No, USA Is Not That Good

Team USA in the Gold Cup match of the Confederations Cup. Great news for those fans of US Soccer, but for those who enjoy world class football the result was to be expected. I will give the US credit for beating Egypt 2-0 in order to advance to the cup, but then again Egypt is not a world powerhouse when it comes to football. Unfortunately, the strong, yet aging Italians could not put together much of a showing versus Brazil and ended up watching from the sidelines.

I was able to watch the second half of the USA v Brazil match yesterday while at work. I was shocked, as probably most football fans were. First because the US was up at the break. But second they were up 2-0! Not sure which came as a bigger surprise. Yet one of the problems with being up by 2-0 is complacency. It’s that false sense of security a team gets when they know they can make a mistake and still leading the match. Yet the game does not end until the whistle blows and the US could not manage much in the second half.

It was quite evident within minutes that Brazil was faster, stronger and better on the pitch when the whistle blew. But again, we football (not disillusioned US Soccer fans) fans knew that going into the Gold Cup game. After the first goal by Luis Fabiano, you knew the Brazilians meant business and were not going to let the match slip away.

Though out much of the second half Tim Howard (Everton) was under siege by the multifaceted threats that Brazil possessed. If it was not Kaka, it was Robinho. Yet in the end it was excellent control and execution by Brazil that just worn the US defense down to a point where they were ball watching by the 60 minute mark.

While I am not a US soccer fan, I am a big fan of Tim Howard, goalkeeper for Everton. He is one of the “elder statesman” along with names like Beasley, Donovan, Bocanegra and Hedjuk that have been together for years. Yet each year we hear there will be grand things from this team and each year they underachieve. Although *sigh* if I must I will give them credit for beating the top ranked Spaniards, 2-0. Howard played very well between the sticks, but his defense let him down. He made some great saves, yet was on the side of luck a few times as well. The US defense is not as solid as what Howard has in front of him in Everton. Props to Howard for a job well done.

So why is US Soccer not competitive? Let’s ask Bob Bradley. After their monumental win against Spain he was quoted as saying, that the victory was in part of the success to his players’ development in Major League Soccer. What sort of bullshit is that? The MLS is the laughing stock of world football. Sorry, the league is at best mediocre and probably rivals some the first and second divisions of other countries.

The problem in the Brazil match was the lack of experienced bench players and the right strategic moves by Bradley to secure a victory for the US. At the 75th minute Bradley brought on Bornstein and Kljestan, a defender and midfielder in order to show up a very tired lineup. Brazil was consistently in control and dominating play. Many of the US players, especially in the defensive third were caught ball watching or out of position, as the outside players for Brazil and time and opportunities in which to capitalize.

Once the game went level, it was a given the US would not be able to muster a win. Brazil was too strong, to experienced to let this potential upset bite them in the ass. They proved once again why they are one of the BEST nations when it comes to international football. Maybe when the US realized the game is called FOOTBALL and not SOCCER they will have a better understanding why they will never win major games. As for 2010, don’t expect much of a showing. Their bench players are not strong enough and the starting eleven, while somewhat experienced don’t all play at the same competitive levels for their club team, which in turns hurts when they come together as a national team. Sorry US, stick with a game you are good at, like American football, baseball or basketball.

Insane Amounts of Cash

One reason I stopped watching MLB and to some degree the NFL was the ungodly amount of money thrown at players these days. Especially rookies who have NO experience at this level. One just has to look at the deals signed by Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000 (2008-2017), Derek Jeter, $189,000,000 (2001-2010) and Mark Teixeira, $180,000,000 (2009-2016). The list continues, you can see it at Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the figures are astounding!

The NFL is no better. Oddly enough the former convict, Michael Vick signed what is still the largest contract at $130,000,000 (2005-2014). Other players with big contracts include, Carson Palmer, $119,750,000 (2006-2014) and Donovan McNabb, $115,000,000 (2002-2013). Much of this money includes a signing bonus, since there is not a lot of guaranteed money in these contracts is struck down by a career ending injury.

