Posts Tagged ‘ Houston Dynamo ’

Scarf Collection

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I’ve become a groundhopper, not to the extent of Paul Gerald or Peter Miles or Tony Incenzo, but I take pics, talk to people and write posts about teams, supporters and venues in the United States. But what about swag? As a big kit nerd, the obvious choice would be to get a shirt at each match, but that strategy has a couple of problems: 1) not every team has a merch store or even jerseys for sale; 2) at $55 to $100 a pop, a one stop/one shirt policy could get pricey; and 3) where would I put them all? I don’t have a mancave (yet) and as much as I would love to wear a different jersey every day, society and my workplace frown upon that.

So my solution has been to pick up a scarf at each game I attend. This strategy has paid off in several ways. Scarves are almost always available at games, and if not, readily available on club websites. Plus at $25 to $35 each, this is the better option financially. On top of that, scarves are packable and easy to display.

Here is my current collection:

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Favorite Teams

Manchester United–The club team I have been supporting for 20 years. One day I will make it to Old Trafford. C’mon you Reds!!

US Soccer–I have seen several US games over the years , and I continuing to engage my own country instead of wishing I was Croatian or Dutch or almost anything else.

Atlanta United–MLS club kicking off in 2017. I’m a season ticket holder and can’t wait for the team to launch and play their first game at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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Groundhops

Seattle Sounders–One of my first trips and had an awesome time.

Chicago Fire–Used to watch them at Soldier Field. Saw the new home out in the middle of nowhere.

Portland TimbersStood with Timbers Army in a very unique environment.

Columbus CrewSaw one of the first games at this Soccer Specific Stadium and have been several times since.

FC DallasAnother facility out in the middle of nowhere but Dallas Beer Guardians more than made up for it.

DC UnitedGot to see DC United at RFK before they move to the new ground.

Houston DynamoAmazing venue and hopefully the team returns it past glory.

Atlanta Silverbacks–Former NASL team playing in NPSL, I have been to many games and worked for the Reserves team.

Charleston Battery–Fantastic USL team with great supporters playing an intimate venue filled with soccer memorabilia.

Lansing United–The club launched the summer before I left Lansing and is doing things right on and off the pitch.

Detroit City FC–My first taste of real supporter culture. It has been wonderful keeping an eye on this team from the first days.

Nashville FC–Vanderbilt Stadium wasn’t the greatest venue but wonderful fans.

Chattanooga FC–Love going up to Chattanooga. Real passion behind a successful NPSL club.

Birmingham Hammers–Met some fired up supporters for the Hammers’ first season. Looking forward to going back.

Georgia Revolution–Under new ownership, this club is providing players a stepping stone to next level.

Knoxville Force (Scruffy City Syndicate)–Growing club with ardent supporters, playing right in downtown Knoxville.

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Miscellaneous

Juventus–Fell in love with Alessandro Del Piero and followed the bianconeri until I decided to focus my soccer supporting efforts.

MSU Spartans–Went to many a game at DeMartin Stadium during my time in Lansing.

World Cup 2022–My wife won this in a raffle. It’s the scarf from the US 2022 World Cup bid.

American Outlaws Atlanta. I love hanging out with these passionate supporters of US Soccer.

Terminus Legion 2015–Joined this Supporter Group at the intersection of Atlanta and Soccer in 2015 after moving to Atlanta in 2014.

Terminus Legion 2016–Re-upped and run the soccer team and host the Terminus Legion podcast.

The General–Special edition summer scarf produced by Terminus Legion to celebrate the history of Atlanta.

Soccer in the Streets–An amazing organization that brings soccer to underserved youth in Atlanta. Just launched Station Soccer, a pitch on top of a transit station.

Castleberry Hill AC–An organization looking to use soccer to improve their community. Currently trying to build Old Trenholm in the shadow of Mercedes Benz Stadium.

 

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Top three scarves I have come across. . .

