Monday, July 20, 2009

We've Moved!!

Don't touch that, touch this. We've permanently moved to....

Please update your URLs, wake the kids, and tell the neighbors.

Read more on "We've Moved!!"...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tweeting is fun for everyone! (almost)

Here in the locker room of the Unprofessional Foul, it can be a place that can best be described as 'scuzzy'. Between NY Kid's sobbing into a towel, Spectator taking overly long showers, and general fighting over the last beer in the cooler, a rumble goes on. Over the past week or so, Autoglass and Bigus Dickus have been fighting over the usefulness/uselessness/relevancy of their respective twitters. The biggest issue is over keeping things private vs. not. We're to the point of offering a class at UFU on this topic. Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching is a person who would have benefited from such classes. Fined for whinging about the ref's call. "Ref in seattle just cheated the dynamo," Ching tweeted. "What a joke. Not even close. Ref is a cheat."

He apologized in two Twitter posts the next morning, blaming "the heat of the moment." Now, he was fined $500 for such a comment. I first thought "wow, that's like a big chunk of his salary. But it's not really. I had to pull out my handy MLS Salary Chart (PDF Warning). He makes $242K this year, or more than what Bigus Dickus will spend on Norwich swag in his lifetime.

The throwdown between Bigus and Autoglass shapes up like a classic east coast/west coast feud: The laid back west coaster who openly tweets about his daily life of being a sad Chelsea fan, and the private rantings of a Norwichian. But reading the arguments over twitter between Bigus and Autoglass, it makes us wonder how a twitter feud between Beckham and Landon would play out:

@PoshBoy: Someone told me that I got dissed by my teammates. wazzup?

@LandonsTime: Ignore those writers, they're selling books.

@PoshBoy: I'm always a great teammate, just ask all my mates.

@LandyCakes: Well, you're a captain and I don't feel right asking.

@PoshBoy: All of my mates loved me.

@LandyCakes: We loved you too. We just needed some dinner, and I forgot my visa.

@PoshBoy: All you need is a bite? Let me ask the missus what I should do.

@LandyCakes: The MLS isn't all bad. We've got Davies and he's a stud.

@PoshBoy: Are you sure?

@LandyCakes: Well, there's me!

@PoshBoy: Yea...gotta run, I need to help Tom and Katie move some meter thing.

Read more on "Tweeting is fun for everyone! (almost)"...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Backpasses: This is good fun

Attenzione: There's a big move happening tomorrow. Commenters may have to re-register with WordPress. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly and the downtime will be minimal.

There is absolutely no chance that Mexico-US will be on ESPN. Sorry [Soccer Insider]
Platini: "If Cristiano cost 92m, when I was 23 I would have cost 93m.” [The Spoiler]
If the above video was too clean cut for you, here's seven minutes of Roy Keane [Dirty Tackle]
Ha ha. Screw you, red half [EPL Talk]
League One map for next season. These are always great [Bill Sports Maps]

Ray Stubbs to ESPN(UK). This is a big deal [Guardian]
Some good, young talent is out there, ready to be snapped up [Premiership Talk]
Ljungberg to stay in Seattle [The Beautiful Game]
Zizou to go to Germany to free Ribery. Will likely surrender instead, but get in a few headbutts first [ONTD_FB]
It's confusing, but there was a Champions League draw today [UEFA]

Your TV hopes that Celtic don't make the televised schedule of the Champs League, especially the HD ones [Football Shirt Culture]

Read more on "Friday Backpasses: This is good fun"...

FIFA fails to follow Austria's lead

Kudos to Austria for taking initiative in what will surely be the biggest head-to-head in next year's World Cup, the battle of vuvuzela v. sanity for all the marbles. It's a shame, however, that FIFA won't take such overwhelmingly brilliant action, ignoring all calls for a ban of the tinny, 10-cent trumpets from the tournament.

I feel bad for my remote control, as it's going to be a long summer for my poor, poor mute button.

FIFA's Director of Communications Hans Klaus told reporters the following earlier today: " "That would mean one would have to take away the cow bells from Swiss fans and ban English fans from singing. We approach this in a relaxed manner. I am convinced the vuvuzelas will be a hit at the World Cup. It will be a World Cup with African sound."To be (gasp) fair to FIFA for a minute, he's absolutely right. As frustrating and irritating as the vuvuzela can be, we have no right to march into South Africa and pluck their proud cultural artifact from their hands in order to have a nice, clean, non-threatening tournament, though the temptation is tough to resist.

Still, FIFA got their analogies wrong. It wouldn't be like banning the English from singing, but banning them from getting rip-roariously drunk in a foreign country and destroying everything in sight.

Read more on "FIFA fails to follow Austria's lead"...

Come Blow Your Horn, Just Not That One.

I know what you are thinking... Heidi took the picture.

Austria is banning the Vuvuzelas that invaded the Confederations Cup last month. That's rich for a country known for the love of blowing giant horns! But it's not the noise that the Austrians are worried about. One of their reasons is quite frankly bollocks. The other makes perfect sense.

So what's the reason? Apparently the Austrian professional football league says that the famous bee sounding horns "can be used as projectiles. Furthermore, they can incite aggressive behaviour amongst other fans."

No shit...Right, on those grounds I demand that the foam finger also be outlawed as I was poked in the eye once while a small child celebrated a goal against Stockport County and I am sure that could also happen in Austria. Also they will need to ban tea, apart from being housed in a dangerous plastic missile, the t-bags can be thrown at players or security staff. Oh no people. I have seen it. QPR away, that's what they got for selling the beverage cold!

In fact you would have to ban all items from coming in, money is a much more dangerous missile than a light weight plastic trumpet surely? Lets also ban that. Oh that's right, no money? No beer, burgers, pies, or replica kits. can't have that.

Culture? Not mine. I don't want my elders to travel across the country for a visit, thanks!

While Austria are certainly creative with one of their excuses,(it's a pretty shit missile) the second claim has validity. That's 'inciting aggressive behaviour'. The vuvuzela is as irritating as being sat on a bus full of mosquito's while small children sing the hokey pokey with Elmo. These trumpets, horns, plastic demons need to be stopped. The one tone drone that emits from the nasty buggers would turn a saint to sin. Personally if I ever find myself next to someone who is blowing one, I will react with a violence usually reserved for an episode of Friday night Smackdown. If I had my way, I'd make the ban law. Offenders would be locked in a bee filled chamber while I practice heavy metal classics with a Kazoo. See how they like it, bastards.

Well done Austria. Let's hope the rest of the World can follow suit.

Read more on "Come Blow Your Horn, Just Not That One."...

Quick Throw: The Swap is Confirmed.

That hilarious swapsies deal this morning between Inter Milan and Barcelona is actually happening! It's Ibrahimovic to the Nou Camp and Samuel Eto'o to the San Siro. No word yet whether other players are involved.

This summer is insane. Why are so many top-end players changing hands?

Read more on "Quick Throw: The Swap is Confirmed."...

Fox Attack!

View Larger Map
Not pictured: The fox farm behind Tannadice (right)

Dundee FC play at Dens Park, the ground to the left in the above picture [unless a) I've failed at embedding correctly or b) you've gone ahead and messed around with the map]. If, in the future, Google Maps updates to a satellite photo taken in the last month or so, you'll notice something quite different about the pitch condition.

A family (den?, nest?, fleet?) of foxes have taken over the stadium at nights causing a fair bit of damage to the pitch. The foxes apparently enter at night and have dug up the area in front of the goalmouths and urinated all over the pitch, killing the grass in spots.

The club have admitted to a minor defeat in getting rid of the foxes, erecting temporary fencing around the goalmouths, to be removed for matches, until they can get around to removing the invaders--sometime next year. Yes, there are forms to be filled out and people to be contacted. Those people can't get here until Tuesday, and DFC will be totally out of town that day. DFC will then try to reschedule and the process will begin anew, until 2010.

Actually, there has been no mention of exactly when the pest control people will be able to address the problem, but for now the club is looking at starting the season with the temporary fencing in place, and possible prayers to keep the foxes out. In the meantime, new turf has been laid at the stadium to cover the problem dead spots, a move which in no way will be defeated by new fox urine on the pitch.

Intriguingly, this is not the only recent pest infestation in Dens Park, and the foxes may have been attracted to the stadium because of the last one. Dens Park used to be a playground for rabbits, and the lingering scent of the rabbits is thought to have attracted the foxes in the first place. Quote Dens Park Stadium Manager Jim Thompson: "We used to have a rabbit problem, but the foxes seem to have solved that. Maybe we need a bigger predator now to deal with the foxes." As the fine fellow at Sports Rubbish points out, next summer, expect Dens Park to be overrun by lions, and then reanimated velociraptors the season after that.