The NBA is just as guilty, but since I don’t care for the sport I see no reason to even mention their outrageous figures. In some respect it’s a worse offender than the NFL. This brings me to my point.

The beautiful game. Football as it is known world wide, only in the US is is termed soccer, where contracts in the MLS pale in comparison to their overseas counterparts, unless your name is David Beckham and you sign with the LA Galaxy to put “butts in the seats” and to sell merchandise. His contract was 5 years, $250,000,000. Considering the MLS as lost approximately $350,000,000 since its inception this was not a unexpected signing.

In the past week La Liga has seen record breaking signings of Kaka ($92 million) from AC Milan and just today Cristiano Ronaldo signed for $131 million from Manchester United. The size of these contracts are far above anything seen previously. Real Madrid has just added two of the world’s best players (both former Players of the Year) to their club and they might not be finished. They are still chasing Valencia’s David Villa, which would also bring a large contract.

UEFA boss, Michael Platini is outraged at the “excessive” transfer fees, “are a serious challenge to the idea of fairplay and the concept of financial balance in our competitions.” Much like the NFL and the MLB, the big teams, with money to spend end up attracting top talent, while smaller clubs are left with very little and no chance at titles and trophies.

UEFA is working hard with clubs to set up a new set of rules as soon as is possible to clean up the system and give it a more solid, more transparent base,” Platini told AFP. Hopefully this does not mean a salary cap because football is a business. Big name players are small clubs will end up transferring in order to record those bigger contracts or because their club cannot afford their salary.

Beckham. You Schmuck!

Me! Me! Me! That sums up “Dave” pretty good. Obviously Man U had good reason to get rid of him, so off to Spain he goes. The Real Madrid was not a good one and “Becks” was all but washed up. Bye bye England National Team. Then the stupid Americans toss truckload of cash at him and he comes to the USA.

With Becks TRYING to play hardball, not wanting to return to the MLS (can’t blame him there, the league is terrible!) his only option is to stay on at an aging AC Milan. I am sure MLS and the Galaxy will come to terms of AC Milan (and Adidas) and Beckham will buy another home in Italy so his slutty wife can spend all that money is supposed earned playing American soccer.

But seriously he is in for himself, nothing else. While AC Milan and Serie A is much superior to the MLS, it’s no real surprise he wants to stay and play for a winner. Of course Milan will continue to play second fiddle to Inter, Juventus and possibly even AS Roma (okay, so I am dreaming there).

So while his experiment in the MLS has failed, much like other “stars” before him Beckham will continue to play out as an aging superstar for one more shot at what he considers glory. World Cup 2010. Although at this stage in qualifying, I don’t see England as a favorite to win, but who knows. I am sure Becks will do enough, regardless of continent and make the national squad for his last time before he announces his retirement at the end the World Cup 2010.

Beckham the Primadonna

LOL! It has only been the better part of three games in Serie A with Italian powerhouse, AC Milan and Beckham is already talking about his desire to stay in Italy. Wow, guess that comes as a real surprise *sarcasm*. This guy is a beauty, going where the money is. I compare him to record setting players in the NFL who are trying to hand on to the glory and stardom they once had. Beckham, while not the same player he was when at Man U has started all three games for the Rossoneri, but I for one am shocked he is in the starting eleven.

With names like Kaka, Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf, Emerson, Ambrosini and Flamini its obvious team management is playing to Beckham and his once famed skills. I will grant him this, he is still a good player, but not the same caliber as some of the aforementioned midfielders already playing full time with AC Milan.

Of course come March 9, the Los Angeles Galaxy will let Beckham walk from his contract, as he has never lived up to the reputation that preceded upon his arrival to Hollywood (or is that Carson?) His “little experiment” in the MLS (formerly known as the NASL) has failed, just like many other big name players before him; Giorgio Chinaglia, Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, to name a few.

