2005/06 Soccer Thread

TheGameguru wrote:
ManU is held to a nil-nil draw by a fifth division team. That's not a misprint either, a fifth division team!

I watched the game Sunday morning and it wasnt even like the other team (Borstal somethingorother??) turtled up and simply played for the draw either.. they made a couple really good scoring attempts in the later stages of the game.

It seemed that ManU would have eventually scored if they had brought in Rooney and Ronaldo earlier than they did..

Burton, the name of the team is. Good show by them, would've been hi-larious if they'd won.

7-0

Any time the score of Football sounds like the score of Football, there's a real problem. Mind you, Arsenal had scored six times before Middlesbrough got their only Red Card.

Either way, another week, nothing really changes. Chelsea and Liverpool won (Harry Kewell scored! No Really!). The top of the table looks mostly the same, although the "crisis" talk is ramping up around Old Trafford again after ManU did rather poorly against Manchester City.

Lastly, is there a team in world sports history that has done less with more than Newcastle United? I mean really? After this loss the team that has Belozoglu Emre, Albert Luque, Scott Parker and more is 13th. 13th.

Utterly pathetic. Short of a miracle, Souness is going to lose his job at the end of the year. It's unbelievable that a team that spends this much on new talent can't even manage UEFA Cup football to bring to St. James'.

And Barca won again. For the 17th time. In a row. I know, I was shocked too.

Please, mention my Magpies no more. It's just too damn frustrating.

17 times in a row is world class in the strongest competition of the world. Respect!

The Magpies tend to buy the wrong people, it seems. Michael Owen only came back because playing for Real Madrid was even worse, but he doesn't seem too happy about Newcastle either. Ey well, every league needs one of those buys-all-wins-nothing teams

Indeed, but they don't come any worse than the Toon. Souness is dead in the water.

Much to everyone's surprise, Rio Ferdinand's in the headlines, and for Good Reasons this time.

Aston Villa and Tottenham. My biggest problem with the EPL is that there are so very many teams like this, who aren't bad enough to go down, but aren't nearly good enough to win it, and end up making the UEFA Cup a "seasonal goal".

If you haven't been paying attention recently, the Head Coach of England got caught saying a number of naughty things to a reporter dressed up like a Sheikh recently, things about the England players, Aston Villa, and the state of the Premier League in general.

The Guardian's "The Fiver" wrote:

The Fiver quite fancies a job with the FA's "compliance unit". Despite the Gestapo-esque title, its members seem to be charged with shining a light on football's wrongdoings with only the puny beam from a torch they got in a Christmas cracker. Where allegations of corruption in high places usually prompt humbler organisations such as the government to inquire and investigate, these guys won't move a muscle until the hard evidence is presented on a platter. Preferably alongside several dressed crabs and a lobster.

So it's no surprise that Sven's changed his tune. A few weeks ago he was reportedly/allegedly/possibly [you can't be too careful - Fiver Lawyers] telling the fake sheikh that the Premiership was - hic! - riddled with corruption, and - belch! - even went to the trouble of - hic! - naming the three most rotten clubs in the - hic! hic! - "cesspit". In the cold, sober light of day, however, he and agent Athole Still have been quick to save the compliance unit any trouble.

"At no time did [we] claim to have any evidence in relation to improper transfer dealing in football," they reassured suits, who had cast worried looks at their lunchtime schedule when told of this morning's meeting with the gullible pair. They needn't have feared: things were over before elevenses, and despite Sven apparently knowing enough aboard that yacht to label one particular manager the game's most corrupt, don't hold your breath waiting for something to come of it.

This has, of course, ended up in some furrowed brows and concerned looks, but frankly, I wasn't expecting this result. I mean, I was expecting Sven to leave because he's a mediocre international coach. What's worse, is that England has noone on the horizon who could probably do better.

To the ongoing horror of teams in France, England and Belgium, the African Cup of Nations has begun (an international competition featuring only African national teams. The European Championship/Copa Sudamerica for Africa) and Soccernet has a pretty good preview up. This is the kind of thing i'd love to have on ESPN2, rather than ESPN Hollywood. Christ.

Guess who won AGAIN.

And some silliness from the oft-overlooked but still pretty decent Bundesliga.

Actually, two years ago the African Cup WAS a disaster to Belgian clubs, since no less then 27 players left for two weeks. This edition, 5 (FIVE!) are deemed good enough to play for their national teams. Nuff said about the level of competence in our league, no?

Prederick wrote:

ESPN Hollywood

*scratches head* Which one is that? Please don't tell me there is actually such a thing.

