Monday, April 2, 2007

US Soccer Update - 04/02/07

US v. Ecuador
Wow! The crystal ball was working pretty good last week as I almost nailed the attendance and the line-up (off by 2), but I don’t think anyone could have predicted Landon Donovan’s three goal outburst! It feels good when you repeatedly back a player and they prove time and time again that they deserve the adoration. My captain, LD, got sailed into by everyone in the press while Arena only seemed to hear it from Wynalda. Speaking of Arena, I’m not sold on his presence in the booth. First, Bruce extremely defensive about any subject regarding his tenure at the helm of the national team. Second, he has this strange exhale-like sound that infiltrates all his sentence. I’ll do my best to spell it, “ahhhmmmm”, but really slow and Brooklyny. I’ll give him credit for his zinger to DOB on the possibility of the Red Sox taking the pennant this year. Arena fired, “Oh, really? Has it been 86 years already?”
Also maddening about Arena is his commentary about any US player on the pitch that was out there for World Cup seemed to directly contradict his coaching tactics during the summer. “Landon isn’t really comfortable being a full forward so he should play withdrawn.” Oh, is that why he was chasing headers against a monstrous Czech back line. I swear one of these days, I’ll stop bringing this stuff up, but it still burns too much to let it go.
As for Wynalda’s “Red Card, Yellow Card” segment, this is a cute little vehicle for E-dub to voice his opinions. This is a good solution since he as such a difficult time getting them out during the game.

US v. Gautamela (sp)
It was rather sad that the crack production team at ESPN2 could even figure out how to spell the name of the US’ opponent. Perhaps some foreshadowing to a “Night of Many Mis-ques”. While Sunday’s Ecuadorian match was a scintillating performance from a US perspective, Wednesday night’s affair failed to match that standard on just about all accounts. Despite the presence of Donovan Conrad, Dempsey and Keller, the US side was young and mostly unfamiliar with each other and that disconnect was evident. A bunkered down Guatemalan defense flummoxed old and new alike, but amid the confusion some Americans managed to make their mark. US newbie Frankie Simek stood out, making some strong pushes into the offense and doing well against the barely there Chapin attack. Most of the American offensive forays in the first thirty minutes flowed through Justin Mapp on the left leaving Deuce an observer on the right. Any chances Mapp created were squandered by sports psychologist patient candidate Eddie Johnson. The greatest entertainment of the evening was provided by MLS’ master thespian Carlos Ruiz, who treated the crowd to some physical comedy not witnessed since the zenith of the Chris Farley years. One thing that was evident during the night was the inflation of MLS attendance statistics. The US crowd was announced at just about 11,000. I’ve seen less people there for an announced 17,000 FCD match.

Blanco Hops to MLS
If this off-season need a yin to David Beckham’s yang (don’t get too excited ladies), he will be meeting fans tonight at Chicago’s Toyota Park. The long rumored transaction will likely result in pen to paper on Tuesday, as mercurial Mexican forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Reaping a payday of a reported $2 million, Blanco will attempt to do something no other Mexican star has been able to accomplish, produce at acceptable levels in Major League Soccer. No doubt Blanco will be a star at the home and road box office after joining the Fire in June or July, as fans will pay to cheer or more likely jeer him. Similar to John Starks or Denis Rodman on the Bulls, Albert Belle on the White Sox and Roger Clements in pinstripes; the comparisons of the villain that fans must learn to root for immediately spring to mind. I’m sure there are hundreds more, but Mo Johnston has yet to respond to my inquiry.
Most of my feeling about this transaction were purged from my brain into a blog a few weeks ago when the rumor started. In the stands, this move will result in a more Mexican atmosphere to the games at TP this year which has it’s plusses (fiesta!) and negatives (flying beer). This move will help creates even greater animosity and intensity between Fire and Fire West (Chivas) fans. On paper and hopefully the pitch, the Fire will have the most creative group of midfielders and forwards in the league. This line-up will have to produce as Tony Sanneh was cleared of the books for this move, creating an extremely frail back line that consists of either young or old and slow players.

A Guide to Establishing a Soccer Pub in your Neighborhood
I’ve recently had the good fortune to happen upon a bar that was very receptive to the idea of showing soccer games. After a couple of conversations with the owner, I have found a place that will welcome soccer fans with open arms. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying go get the same thing going in your hood:
Look for new establishment – these places are looking to get an edge, and the soccer bar angle is still rather unique in our country. It doesn’t hurt if the owner is originally from another country. The more TV’s the merrier too. An owner won’t want to devote all the TV’s in the place to soccer fans right off the bat.
Establish a good rapport with the owner and be prepared. Get all the appropriate communication material (cell phone, e-mail) and stay in touch on a weekly basis.
Stress the low start up costs for this venture. Fox Soccer Channel is likely carried by most bars already. MLS DirectKick only costs $100 a year for commercial establishments.
Patience – these thing don’t happen overnight. Set expectations low and ensure that the owner will have patience.
Promote, Promote, Promote – make sure the local club and supports group know about the place. Post links all over See what the local team can do as far as gear or promo for the bar.
Location – People just don’t like going out of the way. Try to target a place with a central location.
I’m at stage one of this, so I’ll try keep a journal of the steps and missteps I make along the way.

The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis

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