Thursday, August 30, 2007

Great Moments in Sports Marketing

From a wire report on last night's oh-so-super SuperLiga final:

"Attendance was capped at 12,500 in the 27,000-seat stadium to limit traffic and ease parking problems for students in their first week of fall classes at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The school shares its campus with the Home Depot Center. As a result, the upper deck and north end zone were closed."

These geniuses really know how to drum up a big occasion, don't they?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Brief Note on the Champions League

In their current match against Liverpool, Toulouse are using a goalkeeper named Douchez.

That is all.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Serie A's Super '70s!

Or at least that's what it feels like when the TOTALLY AWESOME opening montage of this handy little YouTube recap of the Italian action rolls:

Are those jackanapes at Juve really using Comic Sans as the font on their strip this year?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Class. Caaaaaaah-laaaaaaaaasssss! Pure Class.

Liverpool caught on film playing decent football:

Uploaded by

I especially like that Voronin goal; the build-up pulsates with some Total Football vim, and new boys Babel and Torres do well. THIS COULD BE OUR YEAR. Okay, not really. But nice goals.

Friday, August 24, 2007

And That's Why They Call it The Beautiful Game

I can't say I'm proud, but I'm loving everything about this:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


FULL-TIME: Well, that sucked. I mean, it wasn't actually all that bad, but that somehow makes it worse, you know? I felt like I was watching a Team USA friendly from the late '90s—a particularly dire match against Israel comes to mind. That just underscores that our side is in pretty much exactly the same place as it's been for 10 years. We're okay (but never exciting). We're getting better (arguably). We have a few boys with initiative, a few with enough skill to get a game in the bottom half of the Premiership, a decent goalkeeper. We can beat Mexico. But any marginally competent European team doesn't even have to play well to beat us.

87th: Finally—the USA forces a real save from the Swedish 'keeper.

81st: Whatever.

78th: The Swedes just inserted a 12-year-old Bosnian kid, which I believe means garbage time has commenced.

75th: Spector concedes a free kick in a dangerous spot. Real good luck charm, Spector—if you want to be relegated or nearly relegated, take him on.

73rd: Convey's useless on the right, as well.

69th: Wow. The second promising counter dies at Convey's feet.

63rd: Feilhaberino gets seriously pissed at the ref, and looks very much like the singer for a nu-metal band. Nice chinstrap, man. Off comes Landycakes, who's had his usual invisible performance. On with Kamani "Yeah, My Fucking Name is 'Kamami'" Hill and Young Jack Spector.

58th: What's Swedish for GOOOOOOL-AZO! (?) Bound to happen eventually. The USA has played the better football overall, but the defense has been leaky and the attack lacks killer instinct. Sweden's barely been there, but a rocket from outside the area may be all they need.

54th: Nice to see Convey ambulatory, even though he can't put a decent all in either.

50th: Desperate saves at both ends...Zeppelin on the stereo.

48th: Beasley gets murdered. Bobby Sands Brigade of the Revolutionary Provisional Continuity IRA claims responsibility.

STILL HALF-TIME. Is it me, or is this taking a gilded eternity? Where my Swedes at? Oh, there they are.

HALF-TIME: Riveting stuff. It's a friendly, and I think everyone is having a very pleasant time.

40th: Some meaty Swede treats Dempsey like a jailhouse informant. Resulting free kick leads to nothing but embarassment for all concerned.

37th: How is that the United States can singlehandedly remake the Middle East into a prosperous bastion of Islamic democracy by toppling one single dictator, yet cannot put a decent ball into the box?

30th: Semi-half-decent stuff from the White Buffalo so far. They're moving the rock okay and appear to be in a creative mood, or as close as they get to one. Bradley unleashed big-time but went wide, proving he should be stitching people up instead. Big saves from Howard and the crossbar in quick succession.

20th: After conceding 148 corners in a row, all of which Sweden took awfully, USA mounts a thrust. Gross, huh? Feilhaber's Brazilian touch lets him down in the area. "Glory Days" has now played six consecutive times.

10th: Where is my Boddington's?

9th: Sweden's uniforms are even worse than ours.

7th minute: I want Michael Bradley to stitch someone up RIGHT NOW to prove to me he's not just Daddy's boy. Oh, nice backheel by Deuce—utterly wasted of course.

4th minute: Sound system at Portland's own Thirsty Lion Pub playing Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days." Landon Donovan is crying inside.

