Monday, May 14, 2012

NYRB: How Good Is Kenny Cooper?

The New York Red Bulls have Thierry Henry and we all know he's a dangerous attacking player with predatory instincts in front of goal, but how good has former Portland Timbers striker Kenny Cooper been this season? Answer: very good. He has nine goals to date, including his latest, a cool-as-you-like-it 78th minute winner against Philadelphia yesterday:

This win puts the Red Bulls in first place in the Eastern Conference. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how far the Red Bulls can go this year with players like Cooper taking some weight off of Henry's shoulders.

LINK TO GOAL (in the event video does not show up in FireFox)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

USA Summer '12: Friendlies Will Be Forced Down Your Throat

Since the season is basically over - especially for fans like me backing sub-par teams (Roma, your 2011-12 campaign is dead to me) - here's a running list of hot summer friendlies around the USA I've noticed over the past couple of weeks:

Philadelphia Union vs. Schalke 04
May 9 @ 7:30pm (ET)
PPL Park, Chester, PA

Portland Timbers vs. Valencia
May 23 @ 7pm (PT)
JELD-WEN Field, Portland, OR

Houstan Dynamo vs. Valencia
May 31, 7:30pm (local time?)
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX

Philadelphia Union vs. Aston Villa
July 18 @ 7:30pm (ET)
PPL Park, Chester, PA

Seattle Sounders vs. Chelsea
July 18 @ 9:30pm (ET)
Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

Toronto FC vs. Liverpool
July 21 @ 4pm (ET)
Rogers Centre, Toronto, ONT

Chicago Fire vs. Aston Villa
July 21 @ 7:30pm (CT)
Toyota Park, Chicago, IL 

Chelsea vs. PSG
July 22 @ 7pm (ET)
Yankee Stadium, New York City

AS Roma vs. TBD
July 22 @ TBD
Chicago, IL

Portland Timbers vs. Aston Villa
July 24 @ 7:30pm (PT)
JELD-WEN Field, Portland, OR

LA Galaxy vs. Tottenham
July 24 @ TBD
The Home Depot Center, Carson, CA 

AS Roma vs. Liverpool - The Underachiever's Shield 2012
July 25 @ 6:30pm (ET)
Fenway Park, Boston, MA

Chelsea vs. MLS All-Stars
July 25 @ 8:30pm (ET)
PPL Park, Chester, PA

AS Roma vs. TBD
July 28 @ TBD
New York City

Trophee Des Champions - France's Community Shield
League winner vs. Lyon (cup winner)
July 28 @ 3pm (ET)
Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ

Liverpool vs. Tottenham
July 28 @ 1pm (ET)
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

Chelsea vs. AC Milan
July 28 @ 6pm (ET)
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL

DC United vs. Juventus
July 28 @ TBD
RFK Stadium, Washington, DC
*yet to be finalized 

New York Red Bulls vs. Tottenham
July 31 @ TBD
Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ 

LA Galaxy vs. Real Madrid
August 2 @ 10:30pm (ET)
The Home Depot Center, Carson, CA 

Juventus vs. Real Madrid
August 5 @ 8pm (local time?)
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
*possible rematch on August 8 @ Yankee Stadium, New York City 

That's all I have for now. I will update this list when I hear further dates have been announced. Please comment below on other games I failed to mention!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Song You'll Hear All Summer

"Endless Summer" by Oceana is the official UEFA Euro 2012 song. I've already learned to love the beat to this song via FIFA's Euro 2012 expansion for Xbox 360. It's pretty catchy and will most likely burst to life in our heads while thinking of the cracking goals scored in this summer's championship. And now, without further ado:

Video Credits:
YouTube & Oceana

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Delio Rossi Situation: The Wrong & Right

Fighting is wrong and inexcusable, especially in situations of sport. I'm all for defending oneself when absolutely required to, but what happened on the sidelines of the Artemio Franchi in Florence last night was preposterous. In case you have not already seen this video, here is Fiorentina Coach Delio Rossi attacking a petulant Adem Ljajic following the players substitution after only 32 minutes of play against Novara:

Rossi's attack was clearly wrong in this situation, but is there a worse evil at play in the mentalities of footballers evident in this interaction? Follow my logic:

Wrong Rossi for fighting
The pressure got to the usually cool-headed tactician when the young Serb turned the screws by sarcastically applauding and jeering the Coach like an immature baby. La Viola are amidst a dismal season to boot, and Rossi snapped. His violence was clearly an inexcusable solution to combat a player undermining his decisions.
Wrong Ljajic for showing dissent
Ljajic was clearly the catalyst of this interaction. I was not watching the match, but after watching Fiorentina many times this year, I can only assume Ljajic was playing selfishly and was deemed ineffective on the field by Rossi - hence his substitution. The young players reaction was dreadful to see. When I was a young lad, I was taught to respect the coaches decisions even when they were not in my favor. Complain later and work harder in practice. Do not make an a** out of yourself by acting immature. This is exactly what the Serb did. This is also probably a main reason why he has been left out of the lineup so many times this year.

Right Fiorentina Directors for firing Rossi & suspending Ljajic
Paola De Canio has allegedly attacked his players before. Sir Alex even chucked a boot at Beckham's face (main asset, people). Both were not sacked for one main reason - these things were done behind closed doors. In Rossi's case, he snapped in front of the whole world. Club directors had no choice but to sack the sorry sap. I also commend the team for suspending the petulant catalyst of this situation, Ljajic. At a time when the club is going through hard times, to act in such a way hurts fellow players, staff and fans even more.

Thoughts Violence is wrong in sport; period. There is no room in our wonderful game for the actions Rossi took, and other violent actions that occur in world football from time to time. But, I think another issue at play here is a distinct disrespect in football. It seems that certain players have become detached from the structure of the team. When players become bigger than their teams, they clearly lack respect for the game - it's a team game, after all. I'd imagine it's easy to get caught up in the hype of being the best at a sport you love and neglect certain hierarchies you learned when initially flirting with the game. But still, when I see instances like Ljajic's disrespectful actions against his coach, the person in charge of the whole team, it makes me sick. No one person should be bigger than their team for the simple fact that no one person can win it for their team alone.

Anyone else notice this to be a recurring problem? What happened to humility?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Away Goal Rule + 2nd Leg + ET = Unfair?

I've been thinking about the tie-breaker rule since last week's blockbuster UCL & Europa League knockout matches. It seems to me that the away goal rule becomes unfair in the second leg of a two-legged knockout round if the tie goes into extra-time. The reasoning: the team away in the second match gets an extra 30 minutes to score an away goal. At the point of this opportunity, if the away team should score a goal, the ramifications would be huge for the home team. They will most likely bow out of any tournament. It is controversial to allow such a distinct disadvantage to any team in time allotted after two matches have been played.

The counter argument: the home team in the second leg has 30 extra minutes of play in front of their home crowd, should the tie go into extra-time. I don't agree with this argument. I feel at the knockout level of a competition, the teams involved are most likely professional enough not be fazed by a home crowd after 90 exhausting minutes of play. Players are making sure fatigue does not force a mistake and focusing on grabbing a crucial goal. The crowd, I'm sure, was the last thing on Bayern Munich's mind last week while forging on into extra-time with Real Madrid.

To me, it's simple: on paper and in reality, a team away in the second game has a distinct advantage going into extra-time. The home team in the second game did not have another 30 minutes to score a crucial away goal in the first game - just 90. Given the gravity of this rule and seriousness of a second leg tie going into extra-time, I think there should be a better way to break a tie in critical matches.

Perhaps extra-time should not be judged by the away goal rule in the second leg? What do you think?