over the pitch.  City are right behind the chasing pack and now turn their eyes toward Borussia Dortmund.

Manchester United 2  Tottenham Hotspur 3

Much was made of Spurs poor record at Old Trafford so of course United crapped their pants and gave up a 23 year unbeaten run.  The Red Devils first half was utter dreck as their defense was exposed time and time again.  Vertonghen got things up and running, driving right at the United defense and no one picked him up.  His shot ricocheted off Evans and put the visitors up just two minutes in.

Things got worse minutes later as Bale beat Rio for pace and scored the second.  The opening 45 minutes showed a couple of things—Spurs have got real pace that unsettle the best teams; Giggs and Scholes can’t start and or play together at present; every time RvP goes down, the Red Devil Nation holds their collective breath.

The second half produced the usual United fightback, as Nani converted a fine cross from Rooney.  Dempsey immediately replied as Defoe wriggled free, setting up Bale, who unleashed a vicious blast that was only partially saved by Lindegaard and Dempsey tapped in.  Kagawa was able to quickly reduce the margin back to one but that was to the end of the scoring.  A fine effort from Spurs and despite dropping into a defensive shell, they left with all the points, their third league win in a row.

Rooney’s introduction gave the hosts a spark and he was terribly unlucky on his free kick that hit the post.  Kagawa is still positive but doesn’t play towards goal so his impact can be negated.  Scholes still has it but the team must be working around him for to influence the game.  The comeback was inspiring and depressing at the same time.  Southampton required an amazing effort and Liverpool needed the helping hand of the referee.  12 points from six matches and yet this team is nowhere near top form.  Only time will tell if this is the typically slow start and if real problems are on the horizon.

Spooky was thrilled with the result.  His thoughts at Dear Mr. Levy see a team starting to move in the right direction, full of speed and hunger and led by a coach coming into his stride.  I agree with him that Walker struggled and will need to improve defensively in order to shore up the defense, but with the firepower available, performances like the first half could be the norm.

Reading Doron’s comments at the Stretford End 24 hours after the match put things in perspective.  Besides praise for Scholes’ second half, the lack of presence in midfield, which affected the entire first half, and Rooney’s introduction, Doron addressed the fact that Fergie got the line up wrong, simple as that.  He will not make the same mistake next time.  My guess is that he will use a more athletic, high energy team that stretches Spurs as they exposed United in the first half.  He made the changes and almost salvaged something from the match, but the poor start and key moments went against the Reds.  His statement towards the end should be put on the United locker room bulletin board:

Why oh why can’t United start games like they seem to have to start second halves? In every game bar one in the league we’ve had to come from behind which isn’t good enough at all. Can’t the players be motivated from the off or is it more to do with Fergie picking the wrong team to begin with and having to make changes?

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MMMSL Over 30 Playoff Final

CCFC claimed the over 30 playoff title last night in a 4-3 in Double OT thriller over Grand Saints.  Down 2-0 early (Hagan and McNally?), we battled back to 2-1 (Christensen)  before halftime and then the two teams did their best Manchester United/Tottenham impression.  CCFC scored right at the beginning of the second half through James Glenn before Grand Saints responded moments later to make it 3-2 (Drauer?).

Later on Brett earned a penalty, which was converted by Wael Awad to make it 3-3.  There were several chances for both teams to win it in regulation but extra time it would be.  Not much in the first period, but early in the second session, Brett won another penalty.  Will Robinson slotted it home to put CCFC ahead.

We then had to survive an onslaught to run out winners.  Fantastic season for the lads.  12 win and 2 draws in the regular season (Champions) and playoff champions.  Our first double since 2006 that made the post match beers that much more satisfying.