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I usually buy the team scarf at each match but when I was at the Chicago Fire tailgate, I saw people walking around this scarf and knew that I had to have it. The scarf tweaks the Chicago city flag, using navy blue bands to frame the edges instead of the sky blue and then uses the four red stars through the middle. Great looking piece.

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While standing with Timbers Army, I spotted a Battlestar Portlandia. Having just come out of my Battlestar Galactica geek phase, I really loved the merging of pop culture and sport. Doubt I will ever get my hands but one of these but a really slick design.

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A scarf from Detroit City FC’s inaugural season is one of my favorite scarves. All the design elements come together, with of color scheme of rouge and dark yellow, a clean font and the argyle print adding a wonderful touch. DCFC has absolutely crushed it from a brand and merch perspective from day one.

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If you want to see a real scarf collection, visit Kenny’s Football Scarves. He has over 2000 pieces organized by league and region.

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Read more about my groundhops and supporter group interactions at the SoccerNomad blog. Also check out the SoccerNomad podcast, which focuses on Supporter Groups and kit design. Finally follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

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Texas Adventure

All 5 parts of my wonderful, frustrating, sleep deprived trip to Houston and Dallas.

houston dynamo game

Day 1

Day 2 (Houston Dynamo v Sporting KC)

Day 3 (FC Dallas v Colorado Rapids)

Day 4

Day 5

MatchDay Memory–Texas Adventure Day 2 (Houston Dynamo v Sporting KC)

Houston was hosting SKC so I did a little research ahead of time. Saw the Dynamo play last summer in Columbus and Chicago and wasn’t too impressed.  Have to admit that I still haven’t forgiven Ricardo Clark for getting stripped in the 2010 WC game against Ghana.

As of 6/2 standings, Houston was in fourth place but with more games played than the teams just below them.  Their recent form has been atrocious.  One win and four losses, including their last three, all away, with a combined score of 8-0.  On top of that the club has lost two key players— Brad Davis (USA), Boniek Garcia (Honduras).  ESPN noted that these are the Dynamo’s two most important attacking players.  Scanning the roster, I didn’t recognize many names.

One of the Week 13 Power Rankings I found had Houston at #15 out of 19 noting that

Injuries and World Cup call-ups have hit Houston hard, and it’s shown in the results with three losses in a row and four in the last five games. Without much attacking inspiration, the Dynamo didn’t put one shot on target in a heavy loss to Colorado.

As for SKC, they are just above the Dynamo in the table, with the defending champs having not fared much better, winless in their last 5 with 2 draws and 3 losses.  They have been hit by the World Cup as well, losing Matt Besler and Graham Zusi (USA).

When looking at the SKC website I came across a news item that Oriol Rosell had been sold to Sporting in Portugal.  Didn’t think much of it until I read the article and learned that he had been at Barca B.  The end of the post stated that Rosell became “the third Sporting Kansas City player in the last 18 months to move to Europe. In 2013, Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza joined Wigan Athletic (England) and Sierra Leone striker Kei Kamara was transferred to Middlesbrough FC (England).”

Also looking at the team roster, I noticed that Sal Zizzo moved from Portland to SKC.  Have been watching him on and off since the 2007 U20 World Cup so was hoping to see him again.

On the train ride I listened to the Eddie Robinson Show in preparation for the game.  I have been checking into the pod from time to time to get a sense of the team. They began by recapping the 3-0 defeat to Colorado, which featured a reconfigured midfield for the Dyanmo.  More troubling was the stat of no shots on goal, and Will Bruin spoke out in the media about wanting the team get forward.

As for SKC, this could be a real chance to get points away from home but their defense continues to be in disarray, Collin could be missing due to hamstring injury and they have already had a lack of stability.  One bright spot is Erik Palmer-Brown, the youngest player in MLS.

Eddie and Sebastian focused on the keys of the game, which they would be using a less aggressive defensive line, stopping SKC creative players like Dom Dwyer and Feilhaber and getting a result to stop the bleeding.  They also had conversation comparing the signing of Beckham with the signings of Villa and Lampard by NYCFC and what kind of club they may try to become.  The show wrapped up with an interesting discussion about the importance and prestige of the US Open Cup.  Eddie ranked it behind the MLS Cup and Supporter Shield.

