Friday, May 13, 2011

St. Totteringham's day

The EPL season is winding down with little to celebrate. The same two teams are on top of the table, regardless of their uninspiring play. The middle of the table is secure; Liverpool climbed out of the basement so long ago that it's difficult to remember that they were ever facing relegation. Plus, I can't get too worked up for any of the the teams fighting to avoid the drop. I guess I wouldn't mind if Blackpool hung around, but unless a back-room deal between them and the Red Devil Scum is formed, I'd say the Tangerines are as good as gone.

Manchester City is still in the FA Cup, which I attribute to my recently purchased Adam Johnson jersey. Their Premier League play, however... It's as if they didn't want it enough. They played decently against lesser teams, but when they faced the "big boys," any offensive attack was abandoned. Hopefully this weekends FA Final will give me a reason to celebrate.

Which brings me to Arsenal.

Arsenal had a decent season with a couple exciting victories (12/17 v Chelsea comes to mind), but with those were some of mind-boggling losses and draws (2/5 v Newcastle: wow).  They will finish third in the league for the second year running, plus they didn't bring home any silverware. Years like these there is only one thing left for the Gunners to celebrate: St. Totteringham's Day.

St. Totteringham's Day, also referred to as St. Totteridge's Day falls on whatever day the Arsenal secure enough points to mathematically finish ahead of arch-rival Tottenham Hotspur. This year the Gunners celebrated it on May 7th when Tottenham drew 1-1 with Blackpool, but the bliss of St. Totteringham's Day really lasts until the first derby between Spurs and Arsenal next season.

Graphic is based on St. Alban. He was one of the first British Christian martyrs and is a patron saint of torture victims, which seems appropriate for Arsenal supporters. He was decapitated.

MCFC in the FA Cup Final

"My" team is going to a cup final. I'm not sure how excited I should be. It isn't USA or Brazil in the World Cup, it sure wasn't Notre Dame for the March Madness Cup (go with it...), and it sadly won't be the Red Wings fighting for Lord Stanley's cup. It's the team that I only started following last summer, and for that reason I'm not sure I deserve to celebrate.

Before the EPL season started, I was drawn to Manchester City because they had Robinho. He was off the team before I even had a chance to buy his jersey. I figured once he was gone I'd go back to mildly supporting Everton; I like Tim Howard, they have a couple of Irishmen and their beer sponsor isn't horrible. But then I started cheering for Man City. They were quick, albiet not as graceful as Arsenal or tough as Man U. Carlos Tevez, who I initially loathed on principle, is fascinating to watch when he's in top form. I'm pretty sure their 9/25 win over Chelsea sealed my fate as a fan. It also didn't hurt that I really like their kits.

So here I am, a new supporter to a band-wagon-able team. I bought a jersey and a scarf. Now what do I do?

Turns out, there's an app for that. I mean, there's a website for that: Bluffer's Guide to Manchester City. I already knew most of the trivia, but I still think it's notable. The team has basically acknowledged that they are so awesome as to attract new fans, and instead of pooh-poohing our newfound support, they are welcoming us with open arms.

via Pitch Invasion
Photo by Johnny Vulkan/

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hockey and TV

Tuesday night's game between the Red Wings and the Sharks was one of the most exciting televised sporting events I've seen this year. I know I'm not the only one to have this opinion.

So why can't I watch the Stanley Cup playoffs on regular cable? I was aware that regular season games wouldn't be available, but if even the playoffs are relegated to one channel, why isn't Versus included in standard programming?

I understand that hockey might not be as popular in Kentucky as other places, but all winter I've only been able to catch games on Fox Sports South. I almost became a Predators fan. Worse, because I enjoy hearing the games as I watch them (and there isn't a Detroit bar in Lexington), I've been at the mercy of my friends with access to Versus. That wouldn't be all that bad if they weren't a Coyote and a Sharks fan.

Maybe there will be a concurrent NFL/NBA lockout that will force NBC to nationally broadcast games. One can only hope.

In the meantime: Go Wings. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When announcers make us laugh

There are certain disadvantages to watching soccer in English.  For example, I didn't know this brilliant commentary existed until reading the Dirty Tackle's interview with Teal Bunbury.

Here's that dance again:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Ochocinco Experience (Or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Show")

Chad Ochocinco will never be the nation's favorite American football player. It just won't happen. His showmanship (or tomfoolery depending on who you ask) and his self-confidence (or ego-maniacal delusions) will always endear him to some and make him repulsive to others. Now, this is a European Football/ American Soccer (or Olde Worlde Sissy-ball depending on who you ask) blog and you could not be faulted for asking how much attention should be given to Ocho's workouts with Sporting Kansas City. After all, this is just an overpaid prima donna seeking attention during a work stoppage of the NFL. It's a publicity stunt. What good could possibly come from it?

The MLS has always struggled to carve out a spot for itself in the saturated American sports market. It pains me to say it, but the MLS ranks somewhere between professional eating and the WNBA (I won't say in which order the three leagues are to be ranked) in terms of attention garnered by the average American. Despite the number of kids playing soccer in the suburbs, the U.S. has yet to churn out a true soccer superstar. Yeah, yeah, Landon is respected across the world and Clint Dempsey has played well for Fulham. But while we have any number of elite-level athletes in the NFL and NBA born, raised, and trained here in the U.S. but our best soccer players are generally regarded as "above-average" at best abroad.

So what does all of this have to do with our man 85? Is this five-day experiment going to change the course of American soccer? Will the NFL lockout single-handedly create the vehicle of its own demise in the form of the MLS?

In a word: Hell no. (Numbers were never my strong suit.) However, The Ochocinco Project does bring attention to the MLS. Even better, Chad has been genuine in his gratitude and excitement to make the most of his opportunity. Rather than turning this whole event into a circus or NBC reality show, both Ochocinco and Sporting KC have treated the experiment with a true sense of professionalism. This professionalism has given legitimacy to the league.

It also means something to have a premier athlete actually wanting to have a chance to playing in the MLS. Yes, he is currently locked out of his real job. Yes, he has not been incredibly successful. This won't propel the MLS ahead of the MLB, NBA, or NFL. But you know what it might do? Expose a few more fans to the MLS, or even soccer in general. Maybe a few kids who would've given up on soccer early in their lives will stick with it. Wishful thinking? Absolutely! But take this experience for what it is, a rare publicity stunt worth getting behind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kits! Shiny!

After most major disasters, it's always interesting to see the different ways that people show their support. My favorite gesture was made by Valencia, who printed all the players names in Japanese for their game against Sevilla.

Source: Uni Watch, Yahoo Sports

Also, check out Brasil's all black kit. They will be like ninjas! The Beautiful Gear blog (which is a beautiful, beautiful blog) has me really excited about all the new national kits. I might actually buy the new USMNT third kit. The red base is really striking, I can't wait to see them in action against Argentina on Saturday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wait, he's doing what?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will undergo a four-day trial with Sporting Kansas City.

Best line: 
"Due to the NFL lockout, I'm excited to be able to follow my childhood dream of playing for a Major League Soccer team," Ochocinco said."
I know that MLS teams are doing all kinds of things (NSFW) to get attention, but this seems either really silly or really smart. Plus it looks like his number is available. 

Source: Avoiding The Drop blog