So Beckham bow out to North America, take your big bucks and bitchy wife and move to Italy. There is only one reason you want to hang on to football…actually two. First to be noticed by Fabio Capello in order to be selected (God forbid, captain) England’s national team in World Cup 2010. Second the selfish bastard wants to break Bobby Moore’s record of 108 appearances for the national team. So go on being the “team player” you are. I hope Capello keeps you off the national team, you are no longer one of England’s best.

Becks Not Good Enough For Rossoneri

Someone please help me understand what the world’s most overpriced player is trying to prove? Yeah, I am speaking of “Becks”, David Beckham of the MLS’s L.A. Galaxy. He took a sale to America for an unprecedented $250 million over 5 years, which was allegedly the next move in his career, it was to help foster an young, struggle league with a big name player. Pele anyone?

Recent rumors have Beckham going on loan to AC Milan. WTF? I won’t be the only one to say it, but he could not crack the starting eleven on the Rossoneri . I agree with Sir Alex Ferguson’s take, “Going to the United States does not get you the kind of football he is used to. It is not the right level of football, therefore coming back into the mainstream of the game is not a surprise.”

It is debatable that he is still worthwhile being tapped for the national team in England. He has moved on in age and his skills have diminished, so the MLS was perfect for him, since it is a lower caliber of football. As for his chance at the national team for the 2010 World Cup…I think it would be great if Capello left him off the WC team. I can’t see him playing the Italian style of football that Milan does. He definitely won’t see the reception he did in the US if and when he makes the transfer to Italy.

We Go As Roma Goes!

Okay, so the adult soccer…err…football league I am involved is not Serie A. Not even college caliber. I am sure 15-20 years ago some of these players were good college players. I have noticed a few standout midfielders and strikers the past three weeks. This week it was great to see AS Roma notch their first Serie A victory of the new campaign. Sure, they are still trailing the likes of Juve and Inter, but they will move up the table after this week.

Our outdoor team moved up this week with our first win after drawing the first week and loosing a tough game last week. Hurts when you let in only one goal, but the offense cannot muster quality shots on goal. Thankfully this is NOT the indoor team I am on and our midfielders and strikers have good touch and control and know how to find the back of the net. That was the case on Sunday, where a late second half goal was enough for us to pull out a victory.

Nine weeks remaining in the season and we are not doing too bad. From what I was told we are doing much better than the last time we were in the top flight. I guess they had no dedicated goalkeeper, which made things difficult and there was no such thing as a close loss.

What makes this league enjoyable, aside from winning, is the group of individuals involved. Many are married with kids and it turns into a family affair each Sunday for a few hours. After the game, there is beer and soft drinks, as well as food. We have a BBQ one time during the season as well.

Another two games this week, indoor action on Wednesday, which I assume will be a lose unless our field players can actually find the net and not the one that surrounds the boards of the pitch, but the one hanging in the back of the goal. I am looking more forward to the early outdoor game. Should be a great time.

Beckham the Magician

Why do media types let sports figures, let alone superstars talk? Because sooner or later one of them will say something really stupid. Where would the NFL be without Terrell Owens? Thankfully this is NOT the NFL, but it is the world’s highest overpaid player, playing in a very average league we are talking about here. David Beckham. You can read the story, Beckham says MLS is better than people think. It is? Since when?

Notice the title of the story again, “MLS is BETTER than people think.” Let’s look at some of the highlights from this piece. “Football is definitely changing in this country, and it is getting bigger and growing…a long-term plan to raise the profile for this game in this country. I think it has gone well so far.” Beckham’s position in the MLS…err…with the Galaxy to put butts in the seats. Nothing more. Home and away attendance is up for Galaxy games (home: 26,000, away: 27,000), guess that is a plus too. Just means more money for a league that is STILL not making a profit.