Somewhat surprisingly, there has been no mention of anything untowards happening at Tannadice, home of Dundee United, across the street from Dens Park. The conspiracy theorist in me would like to think that fans of the Terrors actually introduced the foxes into their rival's home, but that appears to be unfounded. For now, at least.

Also, I avoided any jokes about the name of Dundee's stadium and the type of home foxes make. If you would like, try out your best one liner in the comments.

Read more on "Fox Attack!"...

He's Baaaaaaaack!

Football management can lead to stress, but Pardew clearly fancies some more of that as SFC start on -10 points.

First of all, Southampton were saved from impending doom. A white knight riding a sterling stallion stormed St Mary's saving the day and now they have a new manager they will hope can take them forward. Alan Pardew was today installed at the south coast club and charged with not only overcoming a 10 point deficit but with getting the Saints promoted from League One.

Pardew has signed a 3 year deal and I can see him being there at least 3 years, with relegation being the only issue that could get in the way of a lengthy stay. The Saints realize they need to re-build and next season will be all about avoiding the drop and finishing in a decent position. Anything more will be a bonus. Liebherr doesn't appear to be in a rush, (unlike Norwich) to bounce back to the Colaship and Pardew will get time. A rarity in football these days. Saints fans are just grateful to be still in the game after a summer of administration. Norwich fans are still pissed and all associated with the club will be expecting to bounce right back up.

Southampton's new owner is clearly excited at the prospect of working with his new manager...

"Alan has a strong track record and impressed us with his vision, commitment and ambition. We look forward to working with him." -Markus Liebherr

So let's have a look at that 'strong track record' shall we?

After 299 appearances as a player for Palace and Charlton, Pardew's first step on the managerial ladder came at Reading. He had been in charge of the reserve team and was promoted to manager in 2000. In his first season, Reading made the play-off final but lost out to Walsall. The following year Reading won the league and were promoted to the Colaship (Division 1 back then).

An impressive campaign in Division 1 and a fourth place finish had many teams keeping an eye on his progress. He moved to West Ham in 2003 after resigning from Reading. In his second season at Upton Park, he gained promotion to the EPL.

In 2006, a four-nil defeat to Bolton saw Pardew sacked. West Ham had been on their worst losing streak for 70 years. Two weeks later he took over at Charlton Athletic. They were relegated from the EPL but didn't expect Pardew to save them, they were planning to bounce back. Two years later and Charlton were no closer to a return. He was canned early last season and Charlton never recovered, staying rooted to the bottom of the league and hurtling towards League One were they will start next season.

Saints have some good young players for Pardew to work with, like Adam Lallana above.

Pardew has a lot of experience at this level and works well with young players, of which Southampton have many. They also have some experienced players and I can see them doing well next year. Pardew's first game in charge of his new side will be at home to Millwall on August 8th.

Read more on "He's Baaaaaaaack!"...

Zimbabwe, Aiming to be Africa's Peru

Malaysia booked a friendly against England only to have the FA send a Gillingham side to masquerade as the Three Lions.

Substitute 'Zimbabwe' for 'England' and 'Monomotapa' for 'Gillingham' and that's pretty much what happened to Malaysia.

Although you probably have to also swap out "Three Lions" for something. And to be fair to the analogy, nobody would have been able to tell the difference between the English National team and a third division side but yeah, Zimbabwe tried slip all of Malaysia a mickey.

In the scandalous affair, Monomotapa did not only pose as the National team, but also played their two games using the national team’s colours. Now the Football Association of Malaysia is accusing ZIFA of lacking respect and questionable integrity after it was duped into believing Monomotapa were the Zimbabwe national team.
Lacking respect? No shit. This is the same FA whose chief is open about having her way sexually with national team players.

Incidentally, she—Henrietta Rushwaya—is still the head of the country's FA. And she was totally cool with it saying of the Malaysians, "Let them eat crappy club teams."

That's a little cooler than her actual quote, but not much less bizarre as she tapped Monomotapa for the trip after realizing the two-match tilt "would not be of benefit to the Warriors as they do not have any immediate assignments."

So it's not enough for Rushwaya to screw her own players, and now she feels the need to screw over entire countries. This actually corresponds with ZIFA by-laws that are based on the operating tenet of "Eh, if we're not going to get much out of it, let's dick over the other guys."

Rushwaya added a verbal shoulder shrug in sort of defending both the organization and the club: "Whilst it is not right to use the national colours, we cannot stop anyone from using the kit."

This is actually pretty awesome. You and your 10 best friends are now the Zimbabwe national soccer team.

Anyway, Monomotapa lost the first match 4-0 to the 157th-FIFA-ranked Malaysian squad before salvaging some national club pride in a 1-0 victory.

Read more on "Zimbabwe, Aiming to be Africa's Peru"...

Swap Shop. Who Gets The Better Deal?

A Friday morning quickie. Inter Milan and Barcelona are currently discussing a swap deal that will send Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barca and Samuel Eto'o the other way. Personally I think Ibrahimovic is highly over rated and disappears during big games, bagging goals for fun against lesser opponents in the Italian league. But hey, that's just me. So lets have a Friday morning vote. Who is getting the better deal, out of this or Inter Milan?

Read more on "Swap Shop. Who Gets The Better Deal?"...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Backpasses: What's this?

Two words that immediately send my head into song. Oh, and there's something over there -->

Arsenal invite 15 year old Montenegrin to trial. Sounds exactly right [Sky Sports]
New Jersey reporter rips on Becks [100 Percent Soccer]
Sepp Blatter falls. You'll watch and laugh [World Cup Blog]

Iker Casillas has a hot new squeeze [ONTD_FB]
How Seattle Sounders attendance would stack up around the world [The Offside]

An honest look at the state of growing soccer in America [TIAS]

Read more on "Thursday Backpasses: What's this?"...

MLS Liveblog: NY Red Bulls v. LA Galaxy

So exactly what can we expect tonight? Which Beckham will show up, and perhaps more importantly, which Donovan? They blab in the media (well, tellingly, only Becks did) about how they've patched up their differences, but the only way to know for sure is by examining the drivel put forth on the pitch.

Mercifully for the Galaxy, they get to ease Becks back into the league with a soft fixture against one of the worst teams in the league. Seriously, the Red Bulls have managed 2 wins, 13 defeats and 4 draws this season. And to think the RBNY got this bad the old-fashioned way, with a colossally hilarious string of poor personnel decisions, instead of overpaying one washed-up marquee name whose salary then crippled the franchise!

Wait... does Juan Pablo Angel count?

But I digress. The song above may or may not be a reasonable glimpse inside the mind of Los Angeles' two tortured souls, both figuring out a way to make the next 3 months tolerable. A win would make for a happy start.

15 mins to kickoff: Seriously, this is going to be awesome. FSC is running interviews with Beckham and Wahl in the pregame. Personally, I can't listen to this stuff anymore right now, even though I've been blogging about the right-sided midfielder all frickin' weekend.

10 mins to kickoff: And Beckham is full of shit. He knew this project wouldn't take a year or two years. He's in it for the long haul. Just fucking leave already!

Footage of the Columbus Crew visiting Barack Obama. Wonderful.

@Spectator - the Pele Scale! We should enlighten the masses as to our ingenious invention.

5 mins to kickoff: Grant Wahl pitchside for an interview! He reckons US soccer needs a good controversy, so why not something he started with the league's most iconic, misunderstood player? And no, he's not surprised that Donovan spoke as much as he did. So glad he did, too.

Predictions for the game? Score? Scorers? What will Beckham do? Donovan?

3 mins to kickoff: The Red Bulls will assume the position shortly. They are an awful, awful team. I'm thinking LA will win big, maybe 3-0 or so, and their victory will act as one of many impending false dawns for this team. OH GOD SHUT UP MAX BRETOS. My filter is on the fritz. For anyone interested, it's not so much a TV filter but an icepick lodged in my right ear, perforating the drum and making Bretos only half-intelligible amid the bleeding and pain.

2 mins to kickoff: That said, the other commentator noted that LA haven't won in "New York" since 2000. Maybe I should revise my prediction. Kickoff! Next!

NEW YORK (4-4-2): Cepero - Pacheco, Sassano, Petke, Hall - Rojas, Celades, Stammler, Zimmerman - Kandji, Angel.
Subs: Wolyniec, Krupnik, Smith, Richards, Ubiparipovic.

