Tuesday, August 16, 2011

MagicJack playoffs, UM vs. UF!

It's a big week for women's soccer in South Florida.

MagicJack, the Boca Raton-based Women's Professional Soccer team, hosts a quarterfinal Wednesday night (7:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel) against the Boston Breakers at FAU Soccer Stadium. MagicJack is led by Women's World Cup stars Abby Wambach (who doubles as player-coach), goalie Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx, and 36-year-old mother-of-two Christie Rampone. MagicJack finished third in the six-team league with a 9-7-2 record. Boston finished fourth at 5-9-4.

Solo is recovering from a right shoulder injury, and has been replaced by Jill Loyden.

The winner advances to a semifinal at second-place Philadelphia (11-4-3), and that winner plays first-place Western New York Flash (13-2-3), the team that features Brazilian star Marta, U.S. forward Alex Morgan and Canadian Christine Sinclair.

League attendance has jumped nearly 90 percent since the World Cup. Average attendance before the World Cup was 2,714, and it has been 5,176 since. MagicJack crowds have been between 3,000-4,000. Tickets are available through TicketMaster.

On Friday night, the University of Miami women's team takes on 9th-ranked University of Florida at Cobb Stadium. Anytime the Canes and Gators face off, it's a good time. It will be the UM debut for coach Tom Anagnost, who was hired from Central Michigan University.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marta scores 2 to beat MagicJack

Brazilian star Marta scored two goals to lead the Western New York Flash to a 2-1 win over magicjack at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton Wednesday night. Sophie Schmidt scored for magicjack in the 71st minute with an assist by US World Cup player Christie Rampone. The Flash leads the league with a 12-2-3 record. Magicjack is 8-7-2. Both have clinched playoff spots. MagicJack is home again Sunday at 4 p.m. against Philadelphia.

Klinsmann era has begun...

So, what do you think of the Klinsmann era after one game? Here's what I think...

The U.S. looked disorganized and a step slow the first half against Mexico, and was lucky to be trailing just 1-0. Edson Buddle, the lone striker, didn't get the ball much, and nothing seemed to be clicking. Second half -- particularly the final 30 minutes -- things changed. It all got going when subs Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea entered the game. They jump-started the Americans. Agudelo is aggressive, and unafraid, and a very promising forward who made some nice runs and passes. Brek Shea was a terrific add (despite his '80s hairdo). His beautiful cross in the 73rd minute is the reason Robbie Rogers had such an easy tap-in to tie the score 1-1. Shea also had a nice shot in the 83rd minute that could have been the game winner had the Mexican goalie not made a save. Rogers also brought energy to the US offense, and he appeared to be sprinting toward a second goal when Torrado dragged him down by the shirt (a red card in a regular game, but not in a friendly).

Landon Donovan remains the best US player on the field. Smart, fast, opportunistic, great passer.

What I liked most of all is that Klinsmann SMILED! A lot. He seemed loose and after the game said he "Had fun'' in his debut. A coach having FUN? Is that legal? Klinsmann is known for his enthusiasm, positive attitude and infectious energy, and we got a glimpse of it last night. He has accomplished nothing yet. A 1-1 friendly with Mexico means very little. There's a long road ahead for the US as it heads into World Cup qualifying next summer. But, if those final 20 minutes are an indication, I am optimistic. You?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Real Madrid signs 7-year-old! Bradley to Egypt?

Hey there Soccer-holics. Just getting back from vacation.

In case you missed it, here is my Sunday column addressing Miami's MLS hopes and new US coach Jurgen (no umlaut anymore) Klinsmann. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know. Would love to get more conversation going on this blog. Don't be afraid. Jump right in. Just keep it clean and respectful.

In other news, soccer matches all over London have been canceled today due to rioting. Very, very sad. London -- one of the great cities of the world -- is burning. Hope it stops soon.

Also read today that Real Madrid signed a 7-year-old! No, I'm not kidding. A 7-year-old Argentine kid signed with Real Madrid today. And his nickname is...Leo!  Read all about him here!

Finally, word is that former US coach Bob Bradley is in talks with Egypt about becoming their coach. Good man. Wish him well wherever he lands.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Chivas stuns Barca 4-1!!

Hi from Sun Life Stadium..place is rocking! Crowd of 70,080 is largest for soccer match in state history! Heavy traffic getting here. A sea of Barca jerseys in the stands (mostly Messi's No. 10)

Barca's starting 11: Pinto, Piqué, Thiago, Xavi, Villa, Keita, Dos Santos, Abidal, Fontàs, Carmona, Cuenca

Chivas starting 11: Michel, DeLuna, Reynoso, Araujo, Esparza, Fabian, Arellano, Medina, Ponce, Baez, Mejia

National anthem. Fireworks! Here we go...

 Chivas nearly takes lead in second minute, but Barca defender Abidal clears it off line in time.

David Villa GOOOAL! fourth minute. Barca 1, Chivas 0.

Halftime: Barca 1, Chivas 0.

Second half: Xavi, Villa, Pique out. Iniesta, Pedro, Busquets in.

60th minute, Chivas SCORES! Golazo by Marco Fabian, into upper left corner to tie the score 1-1.