The Euro '08 qualification group drawing was held earlier today and it looks like Dejanzie and I will be keeping a very close eye on Group A. We might even throw a couple of expletives at each other. It's going to be a tough group all around, so best of luck to you and your team Dejanzie.

Here are the groupings.

*Puts on tinfoil hat* It looks like England and Netherlands got the big pass from UEFA (again) as far as the groupings go.
*Takes off tinfoil hat*

In all seriousness though. While a couple of those groups do seem kind of suspect, groups A, B and D all look to have some real good matches.

In MLS news, the San Jose Earthquakes are no more. Behold Houston 1836. One question though, has anyone ever seen a Blue space city (video games dont count :)) or an Orange wildcat? Seriously, WTF is it with American sports teams, and having to invent these bizarro colors? What, did somebody go out and trademark all the regular ones?
/rant

Prederick, you can breathe easy now. Balance has been returned to the Force.

And finally, Chelsea might actually be running out of money! Yeah, right.

I gather you're Finnish? We do NOT have great memories of our latest encounters with you guys: in 1999, the 3-4 defeat at home was the direct reason coach Georges Leekens got fired (although it had more to do with the disaster that was the WC in '98), last time we got humiliated 4-1 in Finland.

And than there's the rather smelly case of bribery round Zheyun Ye and the Finnisch competition, which included a whole lot of Belgians (Pister, Suray).

In truth, Finland was for us the worst case scenario in your bowl. I am looking forward to the encounters though, I have confidence in our new coach Vandereycken, if he can take the pressure from the French press in Belgium

We have seriously got to stop giving American soccer teams European-sounding names. It's so goddamned dumb. Really. Houston 1836! They might as well hang a banner over MLS headquarters that reads "The MLS! Where it sounds like Europe, but it's not!"

I can't wait for RSC Boston and AC San Francisco. Christ.

Houston 1836. Ok, first, shouldn't it be Houston 2006? It's the year the club was started, typically, right?

Second, 1836 is not exactly a year celebrated by Mexicans, seeing as that's the year the Republic of Texas established it's independence from Mexico. The Alamo, Sam Houston, etc, etc. And it turns out, oddly enough, that there are a few Mexican-Americans living in Houston. You know, possibly willing to pay to see a soccer game type of folks.

Personally, I think this is one of the worst team names they could have come up with.

dejanzie wrote:

I gather you're Finnish?

No, Portuguese

Prederick wrote:

We have seriously got to stop giving American soccer teams European-sounding names. It's so goddamned dumb. Really. Houston 1836! They might as well hang a banner over MLS headquarters that reads "The MLS! Where it sounds like Europe, but it's not!"

I can't wait for RSC Boston and AC San Francisco. Christ.

Call me a traditionalist, but I really like DC United and FC Dallas. To me they just sound like names for a soccer team. I certainly prefer those to Chicago Fire or NY/NJ Metrostars. As for Real Salt Lake, I totally agree with you there. That one is pretty stupid, considering there's no royalty there to connect the name with.

Wounder wrote:

Houston 1836. Ok, first, shouldn't it be Houston 2006? It's the year the club was started, typically, right?

It is for all the teams I know of, that use a year, as part of their name.

Wounder wrote:

Second, 1836 is not exactly a year celebrated by Mexicans, seeing as that's the year the Republic of Texas established it's independence from Mexico. The Alamo, Sam Houston, etc, etc. And it turns out, oddly enough, that there are a few Mexican-Americans living in Houston. You know, possibly willing to pay to see a soccer game type of folks.

Personally, I think this is one of the worst team names they could have come up with.

I didn't even realize that until a friend of mine mentioned it last night. MLS really dropped the ball on that one. Great way to piss off the majority of your potential fanbase guys!

VicD714 wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

I gather you're Finnish?

No, Portuguese

Prederick wrote:

We have seriously got to stop giving American soccer teams European-sounding names. It's so goddamned dumb. Really. Houston 1836! They might as well hang a banner over MLS headquarters that reads "The MLS! Where it sounds like Europe, but it's not!"

I can't wait for RSC Boston and AC San Francisco. Christ.

Call me a traditionalist, but I really like DC United and FC Dallas. To me they just sound like names for a soccer team. I certainly prefer those to Chicago Fire or NY/NJ Metrostars. As for Real Salt Lake, I totally agree with you there. That one is pretty stupid, considering there's no royalty there to connect the name with.

Oh, i'm with you on DC and Dallas (although the FC is a little fishy since we certainly don't call it Football here, but I digress), those two sound a whole lot better than some of the other piss-poor excuses they've managed.

