Small Clubs with Heart

It’s rare you hear about a club in the US in any of the major sports, where a team resides from a small city. It just doesn’t happen. Small market clubs end up being a loosing proposition in many cases. Just take a look at your favorite sport and I am sure you can relate. San Diego Padres are considered a small market club and will never compete with the likes of a Yankees or Boston.

In football…sorry, soccer for those Americans who don’t follow European football it is decidedly different. There is the Barclay’s Premier League, which is top flight football in European. All teams in England strive year after year to be promoted. Beyond the Premiership is the Coca-Cola Championship League, which is home to teams relegated from the top league or teams who achieved success to be promoted. The other lower divisions are the League 1 and League 2 under the Coca-Cola Championship. No sport in the US is like this, where a small team is promoted, the only comparison could be a minor league affiliation in baseball, even that is a different.

Last season saw Burnley, town of 22,000 inhabitants be promoted to the Premiership. As with many lower division teams it is always a great thing for the team and the fans who are loyal to the end and support their club at all levels. Burnley opened home play last night against last season’s champion, Manchester United. Most gave Burnley no chance in hell of winning, let alone scoring a goal.

An interesting note hear while watching the game last night (on my DVR). The entire town of Burnley could fit inside Wimbley, which is home to Manchester United (holds 70,000+). Yet last night was not to be for Man U, who could just not click, while playing a weaker opponent. It was a great feeling watching and experience a lower division club, newly promoted after 33 years taking on the same team tame relegated them from the Prem 1-0, 33 years prior.

Burnley was able to gain the advantage last night on a great volley to the upper corner of the near post that would end up being the game winning goal (only goal of the game) for a 1-0 victory. Everything was going Burnley’s way from deflected balls, to penalty saves to the break. Man U could not muster much in terms of coordination and seemed to be frustrated by what Burnley did to them. Some claim Ronaldo could have pulled 1, possibly all 3 points for Man U. We can only speculate.

While Burnley might not win more than 4 or 5 matches this season, they have begun this Premiership in grand fashion, by taking down the perennial champions. This match was a great spectacle! One that will live long in the hearts and minds of Burnley. Even if they don’t win another match this season, I think we saw the sort of heart the club had, as well as some talented players on the pitch. If you get a chance, catch a replay of this match.

Community Shield

The 100th FA Community Shield was played today in the UK with Portsmouth going up defending Prem Champions Manchester United. This kicks off the new season, as there are a full slate of matches next weekend, which I am looking forward too. As for the NFL…pffft.

The game was rather uneventful, as the Red Devils were not even fielding a full team with some big names not in the lineup, like Rooney, Ronaldo, Hargreaves and others. Portsmouth, winners of the FA Cup last season look to make a run for the championship this season, or at least be in the top four. But they did not play well, outside a great game from the flamboyant, David James.

When this guy is hot, look out he is one of the best in the game. But sometimes his aggressive play style gets the best of him and those easy ones end up in the back of the net. Not today though, he kept Pompey in the game, even though they could not muster much offense.

The big name signing of Peter Crouch was rather quiet, coupled with Jermaine Defoe they did not really click in the match. Most of the offense was seen at the opposite end of the pitch, with James continuing to make save after save.

The game was 0-0 at full time, which mean a penalty shoot out. Pompey looked terrible from the spot, but I do think Van De Sar has something to do with that, as an opposing figure between the sticks. Portsmouth missed, scored and the next two were saved as Man U went on to win their 7th FA Community Shield.

Next weekend is shaping up nicely with some big games to kick off the new English Premier season with many big names on new teams. As for Serie A, they kick off the last week in August. More big signings for clubs like AC Milan, Juventus, Inter as well as my favorite, AS Roma. Football, not throwball is back!

Premiership to Remain Premier

There was a proposal set forth by the Barclays’s Premier League to stage league games outside of England. Many mangers of English clubs were not happy about the prospects of playing league games abroad.

The United States would have been one of the countries on the list with games played in two big market cities, New York and Los Angeles. Only one problem, which I am somewhat surprised that MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis did not recognize. Football…err…soccer for you Yanks does not sell in America.

Yeah, I am sure with expansion planned to Miami and San Jose, some would look at the MLS being on the upswing. Yet there are telltale signs all is not well. Consider that clubs have lost a combined $350 million since the league’s inception in 1994. Attendance figures are not stellar considering clubs are drawing between 11,000 and 16,000 fans on average. Yeah, I also know there are some exceptions, D.C. United, Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy (Thanks to David Beckham!).

But I can step back and take a breath because other, stronger nations in football, like Australia, Africa and Asia (Japan & Korea) have rejected the FIFA proposal.

From Gazidis, “I don’t see it as a negative for MLS, but the implications go beyond these games on their own. There are implications for the game worldwide. There are implications when matches are taken across borders in this way.” No one attends games now, what makes the MLS think with Prem clubs coming across The Pond, fans will flock to watch REAL football? Add to that, the fact clubs will raise ticket prices before of the QUALITY of football.

Now, I as a football fan (No, not NFL) would relish the chance to see a Premiership match. Honestly, it would just not be the same to see football in a country that hardly recognizes football…err…soccer as a sport in America.

Guess I will have to book my reservations for a Trans-Atlantic flight to meet Qster (Andy) at Villa Park and then off to Vicarage Road. Now tell me Yanks, do you know who plays at these stadiums? Ha, didn’t think you did. Go back to your American football.

Footie Season Opens!

I am counting down the minutes at work in order to get home and plop on the couch for 6 hours of football. No, not the American game (NFL), but the Premiership over in the UK. I know football…errr…soccer is not one of the “big three” in America and it never will be, regardless of what over the hill star signs with an MLS team. Sorry David but you are more fit for Hollywood than the pitch right about now.

I am madly refreshing the Watford F.C. site hoping to see a victory for the Hornets, who are my main team in the UK. Even though they were relegated after last season from the Prem, they should return in prime form and have a great shot at the Championship League. I am also excited about the start of the Premiership because I took on the role of manager of 6thFloor in a fantasy football (soccer for the Yanks) league. It will be the first time I try my hand managing my team of 15 and $100m.

As for the NFL, eh I am sure I will catch any games that involves my hometown San Diego Chargers, but outside of that I have lost interest in watching the games. I will run the 27th season of fantasy football (yes, American football, Euros) with me as the acting commish. Our draft is next weekend, hopefully both “football” teams see successful this season!

Man United Future Footballer

I think the video says it all. For a 9 year kid, Rhain Davis is pretty god damn amazing footballer. He was just signed by Manchester United of the Premier League in the UK. His skills are very impressive. Could he be the future Wayne Rooney?