LOS ANGELES (4-1-3-2): Ricketts - Dunivant, Berhalter, Gonzalez, Delagarza - Miglioranzi - Donovan, Lewis, Beckham - Eskandarian, Buddle.
Subs: Sanneh, Klein, Magee, Gordon, Kirovski.

Nice to see Becks and Landy split on separate wings, presumably to keep them as far as possible from one another lest they gripe and grumble about one another within earshot of one another.

Let us do this! Peeeeeeeeep!

LA Galaxy in blue, NY Red Bulls in white.

1 min: The "grass" is wet, as LA are first to experience its slipperiness. Sassano had slipped, allowing the ball to trickle towards Eskandarian, but cover was there to save the day.

Early, early pressure down at RBNY's end. Big surprise! At least the atmosphere is feisty and loud.

3 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and a slice of fried goal from Alecko Eskandarian!!! A fairly innocuous ball forward finds the striker, he nods it ahead into space, and nary a Red Bull has the wings to shut him down. And so, from 25 yards with Luke Sassano impersonating a traffic cone, Eskandarian has a crack on the volley and it rip-roars past Danny Cepero.Top corner shot. Hilarious start for the Red Bulls. NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 1

The crowd remains unbowed despite the early dagger blow to the chest. LA are still setting the tempo in midfield, but the Red Bulls get something going down the right with Zimmerman and Hall, but Hall's cross floats kindly into Ricketts' grasp.

7 mins: I spoke too soon! RBNY make some progress down the right, Angel nips behind his marker and fires a shot from a narrow angle that Ricketts shins out for a corner. Good effort from Juan Pablo.

What's hilarious early (besides the RBNY concept of "man-marking") is the state of the pitch. No-one can remain on their feet! Players slipping left and right! I thought this is why Adi Dassler did what he did in the 1950s with removable studs.

9 mins: Awful defending by RBNY, tumbling and falling to keep out a string of Galaxy crosses into the box. Eventually they clear to Beckham 20 yards out, and his shot is easily blocked.

OUCH. Berhalter gets a yellow for completely decimating Kandji. The defender's lucky he got there just early enough to avoid a red.

11 mins: Angel's nothing if not persistent. He leaps high in the box and nods for goal from the edge of the box. Woulda snuck under the bar but Ricketts was ready for it.

Much better from RBNY, as Kandji's passing is wonderfully accurate. The move breaks down on the right as Zimmerman gets crowded out, and once the ball comes back to the left again, Rojas attempts his own Eskandarian special from fully 40 yards but Ricketts catches it on the line.

13 mins: This sodden, skid-inducing excuse for a pitch is causing all sorts of sloppiness. If it's not the ball bouncing strangely, it's the Keystone Kops-esque hilarity of everyone falling over themselves.

Still, RBNY amp up the pressure from a throw-in. Rojas pushes it in from the left, it's pinged out to Angel, and he slips Zimmerman free on the right. His cross misses the man in the middle, and Rojas' 2nd cross is snatched from the sky by Ricketts.

16 mins: Donovan and Beckham have linked up nicely a couple of times thus far. Oh, the healing power of winning. Plenty of room for both sides down the flanks as well, but so far, Donovan's been everywhere. Tracking back down the right, galloping down the left, popping up in the middle... you name it, he's done it.

17 mins: Hall pummels a cross into the stands after working hard to get clear down the right wing. Arena will be encouraged by his workrate, but dismayed by his Pennant-esque inability to cross the ball.

20 mins: This Kandji fellow is wreaking havoc up top. In fact, he only needs to stand still and trap the ball while defenders foul him left and right, and it's Berhalter again, tumbling into his back for no discernible reason. Needs to be careful after that early yellow... free-kick RBNY, 20+ yards out.

... and Rojas almost knocks it in! His cheeky chip over the wall takes a deflection and loops agonizingly this wide of the post with Ricketts, a former cricketer (thanks for that, BRETOS), beaten. Then, RBNY resumes normal service in wasting their corner kick.

24 mins: Great chance to double their lead! Donovan wins a footrace down the right wing and turns in a dangerous cross. With Buddle threatening, Mike Petke sticks out a leg and touches it behind for a corner. Great defending. LA's corner amounts to nothing.

26 mins: Beckham's been quiet. In fact, I don't even know where he is on the pitch as Donovan appears to be the new right winger. Oh wait, a free kick for LA some 40 yards out, there's Beckham behind the ball. Phew. He swerves one in but it's headed clear.

28 mins: No Bretos, Beckham is not dangerous from a free-kick 45 yards out and right against the touchline. Eskandarian gets a yellow for fouling someone or something.

30 mins: Take a breath, Red Bulls fans. The home team still knows how much you love them without the continual screaming.

Chance for LA! Eskandarian beats the offside trap but breaks his run so Donovan can sprint onto it. His cross is long to Lewis, and his shot is blocked.

31 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and the Red Bulls just don't learn, do they? Beckham swings in a corner, it's cleared as far as Landon Donovan some 20 yards out, and it's his turn to Eskandarian the living daylights out of the ball, catching it sublimely on the volley and snorting it past an absolutely helpless Danny Cepero. He was grabbing nothing but the night sky. Gorgeous goal, high-fives all round for LA, and I think I'll retract my revised prediction and stick with the original 3-0 scoreline. NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 2

32 mins: I feel bad for Angel. He is a man without a team, really. Under pressure of a double-team at the edge of the box, all he can do is shoot weakly at Ricketts due to the lack of support in the middle.

34 mins: Hard foul in the midfield, and Becks has a free-kick to bend from 25 yards out...

... but it takes a deflection off Mo Kandji and dies mid-air. LA press again down the left wing this time, winning another corner. Beckham waltzes over to the RBNY section to take. Pacheco heads it clear, and Kandji is drowned out by a double-team in midfield. No love for RBNY currently, illustrated by Rojas letting a simple pass bobble up off his shin and out for an LA Galaxy throw. Poor stuff.

36 mins: The Red Bulls are just awful. Shockingly awful. Can they just delete the team and start over again? Bring back the Metrostars! Tony Meola!

37 mins: Coach Osorio should just put 6 at the back in order to relieve some embarrassment of his statues in midfield. Beckham comes inside and plays a swanky no-look pass to Eskandarian, who jogs some 30 yards before shooting and shaving some metal off the top of the crossbar with his effort. Can anyone on that Red Bull squad close a man down? Some positively USA v. Italy defending there. Donovan must be having deja vu.

Then, mild excitement at the other end as Kandji just misses out on a low cross by Hall from the right. And Bretos needs to learn to control himself because WE CANNOT HEAR WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DESCRIBE IF YOU ARE YELLING INTO THE MICROPHONE THAT YOU'RE HOLDING LESS THAN AN INCH FROM YOUR MOUTH.

40 mins: Donovan's toying with RBNY down the right, eluding a couple of challenges before Petke lowers the boom and nicks possession. Free-kick anyways on the right side. Duh Becks to take, but it's headed away by Sassano.

42 mins: Long-distance shooting for all! All of it rubbish, too. Kandji is trying to spark something for the home side, but he's one man against eleven.

AND A SERIES OF STUNNING SAVES BY RICKETTS! How did Rojas not bury that rebound? Ricketts dives to his right to keep out the initial shot by I-forget-who, but the danger lurks as Rojas is first to the loose ball and somehow rifles his shot right at Ricketts' legs. The goalie's block was enough to turn it around the post. If he'd have passed it a foot to his right, Angel would have had an open goal. When things aren't going your way, they're really not going your way.

44 mins: Sorry, had a Bretos moment there. My apologies. To tone down the hyperbole, Ricketts made two wonderful saves in quick succession.

GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL from absolutely nothing! And my score prediction from the pregame looks positively prescient! Landon Donovan gets the ball on the right, loops it across the edge of the box to a wide-open Eddie Lewis on the left side, and he volleys low, beating Cepero with the awkward bounce. Simply easy stuff for the Galaxy, and it's all coming from Donovan, really. Becks must feel great, both to be winning but also to be playing second fiddle for the night. NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 3

HALF TIME: NY Red Bulls 0, LA Galaxy 3
Just about everything going the Hollywood way so far. The Galaxy looked relatively untroubled at the back, though the Red Bulls should have scored late on via Rojas. Beckham and Donovan are so gonna hug in the dressing room, and it's the mouthy American leading the charge on the pitch.

Now to go draw the winner of that Grant Wahl book a few people here and there have been talking about! Back shortly!

Drum Roll..... The winner of a copy of The Beckham Experiment as chosen at random is.... Kopper! Email us at the address so we can match you up with your prize. Sorry Goat. We will have another competition soon-ish, with more books to give away!

