Friday, December 18, 2009

This is funny...

My camera phone isn't very good, but the boxes read "Classic Forks"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That's it for a while

Hey guys, I'm sure many of you know, but I'm not part-owner of an NPSL team. I'll continue to blog about the USMNT at their site. One day, I'm sure I'll need this space, but there are already too many bloggers spread far too thin. I won't be one of them.

From here-on-in, you can read my American soccer thoughts HERE:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jones switch to U.S. complete

After months of speculation, Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones is no longer German property, as FIFA approved his move to the USMNT. Jones' father is American.

Jermaine is likely not nude in this photo unless they have lenient public nudity laws in Germany. Huge shin guards.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What a trip!

I don't know how well it translated to television, but the atmosphere at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night -- even at half-full -- was as "electrifying as a hair dryer tossed into a bathtub", as Roy Hudson once cried.

Already charged up by Saturday's World Cup qualification and saddled with emotions from forward Charlie Davies' devastating car accident earlier in the week, the US crowd found even more to get loud about in the form of a dirty, dangerous and ultimately embarrassing Costa Rican soccer team.

It began innocently enough, with States striker Conor Casey blowing a chance to send the stadium into ecstasy. As fans held up handed-out "9" signs for Davies during the ninth minute, Casey ripped what should've been an easy goal over the net as the game clock struck 9:00. It was the first of an entirely forgettable and borderline offensive game for Casey, who played with the gusto of a chicken liver. You could've been convinced his cement shoes were on the take.

Maybe it was Costa Rica's defense, because Jozy Altidore was also pushed around a bit, but the other members of the mens team played dominating soccer save for a four-minute span that saw FC Twente striker Bryan Ruiz strike twice to put CRC up, 2-0.

It would've been easy for the Yanks to pack up and stay home, but they played inspired soccer against a team that refused to work for their World Cup berth, milking the clock with humiliating tactic after humiliating tactic. At one point, a defender was taken off the field on a stretcher, crossed the sideline, jumped off it and re-entered the game at the next opportunity.

While the Costa Rican fans celebrating, racing their flag around the 400-level of the stadium, even of the heads of American fans, the States kept plugging away. The U.S. kept switching fields and hammering crosses into the box. Down two goals at half, you could still be confident that the Yanks would come marching back, though America used stunning drama to do it.

Michael Bradley showed typical grit in the 72nd minute, pushing a ball into the CRC net and closing the gap to one, but the attack wasn't complete until Jose Francisco Torres entered the game to put extra calm in the midfield, and Casey was substituted with Kenny Cooper, who at least endeavored to be in the proper position to win 50/50 balls.

There were five minutes of added time, and the Yanks made sure to use every drama-drenched moment. Jonathan Bornstein's head met the equalizer off a corner kick, and the celebration was on at 90+5. With a Mexico draw and a Honduras win, the Yanks had claimed CONCACAF and sent Costa Rica into a playoff with Uruguay (Told you Argentina would qualify on its own, drama kings).

The crowd exploded along with the fireworks, and the celebration was on, players circling the field after skipper Carlos Bocanegra addresses the home fans. The players snagged posters from the stands honoring Davies, and Tim Howard wore a cowboy hat. It was incredible.

I have to go do my real job now, but good looks to the effort from our boys, especially Stuart Holden and Steve Cherundolo, who never quit running and hitting great balls into the box. Also, a nod to Landon Donovan, who never hung his head despite working himself into several wonderful opportunities, only to miss. It's going to be a fun ride next summer...

The States have only announced one international friendly so far, Nov. 18 in Denmark against the Danish squad. Twenty-three of the 32 teams that will play in SA2010 have qualified, and Denmark is one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Safe and Sound to South Africa!

Before I get into my notes from Saturday night's qualifier, viewed quite pirate-like on the information superhighway, here's the recap I typed for my 9-5er at WGR in Buffalo:

The United States is the 19th nation to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after a thrilling 3-2 road victory in hostile Honduras.

Unlikely starter Conor Casey tallied twice as the States countered the game's first tally. His first goal came off an attempted header that connected with the top of his back and bounded into the Honduran net. The second came off a beautiful feed from Landon Donovan, who later scored off a free kick to put the States up, 3-1.