I totally didn't catch the 1836 thing Wounder, wow. That truly is wildly idiotic. And all because they're trying way too hard to imitate Europe in order to bring in the American soccer fan who follows European sports. Somehow, they don't seem to understand that just because you call the team Bayern Miami, doesn't mean that they'll be anywhere near as good as Bayern Munich, and will be twice as ridiculous.

I think the saddest part of this naming trend in America is that it makes it appear that even the folks who *enjoy* soccer in America are morons. It's not like we had a sterling reputation prior to all this nonsense, but now I can't even say "Well, yes, a large number of Americans just don't get it, but I'm a fan and not that stupid."

Also...and this is just my opinion and likely not the trend... it's not that bright an idea to draw attention to European soccer clubs by following their team naming trends because, despite my most feverish desires, the European games are more fun to watch.

Wounder wrote:

I think the saddest part of this naming trend in America is that it makes it appear that even the folks who *enjoy* soccer in America are morons. It's not like we had a sterling reputation prior to all this nonsense, but now I can't even say "Well, yes, a large number of Americans just don't get it, but I'm a fan and not that stupid."

Also...and this is just my opinion and likely not the trend... it's not that bright an idea to draw attention to European soccer clubs by following their team naming trends because, despite my most feverish desires, the European games are more fun to watch.

Well... they're better at it. Italy is more technically sound, England is higher-tempo, and you get the best attacking in Spain, IMHO. The U.S. needs to find its own style of play that is both somewhat unique to itself and also fan-friendly. Given that everyone and their mother is caterwauling about the crush of the all-defensive mindset some teams have, I can't see why we don't encourage attacking play as much as possible. I'll deal with the slings and barbs from people across the pond if the MLS can guarantee 2.5-3 goals a game. Well worked, worthwhile goals, not just goalmouth scrambles.

I'm not complaining about the difference in fun, just wishing the MLS would stop going to such lengths to make the difference so obvious. I would like MLS to succeed and happy to pay to watch games, but this makes me twitchy with embarrassment.

My excuse for not going to as many Columbus Crew games last year (other than the fact they were even more frustrating to watch than Newcastle) was the pace of the entire MLS seemed to gear down. While the same can be said for the EPL (Arsenal is one place better than Wigan, you say!?), it seemed more obvious to me. Or maybe I'm just bitter

Actually, I think the real "problem" just may be FSC... it's too easy to see all the European and South American teams play. Thank god!

VicD714 wrote:
Wounder wrote:

Second, 1836 is not exactly a year celebrated by Mexicans, seeing as that's the year the Republic of Texas established it's independence from Mexico. The Alamo, Sam Houston, etc, etc. And it turns out, oddly enough, that there are a few Mexican-Americans living in Houston. You know, possibly willing to pay to see a soccer game type of folks.

Personally, I think this is one of the worst team names they could have come up with.

I didn't even realize that until a friend of mine mentioned it last night. MLS really dropped the ball on that one. Great way to piss off the majority of your potential fanbase guys!

Wait, a racially insensitive nickname for a professional sports team? Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I first read that. Seriously; at first I thought the name sucked because it was just a number.

Things just went from awful to full-blown crisis at Highbury today. Christ, West Ham?

4-3 To The Rovers!

And More about the Glazers and Man Utd.

Plus, Analysis of all the moves Premiership clubs made whilst the transfer window was open.

Aston Villa and Tottenham. My biggest problem with the EPL is that there are so very many teams like this, who aren't bad enough to go down, but aren't nearly good enough to win it, and end up making the UEFA Cup a "seasonal goal".

Prederick, with my first post as a GWJ member, I'm going go to reach back a week and stick up for the boyz. My Spurs should, in no instance, be grouped with Villa as a middle of the road club. I understand your point of view with regard to clubs like Birmingham, Blackburn, Middlesborough, et cetera. However, grouping one of the stalwarts of English football in that same sentence is nigh-on criminal.

Tottenham Hotspur have a history of excellence in the game that matches, if not exceeds, some of the more recently successful clubs. While their form since the formation of the Premiership has been less than stellar, there is every indication that we've started to see a sea-change. Given their young talent and form this season (God help us, it continues), their is no reason that in two or three seasons, the Spurs could not be back in contention with Liverpool, Chelsea, and ManU for the title.

On another point entirely:
FSC is my saving grace for following the European leagues, but we shouldn't forget the boys closer to home.