Re: this game... full-time can't come soon enough.

And we're back!

This is really the first time this season the LA Galaxy scored more than two goals in a game? Amazing.

46 mins: Buddle gets bundled over by Hall, giving Beckham a free-kick 20-odd yards out. He curls it into the box, it bobbles around a bit, it's knocked over for a corner.

Becks pumps it to the far post, and Donovan's wide open. Brimming with confidence, he cracks a volley but it's always spinning wide.

49 mins: Angel wins a free kick in typical Angel, hustle/bustle style. Kandji heads for goal from the cross, but it's never threatening Ricketts.

50 mins: The color commentator hints that comebacks are possible from 3-0 down, and he namechecks Liverpool v. Milan in 2004/05. Then he has the sense to correct himself, saying that the NY Red Bulls are not exactly Liverpool.

Corners corners corners for the Red Bulls, but nothing doing.

52 mins: Another free-kick for LA in the midfield, an area they've absolutely dominated. Oh, and I missed a wicked volley from Rojas a few minutes ago that gave Ricketts a scare. Aside from that shot, Rojas has been crap today. Same for Delagarza, Zimmerman and Petke/Stammler.

Seeing a banner on the sideline reminded me: how on earth did the Red Bulls make the MLS Cup final last year?

54 mins: Anything else on TV right now?

As much as it pains me to say, Donovan's been superb tonight. Energetic, always looking to get involved, never afraid to track back, and dangerous moving forward. He's the USA's Rooney, who in turn is the English Dirk Kuyt, much like Ji-Sung Park is the South Korean Kuyt. Conversely, Beckham's been quiet and subdued but has done his part when asked. As I thought, he's been good from the dead ball but very little else. Not mailing it in already, surely.

@The Fan's Attic -- sadly, not really if I remember correctly. People came out to witness the circus, and have done so with little vitriol. The odd smattering of boos and hisses when he's over in their section to take corners, but that's about it.

I do rate Mo Kandji though. Good workrate, decent enough trickery in possession, and fast. Would do well in the Colaship. Menacing not just because of his stature, but because he can play the ball well.

59 mins: The game is lulling, but you wouldn't know it from the crowd who are still in full song. USL liveblog tomorrow night. Anyone interested?

@The NY Kid -- no clue. I'm assuming he'd cry off anyway.

Angel wins another corner for RBNY, it's wasted, but then a lovely deep cross from the left lands on Celades' head, but he can only guide it right into Ricketts' stomach. Good chance, that.

@The NY Kid -- careful, people will think you're weird for answering your own question there.

62 mins: Lovely link-up play by Donovan and Eskandarian, but the final pass isn't there and RBNY clear.

Sub for the Red Bulls: Celades off, Dane Richards on.

64 mins: Corner for LA as Buddle bedazzles Petke before the defender regains awareness and toe-pokes it away. Eddie Lewis whips the inswinger into the crowd, but Donovan pushes with too much gusto and concedes a free-kick.

66 mins: Angel is flustered again, as his hard work and industry is squandered by a team-mate. It's sub Dane Richards' turn to disappoint, straying offside to receive Angel's pass following a lovely spin off his marker.

68 mins: The Galaxy are content to let RBNY pass it from side to side without really moving forward or threatening. The Galaxy counter with Donovan (he's everywhere!), who releases Buddle on the right side of the box. His thunderous shot is blocked by Cepero (I'm surprised it didn't kill him, unless the balls are a bit flat and thus making more noise than they should) for a corner, and Buddle can't get on the end of Klein's deep cross.

Sub for LA: Beckham off, Birchall on. Mixture of boos and cheers, few drinks containers hurled in his direction as he trots off, clapping and smiling all the way. He then salutes the crowd from the bench. Always playing the PR game. Always looking for photo ops. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced Beckham is just some soccer-playing Manchurian Candidate.

71 mins: Sub for NY: Zimmerman off, Ubiparipovic on.

An LA counter gives Eskandarian a great shooting chance, but it's right at Cepero. Lovely one-touch soccer by the Galaxy moving forward. Before that, Ricketts came a mile off his line for some reason but is beaten to the ball by Richards, who twists and turns but can't shoot through all the bodies.

Another sub for LA: Eskandarian off, Magee on.

75 mins: RBNY again shoot themselves in the foot, ruining some great positive build-up by wandering offside. Lazy. I was just about to note how they have been a little unlucky with this scoreline having created some golden scoring chances. Then again, they also defend about as well as the French, so I can't show too much pity.

Angel tries to get a good position on a cross from the right, but he's swarmed by three Galaxy defenders. The guy gets no help whatsoever.

78 mins: Bretos allows himself to indulge in some gooey, dreamy-eyed fantasies about what might happen if the Galaxy win all of MLS and every MLS anything ever, and whether it'd be enough to convince Beckham to stay. Short Answer: No. England won't pick him from all the way over here.

Sub for RBNY: Kandji off, Wolyniec on.

83 mins: Bretos is talking about Argentine soccer. Yet another league, MLS included, that Bretos knows nothing about. He just likes to roll his 'r's when pronouncing all those team names. Douche.

84 mins: The live-action equivalent of this at the moment:

86 mins:

Spoke too soon! Wolyniec taps it in with Ricketts beaten, but the ref calls it back for a handball by Gonzalez and demands RBNY take a penalty instead! Let's hope they miss! It'd be hilarious!

87 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and a rare smile for Juan Pablo Angel tonight. He sends Ricketts the wrong way on the penalty. And I'm thoroughly pissed that my score prediction is now incorrect. NY Red Bulls 1, LA Galaxy 3

89 mins: As you were, folks. It's been a rather quiet second half, which was to be expected. The dream return for Beckham, because people tend to gloss over the backstabbing, doublespeak and general lack of commitment when the team is winning.

90 mins + 1: ANOTHER PENALTY FOR THE RED BULLS! BUT ANGEL MISSES IT! Gonzalez commits another handball in the box, but Angel rushes his take and Ricketts gets enough on it to kiss it off the post and back into his arms. Absolutely hilarious way to end this game.

FULL TIME: NY Red Bulls 1, LA Galaxy 3
Wonderful stuff for LA, who were aided by a monstrous effort from Donovan, and some sharp counter-attacking, in their win. Becks and Donovan share a split-second loose embrace after the whistle, and maybe it'll be all smiles at the Home Depot Center from now on.

Read more on "MLS Liveblog: NY Red Bulls v. LA Galaxy"...

T-Minus 2 Hours

Until the fun at Giants Stadium. Join me for a liveblog, won't you? The beer is cold, the chips and pretzels are all kinda neatly arranged in bowls to keep them separate (hate snack-mixing), and the TV is ready and equipped with a brand-new Bretos Filter to tune out the inanity.

I'll be here from 7.45 to follow along tonight's MLS tilt between RBNY and LAG, thus concluding our MLS coverage until next season.

Oh, and I'll generate some fake suspense in announcing the winner of that Grant Wahl book at halftime. Catch the excitement! Who will get a book for free!?!? WHO WILL IT BE!??!?!

Read more on "T-Minus 2 Hours"...

Liar Liar, Pants On Fire.

Nice house mate! Sheikh Mansour's gaff. His boy's are in town for a visit.

You may remember way, way, way back to lunchtime today when Lingering Bursitis told you that the Manchester Arabia squad had received expensive Franck Muller watches from team owner, Sheikh Mansour. We all muttered extravagant bastards and sighed. Well, Manchester Arabia are now calling BS on the story's originators, the Sun and they are taking legal action.

The official Arabia website states...

Manchester City can confirm that the story in The Sun newspaper this morning claiming that our players visiting Abu Dhabi had been given expensive watches by Sheikh Mansour is a fabrication.
The club is pursuing the matter legally and will do so in the most robust fashion possible.

It then goes on to tell us how nice they players are being by visiting kids etc, etc, blah blah blah.

If the Sun did in fact make the story up they could be in serious trouble. Not as if this opponent is short of a few quid to spend on lawyers is it?. Especially when they are prepared to splash 20 million on a future bench warmer. Talking of Roque Santa Cruz, he was apparently spending today 'fulfilling a host of engagements on behalf of new club sponsors Etihad."

Manchester Arabia are on holiday training in Abu Dhabi ahead of travelling to South Africa for a holiday tour.

Read more on "Liar Liar, Pants On Fire."...

Gold Cup Tin Cup Offer

It's obvious from the teaser that we received that CONCACAF wants a full house for their Gold Cup quarter final matches in Philadelphia this weekend.