MATCH NOTES

BBVA Compass Stadium is unique a several ways. One it is nestled right into a neighborhood with businesses and apartments around it.  Two, the shell of the stadium is quite striking.  Still haven’t decided if I love it or hate it yet.   Three, three of the four stands are covered.  I imagine this comes in handy during hot Houston summer days.

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I was running late but met a friend from Lansing who moved back to Houston.  He had gathered some of his friends and joined a local men’s league tailgate.  I ran into some Bosnians who are excited to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in the World Cup.  I also met my friend’s father and we discussed the chances of US and Mexico at the World Cup as well.  After a couple of beers and some chips (notes were made to bring a grill and other supplies next time), we went into the match.

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Our seats were high in a corner behind the goal and the Texian Army.  Thought they were perfect.  We had a steady breeze the entire game which made it comfortable and I could see the entire match unfold.  Speaking of the Texian Army I enjoyed their style of support— Latin based music with lots of drums and cymbals.  They also mixed things up with a cappella chants, which provided a nice change of pace.

To be honest it wasn’t a great match.  Houston made a couple of changes in their team including goalkeeper Deric for Hall.  SKC went with a young CB pairing of Ellis and Palmer-Brown. Felt that Houston really struggled to create chances and dominate after going a man up 20 minutes in.  I didn’t see the infraction from the SKC player and still not sure what happened.  Just before halftime, Feilhaber picked up on a loose pass out of the Houston back and was cut down.  The ball ran for Saad who slotted home.

Feilhaber had to be subbed at half time, and the second half saw the Dynamo control the match in terms of possession but not much in the way of scoring opportunities.  As per my usual, I had to go the bathroom and missed the penalty incident.  Cochran was called for a handball, and after watching highlights, I’m still not sure.   Dwyer converted the spot kick and down 2-0, there wasn’t much chance of Houston coming back and the hosts didn’t even score a consolation goal.

MLS recap including video highlights

The Dynamo head into the break a four match losing streak and in real danger of letting the season get away from them.  As for SKC they battled and took the chances that were given to them.  Big win for the visitors.

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Afterwards we headed to Lucky’s for a post game beverage and then went across to the street to Little Woodrow’s for some food.  Not a good result for the Dynamo but I had a great night.

MatchDay Memory–Summer 2013 Part Four: Labor Day Weekend

As summer came to a close, I checked another MLS stadium off my list. The last time I went to a Fire game, they were still playing at Solider Field before the remodel.  I used to go at least once a year, usually when they played DC United, and I was interested to see Toyota Park, as this was another in the line of soccer specific stadia helping to promote the MLS. So my family went to Chicago over Labor Day weekend to do some sight seeing and check out the Fire.

On the train ride in I listened to a recent Beyond the Pitch episode on the team and their struggles both on and off the field.  The pod dealt with the recent PR firestorm started by the Communications Director before moving on to the current Mike Magee for MVP campaign and ended with what the further might hold for the Windy City club.

Sunday started with the 7:30am CT kick off of Liverpool and Manchester United.  I went to Fado Chicago and the place was absolutely stuffed with people, mostly of the Merseyside persuasion.  Sturridge’s early goal was met with tons of support, which continued until the dying moments when the Reds from Liverpool nervously held on.

The match encapsulated many of the recent frustrations of United.  RvP being insolated; Giggs not providing any impact; Young continuing to be a turnover machine; and the Red Devil attack lacking sharpness.  As I write this, United are supposedly wrapping up the Ander Herrara signing.  Nice player; doesn’t solve the problem.

As for Liverpool, match couldn’t have gone any better.  Early goal protected by an organized team that worked their proverbial socks off.  Coutinho was quite good in the first half, and with more signings made at the close of the window, maybe the club has really turned the corner.

I caught the first half of North London Derby.  Cheeky finish from Giroud but not much else from the Gunners.  Felt that Spurs had the better of the game and probably should have gotten at least a point.

