CWC: Boca Jrs. 1-0 Etoile Sportive du Sahel…

…um…all I know about this game comes from FIFA.com’s site; here, in fact.  Some jackass (me) blew setting the VCR, entering p.m. where he needed a.m.  (Yeah, I’m still on old technology; I also rocked K-Mart duds through elementary school and rode a hand-me-down girls bike with a peppermint-candy banana seat for years; such trends are powerful, only the details change.)  Sounds like it was a close game.

So, I missed this one.  I’ll try again for tomorrow’s game: AC Milan v. Urawa Red Diamonds.  I’m still pulling for an upset in the Club World Cup; hopefully, Milan will oblige.

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MLS Daily Sweeper, 12.11: CWC, CONCACAF, Atlante, TRADE MADNESS…AHH!!

Jesus balls! What a day! So many major and minor things to discuss….best start with the little stuff to warm up. Just like before playing, right?

– One little thing to keep an eye on: I seriously don’t know how teeny-tiny Major League Soccer (MLS) rosters will cope with the scheduling insanity if the powers-that-be follow through with their threat to create a CONCACAF Champions Cup. FC Rocky looked only at Houston’s schedule, but a couple teams will be eating the same shit sandwich.

– The Club World Cup continues (very early) tomorrow morning (report tomorrow) when Etoile Sportive du Sahel enjoys their one-night stand against Boca Juniors. Naturally, Boca is trotting out the typical “we’re not overlooking anyone” business, but one suspects they’re grinning like cats when no one’s looking. Then again, Jonah Freedman’s look at how the world’s mighty have fallen cautions against complacency.

– Don’t know how far behind I am on this (so much for following the Mexican league…oh wait, I couldn’t, not with my cable package), but Atlante, the latest hot thing in Cancun, Mexico, won the Mexican Primera’s Apertura. That makes them the “other” Mexican club for this spring’s CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, right? Wikipedia says it does – smack at the bottom of their brief history of the club. Do note the move from Mexico City to Cancun in August 2007. Luis Bueno wrote a nice recap of Atlante’s accomplishment as well. But the most interesting thing to come out of any of these pieces appears at the bottom of that first link – and it doesn’t deal with Atlante so much as MLS’ future prospects in our local, international tournaments:

“One-time models of success, Pachuca have hit rock bottom. The record-setting club lost 1-0 in the opening round of the Club World Cup to little-known Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel. Los Tozos went to Japan who had high expectations, but the club that could do no wrong for most of 2007 — winning the Clausura championship, the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and the Superliga title — has not played well of late and they failed to make any accounting of themselves on the world’s stage.”

So that’s one CONCACAF Champs’ participant sucking wind. Maybe we’ll get a club to the final in 2008?

OK. Now the big stuff (and the accompanying thought-sprawl): Continue reading

CWC: CONCACAF’s Pride and Place in the World

Etoile Sportive du Sahel 1 – 0 CF Pachuca

It wasn’t as if Pachuca didn’t do itself, or the CONCACAF region, proud last night. Outside the first twenty minutes and off the score-sheet, they carried the game in terms of possession and aggression. In spite of the general advantage, however, Pachuca couldn’t force clear-cut openings in the Etoile Sportive du Sahel (hereafter, ESS or “the Tunisians'”) defense. As such, when ESS finally scored – off the kind of narrow chance, in fact, that characterized the game – Pachuca couldn’t swing the reply.

Even so, Pachuca looked the better team; play this game 10 times and Pachuca wins about seven of them. Thanks to the skill and understanding in the side, their passes slipped into and out of the narrowest confines everywhere on the field but the Tunisians’ defensive third; there, they tried plenty of quick give-and-goes – and pulled off a couple, at least in the wide portions of the field – but found themselves thwarted again and again by the second-to-last defender. They still created some openings where a Pachuca player had at least part of the goal to shoot at and room to fire, but the angles were such that the ball always seemed within the ESS ‘keeper’s reach – or it went just over the bar.

To give them credit, ESS just proved hard to beat; the quality of their defending limited Pachuca’s opportunities. And given the kind of opportunity that the Mexicans couldn’t finish all night, their guy (Moussa Nary) put it away – albeit, courtesy of a deflection. Their capacity to concentrate defensively, however, should do them some good when they meet Boca Juniors in the semifinals. Going the other way – e.g. on offense – well…maybe the team should lengthen the prayer they offered just before kick-off against Pachuca. Continue reading

World Club Cup: A “Minnows” Primer

Now that I’ve got the bug – and, no less crucially, the indulgence of my wife with regard to TV time – I’m going to make an honest stab at covering the 2007 FIFA World Club Cup.  The first step begins, of course, with education – specifically, getting up to date on the clubs that aren’t world-renowned (e.g. Argentina’s Boca Juniors and Italy’s AC Milan) or that I haven’t seen play three times in the last year (Mexico’s CF Pachuca).

With that in mind, I pulled together some reading on the remaining clubs competing in this year’s World Club Cup (a.k.a. FIFA’s latest money-spinning scheme/methadone fix for soccer addicts the world over.  You don’t own me!  Get out of my mind!!).  I hope it will go some distance to making any viewing more pleasurable.

Sepahan (Iran)
The profile posted on the FIFA site gives dramatic background on this Iranian club’s arrival to the World Club Cup.  Some way or another, their loss to Japan’s entrants, Urawa Red Diamonds, in the obliges them to win a play-in against Oceania’s representatives.  They also mention the fact that, Ehad Mohammed, one of Sepahan’s key forwards, is Iraqi…kinda neat.  On a related note, the Wikipedia entry on Sepahan shows nationalities for all the team’s players – and, lo and behold, there’s another Iraqi in there.  I pull for Iraqis by habit lately.  And, on another related note, I read that their domestic league has recommenced play after an 18-month layoff. Continue reading

Methadone Clocking: The World Club Cup! Saved from UEFA Cup Viewing!*

* I kid. I kid. I just won’t get to it this week.

It’s only when the desperation gets one poking under the cushions of soccertv.com that one truly realizes the full-time nature of the global soccer calendar. I see now that waiting won’t be at all necessary, not with the U.S. U-17s in action all weekend long; they start Thursday, in fact. And the opposition – the U-17 teams from Brazil, Turkey, and Russia – should make for some fun viewing.

But that’s not if I’m not too busy watching the World Club Cup. Yippee!! Tournaments! What better way to justify recording all kinds of soccer, hogging the TV, etc.? That one kicks off Friday with a play-in game between Iran’s Sepahan (looks like soccertv.com has a typo) and New Zealand’s Waitakere United. The games follow hot and heavy from there with Mexico’s CF Pachuca taking on Etoile Sahel from Tunisia. This one only lasts till December 16, so you might miss it if you blink. On a side note, go, our region!

Credit to Sports Illustrated for the reminder. Surely, there’s an official site out there somewhere….ah, here it is. Full schedule, teams, and so on. The only question now is how I’m going to watch the NCAA finals with this going on. What are my priorities?

So, in all seriousness, I’m going to take a crack at catching/covering most of this one. I hope it’s fun.