Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pure Comedy Gold

If you haven't had your life-giving laugh of the day, get thee to this unintentionally (?) hilarious Guardian Sport Blog post, the latest in an unofficial series of silly pieces about "The MLS" to appear in that otherwise excellent forum. I don't know what's more annoying: the fact that the Grauniad says any comment I leave on their blog comes from "Beaverton"; or the fact that their editors decide to hit the pub before sending through any piece on football in the States.

Of course, this is exactly the cue for Brits to start huffing about how "Yanks can't understand irony." Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You Must Be Kidding

I know. It's blogospheric cheating. But it's just too good to resist.

Adu—Oh No He Did-uhnt!

It's a beautiful thing when adults come together with a minor child's best interests at heart. The grown-ups who run DC United are reportedly scrambling to warn sometime-wunderkind Freddy Adu off a move to Manchester United. There's ominous talk of six-four "goons" at Watford (presumably not a reference to Adu's future national team comrade Jay DeMerit, who stands only 5'11") and the threatening suggestion that ManUtd occasionally plays games in the rain...Zooks!

The United (our United) brass apparently urge a move to the Dutch league for their young apprentice. As it happens, this more or less accords with the official XIDevils fatwa on the subject—I can't think of a more potent recipe for disaster than an Adu move to one of England's Big Two. At Chelski or Man U, Frederico will sit on the bench; hell, he'll probably sit on the bench for the reserve team. He'll pout; he'll whinge; he'll get in a nightclub brawl with Craig Bellamy or some damn thing. The kid needs to go somewhere where he'll play in the First XI all the time (thus to accustom himself to those towering goons).

At the same time, you can almost hear the wails of anguish in the MLS financial department, where they've probably already built a $10M Old Trafford transfer into next year's budget for halftime entertainment at the MLS All-Star Game. They'll just have to ratchet down their expectations...a bushel of organic potatoes from Rapid Bucharest, anyone?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Eleven Devils...Wake! Arise!

Anyone who thinks blogging is the journaliterary world's softest option has never tried to care for and feed one a regular basis. XIDevils' teens of readers will no doubt fear that the soccer world's least-urgent blog has breathed its last. Never! I say, never!

But's been pretty quiet on the football front in and around our heavily fortified headquarters. I blame Santa Claus. For the most part, my truck with footballing culture has been limited to a couple brave-but-failed efforts by my own Albina Going FC, which has all but reserved a spot in Portland Futsal's Third Division after the New Year. I can heartily recommend the ultra-awesome Jake Arnott's novel "He Kills Coppers," which begins with the 1966 World Cup and takes its title from a bad-old-days hooligan terrace chant.

But what else? I've done a woeful job following Liverpool, a woeful job keeping this tiny little flame on the soccerblogosphere's far frontier burning. Stay tuned, faithful dozens—I will do better.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dire Does Dallas

It never fails. Everytime I con a non-football-obsessed pal into watching a match, the match turns out to suck. I should have known better than to invite an Outsider over for an MLS Cup Final involving the New England Revolution—that kind of event bears a big, red ACOLYTES ONLY stamp, the sort of grim proclivity to be indulged furtively, on the sly. Endure it; get it over with; get back to braying about "the Beautiful Game" and "the rise of American soccer" and Adu's prospective Man U transfer...

Alas, no. I talked my comrade Taylor into skipping most of his beloved Seattle Seahawks' crucial divisional clash with the Saint Louis Rams in favor of Sunday's New England/Houston Final. He's an open-minded lad—follows the World Cup, that sort of thing—but he is prone to grumbling about "every game ending zero-zero." Well, I said—no guarantees, but this match features some of the hottest offensive firepower in MLS. Goals should be flying in!

Talk about the triumph of blind hope over bitter experience. I respect the Revolution, but Steve Nicol has developed a side whose ability to suck every last ounce of joy out of a match is exceeded only by its propensity to choke in league Finals. Sadly, the Revs didn't disappoint, serving up a virtual historic re-enactment of their two brain-killing 0-1 AET losses to the Galaxy.

Meanwhile, the best things one could say about the Houston Dynamo (or "the Houston Dynamos," as the ever-reliable Grauniad styled them) were: 1) Their support travelled in force; 2) They coped with New England's smothering play; and 3) Their victory shattered a historical barrier. As they cavorted around after winning the shoot-out, Taylor remarked, "At last. For the first time in American sports, a team wearing flourescent orange has won a championship."

The thought of how excellent a tango between Houston and DC United (or "The Bottlers," as they are traditionally known) could have been haunted the whole affair. But, okay—that was that, and the gone-in-60-seconds exchange of goals in extra time was pretty cool. My young apprentice did, at one point, note that "it would sweet if the Timbers were in MLS," which I took to be an overall endorsement of the pursuit.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Oh, not on the futsal pitch. My beloved Unicorns of Albina Going FC took a good old-fashioned country beatdown at the hands of Juventus on Tuesday night. Apparently life in Portland Futsal's completely revamped Second Division is going to be a wild ride—the match before ours just about devolved into a full-scale handbags-at-ten-paces ruck, and then Juve used us for target practice.

