Pre-Season Results: The Cruelest Blow Yet…

…and who else would it fall on the Real Salt Lake (RSL)?

Real Salt Lake 1-2 Lynn University
RSL’s ongoing pre-season victory parade through colleges of which I have never heard and Premier Developmental League teams continued…right up until they hit the brick wall that is Lynn University (see the third “section” here for some details).  Brutal, brutal stuff.  After crediting Lynn for sticking it to ’em, RSL GM Garth Lagerwey expressed hope this result will lead to “two steps forward down the road.”

Yes, some days this thing does write itself…

BONUS
Back, again, to the silly.  I shouldn’t love this as much as I do.  But the formula is so simple: find photographs of high school students caught in one of their worst moments – e.g. presenting projects at the Science Fair – and memorialize it by highlighting out the very worst in those photographs.  Magical.  I will look at this whenever I feel sad.

Advertisements

One Last Plug for the Pan-Pacific

I finally made my way over to MLSnet.com’s official propaganda page for the Pan-Pacific Tournament (kicks off tonight; check ESPN’s listings for times and channel…it’s in there…and all times are, helpfully, GMT). Can’t say I regretted avoiding it until now: even the news/headline section overflows with the usual airy features and quote-filled pap about how seriously all involved will take proceedings. This, for instance, is not a preview, but a series of throw-away quotes held together by a bit of context.

Tragically, the mainstream media isn’t doing much better. I have seen about two dozen variations on this story since Monday; only subtle differences in the completeness of the quotes and changes to word order separate this one from all the rest. But, here and there, one comes across actual news – e.g. the fact all games will be played on turf (to Ruud Gullit’s clear chagrin…he’ll get his back by playing rookies) and allusions to future expansion of the tournament should it prove a hot ticket. And, in defense of the general shortcomings, word that Landon Donovan will miss tonight’s semi first came my way through the official site.

As they sometimes do, blogs led the way on the Pan-Pacific Challenge. For instance, I liked Dan Loney’s pre-tourney musings almost as much as the one I posted yesterday (tee hee hee). But I owe most my current knowledge of how LA looks going in to 100 Percent Soccer, who identified the 27 players the Galaxy flew to Hawaii, as well as posting a situation review from training camp (for the curious, it’s about what one would expect: the attack looks all right, while the defense looks a little green). Can’t say how they’ll stack up against Japan’s Gamba Osaka, but the latter has issues of its own in the form of key players missing through injury and (if memory serves) national-team commitments (sorry to stiff you on links). Will it be a good game? Hope so. Failing that, though, I’ll take funny.

Credit Nutmegged for doing something clever for “the other game” – e.g. the late tilt of the Houston Dynamo v. Sydney FC. Nutmegged’s Martek compared notes with an Australian fella who runs a site called The Football Tragic, each telling the other what to look for from the oppostion. Enjoy The Football Tragic’s take on Sydney here and Nutmegged’s evaluation of their home-team Dynamo here.

As for me, I’ll try to do some jottings on the games between tonight and tomorrow. Expect the usual rambling, if not a little more of it, as I’m trying to get away from anything that resembles a typical match report. This being pre-season – for at least three of the teams – there’s not a lot to read into this anyway.

BONUS Continue reading

Richards + for Conde? Asking Anyone Who Cares

Soccer By Ives reported this morning that the Chicago Fire turned down a swap proffered by Red Bull New York that would have sent right-sided lightning bolt Dane Richards to Chicago and disgruntled defender Wilman Conde to NYC (or thereabouts).  Further down his post, Ives concocts a couple other formulations for separating Conde from the Fire – and there’s some interesting arrangements in there.  A few of those would tempt me, anyway, but Chicago seems determined to spurn the advances.

As I’m turning this over in my head, a lot of the same questions that occurred to WVHooligan’s drew epperley are occurring to me as well; rather than reformulate/re-type those questions here, I’ll ask that you read his post.

More generally, though, I’m asking because 1) I’m curious and 2) I’m not sure: What do all y’all make of, not only this trade, but of the entire “Conde Situation”?  Any answers will do….even some kind of comment spam for penis enlargement could lead to enlightment.

