Barcelona – Chelsea

May 7, 2009

There is nothing better then a Champions League match-up.  Let alone, a semi-final match between Chelsea and Barcelona that is tied at 0 after a scoreless draw in Spain 2 weeks ago.  Dubbed “Beauty and the Beast”, for the contrasting styles of play the outcome could of been decided by a coin flip and it pretty much was.

In the UEFA Champions League, you are rewarded for away goals.  This meant, that if Barcelona scored 1 goal in London at Chelsea’s home turf, it essentially counts for 2.  So if the score ended 1-1 or 2-2, Barcelona would of went through on away goals.  The Federation does this to try to bribe away sides from packing it in and playing for the 0-0 draw.  It usually works.  

Chelsea is an athletic, powerful, physical team.  A kind of 3 yards and a cloud of dust team.  Love to smash volleys, head in restarts, and score on quick, aggressive counterattacks.  Barcelona is “The Beautiful Game” or “Total Football” in a nutshell.  Barca loves to thread the needle, possess the ball until the defense gets lazy, and then combination pass behind and for a goal.  The Catalans were coming off putting 6 goals up against bitter rival Real Madrid last Saturday.

With the contrasting styles of play, it would be foolish to bet on this game.  It would come down to whoever could impose their will on the other for the entire 90+ minutes.  Chelsea, true to form, raced up and down the pitch from the opening whistle.  Micael Essien volleyed home one of the best goals you will ever see.  Boosting Chelsea to a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute.  

Chelsea then retreated to their own half, often with 9 or 10 men behind the ball.  Barcelona controlled, actually dominated, possesion but lacked a real scoring chance.  The giant Chelsea defenders made life a living hell for exciting Barca forwards’ Eto’o and Messi.  

Chelsea crowed for a few penalty kicks after counterattacks were chased down and thrawted by defenders and Barcelona got a terrible red card after the referee mis-judged a Chelsea player tripping over his own legs.  While the London side complained heavily about the officiating, it, like always, balanced out.

Then, out of nowhere, Barcelona scored in the final minute of extra time, setting off an amazing celebration that bordered on delirious.  I was shocked and happy to have watched this.  Now it is on to Rome where Barcelona will face Manchester United for the big game on May 27th.  It has a lot to live up to, but after today anything is possible!

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What you know about that?

April 2, 2009

WCUP U20 World Cup Soccer

Jozy!  The young phenom scored a hat-trick as the United States dismantled an unispired Trinidad & Tobago side on Wednesday Night.  As I previous blogged, I believe that Jozy Altidore is the best US Soccer player and last night he was outstanding.  The amazing announcing duo of JP Dellacamra and John Harkes sparked up a debate about Altidore.  JP asked John Harkes, “who does Jozy remind you of in the History of US Soccer.”  John Harkes responded, ” He is unlike anything we have ever had before, strong, fast, tacticial, nose for the goal, so exciting.”

I had the pleasure of seeing Jozy and the young American players in Montreal in the U-20 World Cup and one thing about Altidore is how BIG he is.  Freddy Adu is a a talented player, but was locked up by physical defenders.  Jozy wacked away defenders like they were black flies.

One step closer to South Africa!


The Special One

March 3, 2009

josemourinho

Jose Mourhino, “The Special One”, manager of Inter Milan and formerly top boss of Chelsea FC in the English Premier League has made headlines in the Italian Serie A after a firestorm media attack. Top Soccer people have accused Mourinho’s 18-year old striker of diving in the box, drawing a penalty to draw AS Roma 3-3.  

The ever edgy, controversial Manager lashed out in Italian media outlets saying, ” I don’t like intellectual prostitution. I like intellectual honesty, there has been great intellectual manipulation over the last few days. A great job has been done to manipulate public opinion.”

Imagine Mourhino in the US media.  It would be Awesome.


USA – Mexico; Well Done!

February 14, 2009

Great game Wednesdayt night in blustery Columbus, Ohio.  One of the best rivalries in International Soccer, USA vs. Mexico.  The Mexicans have been recently passed by the Americans in the quality of play.  They are winless in the United States since 2001.  Of course, the American press doesn’t tell the other side of the story, the fact that the Americans have never won in Mexico City.  But stats aside, this is a great rivalry which is hotly contested no matter the match-up.

2 goals from Michael Bradley (the coaches’ son) propelled the US to another 2-0 win.  The game was marred by Mexico losing its’ best offensive player to an injury (Castillo) and Rafa Marquez’s reckless challenge that led to a well-deserved red card. 

While I am impressed by the streak, one thing still troubles me about the US.  They get all their goals off set-pieces or corner kicks.  While they can win a home game against their rivals, I dont see how they can compete with the big boys in South Africa 2010.  It was disappointing to not see Jozy Altidore play the majority of the match, rather watch him hold the ball to salt away the game. 

Nevertheless, the United States is in first place in CONCACAF, already have beaten their rivals.  All things point to South African qualification.  But, we must get better!

Footage from Mexican TV from altercation in tunnel after the game.


Christiano Ronaldo’s Ferrari

January 8, 2009

Runs fast and drives fast!


The Best American Soccer Player

January 4, 2009

mandela_world_cup

One of the best debate-invoking question I heard during the 2006 World Cup was, will an African Country or the United States win the World Cup first?  It is an awesome question.  Africa has many countries that are solid sides.  Ghana, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, South Africa, and even Egypt are all sides that usually qualify and have the potential to make a run deep into the tournament.  The benefits of many talented teams in your region is the constant big games your country faces every day in qualifying.  

The United States doesn’t have this luxury, they qualify in the CONCACAF Region, where honestly, they would have to field a lower rate Division I College Program to maybe not qualify.  I think that this has provided a ceiling for American Soccer.  But now, in lieu of the 2006 debacle, more and more young players are traveling overseas to compete a constant high-level of soccer night in and night out.  Experience that will come in handy in 2010 in South Africa. 

Led by the quartet of Americans at Fullham, now disbanded but they started the movement, many Yanks are playing in the EPL.  But I think the best player, our future, has joined Villarreal in Spain.  Jozy Altidore is the finest forward that US Soccer can lay claim to.  He is the next level of Brian McBride, which means he doesn’t have to score only on headers.  Jozy is a creative force that will only learn more and more in Spain. 

Americans can produce technically sound players, top-level goalies and defenders because those positions can be taught.  In the final third of the pitch is where USA always breaks down.  Now we have a target forward, a pace forward, possession forward, and finisher all in one.  

I hope that upcoming US Soccer players take Jozy’s new lead and go play SOON in Europe!