I watched a lot of soccer the past few days while visiting my in-laws where I had two things I don’t usually have at home: 1) an abundance of free time and 2) the Fox Soccer Channel. I crave having FSC in my own home but it’s probably for the best that I don’t. Lest it seem that I did nothing but watch tv, I also spent a lot of time running around with my son and nephew, including kicking around a soccer ball.
Wigan Athletic v Chelsea (21 Aug 2010) – I watched the second half of this game which demonstrated the lack of competitive balance in the English Premier League. Chelsea scored 5 of their 6 goals in this half shutting out Latics. On the same day Arsenal defeated Blackpool by the same score. Not much fun at all. Match report.
Fulham vs. Manchester United (22 Aug 2010) – This was a very entertaining game, but first off I must mention how charmed I was by Fulham’s very old school grounds at Craven Cottage. If I ever get to see an EPL game in person this is where I’d like to watch it from. I also enjoyed the humbling of a football superpower who should have gone away with a win but had to settle for a 2-2 tie. Fulham’s Brede Hangeland could have been the goat when his own-goal put Man U ahead with 7 minutes to go, but became the hero by scoring the equalizer in the 89th minute. In between those two goals Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale also heroically saved a penalty kick. Other things I like about Fulham is that they have on their roster US MNT star (and former Rev) Clint Dempsey and Irish international Damien Duff. I think I’ll add them to my list of teams to follow. Match report.
Manchester City vs. Liverpool (23 Aug 2010) – All I know about Manchester City is that they are very Mets-like in how they under-perform compared to the their cross-town derby rivals Manchester United. I also know that the club’s owners have spent a ton of money in the offseason. Whether they will end up reversing their fortunes or being Met-ly big spenders/big losers remains to be seen. This game was a good start as they crushed a traditional football power in Liverpool. Match report.
RSC Anderlecht vs. FK Partizan Belgrade (24 Aug 2010) – I probably wouldn’t have watched this UEFA Champions League qualifier if not for my brother-in-law who became a Anderlecht supporter during his youth in Belgium. It was a pretty exciting game as Anderlecht game back from being down 2-nil in the second half and it looked like they had a third goal but the offside flag was up. Since the teams were tied on aggregate goals and away goals, the game went to extra time and then a penalty shootout where things got really embarrasing for Anderlecht. Goalkeeper Sivio Proto earned a raise by blocking two shots but three Anderlecht penalty takers sent their shots over the crossbars! They tried to blame a divot on the field but that didn’t stop Partizan from netting three penalties from the same spot for the win. Match report.
FC Barcelona vs. AC Milan (25 Aug 2010) – With 7 members of Spain’s World Cup Champion squad and Argentina’s Lionel Messi, I feel a little guilty throwing my lot behind an obvious superpower like Barça as a team I support. I like the team because they are supporter-owned and don’t wear a corporate logo on their jerseys and in fact donate money to UNICEF. Today’s game was a friendly Joan Gamper Trophy match against the equally illustrious AC Milan. The game served as an excuse to welcome back former Barça player Ronahildino and welcome new acquisition David Silva (the latter scored a goal). As these friendly tournaments go, this one ended in a 1-1 tie with Barcelona winning on penalty kicks. Match report.