BONUS
More from The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  I like this one for its blasphemy.  Milan Kundera goes on to allude to the same later in the text, but it’s a common enough concept that they made a movie about it and David Duchovny played the lead.  Here’s the bit I like:

“Surgery takes the basic imperative of the medical profession to its outermost border, where the human makes contact with the divine.  When a person is clubbed violently on the head, he collapses and stops breathing.  Some day, he will stop breathing anyway.  Murder simply hastens a bit what God will eventually see to on his own.  God, it may be assumed, too murder into account; He did not take surgery into account.  He never suspected that someone would dare to stick his hand into what He had invented, wrapped carefully in skin, and sealed away from human eyes.”

Rapids-Reinaldo-RSL: Do They Ever Stop Competing?

Figuring they had shot their wad for several years when they signed Christian Gomez, word that the Colorado Rapids slapped a discovery claim on some Brazilian cat named Reinaldo surprised me a little. “Ambition” and “Colorado Rapids” appear in about as many sentences as “spendthrift” and “New England Revolution.”

Apart from knowing he most recently plied his trade in Australia, I know so little about Reinaldo that I hesitated to post anything on this…until today, that is, when I read on My Soccer Blog that Real Salt Lake is loitering with intent in the event that Colorado passes on, or cannot afford, a deal with the Brazilian.

The Rocky Mountain rivalry…nothing can stop it…not even the off-season.

BONUS
I have just about wrapped up The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a rather famous book I’m moderately proud to say I neglected to read during my undergraduate years.  It’s good, obviously, and contains plenty of wonderful thoughts expressed wonderfully (that butchered phrasing is, by the way intentional).  I’ll get myself in trouble later when I stretch a quote in an unpopular way, but here’s a good, general one I really liked:

“The goals we pursue are often veiled.  A girl who longs for marriage long for something she knows nothing about.  Teh boy who hankers after fame has no idea what fame is.  The thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us.” 

Champions League Today On TV

Since I just set my girlfriend’s DVR to tape the games, I figuered I would let everyone know what’s going on with today’s Champions League Games.

Arsenal-Milan     ESPN2 2:30-5:30

Celtic v Barcelona     ESPN Deportes 2:30-5:00
ESPN Classic 5:00- 7:00 (Replay from ESPN Deportes but in English)

Lyon v Manchester United ESPNDeportes 4:45-7 (Tape Delay)

Basically ESPN Deportes replays three of the four games during the day (of course the Sevilla game isn’t one of them!)

If you are looking for streams of the games, check out www.live-footy.org 

Fenerbahçe v Sevilla – Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Sevilla take on Fenerbahçe Wednesday in a stadium that is reminiscent of the Winter Classic played between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Years Day. The current ‘blanket of snow’ aptly named by AS.com is in the process of being cleared.

Sevilla left the homeland for Istanbul with 20 players in tow.
Palop, De Sanctis, Daniel Alves, Mosquera, Drago, Crespo, Fazio, Escudé, Adriano, Renato, Poulsen, Maresca, Keita, Jesús Navas, Tom De Mul, Duda, Diego Capel, Koné, Luis Fabiano Kanouté.

The starting 11 will be:

Luis Fabiano–Kanouté

Capel-Poulsen-Keita-Jesus Navas

Drago-Adriano-Escude-Dani Alves

Palop

 

Today, Sevilla were allowed to practice in the stadium for around 70 minutes. The players described the pitch as ‘not frozen’ but said it was ‘irregular’ (aka It was a mess). Half of the stadium was available to Sevilla, and the other half was busy being cleared off for the match tomorrow.

On to the match itself. Sevilla head into this game unbeaten in their last 4 games (3-1 with the draw coming to Barcelona). Many of the pundits are talking about Sevilla finally <em>finding their form</em> and in fact, Sevilla find themselves sitting in 6th place, which gains them a UEFA Cup spot.

<!–more–>

But this game isn’t about <em>La Liga</em> it’s about the Champions League. I remember watching Liverpool play Beskitas in Turkey during the group stages. I’ve never seen a group of fans as crazy as the Beskitas fans were during that game. For 90 straight minutes the fans never stopped chanting, nor needed any part of their seat as they were standing all game long.

After starting physical therapy at the University at Buffalo Sports Medicine center, I met one of the graduate students, who is Turkish and just so happens to be a Fenerbahçe fan. The last 2 weeks have been nothing but cheap shots at one another, but I’ve also learned something about this Turkish team that I can safely say I knew NOTHING about before meeting him.

