#10 – Ignacio “Copper” Perea, D/M/F, Henderson, NV – Perea dyed his hair light brown last year, launching him up our rankings. His distinctive look makes him an obligatory first pick at recess. Will need to transfer to a more competitive environment for junior high school.
#9 – David Breckshire, D/M/F, Vancouver, BC - Canadian-born to an American mother, Breckshire’s already said he’s willing to give up his hockey career to play soccer. “Mom says I have to pay for my own equipment if I want to play, so I might have to just play soccer now,” says the enthusiastic nine-year-old.
#8 – Bryant White, D/M/F, Tulsa, OK – Bryant isn’t actually playing soccer, yet, but as the star tailback for his Pop Warner team, he has all the makings of a young Landon Donovan. “Soccer seems kind of boring,” he says. One day, we’ll look back and laugh.
#7 – Wilfred Angeles, D/M/F, Tucson, AZ – Has been distracted by the new skateboard his parents gave him for a recent birthday. Should return to the field for spring season.
#6 – Craig Schroeder, D/M/F, Norfolk, VA – Craig is considering dropping out of soccer if Jason Thomas’s parents won’t let Schroeder’s best friend play this spring. His 5’5″ height makes him a beast in the air.
#5 – Conor McKenzie, D/M/F, Colorado Springs, CO – Conor’s World of Warcraft career has taken off in recent months; hence, his drop from number one. Unlimited mana for his mage means Conor’s soccer career may be over.
#4 – Geoff Johnson, D/M/F, Chicago, IL – Irreverence is the key to this young star’s potential. “I like playing soccer on Saturdays but sometimes I don’t because I get to go to Six Flags or something. If I’m lucky.” Reads the game beautifully.
#3 – Andrew “A.J.” Jack, D/M/F, Walnut Creek, CA – A 2.2 grade point average last semester means A.J. must live with limited access to his XBox Live account until April. Expect him to really focus on his soccer. Strong right foot.
#2 – Brian Rodriguez, D/M/F, Dallas, TX – (EDITOR’S NOTE: Further research has determined this player doesn’t actually exist. We now suspect all these players could have been made up, given our limited ability to rely on more than word-of-mouth and wild-ass projections.)
#1 – William “Billy” Smith, D/M/F, Lancester, PA – Billy currently has his eyes on Rebecca Sandoval and is considering asking her to dance multiple times at the end-of-month party. A young John Harkes.
Game notes from the English Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on September 29, 2012. Click on image for larger version.
The only thing which separated Arsenal and Chelsea was a misplayed cross, Juan Mata’s restart freezin Vito Mannone after it grazed Laurent Koscielny’s left shin pad. If there had to be something between these two, that may as well have been it. There was little else that separated the sides.
Game notes from Juventus’s trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, opening the teams’ 2011-12 UEFA Champions League campaigns. Click on image for larger version.
Juventus have a very good midfield three and one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Aside from that, there’s little that impresses about their squad when you compare them to Europe’s best (as many are inclined to do). The regard they’ve been given at the early stages of Champions League is based on their history, a fanbase dedicated to the mythology behind the stars, the continued, disproportionate respected garned by the Italian league.
Juventus shouldn’t have been able to keep up with a team of Chelsea’s talent, especially after going down two after 33 minutes. That they came back to earn a draw in London speaks as much to Chelsea’s failings as it does Juve’s capabilities.
Game notes from Sunday’s North West Derby, Liverpool hosting Manchester United. Click on image for larger version.
For all the books that have been written about Alex Ferguson, we still have little idea of how his philosophies allow his team to be consistently outplayed yet produce results unrivaled in England (and most of the world).
This is a relatively recent phenomenon, one that’s coincided with our (fans, media, managers, clubs, et al) increased focused on midfield play. Manchester United’s been a possession neutral team – neither needing the ball nor proving incapable of playing with it – so as more possession-centric managers have come into the Premier League, United’s play has been (increasingly) deemed inferior by contemporary standards. This is why we get the monthly analysis that United need to improve their midfield.
Can they improve their midfield? Of course. Do they need to? Yeesh. Since when did league titles become so passé?
Game notes from the Sept. 23 English Premier League meeting between Manchester City and Arsenal at the City of Manchester Stadium. Click on image for larger version.
Five years of prayer at the alter of formations led the congregation to this moment of disillusionment: A crisis of faith. With Wilson’s scriptures under one arm and Cox’s hymns folded between the pages, they sat and let their souls wither in witness of what was transpiring. The team that got everything wrong had been granted forgiveness by the footballing gods. They led before they could change was wrong. The flock was left with a moral dilemma: How they worship gods who rewarded the team that contradicted the teachings?
Game notes from Friday,Sept. 7, 2012′s World Cup Qualifier between Jamaica and the United States in Kingston, Jamaica. Click on image for larger version.
How do you be complementary of the Jamaican national team while excoriating the United States? You can’t. There’s no way you can take the U.S. to task that doesn’t assume that Jamaica is a team that should never beat the States, particularly (a) given the match was in Jamaica (Kingston), (b) the Reggae Boyz failed to score from open play, and (c) the United States was without two of their three best players (with both Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan injured). If you’re going to chastise the U.S. after that, you’re eliminating almost every reasonable scenario where a Jamaica win can be rationalized.
The U.S. can lose in Mexico, and they can lose to Costa Rica. After the close call in Honduras last cycle, people may be able to rationalize losing in San Pedro Sula. Even Canada – which hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since before the U.S.’s Caligiuri-spurred renaissance – would be acceptable. But in Kingston? In the Caribbean? Aw, hell no.
Game notes form the Seattle Sounder’s 2-1 victory over visiting Chivas USA on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2012 in Major League Soccer action at CenturyLink Field. Click on image for larger version.
SEATTLE, Wash. – Saturday’s match at CenturyLink could be see as an example of what Major League Soccer’s all about. Seattle was one of the best teams in the league, Chivas USA is one of the worst, yet the hosts needed a 89th minute goal to take full points from the Goats. True, Seattle did throttle Chivas 6-2 two weeks ago, but the rematch nearly proved the American sports’ “any given Sunday” adage that has strangely become used in all sports that dare play while the deities rest. Writers do love their clichés, but given Major League Soccer’s never shied away from implement some of the strategies of that Sunday league, the slogan’s not entirely ill-used.
On Sautrday, the Sounders had the better of play through most of the night, but their advantage wasn’t so huge that Chivas, having scored in the eighth minute, wouldn’t have gotten out of town with a point on another night. But Fredy Montero made sure this wasn’t any other night. So did Osvaldo Alonso. So did Eddie Johnson. For all talent Chivas has brought in this season, they have nobody in their squad as valuable as those three. On Saturday, it showed.
FIFA match day means most leagues will be sleeping this weekend. There are, however, a few rogue vigilantes who dare play while some prime talent’s away. For those who us who will stay indoors rather than enjoy the last weeks of summer sun, here is are some of the prominent games taking place between now and Sunday (all times Pacific): Continue reading →