It’s one of the reasons I moved here, to be a part of growing the game,” said Beckham, who signed with the Galaxy in January 2007 after a standout career with Manchester United and Real Madrid. “Hopefully, people are seeing the changes which we are putting in. The attendance is up 20 percent and shirt sales up 780 percent. So it is going well. That’s what we need in this country.

Okay David, attendance is up, shirt sales are up, soccer in the US is changing, but how in the hell is the MLS “better than people think?” Playing in a good league, like La Liga, the EPL, Serie A for example all require players who have talent. I seriously see a lack of talent in the US. Why do the good US players go abroad? In order to improve themselves. That is one reason the US will continue to suffer poor national teams and never make it past a knock out stage in future World Cups.

Kids see international stars, names like Kaka, Ronaldo, Messi just to name a few and they do not play in the MLS. Only washed up stars who feel they still have something to provide will make a move to the suffering MLS for big money, big lights and average soccer ability as competition. It has been that way since the MLS was the NASL. Nothing will change, I suspect by 2010 the league will be on the verge of folding or reorganizing.

So David, keep duping the MLS and the fans by your half assed performances on a very poor LA Galaxy team. I don’t your influence being a determining factor in bringing talent to the US. “Of course, we do want to get it to the level of other leagues in the world, but it will take time. But it’s not that far away. There is a lot of talent in this league.” Talent will continue to be exported to the better leagues in the world and not remain home grown. Interesting statistic from World Cup 2006, all the players on the Italian national team played in Italy.

Indoor Footie

Hehe..doesn’t sound right does it? Yeah I know, many wacky Americans refer to football as soccer, so in will refer to it as indoor soccer for this news. I was called by a friend late last week about my interest to play goalkeeper in an indoor soccer league. It seems their regular keeper has left the team and they are without.

Driving to work today I was trying to recall the last time I laced up the boots and took my place between the woodwork. Honestly, I cannot remember. I fear it might have been college, while attending BYU sometime in 1990! But my memory might be failing me, it could have been as late as 1999 or 2000. I just don’t remember.

So I have committed to playing out the remainder of the season, encompassing three games. It is a co-ed league with two 23 minute periods and a 3 minute half time. Not really sure what to expect from my performance as I have done nothing but age since I last played. Nonetheless it will be enjoyable (I hope) to get back on the turf and see if I still have some skills remaining.

I already regret waking up the next morning, for fear I will be stiff and sore. Not a good combination.

MLS – More Lousy Soccer

OMFG! I sit down on Saturday night to watch a replay of Liverpool v. Reading and damned if the Western Conference Finals of the MLS are on, Kansas City v. Houston. Now I like Fox Soccer Channel, as they carry many quality matches from England and Italy. But watching the MLS is painful. It’s no wonder I pass every night matches are on because the quality of play is horrible!

MLS should stand for “More Lousy Soccer” not Major League Soccer because a “major” league will never survive in America. The talent pool of Americans who have skills will usually go abroad to play an international club, not at home in the USA. Oh sure, there is some attraction when big names, like Beckham, who was very overpaid to play for Los Angeles. Now enter Ruud Guillit, another big name from Europe who will head the Galaxy.

The point is, the matches cannot be seen as entertaining, I’m sorry. This is probably the same reason I pay no attention to college soccer or women’s soccer (sorry, it’s unwatchable in my opinion). Fans, I am guessing are not the most knowledgeable, I remember some of the “fans” who arrived on the red carpet at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA when Beckham made his debut versus Chelsea. Tonight, fans were throwing streamers onto the pitch. What the hell was that?

*sigh* Anyway, I will step off my soap box and be thankful I am not forced to watch this lousy game Americans call soccer. I am a football fan, I know the game, I know the plays and enjoy the clean and skillful style of play in England and in Italy. Sorry US, youth soccer might be attract large numbers of kids, but as they get older, soccer fails to capture their attention.

