Soccer Spectating Report 24-31 January 2011


Well, the transfer period is over now.  This week I saw Luis Suarez leave one of my favorite clubs and move to the rival of one of my other favorite clubs.  Not much in positive news for the teams I follow. Ah well.  The games have been entertaining at least.

Liverpool 1:0 Fulham (26 Jan)

In the battle of clubs formerly managed by Roy Hodgson, Fulham got the better of Liverpool overall and were even responsible for all of the goal scoring, but still took the loss.  The loan goal occurred after some defensive miscues by Fulham allowed the ball to bounce around the goal mouth.  John Pantsil’s attempted to clear the ball, but it glanced off his leg and into the Fulham goal.  American star Clint Dempsey played another great attacking game but just couldn’t connect for a goal.

Ajax 4:1 NAC Breda (27 Jan)

While their hopes of an Eredivisie championship are slipping, the Amsterdammers still have a chance to earn some hardware by repeating as KNVB Cup (aka Dutch Cup) champions.  After going down a goal early on, Ajax made it look pretty easy dismantling NAC and advancing to the Cup semifinals.  The same teams met again over the weekend in Breda with Ajax winning by the same scoreline.

RW Oberhausen 1:1 FC Ingolstadt 04 (28 Jan)

I added another new league to my spectating catalog with this match from the German 2. Bundesliga.  American international Edson Buddle lead the MLS in goals while playing for Los Angeles last season and earned a transfer to Europe.  He scored a goal for Ingolstadt in his first match with the team last week.  In this match, Buddle’s team went up on a 27th minute goal by Stefan Leitl.  Shortly after halftime, Ronny König equalized for the opposition.  Buddle himself entered the game in the 61st minute, but there would be no further scoring.

Everton 1:1 Chelsea (29  Jan)

A most-exciting FA Cup match that saw the home side go ahead in the 62nd minute courtesy of Louis Saha.  I held my breath in hopes that Everton could hold or even extend their lead, but alas a Chelsea counterattack resulted in a Salomon Kalou goal 13 minutes later.  Everton seemed to be the better team on the field so it seems something of a wasted opportunity.  It’s going to be a tough replay at Stamford Bridge on 19 February.

Hercules 0:3 Barcelona (29 Jan)

Earlier this season Hercules shocked their hosts at Camp Nou with a 0:2 victory and hoped to upset the La Liga table leaders again in their home grounds.  Barcelona would have none of that and easily dispatched Hercules with a goal by Pedro just before the half and two goals by Lionel Messi in the final minutes.  The highlight of this game was watching with my three-year old son who pointed out things like “that guy fell down” and shouted “goaaaaaaaaaaal!” after Messi’s scores.

Melbourne Victory FC 2:0 Gold Coast United (30 Jan)

I was up late and couldn’t fall asleep so I tuned into some A-League soccer from Australia.  Melbourne is a sister city of Boston, so their teams have my support although for completely arbitrary reasons I’m drawn to the expansion club Melbourne Heart because they have more of an underdog status and the name Heart resonates more with me than the cocky Victory.  There’s also the fact that the captain of Victory is Manny Muscat, a brute of player serving an 8-game suspension for a vicious tackle.  Nevertheless, it was a Victory game that was on so that is what I watched.  The home side won on a hot day where the crowd was thin and hiding in the shade.  Both goals were scored by Danny Allsopp, a one-time DC United player.  The A-League seems to have a lot in common with the MLS.  It’s too bad our countries are so far apart because it would be fun to see an international cup match of some sort featuring North American and Australian teams.

Internazionale 3:2 Palermo (30 Jan)

Now this is some thrilling soccer!  An offensive spectacle and the lead changing hands over the course of the match.  The only thing wrong with is is that Inter ended up victorious as I like to see the mighty fall.  Palermo took the lead 5 minutes into the game thanks to Fabrizio Miccoli and then doubled their lead in the 36th minute Antonio Nocerino.  Inter were able to get one back with a Giampaolo Pazzini goal in the 56th minute.  The big turning point is when Javier Pastore took a penalty kick that would have put Palermo up 1:3 but had his shot blocked by Júlio César.  The momentum shifted to the home side who soon scored two goals in a matter of minutes: Pazzini (73′) and Samuel Eto’o (76′).  Still a great game though.

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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.