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Articles

Jonathan Wilson commented on Liverpool’s start to the season (the worst since 1902) ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.  Their poor start may be down to two factors—tough fixture list (Arsenal, City and United) and conversion of chances (somewhere in the neighborhood of 6% before Saturday’s match).  On the plus side, while passes attempted remains static, their completion percentage is higher, so Rodgers may be having some sort of effect and the Reds are pleasing to the eye.  Wilson posits that: The good news for Rodgers is that passing, the absolute core of his philosophy, has improved, even given the tough start. The bad news is that individual errors keep undermining the effectiveness of the overall structure.  Maybe the season really did start on Saturday with their 5-2 thumping of Norwich.

Grant Wahl touched a couple of interesting tidbits in his weekly column for Planet Futbol.  Klose’s honesty (he admitted using his hand and got a goal overturned); Stuart Holden’s return to Bolton; Sounders vote of confidence of their GM; and Columbus hosting USMNT games.

Old Futbol Buffet–Being: Screwed

This weekend was filled with football from Spain and England.  Saturday I managed to catch a couple of La Liga games in afternoon, and then Sunday started early with Liverpool hosting Manchester United, which was followed by Manchester City v Arsenal.  This was followed by my Over 30 Semi Final before some beers and pizza and then bed.

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Saturday

Went up to the pub for Real Betis v Espanyol and FC Barcelona v Granada.  Haven’t totally collected my thoughts on those matches yet, but the first match was dire.  Not many chances and rarely held my attention.  The FCB match was fascinating as the Blaugrana could not break down the visitors until El Capitan made the breakthrough minutes from time.

After that I headed to Lansing’s Old Town for the Bluesfest.  While down there I listened to band while watching the first half of the Michigan and Notre Dame game.  No skin in the game and I was ready to throw my beer through the TV as Denard threw pick after pick and put pressure on the Wolverine defense.  Ugh.

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Sunday

Liverpool 1  Manchester United 2

The Reds from Liverpool got hosed.  Even as a fan of the Red Devils, there is no other conclusion from the game.  Halsey had a howler and these things happen.  He missed a trick though.  For Shelvey, if he had gotten a yellow for his challenge on Rafael towards the beginning of the match then gets a yellow (and so does Evans) and then he is off.  As for the penalty, very little contact and Valencia forced the referee to make a decision.

United were not sharp. Maybe it was Liverpool, maybe it was the Champions League virus, maybe it was the personnel.  The defense was in shambles, with players getting tackles wrong and constantly letting Suarez run at them.  In the midfield, Giggs was wasteful in possession and Nani was awful.  Can’t get him on the bus out of town soon enough.  Kagawa was decent in possession but not incisive enough.  There wasn’t a killer ball, a direct punch at the opponent.  Scholes came on the second half to get hold of the ball and pushed Giggs outside for Nani.

LFC were still dangerous after the red and deserved the lead and probably a little more from the match. Glen Johnson owned Rafael and the hosts should have exploited that more. Probably the biggest revelation of the match was the Spaniard Suso.  He was fantastic and an upgrade on Borini.

The Red Devils win was less than satisfying, as they were poor and probably didn’t deserve anything from the match.  Again the question remains:  Will LFC stay with Rodgers?  They played well but the results are not coming.

Doron and Nik focused on Fergie’s lineup for their post at the Stretford End.  The gaffer didn’t get it exactly right and was forced into changes, especially in midfield, but, in their opinion, the back five were solid and proved the manager correct.  Issues remain for United despite the three points, which they are quick to point out.

Ed at The Liverpool Offside remains optimistic despite the loss and increasing injury list for the Reds.  Suso’s performance gave him hope as did Liverpool’s performance before and after the red card.  Unfortunately the club is in the relegation zone after five matches.  A run of results will get them clear, but when does that run start?

Manchester City 1  Arsenal 1

Don’t know what to make of this match, other than Joe Hart is an amazing keeper.  City played well after the midweek disappointment but were missing a gear.  Yaya never got going and Aguero was just a half step off.  In the end, City’s directness compared to Arsenal’s patience made for a nice conflict and a fully rested side might pose more problems for Londoners.

As for the Gunners, I have started a paypal account to buy Gervinho a first touch.  Old joke but never get tired of it.  Several times he got in and just gave it away.  Then at the end, he created some space for himself and put it in row Z.  How good is Cazorla?  This year’s David Silva, we’ll see if he can do it for an entire season.  Jenkinson looked confident and was a presence both attacking and defending on the right side.