Luckily, the result I cared about even more went the right way.

Eleven Devils don't do much politickin'—except to slag off Chelsea, and even that's mostly just to get Dr. Gogol to leave a comment—nor do we (and by that, I mean "I") try to sculpt a particular demographic niche. And I guess on some level I'm supposed to be journalistically apolitical, though that ethic is looking a bit obsolete. Lacking any other venue to say so, I'm compelled to note that Election '06 was something like my own private World Cup victory. The national results pleased my pinko heart, naturally, and judging by the outright jubiliation I encountered in the streets of Portland yesterday, I was not alone. But more to the point, my people—my tribe, my Sacred Homeland—came through.

The Montana Democrats! At various times in the recent past I've suspected that my immediate blood relations might be the last survivors of the breed. But no. I got significant portions of my *national* electoral news from the websites of the Billings Gazette and my hometown Missoulian on Tuesday night—heady times indeed. And every time I see Senator Jon Tester's goofy mug, I'm at the verge of both laughter and tears. My brother is busily hatching opportunistic schemes to market "Schweitzer/Obama '08" T-shirts. It's morning in America!

Okay, enough of that. Back to bipartisanship: making fun of Manchester United.


After the League Cup loss to a team called—one of those delicious "only in England" thangs—The Shrimpers, Alex Ferguson is understandably eager to strengthen his youth and reserve teams. So it looks like Green Card wunderkind F. Adu is heading for Old Trafford...or maybe not...or maybe so. As nearly as I can read the Google News tea-leaves, the rumor is trending true, though whether United's motives are entirely pure is—and you will be shocked to hear this—in question.

Will he/won't he? Well, young master Frederico both deserves and needs a Euro move at his earliest opp.; what's he going to do with another year in MLS—wait anxiously for DC United to bottle it in the playoffs yet again? Despite skepticism in many quarters, I believe Adu is a legit talent. And of all the clubs he might decamp to, I can think of only one (just guess) that would constitute a dumber move than United. I can see the value of a spell in England, where Adu will be murdered by the press, brutalized by defenders, mocked by supporters, lorded over by some Dickensian manager and forced to up his pace considerably. I can't see any sense in him riding the bench for one of the Superclubs at this stage. The kid needs a full-tilt football education, and that's only going to come with someone's first team.

Hey, speaking of Southend...


From XIDevils' bustling Department of Omissions: Check out the excellent, Portland-based multinational multiblog, The Offside, descendant of the popular WorldCupBlog. Thank me later!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Burnt Offering on the Altar of the Unicorn

After a langourous two-week off-season, Albina Going FC returns to action at Portland Futsal tonight. Our opponent in the much-overhauled Second Division? Mighty Juventus. If they bear any resemblance to the "Juventus" side that we played last season, the Unicorns better sharpen their their horns and placate the football gods with whatever dark sacrifice They demand.

Why is Football the Greatest Sport?

Because of stuff like this.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rudd Hits Brace for United, Giggs Draws Caution in Tense Red/Blue Derby Clash!

A late winner for the visitors; seven players booked with one sent off for the home side; the Blue half of Manchester left mulling over a lost opportunity to put one over on their Red rivals—sounds like it was a true classic.

The Final Countdown

The MLS Conference Finals are in the books. Some now quaff the sweet, sweet elixir of well-deserved triumph; others are left to sup on bile and bitterness. So much for DC United, and the sassy, stylish football they were playing when I saw them stand Real Madrid to a draw this summer. Nowak's men were a composed, inventive and ruthless side back then, but they came apart like a Soviet satellite in the season's final months. Even though they picked the league into tiny little crumbs for most of this campaign, not even the most diehard single-table, no-playoffs purists could convince me United deserve to be champions.

Houston, on the other hand, seems to be gelling at just the right moment, authoritatively stamping its mark on these playoffs while everyone else is just white-knuckling through. All credit, though, to the New England Revolution—a gritty bunch, strangers even to the extremely limited glamour the more fashionable MLS clubs attain, that just about always manages to will itself into the championship mix.

Deuce Dempsey didn't make the Revs' squad for the Conference Final, but something tells me the Nagadotches ruffneck will use every trick of homeopathy, positive thinking and Ibuprofen at his disposal to get on the field in Dallas. With New England's Dempsey (undoubtedly) and Joseph (possibly) and Houston's Dwayne De Rosario (maybe) playing their last MLS game, the Cup Final ought to be pretty hot stuff.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Paradox Alert

Can't stand Chelsea. Can't get enough John Terry.