Respect the Beautiful Game

When it come to sports, the USA has three that seem to dominate: the National Football League (American football), Major League Baseball and the National Basketball League. Sorry I don’t count the National Hockey League as a real sport any longer, at least in the US since it is carried on some third party cable channel that specializes in outdoor hunting. But what about the beautiful game? Wipe that puzzled look off your face and don’t call it soccer.

No, I am not a Euro, although I am a huge footie fan and follow teams and leagues in the UK, Italy, Spain and Mexico. Unfortunately, somewhere between youth “soccer” (AYSO) and high school many kids seem to loose interest in the game and decide to choose some “big three” sports during high school.

When it comes to sports talk radio I have begun to loose respect for many of the supposed hosts. First many do not understand the game, this goes for Americans as well. Not to get off my first thought, but the game is 45 minutes of continuous action. Unlike the the “big three” you can’t go for a beer and a dog or you will miss some of the action.

I had the utmost respect for Steve Saban until he started trashing football (soccer) after the NFL played a regular season game at Wimbley in the UK a few weeks back. Along with many negatives about the game, the fans, which I believe he referred to as hooligans and the field, there was much laughter as he thought his take on the entire situation was funny. What I find funny is you supposedly have “Major” League Soccer teams in the USA playing in an NFL stadium with yellow lines painted while the NFL lines are still on the pitch…err field.

He is not the only one there are many others some I like, others I listen to just because there is nothing on the radio stations to listen to. The same could be said about those who covered the 2006 World Cup in Germany (The Ugly side of Germany 2006) and they were even former “professional players in the US. Why is this? As I said many do not understand the game or find it boring with a final score of 0-0 (that’s nil, nil, not zero, zero) or a 1-0 final.

I have given up watching the NFL, I rarely watch MLB and can’t stand the NBA. I spend Saturday and Sunday (sometimes Wednesday) watching The Premiership or Euro 2008 or UEFA Champions League qualifying. Why? Because it is more exciting with more sportsmanship. So NFL, thanks for the years of exciting football, but I have quit and moved on to watching real football. So I’ll pour myself another pint, don my Watford sweater and go watch some footie on the DVR.

Glitz. Glamour. Football.

Holy Christ! I am so sick and tired of ESPN covering football…errr…soccer for those in Americans who truly do not understand the worlds game. I am not the most knowledgeable, nor the best suited to try and explain soccer to non-soccer types. I follow my teams, Watford and AS Roma on a daily basis, looking forward to the start of the new season in August.

But tonight, a spectacle took place, in all places Los Angeles that truly reminds me why soccer in America will never rival the “big three” sports. In Carson, California, home to the L.A. Galaxy, Chelsea FC brought their game to town. All the stars were suited for the Blues, Drogba, Terry, Lampard, Sheva, Chech and the rest. For the Galaxy, the ONLY name that mattered tonight was Beckham.

I know I bitched about ESPN and their sloppy and unprofessional coverage of World Cup 2006. Eric Wynalda is a complete ass and an idiot! I don’t care how long he played for Team USA. He is a very poor announcer and should not even be in the booth. Dave O’Brien is NOT a soccer guy, but a baseball guy covering games for teams like the Braves and Marlins.

Tonight’s match was a place to be seen, typical of Hollywood and all the “big names” that came out to see the man who is [supposedly] going to change soccer in America. LOL. There was even a red carpet rolled out for all the “stars” in attendance. Posh Spice and Eva Longoria had the camera on them all night, drinking champagne behind big, bug eyed looking glasses. Other “big names” included Drew Carey, Kevin Garnett (like he’s a footie fan), Jennifer Love Hewitt (who is a hottie, but doesn’t know a lick about soccer), Kate Holmes (LOL!) and “The Govenator” were all in attendance.

