Saturday, March 28, 2009

La Liveblog: USA vs. El Salvador


Welcome to tonight's liveblog, where US Men's National team travels to El Salvador to face El Azul at the Estadio Cuscatlán. The US is in good shape after defeating Mexico, and a point tonight would be adeqeate but realistically this should be a win. The growth of soccer in the US can be seen in the ability of the national team to win games in Central America against hostile crowds, something that didn't happen with regularity until the start of this decade. El Salvador, meanwhile, drew Trinidad and Tobago in their first game, and will be looking to grind out a point at home against the regional Goliath. Expect an ugly, chippy affair.




While we await the team sheets, here is a bit of linkage for your enjoyment. The NY Times looks at the origin of Landycakes. The US soccer studio 90 show, which looks like it was edited in a blogger's basement, previews the game. Brad Guzan gives UF an EXCLUSIVE interview. Or how about some vintage Marxist journalism about the war between Honduras and El Salvador in 1970 that started over a World Cup qualifying match:

The first match was held on Sunday 8 June 1969, in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

Nobody in the world paid any attention.

The Salvadoran team arrived in Tegucigalpa on Saturday and spent a sleepless night in their hotel. The team could not sleep because it was the target of psychological warfare waged by the Honduran fans. A swarm of people encircled the hotel. The crowd threw stones at the windows and beat sheets of tin and empty barrels with sticks. They set off one string of firecrackers after another. They leaned on the horns of cars parked in front of the hotel. The fans whistled, screamed and sent up hostile chants. This went on all night. The idea was that a sleepy, edgy, exhausted team would be bound to lose. In Latin America these are common practices.

The next day Honduras defeated the sleepless El Salvador squad one-nil.

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Bolanios was sitting in front of the television in El Salvador when the Hondruan striker Roberto Cardona scored the winning goal in the final minute. She got up and ran to the desk which contained her father's pistol in a drawer. She then shot herself in the heart. "The young girl could not bear to see her fatherland brought to its knees," wrote the Salvadoran newspaper El Nacional the next day. The whole capital took part in the televised funeral of Amelia Bolanios. An army honour guard marched with a flag at the head of the procession. The president of the republic and his ministers walked behind the flag-draped coffin. behind the government came the Salvadoran soccer eleven who, booed, laughed at, and spat on at the Tegucigalpa airport, had returned to El Salvador on a special flight that morning.

But the return match of the series took place in San Salvador, the beautifully named Flor Blanca stadium, a week later. This time it was the Honduran team that spent a sleepless night. The screaming crowd of fans broke all the windows in the hotel and threw rotten eggs, dead rats, and stinking rags inside. The players were taken to the match in armored cars of the First Salvadoran Mechanized Division -- which saved them from revenge and bloodshed at the hands of the mob that lined the route, holding up portraits of the national heroine Amelia Bolanios.

The army surrounded the ground. On the pitch stood a cordon of soldiers from a crack regiment of the Guardian Nacional, armed with sub-machine-guns. During the playing of the Honduran national anthem the crowd roared and whistled. Next, instead of the Honduran flag -- which had been burnt before the eyes of the spectators, driving them mad with joy -- the hosts ran a dirty, tattered dishrag up the flag-pole. Under such conditions the players from Tegucigalpa did not, understandable, have their minds on the game. They had their minds on getting out alive. "We're awfully lucky that we lost," said the visiting coach, Mario Griffin, with relief.

El Salvador prevailed, three-nil.

The same armored cars carried the Honduran team straight from the playing field to the airport. A worse fate awaited the visiting fans. Kicked and beaten, they fled towards the border. Two of them died. Scores landed in hospital. One hundred and fifty of the visitors' cars were burned. The border between the two states was closed a few hours later.


Hopefully things are mas tranquillo tonight, but from the looks of the stadium, the 30,000 strong sold out crowd is going to be right on top of the pitch and and should be very crazy!

8:04
US lineup is in:

The U.S. Starters:
18-Brad Guzan;
2-Frankie Hejduk, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 14-Danny Califf, 15-Heath Pearce;
8-Clint Dempsey, 12-Michael Bradley, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 7-DaMarcus Beasley;
10-Landon Donovan, 11-Brian Ching

Bench:
1-Marcus Hahnemann, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 5-Jay DeMerit, 6- José Francisco Torres, 9-Jozy Altidore, 13-Maurice Edu, 17-Jonathan Spector

Gooch is hurt so Danny Califf will start in the middle. Did Jay DeMerit run over Bob Bradley's dog or something?

8:13
- Just put on my USMNT jersey (the oh so flattering white w/ horizontal stripes model). Drinking Lucky beer.

8:24
El Salvadoran newspapers are full of warnings to fans not to engage in bad behavior, as CONCACAF is apparently not happy with what happened in the Trinidad and Tobago game. Apparently the Estadio Cuscatlan is at risk of suspension for future qualifiers.

8:33
- I'm such a sucker for these IBM commercials. Give me the petaflop!

8:43
- El Azul:

GK - Montes
D - Salazar, Gonzalez, Henriquez, Pachecho
MF - Martinez, Sanchez, Castillo, Romero
F - Quintanilla, Zeyala

I think that this is really more of a 4-5-1 with Zeyala as the target man and Quintanilla as the libero.

8:48 - Game is ESPN2 or Telefutura. Should be fun to see John Harkes and JP in their little isolation commentary booth. Did Pedro Gomez make the trip?

8:53- Full time at the Azteca. Sven and El Tri get a huge 2-0 win against Costa Rica. I was hoping to see him lose and then be fed piece by piece to the sharks in the Mexican press.

8:55 - Don't get me wrong, I actually like auto racing, and will probably be staying up very late to watch F1 tonight. But really, giant billboards accelerating in a straight line is a sport? Or do people just watch for the horrific wrecks?

9:00 - And we are live in San Salvador with JP. The fans are going absolutely bonkers. This should be lots of fun.

9:04 - Califf has been hurt for two months, says Harkes. Why on earth is he getting the start?

9:06 - Hey look, its Alexi Lalas! The Matt Millen of the MLS, everybody...

9:08 - ZOMG Jose Mourinho might coach the USMNT, says Rob Stone....Hahahahaha. Back in reality, my prediction for this game is 2-1 USA. Goals by Landycakes and Dempsey. A Califf miscue leads to one for Zeyala.

0 min - Kick off. And we can actually see the pitch. Excellent. Dempsey with a nice run through the middle and a shot on goal.

3 min- Some scrappy play in the midfield leads to a long shot for Ching. So far, the US is enjoying most of the possession. Another run of passes leads to a header for Donovan that goes wide.

5 min- Zeyala goes down like Drogba. And the Mexican ref tells him to get up. Ouch. Castillo gets a decent run at Hejduk, but his cross is dealt with easily. A long shot from the midfield eventually trickles wide of Guzan.

7 min- After a US turnover, Califf fouls Zeyala. Nothing comes of the enusing free kick, though. El Salvador are really giving the Nats a ton of space. Dempsey tries a bit of fancy football but loses it. Then Donovan comes streaking down the left side, but his cross just misses.

10- Frenetic midfield play, and eventually Castillo comes streaking down the left again. Hejduk is really getting his running in today. Beasley commits a professional foul in the midfield to slow down the move. The ensuing kick is blocked, and Dempsey clears.

13 min - The US is on their heels a bit more here, as Castillo continues to impress. El Salvador wins a corner, but the inswinger is wasted high over the back post. After some head tennis, Dempsey, who is in an attacking midfield role tonight, misses Ching with a throughball.

17 min - El Salvador counters down the right with Zeyala, who plays a neat one two and the ball falls to Quintanilla, who slots it home. 1-0 El Salvador.

19 min - Ching wins a corner on the right. Beasley's corner goes a mile high, but the SLV defense clears. The El Salvador goal is probably fantastic from the point of view of a good game, although it means that El Azul will definitely try to park the bus in front of the box. So this might be just like every Arsenal game I've watched this year.

