« April 2012 | Main | June 2012 »

10 posts from May 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Make that EIGHT MLS teams toppled...

Make that eight MLS teams knocked out of the US Open Cup by lower division clubs. The lastest is perhaps the most shocking...An amateur team coached by Eric Wynalda beat the Portland Timbers 1-0 on Wednesday night! Here are the details...

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Artur Aghasyan scored in the first overtime and Cal FC, an amateur team coached by former U.S. national team standout Eric Wynalda, upset the Portland Timbers 1-0 in a third-round match of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night.

Aghasyan, who played for a time last season with Real Salt Lake, charged Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 95th minute and rifled the ball into the goal as Perkins slid on the turf.

Cal FC, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., is part of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association and features several former pro players on its roster. The team beat the Kitsap Pumas of the USL Premier Development League and the USL Pro's Wilmington Hammerheads to advance to Wednesday night's match.

"I don't know what to tell you guys,'' Wynalda said after the match. "I'm a little taken aback by all of this.''

Cal FC advances to a fourth-round match against the Seattle Sounders, who have won the last three U.S. Open Cup titles.

Cal FC celebrated on the field long after the victory, pausing to get their pictures taken and applauding the Timbers Army supporters' group, which chanted "Beat Seattle!''

"This team trained once this week,'' Wynalda said. "All credit to them to figure out how to come out of here victorious. It's pretty amazing.''

Seven MLS teams were eliminated on Tuesday from the 99-year-old tournament. The Timbers did not take the match lightly, using many of their regular starters, including Scottish striker Kris Boyd.

Portland was clearly the stronger team but couldn't finish numerous chances, while Cal FC showed tenacity throughout the match.

"There's no excuses for tonight. No excuses whatsoever,'' Portland coach John Spencer said. "We should come here, we should win the game. I don't think we should win the game easy, but I don't think we should lose the game. Not at all. Totally unacceptable. And there's no excuses.''

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Poll: Should MLS be embarrassed?

Bad night for MLS

Tuesday night is one MLS executives surely would like to forget.

Seven MLS teams were eliminated from the US Open Cup by 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th division clubs. No, the MLS teams didn't all field their best players, but still. For a league trying to convince fans it is the best soccer America has to offer, Tuesday's results won't help. In fact, many fans were Tweeting that perhaps a pyramid relegation system, like they use in other parts of the world, might be a good idea if the NASL and USL teams can knock off seven MLS teams in one night.

Here are the results:

Carolina Railhawks d. LA Galaxy 2-1

San Antonio Scorpions d. Houston 1-0

Minnesota Stars d. Real Salt Lake 3-1

Dayton Dutch Lions d. Columbus Crew 2-1

Charlotte Eagles d. Dallas FC 2-0

Harrisburg City Islanders d. NE Revolution on PKs after 3-3 regulation

Michigan Bucks d. Chicago Fire 3-2

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers led the San Jose Earthquakes through 63 minutes, but wound up losing 2-1. Great effort by the Strikers. Definitely earned some respect across the country.

Big game tonight: USA vs. Brazil! 8 p.m. ESPN2. I plan to park myself on the sofa with my family, and switch back and forth between Heat game and soccer.

Question: What do you conclude from Tuesday's US Open Cup results? Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Strikers win 7-2! Earthquakes next!

The Ft. Lauderdale Strikers beat the PDL's Fresno Fuego 7-2 last night at Lockhart Stadium in the second round of the US Open Cup (the American version of the FA Cup). Aly Hassan had a hat trick, Polo Morales added a pair of goals, Mark Anderson and Walter Restrepo also scored. The Strikers travel to Stanford, Calif., May 29 for the third-round match against the MLS San Jose Earthquakes.

Here are scoring details from last night's match, courtesy of the Strikers...

Aly Hassan opened the scoring with his first goal on the night shortly before the halftime whistle. The forward was the quickest to react to a cross from Darnell King that bobbled off a couple of defenders around the six yard box.

