Posts Tagged ‘WPS’

Soccer Spectating Report 7-26 June: Gold Cup Edition

The CONCACAF Gold Cup came and went with the US Men’s National Team’s uninspiring loss. The Boston Breakers are treading water and the New England Revolution are abysmal so things are pretty miserable in my soccer world. Luckily the Women’s World Cup is starting and hopefully that will lift my spirits.

Canada 0:2 United States (June 7)

The USMNT opened their Gold Cup campaign with a satisfying win against our neighbors to the north.  Clint Dempsey’s goal was especially pleasing.  Tim Howard made several dramatic saves in the second half to keep Canada from getting back in the game.

New York Red Bulls 2:1 New England Revolution (10 June)

The Revolution once again fought back late, showing that at times they do have some talent, but it was too little too late to get a point on the road against Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls.

Panama 2:1 United States (11 June)

Hopefully this game can be a wake-up call about underestimating one’s opponents.  Panama is better than expected but the US really shot themselves in the foot in their first ever loss in Gold Cup group play.

United States 1:0 Guadeloupe (14 June)

This was a “must-win” for the USMNT and the game was really not much in doubt, but the result is still startlingly close considering how often the US tested the Guadeloupe goal.

New England Revolution 1:1 Chicago Fire (18 June)

Once again the Revs were shaky in the first half and settled down to play in the second half.  Rajko Lekic got off the schneid with his 48th minute goal, but once again too little too late.  This game was marred also by Gillette Stadium security using excessive force to regulate profanity by supporters in The Fort.  This team and this season are just ugly, ugly, ugly.

United States 2:0 Jamaica (19 June)

After a shaky group stage the USMNT finally appeared to be coming into form with this quarterfinal victory over the Reggae Boyz.  Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey scored the goals.

Atlanta 0:0 Boston (19 June)

With the top players off to prepare for the Women’s World Cup and Georgia under some oppressive heat, the two sides endured a grueling if lethargic draw.  Hey, a point on the road, right?

United States 1:0 Panama (22 June)

The USMNT extracted a measure of revenge against the still competitive Panama side with this semifinal victory.  Clint Dempsey once again provided the goal scoring on an assist by Landon Donovan.  Freddy Adu was a surprise substitute and played impressively.

Mexico 2:0 Honduras (22 June)

I had good intentions of watching more than just the USMNT games in the Gold Cup but this semifinal is the only non-US game I caught.  Mexico was truly the class of the tournament but a scrappy Honduran side held them scoreless until extra time.  Then the wheels fell off and Mexico scored twice including a “crotch shot” by Chicharito.

United States 2:4 Mexico (25 June)

First the positives.  It was an exciting, dramatic game and it was great to see the USMNT get off to a hot start with two early games.  After that, it was awful.  The US could not defend to save their lives and Mexico scored four unanswered goals in front of an audience largely made up of Mexico supporters.  Mexico is obviously the better team right now but it didn’t need to be this ugly.  This is obviously a wake-up call for the USMNT if they hope to get the team deep into the 2014 World Cup.

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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 10-15 May

Palermo 2:1 AC Milan (10 May)

It’s been a while since I checked in on Italian football so when I saw that my putative favorite Serie A side was hosting the home leg  of the Coppa Italia semi-final, I decided to check it out.  It was a fun game with some  exciting goals and Berlusconi’s Bandits reduced to ten men.   It looked closer than in reality since the Milan goal did not come until stoppage time.  Palermo are now through to the Coppa Italia final for the first time since 1979 where they face Inter.

Western New York Flash 3:2 Boston Breakers (13 May)

I’m kind of stretching the limits of soccer games I watched since there was no tv or radio coverage of this game and thus I was left to following the online match tracker.  Western NY are rapidly becoming the team to beat and hated rivals as they were able to defeat Boston without Marta, Christine Sinclair and Alex  Morgan playing. The Breakers managed to make things respectable by coming back from 2 goals down twice and playing a good second half but too little too late to steal a point.

New England Revolution 1:0 Vancouver Whitecaps (14 May)

The Revolution are taking their time getting things together as a team, but this game was mostly another positive step forward.  The Revs earned a win and their second straight shutout under sloppy, wet conditions.  Benny Feilhaber drew a penalty shortly after halftime and Shalrie Joseph converted the penalty kick.  Feilhaber should have doubled the score but his goal was erroneously called back as offside.  The Revs strong second half also saw a good shot by Sainey Nyassi stopped by Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly.

Ajax 3:1 FC Twente (15 May)

One of the downsides (for me) of European football it lacks the drama of an end-of-season match to decide the league championship.  By serendipity the Dutch Eredvisie season ended with the first place team Twente (71 points) playing at second place Ajax (70 points) effectively making the final game of the season a championship game.  Twente had the advantage of a win or tie giving them the title, while Ajax had home field advantage.  Siem de Jong scored 2 goals for the home side and a Twente own goal gave Ajax a comfortable win for their first championship in 7 years and 30th total.  It’s very exciting to see one of “my teams” earn a championship.

