Bitter, Bulleted Rants: The Rented Mules Edition

Having an awful day, just awful. Can’t go into the details, but it has all made me very grumpy. So, reacting more than usual as I read soccer news today, here are some thoughts, which will include a good deal of profanity, disrespect to various entities and individuals.

EPL: You Are Not Men; You Are Sporting Widgets
I heard over the weekend that the English Premier League has plans to play “special” games in venues around the world. Thanks for bringing the game to the fans, guys! Super! Oh, you’ll make shitloads of money out of the idea? But that couldn’t be the motivation, not with all that joy to spread (about as dignified in the grand scheme as a hooker spreading her legs). I think the best part comes with how the suits channel the spirit of Thomas Friedman-style hucksterism to dress up the simple, ancient art of making money:

“‘We can’t escape the fact that globalization of sport is with us,’ Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said. ‘This is a response to that globalization. … By design we have become a global phenomenon. We cannot go on manifesting that phenomenon as a broadcast proposition only.'”

Oh, Mr. Scudamore! You are the victim! Damn, damn globalization!

For the other side, USSoccerplayers.com’s J Hutcherson did a fair job of making the “for the fans” pitch and, he’s right on a lot of it, especially about laughing off talk of maintaining the “purity” of sport. I’d just like to think that, at some fucking point, fans would collectively say, “enough.” Enough squeezing every last cent out of fans, enough running the players for all their worth and a little more, enough tacked-on tournaments. I can ‘t believe anyone but the owners want current trends to continue; their interest isn’t that complicated, after all.  Before long and we’ll all be supporting teams called the [Insert City here] Rented Mules. Continue reading

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Pre-season Results Round-Up: Crew Rolls over KC (TSII Alert!)

Over the weekend, I noticed  something on MLSnet.com that made this whole pre-season results coverage concept appear redundant.  They’ve got the interns posting pre-season results round-ups – much like the item they ran on February 9.  That report contains word on one of the earlier MLS-on-MLS pre-season games, as well as a couple others.  I’ll get to that shortly, but only after a quick reassessment of my purpose here….OK, done.

Why?  The richness of the blogosphere.  Sure, MLSnet.com tells you who did what, but the explosion of blogs means there’s always more, more, MORE to pass on.  On top of that, it seems some games don’t show on the radar – for instance, FC Dallas’ shellacking of amateur side Centro America (which is more or less what you’d expect), an event 3rd Degree covered exhaustively.  So, armed with such goodness, I only want to say….I’m not irrelevant yet, you fuckwits!  (I’m just parasitic.)

So, here goes… Continue reading

Rapids TSII: The Reassuring, Educational Benefits of Soccer America’s Preview

I don’t know how many readers will be able to access this – and I’ve got only a couple months left on my freebie trial – but Soccer America (SA) turned its pre-season attention to the Colorado Rapids this morning.  And, typing as someone who only really noticed the Rapids when they de-pantsed FC Dallas in the ’05 and ’06 post-seasons, I actually learned quite a bit from their preview.

But even for non-newbies, there’s plenty of stuff in there, including:

– Details, as far as SA could get them from our tight-lipped league, on the Christian Gomez deal.  I’d be curious as to what “real” Rapids fans think of temporarily loaning their designated player slot along with a first round draft pick for an old-ish player like Gomez.  Of more interest still is where Colorado is thinking about playing him – e.g. up top, which, as SA points out, raises some issues with the current crop of forwards, not all of whom perform as advertised, scheduled, or desired.  I’m still working through what I think about this…and I may just have to wait and see…

– …especially with the talk about Pablo Mastroeni pairing with some unnamed Brazilian in central midfield.  That only seems to 1) deepen the confusion at forward, and, 2) point to some necessary off-loading.

– There’s also the revamped defense, one built on Chase Hilgenbrinck and Jose Burciaga Jr. on the flanks and, assuming the efforts to bring him home succeed, Nat Borchers in central defense.  So, does that mean Borchers with Mike Petke or would Fernando Clavijo (or “first assistant coach” – aka, Clavijo’s successor-in-grooming) go to a 3-5-2, which would make more sense out of the talk of Pablo + a Brazilian.

Whatever all y’all make of it, at least things are happening, right?  Right?

African Nations Cup: Egypt defends title!

EGYPT 1, CAMEROON 0

If you want a play-by-play recap – visit Greg Lalas’ live-blog over at the New York Times blog “GOAL”. It was a tight one to the very end, but Mohamed Aboutraika found an opening thanks to a scrum in Cameroon’s box to slot one past Kameni and put Cameroon on the backtrack. The biggest surprise of the game was Samuel Eto’o being left alone up front as Egypt effectively closed down the wings and no real game was being created in the middle. Eto’o was kept quiet tactically and Egypt created several chances on the counter-attack. Mohamed Zidan was the unsung hero for the Pharaohs – doing all the work in the box before he was able to poke it Aboutraika who was left open amidst all the confusion. Zidan’s work throughout the game created several chances for Egypt. It was veteran centreback Rigobert Song that helped Zidan create that chance as Song – former Liverpool defender – attempted a clearance not once, but twice!, and failed to get it out. Zidan came rushing in, tangled Song up, and found Aboutraika open on the near flank. Song had an event in the 70th minute that was just as embarassing, but it didn’t lead to much. Either way, the signs were there…and Egypt pounced.

Throughout, Egypt opted for the team approach – no real stars, just concerted, effective play. Mohamed Zidan – their biggest scoring threat – was kept to only 2 goals for the tournament but he created a hell of a lot more. Hosny Abd Rabo, Mohamed Aboutreika, and Amr Zaky all tied for second on the African Nations Cup scoring leaderboard with 4. Ghana took third place with a 4-2 win over the Ivory Coast. One of Steve Goff’s loyal Soccer Insider reader’s was in Cairo for the game viewing and festivities afterward – read his account here.

It is Egypt’s 6th African Nations Cup title and the first to repeat since Cameroon in 2000/2002 (before that, there wasn’t a repeat since Ghana in 1963/1965). With the win, the Pharaohs will fill the CAF slot at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa along with Italy (2006 World Cup champ), South Africa (HOST), the United States (Gold Cup champ), Iraq (Asian Cup winner), and Brazil (2007 Copa America winner). There are two slot left to be filled – the winner of the 2008 EURO Championship and the 2008 OFC Nations Cup both which will take place soon.