Monday, January 18, 2010

Who We're Buying a Beer For...

Editor's Note: Each week the Free Beer Movement "honors" individuals and groups that help push, pull, or drag American soccer forward in this country. What better way to honor them then with a beer on us. Plus, its quite economical. We're cheap!

1) Fox

It's not often that you'll hear us sing the praises of the corporation that birthed Fox News and such TV shows as "When Animals Attack" and "Joe Millionaire", but the company has done itself right by announcing the creation of a second all-soccer channel in the United States, Fox Soccer Plus airing March 1st.

FS+ will carry the recently acquired Setanta USA's programming whose sublicenses with Fox are expiring.This means US viewers will have more (legal) viewing opportunities for the English Premier League, European Champions League, FA Cup and the Italian Serie A.

There are also rumors that the new channel may swallow up the original Setanta which would include access to more European leagues.

This piggybacks on Fox's earlier news that they will begin broadcasting their Fox Soccer Channel matches in high definition starting in February 2010. The same goes for the upcoming launch of FS+.

Any move that brings more soccer into America's homes is the right move and rightly deserving of a frosty brew from us.

2) "Pint for a Pint" program at Cascade Regional Blood Services in Tacoma, Washington

Our weekly lists usually honors those who push (or drag) the American game forward, but we don't think there's anything wrong with honoring a unique way to promote drinking in our great nation as well (although it doesn't really need all that much help).

A blood donation program in Washington state is trading coupons for a free beer. Since we love free beer there's no sense in ignoring this great idea.

Watch the CNN report:

3) Preki and Thomas Dooley

Two great contributors to American soccer learned this week that their names would be enshrined in U.S. soccer history after it was announced the two were elected into the Soccer Hall of Fame.

Current Toronto FC coach Preki and former USMNTer Thomas Dooley topped the ballot list for 2010.

Hey give us the "dets" on the two HOFers. OK:

Preki was named the Major Indoor Soccer League MVP in 1989, the MVP of the Continental Indoor Soccer League in 1995 and then accomplished that feat not once, but twice, in Major League Ssoccer in 1997 and 2001 while scoring 79 goals and adding 112 assists in 242 matches for the Kansas City Wizards and Miami Fusion. At age 40 he led MLS in scoring and was a member of the 2000 MLS Cup Champion Wizards. He competed in the 1998 World Cup for the U.S..

Dooley, played for the Red, White and Blue at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, performed for the Columbus Crew and MetroStars. He started his journey to soccer stardom in the German 11th division, playing on Saturday and Sunday nights before working his way up to the Bundesliga. He had secured a solid career with the likes of Hamburg SV, Kaiserslautern, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke. 2010 was the last year Dooley was eligible for the HOF.

Preki and Dooley both distinguish themselves by doing the dirty work of playing American soccer before the sport was really on the general public's radar. These sorts of players, the ones the Hall has been honoring recently former the foundation for the sports' emerging popularity today. Fox Soccer's Jamie Trecker adds:

Dooley's significance may be lost on newbie fans who came to the US game during the 1994 World Cup or later.

The fact of the matter is that Dooley's decision to play for the United States and to give up a successful career in Germany to train full time in California under Bora Milutinovic was a turning point in building a team that was able to carry the American flag beyond the first round of that 1994 tournament.

You have to remember that there were many who believed the United States should not host. The outspoken European media decried the idea of handing FIFA's plum to a country with little or no interest in the game, to say nothing of lacking any type of quality professional players.

Dooley brought soccer smarts and stability to the American defense. We'll never know how much his on-field command of the situation helped settle the nerves of his teammates. And Dooley's reading of the game was special: he could launch major runs that supported the attack without sacrificing space at the back.

The FBM remembers proudly watching Preki and Dooley participate for the Nats in France 98 while sitting in a bar in Hungary and sneaking beers (we were 15). Standing up and singing the National Anthem in front a bunch of bewildered Hungarians before USA-Iran the likes of Preki, Dooley, and others inspired this youngster to double-down on soccer. Where would the FBM be today without that moment?

Just as we mused about the 1950 USMNT, the players that have been capped for the Nats form an admirable history for all American soccer fans to give thanks for their contributions to the growth of our sport.

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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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