21 min - This is where Micheal Bradley needs to take control of the midfield. Klejstien, by the way, looks terrible. And Dempsey needs to stop turning over the ball in the final third.

24 min - El Salvador is playing very well, sitting back and waiting for the counter. Harkes makes the good point that the US fullbacks are not coming forward and the team is very narrow. Maybe because Hejduk is scared shitless of getting beaten by Castillo. Donovan draws a foul in the attacking third. Dempsey with a decent strike by the keeper is there.

27 min - The US could use a bit of steel in the midfield right about now. Wouldn't be surprised to see Mastroeni in the second half.

38 min - Sorry about that, had some technical difficulties. Meanwhile, the US looks terrible in pretty much every phase of the game. They look almost shellshocked. The veterans really need to step up now.

41 min - Now we have reverted to long balls to Ching. Brilliant. I think Bradley needs to think about some subs at halftime. Another holding midfielder, and maybe someone like Torres.

43 min - Ching gets bowled over, and the US scores on the ensuing free kick. To bad about the offside trap that put all 5 of them offside.

45 min - A El Salvadoran player is down on the field and gets stretchered off. I hope you are all ready for 45 minutes of this in the second half. Meanwhile, Danny Califf gets lectured by Landycakes. Looks like he wants the d to push up more.

Half time - El Salvador wins another corner, but this time it goes right to Guzan. He almost hits a decent outlet pass, but just misses. And then the whistle goes. And then we get to see Alexi Lalas. I'm off for more bourbon.

Half time - So that Jose interview was promo for the World Soccer Challenge, right? Because there is no way in hell he ever comes over here to manage. In any case, I should probably plug the UF roadie to Baltimore. Chelsea, AC Milan, lazy preseason football to milk money out of dumb Americans! More info here.

45 min - Finally, a shot of the booth! Harkes has the look of fear in his eyes. And we are off for the second half.

47 min - El Salvador continues to enjoy nice possession, as Quintinalla puts a good cross through the box. The US fullbacks need to press up the field more and force the El Salvadoran wingers to defend.

49 min - A long ball to Ching is headed back to Dempsey, but the shot is very weak. He is kind of all by himself up there. Torres and Altidore are warming up.

52 min - Its like everyone is huffing paint out there. Or chickens with heads cut off, etc...Finally Beasley gets a ball down the left, but totally fumbles the throw in. Haven't these guys played together before? Now a ball on the right to Ching, who does a great job crossing it into the box, but nothing there.

54 min - Mini Bradley commits a dumb foul on the top of the box. Bob looks on in displeasure. Fortunately Quintanilla rockets the free kick over the wall and into row Z.

57 min - Califf looks to be the culprit in the deeper than it should be US backline. Bocanegra keeps telling him to move up, but he looks a little tentative out there. Bradley picks up a card for a tackle in the midfield. We could see a sub for him soon. In fact, it would be nice to see subs right about now.

60 min - This has really been a dog shit for breakfast performance from the US so far. Dempsey wins a free kick next to the corner flag, and Beasley swings a nice free kick into the box that is headed over. The keeper appears to have hurt himself. This may take a while. And we are about to see Jozy Altidore! Get in!

62 min- Pierce is taken off, and we are going three in a back, baby. Perhaps the 3-4-3, or is Donovan going to slide back into the midfield to create some offense?....Meanwhile the keeper is still down in the goal.

64 min - A US freekick from about 45 yards out. Landon delivers a nice one, but El Salvador is able to counter. This time, at least, the US is able to handle Castillo easily.

67- Now its all US as El Salvador is sitting back waiting for the counter. But its all long balls right now. Not a lot from the midfield. Bradley makes a good run who passes it to Jozy. But Jozy has the touch of man who hasn't played since December and coughs it up. Meanwhile, Klesjtian has a go from 25 yards but its over the bar.

70 - A nice move between Beasley and Kles ends in a Bradley shot to the knees. But Montes is apparently healthy enough to get to it. He looks soooooo injured right now. And then he goes out Paul Robinson style for a ball in the box and is nearly beaten by Ching.

72 - Klejstian finally gets the hook and on comes Torres, who is rapidly becoming my new favorite MNT player. But then Castillo gets free in the box and puts one by Guzan! 2-0 El Salvador. This is a shocker. And they are climbing the fences in San Salvador!

75 - Montes finally peaces out, and now its proverbial gut check time for the US. Does anyone have the ability to make something happen here? A bit of magic is sorely needed. And I'm not sure who on the field has that ability.

77 - Jooooooooooooooooooooooooozy. 2-1 El Salvador. A hell of a ball from Hejduk, and Jozy slots it cooly with his head past the keeper.

80 - Every time we get a whistle half of the El Salvadoran team falls like a grenade just went off. This is high quality gamesmanship here. We should be getting at least 5 minutes of stoppage time.

82 - The US continues to pump long balls into the box, and El Salvador doesn't know what to do. A lot of second chances for the US. Meanwhile Quintanilla goes down and Bradley starts to talk shit. Get in!

86 - Its all happening now! The US needs to look at Hejduk who is in acres of space out on the right side. I can barely type...

88 - FRANKIE FRANKIE FRANKIE. A corner that the goalie doesn't even get close to, and Hejduk heads it in. 2-2. GET IN!

90 - A very dangerous free kick is dealt with by the wall, and Landon gets behind the defense on a long ball but the reinforcements don't manage to get a shot on goal.

94 - This game is there for the taking if the US can get a decent change. Meanwhile Bradley goes out with a cut and Edu comes on. Lets get one more!

96 - Jozy sets up Ching for a sitter, but he shoots it right at the keeper. Agh....Another long ball it the box that the keeper misses, and the bike from Jozy goes just wide. And we have a bit of a skirmish. The whistle tweets for full time. Wow.

I don't know about you all, but I was on tenterhooks at the end there. The US looked very rattled in the first half, but managed to cobble together a nice response thanks to Jozy and Frankie Hejduk. Its hard to be disappointed with a road point, but you can bet Bradley is seething. We might see a much different midfield on Wednesday against T&T. I loved Torres and would like to see him again. Thanks for stopping by and have a great night.

Read more on "La Liveblog: USA vs. El Salvador"...

Brad Guzan On His First EPL Appearance

Tonight, Brad Guzan gets the start for the USMNT in El Salvador due to Tim Howard's suspension on card accumulation. This season is his first in the Premier League and with Aston Villa. Last week he made his League debut against Liverpool, unfortunately the team was already down 4-0 and he came in to immediately face a Steven Gerrard penalty kick.

Brad was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his day to answer a few questions, for the second time, about his debut for Unprofessional Foul.


1. Your first league appearance was certainly trial by fire. You came in cold in the second half and were immediately faced with a penalty kick from one of the world's leading midfielders, Steven Gerrard. What was going through your mind as you prepared to replace Brad Friedel on the field?

I was just trying to prepare myself physically, getting my top on, gloves on and then go out and try to stop the penalty. The score was already 4-0 so it wasn't a pressure situation, I just wanted to go out and do my best.

2. What were your coaches telling you before you came onto the field? Did they have an iPod loaded with video for you to review like ManU had for Ben Foster in the Carling Cup Final?

They just said to go out and do my best, like I said, the game was not going our way and we were not playing our best, so for me to make my debut in that situation they just said to enjoy it and do my best.

3. While you are standing there waiting for the ref's whistle on the PK, what goes through your mind? What are looking for or thinking about at that time and through Gerrard's runup to the ball?

Anytime there is a penalty you try to put the pressure on the taker. As a goalkeeper you are not expected to save it, but if you do you are the hero, so for me I thought maybe he would change his side since it was his 2nd of the game, but unfortunately he didn't.

4. You came into the match on the famous Kop end at Anfield. Can you describe what that experience was like compared to other matches you have played in? What was the best insult you heard from the Kop?

I think because of the score they were not too bothered by me entering the game and were more excited about the scoreline. It was a great place to play, but at the same time I didn't really notice them too much as I was tuned into the game.

