Posts Tagged ‘Euro 2012’

Soccer Spectating Report 16 May-6 June

With the Champions League final, the European season comes to the end. I watched a lot of teams and lot of games and determined that the clubs I like best are Everton of the English Premier League and Ajax of the Dutch Eredivisie. Next year I’m thinking I’ll try to watch as many games featuring those clubs as possible as well as pick out one other “game of the week” featuring European sides. I’ll also continue following Ireland in their Euro 2012 campaign. Of course I plan to continue supporting my home teams the New England Revolution and the Boston Breakers and maybe check out some games from Mexico, South America, Australia and Japan. But I do plan to lower the intensity and I don’t intend to continue writing about it.

I figured this would be my last soccer spectating report, but with the USMNT competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the USWNT hoping to regain the Women’s World Cup, I think I will make two more soccer spectating reports before I quit.

United States 2:0 Japan (18 May)

Another Women’s World Cup warm-up for the USWNT and it felt like it.  It was not an exciting win and Japan seemed overmatched while both sides were more focused on testing things out.  But a win’s a win.

Everton 1:0 Chelsea (22 May)

An exciting final game for Everton who defeated Chelsea on a late-game goal by Jermaine Beckford after they’d been reduced to 10 men.  Everton’s  late season form helps them finish in 7th place which is about as good as one can expect right now with the Big 6 dominating the top 6 spots.

Sporting KC 5:0 New England Revolution (25 May)

Egads, the Revs crushed all the hopes built up by their good performance in their game against DC United in this truly awful US Open Cup qualifier in a torrential downpour in Kansas City.  Well, let’s hope they can make something of the league season at least.

Barcelona 3:1 Manchester United (28 May)

United started off strong, and the goal by Wayne Rooney was impressive, but otherwise were totally overmatched by Barcelona in this UEFA Champions League final.  Barça showed that they are truly great teams of all time by dominating the English league champions.

New England Revolution 0:1 Los Angeles Galaxy (28 May)

The Revs showed some signs of life in the second life, but not enough to avoid yet another shutout.  One kind of hopes that they’ll finally pull things together and start playing more competitively for all 90 minutes, but the season is slipping away.

United States 0:4 Spain (4 June)

I had tickets to this game but did not see it live because after being stuck in horrendous traffic was faced with paying $40 for parking at Gillette Stadium who would not accept credit cars.  So rather than find a bank and pay extortionate rates for half a  game I gave up.  It’s really a shame that the Krafts built their temple of greed in the middle of nowhere rather than in the urban core near public transportation.  We watched the replay on ESPN3 and it was disappointing as well.  Spain started their best players and dominated.  Bob Bradley tinkered with his lineup – perhaps a little understandable with the the Gold Cup coming up – but disappointing to people who paid a lot of money to see (or not be able to see) their team compete.

Macedonia 0:2 Ireland (4 June)

Ireland kept themselves in a good position for Euro 2012 qualifying with captain Robbie Keane scoring both the goals.

Boston Breakers 2:1 magicJack (5 June)

Boston picks up another 3 points against the worst-named team in WPS with Meghan Klingenberg scoring her first goal for the team.

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Soccer Spectating Report 21-30 March

Ireland 2:1 FYROM (26 Mar)

Ireland’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign resumed with this succesful home match.  The Irish capitalized on errors by Macedonian keeper Edin Nuredinovski for goals by Aiden McGready and Robbie Keane.  Ireland were obviously the better side although they rested on their laurels enough to allow Ivan Trickovski to cut the lead just before the half.  Still, Ireland hung on through second half to preserve the win and an important 3 points.

New England Revolution 2:1 DC United (26 Mar)

The Revolution want you to know that you shouldn’t tune in late for their games as for the second time these season they scored an early goal.  Eight minutes in the game, Shalrie Joseph set up Zack Schilawski (both of whom had an excellent game) for the opening goal.  In the 17th minute, Joseph doubled the score on a penalty kick.  Matt Reis had an excellent game in the net keeping DC scoreless until a penalty kick by Charlie Davies in the 91st minute.  There was some officiating weirdness in this game (benefiting the home side) but overall it was a positive result and a continuation of a great start to the season.

