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54 posts from August 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

World Cup news today?

There's a rumor being sent through the mill that Miami will get some good news on its bid to become one of the venues in the United States' plan to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Working hard to get this confirmed, so check back later in the day.

Just last week, an exploratory committee of political, athletic and cultural luminaries in South Florida was unveiled. Their goal: getting Miami chosen as host of a future World Cup match.

Among the members of the group: Emilio Estefan, Alonzo Mourning and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Camping Trip: NOVA Southeastern Men


This is the latest in a series of looks at South Florida's collegiate soccer teams as they prepare for the 2009 season.

Team: NOVA Southeastern Men

Coach: Giuseppe DePalo (11th season)

Conference: Sunshine State (Division II)

2008 record: 10-9-1 (3-5)

Opened camp: Aug. 10

Key players: F Romain Onteniente, M David Wahlberg, M Craig Heenighan, D Alvin Quaye,

Key dates: Sept. 18 at Lynn, Sept. 22 at Barry, Oct. 25 vs. Tampa

DePalo's take: "We have nine returning starters and we did fairly well last year. We kind of faded toward the end, but we proved that on any day we can compete with any team. We're a fairly experienced side. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are. We learned some lessons last year and hopefully we can compete and be near the top ofthe league."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Camping Trip: University of Miami Women


This is the latest in a series of looks at South Florida's collegiate soccer teams as they prepare for the 2009 season.

Team: UM Women

Coach: Tricia Taliaferro (eighth season)

Conference: Atlantic Coast (Division I)

2008 record: 10-9-3 (3-5-2)

Opened camp: Tuesday, Aug. 4

Key players: F Brittney Steinbruch, F Kate Howarth, M Beverly Goebel, D Brittney MacDonald

Key dates: Aug. 21 vs. Florida, Sept. 24 vs. Boston College, Oct. 4 at Florida State, Oct. 25 vs. North Carolina

Taliaferro's take: "With nine returning starters, expectations are high, the excitement level is high. The drive is there. We have the experience, having played together for a while. It's exciting to open up  against Florida, the No. 8 team in the country. It prepares us for the ACC, which is the No. 1 conference in the country. To be able to play this caliber of a game early is great, because we thrive on these kind of games."

Monday, August 17, 2009

USL-1 Update

Well, there's some good news after the Blues' horrendous home loss to Minnesota Friday: The teams Miami FC is competing with for a playoff spot aren't much better.

As expected, the Blues start the week in eighth place and out of the playoffs, should the season end today. But Vancouver and Montreal are doing everything in their power to keep South Florida's team in the hunt.

On Saturday, Montreal lost to Puerto Rico 1-0, while Vancouver managed a scoreless tie against Carolina at home.

As the dust clears, Montreal and Vancouver sit tied in sixth place (26 points each), although the Impact have played one more match than Miami FC and the Whitecaps. The Blues are just a point back, although six of their last nine matches are on the road.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Minnesota Thunder 1, Miami FC 0

No offense and no speed? No chance for Miami FC – even against one of the worst teams in the league.

Without their two best offensive weapons, the Blues suffered a potentially season-wrecking loss to ninth-place Minnesota Thunder Friday night, falling 1-0 at Lockhart Stadium.

Playing without Paulo Araujo Jr. (hip injury) and Diego Serna (personal reasons), the Blues had trouble even stringing together consecutive passes – let alone a coherent scoring strategy.

And after a Miami FC own-goal credited to Melvin Tarley in the 68th minute, Blues coach Zinho could turn to no real offensive threat to get his team back in the game.

The result: a loss to a mediocre team in one of just four matches the Blues (7-10-4) have left at home this season. They remained tied for seventh and final playoff spot with Vancouver, a point behind sixth-place Montreal. Minnesota improved to 4-10-6.

Starting lineups for Miami FC-Minnesota Thunder


Goalkeepers: Pat Hannigan

Defenders: Tim Merritt, Junior Baiano, Zack Kirby, Jack Traynor

Midfielders: Jarryd GOldberg, Edwin Miranda, Pedro Faife, Leo Inacio

Forwards: Alen Marcina, Reinier Alcantara


Goalkeepers: Nic Platter

Defenders: Quavas, Jon Greenfield, Andres Arango

Midfielders: Jeremiah Bass, Lawrence Olum, Ricardo Sanchez

Forwards: Rod Dyachenko, Brian Cvilikas, Leonel St. Preux

Mexico City Journal: Day Three

OK, sports fans. I shouldn't tell you this story. I really, really shouldn't. It's one of those stories you only tell your buddies after an NFL double-header spent pounding High Life at the condo.

