Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shit-Faced Look-A-Likes #5

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Maybe you see it. Maybe you don't. Maybe it was just something that we thought we saw after a hard nights drinkin'. A quick glance and there is was. A brief semblance of recognition between one personality of the soccer world and something random outside of it.

It's "Shit-faced Look-A-Likes" from the Free Beer Movement!

Up next:

One is a defender of all things right in the DC-Baltimore metro world, the other is Lt. Daniels from "The Wire".


Former DC United and  ------------------------------- Lt. Daniels
                            USMNT defender Eddie Pope                                     

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INdecision 2010: Five (Random) Reasons The U.S. Will Host the 2022 World Cup

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Give it to us straight, Jon.

By lunchtime Thursday everyone (at least everyone that cares to know) will know the host nations of the 2018 and the 2022 World Cups. Certainly know which European nation will host the latter tournament is important to those with a horse in the race, but for the sake of American soccer we're watching the 2022 announcement with great anticipation.

Having bailed on their 2018 ambitions the United States has put all of its faith in their quest to host the 2022 World Cup. Landing the World Cup in 12 years time will become the next watershed moment for soccer in America. The 1994 Cup launched soccer in this nation from out from behind the shadows, launched our domestic league, Major League Soccer, and put our National Teams on their path to the success they've seen today (although the women's Nats already have one world champions under their belt by then).

Hosting the 2022 World Cup will be the perfect bookend for this story of America's growing love affair with the global game. What began 16 years ago as a massively successful debut for top-flight soccer will come full-circle to show that the sport in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds.

Here are our top five (random) reasons why the United States should another World Cup in 2022. 

Note: We're only looking at the top three bidding nations, the U.S., Australia, and Qatar. South Korea and Japan can both suck an egg because they just had the Cup in 2002. Greedy bastards.



1) Celebrities


Australia? Some "netball" player endorsed the bid! You know how you get your countrymen and women fired up for the WC? Find someone who plays an even more obscure sport than soccer to join in and you've got star power!

Qatar? We're pretty sure the Middle Eastern nation gave former French international Zinedine Zidane an oil field for his birthday to get his blessing for the Qatar 2022 big. Not fair. We probably would've just given Zizzou a spot on the New York Red Bulls with Thierry Henry.

Advantage? USA! USA! USA!

2) Petition Signatures

USA? 1,180,000 

Australia? 327,000

Qatar? 0 (No counter. Probably afraid no one would sign it!) 

Advantage? USA! USA! USA!

3) Awesome NFL Stadiums

USA? Umm.... we've got 32 of em! Including a brand-spanking-new one in Dallas that will make your eye bulge out like the wolf checking out the pretty girl in those Warner Brothers cartoons!

Australia? No NFL stadiums.

Qatar? No NFL stadiums. Although they want to air condition their stadiums to shield fans from their 130-degree weather and probably build and underwater stadium, too, and that's just stupid.

Advantage? USA! USA! USA!

4) Beer

USA? Yeah, OK, you kinda got us there with Budweiser, one of FIFA's biggest sponsors, but think of all the delicious beer you could drink before and after the games! The games will be a "water" break.

Australia? Fosters. Seriously? Just because you have those giant, novelty cans doesn't mean it's any good.

Qatar? Alcohol is banned because Qatar is a Muslim country. Although, Qatar has said it would open up alcohol sale for the month of the Cup which means they'd basically sell their religion down the river (if they have any) to host this thing. Not very trust-worthy if you ask us.

Advantage? USA! USA! USA!

5) Military

USA? 1,477,896 active duty personnel. 145,026,374 people available for military service. A $692 billion budget.

Australia? 57,500 active duty personnel. 9,870,031 people available for military service. $26 billion budget (Australian dollars)

Qatar? 11,800 active duty pesonnnel. 551,051 people available for military service. A $810 million budget.

Advantage? USA! USA! USA!

So what's it going to be FIFA? We've got star power, petition power, NFL power, beer power, and military power.

We think the choice is pretty clear. Unless you want about $6 million of our military budget to visit you in Zurich? There's the government support you were whining about. 

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Monday, November 29, 2010

NEWS WATCH - 2011 Women's World Cup Draw

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US Soccer Draw: The USWNT will face Sweden, North Korea, and Colombia in Group C. Competition begins in Germany on June 26, 2011. 
From FIFA.com News Release:
The long wait is over. On Monday evening, 29 November 2010, each of the 16 FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ participants finally found out who they will be up against in the group stages of next year's tournament. Over 600 guests attended the event at the Frankfurt Congress Centre, where each team's fate was revealed during a glittering 45-minute show.

There was plenty of excitement about Group C, in which the USAKorea DPRSweden and Colombiawill be battling it out for a place in the quarter-finals. Hosts Germany face CanadaNigeria and Francein Group A, which kicks off on 26 June with the tournament's opening match between Silvia Neid's reigning champions and Y at the Berlin Olympiastadion. Needless to say, there was plenty of enthusiasm among the German delegation in the audience.

In Group B, JapanNew ZealandMexico and England will all fancy their chances of a top-two berth and subsequent place in the knockout stages, while Group D also had tongues wagging as BrazilAustraliaNorway and Equatorial Guinea were all drawn in the same section.