The Arseblogger was pleased with the performance, which saw the Gunners go to the home of the Champions and get something from the match.  The teamsheet was quality with a couple of quiet performances from Diaby and Poldolski.  The team was assured in possession (a little too assured for me—shoot the damn ball) and earned a deserved point.

Harkiano at Bitter and Blue still cannot figure out if the Citizens start to the season is solid, sluggish or poor and is looking to the next five matches to make a conclusion.  Again City played well but Silva and Yaya did not have enough of an influence and the strikeforce could not finish off the limited number of chances they had.

Finally, Zonal Marking looked at the 4-2-2-2 of City against the 4-4-1-1 of Arsenal, although to be fair, the formations were fluid and unbalanced times.  He focused on the match-ups around the pitch and each manager’s second half substitutions.

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Podcasts

Uli Hesse joined Anto on Beyond the Pitch to discuss the current storylines in the Bundesliga, including Dortmund’s attempt to win three league titles in a row and Bayern’s signing of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao.  They also touched on the German National Team and their mentality heading into the next competition.  Finally, Uli has written a great piece on the founding of the league at ESPN FC, which I highly recommend.

The panel on the Lovely Left Foot pod gave their thoughts on this summer’s transfers and also commented on the early rounds of games across Europe, while revealing boredom with the current Champions League set up.  Have to say, Match Day One was not short of excitement.

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Other stuff

My Over 30 team, CCFC, reached our tournament final for the third year running.  We destroyed our opponents and now go for the double next Sunday.  Our opponents ground out a win against a team that one my teammates described our version of Chelsea from last year.  Hard to watch and the beers only helped a little.  Sunday we go for glory.

Currently I’m reading Philippe Auclair’s book on Eric Cantona.  Can’t recommend it enough as he tells of Le Roi’s rise through French football to his days at Leeds and United.  Learning a little bit about the history of Ligue Un and the Les Bleus as well.  Good stuff.

Old Futbol Buffet–Champions Again and Again and Again

Once again, for person who prides himself on organization and planning, I got it all horribly wrong.

What a week.  The majority of the week was spent preparing and executing the Annual Franchise Meeting for BIGGBY COFFEE, which is a lot of work and quite exhausting.  So what did I follow it up with?  A weekend of relaxation?  A massage and pedi?  Hell no.  Onwards and upwards.

Friday night I hosted a poker party that went until 2am.  I lost most of my money, as usual, but it was still a great time.  After a couple of hours sleep, cleaned up the mess that was made, then got ready for our latest community event, which entailed setting up hundreds of feet of hose and two ginormous tarps.  Following an afternoon of splashes and laughs, took a deserved nap and then woke up with literally nothing to do.  I went up to Claddagh’s and watched the first half of the United/Fulham game before switching to Real Betis v Rayo Vallecano.

RvP and Kagawa opened their United accounts and the finished product that was lacking against Everton arrived.  Truly dominating 45 minutes and with Rooney out for a month, the future of United could develop before our eyes.

Sunday was supposed to be an epic day of footy.  11am Liverpool/City then walk over for the MSU men against New Hampshire to be followed by my over 30 game, a tension filled clash against old rivals for the league championship.

And then the starting time of church got changed and everything started to unravel.

I missed the double header, which was disappointing on several levels.  I was involved in the planning and the event was the culmination of several months of hard work and could provide the launching off point for Lansing soccer culture.  But what are you going to do.  I did get to see the second half of the Barcelona game.

I finished the day playing in my over 30 game.  The weather was quite hot and after a week of meetings, drinking and stressing, I was not in the best shape.  I had not touched a ball or done any fitness since the previous week’s game so I was not sure what my contribution would be.  Our team started fast but couldn’t capitalize and as our opponents came into the game, the sense of dread began to build.  Halftime arrived with the match scoreless although we two chances on the goal line.