But I promised full disclosure, and by god, you're going to get it.

That being said, this is a PG-13 (at worst) story, so all you voyeurs out there can go somewhere else.

No, this is a story of the human element in all its forms: adversity, fear, kindness, and ultimately, vindication and belief in self.

It starts about an hour after I left you Wednesday.

After the American's loss to Mexico, I returned to the hotel, stoked for a night out with the other American reporters in town for the game. But I quickly learned that there was a big problem: I lost my ATM card. Or to put it better, I had it stolen.

No, not by a drug lord. The culprit: the cash machine in the hotel lobby. Seems earlier in the day, I was in a rush when withdrawing cash. I dashed off without snagging my card, and the machine ate it, for "security reasons."

Well, needless to say, even I'm not dumb enough to drive after dark in Mexico City, and so with limited cash, a cab was out of the question. I thought I'd be spending my lone free night in one of the biggest cities in the world at a hotel bar.

Daythree1 Lucky for me, a few of the U.S. media was at my hotel, and were gracious enough to invite me to dinner at the Argentine restaurant around the bend. They were even kind enough to pick up the tab (see, Big Brother McClatchy: I'm saving money! Spare my job!).

Neil with U.S. Soccer was even sport enough to split the Rib Eye for two, which was bloody as hell. After a few courses and a few rounds, we made our way back into the hotel in a sedan-turned-cab. Yes, there were five us, plus the cabbie, in a Tercel. Feeling my oats, I even paid the fare with some of the limited amount of cash I had in my wallet. Consider this foreshadowing, Part I.

Back at the hotel, as we're saying our so-longs, one of our party goes up to the nefarious ATM, starts punching buttons, and asks, "Tiene Adam's card?" Even in broken Spanish, the machine got the message. And apparently, didn't take kindly to it, because it put one hell of a hex on me the next day.

The alarm blared at 8 a.m., and I was checked out by 9. I rented a car for a reason -- to see the city, on my terms -- and even half-broke, I was going to.

Daythree3 Even if it took two hours to go roughly 35 miles. Even if the air conditioning didn't work. Even if roads that Garmin said existed really didn't. But I was a man on a mission. I wanted to see the pyramids of Teotihuacan, located on the northeast side of the city, and nothing was going to stop me.

I still had a few hundred pesos (13 to a dollar), and I knew I was going to have to ration them to make sure I got back to the airport in time to drop off the rental and check into the international flight.

But every time construction stopped my progress, street vendors approached my car with delightful goodies. Yes, I bought a Cruz Azul windshield flag. What of it?

Plus, I discovered the roads of Mexico City had more in common with those of Miami than the homicidal drivers and lagoon-sized potholes. There are tolls. I made a mental note of what I spent on the way there, and kept that much set aside to get back.

Anyway, I finally arrive at the pyramids around 11, and they were worth the trip. The entrance fee takes up all of my reserve pesos, but since I planned on saving enough for the tolls, I didn't see it as a problem. Consider this foreshadowing, Part II.

Daythree2 But more on that later. Let's talk about the pyramids. Amazing. Breathtaking. Human ingenuity at its finest. Burial grounds for the multi-ethnic indigenous people of 2,000 years ago, its size is matched only by its detail. I don't have time to climb the Pyramid of the Sun, but if you get there, I recommend going at dawn. Hear it's phenomenal.

After a quick bite and the obligatory gift shopping (thankfully, they took tarjeta de credito), I hopped in my car at noon -- leaving me more than an hour to get to the 20 miles to the airport. And unlike most of the roads from the hotel, I was flying on a stretch of freeway that blows I-95 out of the water.

As I arrive at the expected tollbooth, I realize quickly that something is very, very wrong. For some inexplicable reason, the toll is 27 pesos ($2) more going back than coming. Translation: I'm $2 short of getting past. I plead my case to the attendant, then his supervisor in the worst Spanish this side of the Taco Bell dog (RIP), but he politely -- but firmly -- said I'm out of luck. Without paying the appropriate fee, getting to the airport was a pipe dream. And unlike the volcano rock vendor at Teotihuacan, they don't take credit card.

Friends, there's nothing more terrifying than realizing you might miss your flight home, and be stuck in a foreign country where you don't know a single soul, over TWO LOUSY DOLLARS.