5. It certainly wasn't the ideal situation to be coming into, but how did you feel about your performance in the match and what will you take away from it?

For me individually I was able to go into the game and just play. I think I had to make one save on a shot from distance and my distribution was good, so as bad as it was there were some positives for me to take away from it. I will try to build on those and keep working hard.

6. Be honest, are you a little disappointed that Brad Friedel's red card has been rescinded since it will likely keep you out of next week's matchup at Old Trafford?


To be honest, I knew the club would appeal the red card as it was a very soft red. I would have been more shocked if they kept the 3 game suspension. As a player you always want to be playing games, but I know that if I was in Brad's shoes, I would have felt an injustice if it held up.

Read more on "Brad Guzan On His First EPL Appearance"...

The Bootroom: International Week

We'll admit it, we hate international week, a.k.a the Interlull. Despite the Prem having one of the most exciting fights in recent memory, there are no league matches this weekend. Boo!

In the meantime we'll have to console ourselves with some World Cup qualifiers and friendlies. Speaking of, don't forget our very own Ian will be liveblogging the USA v. El Salvador match later today. Hurray!


Here's a rundown on the fixtures. Chat it up in the comments.

Saturday

World Cup Qualifiers (all times Eastern)

11:00 Wales v. Finland
13:15 N. Ireland v. Poland
14.00 Israel v. Greece
15:45 Slovenia v. Czech Republic
15:45 Germany v. Liechtenstein
15:45 Ireland v. Bulgaria
15:45 Netherlands v. Scotland
15.45 Lithuania v. France
16:45 Portugal v. Sweden
17.00 Spain v. Turkey
18:10 Argentina v. Venezuela
19:00 Mexico v. Costa Rica
21:00 USA v. El Salvador

Friendly

13:00 England v. Slovakia

Sunday

World Cup Qualifiers (all times Eastern)
9:00 Mozambique v. Nigeria
13:00 Ghana v. Benin
13:00 Ivory Coast v. Malawi
17:00 Ecuador v. Brazil
19:10 Peru v. Chile

Read more on "The Bootroom: International Week"...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Backpasses: Twenty Twenty Twenty-Four Hours to Go

Attention! There will be a US-El Salvador liveblog tomorrow night. Now that your Saturday night is figured out, let's look at some links.

Phew. I can still pull for Schalke. Kahn turns down GM/manager position [SI]
Maradona and Pele do not like each other. Here's another example [The Spoiler]
Speaking of Maradona, he may be on Argentine money soon [World Cup Blog]

Other blogs are stuck for idea during the Interlull as well. Hence, Top 10 Bling-tastic Footballers [Off the Post]
Tomas Rosicky continues to say he will play again. Methinks he doth protest too much [Guardian]
Columbus has a bone to pick with TFC fans. If you are going to come down and sit in their stadium, would you please at least refrain from outshining their fans. [The 24th Minute]
We didn't translate this fast enough. FC St. Pauli player rates cars for their sex potential [Dirty Tackle]

Finally:
Gee, there's a lot of German stuff here tonight. Anyway, amateur German keeper saves a penalty after his best Dudek impersonation, then scores over the hapless stopper on the other end [The Spoiler]

Read more on "Friday Backpasses: Twenty Twenty Twenty-Four Hours to Go"...

UF Road Trip to Baltimore!



UPDATE: Here's the latest. Thanks to those of you who have emailed already. I am extending the deadline to let me know you if want in to MONDAY AT NOON. Send an email to unprofessionalfoul [at] gmail [dot] com. I'm also happy to report that more of the UF crew are now on board. We are looking at me, Ian, Sven, Lingering Bursitis (probably), Bigus, the NY Kid, ü75, the Likely Lad, Moonshine Mike and E-Town Hooligan all being in attendance. So c'mon, it'll be a fun time! (in Baltimore! with anonymous bloggers!)

Okay, I threatened to do this and have managed to not change my mind....

So, I'm happy to announce that not only will I be going to Baltimore on July 24 to see Chelsea take on AC Milan, but I'll organize the purchase of a block of tickets. So far Moonshine Mike is in, Ian is a maybe .... and the rest are unlikely. But that just means more fun for us.

Here's what you need to do if want in: Send an email to unprofessionalfoul [at] gmail [dot] com no later than FRIDAY NIGHT. Most importantly, tell me how many tickets you want. I'll then set up a paypal account and handle distributing tickets. I know, you are taking a slight risk here, but you know where to find me. Email if you have any questions. And I'll see you in Baltimore.

Read more on "UF Road Trip to Baltimore!"...

The WPS tries so, so hard.


As you may be aware from merely existing, Twitter is all the rage these days. We use it. I use it. Lots of celebs use it, and, thanks to some thrilling reportage in the New York Times this morning, lots of those celebs hire people to Tweet for them!

Well, the WPS has caught wind of this Twittering business, and their big news concerns their inaugural game on Sunday: players on the bench will be tweeting! During the game!

Score one for the marriage of brand-new social networking and brand-new, sure-to-fail professional sports leagues.

As the story from ESPN shares (in way more than 140 characters, mind you), the WPS will select certain players on the bench to update their feeds during the game via mobile phones. However, the "during" is convoluted, much like this genius idea: starters will be updating before the game, at half-time, after the game, or if they're subbed off.

Actually, that last one might be the most compelling: "Coach took me off! Bullshit! Y am I not playing n e mor? :/" but I digress.

It's a wonderfully gimmicky move to get attention, and I dare say it's working. However, beyond the first game or two, it will fade into oblivion, much like this entire league.

ESPN's criticisms are flimsy, as usual: WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN? WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE ARE WE SENDING TO THE YOUTH? You know, the usual plaintive cries better suited to a frumpy Andy Rooney monologue at the end of 60 Minutes.

It really won't have much of an impact on "the children", but in the rush to Tweet and follow our celebrities going about their daily lives and web surfing, quite a few might take note. For example, if Heather Mitts or Hope Solo begin tweeting, I might have a look, but for entirely different reasons (please post naked twitpics! please post naked twitpics!).

Chalk it down to some sweaty, desperate marketing folks in a room hundreds of miles away, anxiously hunting out ways to get recognized. Sadly, like so many good things, Shaquille O'Neal got there first.

Read more on "The WPS tries so, so hard."...

Quick Throw: Was It Really Satire?

Remember that crazy religion professor that proclaimed soccer was contributing to the downfall of America? Well, he claims the piece was satire. I'd like to ask those of you out there whether you agree it was satire and whether it was good satire if it was, was it good satire? If it was, he got us, but I have my doubts about his intended targets and his original intent.

Anyway, our friends at Avoiding the Drop managed to convince Mr. Webb to watch his first professional soccer match, Sounders v. Red Bull, and write about his experience for them in their First Timers series (which is a brilliant idea we wish we had thought of). Well done, I say, well done.

Read more on "Quick Throw: Was It Really Satire?"...

UF Losing the Plot: What Is Your Best XI?

Normally a photo would go here, but there's no way I can top the last two.

Seeing as how we are in the middle of the Interlull (tm) and are desperate for any sort of fun and/or interesting content, we here at UF decided to put together a little poll:

Pick your best starting XI. Any player in the world, criteria is who do you want in your team right now. Any formation, but the lineup has to work (i.e. you could put them on the field now). Essentially, if you were playing fantasy football, what would your lineup look like?

Check out our responses after the jump, along with a little bit of commentary thrown in for good measure. And, of course, give us your picks in the ol’ comments box.


Precious Roy

Julio Cesar - Keeper
Gael Clichy - Left Back
EBJT - Center Back
Vidic - Center Back
Sagna - Right Back
Michael Essien - Defensive Mid
Cristiano Ronaldo - Left Winger
Lionel Messi - Right Winger
Kaka - Attacking Mid
David VIlla - Striker
Alexander Pato - Striker

We get a sub? Ibrahimovich.... just to annoy someone I'm sure.