Honduras' Julio Leon made it interesting late, scoring his second of the game to halve America's lead, and the game looked all but tied when Jonathan Spector was whistled for a handball in the goal area late in the goings. Yet immensely talented Carlos Pavon sailed his penalty kick high, and missed on a late header a few minutes later, sending Honduras into a very dangerous spot if they want to end up in South Africa. With the political unrest in Honduras, here's hoping Pavon safety in his home nation.

The United States remains in first in the North and Central America qualifying group known as CONCACAF, and will likely need a win Wednesday against Costa Rica in Washington, D.C., to finish on top. It won't be easy, as Costa Rica will need a win to ensure a trip to South Africa, while Honduras will have to beat El Salvador and hope the Costa Ricans tie or lose to the States.

Joining the States in South Africa so far are:
Ivory Coast
Korea DPR
Korea Republic
South Africa

32 teams in total will qualify for next summer's tournament.


-- I'm genuinely worried for Pavon. Central America is all sorts of crazy, and he has put the Hondurans in a tricky spot. I hate the Honduran team, but maybe he can be a hero on Wednesday in El Salvador.

-- I was alarmed and upset by Bob Bradley choosing to play Casey, and I'm happy to peel several eggs off my face. What a long way I've come from wondering whether Bradley had the smarts to coach the team. His son was right and righteous with his summer anger.

-- Oguchi Onyewu made a couple brilliant tackles tonight to make up for later looking goofy on the second Honduras goal.

-- It was really good to see Landon Donovan get nutty off a free kick. The States really need that.

-- Stuart Holden made some sensational crosses and through balls. Way to go, Stu.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rocktober: Do it or lose it

When my three friends and I head South to see the States tangle with Costa Rica on Oct. 14 in D.C., there's a solid chance it'll be the most important American soccer game since the 2006 World Cup.

If the States earns one point or less in Honduras on Oct. 10, they'll need another point to guarantee a berth in the World Cup, and Costa Rica have everything to play for.

Heading into that game in Honduras, a nation undergoing so much civil unrest that they've banned everything from freedom of speech to freedom to dress yourself without government superviasion, the table looks like this:

(First three qualify for WC, fourth place earns play-in game with fifth place team from CONMEBOL, who in my opinion will be Antonio Valencia's Ecuador squad).

1. US, 16 pts, +5
2. Mexico, 15 pts, +3
3. Honduras, 13 pts, +6
4. Costa Rica, 12 pts, -4
5. El Salvador, 8 pts, -2
6. T&T, 5 pts, -8

An extremely unlikely scenario could make it all moot for the States. If moribund Trinidad and Tobago can somehow topple Costa Rica in San Jose (the Costa Ricans beat T&T at T&T, 3-2, in their previous match-up), the States would be assured South Africa.

The Oct. 10 matchday features the two aforementioned games, plus El Salvador's trip to Azteca. In all likelyhood, CR, Honduras and Mexico come out on top, though the States chances at an upset are the best of the three visitors.

Here's how the table would look before the final match day (without goal differential):
1. Mexico, 18 pts
2. Honduras, 16 pts
3. US, 16 pts
4. Costa Rica, 15 pts
5. El Salvador, 8 pts
6. T&T, 5 pts

If you're a States fan hoping for qualification on the first matchday, hope for one of the following:
A) a win
2) a Costa Rican loss
D) a draw and a Costa Rican draw


Bradley names 22-man roster for final matchdays

Bob Bradley's decided who's going to match up with Honduras and Costa Rica. Here's an accidentally lewd picture of Stuart Holden -->

Altidore, Jozy (F)
Bocanegra, Carlos (D)
Bornstein, Jonathan (D)
Bradley, Michael (M)
Casey, Conor (F)
Cherundolo, Steve (D)
Ching, Brian (F)
Clark, Ricardo (M)
Conrad, Jimmy (D)
Cooper, Kenny (F)
Davies, Charlie (F)
Dempsey, Clint (M)
Donovan, Landon (F)
Goodson, Clarence (D)
Guzan, Brad (GK)
Holden, Stuart (M)
Howard, Tim (GK)
Onyewu, Oguchi (D)
Rogers, Robbie (M)
Torres, Jose Francisco (M)

Clearly, Bradley is prejudiced against most players with names that begin with letters in the second half of the alphabet. Notable names missing: Beckerman, DeMerit (injured), Kljestan, Marshall, Pearce