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Soccer Spectating Report 19 April-9 May

The European season is coming to an exciting conclusion while the MLS gets into full swing. Here’s three weeks of soccer highlights.

New England Revolution 3:2 Sporting Kansas City (23 April)

This game was the culmination of an exciting week – striker Rajko Levic’s first home game, the debut of midfielder Benny Feilhaber and the premier of the Revolution’s new shirt sponsor.  While I’m not too excited by corporate advertising on the jerseys themselves I do appreciate that it will improve revenue for the team.  The game was exciting come from behind win with Feilhaber helping set up the first goal and Lekic scoring the game winner with captain Shalrie Joseph scoring as well.

DC United 2:3 New England Revolution (26 April)

The Revs traveled to Maryland for a US Open Cup qualifier, playing an almost entirely different lineup from their previous game against Kansas City.  It was a good sign of the depth of the team as the Revs easily took a 3-goal lead with two goals by Kheli Dube and one by Alan Koger.  They let up towards the end of the game allowing United to get back two points but the Revs held on for the win and advance to the next qualifier versus KC.

Real Madrid 0:2 Barcelona (27 April)

This game had everything: the mad rants and eventual expulsion of José Mourinho, Real’s negative play and hard tackles,  Barça’s excessive play-acting, and lots of fisticuffs on and off the field.  Of course none of these were good soccer and an embarrassment to the game.  Imagine a novice soccer spectator being told that two of the best clubs in the world were playing in the world’s premier tournament and then seeing every soccer stereotype acted out.  Luckily there is Lionel Messi whose two brilliant goals in the final 15 minutes were a joy to behold.

Real Salt Lake 0:1 Monterrey (27 April)

I rooted against Real in the afternoon in one Champions League and for Real in the evening in another Champions League.  Real Salt Lake historically made it to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League and tied against Monterrey 2:2 on the Mexican leg of the final.  Unfortunately, RSL was not able to secure a MLS bye in the Club World Club despite a lot of pressure on the Monterrey goal and good chances in the final 20 minutes.

Chivas USA 3:0 New England Revolution (30 April)

Hello gut punches, I remember you!  The new players and wins against KC and DC built up a lot of excitement for the road game against one of MLS’s weaker sides.  The Revs lost and lost bad as the Goats scored twice in the first half and sealed the game in the 57th minute.  I guess it was lucky that I wasn’t able to get video of the game, just audio from the Revs website.  And the audio cut out after the third goal and I couldn’t restore it.

SC Herenveen 1:2 AFC Ajax (1 May)

An exciting Eredivisie season is coming to a climax and Ajax came from behind to win their second-to-last match.  Herenveen scored in the 19th minute but Ajax calmly responded in less than a minute with Miralem Sulejmani’s equalizer.  Christian Eriksen put Ajax ahead for good right at the start of the second half.  Ajax stands in second place one point behind FC Twente and face that team at Amsterdam Arena for the final game of the season on 15 May that will decide the Eredivisie championship.  Interestingly the same two teams met for the Dutch Cup final on 8 May which was won by FC Twente 3:2.  Hup Ajax!

Boston Breakers 1:0 Sky Blue FC (1 May)

The Breakers won their first home game and broke a two-game losing streak on Rachael Buhler’s goal in the 53rd minute.  A week later though, they lost 2-0 away to Philadelphia.

Barcelona 1:1 Real Madrid (3 May)

A better game than the first tie of the Champions League semi-finals with the home side dominating the first half and going up 1-0 in Pedro’s goal in the 54th minute.  Real Madrid made things interesting when Marcelo Vieria equalized ten minutes later but it was too little too late.  Barça advances to the final against Manchester United at Wembley on May 28th.

New England Revolution 0:0 Colorado Rapids (7 May)

Accentuate the positive: the Revolution got a point from the defending MLS Cup champions and their first shutout of the season.  On the downside, the Revs failed to score themselves despite having long periods of dominating the attack and shots by both Ryan Cochrane and Benny Feilhaber hit the crossbar and Shalrie Joseph missed a golden opportunity.  I guess this is baby steps for recovering from the Chivas lost and bringing the team together.

Fulham 2:5 Liverpool (8 May)

Things got ugly quick at Craven Cottage as Fulham went down by three goals to Liverpool in the first 15 minutes. Maxi Rodriguez would net a hat trick in this laugher for the Liverpool side.  It’s quite a recovery for Liverpool who were in the relegation zone a few months ago and now are challenging for a spot in the Europa League.  I just wish the Red Sox ownership purchased Everton instead.