Justin Finch equalized for the Fuego in the 54th, but it was all downhill for the Fresno-based side after. Just three minutes later, Hassan restored the Strikers' lead, scoring the first of six unanswered goals. Scott Lorenz delivered an inswinging free kick to the back post that was met by the towering forward to make it 2-1.

The Strikers capitalized on another free kick opportunity in the 61st. From the left side of the box, Mark Anderson beat Gilbert Vera at the near post with a 30 yard free kick. The goal was Anderson's third goal in the last four matches.

Hassan completed his second hat-trick of the season in the 69th minute, in a rather unspectacular fashion. Nickardo Blake beat his marker on the right and cut the ball back for Anderson to shoot, however the Englishman's shot was unintentionally blocked by his teammate Hassan. The forward turned and poked the ball past Vega for his sixth goal in all competitions this season.

At 4-1 with just thirteen minutes left, the game looked out of Fresno's reach. But the Strikers weren't done yet, Restrepo increasing the Strikers lead further, rounding the keeper and slotting the ball to the far corner.

Tyler Reinhart pulled a consolation goal back for the Fuego in the 86th but again the Strikers would bounce back. Polo Morales scored his first two goals of the year in the final minutes of the game, crushing any hopes Fresno had of a dramatic comeback, and setting up a date for the Strikers against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Miami tops Champions League TV ratings

Which US city had the highest TV ratings on Fox for Chelsea's dramatic Champions League final win over Bayern Munich? MIAMI, of course.

1. (tie) Miami, Austin (TX) 2.6

2. Dallas 2.2

3. (tie) Washington DC, New York City 2.1

Some people have already e-mailed me saying it is perplexing that a city that consistently tops US TV ratings for international soccer hasn't been a hotbed for MLS and Strikers struggle to draw. I don't find it perplexing. Au contraire. This is a very soccer-savvy market. People here devour the World Cup, Champions League, La Liga, EPL. They know who the world's top players are, and their children wear those jerseys around town more than they wear Dolphin jerseys (I see it in my daughter's middle school..when it's jersey day, way more kids wear Barca, Real Madrid, ManU jerseys than NFL or MLB. Only Heat competes). Now that there is SO MUCH European and South American soccer on TV, fans here would rather watch their favorite teams and stars on TV than sit in a local stadium and watch teams and players they don't identify with. Soccer snobs? Perhaps. But it is what it is. For MLS to work here, my opinion, needs to be the right owner, with a 25,000-seat high-quality soccer-specific stadium in Miami, and some star players to get people excited. 

In other soccer news Tuesday, beINsports USA, Al Jazeera's new US soccer broadcasting arm, is reporting that it hired veteran broadcaster Phil Schoen, who had been doing LaLiga games for GOL-TV since 2003. Other big names are expected to follow, both English and Spanish-speaking.

beINsports will own rights to LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue 1...and don't be surprised if they go after English Premier League next. Question is whether they'll get cable contracts done in time for August 1 launch.

Their broadcast center will be in Miami, at Imagina studios. Stay tuned...GOL, FOX, ESPN certainly paying close attention.

Reminder: Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Lockhart Stadium: Ft. Lauderdale Strikers vs. Fresno Fuego in US Open Cup second round. Winner goes to Stanford, Calif. May 29 to face MLS San Jose Earthquakes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Poll: PKs vs. Golden Goal

Drogba, Chelsea, Strikers, etc...

Monday Musings...

1. WOW! How else to describe the ending of that Champions League final? No score for 83 minutes, then two goals, Didier Drogba has a chance to win it for Chelsea in extra time, doesn't, but winds up hero of the day with the clinching PK in one of the most dramatic CL finals in history. So, Chelsea -- 6th place in Premier League -- wins the Champions League title, and in doing so, earns automatic berth in next year's CL, and relegates fourth-place Tottenham to the Europa League. Did you watch? What are your thoughts? Do you like the PK system or should they keep playing for a golden goal?