Spectator

GK: Casillas
LB: Evra
CB: Puyol
CB: Ferdinand
RB: D. Alves
DM: Essien
LM: C. Ronaldo
CM: Kaka
RM: Ribery
#10: Messi
S: Torres

Spectator: I was tempted to leave out C-Ron and include Ibrahimovic instead, but Ronaldo does things that no other player can do and he still has room to improve.
Lingering Bursitis: "Do things no other players can do." You mean suck d*ck for cash?
Spectator: I was thinking make passes and get past defenders, but yeah suck d*ck too.


The Fan’s Attic

Torres - Messi
Gerrard - Xavi - Mascherano - Ronaldo
Lahm - Vidic - Puyol - Alves
Buffon

Mascherano would be replaced by Essien if he were 100% healthy and had played all season. Alves is the one in Spain not the one in Russia. I almost put Ibra up top with Torres and Messi on the wing and sliding Gerrard to the middle for Mascherano. Just didn't think a Torres - Ibrahimovic partnership would work well.

Revised Squad. I think this squad could survive without a true center mid....

Torres - Messi
Ribery - Gerrard - Mascherano - Ronaldo
Lahm - Vidic - Puyol - Alves
Buffon


Lingering Bursitis

GK - Casillas
LB - Maicon (normally an RB, he can play both sides well)
CB - Puyol
CB - Ferdinand
RB - Dani Alves
DM - Mascherano
LM - Ribery
RM - Messi
AM - Gerrard
ST - Torres
ST - Fredi Kanoute (the guy is in ridiculous form, so why not?)

The Fan’s Attic: Really, you can justify leaving C Ronaldo off this list?
LB: He's my sub. He's been off the boil for long stretches this year, and honestly, having watched all those "big" games with LFC and the CL games against inter, I wouldn't trust him on that biggest stage. Sorry. Also, I am pleased I managed to restrain myself to just 3 LFC players.


The NY Kid

Here is my vaunted 4-5-2 formation:

GK: Casillas
DEF: Lahm, Puyol, Clichy, Sagna
MID: Essien, Messi, Ribery, Kaka
ST: Torres, Eto'o



Bigus Dickus

Ok people. Here is Bigus’ World 11...

--------------------------Casillas--------------------
Corluka-------- Vidic------ Ferdinand----Zhirkov
Ronaldo-------Gerrard-------Kaka--------Simao
--------------------------Messi----------------------
--------------------------Torres---------------------
Bench of 7: Villa, Rooney, Silva, Fabregas, Gago, Abidal. Ribery.

Bigus: Ok. I stuck to players in their rightful positions so I get to include my bench. If i'd played middies anywhere across the middle, not in their position then Gago would have trumped Simao. But the above is how teams work, so went that route. Just missed out...Terry, Capdevila, Robben. Buffon..
The NY Kid: My nan could beat Vidic [Ed: You can guess where the discussion went from there.]


The Likely Lad

The Likely Lad: Does it have to be best XI? Or can we do XI we'd like to see. Obviously it'd be a great XI, but let's say I wanted to pick Modric... he's not the best, but with the team I put around him, they could be...
Lingering Bursitis: As Spectator said, pick "Your best XI". Make of that what you will.
The Fan’s Attic: If we're going to go the Likely Lad’s route, I think I'll put myself in at left back. That's a side I would most like to see.

Iker
Sergio Ramos -- Rio -- Terry -– Evra
Mascherano
Messi -- Modric -- Ronaldo
Rooney
Torres

The Likely Lad: Solid back 4, beastly def mid, basically four strikers, with Rooney playing deep with Modric. A bit small yea, but we'd score more than we gave up.
The NY Kid: That’s quite EPL-centric.
[Ed: Whereupon the Likely Lad’s decision to include Rooney is mocked, leading to a discussion of Max Bretos and the Setanta puppets that I have chosen to omit.]


Sven

Casillas
Ramos, Ferdinand, Puyol, Evra
De Rossi, Silva, Gerrard, Mascherano
Messi, Torres

Sven: I tried to inject some fresh faces into the discussion via my back four... but I'm more than willing to admit fault on Ramos.
The Fan’s Attic: I'm not sure it matters because wikipedia says Silva can play anywhere.
Sven: If that's the case, I suppose I could have them swap. Or drop one for Sneijder... or Ronaldo. I do value wingers who can play on either flank.


Ian

GK - Buffon
D - Lahm, Puyol, Vidic, Sagna
M - Messi, Fabergas, Senna, Ronaldo
F - Villa, Ibrahimovic

This team is probably a little leaky in the back but it would be pretty sweet going forward.


ü75

Casillas
Vidic, Puyol, Sagna, Lahm
Ronaldo, Essien, Kaka, De Rossi
Messi
Drogba


Ian: Given the fancypants nature of everyone's squads here, I wonder if I should resubmit a team of hard men.
The Fan’s Attic: I always wonder if you have that much talent on a team, whether it would be possible to actually succeed, or if you would need two gameballs.
Ian: Ok... the all "world class players who actually tackle" XI (it's a 4-5-1 obviously):

Cech
Chielinni, Marquez, Materazzi, Zambrotta
Mascherano, Essien, Gattuso, Sneijder, Gerrard
Drogba

Bigus: Drogba tackles? He tackles the floor sometimes.
The Likely Lad: Thats my bench! Probably hurt my first XI in training...
[Ed: Which led to a spirited discussion about the French and the 1986 World Cup.]


Precious Roy: Seeing how the Power Poll is basically us rearranging the same 12 teams, pretty surprised by the variety here.
Lingering Bursitis: I'm not as surprised. Here we're all going a lot more on personal preference than the cold, hard fact of "form" and Wins/Losses. That said, everyone but me is loving Ronaldo.
Precious Roy: Next, can we get a 'fro XI? Assou-Ekotto, Fellaini, the other Ferdinand...

Read more on "UF Losing the Plot: What Is Your Best XI?"...

UF POWER POLL-- MARCH 27, 2008


Get it? Ugh...


Welcome to List Day on UF! If you're looking for coherent thoughts strung together with transitional phrases-- all in support of some unifying thesis, well... you've come to the WRONG PLACE! Sumpin' may slip through the cracks here or there, but mostly we're just going to name a bunch of shit, in some particular order, by some chosen standard, then watch like mad scientists as you debate it-- or should I say, as we debate our own decisions, with your scathing commentary fueling this shared fire. So look out for the UF Best XIs-- we each picked one, and all by different measures-- and if I can plug myself here Ed: Go on, son, a Top Tenner of "Spurs' Worst Transfer Moves since the Dodgy Lasagne Incident of 2006." You'll see both later in the afternoon.
For now though, please enjoy our 18th power poll in the last 15 days. We've bumped this one up in accordance with international week. And because soooome of us just could not wait another minute to vote ManUre into the 3rd or 4th slot. As always, the Facebook vote has been factored in with all the UF "staffers."



1) Barcelona - 1.4 (1st, 1.2)

No shock here. The Catalans hold on to the top slot. In a week when United fail to bounce back from the Anfield Incident, Barca douse Malaga in their champagne best. Lingering has given me shit in the past for wearing a Barcelona shirt-- as I'm a known delinquent Spurs supporter-- and I try to explain that, ya know, "mes que un club," and stuff. When they are at their best, they are a credit to the game. They are what separates, in form and function, football from baseball and other more staid endeavours. (That said, if Spurs and Barca ever competed for something, I'd root for Messi's fat legs to snap like twigs during the morning trot...)

2) Liverpool - 1.6 (3, 3.4)

If Barca conjure up ideals of football Renaissance, angels' wings, and potpourri, then Liverpool-- Viva Los Rojos!!-- are Guernica. They are fucking assassins. Madrid, United, and now Villa. Three snuff films. Rafa and 'Nando flying bombers over Dresden. Paul Castellano had a better chance than Villa. Fergie looked like Moe Green during his [final] rubdown.
Of course, it's all prologue. All leading up to Game 38. At Anfield. The Return of Robbie Keane. Please, footy gods, please let that game be relevant to the title. One's testicles shrink in anticipation!