At halftime, I went and grabbed some beers for my trip on the Fire Bus.  These are coaches that go around bars in Chicago, pick up fans and take them to the games.  Fantastic idea.  We all hopped on the bus, cracked open a cold one, and sat back on the road to Bridgeview.  I shared a Rolling Rock with a Frenchmen in front of me, who was in town for a conference.  We chatted about Lyon and Les Bleus and MLS.

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The bus dropped up off at the Section 8 tailgate.  $5 all you can eat Mexican and $1 PBR’s.  Yes please.  I chatted with a couple of supporters and they were very welcoming.  Then it was off to the club store, where I picked up a nice scarf.

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Upon entering the arena, Toyota Park seemed similar to Crew Stadium, with a ring of concessions and standing areas surrounding the lower bowl and a Party Deck at one end of the ground. A couple of differences were the height and coverage of the upper stand.  Toyota Park only had one proper upper level and it was covered unlike Crew Stadium.  This was a big factor as the temperature was near 90 on a sunny day.  My phone died at kick off, so I was unable to get many pics inside the stadium.  FAIL!! Special mention should be made that the match was featured as Hispanic Hertiage Day, and we sat just above Sector Latino, where a hardcore group made noise the entire game.

On a brutally hot day, the hosts started the match strongly but almost went down early as Will Bruin slipped past a defender but Fire netminder Thompson made the early save.  Chicago created more chances as Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall had to scramble away an opportunity from Magee and saved a near post chance from Rolfe. The Fire’s dominance finally paid off 37 minutes in as Jeff Larentowicz nodded in a corner kick which gave Hall no chance.

Chicago continued to create chances in the second half but couldn’t find the insurance goal.  Houston rolled the dice late in the match, pushing players forward with Cam Weaver going up top and Andrew Weaver doing a nice job stretching the field on the left side and delivering service.  Time was ticking away and Ashe’s backheel freed Moffat who drilled it into the upper 90 to level the game.  Chicago had one last chance as Magee whipped in a free kick that Anibaba headed on frame that produced a great save from Hall.

In the end, the Fire dominated the game but dropped two vital points in their playoff chase.  Nine game games remain and currently they are on the outside looking in.  With only three home games remaining, chances are not good. Chicago have won eight and drawn two of their 14 matches at Toyota Park, with only two wins on the road.  Perhaps the key match will be their home game on 9/14 against New England, who site just above the Fire in the table.

As for Houston, the point keeps them ahead of Fire and in control of their own destiny for the fifth place.  The Dynamo were without Ricardo Clark, and I felt that Adam Moffat had little impact on the match until his equalizer.  I also noticed that Brad Davis played wide, and I don’t know if that is normal or not.  Having watched Houston twice this season, I have to say that I am a little underwhelmed.  Technically not that great and their defense seems fragile.  They may scrape into the playoffs but don’t see them doing any damage.

The Section 8 website has some decent merch for sale, especially scarves, and does a decent job of laying out all of the different media options to support the club, including blogs and podcasts.  I checked out the On the Fire recap of the game and Scott Fenwick saw many of the same things I did in terms of tactics and personnel.  His infographic on the possession throughout the game was quite revealing and he had some strong words regarding the perfomances of Chris Rolfe this season.  Also, if you get a chance check out the Matchbook Zine, in particular the 15th Annivesary Edition. Great interview and some fascinating insight into the formation of the club.

Old Futbol Buffet–Dare to be Massive

As part of my MLS stadium tour, I visited Crew Stadium in Columbus to see their game against the Houston Dynamo.  I had been to a Crew game over ten years earlier as the American team had hosted Newcastle United.  To be honest can’t remember any of the players from the game and I’m too lazy at this point to do any research.