USA 1:1 Argentina (26 Mar)

Although ESPN acted as if it were “The Lionel Messi Show” this was in fact a home game friendly for the United States Men’s National Team.  The US was clearly outplayed in the first half with an Argentine goal inevitable.  They held out into the 42nd minute when Messi dribbled pass the defense passing to Angel DiMaria whose rebounded shot was sunk in the net by Esteban Cambiasso.  Tim Howard – deservedly the man of the match – was rightfully angry with his defenders for failing to help clear the ball.  The US made some positive changes during the half, most importantly adding Juan Agudelo to the attack and Agudelo would equalize for the US in the 59th minute.  The US played a much more positive game in the second half and together the two teams played a fun and exciting game before a massive crowd in New Jersey.

USA 0:1 Paraguay (29 Mar)

Coming after the high of the Argentina game, this was a bit of a disappointment as Paraguay scored early and the US failed to respond.  The home team did play well in the second half putting a lot of pressure on the opposing goal but did not capitalize.  It’s worth noting that it’s a friendly and with Bob Bradley trying out a new lineup it will hopefully be a learning opportunity to help improve the team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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International Draws

The past week has been dominated by international team games, including Euro 2012 qualifying and both the US men’s and women’s teams hosting friendlies in Philadelphia.

USA 1:1 China (6 Oct 2010) – The second of two games versus the People’s Republic as the US women tune up for the World Cup 2011 qualifiers (the USA won the first game in Georgia 2:1).  The team looked to be outplayed by a young Chinese side, falling behind on a gorgeous goal by Ma Jun at 37′.  The substitution of 21-year-old Alex Morgan in the second half gave the US a much needed spark (or “fresh young legs” as Julie Foudy kept saying) and Morgan scored her first ever international goal in the waning minutes of the match.  Obviously the lackluster performance of the team overall must take into account players returning from injury as well as formations being tested out in this friendly match. Match report.

Slovakia 1:1 Ireland (12 Oct 2010) – When last we saw Ireland’s Euro 2012 qualifying efforts they had opened with convincing wins against Armenia and Andorra.  This week they lost at home to Russia (in a game I didn’t watch) and drew with Slovakia in a game of wasted opportunities.  Ireland took the early lead but then all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane missed a golden opportunity from the field and more stunningly had a penalty shot blocked.  Ireland had to accept the tie and hold onto second place in Group B with the next match in March. Match report.

USA 0:0 Colombia (12 Oct 2010) – In the most sluggish and disappointing match of all I watched this week, the USA and Colombia slogged about with poor passing and poor finishing being the keys of the game.   The USA didn’t get a shot on a goal until nearly an hour into the game.  Again friendlies are a time to try out new players and strategies, so this isn’t the end of the world, but still, how can you go through a friendly without figuring out some way to score?  Match report.

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Slow Soccer Week

I didn’t have many games to watch this week as the European clubs took time off to allow their players to play in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.  I wonder what USA players on European teams do when all their teammates are off playing on their national teams?  I also tried to watch a Boston Breakers’ game but alas there was no one broadcasting it online.

New England Revolution 3:1 Seattle Sounders (4 Sep 2010) – It didn’t look promising for the Revolution on a four-game losing streak to face one of the MLS’ top teams in the midst of a win streak.  Something had to give and it was pleasantly surprising.  The Revolution scored three goals and hung on to a slim chance at the playoffs.  Even if nothing comes of it this season it was a fun game to watch and offers some promise of the Revolution’s future.  Interestingly enough, for all the times you see a scorching shot go just wide or straight at the goalkeeper, the Revolution’s first two goals by Tierney and Perovic just dribbled slowly over the goal line.  It goes to show that sometimes good passing and positioning succeeds where firepower fails.  Match report.

Ireland 3:1 Andorra (6 Sep 2010) – Ireland’s second Euro 2012 match was at home versus Andorra (they are apparently working their way through Europe alphabetically).  Ireland clearly outmatched Andorra and probably could have score more goals as well as not letting their guard down near the end of the first half when Andorra scored their lone goal.  Still it was nice to see Ireland get a win and take a lead in Group B.  Hopefully this will be akin to “batting practice” allowing the Irish side to build their confidence before facing tougher group opponents.  Match report.

I’ve got a full weekend of matches coming up. Woo-hoo!