The second half started with us on top but again no goals.  The post was hit, the ball bounced around the goal, shots went wide; everything but in the goal.  Then it happened.  One of our attacks was cleared to the outside, their midfielder bent a ball around our defense, and their forward ran onto it and put it away.  We were down 1-0 and a loss would see the title go to the Arsenal.

We ramped up the pressure and again no dice.  Finally, one of our corner kicks was cleared to the top of the area and our center back smashed a shot through the crowd and into the back of the net.  1-1, a draw was good enough due to our superior goal differential.  So back to back league titles and on to the playoffs.

Now it’s back to work.  With Labor Day ahead of us and no plans, should have time to watch plenty of games, which will be nice.

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Other Stuff

Off the Ball had Philippe AuClair on last Thursday (8/23) to discuss PSG, where the recipe is not going quite to plan.

Roger Bennett’s latest column for Soccernet echoed the dilemma I was faced with this summer—the nature of the soccer/football fan.  Are true fans the ones at the ground week in or week out or can fandom reach across an ocean due to the wonders of the internet and cable/satellite television?

MatchDay Memory–What I This Summer 2012

This summer was one of the hottest on record for the state of Michigan.  Weeks of 90+ degree heat scorched the ground and caused air conditioning units to be run non stop.  Fortunately there was plenty of footy on TV so that people could stay inside or head to their local pub or restaurant and watch in order to stay cool.  Euro 2012 led into the MLS halfway point and the World Football Challenge before concluding with the Olympics Football Tournament.

In an ambitious effort to get involved with the European Championships, I followed the draw, game by game, to determine which kit would win Euro 2012 based on my tastes.  Here is a summary of my predictions and my reactions to the kits worn during the tournament.  As for the games themselves, the entire three week championship was highly entertaining, producing plenty of goals (only one 0-0 draw in the entire tournament if I remember correctly), amazing performances (Russia in their opener, England against Sweden, and Italy against Germany in the semis), and a historic final in which La Furia Roja became the first team to win three major tournaments in a row.  I was able to watch the match at the George and Dragon in Seattle and had an awesome time.  Found an interesting post in the aftermatch of the Final, with Michael Elkon writing an interesting piece for SB Nation Atlanta about ESPN’s coverage of the European Championships, going so far as to ask Bristol to cover American College Football like a major soccer tournament.  Well worth the read.

I had an amazing trip to the Pacific Northwest. First real vacation I can think of since the 2003 Manchester United Tour and certainly the most relaxing.  Everyone asked did you see the mountains?  I saw them, off in the distance, but wanted no part of a hike.  Got up each morning, watched a little TV (Tosh.0, Workaholics, Wimbledon) and then spent some time writing and researching for the blog.  After a bite to eat, did some reading and then went out and either watched a game or went to a bunch of bars or both.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  My experiences at the MLS games in Portland and Seattle were first rate and I plan to either go back or visit other MLS venues (or both) in the future.

However, after some time of reflection, I am not sure that I could sit in the supporters sections every game.  I like to watch and see what’s going on, figuring out formations, key matchups, build ups for goals.  That’s hard to do when you’re trying to keep up with the chants or waving your scarf and or having flags obstructing your view.  For instance, during the Seattle game, banners and flags blocked portions of my view throughout the game, and when Colorado scored, no one had any idea.  Great atmosphere, great experience, but maybe sit in the supporters section and then go home and watch the match for the tactics and nerdier aspects of the game.

As for my actual time on the pitch, I played in a coed indoor league, which was ridiculously hot.  Our over 30 team had an unbeaten first half of the season, destroying teams consistently, but we drew one game and didn’t create the necessary breathing space to win the league comfortably.  We participated again the State Cup, but our first game was scheduled the weekend after the Fourth of July, so many of our players, including myself, were on vacation.  The other guy who runs the team was able to put a team together and the lads performed admirably until the wheels fell off in the second half and we lost 4-1.  Maybe next year.