3) Manchester United - 3.6 (2nd, 1.9)

It truly does happen to EVERYBODY. Barca had their dry run. Liverpool edged toward it, then fell off the cliff at Middlesbrough-- after being nudged for months... and now it's United's turn. Have they hit a wall? They were winning, but never filling the net. The Inter encounter was probably a little too close for comfort. They are, at present, a team that can be held. I mean, Spurs did it for 120 minutes against their 3/4 strength Carling Cup squad. Ditto for Fulham at the weekend. Could Liverpool have set off The Crack-Up of '09. Cos that's what it'd be.

4) Inter Milan - 5.1 (5th, 5.5)

Followed their close-but-not-really-that-close swipe at United with consecutive clean sheets against Fiorentina and Reggina. They haven't conceded in three matches in Serie A play. So basically, for Inter in 2008-09, it's new manager, old results. Some clubs would be happy with their problem. Looking at you, Liverpool.

5) Hertha Berlin - 6.6 (6th, 7.0)

I recalculated this two times. But the figures are correct. Even with a loss, Hertha remain in the top half of our poll. They do lead the Bundesliga, and have for a bit now. So credit there. And I think we all like them a bit because they're not Bayern... and all that stuff about what they meant to the East Germans during the Berlin Wall years (see: Simon Kuper). Or maybe we're just idiots...

6) Chelsea - 7.2 (4th, 5.2)
There's nothing like being right. And I was right on this one.
Allow myself to quote... myself (from March 18):


It's odd to say, but this weekend at WHL has to be a bit of a measuring stick. The Blues have been good, and beating Juventus is always a feather in your cap, but have they really faced down an in-form club and dominated? Nyet. Stomp Spurs on derby day and we'll be wholly convinced.

0-1.
Hence, fourth to sixth place.

7) Real Madrid - (unranked)

Like Inter, except not winning their League. They recovered nicely from the Liverpool debacle to win two straight in La Liga and stay within a grito of Barca for the Spanish title.

8) Bayern Munich - 9.6 (T-7, 8.8)

Bayern like to bounce around this region of the poll... in and out and up and around. The questions remain. Can they do it against the big boys? Karlsruhe and Bolchum ain't the big boys. Thankfully, they'll be sorted out-- one way or another-- in the next round of the Champions League. Should be fun. Goals Goals Goals!

9) Arsenal - 12.7 (t-7, 8.8)

So they're here.

Question: I've become a bit obsessed of late with reading about and watching video of the Dutch WC team from 1974.. Cruyff and Michels' squad who lost to the Germans in the final, etc. I've even bought in, to a degree, to the idea that despite being outscored (details!) they are the great squad of the tournament. Actually, I think a lot of people would agree with that sentiment as it's just been articulated. So the question is-- does feeling this way mean I'm starting to think like a Gooner? Like, as long as ze football eez beautiful, ve can never loooze fair... Dey keeked us! Etc...? I don't think so, but I'll keep an eye out...

10) Porto - 14.3 (unranked)

Just edged Villareal on the "still in the Champs League so I guess I'll put them tenth vote." But let's leave it on one more question: If Spurs had a home-and-home with the Dragons, who would the bookies favor? i think it'd be Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. But that's just me :)

Dropped - AZ Aalkmar, AC Milan

In the mix - Juventus, Villareal, Spurs (two 10th place votes!), Wolfsburg,


Read more on "UF POWER POLL-- MARCH 27, 2008"...

That's Some Pair of Balls, Dave.


People who live in glass stadiums should not throw stones. Unless of course you are Dave Whelan. The man who just cannot keep his nose out of other people's business has opened the gaping hole in his face yet again (see above).

You may remember that Whelan couldn't keep his trap shut about the West Ham/Tevez affair. Even though Wigan stayed up, he called for Premier League officials to be fired. You would think that a man who is under investigation by the financial services authority would keep a low profile. But no... Big mouth strikes again. (I saw Morrissey the other night, sorry.)

Dave Whelan has been telling anyone who will listen that Mike Ashley has ruined Newcastle United. Big mouth may be right, but it's really none of his business is it? But that doesn't stop Whelan. He just can't help himself. If Newcastle go down, Whelan reckons that Ashley deserves the drop because of the way he has pretended to be a Newcastle fan, amongst other claims.


Whelan. Not concerned with the empty seats behind him as much as he is other peoples business.


When I first went there just after Mike Ashley had bought it, he turned up in the boardroom in a pair of jeans, a pair of trainers and a replica shirt. Immediately he did that, the club’s gone. You don’t do things like that in football. He’s got no class whatsoever. When you walk in he clears the boardroom out and people walk in wearing football kit, replica shirts. You don’t do that.
- Wigan Chairman Dave Whelan.


No class for wearing a replica soccer shirt and sneakers in the boardroom? This from the man who made his fortune flogging replica shirts (including Newcastle's) and sneakers in his JJB sports store chain!


Ashley. No class.

While Newcastle are certainly in deep trouble, they are a massive club that boasts a weekly attendance of around 50,000. Wigan's attendance in comparison is between 14,000 and 17,000. Absolutely pathetic for a team that sits seventh in the Premier League. Largely due, I'll point out, to the efforts of one Steve Bruce after Whelan sold his best players to teams like Tottenham. Whelan should be worrying about the 8-11,000 empty seats in his 25,135 capacity stadium instead of the affairs of Newcastle United up in the northeast. Especially when Wigan are losing money. So why is Whelan sticking his big hooter in to Ashley's business?

Could it be that the two are currently feuding over the future of Whelan's old company JJB? Yep, that would be it!

Whelan appears to have a big head as well as a big mouth. From next season, the JJB Stadium will be know as the D.W. or Dave Whelan Stadium.

They may need to widen the doors.

-Bigus


Read more on "That's Some Pair of Balls, Dave."...

Credit Crunch Hits The Terry Family


Not even multi-millionaire football players mums are immune to the economic crisis. England's Brave John Terry's mum and mum-in-law were cited on shoplifting charges. The delinquent duo were cited for shoplifting £800 of goods from a department and grocery store.

Alyssa Milano they are not, but the youthful indiscretion probably made them feel younger than 18 shots of botox. Despite their son's £135,000-per-week salary, his purchase of exclusive homes for his mums, the criminal couple were nicked taking cheap track suits and food stuffs. I guess you really can't wash away the chav.

Predictably, the Terry lawyer says this is all a big mistake. The pair accepted the cautions, which is an admission of guilt, but their lawyer is now seeking to reverse the cautions. I await the Bernie Madoff excuse freezing their credit cards and accounts.

No word yet on whether they weeped like their son in Moscow.

Read more on "Credit Crunch Hits The Terry Family"...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Backpasses: A confused old man

Robinho and Adriano had an interesting homecoming [ONTD]
Portuguese kids get a penalty very wrong [Off The Post]
Guus Hiddink cannot remember which team of his that Arshavin plays for [The Spoiler]
CR7 came up a little lame in training for Portugal [Daily Mail]

Capello takes the opportunity to poke fun at both Rooney and Cashley in practice [The Beautiful Game]
Jamar Beasley making his way in indoor soccer. Hope he has quit drinking [Rockford Register Star]
Fake ref scams kids teams out of cash then leaves [Dirty Tackle]

Finally:
The horror! The horror! [The Best Eleven]

Read more on "Thursday Backpasses: A confused old man"...

Is This A Boobie Prize?

The Sun, the esteemed institution of British journalism, has done it again. This time they have discovered the Italian pornstar who has painted her favo(u)rite soccer star, Dimitar Berbatov.

WITH HER BREASTS!!!

Link NSFW, but there is a slideshow. She intends to present her painting to Dimitar later this week. It's not certain whether painting with her fun bags will lead to lots of moneybags.