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Soccer Week

1. FC Kaiserslautern 2:0  FC Bayern Munich (27 Aug 2010) – This game was hosted by the oddly named team (is that  like First National Bank?) in the same stadium where the 2006 World Cup debacle between USA & Italy took place.  Defending German and DFB-Pokal champions and Champions League runners up took on 1. FC Kaiserlautern who were also champions.  Of the second Bundesliga.  One would think that Bayern would romp over the recently promoted 1FCK.  One would be wrong.  Bayern played reminiscent of the US MNT getting many chances but unable to finish.  Meanwhile, 1FCK scored two quick goals near the end of the the first half which was all they need.  I tend to favor underdogs, especially plucky underdogs who defeat the champions in their first Bundesliga game in four years, so I think I’m adopting 1FCK as my new German team to follow.  Match report.

New England Revolution 1:2 Philadelphia Union (28 Aug 2010)

I was only able to watch the second half of this game so I had the misfortune of seeing the Revolution playing a man down attempting to defend a 1:0 lead.  They did well for a while but ultimately ran out of steam and lost the win in the 82nd minute and the tie in stoppage time.  For the second time in a row I’ve watched the Revolution throw away a winnable game in what is increasingly becoming a lost season (in between this game and the previous one I watched, the Revolution also lost 4-1 to Kansas City).  At least the Revolution can still win the Superliga cup on Wednesday.  Match report.

By the way, I’ve discovered The Midnight Ride, a fan-produced podcast with good coverage of the Revolution.

Boston Breakers 2:1 Philadelphia Independence (29 Aug 2010)

The Revolution’s female counterparts are faring much better in the WPS.  I only caught the last 20 minutes of the Breakers’ win which brought them closer to second place and shored up an almost certain spot in the postseason.  Watching the game I was a bit depressed to see the Independence playing in a small American football stadium with few fans, something of culture shock after watching so many European games.  At least I’ve learned that the Independence and Union will be moving into a soccer-specific stadium soon, although it is not in Philadelphia proper.  Actually, I figured out that the Boston Breakers are the only team in the WPS that actually play within the city limits of the city they’re named for.  Way to represent Breakers!  Match report.

Internazionale 0:0 Bologna (30 Aug 2010)

I’ve shied away from Serie A because of a perhaps unfair bias that Italian soccer is where all the stereotypes of soccer come to life:  defensive play, diving, not to mention match-fixing.  This match up of the 5-in-a-row defending champions Inter versus the cellar dweller Bologna should’ve been Chelsea-Wigan style smackdown.  It was not.  There was a lot of defense, diving, and who knows maybe even match-fixing.  Dull, dull, dull.  Match report.

New England Revolution 1:2 Monarcas Morelia (1 Sep 2010)

The Revs last chance for hardware in 2010 ended disappointingly in this hotly contested Superliga final.   Morelia pretty much dominated play although Revolution errors contributed to the loss, particularly the first goal which came on a penalty kick after a dumb foul.  Miguel Sabah won the game for Morelia with a gorgeous volley in the 75th minute.  The Revs showed some life with a nice goal of their own by Kevin Allston (his first with the Revs) in the 79th minute.  The Revs had some chances right up to the last second, but alas they will only be Superliga runners-up.  Still this was a fun, fast-paced game.  I enjoyed the passion that was evident on the field and in the stands even if I didn’t like the poor sportsmanship (such as Morelia’s time wasters or Revolution fans throwing things on the field).  Match report.

Armenia 0:1 Ireland (3 Sep 2010)

The Euro 2012 qualifying campaign kicks of this weekend and I’ve adopted my ancestral home squad of Ireland to follow.  At least until they are eliminated.   The opening match in Yerevan, Armenia was not exceptionally well-played but both sides had some action in front of the nets.  Armenia had one particularly breathtaking spell with several opportunities in a row before the Irish defense cleared the ball and Ireland’s skipper Robbie Keane so a can’t-miss-opportunity deflected by the post.  Finally, Ireland broke-through with a 76th minute goal by Keith Fahey, his first for the national team.  A good start to what I hope will be a strong Euro campaign by Ireland.

Other notes:

  • Following my train of thought regarding WPS teams named after cities I looked to see if there were any teams in London that have London in their name.  There are thirteen clubs in the Premier League and Football Leagues and many more in the lower divisions based in London and none of them have London in their name.  I suppose that the club would have to be based in the City of London to earn that name but I doubt there’s room for a stadium there.
  • This week the world of football lost a living link to the first World Cup when Franciso Varallo died.  Varallo played for Argentina the team that were runners up in the 1930 World Cup

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