As a DC resident, its a fantastic thing to have United here and so readily available. Amounts that you would pay for crappy Premiership seats get you mezzanine box seats. Granted, the standard of football isn't as high, but its on the up. I agree that the MLS has yet to develop a national 'style' like the EPL and continental leagues. Part of this comes from the influx of players from around the world adapting elements of their own games. It is also due, in part, to the loss of some of our better players to international competitions.
All in all, however, I'm ecstatic with the growth of the game in the US and hope that it continues at pace.

Way to keep up the good coverage of the beautiful game.

Welcome aboard Haakon. Glad to have another DC United fan here!

Did anyone manage to catch the ManU vs Fulham game on FSC this past weekend? In case someone is planning to watch it, I won't mention the score, but it was a pretty amazing game! Extremely fast pace from start to finish and some really great displays of talent from both teams.

Definitely one of the best EPL games I have managed to catch this year.

Welcome Haakon!

You do make a very good point about Tottenham, but since i've only been following the Premiership for the past five years or so, my knowledge of it is somewhat limited to that immediate time frame and the evens surrounding it, so, a part of me looks at Tottenham, and despite the things Martin Jol has done (and he has done some fantastic things), part of me thinks "Leeds United", but that's not really a fair comparison, since Tottenham isn't wildly overextending itself like Leeds did.

My major point isn't so much about Tottenham but about the Premiership. In two or three years, yes, Tottenham could be challengeing for the title. I doubt you could say the same for Charlton, Middlesbrough, Fulham, Everton, Bolton, Manchester City, Birmingham or Blackburn. As an American sports fan, it's a bit of a shock to start looking at a league where teams realistically have to consider 5th place a success.

For those of you who have been ardently following this thread, a while ago Turkey and Switzerland played a less-than-friendly playoff match to decide which nation would get a bid for the World Cup this summer. The second leg of the playoff was marred by a fracas at the end of the match, and, after all the requisite finger-pointing and deflections of blame, FIFA has punished Turkey with some oomph. Now, of course, this isn't going to change a whole lot, and Turkey will be angry about this decision for ages but, at least FIFA did something.

On Sol Campbell and the season Arsenal is "enduring", to be kind.

On Germany and fears over the World Cup, as it comes closer and closer and more and more people lose their ever-loving minds over the silliest things.

And more fun from Italy where the league always seems a stone's throw away from complete, utter corruption.

Also, did I mention Barca lost again? At home? To Atletico Madrid? I'm not kidding.

I will once again advise any of you out there who wish to watch the champions league to go out ASAP and try and get the UEFA.com matchpass. Things kick back off on the 21st and of course, everyone's talking about the Chelsea-Barcelona matchup. It's rather funny, sicne when it was announced that Arsenal was playing Real Madrid, everyone assumed it'd be a reasonable fixture between two underachieving powerhouses. Now Madrid's on a tear, and Arsenal's nearly in freefall. Could Arsene possibly work a miracle?

Probably not.

Thanks for the welcome, fellas!
I did watch abit of the ManU/Fulham game, Vic. It had an excellent pace to it. Then you contrast those moments of brilliance with the Baggies & Sunderland game, which was lacking in quality from start to finish. That grab-bag approach to quality is one of the joys (and pains) of the EPL.

Funny you should mention Leeds, because that was the thought that was running through my head at the beginning of the season. But Jol's not an idiot, and the club has a solid set of management-types. This transfer window cleaned up abit of the deadwood, while retaining the core of a team that performed so well. Yeah, we lost quite a few good players (Michael Brown, in particular), but I'd prefer them to see regular first-team football somewhere else while Spurs develop a set, comfortable core in the midfield & backs.

As an American sports fan, it's a bit of a shock to start looking at a league where teams realistically have to consider 5th place a success.

I don't think its that difficult to find examples of lowered expectations in American sports. Look at the Nationals/Expos, for example. They were pulling 5,000 people at their games in Montreal, perpetually at the bottom of the standings. Then comes the move to DC, and the team's got a shot at the Wild Card spot. They didn't make it, but everyone here considered last season a huge success.

How different is the position of the mid-table clubs in the EPL from the Expos or, say, the Royals? Just being in contention for a playoff/European spot is good for these teams because it gives them something to work on for next season. In the case of the EPL teams, European football is great because more games at a higher level means they have more to take back with them to the League, which in turn, increases their chances for next season.

Just my two cents.

The difference is that in 2003, the Florida Marlins won the World Series. Portsmouth ain't winning the Premeirship anytime soon.