Sweden v. USA. Half-empty Nordic stadium. Third minute. Both sides have already missed chances they should have buried. DMB too distracted by his newfound hatred of the Pope and the Irish Republican Army to convert.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Circus Maximus

Good God, what an insane spectacle in New York's oppressed colony of Northern New Jersey last night, eh? While some of the nine-goal Red Bulls/Galaxy fiesta may have been predictable (some no-name Red Bull tried to take a piece of Beckham home in his cleats; Beckham will lay waste to this league as long as he's healthy; the SportsCenter wrap-up scored high on the know-nothing index), I particularly savor the sheer MLSness of the occasion. Edson Buddle? Clint Mathis? TOM ARNOLD? Now that's what we call futbol/soccerball!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Up the Ancients!

At Eleven Devils, we're utter suckers for the cool, quirky, evocative and plain bizarre club names one finds as one descends the English football pyramid from the relatively staid national leagues down into the potty world of Non-League. Consider the delightful Norton & Stockton Ancients, a team that squares off against such other awesome-sounding entrants in the Northern League as Esh Winning and Horden Colliery Welfare. The Ancients find themselves on a miniature FA Cup run, and The Observer is following along.

Nothin' But a Futsal Party! It's Nothin' But a Futs—

Look, it's 6 am and I'm coping with a mild hangover, alright? Blame Portland Futsal for the stupid headline. The futsal-ball palazzo in a cavernous ex-warehouse in Southeast Portland welcomed summer league players, sig/ots and their children for a lovely little post-season party last night. And since I can think of few things more compelling to the members of the Albina-Going Football Club than free beer, a solid contingent of Unicorns descended from the enchanted forest to take part.

AGFC's summer season—well, eh. We didn't exactly rip the Third Division limb from tiny limb in the manner we'd prefer. We lost the Rivals Cup to UrbanHonking Athletic, and struggled to turn out our full-strength side week after week. (When I'm playing 'keeper, you know there's trouble in Human Resources; our regular porteros, the Wright Brothers—they're not brothers, but they're both named Wright, see—were out of action for various reasons throughout the term.) The Third was also uncommonly loaded with actual talent this season, with a couple of outfits that obviously deserve immediate exile to the comparatively unglamourous First Division. I personally capped a season of ignominious performances by failing to get the word out about our quarterfinal playoff fixture, resulting in a forfeit that a team called the Samba Boys can pay me for later.

But hope springeth eternal, and los Unicornios seemed fired with a certain back-to-school vim last night. In the evening's 3-v.-3 tournament, we held our own against a crew of the fancy Latin boys who tend to excel at such unfairly skill-based formats. We took our bow thanks to a 2-1 loss, both enemy goals courtesy defensive lapses Then we moved over to one of the full-sized pitches for some half-speed, goalie-free 4s scrimmaging, with simultaneous beer consumption and an extra six-year-old on the field. This is a highly underrated way to play football, it turns out. I may have a headache and a sore ankle—but dammit, I LIVED, y'know?

Friday, August 17, 2007


Well, I had to call it that.

It seems the lads and lasses in Marketing over at Adidas decided to commission an original song for each of MLS' lucky 13 clubs. (Oh, go over to the Adi website and dig it up yourselves, would you?) And when it came time to choose an artist to represent for DC United, the choice was glaringly obvious: the mighty, the fearsome, the legendary, the iconic...BAD BRAINS.

(Actually, think of the possibilities: a reunited Nation of Ulysses rocking a custom-revised version of "Hot Chocolate City"; Fugazi's "Song Number One" [NOT a fuck-you song, thanks very much] reconfigured to address the Raul Diaz Arce crisis of '97 or whenever it was; Circus Lupus putting down a whole album about United's trophy case titled Solid Brass...)

And while it doesn't really sound like this chunka-munka neo-metalcore thing is exactly Bad Brains at their best, you have to say that it's a near-perfect match between band and club. Like Bad Brains, DC United had some classic early years followed by long doldrums punctuated by occasional tantalizing returns to form. And like United in the playoffs, the 'Brains are known for just not showing up. Any parallels between Bruce Arena and HR will not be considered here.

Meanwhile, the Houston song sounds pretty...whadda the kids say? Dope?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

DMB v. The Reich

DaMarcus Beasley finally figured out a way to fight racism in football: clinical finishing.