Other than that, I listened to a ton of podcasts, which I tried to summarize throughout the summer, and read as much as I could.  I reread Fever Pitch in the late spring and then moved to Calcio by John Foot. It was a very informative read on the beginnings of organized Italian football and the transition of power from Bologna and Genoa to the big three.  I didn’t realize Roman teams had not been very successful.  The author went out to pick out key players throughout the history of the league before moving to the violence that has been a nagging problem over the years.  He also examined the nature of oriundi in Italian clubs and the national team.

The new season has started, with several compelling story lines across Europe—the battle in Manchester, the dawn of the Tito era in Barcelona, Juventus’ resurgence undercut by another betting scandal, and the possible rise of PSG.  I plan to do my weekly Morbo Minute and Old Futbol Buffet posts, combined with Strip Club posts and the occasional MatchDay Memory.  Feel free to comment and respond on twitter and facebook.

Old Futbol Buffet–Another Sunday, Another Victory

Sunday was a big game in our over 30 league, a confrontation of the two most dominant teams of the last four years.  This game usually sets the tone for the return game later in the season before the winner take all tournament final in the fall.

Our build up to this game was not, how shall I say, challenging.  We played some of the worst teams in the league and our record was 3-0-0 GF 33 GA 0.  But from the opening whistle we came out firing and never let up, roaring to 4-0 halftime lead before running out 6-1 winners.

We must guard against complacency in a couple of weeks, but, should we win that, we will be in good shape for another league title.  Plus we take another crack at the State Cup after July 4th, as we go for our first ever treble (League, League Tournament and State Cup).

Afterwards we went to the bar to celebrate and were able to catch the last half an hour of US v Canada.  Not pretty.  The play, the uniforms, the result.  I’m sure the US will take care of Antigua on Friday but the Guatemala game could be a little tricky.  Klinsmann’s troops will progress to final round, but I still want to see the day when the US takes these teams out to the shed. Mexico beat Brazil by the way.  Ummm . . . I think the Yanks are officially the little brother on the continent.

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Articles

Roger Bennett of Soccernet and Men in Blazers examined the new direction for Liverpool Football Club, from manager to kit to finances.  The hiring of Rodgers will hopefully build a successful pleasing to the eye, but it is off the field where the biggest strides may be made. Rog’s synopsis of the Warrior kit deal was eye opening and we’ll see if this relatively small company can bridge the style gap.  Also, partnerships are in the works to increase LFC’s brand presence and revenue streams as the clubs looks to catch up with the big boys.  On and off the field, the Reds are poised to get back to the top.

Jeremiah Oshan posted on SB Nation about MLS attendance thus far this season.  Not only is the league growing for the eighth straight year, but could break last year’s record-setting attendance. Montreal is helping and Columbus ,Houston and San Jose are experiencing big increases in attendance.  Josiah’s research shows that the current average attendance of 18,542 compares nicely with Argentina’s Primera Division (19,843), France’s Ligue 1 (19,742), and Netherlands Eredivisie (19,538).  I will be a paying customer at two games in just under a month, so I’m doing my part.

Mark Zeigler looked at the curious case of Cal FC for UT San Diego.  Eric Wynalda’s team are in the Fourth Round of the US Open Cup after a long road that included winning

a seven-team qualifying event for amateur teams, then took out the reigning Premier Development League champions 3-1, the runner-up from the USL Pro league 4-0 and – last week – the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer 1-0, all on the road.

I have heard Wynalda speak several times on the state of US Soccer and how his views do not match with the USSF establishment.  Zeigler echoes this: CalFC was born, rooted in rejection, motivated by marginalization, with the specific intent of scorching a swath of carnage across the American soccer landscape.  How far can they go?  Who knows?  They have the Sounders in Seattle tonight and then go from there.

Old Futbol Buffet–Ponytail, Dive, Ghost Goal, Dramatic Finish

As I’ve mentioned previously, I really haven’t been following the FA Cup. Watched United win a weird game against City before watching them crash against Liverpool and saw snippets of Spurs road to the semis, including the unsettling abandoned game against Bolton. However, due to the teams involved and my recent part in organizing watch parties at the local pub, I was excited about the Semi-Final lineup.

