Soccer Weekend


I’ve decided to update my weekly soccer-watching reports on Mondays instead of Fridays so that the posts will be up more immediately after most games are played.  I watched a lot this weekend (albeit some in highlight reels) so this is a pretty full post all the same.

Chivas USA 2:0 New England Revolution (10 Sep 2010) – The Revs took their playoff hopes to Los Angeles to face one of the worst teams in the leagues.  And played flat out embarrassingly falling behind in the first 6 minutes and hardly possessing the ball in the first half.   Hard to believe this is the same team that played so well against Seattle or for that matter even the team that suffered those disheartening losses against Chicago and Philadelphia. At least the team showed some life in those games. This side is all but mathematically eliminated. Match report.

AFC Ajax 2:0 Willem II (11 Sep 2010) – I missed the game but was able to watch a 9-minute highlight film on YouTube of my Amsterdam side’s home win.  Their opponent Willem II are from the Dutch city of Tilburg and are charmingly named for a Dutch king who reigned from 1840-49.  They just barely avoided relegation from the Eredivisie last season and were suitably outmatched by Ajax.  All the scoring took place on penalty shots though as Willem II players blatantly tripped up Ajax attackers in the penalty area in a nearly identical manner.  Uruguayan captain Luis Suarez handily fired both penaltieshttps://othemts.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5116&action=edit&message=10 into the net.  I’m pleased with the results but I’m always a little disappointed in a game when there’s no scoring from the field.  Match report.

FC Barcelona 0:2 Hércules CF (11 Sep 2010) – I also watched the highlight reel for this one.  Barça hosted at Camp Nou the Hércules club from Alicante who were just promoted from the Segunda Division.  In shades of the Kaiserlautern-Bayern match, Hércules totally outplayed their higher-ranked hosts with two exciting goals and some great defending and goal-keeping all while wearing bumble bee outfits.  Barcelona will just have to shake off this shocking loss as they head into their Champions League match opener versus Panathinaikos.  Match report.

Everton FC 3:3 Manchester United (11 Sep 2010) – The most exciting game of the day was in Liverpool.  Everton took an early lead on a Steven Pienaar goal and along with some fine stops by goalkeeper Tim Howard things were looking good.  But then Man Utd scored 3 unanswered goals and it looked like a romp.  The dramatic conclusion came in stoppage time at the end of the game where Everton scored not one but two goals by Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta to steal a point away from the match.  Everton even had yet another chance as the final whistle blew. Wow! Very reminiscent of Man Utd’s draw with Fulham.   Match report.

Fulham FC 2:1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (11 Sep 2010) – Speaking of Fulham, here’s another good game with an exciting finish.  Fulham went down a goal in the first half and then lost forward Bobby Zamora to a broken leg.  Mousa Dembele turned things around with an equalized near the start of the second half and the winner in stoppage time for Fulham’s first win of the season to go with three draws.  Match report.

Mainz 05 2:1 1. FC Kaiserlautern (12 Sep 2010) – 1FCK won me over with their scrappy upset of Bayern.  In this game they attempted to continue their success on the road in a regional derby (although a fairly recent one) with Mainz 05.  The Mainz spectators creeped me out with their pregame tableau of a skull-covered ziggurat and a priest ripping out the heart of 1FCK.  The Red Devils tried to rip out the heart of Mainz with the first goal of the match at 21 minutes which they held for some time despite being outplayed (and being “bad boys” – as the commentator noted – accruing numerous yellow cards).  Sadly, the home side equalized at 71 minutes and went ahead 3 minutes later, and that was that. Match report.

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Forming an Association with Football (aka Soccer)


For many, many years I’ve been meaning to pay more attention to soccer.  It’s a sport I enjoy both on the field as well as it’s history and folklore. Soccer has been part of my life since I was a child and played in the Stamford Youth Soccer League and watched New York Cosmos games. Yet I find many obstructions to following the game today outside of the quadrennial FIFA World Cup.  These include:

  1. I live in the United States where soccer coverage is hard to come by, even for our local professional teams.  I seem to be able to take in news of American Football (which I dislike) by osmosis, but have to dig deep to fin anything about soccer.
  2. I don’t own a television.  Even if I did, I probably couldn’t afford the cable packages that include coverage of European football.  Local saloons generally don’t show soccer games either, especially if there’s a Red Sox game on.
  3. I have a family, and a job, and lots of preoccupations that suck up my time.

Nevertheless, with the seasons beginning in the European leagues, I’m committing myself to trying to follow some teams in addition to my local Boston teams:

The choice of teams is somewhat arbitrary although with exception of Barcelona, all of these teams are from cities I’ve visited and enjoyed.

I started today by watching Ajax’s opening match at FC Groningen online. After a quiet first half, things were looking good for my new favorite Dutch side.  Ajax’s new Moroccan forward Mounir El Hamdaoui scored two goals to put the team comfortably ahead.  But as the minutes ticked away in the second half, Ajax gave those two goals back and had to settle for a tie.  According to a tweet I read this is “the first time they give away 2 goal-lead since losing 4-2 at Vitesse on 24 December 2006.”   More on the game from the Ajax website.  I actually missed bot of El Hamdaoui’s goals as I was distracted by my son, but that’s okay, that’s what replays are for.

So as the season continues I’ll try to update on my spectator experiences.  If anyone has any tips or resources for the novice fan, please put them in the comments.  And yes, I do plan to continue to use the word soccer.  I like it’s distinctive and unambiguous sound compared to the more pedestrian football.