How would you go about ensuring the crowd will arrive? I mean, the Phillies are out of town, and nothing else is happening, other than going to the beach and drinking beer while the sprinkler washes over them (it's Philly right?). Let's push those unsure fans over the tipping point by .... giving folks five dollars off of a ticket! (using the secret code "GOLDPASS").

Woo Hoo! Let's Party!

Tickets start at $25 and run up to $75, and they seem to have plenty tickets available at the $75 price from my probing of the ticketmaster site. But you know that no ticket price is really what's listed because the Offical Ticket Sponsor of Unprofessional Foul (tm), Ticketmaster, is involved.

That $5 savings will sure come in handy, after the $10.10 "convenience charge" plus the $3.50 processing fee + $2.50 for the "joy" of printing the tickets out on my printer. That's the "ease" and "convenience" they like to tout. "Ease" and "convenience" should be the name of the fists that show up to pummel us, the consumer, into helpless submission.

We all understand what Pearl Jam went through, though those crazy Seattle idealists felt they could take them down. Ticketmaster is like the La Cosa Nostra of the event world. They get their vig, regardless of what happens. They don't even smile, or give us a reach-around during the transaction.

What else could we spend that $5 on? How much is a beer at Lincoln Field? Maybe that $5 will get you on your way to being inebriated. Or maybe we can 'make it rain' on Landycakes? I mean, they had time out of their practice to fly to Los Angeles to pick up the their award for "best underdog win by a bunch of posers".

Read more on "Gold Cup Tin Cup Offer"...

Wear This Or Else!

Where's your kit? What kit? This facking kit!

Nah, listen up you slags. You'd betta buy this ere West 'Am shirt or else.

Q: What's the best way to promote your shirt if you are a club from East London, the home of real gangsters?

A: Hire a fake one!

Movie land hard man (and West Ham fan) Ray Winstone is the new face of West Ham's new kit. What a way to reinforce the old East Laaandon stereotype. The cockney actor, famous for playing tough gangsters and hard man 'types' in movies such as Sexy Beast, Nil by Mouth and Scum, jumped at the chance to show his true colours.

Not so sure about the checkered look. Not half as nice as my lot's new away shirt. Why's that you ask? Cos I said so slags, and I'm the daddy of B wing, er UF wing, er here.

Click here to see Winstone earning his reputation in his most famous scene. Beware of NSFW language and a rather unpleasant racist attitude.

The new West Ham shirt is available from the 30th July.

Read more on "Wear This Or Else!"...

Beckham Speaks Again!

In just two brief days, I reckon Beckham's undone all that dubious goodwill work with kids and Zinedine Zidane that we kept getting emails about (more on that soon...). Yesterday was that EPL comment about how he'd play anywhere, just give him a ring someone and he'll do it, etc.

Then, he and Grant Wahl had a little donnybrook during a far-from-routine presser ahead of his season debut at the Red Bulls, which I'll totally be liveblogging by the way (beginning at 7.45pm. Bring the dip, I got the chips!).

Well, today saw him hide behind the England manager as justification for his continual want-away-ness. I mean, it's not his fault he needs to play anywhere but in Los Angeles.

It was Fabio! Fabio told him to!

Cue the "well if Fabio told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?" jokes, but seriously, let's look at what he said and then make fun of him.

Leading up to the World Cup, the England manager has made it very clear to me that I need to be playing at a European level." (regarding playing for England) I will do everything possible. I'll always regret it if I didn't do everything to give myself a chance to be involved in that. At the moment, my priority is the rest of the season and also playing and keeping in every squad for England and representing my country. Going forward, of course I want to be involved in the World Cup. I've not hidden that fact."
That's of course assuming that you're going to be included in the World Cup squad. I mean, you're not getting any younger and you're becoming a little one-dimensional on the right wing, having been supplanted by the likes of Walcott and Lennon as a more agile, spritely option.

Would it kill you to just keep your mouth shut and enjoy the LA Galaxy for even five minutes? Tomorrow, I await the presser where he claims God came to him in a dream and implored him to move to Barcelona immediately.

Read more on "Beckham Speaks Again!"...

**UPDATE** What do you get for the overpaid footballer who has everything?

If you're a Citeh player, you're probably wearing yours right now!

Imagine you're Carlos Tevez, or Gaz Baz. You've just signed an absurd contract in moving to Citeh, new home of all that is evil and wrong with soccer etc etc etc etc, and you're meeting the gold-encrusted Sheikh Mansour whose money is bankrolling your hair gel expenditures.

The Sheikh is a nice man, and as if those cushy pay packets weren't enough, allegedly he's only gone and gotten you all limited edition Franck Muller watches worth 168,000 pounds each!

What a guy! Imagine what he'd buy you for Christmas if he celebrated the holiday.

Allegedly, the entire team was greeted in a fancy, swanky reception in Abu Dhabi, a pit stop before they head to South Africa for some pre-season friendlies in Durban and Polokwane. Staying in the five-star Emirates Palace Hotel, the team got a taste of the good life, although they might want to mail the watches directly home instead of taking them with, amirite?

Not much more to this story other than this being a harbinger of greedier, money-driven times to come (seriously, if Citeh win any kind of trophies this season I'll vomit), although I did like this quote from a "club source".. I'm guessing it's Mark Hughes: "Manchester City's players are now the most pampered on earth, and they were greeted like kings."

If Adebayor and John Terry somehow manage to talk themselves out of the lucre, I'll be absolutely fucking amazed.

**UPDATE** Manchester City claims that The Sun's story is false and will be pursuing legal action against it. In that case, let me just throw an allegedly in here.

Read more on "**UPDATE** What do you get for the overpaid footballer who has everything?"...

Samuel L. wants to keep his possessions

There are plenty of celebrity soccer fans, and plenty more to come, but last night's ESPYs saw the world's finest loud-voiced, over-the-top actor pledging his allegiance to the Red Scouse.

Though it might stop his house from getting burgled, it'll never be able to stop that shark.

Samuel L. picked up the LFC bug back in 2001 while filming so-so crime flick The 51st State, a movie in which his character goes to a Liverpool/Man U tilt at Anfield.

Ever since, he's been an avid follower, and decided to show his pride on the red carpet for ESPN and the paparazzi, although he's not often understood by his Hollywood pals: "I put my Liverpool gear on every now and again, and people say '"what the hell is that?"'

I thought Becks had fixed this problem! Poor Sam.

Read more on "Samuel L. wants to keep his possessions"...

Palm Springs Kids Lose $100,000

Won't someone think of the children?!?

Yeah, stupid kids shouldn’t have bet on Cruziero.

No, actually they were robbed. Or embezzled from or whatever the proper grammar is for being the victim of embezzlement.

But the Palm Springs AYSO had a sizable chunk of change go up and missing.
Search warrants were served last week on former La Quinta AYSO regional commissioner Sharon Schumaier in a felony embezzlement investigation involving more than $108,000 in local AYSO funds, court documents show. According to minutes from the board of directors' June 22 meeting, the league has about $84,000 in its account and another $19,000 in a bank account — frozen as part of the ongoing investigation.

So wait, the youth soccer organization is missing $108,000 but it still has $103,000 in its bank accounts? Youth soccer is swimming in that kind of cash?

Jesus, how come this doesn’t happen more often?

Schumaier has been ousted as the Area Director. Her claim is now that she was asked to be relieved of her duties because it was too much work.

The article makes no mention of any Schumaier priors, but a commenter drops this little nugget:
Indeed the lady was convicted of theft and embezzlement back in 1996 and received five year[sic] probation. So, she HAS been convicted of a crime in the past. Interestingly, one similiar [sic] to what she is being investigated for now [sic]. True, it doesn't make her guilty of any crime now and comments about the way she looks are ridiculous. Still, if you read the warrants, and the list of checks written out to her, her husband, or their business, it is very, very damning evidence. Further, she ignored all requests for provide [sic] financials.
The AYSO has appointed a new acting director and said it posted its budget on its website, but I couldn’t find anything but the minutes from the last couple of board meetings. Families that paid their dues for the upcoming season will not have to repay. But there won’t be orange slices at halftime this season.

Read more on "Palm Springs Kids Lose $100,000"...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday Backpasses: One more time

Last chance: you can win a book! Simply email us at the address in the sidebar, subject line WAHL to be entered in our random draw for the new Becks book. Drawing tomorrow.