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Soccer Spectating Report: Boston Breakers Home Opener

I only managed to watch one soccer game in the past week but I watched it live and in person at Harvard Stadium in Allston, MA.

Boston Breakers 1:2 Western New York Flash (17 April)

Western New York are a WPS expansion team but they have several good players (including some from defunct WPS champions FC Gold Pride) such as Canadian international star Christine Sinclair and rookie and #1 draft pick Alex Morgan.  They also have the best player in the world, Brazilian international Marta, but she was not available for this game.  Sinclair and Morgan seemed to be constantly attacking the Breakers’ nets and the Flash definitely played the better game.  In the first half there were several close calls including one shot that got past Alysa Naeher but was fortunately cleared at the last moment by Breakers’ defender Stephanie Cox.  Western New York’s inevitable first goal came in the 64th minute on a counterattack by the ever-pesty Morgan who fed the ball to Sinclair for the goal.  Gemma Davidson put it out of reach in the final minute of the game.  In stoppage time, Breakers fans did get to cheer Kelly Smith’s goal but it was too little, too late.

My companion for this game was my 3 1/2 year old son Peter.   Heading home from child care on Friday night we passed Harvard Stadium and saw it being set up for the Breakers.  From that moment on, Peter asked over and over again to go to the Breakers’ game.  I figured that we’d end up walking around the stadium, visiting the concession stands often and leaving the game early.  Surprisingly, Peter was entranced by the game, watching the whole thing and asking lots of questions.  He even made us move down to the front row so he could peek over the wall for a better view.  Late in the game he started cheering and shouting for the Breakers and every time the Flash approached the net he would shake and yell “Stop black team, STOP!”  His attention wasn’t totally undivided as he liked watching the drummers in the hardcore supporters section, the frisbee dogs at half-time, and taking dozens of pictures with my camera, but I was pretty impressed.  He enjoys playing soccer with  his friends in the playground which often ends up with them tackling one another to the ground and piling on.  He noticed that the Breakers and the Flash did not tackle one another like this, so perhaps it will inspire a new era of clean soccer tactics at child care.

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Soccer Spectating Report 5-10 April

Barcelona 5:1 Shakhtar Donetsk (6 April)

Barça made quick work of their Ukrainian opponents with half the starting squad scoring goals in this laugher at Camp Nou.  [Note:  I didn’t watch the second leg, but Barcelona won it as well 0-1 for a 6-1 aggregate victory and a secure spot in the Champions League semifinals).

Chelsea 0:1 Manchester United (6 April)

I didn’t plan to watch this game, but it was on the TV in the pub.  I can’t find a rooting interest in the contest of these two clubs because it’s like watching the Yankees play the …. well, the Yankees.  I was impressed by the passing, ball possession, and up-tempo run of play though.  Got to admit that these sides have good quality.  Wayne Rooney score the loan goal.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1:1 New England Revolution (6 April)

A weird game which saw two Whitecaps and one Rev sent off.  Weirdest of all is Vancouver’s Eric Hassli scoring on a penalty kick and then being immediately red carded for removing his jersey (under which he was wearing an identical jersey).  The Revs were up 11 men to 9 for a good part of the game but failed to score.  Ilija Stolica scored a last-gasp goal in stoppage game to save a point for the Revs.  A point on the road amidst a wild crowd and crazy officiating isn’t a bad thing, but the Revs could’ve/should’ve done much better.

Atlanta Beat 1:4 Boston Breakers (9 April)

The Breakers opened their season with an impressive goal barrage in Atlanta.  Not that I got to see this game as there is no web streaming (is there any TV coverage at all?) so I just followed a web cast.  Jordan Angeli, Keelin Winters, Kelly O’Hara & Kasey Moore all scored.  The bad news is that Angeli has suffered an injury that will keep her from playing the rest of the season.

Real Salt Lake 2:0 New England Revolution (9 April)

The Revs undefeated start to the season came to the end with this loss in Foxboro.  Not surprising considering their weak performance and luck in previous matches not to mention that RSL is  one the top sides in MLS.  Still it’s disappointing as the Revs were anemic on the attack and poor at passing.  The officiating once again made itself too well known with three players (2 NE, 1 RSL) finding themselves red carded.

I haven’t been able to (wake up early enough) to watch my favorite European sides lately but they’re doing well.  Everton dispatched Wolverhampton 0-3 this past weekend to extend their unbeaten streak to 6 gamesAfter all the worries about relegation, Everton are now in 7th place with a chance of unseating Liverpool for 6th place, but hopes are slim to none for getting a bid in European competition.  Ajax are also on a hot streak playing 7-2-1 in a recent stretch.  They’re in third place, 3 points behind the table toppers FC Twente who will be there opponents in the final match of the Eredivisie season.