My trips to Portland and Seattle last year were very intense, with lots of planning and participation, but my trip to Columbus was much more relaxed.  I took my son and, along with my sister and her family, everyone piled in the van and off we went, arriving just moments before the game as opposed to hours prior for pre-game revelry.  Whereas I sat with the supporters groups in Portland and Seattle, our group—three adults and five kids—sat in the upper stand at midfield away from the Crew Union in the Nordecke.  (Thank God I brought my BIGGBY seat cushion.  I don’t have much padding back there.)  The crowds in the Pacific Northwest were packed, filled with noise and energy, but there was a sparse crowd at this  game, maybe a third full.  There were probably as many as Le Rouge supporters at a DCFC game as there were Crew supporters for the match.

My high vantage point and lack of fan distraction allowed me to watch and analyze the game.  For the hosts, there was very little punch in attack, as they remained behind the ball and stayed compact.  Ricardo Clark, former US National Team player was called into duty as a center back due to international call ups, and the defenders around him had to put in several last ditch tackles as the hosts piled on the pressure led by Higuain, Oduro, Meram and Arrieta.

The visitors were handicapped by injury as two players had to be subbed off before halftime (Brunner due to head injury and Moffat suffered from cramp), but the Dynamo managed to grab a goal against the run of the play in the first half.  The Crew took the game to visitors to start for much of the second half yet could not score.  Combination of a lack of finishing and the final ball kept the hosts from turning the game around.  With about 20 minutes to go, Barson, on his debut, earned a penalty which Higuain dispatched.  Another goal was not in the cards and the intermittent rain towards the end put a further damper on the game. The 1-1 draw provided some entertainment but little of soccer value.  Lots of needless turnovers and late challenges and wayward shots between two mid table MLS teams.

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We were able to leave the area in a matter of minutes, which was due to the small crowd and waiting for a while after the game deciding whether to get player autographs or not.  We passed on waiting for over an hour for the players to emerge.  At least Larry and Noah got a picture with Cool Cat, and to be fair, the kids has a great time, with the boys putting on scarves and imitating the chants of the Crew Union.

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For the Crew, a couple of thoughts.  Higuain intrigued me.  Clearly has some quality but didn’t always deliver despite all of his gesturing.  As captain I can understand a little of that but it seemed a little over the top.  Oduro has tons of pace but little else.  Meram showed some flashes and it will be interesting to see how he develops.

Wrapping up, Sean Wheelock tried to clarify comments made a while ago on the World Football Phone In, calling out Euro Snobs like me not following the game in America. You can watch European football but don’t forget our domestic game—go to matches, watch games on TV, read about MLS news.  I do the first, don’t do the second (but sounds like little Larry is getting Crew fever), and don’t have time for the third, maybe an occasional pod.  I’ll keep checking in the league from time to time as the league heads for their twentieth anniversary but don’t plan to make it my prime source for footy experiences.

Old Futbol Buffet–Long Live the King

Eric Cantona signed 20 years ago for Manchester United.  I wasn’t even following football at the time, so my first real memory of him was the 1994 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, with my favorite recollection of the Frenchman being the 1996 FA Cup Final goal struck in the dying moments against Liverpool.  Watching the match on replay at my parents, I screamed in ecstasy as the ball found its way into the back of the net.  Props to Anton Alfy for putting a video of all 82 goals that Cantona scored for Manchester United.  Well worth 15 minutes of your time.  Viva Le Roi!!

Robert Meakin led the tribute to Cantona on last week’s Manchester United Redcast.  After breaking down the win over QPR, he looked at possible winger replacements as Nani will surely be off in January and Young has struggled to find form.  Cantona’s impact on the club was discussed before moving on Fergie and how long he has at the club and who could replace him?  (Pep and Mourinho were mentioned.)

Speaking of Fergie, Roger Bennett posted on ESPN FC regarding the recent Harvard Business School report on Sir Alex, noting that the secrets to his success are building a foundation, maintaining control, evolving with the times, and evaluating talent.  Would love to get a copy of that.

As for the current United team, a crazy first half saw seven goals in 34 minutes, as the Red Devils went into half time up 4-3.  That ended up being the final score in a game that was full of incident.  Due to supporting my kid’s school, I was working in a concession stand and missed the brouhaha.