Hey, this is timely! Wahl v. Becks at today's press conference [The Offside Rules]
(Very) Short Q&A with Zizou in Cali [100 Percent Soccer]
Panini stopping production in Germany. Good enough reason for a slideshow [Bild]
Bradley Wright-Phillips to take his handbag stealing act to Plymouth [Eurosport]

Drogba and Bosingwa's bans reduced on appeal [BBC]
Headline win: Nancy boys call off England tour in fear of "swine flu" [Soccernet]
King Kev is not getting old, he swears [The Spoiler]
Danny Szetela to DC United a done deal [Behind the Badge]

There's an easy answer why Guadaloupe are not FIFA members--blame France [World Cup Blog]

Read more on "Wednesday Backpasses: One more time"...

UF Liveblog: 50th Copa Libertadores final, second leg

Say what you want about his time in England, Verón is a legend in La Plata

Recognize this guy? Yes indeed! It's Juan Sebastián Verón and, after a long and profitable footballing career, tonight may be his last chance for nut-busting international glory. The Argentine, back home now (since 2006 actually), is leading his hometown club into the climactic game of their first Copa Libertadores final since 1971. Estudiantes de La Plata won three in a row from '68-'70 but had been absent from the South American showpiece showdown until playing Brazilian side Cruzeiro to a nil-nil draw last week in Argentina.

The action has now shifted to Brazil, and Cruzeiro's massive 75,000-seater in Belo Horizonte (have a good look, they'll be playing World Cup games there in 2014.) Cruzeiro, aka A Reposa or The Fox, are favorites, having hung on for that draw last week in La Plata. Their home record in the competition (6-0) is spectacular-- almost as spectacular as the Argentine side's inability to win in Brazil. Estudiantes lost to Cruzeiro in the group stages, 3-0, on the same turf, and despite two wins in neighboring Uruguay, they're thought to be balky away from home.

The "Fox" Den
But it's all prologue now-- Verón's dream finish... Brazil's taste for glory... Argentina's thirst-- it's 0-0 on the scoreboard and on aggregate. There is no away goals rule, so it's simple enough for even the likes of Lingering Bursitis to enjoy. The lineups come after the jump, along with an unfolding tale of toil and triumph!

(For live moving images, turn to Fox Sports Esp, channel 125 on Time Warner)

Before we go any further, you should know that Estudiantes, aside from having awesome fans (the club won the Apertura title at Boca Juniors in the final round in 2006 and their supporters almost tore down La Bombonera), are known as Los Pincharratas or The Rat Stabbers. The original team was made up mostly of medical students and their work with animal corpses during school made an impression on the other clubs.

That said, our Fox crew welcomes us to Belo Horizonte's Estadio Mineirao and a delirious scene. If this stadium holds 75,000, then there are a lot of people sharing seats tonight. (Update: Cruzeiro fans gobbled up 67+ thousand tickets in six hours; Estudiantes supporters were allotted just 3,000, all of which are accounted for.)

One last quote before we get started. This, from Estudiantes defender Rolando Shiava:
Let's hope they're already celebrating, as it'll be to our advantage. There are no foregone conclusions - all that matters is what happens on the pitch.


Cruzeiro: Fabio; Jonathan, Thiago Heleno, Leonardo Silva, Gerson Magrao; Fabinho, Marquinhos Parana, Ramires, Wagner; Kléber, Wellington Paulista.

Estudiantes: Mariano Andújar; Christian Cellay, Rolando Schiavi, Leandro Desábato, Germán Ré; Enzo Pérez, Rodrigo Braña, Juan Sebastián Verón, Leandro Benítez; Gastón Fernández, Mauro Boselli.

Referee: Carlos Chandía (Chile)

Pregame: Great start for Fox here. Sound is out as they go back to the studio. All we're hearing is some dude coughing up a lung off in the background. I knew it'd be tough to understand much of what was said, but this is ridiculous.

-They've gone to the video tape. Literally. Just saw Martin Palermo's bike kick goal for Boca Jrs. Great quality all around. I'd love to see the Euro teams try to walk in to places like La Bombanera or the Maracana. That, as opposed to the midseason bullshit that is the FIFA World Club Championship, which incidentally is on the line tonight.

-We're back to the studio now and... yup... more Coughing Man. Where the hell is Terri Leigh when you need her?

"Welcome to the Estadee-ow de Min-eero! Tonight we have a game of two halves with the Students of La Plata and Crew-zero!" (Sorry Terri... Sorry Spectator... and JSL...)

-More shots now from inside the stadium.. as the players are on the pitch. The Cruzeiro fans are in full festival mode already. Do they think it's in the bag? Or is just... you know, South America. Sadly, there has not been a word spoken, Spanish or otherwise, in 15 minutes. Just THAT song which I can't quite name. Italian something or other. Kinda taking the place of the Chaaaaaaaampions song from the Champs League.

-Where are the comments at?

Let's Be Ahhhvin' You!!!


-Que dice?? A commercial in English. That was odd.

-Obviously still a problem in the studio/booth as they have not had live audio from in or around the stadium since the Coughing Man interrupted a second time.

-Somewhere, someone is Bugging The Fuck Out over this technical trouble. Who remembers when the lines went down during the Turkey-Germany semifinal at Euro 2008?

I do.

-So it's Paulista for the home side over fellow striker Thiago Ribeiro. Gutsy call. (I guess)

-Holy Balls. It's in English. I'm actually a bit disappointed. No Max Bretos thank god. You gotta appreciate the anonymous, dutiful announcer. sounds like the guy who does the AFA games on the weekend.

Estudiantes will take the first touch...

And we are off!

1 min- Cruzeiro earn first corner after Rolando Schiavi steps in front of a dangerous cross for a dangerous clear.

3 min- Not much of it, as Schiavi gets his head to the high ball... cleared and we dick around the midfield a bit.

5 min-Veron's name gets its first shout-- he just drove and elbow into Wagner's head. Believe it or not, there's no histrionics. And we carry on, still feeling each other out. The Raposa faithful are in full throat.

7 min: Unique from Euro games: Lots of (young) players are playing farewell games tonight. Couple going to Benfica, one to Italy... (Catania)

9 min- Veron free kick from just about the corner kick spot after a foul by Cruzeiro's Wagner...

Right into the face of the Cruzeiro defender. Corner now. Nothing comes of it. Set pieces are Estudiantes meal ticket, so they'll want better chances than those. Ball never made it in the box.

12 min- Getting salty out in the vast midfield nothingness. The ref is doing everything in his power to keep the cards in his pockets. Lots of yelling.

14 min- Cruzeiro get a look, but Veron is there to break things up. In his own box. Maybe I wasn't so far off before. Veron is playing in defense, the midfield, and up top.

16 min- Wagner goes down after Gaston Fernandez put a boot into him.

Benitez puts in a cross for Estudiantes, but alas, it is intercepted before it finds any Estudiantes. Neat clear from Cruzeiro's right back, allegedly Jonathan.

18 min- Estudiantes are nearly in before the flag goes up. Replay shows Barelli's foot is just barely, maybe off. Would have been alone on goal.

19 min- Estudiantes lucky this time as Ramires comes flying down the left win, but gets mucked up as he looks to catch a trailer with a cross. Should have taken it himself. Had a step into the box and a clear shot if he'd taken it.

20 min- Apparently Argentine teams have won just 2 of 35 games in this stadium.

22 min- First utter waste of the match. Uhhh. Gaston Fernandez, with his back to the keeper, ladled a cross to Boselli who looks to swing it home on the volley. He whiffs. And falls.

23 min- Action picking up now. Cruzeiro take a long corner and a powerful header from Silva in the back glances off the right post.

24 min- Fernandez registers his disgust with his strike partner by passing up a nice 2-on-2 break to launch a test ballon into the crowd.

And back come Cruzeiro! Paulista chases down a long through ball... but it's just snapped up by keeper Mariano Andujar. End to end stuff now!

Fans not as loud as before. Can Estudiantes get this thing to half tied? Feels like the clock is ticking on Cruzeiro.

And with that, another explosion of song.

27 min- Ramires comes down the right wing, but passes another chance in favor of a D-list bit of acting.

@Precious Roy- This is for you, sir. A fine game... for the past 5 mins... Sorry you can't be here. Sweet Brazilian air. Cachaca in every cup.

29 min- Brief pause as the medical team comes out to patch up Estudiantes keeper Andujar's knee, which is sliced and bleeding after that save from the 24th min.

31 min- Veron mauls through the middle to collect from a dallying Cruzeiro.. he feeds to Fernandez, who puts it across to Boselli who is beaten by Cruzeiro's left back. And yes, i did just type "Veron" and "mauls" consecutively.

33 min- Jonathan puts a long free kick sky-high into the Estudiantes box, but nothing from it.

34 min- Shiza! Boselli was just about away when a Cruzeiro defender took him down clearly inside the box. Alas, there's no foul. Need a replay to sort this out.