We had been building up towards the Merseyside Derby, which was the early game on Saturday. We have a strong Liverpool contingent so emotions and interest were running high, but I got a text late Friday night that our venue was in question. I made calls and confirmed that we could not get in, so I tried another site and that was a no go as well. So I went to bed and didn’t set the alarm. I followed the game on twitter and when the Toffees went up 1-0, I was like ok, here we go. But then Suarez equalized and then with minutes remaining, Andy Carroll saved King Kenny’s bacon again to put the Scousers in another cup final.

In talking to a Liverpool supporter that afternoon, I asked, What now for Andy Carroll? Do they, in my opinion, waste another year on him or move on? The two goals this week cannot turn the tide can they? Liverpool are a mess and I don’t think the big Englishman is any part of the answer, but what do I know?

Sunday saw Chelsea against Tottenham, with both teams fielding pretty strong line-ups. The first half was eye gougingly bad, with loose passes and sloppy play in general. The last ten minutes were fantastic as Spurs nearly scored twice before Drogba produced a filthy finish to give the Blues the lead. A controversial second goal early in the second half seemed to have finished the game but Adebayor sliced open Chelsea and was taken down. Instead of giving the PK and sending off Cech, Bale tapped in the loose ball.  Cue the talking points graphic.  Spurs were unable to seize the initiative and Chelsea then scored two more, one sublime and the other simply amazing. Malouda added a fifth and that was that. Instead of a potentially fun final of Everton and Tottenham, we get Liverpool against Chelsea. Ugh. Guess I’ll have to start drinking at 10am to get through that match.

Spooky feels that Spurs are underachieving and points to the moment Fabio resigned as the moment it all went wrong.  After Sunday’s performance, not sure that they can save what was going to be an amazing season.

Zonal Marking reviewed the changing shape of Chelsea this year from AVB’s pressing 4-3-3 to his revised 4-2-1-3 to Di Matteo’s 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1, using more disciplined, tactical players in the wide roles.  This clearly was on show in the game against Barca as Ramires played wide left to keep track of Alves and it his awareness that led to the goal as well.

As for the chase for league honors, United’s slip against Wigan opened the door a crack for City, who bravely kicked it in with 6-1 thrashing of Norwich, putting the pressure back on United at home to Villa. Young went down pretty easily, Rooney converted the spot kick and from there it was relatively smooth sailing for the Red Devils. Have to say that set piece defending needs to be addressed as that was Villa’s only way of scoring and they nearly did several times.

Scott at The Republik of Mancunia enjoyed the Red Devils response against Villa, highlighting Valencia’s performance on the day.  The end of his post is optimistic yet realistic: We look good for the title but I won’t be getting any “20″ banners out just yet.

Miguel Delaney wrote an interesting piece on Soccernet comparing first and second forms of each teams (Fulham most improved; Spurs in the worst form) while relating this year’s campaign to the dramatic seasons of 92-93, 95-96 and 2010-11.

There was tragedy in Italy over the weekend as Piermario Morosini died Saturday after suffering cardiac arrest during Livorno’s Serie B match at Pescara. The entire slate of games was postponed and put a damper on what has turned out to be an exciting finish for the scudetto and European places.

In Holland, a tight finish could be blown open if Ajax win their game in hand.

1

AjaxAmsterdam

 

29

61

2

AZAlkmaar

 

30

58

3

Feyenoord Rotterdam

 

30

58

4

Twente Enschede

 

30

57

5

PSVEindhoven

 

30

57

6

Heerenveen

 

30

57

Wrapped up the weekend with an indoor doubleheader. In the first game we played poorly and were down 4-2 with about 4 or 5 minutes to go, but we stepped up the intensity and ran out 5-4 winners. Love my team. The second game was a walk, especially the last 10 minutes or so when we literally walked. The outdoor season starts in two weeks and should be another fun season.