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Soccer Heartbreak and Gut Punches

The local teams provided the heartbreak and gut punches this week although I also watched some entertaining European matches, albeit lacking the same emotional commitment.

AFC Ajax 5:0 MVV Maastricht (22 Sep 2010) – This KNVB Cup match saw Ajax hosting a Eerste Divisie (Dutch first division) opponent.  There was no upset by the minnows from Maasricht with the game clearly a romp by Ajax.  Ajax even started some of their younger players such as Florian Jozefzoon who scored his first goal.  The rout wasn’t interesting but the web stream I watched had Dutch commentary in the first half and no commentary at all in the second half.  I enjoyed listening to the crowd chants and drumming, and even the shouts of the players on the field.  Match report.

FC Dallas 2:2 New England Revolution (22 Sep 2010) – This is my fault.  I started writing the match report in my head at about 75 minutes.  I was excited that the Revs could play on the road versus a team with a 15-game undefeated streak and carry out a convincing shutout.  They even survived a penalty kick by FC Dallas that went wide.  Then in the 80th minute Darrius Barnes took down David Ferreira in the penalty area and he didn’t miss the PK this time.  Suddenly it was a knuckle-biter to see if the Revs could hold on for the win but Jeff Cunningham’s stoppage-time equalizer seemed almost inevitable.  Match report.

Boston Breakers 1:2 (OT) Philadelphia Independence (23 Sep 2010) – The WPS Super Semifinal started well with the Breakers hosting in Harvard’s new soccer stadium which has less seating more spacious field and a complete absence of football gridiron markings.  The Breakers scored first on Lauren Cheney’s 22nd minute goal and had the better run of play in the first half although Caroline Seger equalized for Philadelphia in the 29th minute.  Boston looked outmatched and tired in the second half but held the score to a 1-1 tie into overtime.  Then came the heartbreak on an apparent handball by Philadelphia’s Danesha Adams.  Handball or not, the Breakers lethargic play allowed too many opportunities for Philadelphia.  They put together a great desperation attack in the final minutes with one excellent chance on goal, but it was too little, too late.  Match report.

FC Twente 2:2 AFC Ajax – Another hotly contested Eredivisie match for Ajax this time against the reigning title holders.  The pre-game histrionics at Twente’s Grolsch Veste included banners the size of entire section of the stadium, explosions and red flares, and unison singing of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (at least Wikipedia says it is that song, it sounded like something else, maybe being sung in Dutch?).   They put US sports’ fans to shame. Ajax went down early on a gorgeous finish by Twente’s midfielder Theo Jansen.  Ajax equalized a few minutes later with a clean follow-up by Morrocan star Mounir El Hamdaoui.  Jansen scored again an hour into the game but Ajax fired back six minutes later with a blistering long-range shot by Eyong Enoh.  That was all the scoring but this was an exciting, fast-paced game with lots of end-to-end play, shots deflected by the wood, and great saves by the keepers.  A point well earned for Ajax.   Match report.

Athletic Bilbao 1:3 FC Barcelona (25 Sep 2010) – In the pouring rain, Barça faced off their host in a another Messi-less league match.  I learned that Bilbao tries to maintain a roster of players entirely from the Basque country and despite the limited player pool have never been relegated and are among the top La Liga teams of all time.  Nevertheless, they were no match for the champions who may have been a little sloppy in the mud and should’ve had more goals.  Bilbao should get some credit for managing to hold Barcelona goalless for almost an hour despite losing a player to a red card.  Things were interesting in the last five minutes of the match when Barça lost David Villa to a red card and Bilbao scored their goal to make it 1:2.  Busquets ended any intrigue with Barça’s third goal in stoppage time.  Match report.

New England Revolution 2:2 Columbus Crew (25 Sep 2010) – I hate reruns.  In this case, the Revolution had a convincing 2-0 lead (scoring the first goal 80 seconds into the match) against one of the top teams in the MLS, only to allow their opponent to score two goals late in the second half and settle for a tie.  How can a team so low in the standings with no realistic hope for the playoffs still have so many gut-punching loses?  Match report.

FC Gold Pride 4:0 Philadelphia Independence (26 Sep 2010) – The WPS Championship match featured the best team by far in the WPS facing the upstart spoilsports from Philadelphia.  I actually hoped that the Independence would make something of their unlikely position in the final after eliminating the Breakers, but it was not be.  I’ve grown fond of Amy Rodriguez and glad that we have her on the US national team at least.  The star for the Independence however was goalkeeper Val Henderson who made several great saves while the rest of her team could do little before in front of her.  Still, 4 goals ended up in the Independence’s net and that was that for the WPS season and congratulations to FC Gold Pride for dominating the 2010 season. Match report.

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