@jjf I'm here for you too! This is high drama. I was in Ecuador this winter and they were still going apeshit over LDU Quito (last year's winners.)

37 min- First sign of crankiness from the capacity crowd. This is no coronation, at least not yet. The play has moved back into the midfield.

...and now it's spread onto the pitch. Veron and Kleber pick up yellow (definitely Veron, cant quite tell who the other recipient is) Total Handbaggery right now. Our Chilean has lost the match.

40 min- Every challenge is ending up with a man clutching and whinging on the turf.

Veron is hip-checked... I mean Chris Pronger or Darius Kasparaitis would be proud of that... by Cruzeiro's Wagner, who is on the warpath. Estudiantes holding possession outside the the box. No penetration, but they're holding it. Kinda like the Junior Prom. Ba-dump Chhhhhh

But a foul now and dangerous free kick for the Rat Stabbers.

Punched away by Cruzeiro's Fabio

42 min- Another Estudiantes corner... cleared away.

44 min- The Argentines are really bossing it now. No great chances, or shots for that matter, but possession must be 55-45.

45 min- Brana sees yellow for Estudiantes, who are UNLUCKY as Kleber should have been carded again for an elbow. Doubt the ref would put Cruzeiro down a man in the first half in front of this crowd.

45+2- The half ends with Estudiantes in firm control. Whooooa dear! Every account written before the match had Cruzeiro cruz-ing to a relatively easy win. But as in any game of this magnitude, the 'dog is being extra scrappy and the home favorite is looking tight. Estudiantes withstood the opening onslaught, or whatever bit of energy the crowd brought, and now seem like favorites. And let me say, Veron has been EVERYWHERE. Seriously a man on a mission. Touch to touch, up and back. easily man of the first half.

Halftime-- seriously now? Back with the muted studio analysts. It's great that they have some an Anglophone calling the game, but it's not like we can't bear the sound of Spanish or Portuguese. At least the coughing man is gone.

Ahhh, some highlights from the first half.. colored only with ambient noise and a rip-roaring dance beat.

Heineken commercial... but... no... Chaaaaaaampions.

Fox Sports promo: Latina (perhaps Wise) in a bikini drawing x's and o's on a dry-wash board. I like this channel.

And look at us! Back with some more highlights and commentary in English.

Big Stats: Estudiantes 2 shot, neither on goal Cruzeiro, One shot on goal.

We're back for the second half in this game of two halves and possibly an extra 30 mins. And Pks. Hmmmm. Drama yo!

Apparently Cruzeiro supporters drowned out the Argentine nat'l anthem with jeers way back when. I like it. There is not a prawn sandwich in the building!

46 min- We are off.

Just poured myself a cup of roommates' Pina Colada mix. No ice though. No blender either. There is however, rum. Game on Wayne!

47 min- Wagner gets first chance of the half for the home side... a glancing header off a long free kick. Goal kick now.

48 min- Cruzeiro back out with some juice. Same for the crowd, which was quieting by the end of the half. The task is the same for Estudiantes. Stand tall for 20 mins, then see what happens.

But maybe they won't wait? Corner to Estudiantes...

49 min: Benitez's kick is well short. I thought set-pieces were they specialty. They've been their weak point so far. Meantime, Veron the Beast breaks aborts another Cruzeiro attack. They were still back in their own trimester, though. Sotomayor, are you ok with that? (Silence)

51 min- Cruzeiro's Wagner rips down another Estudiantes player. That's his third yellow card by my count. He's playing prison rules. I like it.

Defensive throw in for Estudiantes. (TMI??)

52 min- Goooooooooooooal for Cruzeiro!!!!

Enrique blasts one from straight away, 30 yards out, but it takes a wicked deflection off Leandro Desabato, the Estudiantes central defender.

Enrique will keep the goal, but it's all on the defender. Piss. Not how you wanted that winner to fall.

55 min- BAD JOB by this announcer. Tells us an Estudiantes goal would make them champs on away goal rule. There is NO AWAY GOAL RULE in this tie. Weak. Now Estudiantes really need to level. I want to see this idiot cover up his mistake when the players don't leave the field at 1-1.

57 min- Cruzeiro fans rocking now. Literally. My TV is pulsating. Drowning out the idiot commentary.

58 min- GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL for Estudiantes!!! Gaston Fernandez!!! Rat Stabbers cut into the hearts of the Cruzeiro faithful.

Can someone double check the rules here. The announcer insists that Estudiantes win the damn thing if it ends a draw. I'm positive he's wrong...

62 min- Cruzeiro settle down, but make no inroads toward goal.

It was 14 minutes of madness, now it seems both teams are feeling they've something to lose.

@PR The commenter is sober. And maybe on a better feed. I was lightning fast on the equalizerrrrr.

65 min- Cruzeiro in their half court offense now. But again, no penetration. Even their goal was from the perimeter... and aided still by a cruel bounce.

@Georger That's the Cruzeiro guy. He's one cool Brazilian. See how that holds up as the clock goes tick-tock-tick.

I mean, I believe he's Brazilian.

The drama is eating me up.

68 min- Oh. No. Never seen that before. Screen just got cut into thirds... left third was a silent commercial. Other 2/3 was the field. Bad precedent. Hope ESPN isn't watching.

69 min- Boselli, with a Cruzeiro defender LITERALLY on his back, rips a long shot on goal.

Saved and punted away. Best chance since the goals.

70 min- Estudiantes win another corner off a blocked shot from Perez.

Estudiantes fail again, but keep possession... only to be drawn offside.

Wagner, he of the 6 yellow cards, comes off. It's a left back for midfielder swap. Idiot commentator says it's because of an injury, but he's not to be trusted.


Veron to Boselli! Off the corner! The set-piece comes to bear, at last.

74 min- This guy has got to be kidding. Still carrying on about away goals rule! Cruzeiro need two goals, he says, over and over and over. We must root for the Brazilians to level. Just to see what this fucker says when they go to extra time.

76 min- BTW Athirson on for Wagner. Wellington is off for another strike option (Thiago). Cruzeiro are desperate. The stadium is shocked. That sound we here is the Rat Stabber support. Loud for just 3,000.

79 min- Commentator: This victory would be sweet for Veron as when he played in Europe he never got to hoist the Champions League trophy." Thoughts?

80 min- Veron free kick from 25 yards misses upper right corner by oooooh, an inch. Not more. Almost imperceptible from here. THAT would've sealed it.

Nothing from Cruzeiro. The manager is no longer cool. Looks like he's passing a kidney stone.

82 min- The push is on. Cruzeiro string together a few long, cross field passes, but the last is lofted too softly and the Catania-bound Andujar picks it out.

Cellay sees yellow for a rash tackle... 3rd for Estudiantes

84 min- Thiago gets in close enough to put a shot on goal for Cruzeiro. Not much on it. Easily saved.

84 min- Corner for Cruzeiro, headed away by... Veron. Unreal.

85 min- Estudiantes in hoof mode...

Athirson makes a decent run up the middle... long pass is put out for a corner. Chances running out for Cruzeiro. Here's another...

Estudiantes man off injured. They'll defend with a man less. Or not. Sanchez on to clog the midfield.

And Cruzeiro just rock a long strike off the crossbar!!! Cannot get any closer than that. Andujar was beaten!

89 min- Kleber tripped up from behind 25 yds from Estudiantes's goal. Free kick again.

After grazing a head, the ball falls flat to Thiago, who just fouls it off into the crowd. They might not have another one that good.

90 min- More yellow in the eyes of Estudiantes. They don't care. Waiting on injury time. Can't be much...

Still another free kick for Cruzeiro... this time from 35-40 yards out.

3 mins added

Headed, then hoofed out.

And a Cruzeiro corner is played long. Estudiantes clear, but Cruzeiro play it back in for another scuffed volley.

90+3- Waiting on the tweets... Estudiantes in possession.


What a fantastic finish. The Argentine side is run all over the field. The Cruzeiro fans file out in utter f^&kin shock. There are 3,000 fans still in the building and they are loud.

Good job FSE-- Live shot from La Plata. They seem pleased. /understatement of the hour

If you're an Estudiantes fan, is Veron not your hero? His father plays in your three-peat teams from the late 60s, then JS comes back from Europe to lead you to a first Argie title in 22 years (as of 2006) and then first Copa Libertadores since 1970. Magic.

Boselli: (some variation on) "...Cruzeiro thought they had won already." He's playing the No One Believed In Us card. It works in all sports in all continents, it seems. There is some truth to it, though. There was not a single account on the net today that predicted this result.