He says ‘We love Brazilians’. <em>Marca</em> has an article today entitled ‘Fenerbahçe dances samba’ (in reference to all of the Brazilians on the team. The most notable Brazilian on Fenerbahçe is Roberto Carlos, but they are rather stacked with Brazilians, with <strong>Zico</strong> is in his second year at the club as trainer while <strong>Aurelio</strong> speaks Turkish and is a naturalized Turkish citizen.

On to Sevilla. As mentioned earlier, we are on a 4 game unbeaten streak and want to continue that run through Turkey on Wednesday night. It would be stupid of me not to say the snow could play a bit of a role in the outcome of the game, but fortunately for the game of soccer in general, it is not meant to be played in the snow. Both teams will be struggling if the white stuff starts coming down.

Sevilla have no real injuries to talk about, except that <em>el capitan</em> Javi Navarro is still out and I still have no clue when he’ll be back. Chevantón is also out injured for a month, but will not really be of any necessity with both Luis Fabiano and Kanouté ready for the challenge.

Hopefully Sevilla can keep the scoring boots on and find the back of the net while on the away leg. Away goals are always a premium in these home-at-home series.

Some talk has been made of Diego Capel’s diving ability. As I posted on here a few weeks ago, Capel draws a yellow card every 69 minutes he is on the pitch and has 22 yellow cards against him in the first half of La Liga. That’s an insane amount of cards. He isn’t a diver. In the games I’ve caught this season, I have only seen him dive once or twice, not any more than your normal professional footballer.

That’s all I’ve got as I have a soccer game myself to catch. Let me know your thoughts about Sevilla in the comments!

Chelsea’s Greek Deadlock Made Worse – Threats, Sanctions?

Avram Grant called Chelsea’s performance the “worst performance since he took charge”. Without Frank Lampard in the starting line-up, the midfield looked oddly quiet against Olympiakos who were content to sit back and not muster any attacks against the Blues defense. Didier Drogba looked dejected – not himself – probably due to a African Nations Cup hangover of sorts. Solomon Kalou and Frank Lampard came on with some time to go, but by then the urgency was gone. Chelsea players looked satisfied with an away draw – which against Arsenal/Real Madrid/etc. would have been sufficient. Regardless, the Blues return to Stamford Bridge next week hoping a whiff of home will wake them up. Other developments have done the ‘waking up’ however…

Apparently, Avram Grant received anti-Semitic death threats at Chelsea’s training ground yesterday in the form of a package, with a note, containing a powdered substance that was later deemed to be harmless. The note also threatened Avram’s wife, Tzofit. Grant didn’t open the package as he was in Athens…the training ground, however, was shut down for a while after a staff member opened the note and package saying, ‘You are a back-stabbing Jewish b******. When you open this letter you will die a very slow and painful death.’ Clearly, there aren’t any good words to say about this…

In lesser – but still pretty bad – news, Chelsea is also being ‘told on’ by Serie A’s Reggina. The Blues apparently approached and effectively ‘poached’ Reggina’s most coveted youth prospect, Vincenzo Camilleri – 15 years old. Camilleri was expected to sign for Reggina when he turned 16, but opted to skip a scheduled youth team match and head to London to solidify the deal with Chelsea. Reggina’s chairman Lillo Foti is mostly disturbed with the fact that Camilleri’s move not only robs them of a big talent, but also of all future benefits, etc. He then tries to deflect the economic impact by saying that it could also destroy a young kid’s career, being moved that young, put into a crop of youth prospects all of the same if not better talent levels, etc. This is something that has been going on for a long time and it seems everyone (normally the losing club’s chairman) has a bad taste for it, but yet nothing has been done. Even UEFA’s president Michael Platini denounces it, but nobody really made a fuss about Astrit Ajdarevic’s move from minnows Falkenbergs in Sweden to Liverpool (let alone the WHOLE Liverpool youth movement this past summer). Or Fluminense’s Brazilian ‘whiz-twins’ Fabio and Rafael moving to Manchester United (even though there is an agreement between Fluminense and United). How should these situations be dealt with? Higher premiums for youth players? How do the clubs get properly compensated for such an undetermined loss?

In better news, Paulo Ferreira signed a new 5-year pact with Chelsea, effectively tying the rest of the Portuguese defender’s career to Stamford Bridge.