Read more on "Is This A Boobie Prize?"...

UF Quick Throw: Meet Your New Overlords

Perhaps this is a bit of a litmus test for where our global economy is heading: Manchester United has approached an Indian conglomerate to replace AIG as its sponsor. (Even more hilariously, the conglomerate is called "Tata Group.")

[Reuters]

Read more on "UF Quick Throw: Meet Your New Overlords"...

Who's Ya Daddy?



Occasionally a footballers son will emerge and be a true 'chip off the old block'. This appears to be the case for Paolo Maldini's lad Daniel, after the jump, join me to watch the Italian nipper make a fool of daddy's team mate and Dutch international Clarence Seedorf. Also a look at Zidanes boy 'Enzo'. Does he have a mean headbutt like papa?



This is Daniel Maldini. The legendary defenders son looks to be on course to emulate his old mans career as he slides in to dispossess Clarence Seedorf.


Get stuck in son!

Below is Enzo Zidane. The REAL 'new Zidane'. The 14 year old has just been called up to play for Spain. How does daddy feel about that?


Just like the old man, minus the violence.

Read more on "Who's Ya Daddy?"...

What Has Gotten Into Chelsea?


Sometimes, okay all the time, I'm surfing around looking for interesting stories, pictures, etc. It's what I do and usually I find T&A type stuff. This time, however, I was surfing the Premier League website and stumbled across some interesting statistics involving Autoglass' favorite ref-circling club.

Last year Fulham almost qualified for a Euro slot, although it barely escaped relegation, through the Fairplay allocation. Manchester City ended up snatching the Fairplay slot, barely. Fulham leads this year's Fairplay (PDF warning) index currently with Liverpool and Arsenal tied for second, which isn't surprising since the clubs finished second and fourth last season.

But, look at the club hot on Liverpool and Arsenal's heels this season...

It's Chelsea. Improving 10 places from last season. The team that was the epitome of unfair play last season, constantly ringing the refs in an attempt to influence. The club had a complete lack of respect for the match officials and always good for a few hard fouls each match.


Well, good on Chelsea for improving this aspect of the club. I hope they keep it up.

I imagine Manchester United's seventh place ranking will be falling following the two red card performance against Fulham.

Read more on "What Has Gotten Into Chelsea?"...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

UF Quick Throw: Guessing game **UPDATE**

Yay! UEFA just made the Interlull much more interesting. You see, UEFA General Secretary David Taylor says that the federation are about to bring match-fixing charges against a club over the next few days. Taylor could not get into specifics, but he did give a couple of clues. Apparently, the club that is to be charged competed in the UEFA Cup either this season or last, and possibly both.

It's therefore up to you, dear reader, to tell us who the club is. Leave your best guesses in the comments. If anyone gets it correct, I'll figure out an appropriate prize.
[Times Online]
------------------------------------------------------
Well that didn't take long. The team, based on a poorly translated source from Macedonia, is something called FK Pobeda which is based in the aforementioned Macedonia. Allegedly the case dates back to 2004, not later as hinted in the Times Online article above. Choice quote from the breaking news article: "even the delegate of the match wrote 'This match was fixed, the Macedonians didn't even try to play'". Oh well, better luck next time.

Read more on "UF Quick Throw: Guessing game **UPDATE**"...

Wednesday Backpasses: How am I going to compete with that?

Well, Hell. If Spectator gets to run a picture of Omar (and not use my tag for The Wire), then I get to run a picture of my favorite character--Bodie in an impromptu meeting with McNutty.


David Beckham ripped a guy's arm off [The Sun]
I think Wayne Rooney studied tape of Zach Thomas. Great form from England's Dirk Kuyt [Dirty Tackle]
Wanna own an EPL club? It just got a lot cheaper [The Sun]

Lawrie Sanchez used to wait by the phone for calls from WAGs saying their hubbies/boytoys couldn't play for Northern Ireland that week [Off The Post]
Sadly, DC United will never get a SSS [The 24th Minute]

Finally:
Team by team guide of players called up for internationals in the EPL. You don't have much to worry about Newcastle and West Brom fans [Daily Mail]

Read more on "Wednesday Backpasses: How am I going to compete with that?"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Ah, Germany. You've given us so much already. How did I know that if I went back to the well there would be something waiting for me? Because you are so very much you, and you just cannot change.

On thing you definitively cannot change is the past. And you did a lot of stupid crap in the past. Never, though, have I seen one team pull off three outstandingly bad jerseys in a row. At least, not until I investigated your Kaiserslautern team, Germany. Then I knew that bad decisions could and would be repeated within you borders. Of course, that's your 20th Century history in general, Germany, but I guess you knew that.

The start of the 1990s were heady days for the Southwest German club. The decade kicked off with a win in the German Cup to close the 1989-90 season. That was immediately followed up with a Bundesliga championship in 1990-91, a win whose memory can only be soured by the fact that they had to wear these shirts.


So, was someone at Uhlsport or Kaiserslautern a big backgammon fan? Because that is the distinct impression I get when looking at this shirt. All it needs are those little red and black checkers, though I suppose the club and sponsor badges are a start.

For the 1991-92 season, Kaiserslautern did what clubs are wont to do--make fans buy a new replica because the design has changed. The club moved away from the purple highlights of the previous shirt, and went with just red, white and black.


Oh, and they added check boxes. So, if you wanted to have a vote of some kind, you could just write the choices on the shirt and let friends check off whichever one they liked. Or maybe the club has a sawfish for a mascot, I don't know. What I do know is that this shirt may have featured the most sublimated pinstripes ever recorded on a football shirt.

Deciding that two bad shirts in a row wasn't enough, and that relative symmetry was for the birds, Kaiserslautern and Uhlsport (who must be held equally responsible) unleashed a new shirt in time for the 1992-93 season.


What do you even say? On some level it looks like a white bandage has been ripped off of the top middle of an all-red shirt and is hovering just above, producing a black shadow. Beyond that, there are some pipes, possibly indicating someone with an architectural fetish for getting rid of waste.

Now the question is asked. Which of these is the worst? We'll take your vote below.


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

Exhibit 87 On Why South American Soccer Is Crazy

It is fairly obvious that soccer in South America stirs the spirits of its players and fans. Almost weekly there is some video or story about a South American club brawling with the other team or with fans, but that's not going to stop us from sharing it with you.

An entire team and its substitutes was sent off, all 18, on Saturday after the club brawled with the home fans. Consequently, the next match will be contested by all youth and reserve team members.

The team was so set on brawling that it sprinted 60 yards to get to an opening in the fence to get at the fans. That's some dedication. I would have said to myself, "Why?", after about 15 yards.

Anyway, on to the video...




Read more on "Exhibit 87 On Why South American Soccer Is Crazy"...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Backpasses: Explosive

Don't forget you can go do your part for the Power Poll in the Facebook group. Voting ends tomorrow.

Nani has some odd pictures floating out there [ONTD]
TH14 tries out his new boots [The Spoiler]
Zizou's kid has a U-15 call up--for Spain [Guardian]
Top 50-ish players by salary [The Offside]

Don't wear your Man U kit on the streets of NYC. Not because of the AIG thing, but because it's a terroristic thing to do [The Big Lead]
Vancouver have already sold out their first wave of Season ticket deposits [The Football Project]
Hope Solo local news interview. Sportscaster can't stop himself from commenting in on her hair. Sexist pig [The Offside Rules]
Jermaine Pennant's sometime WAG is apparently in the "off-again" category as she has decided to hock her her engagement ring on eBay [Off The Post]

Finally:
Nigerian FA loses $200K. Possibly to a scam. [All Africa]

Read more on "Tuesday Backpasses: Explosive"...

They Just Don't Give a Sh*t


Jimmy Hill. Thank god he isn't watching.

Many of you who read this blog will know that Bigus is not a great fan of the MLS. I have described it as one pass, two pass, give it away, repeat for 90 mins AND down right boring. Well I am making an effort this season. So far Bigus has watched Seattle V New York and San Jose V New England Revolution. I am making an effort, so why aren't the folks who are paid to watch making an effort?