So that's all from Bela Horizonte!! A cracker indeed! Thanks for joining us... great way to spend a slow summer night!


Read more on "UF Liveblog: 50th Copa Libertadores final, second leg"...

Ochocinco Meets Otto

Completely randomness from Twitter, but apparently Chad Ochocinco, nee Johnson, of the American football Cincinatti Bengals just ran into Zlatan Ibrahimovic at UCLA. Inter Milan is in LA for a match against Chelsea on July 21 as a part of the World Football Challenge.

More random Ochocinconess with NY Kid's favoritest after the jump...

Ochocinco also ran into Marco Materazzi.

Read more on "Ochocinco Meets Otto"...

Programming Note: Livebloggery This Evening

The Likely Lad claims he will be liveblogging the Copa Libertadores final this evening. I'm dubious but he asked that we post a note so he can get many more commenters.

Cruzeiro will take on Estudiantes for all the marbles on Fox Sports Espanol. My TV schedule says the match starts 9:00 ET, but TLL says it starts at 8:30 ET. Maybe he was referring to the start time of his liveblog. I don't really know, his English is not very good.

Read more on "Programming Note: Livebloggery This Evening"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Scarborough FC were one of the oldest clubs in England until their dissolution in 2007. Formed in 1879, the club was moderately successful through the years, never tasting relegation until 1999. But it's not like they burned up through the leagues either. For the most part, Scarborough were a provincial team, only occasionally making a blip on other team's FA Cup runs.

This changed when they became the first team promoted from the Conference (formed in the 1970s) into full League status. Neil Warnock was the manager when The Seasiders moved up in 1987. Scarborough never moved beyond this level, but came extremely close in 1998. That season, Scarborough finished in the playoff spots for only the second time since moving up to League status. Unfortunately, they were pounded 7-2 over two legs by Torquay United. The next season, Scarborough were relegated on the last day when Carlisle United's on-loan keeper scored an injury time winner which doomed Scarborough back to the Conference by one point.

From there, they were doomed.

The shirt that Scarborough wore during their last great season was, well, odd.

I'm guessing that Errea were both the sponsor and the kit maker here, due to the double prominence of their name inches away from each other. But that's not the real fun. The real fun is what's below.

Obviously, that's a banner of St. George's cross, but what is that underneath? Does the country of Portugal have something to do with Scarborough? Because when I see those two shades of red and green together, that's the first thing I think of.

This being a long sleeved shirt, we see once again oddly constrictive cuffs. What was it with this time that shirt makers thought that long sleeved shirts needed to stay only on the wrist? Maybe it's a Euro thing.

Finally, because I don't want to disappoint, I'll point out the other horror of this shirt. Yes, there is sublimation. No, it doesn't make any sense. Diamonds with waves in them. Great job, shirt designer dude. You've made the best shirt of all time by adding in those sublimated diamonds. Here's a raise.

I guess it's good that Scarborough FC passed away two years ago. Otherwise, some marketing exec would come along in ten years time and try to replicate this shirt as a reminder of the team's glory days. Sometimes death is freedom.

Read more on "The Good, The Bad, The WTF"...

Vieri Expecting

That's Italian Christian Vieri and that's a nice little paunch there.

We're actually going to defend Vieri. You make over 300 appearances in Serie A over 20 years (not to mention another 30 in France and Spain) you're allowed to let yourself go for a bit.

Still. Gravity works, huh?

And guess who is giving him a look.

Fat Big Sam. Vieri is getting a run out with Blackburn as Allardyce tries to scrape what little tread is left on the tires.

If the second NSFW-ish pic is any indication, Vieri's ability to score hasn't been hampered in the least by his newfound affinity for mass.

The Daily Mail piece that is the source of the above-pic is worth skimming just to see if you can come up with a food or size pun that they didn't work over.

Read more on "Vieri Expecting"...

Activism: It Isn't Just for Politics Anymore [UPDATED]

It’s taken some time, but Match Fit USA has finally percolated up enough outrage to take action. And you can help.

The issue is the USMNT v. Mexico World Cup qualifier. While the Spanish-language broadcast will be on Telemundo, an English version will only be available on something called mun2. To be honest, most of us were unaware what that was.

Telemundo owns both the Spanish and English rights for Mexican matches. There’s a brief rundown of how it came to pass that English-speaker will have to seek out an outlet with a footprint that reaches 1-10th of of US Americans, but the Cliff’s Notes version is:

Since 2000, Telemundo has had a contract to show Mexican matches on U.S. television. For past USA-Mexico qualifiers at Azteca, the game would end up being shown on an ESPN outlet because the U.S. Soccer Federation had a formal relationship with Telemundo. But for the past two years the USSF has worked with Telemundo's rival, Univision, which shows USA matches on its main network as well as Galavision and Telefutura.
Your help comes in the form of making your displeasure of having to find a cable outlet that mightn’t even exist on your system known to people with more influence and power.

NBC-Universal has many other outlets with much wider penetration. They might be persuaded to move the match if they were told how upset people will be with them if they miss the first time the USMNT wins at Azteca ever.

You can click on the Match Fit link (first paragraph) for a long rundown. But if you’re too lazy to click more than once, here’s a link to the online petition.

And if you feel your sphere of influence has a larger radius than your wingspan, please pass the link on to soccer-watching friends or people who simply like to irritate massive media conglomerates.

[UPDATE: We decided that a pay petition is about the lamest thing ever. The petition link above is still encouraged, but we received another email with the following message attached:

Below I have provided NBC executive email addresses and phone numbers to contact the respective individuals who do work for NBC sports. All I request is that you get the message to your readers and listeners to contact these individuals kindly and courteously and beseech that they move this extremely important match from Mun2 to a widely received channel with HD.

NBC Sports Office

Walker, Brian
Senior Director - Communications
Phone: (212) 664- 5533
Fax: (212) 664-6035
Project Assignment: "Notre Dame Football" "PGA Tour" "Ryder Cup" "Senior PGA Championship" "Football Night in America" "U.S. Open & USGA Championships" "National Hockey League"
Division(s): NBC Sports

Freifeld, Adam
Director - Communications
Phone: (212) 664-6772
Fax: (212) 664-6035
Project Assignment: "Wimbledon" "The Kentucky Derby" "Preakness Stakes" "NBC Sunday Night Football" "French Open"
Division(s): NBC Sports

Iorio, Lyndsay
Coordinator - Communications
Phone: (212) 664-2160
Fax: (212) 664-6035
Project Assignment: "National Heads-Up Poker Championship" "2007 AVP Crocs Tour on NBC"
Division(s): NBC Sports

Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics

Perkins Miller
Vice President, NBC Universal Sports

Kenneth Schanzer
President, NBC Universal Sports

Jeff Zucker
Presiden and CEO of NBC Universal]

Read more on "Activism: It Isn't Just for Politics Anymore [UPDATED]"...

UF Quick Throw: South Africa Stadium Strike Over

What the subject line says. After a work stoppage last Wednesday, stadium workers in South Africa ended their strike after accepting a 12% raise (they were demanding 13%).

The agreement was supposed to have been signed a few hours ago but is still awaiting ink as employers work out the final wording. So if you're clinging to the last vestiges of hope that the World Cup will be pulled from South Africa and relocated to the US, there's that little sliver for you.

Read more on "UF Quick Throw: South Africa Stadium Strike Over"...

It's Not Good for Hartson

John Hartson underwent emergency surgery last night on his brain to combat the testicular cancer that has spread to his lungs and brain. He's facing a gargantuan task to recover and successfully fight the disease.

His family issued the following statement:

"We have been overwhelmed by the support and goodwill from many thousands of football fans, players, clubs and sporting figures and we have drawn strength from this support."
Here's hoping this story ends well.

Read more on "It's Not Good for Hartson"...

Let's Help Out Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh of the NBA's Toronto Raptors is in a contest with fellow NBA'er Charlie Villanueva (who recently signed with the Detroit Pistons) to reach 50,000 followers on Twitter the quickest. The winner essentially gets to choose how the other will be embarrassed on video everybody gets to see. As of right now (9:46 PM PT), Bosh trails Villanueva, 48,865 to 49,080.

Now, I can't speak for the entirety of UF (I know Spectator is a Pistons fan), but I think we should throw our support behind Chris Bosh. The lanky basketball player was a recent participant in the Showdown in Chinatown showing himself, while not a natural soccer player, to be a stand-up person and a good sport.

So, if you have a Twitter account and are so inclined, follow Chris Bosh and help him to victory. And tell your friends to follow him too.

Chris Bosh victory celebration after UF support?

Read more on "Let's Help Out Chris Bosh"...