The entire night, it was all about Beckham this, Beckham that, how he is going to tackle his new challenge. Then there was the ‘Beckham Cam’ pointed wherever #23 went. No matter what he did, lick, scratch his balls, the cam caught it. Don’t get me started on Bonnie Bernstein and Julie Foudy, two more people who should NOT be covering such a grand game. Neither bring anything to the table.

The match itself was entertaining, as Chelsea outplayed the Galaxy for 90 minutes. The statistics were quite one-sided in favor of The Blues. John Terry had a great shot and scored the only goal of the match and then it was time for Chelsea to step up the game play, which they did.

With about 12 minutes in the match, Beckham made his first appearance in a match. Everything he did, which wasn’t much was documented, covered from no less than 5 angles and replayed. In my opinion he didn’t do anything that was really worth talking about.

Overall, this move is nothing more than a PR move for the MLS and the Galaxy. Is Beckham washed up? Based on his success at Man U and last year helping to bring a La Liga title to Real Madrid some would argue he has a lot to gain coming to the USA. But soccer is not in our culture as Americans. Kids grow up playing organized youth soccer, which is HUGE, but professional the game is not even on the same level as the lower division European teams.

So, while Beckham will be talk of the town for the next few months and the Home Depot Center could set some attendance and revenue records, the bottom line is the Galaxy are not a good team. One footballer does not make a team, but possibly improves those around him. Will that happen with “Becks”? No one has an answer to that, but I can guarantee you this. Soccer will become a nightly piece on ESPN and other sports outlets.

I am not sold on Beckham and his move to the MLS. Like Pele in ’75 bringing his 35 year old legs to the NASL, Beckham does have a huge task in front of him if he thinks he can change the mindset of millions in the USA.

Beckham Arrival Overrated?

I have never been a big David Beckham fan going back to his days with Manchester United. He is one hell of a footballer and his accomplishments are quite impressive: FA Premier League Champion 6 times, FA Cup winner twice, UEFA Champions League once. Pele also listed Beckham as one of the Top 100 greatest living footballers in the world. So to his credit he is nothing short of a football good in the eyes of many.

Much like Pele, Beckham leaves the European (and Spanish) League flies across “The Pond” and lands in Tinseltown, Los Angeles, home to the L.A. Galaxy a team that has struggles this year in the MLS. Pele came to the NASL at age 35 in 1975 to the highly profiled New York Cosmos, where he played until 1977. Beckham at 32 years of age is getting on in his football career. It did not come as a big surprise when Man U. did not want him back, instead going with youth up front, so Beckham took his namesake and game to Real Madrid. Was his time in Spain a bust? If you base that decision on championships, then no Real Madrid won their first La Liga title in 3 years with the help of Beckham.

On January 11, 2007 it was announced that Beckham would follow in the footsteps of Pele and take his game to America, where football is known as soccer and has very little support compared to the other major sports like baseball, American football and basketball. The deal was 5 years up to a reported $250 million to play for the L.A. Galaxy. What sort of impact will he bring to the Galaxy is yet to be seen, but many of the reports I have heard are “team oriented.” It is no longer just about Beckham.

Will he be able to help the Galaxy who have 13 points with only 3 wins in 12 games? Sure I do think he will be able to bring his experience and talent to the MLS and America help the team win. I don’t think his impact will really help increase the interest in ‘soccer’ in the U.S., which is what many are banking on. Sure, those into the game of soccer in the U.S. are excited for his arrival, but I for one see it more as a PR move more than a smart move. Revenue for many of the MLS teams cannot be all that high and having to shell out $250 million for a single player is quite a bit.

Pele helped introduce the game of football to America from 1975-1977, I remember watching him on television and in person against the San Diego Sockers. Pele made 64 appearances and scored 37 goals, but he was a true ambassador of the game. Beckham leaves Europe with a turbulent past, the jury is out as to what sort of impact he will have on the league, the game and brings more Americas out to see one of Europe’s best.

Note: Oddly enough he will play his first match against a team he knows all too well, Chelsea, when they face the L.A. Galaxy on July 21.