First of all, let me just throw it out there. I was impressed by the Sounders game. Pleasantly surprised. After 10 minutes I was groaning at the lack of control and 30 wayward passes, but like magic, as if the gods of fluidity had sprinkled magic dust onto the field, the game changed. Seattle's movement was exceptional as they worked as a team and looked to find space at every opportunity.

New York didn't receive any of the fairy dust though. The donkey on the left must have wandered in from the circus and pulled on a shirt. He was dreadful (not naming him as to do so would be to falsly acknowledge that he is a footballer), and Angel spent the whole game wondering why his team could not provide one decent ball to him. For Seattle, Fredy Montero looked classy. He has pace, awareness and a tasty finish. That's one guy who will be appearing at a Premier League ground soon enough.


Montero. Far too good for M.L.S.

The second game I watched (San Jose) was not so good. Not dreadful either, but not great. This blurb isn't about my MLS watching habits however, it's about those professionals who call the games and get paid to not give a damn. The wrong information and pathetic commentary in these two games made me cringe.

John Harkes was asked about Freddie Ljunberg's position on the team and he replied by stating that when Ljunberg came back from injury he would start for the Sounders in the position he had played his whole career...Second striker. Ljunberg is one of the most famous wingers in recent history. He has played 216 times for Arsenal and 76 times for Sweden. NEVER as a forward. After stuttering a bit Harkes should have said he didn't know, but instead he decided to have a guess. What's the harm? 90% of the Americans watching have no clue about the Premier League right? The lack of homework these guys (don't) do is embarrassing. Harkes played, so his opinion has validity, but that's no excuse to try and bluff the watching audience with bullsh*t.

During the San Jose game the two morons in the booth talked us through the team. "Alvarez is on the left and Huckerby is on the right in his favored position".

Woahh! Huckerby is in his favored position and starting on the right? Really? Hit the buzzer Richard Dawson. Huckerby may swap sides from time to time but the Norwich legend is a LEFT winger. Even the graphic was wrong. The game started and of course Huckerby played on the left. The guy was San Jose's best player last season AND top scorer. These f%*k ups are just not acceptable.


Where does their best guy play? No one cares right?

Getting away with making a hash of teams names, players names, facts, positions and stats may have been possible in FSC's (Fox Soccer Channel) infancy when nobody was watching. These days the popularity of the Premier League in the states has moved the goal posts. Presenters like Nick Webster and hosts of others, whose names are not even worth remembering, need to be canned for professional presenters who are joined by ex-professional players who have experience. One token Warren Barton is not enough!

No one cares what people like Webster think. If I wanted to know what some bloke thought about the weekends games, I'd go down the pub and at least have the option to shout "idiot" back. Presenters should present. That's it. Ask questions and present. Ex-players should comment. They are the ones with valid opinions and the experience to do so. Imagine a reglular NFL fan sat next to Boomer or Cowher discussing why this play or that doesn't work during an NFL broadcast.

Do I walk into a law firm and start answering the phone? Offering advice to those on the other end because I like to watch Boston legal? Do I wander into Lennox Hill hospital and start delivering babies becuase I have 2 kids? No. Then why is it acceptable here?

It devalues the game and does its chances of success in the states more harm than good. Pretty people pretending to know something to get on the box. Tennis commentators pretending they know their wingers from their wangers. They make up terms to pretend they have a clue. Droning about 'midfield stripes', 'uploads', reverse headers and 'line drives'. Line drives? This is not baseball!


Webster. FSC turns presenters into professionals, without the professional experience of course.

Enough is enough. Do the top dogs at these networks really think that these ex-pat wallys know what they're talking about? That the guy who just got back from the ATP tour knows why the lino just raised his flag? It's only soccer right? Easy.

Look, I don't really hate Nick Webster, I am sure he's a nice chap when sat next to you at the bar during Villa v Pompey. I'm picking on him as the rest all become one bland, incorrect, fraudelent faceless gathering.

As for live games, guys who cannot be bothered to do their homework should not be presenting and commentating on professional football. FSC, MLS Direct Kick and ESPN need to get their houses in order. Imagine what a stink there would be if John Sterling pronounced Derek Jeter's name incorrectly? Or Suzyn Waldman claimed that A-Rod won an MVP title with the Red Sox and played catcher?

Why should any one take soccer seriously when the networks showing the game can't. People are watching guys. Shape up or become/stay a laughing stock.

Rant over.

-Bigus.

Read more on "They Just Don't Give a Sh*t"...

Quick Throw: 2016 Euro 2016 Bidders

UEFA's Executive Committee confirmed (PDF warning) that France, Italy, Norway/Sweden and Turkey are the official bidders for Euro 2016. The Committee also acted to create a body to audit clubs to ensure the UEFA licenses were awarded appropriately as part of its financial fair play campaign [Ed. Note: Italicized material added for clarity].

Unfortunately, no word on on US CL broadcast rights yet, but there is UEFA Congress session tomorrow.

Sorry for all the Quick Throws so far today. Just one of those days.

Read more on "Quick Throw: 2016 Euro 2016 Bidders"...

Quick Throw: Before Making Summer Plans Read This

  • Inter Milan takes on Club America in San Jose on July 19.
  • Chelsea will take on Inter at the Rose Bowl on July 21. Tickets go on sale today and the Mourinho - Chelsea reunion sounds incredibly appetizing, presuming he is still there at that time.
  • AC Milan will take on Club America at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on July 22.
  • Chelsea will take on AC Milan in Baltimore on July 24. Tickets go on sale today.
  • There will be a Milan Derby as Inter and AC Milan battle it out on American soil on July 26 at Foxboro Stadium.
  • Chelsea will play Club America at Cowboys Stadium on July 26.
  • Don't forget Chelsea will play Seattle Sounders on July 18 in Seattle.
The Chelsea, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Club America matches are part of something called the World Football Challenge. This is supposedly the website for it but it's not live yet. UPDATE: The website is now live and has links to purchase all of the tickets for the World Football Challenge.

Also Barcelona plays LA Galaxy on August 1.

Read more on "Quick Throw: Before Making Summer Plans Read This"...

Liverpool Thievery Now Even Easier!

This is where Nando works.

We've previously discussed the rampant thievery that has occurred of footballers' homes, most notably those of Liverpool players. The vast majority of the time these burglaries have been when the player in question has been away for a match. But thanks to Google, they can now be burgled any time they leave their home unattended, even for a few short hours!



Alright, that's a bit of hyperbole. It's not quite real-time satellite imagery, but Google has launched its Street View application and one of the cities available in the UK is Liverpool. This is sure to help out those would-be stalkers and thieves in their quest to determine where Liverpool players are living.


Torres lives in Formby, Liverpool - is one of these houses his?

They can use the new app to explore the best possible routes for gaining access to players' homes (and quick getaway routes!), as well as determining if there is anything worth stealing on the grounds.

There are already advocacy groups decrying this new use of technology and looking to have the Google app shut down, but there is as of yet no word from the PFA.

Read more on "Liverpool Thievery Now Even Easier!"...

Quick Throw: A Couple Liverpool Related Items.

The red card Brad Friedel received against Liverpool has been rescinded, which means two things (1) we won't be seeing much of Brad Guzan in the near future, and (2) Friedel's consecutive games started streak will continue.

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett is considering selling his stake in the Montreal Canadiens, the NHL club he owns. Somebody needs cash.

Read more on "Quick Throw: A Couple Liverpool Related Items."...

Right A Bit....Down A Bit...GET IN!


Oops....Pay attention John Terry.

Ever wondered how to score a penno every time? John Terry sure has. Well, now we know! The research is done and a net banger should be possible EVERY single time you step up to that chalky circle and stare at the keeper. Never mind his tricks as he waves his arms around in a fruitless effort to stop your shot. You have read the research, you are gonna score for sure. Really you say? The perfect penno EVERY time? Tell me more Bigus!