63rd minute. WOW! Fabian finds back of net again, this one on a gorgeous scissor kick to give Chivas 2-1 lead. Crowd, stunned, begins to chant "Barca!"

72nd minute. Chivas strikes again! Giovanni Casillaas scores to make it 3-1.

And the Mexican team isn't done yet...Jose Luis Verduzco scores in extra time and it's 4-1 Chivas over Barca. Crowd -- and Barca bench -- are stunned. Exhibition, yes. But nobody expected this score.


MagicJack to fold?

The Women's Professional Soccer league and Dan Borislow, the unorthdox, controversial owner of the Boca Raton-based MagicJack team, have been feuding for quite some time, and it appears the league is so fed up it is seeking to terminate the club after this season. Here is today's press release from the league...

"Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) holds all teams and owners to a uniform professional standard, and all owners must agree to those standards in order to play in the League. When Dan Borislow took over as the majority owner of the Washington Freedom (now magicJack) franchise, Mr. Borislow had an obligation to follow, and embrace these standards and to honor the franchise’s commitments to the League, players and sponsors.

Mr. Borislow has failed to honor his commitments to the detriment of the League, our players and our partners. From unprofessional and disparaging treatment of his players to failure to pay his bills, Mr. Borislow’s actions have been calculated to tarnish the reputation of the League and damage the League’s business relationships. Now, Mr. Borislow has filed a baseless legal action against WPS. The League is not intimidated by Mr. Borislow’s unfounded claims and will not tolerate his mistreatment of players and flouting of the rules.

Mr. Borislow is asking a Florida court to bar the League from exercising its right to terminate his franchise at the end of the season for breach of his contractual obligations. No such entitlement exists under League contracts, and Mr. Borislow’s many contractual breaches more than justify any decision by the League to terminate his franchise.

“It is disappointing that rather than run a professional organization and partner with his fellow owners, Mr. Borislow has chosen to threaten the League by filing this action,” said WPS Board Chairman and Atlanta Beat Owner, T. Fitz Johnson. “All of us at WPS are involved in this business because we love the sport, we are committed to our incredible athletes and fans, and we know that there is a permanent place in sports for the women’s professional game.”

“We continue to focus on our world-class athletes and their accomplishments, and we won’t let the antics of one owner steal the moment from them and from our fans,” said Anne-Marie Eileraas, CEO, Women’s Professional Soccer. “We will defend the League against Mr. Borislow’s latest attack and will continue to hold all of our teams to the same professional standards in order to protect our players, fans, teams, partners and the integrity of the sport.”

It would truly be a shame if the two sides can't work this out. In the wake of the Women's World Cup buzz, MagicJack has been a hot ticket. The club drew a league-record 15,404 in Rochester (Abby Wambach's hometown) for a game against Western NY, drew 9,345 for a game in Atlanta, and last week drew team-record crowds of 3,200 at FAU for their first two home games since the World Cup.

 They have a home game tonight at 7 against New Jersey. Stay tuned!


Monday, July 18, 2011

WWC outdraws All-Star Game, British Open

Women's World Cup postscript: Much of America is suffering from post-WWC hangover this morning.

Here's what's going on in the news...

1. WWC final drew an 8.6 rating on ESPN. British Open golf got 2.6. Last week's Major League Baseball's All-Star Game 7.9. Top markets for the Women's World Cup were Baltimore, San Diego, West Palm Beach, DC, Norfolk. The 1999 final, played in the US and shown on ABC, got 11.4.

2. Abby Wambach and Hope Solo on Letterman Tuesday night.

3. WWC Final set a Twitter record for tweets/second (7,196). Brazil's Copa America loss to Paraguay yesterday, also on PKs, was close behind at 7,166. Both beat Osama's death and royal wedding of Will and Kate.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heartbreaker. Sigh...

Alex Morgan!!! 1-0 USA over Japan!!! WOW! 69th minute. TAlk about tension. Youngest player on the team, great future. Buckle your seat belts. Where are you watching? TEll us about the atmosphere. We were invited to several watch parties. Very cool day for Women's Sports. Just heard from Donna Shalala, UM prez, who is there as guest of US Soccer. SAys it's a wild scene.

Uh-oh! Don't celebrate yet. Japan scores to make it 1-1 with 10 minutes to go...US defense clears twice to the middle and gives Japan the goal. American fans groaning.

Abby Wambach to the rescue again! Unbelievable! Header in extra time 103rd minute off Alex Morgan beautiful cross. WOW. USA 2, Japan 1.

NO WAY! SAWA Scores for Japan! Her fifth goal in six games. Amazing. She has played in five World Cups, and it shows. USA 2, Japan 2. This is killing me. What a game.

Going to PKs. Unreal. 

Funny sign: Marry me Hope! I'm Solo!

PKs. Let's go...OHNO! Shannon Boxx misses. OHNO AGAIN! Lloyd over the post. Tobin Heath, who just came in, also misses. Three misses in a row. OHMYGOODNESS. US loses in PKs. They look stunned. So heartbreaking for the US team after so much drama and after capturing the American imagination. Two US leads, and they lose. Japan is the world champion, beats USA for first time in 25 tries.

Abby Wambach classy in post-game interview.

Your thoughts?

Friday, July 15, 2011