After absorbing the racist jibes of the sad little people of sad little club FK Zeta, Beasley secured himself at least a temporary place in Glasgow lore by pocketing the match-winning goal. That will serve the bastards right.

It is, of course, particularly shocking that a player for GLASGOW RANGERS, world-renowned standard-bearers of tolerance, should have to endure such abuse. While Beasley (quite rightly) unloaded on the bigots after the match and called for official action, his new club might just think twice before calling out the UEFA commissars...but that is another subject entirely.

Revenge of the Scum (?)

It should be the best of times for Portland Timbers fans. The Rose City's oft-wayward First Division side—o, the years of amiable mediocrity under an excruciating state-of-the-art-circa-Luton-Town-1974 strategic set-up; o, last season's unmitigated meltdown—seems to be in full roar at last. New manager Gavin Wilkinson promised a three-year rebuilding project, but has somehow molded a crop of under-cooked rookies, the usual United Soccer Leagues carnies and a few stalwart club holdovers into a table-topping outfit. Even a 0-2 loss to the hated Seattle Sounders, the club riding the Timbers' collective arse in the standings, couldn't pry the Axemen's man-hands off first place. Regardless of how the last two months of the season go (and historically, the Timbers are a catastrophic playoff team), this year's rendition of Soccer City USA can count itself a success.

Winning games means winning hearts, they say, and meanwhile the cultural phenomenon that is the Timbers Nation rolls on. Eleven Devils' usual cigar-butt-strewn place in the PGE Park press box (Section 107 Annex) has been vacant through most of this season (I've been "spending more time with my family," as the saying goes). But all reports suggest that the Timbers Army is in post-season form already, with a stronger capo system and an influx of fresh blood creating near-South Korean levels of synchronized fanaticism behind the north goal. (I'm eager to hear the so-called "Greek Chant," which I hope is as pervy as it sounds.)

And yet amid these scenes of joy, one can't ignore the coal-black thunderhead gathering above the Columbia, threatening to ruin the party. The Sounders. The bastards. Of course it would be them.

If you're less than briefed on the tribal intricacies of First Division life, be advised that the Timbers and Sounders are bound by some kind of sick cosmic bloodfeud. It's a real Montagues/Capulets type of deal: home-region players who've lined up with and against each other in various combinations throughout their careers; numerous annual tussles, including a quasi-permanent Open Cup tie (which Seattle always wins); a weird propensity to run across each other in the playoffs (ditto). It all makes for a steadily mounting archive of grievances both real and imagined on both sides of the ledger.

Portland fans will tell you that Seattle, to paraphrase John King's novel The Football Factory, is a shit club with shit support. Seattle's players are cheap-shot artists and thugs, at least until they transfer to the Timbers and become upstanding citizens. Away voyages to our sister city up I-5 are typically fraught affairs, full of hassles with stadium security and inevitable rounds of Internet recrimination afterwards.

On the flip side, Seattle fans will tell you...well, if you can find a Seattle Sounders fan, do drop a line. You might try the nearest comic book convention or donut shop. And yet the crowning indignity for Portlanders is that the Sounders, despite means of support less visible than the average identity thief and stadium mostly full of air, somehow manage to win shit. Besides a couple of prehistoric A-League titles, Seattle has played in two First Division finals in the last three years and took the trophy in 2006. (Even though it was against the Richmond Kickers, I'm told it still counts.) They've also won the last two Cascadia Cups, the unofficial championship of the Northwest contested by Portland, Seattle and the Vancouver Whitecaps. A title, please note, the Timbers have never won.

And so it is with no little unease that a Timbers supporter regards recent developments in Jet City. Last night, the Sounders served the Colorado Rapids with a 5-0 Open Cup beatdown, the kind of emphatic little-fish upset that would be cause for celebration were it the work of, y'know, anyone else. (As far as the Cup is concerned, the Timbers are, per usual, "concentrating on the league.")

Adding insult to insult, no less than three different investment groups are vying to bring Seattle's lukewarm fanbase an MLS franchise. (One of outfits calls itself "Atletico Seattle," suggesting that MLS team names have yet to hit rock bottom.)

For a citizen of Portland's seething cauldron of football zealotry, the thought of Seattle joining the Show and leaving the Timbers behind in the USL First is almost too much to take. But that is mere theory; consider the evil portents of current First Division reality. If the season ended today and form held in the playoffs, the Timbers and Sounders would meet in the league Final. What then?

La victoria...o la muerte.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007