2. For the second year in a row, South Florida fans will get to see the Champions League winner up close! Chelsea plays AC Milan in a July 28 friendly at Sun Life Stadium. Tickets on sale through Ticketmaster. Also, on June 23, Lionel Messi, Didier Drogba, Diego Forlan, Falcao are among the stars playing at Sun Life in the World Soccer Masters tour.

3. Tuesday night, the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers host the Fresno (Calif.) Fuego in the second round of the US Open Cup (our version of FA Cup). The Fuego is an amateur team made up primarily of college players. They play in the USL-Premier Development League and last year topped their division with a 13-0-3 record. They were riding a 28-game regular-season unbeaten streak before losing 3-1 to OC Blue Star this past Saturday night. The Strikers (2-3-3) are coming off a 3-1 home loss to the Minnesota Stars. Winner of Tuesday's match plays the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS next week in Stanford, Calif.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mamma Mia! Survival Sunday!

Mamma Mia! What a Mother's Day lineup we have for Survival Sunday!

For the first time ever, all 10 English Premier League final-day matches will be shown live, simultaneously, on American T.V. We've got Man City and Man U down to the wire for the league title (Man City needs a win over Queens Park Rangers to clinch). QPR (37 pts) has lots to play for, too, as it is one of three teams trying to avoid relegation, along with Aston Villa (38) and Bolton (35). Newcastle is fighting for a Champions League spot.

Mother's Day 10 a.m. Lineup:

Sunderland vs. Manchester United —
FX /FOX Deportes

Chelsea vs. Blackburn Rovers — Speed

Swansea vs. Liverpool — Fuel TV

West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal — FSN

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fulham — Fox Soccer

Stoke City vs. Bolton Wanderers — Fox Soccer Plus (premium channel)

Everton vs. Newcastle United — Foxsoccer.com (digital)

Norwich City vs. Aston Villa — Fox Soccer 2Go (digital)

Wigan Athletic vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — Fox Soccer 2Go

Manchester City vs. Queens Park Rangers — ESPN2

In other news, U.S. forward Clint Dempsey, who leads Fulham with 23 goals, will not play in the season finale vs. Tottenham because of a groin injury. His 17 league goals rank fourth behind
Robin Van Persie (30), Wayne Rooney (26), and Sergio Aguero (22).

Dempsey is being wooed by Arsenal and Liverpool, which would be MASSIVE for American soccer.

Said Fox commentator Rob Stone: "Rarely have we seen an American field player on a high-profile team. To see `Dempsey' on the back of an Arsenal jersey or a Liverpool jersey is big news. Goals are sexy, goals are what sell, and he's scoring goals.''

Monday, May 07, 2012

Chelsea vs. AC Milan in Miami! July 28!

Circle July 28 on your calendar. Chelsea and AC Milan are coming to Sun Life Stadium as part of the World Football Challenge.

Last summer's Barcelona vs. Chivas match was such a huge success (71,000 fans) that big-time international soccer is coming back.

Tickets start at $29 and go on sale THIS Thursday, May 10, through Ticketmaster. Kickoff for the match is 6 p.m.

“Miami is a soccer hotbed,” said Mike Dee, CEO of the Miami Dolphins. “This announcement continues the tradition of bringing world-class events to our facility.”

Chelsea has never played here. AC Milan last played here against the Colombian national team in 1994 in front of 57,000 fans.





Battle to Avoid the Drop!

Happy Monday.

Well, happy if you're a ManCity fan. The sky blues remain atop ManU after beating Newcastle 2-0 on Sunday, so if they win their final match, they will be EPL champions for the first time since 1968. Newcastle, meanwhile, remains in fifth place behind Tottenham, one spot shy of a Champions League berth.

The big match today is Wigan vs. Blackburn (3 p.m., ESPN Deportes). Resurgent Wigan is in 17th place with 37 points, Blackburn in 19th place with 31. Blackburn is desperate to avoid relegation. Wigan hopes to build up its cushion with some points today.

Right now, bottom of table looks like this:

Queens Park Rangers 37

Wigan 37

Bolton 35

Blackburn 31

Wolverhampton 25