Daniele at Red Rants watched another sloppy performance from the United rearguard, and only a strong and swift response from the team earned the Reds the three points.  As he pointed out in his post game notes:

Sure they score goals for fun and they’ve mastered the old club tradition of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – United have fallen behind 14 times in 22 games this season – but thinking that the “you score four, we score five” approach could possibly lead to a title, is at best naive and at worst downright deluded.

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MLS Cup Final

After watching a couple of La Liga games, I was able to see the second half of the MLS Cup.  The Galaxy took the game to the Dynamo, with Gonzalez equalizing and then LA taking the lead after Clark handled in the box.  Donovan converted and eventually the breakaways paid off as Hall tried to haul down Keane, who kept his feet but the referee pointed to the spot again.  The Irishman scored the spot kick this time to give the Galaxy a 3-1 win and second MLS Cup win in a row.

A couple of thoughts:

  • Ricardo Clark is awful.
  • Not sure if Lalas shaving his mustache at halftime is the grossest or awesomest thing ever.
  • Houston’s jerseys looked like they were claimed from a Goodwill sale.  I thought sublimation was left back in the 90’s.  SB Nation’s Dynamo page posted the particulars on the shirt.  (Rays and energy. Seriously?)
  • Mad props to Donovan for dedicating his goal to a Make A Wish family.  No way I would have even thought of that in the aftermath of a Cup victory.
  • The MLS ball reeked of bargain bin quality.
  • Tally is not a name.  It’s a hunting cry.

The panel on the SI Soccer Roundtable (11/29) discussed the chapter that is ending with Beckham’s farewell and the future of the league as a whole.  Really brought the last five years of the league into the focus.

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Articles and Podcasts

Bira Brasil was Beyond the Pitch in the aftermath of Mano Menezes being axed as Brazil boss.  Bira handicapped the challengers and thought that Tite and Ramalho would be chosen ahead of former coach and World Cup Winner Luiz Felipe Scolari.  In the end Big Phil was chosen.  Can he regroup the team ahead of a home World Cup?  Watch this space.

Tim Vickery was on the Off the Ball last Wednesday to discuss the dismissal as well, blaming politics for the departure of Menezes.  Brazil is at a crossroads, having to choose between reclaiming their heritage or continuing with the current over physical, counter attacking approach.  With the reappointment of Scolari the latter has been chosen, and his task will be build another “family” and lead the Seleção to glory on home soil.

News of an expanded 64 team Champions League hit the interwebs last week leading to the usual moaning and groaning from fans and media.  I think Iain Macintosh’s post on ESPN FC was spot on, identifying the old adage—follow the money.  The loss of the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners Cup has brought the game to the point where undoing the last 20 years is impossible.  The fact that this year’s Champions League Group Stages have been interesting just masks the fact that usually they aren’t and that 16 groups of four teams will be super tedious.  If only the group winner progressed, there might be some value, but inevitably the current 16 team knockout will morph into the 32 team knockout, which will start earlier and earlier into each new year, packing the fixture list even more.  This is a horrible idea and will hopefully kill the golden goose, so that real reform can happen.  Doubt it.

Staying with Europe, Christoph recounted German football during the 1970’s on his blog, An Old International.  He recapped the bribery scandal early in the decade, which affected the image of the emerging league but also allowed the country to move forward.  This release led to unprecedented success for clubs and the national team.  Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach dominated the league, winning eight of the 10 domestic titles, and also conquered Europe with Die Roten winning three European Cups and BMG winning two UEFA Cups.  Plus the Nationalmannschaft won the 1972 European Championship and then claimed the 1974 World Cup before losing out to Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship Final.  Great read and thanks to Peter Alegi for the link.

Finally, Matt Reece, a fellow member of Mid Michigan United shared this amazing freestyling video on my Facebook timeline.  After watching it, a couple of things struck me.  1. Mind blowing skills, but it does sort of come across as someone with too much free time.  2.  I only take my clothes off for the ladies and never in public.  3.  What the Michael Jackson song???  Anyway give it watch and see if you can even do one thing that guy did.

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