A new university study says that penalty struck at 65 mph that arrives 0.5m inside post and 0.5m below the bar is the perfect penalty and will find the net every time. Wow, really? A shot that squeezes in the top corner will be a goal? NO WAY! The research also says to achieve a 65mph shot you need to take a 5 step run up at at 30 degree angle. Good to know.



Now if only players could hit those requirements everytime! But they can't...Can they?

Right I'm off to buy a lottery ticket, if I choose the right numbers, I will win. Get in!

-Bigus.

Read more on "Right A Bit....Down A Bit...GET IN!"...

Freddy leaves the witness protection program


That's right, dear readers, the diminutive gentleman pictured above is none other than Freddy Adu. Didn't he retire a few years ago? Haven't heard much from him in a while...Ok, so he's actually rotting in the reserves for Monaco. Same difference.

Freddy and the rest of the US Men's National Team are training in Miami this week ahead of their game this weekend in El Salvador. A spin through the CONCACAF qualifiers, after the jump.

Bradley has called in a full strength roster for the Central American road trip this weekend and next Wednesday's game in Nashville against Trinidad & Tobago (tickets still very much available). The squad is mostly euro-based and has the usual suspects, except for Steve Cherundulo who is battling injury. Perhaps we will see Jonathan Spector get some minutes at right back. Jay Demerit is also in line to sub for Bocanegra or Gooch in the middle. Realistically, though, this two game set should produce 6 points without too much trouble, despite the always exciting hostile crowd/ref/pitch/water/urine combo in San Salvador.

The biggest game this weekend actually takes place in Azteca between El Tri and the Ticos. Despite pasting Bolivia in a meaningless, quasi-unofficial friendly in Denver (?) two weeks ago, Sven Goran-Eriksson remains very much on the hot seat. Rumors are swirling that he could be sacked if results don't go his way this weekend. Costa Rica has won in Mexico City before, and an upset on Saturday could be the final nail in Sven's coffin.

Rafa Marquez didn't travel as he is hurt, while Carlos Vela is suspended for the first game. Marqeuz told FIFA.com that "it's unfair that people are trying to pin the blame on me for the bad results we've been having. If you ask me, Mexican football has a deep-rooted problem and that's the cause of the bad patch we've been going through. Our football is stagnating and with everything that's happened, it's time to come right out and say it. If we carry on like this we're all going to pay for it." I think I just shed a tear of pure shadenfreude.

And Sven has called in poor Oswaldo Sanchez, who will at least be happy he isn't facing Landon Donovan this week. Sylvester Adame of Goal.com notes:

Once again Sven has called up Sanchez and we resume the soap opera of who will be starting for El Tri. For many the game against Bolivia was going to be the start of the Guillermo Ochoa era but Eriksson sees it different.

“We will see who starts but I don’t want to discuss that now. Oswaldo looked fine on the weekend but I don’t want to talk about that now,” Eriksson said.


The full CONCACAF schedule is here, and without promising too much I imagine there will be a UF liveblog of the USA-El Salvador game on Saturday night.

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US Champions League Rights Announced Soon?

Last week it was leaked and confirmed that Fox had stolen away the US Champions League broadcast rights from ESPN. Fox has been rather tightlipped about the whole deal offering only a terse official 'no comment.' Our best guess, however, is that this deal will be announced Tuesday or Wednesday based on a little internet research revealing that a UEFA Executive Committee has a meeting scheduled for March 24 and 25. This meeting could be used to insert all the dots and crosses necessary to finalize the deal.

Of course, our pure speculation could be wildly inaccurate and our sources wrong. That would suck.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Backpasses: Insert whatever a vampire says here

My day was made so much better by this picture. Thanks, Sarah.

If ever there was a video that deserved to be on Dirty Tackle, this is it [Off The Post]
It's OK though, because DT comes through with Becks' hooker-approved hotel room [Dirty Tackle]
RBNY Rookie Dance-Off! [Red Bulls Reader]

Man U have played in 51 matches so far this season (that's a lot)[Daily Mail]
Dos Santos' pain causes Bigus' rejoicing [Soccer by Ives]
Pavel Nedved gets some spankings from Iaquinta [Off the Post]

Finally:
CR7 starts dating girl. Girl's father is policeman. Policeman tells daughter to stay away from CR7. She doesn't. CR7 should watch his back in Brazil [Little About]

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UF Quick Throw: Rooney Gets a Slap on the Wrist

Apropos of the Fan's Attic post yesterday, England's greatest hope Wayne "Chav" Rooney has escaped further punishment from the FA because he didn't curse at Phil Dowd (?). However, Rooney will still miss Man U's game against Villa, and he was issued a formal warning about not punching corner flags. Respec'!!

[Sky Sports]

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Two Coaches Walk Into the Sunset



Two of the big names in the annals of football have walked away from coaching their craptastic teams after some months of frustration. Jorge Burruchaga has resigned his position as gaffer of Argentinian first division side Banfield, while Henri Michel has left South African club Mamelodi Sundowns.



Burruchaga saw his Banfield side beat Arsenal (not the EPL version) 2-0 on Friday, but that result was not enough to keep him with the club he had been managing since June. Banfield currently sit 9th in the Clausura, only 5 points off the lead on a 3-1-3 record. Some reports have suggested that his decision was influenced by his tense relationship with Banfield president Carlos Portell. Perhaps Burruchaga thought that he was entitled to make most of the decisions for the club given his status in Argentinian lore for this:





On the other side of the world, Henri Michel reached an agreement with Mamelodi Sundowns after the club were knocked out of the South African Cup as current title-holders on Sunday, following a 4-1 loss to SuperSport United in the Pretoria derby on Thursday. The Cup loss so enraged club supporters that Michel was forced to take refuge amongst riot police who escorted him out of the stadium. After having won Ligue 1 with Nantes 3 times (1973, 1977, 1980) as a player, and leading France to a 3rd-place finish in the 1986 World Cup, Michel went on to manage Cameroon, Morocco (twice), Tunisia, and the Ivory Coast, with all of those countries qualifying for the World Cup during his tenure. Again, perhaps his ego was inflated due to his work in the 1986 World Cup, which featured one of the greatest matches of all time:





All I'm saying is, don't expect Rudi Völler to get into coaching again any time soon.

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Brazilian-style motivation

Are you an aspiring coach who looks to get the best out of your charges? Have you been frustrated by that one kid who just doesn't seem to get it? Are you at you wit's end because you don't know what to do? Perhaps you need to sign up for Roberto Fernandes' patented two-step process for getting the most out of a player.

Step 1: Put that kid in a dress.


Step 2: Profit!

Heck, there's not even a "???" step. Step 1 causes Step 2 immediately. Let's see something else on the internet do that.

ONTD has been nice enough to bring such a process to our attention.

Fernandes is the manager of Figueirense, who currently play in the second national tier of Brazilian football. The player in the picture above is Jairo, 21 year old central defender. As the story goes, Fernanades was extremely frustrated with Jairo's play, so he put Jairo in the skimpy/sassy top. Jairo's reponse was empahatic and immediate. In the manager's words, Jairo gave one of the team's top performances next match.

So, let this be a lesson to aspiring coaches everywhere. If you can't get through to little Jimmy with words, try embarrassment. As long as it is not your kid, and you are not responsible for future psychiatric bills, what do you really have to lose?

In case the picture above was not proof enough, here's a news report on the whole deal.



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Quick Throw: Mourinho continues to burn Serie A bridges

The Special One should now be known as The Consistent One, because nary a Serie A weekend passes without some good old-fashioned slander.

This time, Jose voiced his belief that while he picks the Inter XI every week, his rivals let the stronger-willed club presidents deal with team sheets. And to the shock and dismay of no-one, his coaching rivals are fighting back.

At what point with the overtime costs incurred by Inter's PR department become greater than the severance package they'd need to give Mourinho? Surely not much longer until that happens....

[Guardian Sport]

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