I'm absolutely pouring sweat at this point. My Chevy matchbox car is parked on the side of the road, right in front of the toll plaza, and I don't know what to do. Can I get a cash advance off my credit card? Do I even know the PIN? What if I try to sell some of the crap I just bought?

At about the time I seriously thought about busting through the gate and taking my chances against Mexico Highway Patrol, the supervisor returns to my car. He's got an idea. Instead of, you know, reaching into his own pocket and giving me the 27 pesos, he helps me flag down passing cars and beg for money. Yes, even Adam Beasley, professional journalist for a major metropolitan newspaper, can go from cocky sports writer to panhandler in 24 hours without a working debit card. I could tell you it took some pride-swallowing to beg for money on the side of the road, but less than three hours before my flight was set to leave for Cancun, pride was not a luxury I could afford. Thankfully, the tollbooth dude explained my situation to passer-bys in Spanish, saving me further embarassment.

First car ponied up five pesos. Seventeen to go. The next car didn't even brake as it blew by us. Now I know how it feels to work in sales. Finally, paydirt. A nice, middle-aged couple hears my tale of woe, and agrees to pay the difference. I profusely thank both them and attendant -- but not before making sure there wasn't another booth another two miles up the road -- before speeding off.

After another 25 minutes of getting lost in the sprawl of Mexico City, I make it to the airport in time to check in for my flight. Miami International Airport never looked so beautiful as when I touched down about 10 p.m. Thursday.

So, in closing, let's recap: I navigated the Byzantine Mexican customs system, the insanely planned roads of Mexico City, the beer shower following one of the most heart-breaking losses in the last, well, six weeks for the U.S. MNT, banged up some amazing Argetine beef, lost my VISA debit, saw one of the true wonders of the world and caught my flight home, purely on the kindness of strangers.

So, what did you do this week?

Donovan: I've got H1N1

For all the worry about going to Mexico and coming back with swine flu, it appears Landon Donovan may have brought it to Mexico.

He tells reporters he's got H1N1. If so, he immediately becomes the highest profile American to contract the virus.

On a personal note, I was two feet away from him both Tuesday and Wednesday.

I think I'll go to the doctor's tomorrow.


P.S. I'll update with the third installment of my road journal tomorrow -- after a good night's sleep.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Michelle'sMusings on US-Mexico...

1. Holden belongs on the team. Great Gold Cup was no fluke. He made instant impact when he came in.

2. Gooch and Tim Howard are legit world-class players.

3. Davies, once again, proved valuable with good speed and timing.

4. Jozy Altidore should start ahead of Brian Ching.

5. Wouldn't it be nice if 100,000 showed up for a game in US and rooted for the home team? US is the only team in the world that rarely gets home-field advantage, unless it plays in smaller markets.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mexico City Journal: Day Two

Gameday1 Game day. I can feel the excitement as soon as I wake up. The Spanish version of Fox Sports has wall-to-wall coverage pregame, and I can make out one of every four words they say.

Still, it's worth tuning in for entertainment value alone. These people take their futbol seriously. I snag a quick workout, and the altitude is noticeable. I'm sucking wind the whole time on the treadmill.

Finally, 12:30 p.m. rolls around, and it's time to board the charter to the stadium. U.S. Soccer was nice enough to reserve a media bus, so no need for me to endanger the drivers of Mexico City today. The scene at the team hotel is nuts. Fans line the walkway toward out of the building. Mostly fans of Mexico, that is. Bob Bradley, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are mobbed for autographs. Federal police officers with M-16s stand guard.

Yes, this ain't Salt Lake City.

Gameday5 When the bus pulls out, fans of Mexico, who had been courteous in the hotel, send off the Americans with a creative hand signal. Clenched fist in one hand, open palm in the other. The message: 5-0, the score of the Gold Cup final.

The 20-minute drive to Azteca is great. Police escort, baby.

When we arrive, the cement monstrosity of a stadium lives up to its billing. The place is huge. And apparently, it's indestructable. A reporter for the Wall Street Journal told me it barely shook when Mexico City experienced a 8.1 earthquake years back.

As for the game itself, well, you know the results by now. There was great hope for about 10 minutes after Charlie Davies' goal, but as the game went on, it felt like a matter of if, not when, Mexico would forge ahead.

Gameday2 When came in the 82nd minute, on a fortunate goal by Miguel Sabah. Our seat for the match were great -- in the stands, at midfield. But when the post-goal celebration turned into a beer shower, I got soaked.

Part of the experience, I guess.

Anyway, signing off for now, but much more to come tomorrow. Going to see some of the sights.