US Open Cup Soccer Comes to Boston


On Wednesday June 12th, the local soccer club the New England Revolution played a game on Boston soil for (I believe) the first time. The match saw the Revs face the New York Red Bulls in the Fourth Round of the US Open Cup.  If you’re not familiar with the US Open Cup, it is a knock-out tournament open to soccer teams from amateur levels to the lower professional divisions and on up to Major League Soccer similar to the FA Cup in England and the Copa del Rey in Spain.  This is the 100th year of competition for the US Open Cup which has a rich if overlooked history.

MLS teams like to schedule US Open Cup home games in alternate venues to allow a more intimate setting in front of fans who may not usually make it to their league games.  The Revolution wisely scheduled this match at Harvard University’s Soldiers Field Socceer Field.  Most Revolution games are played at Gillette Stadium, designed for NFL football for their roommates the New England Patriots, and located in the podunk town of Foxborough* about 30 miles southwest of Boston.  Both the field and cavernous stands of Gillette are ill-suited to soccer.  Harvard’s field veers to far in the opposite direction of being too intimate with seats for only 2,500 fans, but it is a good first step for the ultimate goal of having a professional men’s soccer team call Boston home.

A rainbow crossed the sky before the game and continued to reappear in the first half with the two ends of the bow appearing to reach from goal to goal.  The Revolution’s die-hard supporters groups marched in before the game and filled up a grassy berm at one of the goal ends where the lead the fans with rhythmic chants and flag waving.  Even some Red Bulls supporters came up to occupy the opposing end of the field.  All of this created a wonderful atmosphere for the enthusiastic fan’s in attendance, and most importantly the Revolution won an exciting game 4-2.  They advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup versus DC United, which will be played Maryland on June 26th.  It was great fun riding the MBTA #66 bus home after the game on a bus full of happy Revs fan.  The team is now 1-0 on Boston soil.  Let’s hope we can do this all again.

Some more thoughts on the game from New England Soccer Today.

* Sorry to insult Foxborough, which I’m sure is a lovely town, but the stadium itself is poorly located with no access by public transportation and even auto access is along one road (US 1) that is several miles drive to the nearest interstate.  The NFL has wealthy season ticket holders, corporate interests, and lucrative television deals so they can afford to pretend it is still the 1960’s/70’s and turn their backs on the cities.  Professional soccer (like baseball, hockey, and basketball) needs to tie themselves with the resurgence and growth of the urban core as amply demonstrated by the successful soccer specific stadiums in Portland, Vancouver, Montreal,  Kansas City, and even Houston.  Seattle is even able to make it’s urban NFL stadium a big draw for soccer.  The Revolution or a new team in one of the lower divisions would be wise to settle into Boston and take advantage of an untapped market of college students, young professionals, and immigrant communities with time and money to spend.

 

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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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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 in Review


My soccer-watching exploits for the past week.

AFC Ajax vs. Vitesse (14 Aug 2010) – I have to admit that this is the kind of game I enjoy watching.  Granted I’m sure the football purist found the defensive lapses on both sides lacking.  But I liked how the lead changed several times in the first half.  I like how three goals were scored in about 5 minutes of the first half.  I like how Ajax scored a goal within seconds of kicking off the second half.  I like that the over-matched Vitesse despite being outplayed by Ajax seemed to have a chance of pulling off an upset, at least until Ajax scored their fourth goal.  I like that Ajax won.  Match report.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution (18 Aug 2010) –   Tuned in hoping to see the Revs extend their 8-game unbeaten streak and streak of not allowing goals in league games, but alas it didn’t finish well.  The Revolution took an early lead in a very entertaining first half on a goal by Marko Perovic.  Chicago equalized in the 32nd minute.  Then the game began to get bogged down with penalties with most of the calls – and some non-calls – going against New England.  The most egregious referee error was not calling a penalty when Perovic was knocked down in the Chicago penalty area in the 90th minute.  Boston Globe coverage.

FC Bayern München vs. VfL Wolfsburg (20 Aug 2010) –  I watched this game on ESPN 3 which didn’t show the first 30 minutes of the game nor was there any commentary.  It was interesting to watch a televised match with only the sound of cheers and drumming of the fans.  The game was very defensive when I first tuned in with Bayern protecting a 1-0 lead.  There were so many back passes it seemed the two sides were playing toward their own goals.  The second half opened with Wolfsburg making an impressive barrage of long-range shots stopped only by the goal post before finally putting in a header off a corner kick.  With the score tied Bayern took control of the ball and got many free kicks due to the suddenly desperate physicality of Wolfsburg.  It looked like it would end a 1-1 tie but instead Bayern won the game dramatically on a stoppage time goal by Bastian Schweinsteiger.  Match report.

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