It's the long-term that's the difference. The Nationals could certainly be in the playoffs next year, and they could have an honest shot at the WS in five. There is an immediate hope.

Charlton made the Premiership in 2000. Since the 2000/01 season, they've finished 9th, 14th, 12th, 7th and 11th. And all of this in the process of establishing themselves as a legitimate Premiership side. Not a title contender. Not really even a team that's guaranteed to compete for European football (certainly not this year so far). Just one that won't get relegated.

The difference has a lot to do with the Promotion/Relegation system. The Royals don't have to worry about being sent down to AAA no matter how badly they fail.

Every sport has teams with lowered expectations. That's normal. It's how lowered they are for the Premiership (and Serie A and La Liga) that's bugging me, and, by the reports, a lot of English fans. It's been a full decade since Blackburn managed to yank the title away from Manchester United, and the league was stuck on a Man U-Arsenal loop until Chelsea broke it, and they're not looking like relinquishing it this decade.

Lord willing, there will be some more change in the top five.

Hey, MLS news!

Yaay!

Arvizu is rated as one of the best up and coming talents in U.S. soccer, especially after the U-17 World Championship. Here's hoping he can live up to the hype. Between him, Mike Magee, Eddie Gaven and the arrival of Marvell Wynne, i'm actually somewhat excited about next year's MetroStars! God willing, maybe the MLS will just rename then NY/NJ FC and be done with the "Metrostars" crap. This isn't the NASL for god's sake.

Just a quick reminder the U.S. has a friendly against Japan tonight at 11 p.m. EST on ESPN2.

There is also a pretty good article on Soccernet about the similarities of both national team programs.

Well, both nations are working from a "Huh, What?" starting point with Soccer, so it's no surprise, although I think Japan's taken it to heart a whole lot faster than we have.

Speaking of Soccernet, Roberto Gotta has a fantastic article up about Conspiracy Theories and Serie A in Italy, one that manages to make comparisons with U.S. sports without resorting to "Hurf Blurf Duh Americans Are Stoopit", which, if you've read FourFourTwo, happens often enough to be rather... disheartening.

ZOMGZ!

And The Wonder of Bolton

Allardyce deserves all the credit in the world for transforming Bolton into a genuine Premiership force, yet he has done it all at the expense of English football's long term health. By hiring aging foreigners, throwing money at them and encouraging them to play a style of football that can best be describes as ugly, Bolton have become one of this league's most dogged opponents.

Their game plan is very simple; if your opponents has more skill than you, do all you can to kick him out of his stride. Then, at every opportunity, get the ball into either corner of your opponents half and try to win a set play by fair of foul means. Dive and time waste a bit along the way if you can and try and get your opponent booked if possible. Quality players like Kevin Nolan and Stelios give their bluff and bluster a cutting edge and Allaryde doesn't even try to pretend there is anything more to his planning than that.

The Bolton article was spot-on. Diouf is the shining example of everything that is wrong with that team. He's either the worst of the lot, or at least the one that takes to the plan with the most enthusiasm. Either way, it sickens me to watch him 'play' (if it can be called that).

FourFourTwo is the premier football mag, IMO. Unlike WS, there's actually interesting articles in there and they take everything abit tongue-in-cheek.
Unfortunately, that 'Amurikens er stoopid' attitude is a general media attitude in Europe. Just read the Guardian... FFT just goes along with the trend, I think. Doesn't make it right, but it gives abit of insight into the climate.

On the plus side, we looked excellent against Japan in San Diego. The media was really hyping up Twellman, but to be fair, he looked in excellent form. A really solid showing, by all accounts.

Now we just have to learn not to give opponents a foot back into the game toward the end! (Spurs should learn that lesson as well!)

On the whole, I personally prefer WS. I feel like I get a better grip of the game around the world while FFT is pretty Anglo-Centric at times. That said, the sheer volume of FFT is nice however.

Also, surprisingly, Barca lost again, and are only six points clear at the top of La Liga. Was it that I had FSC so I could watch more highlights from games around the globe.

I don't know what provider you have for your cable, but the 'Sports Tier' on Comcast is worth the $5/month.

Pay-per-view for football is $20 a pop, so the wider selection and extra programming means I definitely get my money's worth. Particularly as they show Serie A games on the weekends as well.

Just as an interesting continuation to the thread: What teams does the board support?

I'll start it off:
FA/EPL - Tottenham
MLS - DC United (Dundun-dun-dundundun)
Serie A - AS Roma, Cagliari, Venezia

Also, does anybody here play/watch any other sports out of the US mainstream? I have a real desire to try hurling.