Overview of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 groups:
Group AGermany
Canada
Nigeria
France

Group BJapan
New Zealand
Mexico
England

Group C
USA
Korea DPR
Colombia
Sweden

Group D
Brazil
Australia
Norway
Equatorial Guinea

Monday evening's show also provided the LOC with the ideal opportunity to generate yet more enthusiasm for next year's festival of women's football. Legendary German international Günter Netzer and top model and women's football ambassador Adriana Karembeu conducted the draw, with FIFA Head of Women's Competitions Tatjana Haenni hosting the event. German pop-rock band Wir Sind Helden provided the entertainment on a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all those in attendance.

"The Women’s World Cup in Germany will help women’s football to take another step forward," said Worawi Makudi, FIFA Executive Committee member and Chairman of the Committee and FIFA World Cup, while Steffi Jones, President of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) could hardly wait forGermany's first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup to start: "For two and a half years we have been looking forward to hosting this World Cup. With this tournament, we want to make history.”

Photo Credit: FIFA.com

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

VIDEO - Highlights, Rodriguez's Goal, Post-Match Reaction from USWNT World Cup Qualifying Win

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The United States Women's National Team secured a spot in the 2011 Women's World Cup with a 1-0 win (2-0 on aggregate) over Italy. After failing to earn a place in the final 16 for the tournament in the 2010 Gold Cup, the USWNT defeated the Italians in a home-and-away series.

Full Match Highlights:



Amy Rodriguez's 40th Minute Goal:



Post-Match Reactions (coach Pia Sundhage, Megan Rampinoe, Rodriguez, and Abby Wambach):



Photo and Videos Credits: USSoccer.com
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

VIDEO - MLS Cup 2010 (MatchDay 360)

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Check out the field-level actions from the MLS Cup:

Get Microsoft Silverlight


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Landon Donovan: Baller. Of. The. Year.

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"He's the guy who made America pay attention to soccer."

And while you're thinking that sentence could've been written about "Danny Beerseed" we're going to let it slide as GQ editor-in-chief Jim Nelson assigned that statement to USMNT midfielder Landon Donovan.

Donovan, he the leading scorer of the Nats. He of the dramatic, last-minute, game-winning goal against Algeria in the World Cup this summer. He can now add to his list of accomplishments; "Baller of the Year" bestowed upon him at the men's fashion and lifestyle magazine's 15th annual "Men of the Year" event.

I wonder if this is something that LD10 would mention a few times on the Los Angeles Galaxy's 15-hour flight to Australia today?

LD: "Hey, Beckham."
DB: "Yeah, mate"
LD: "Ummm.... did you get named GQ Magazine's 'Baller of the Year'?"
DB: "No, mate. I did not."
LD: "Bwaaaa ha ha ha ha! I did!"
DB: "I know, mate. This is like the seventh time you've done this to me."
LD: "Still funny, though."
DB: "Whatever. I'm off to shag a flight attendant."

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who We're Buying A Beer For... Alex Morgan

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Morgan, the meat in this celebration sandwich.
The 21-year-old USWNTer has a flair for the dramatic, alright. The only college player on coach Pia Sundhage's World Cup qualifying roster has swapped classes in sweatpants for game-saving goals. Morgan, a junior at the University of California, has already, in her seven-cap National Team career, saved the Lady Nats' bacon twice.

Last October, Morgan fired home a 83rd minute equalizer against China to preserve the USWNT's six-year home unbeaten streak and just this past weekend she banged home the lone goal in their WC qualifier victory against Italy.

The Italian job was crucial as the USWNT is locked in a desperate home-and-away, winner-take-all series for a Women's World Cup spot. The victory and the away goal puts the U.S. side in pole position for their hosting of Italy this Saturday at Toyota Park.

Even before she made her senior side debut, Morgan was clutch for the Under-20 Nats when she scored the game-winner against North Korea in the U-20 Women's World Cup.

That the USWNT even has to crawl back from such qualifying depths is a bit of a shock. The Lady Nats were shocked in the Women's Goal Cup last month, falling 2-1 to Mexico.

Lately, the squad has struggled to score when it matters most and the addition of Morgan to the women's strike force, alongside leading scorer Abby Wambach, will brighten the hopes of the USWNT qualifying efforts and their possible run to a third Women's World Cup title in 2011.

Beer worthy.

The Late Late Show With Alex Morgan (Her game-winning goal against Italy from last Saturday):



USA Today profile piece of Alex Morgan.


Photo Credit: USWNT Blog

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

MLS is Awesome. Pew Pew Boom! MLS Cup 2010

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Turn in on. Watch it. Love it. Make this a "Free Beer Movement" moment.

Photo Credit: MLSSoccer.com


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VIDEO - MLS Cup All-Time Best Goals

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Get Microsoft Silverlight


What better way to get fired up for MLS Cup 2010 then a sampling of the best goals from Cups past?

Don't forget! The Colorado Rapids take on FC Dallas TONIGHT! Coverage begins at 7:30pm CT and kickoff is at 7:55pm CT.

MLS is Awesome.... Pew, Pew... Boom!

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Aston Villa Correspondent

If you’re reading this site, there’s a 99.9% chance you know that there’s a pretty important game on Sunday. You know, that one between Los Angeles and New York…oh. Oh wait. Colorado and Dallas, you say? That just makes it all the more fun! While Dallas certainly look to be the better side, by cheering on the Rapids, you can play the underdog card. Or you can sit back and simply cross your fingers for a great game, full of pace and attack. Or possibly just red cards.

What’s most important, however, is noting which region has the edge in beer. And that award goes—on a unanimous vote—to Colorado. Granted, they have an advantage in the fact that they represent an entire state, but really, we could allow Dallas to select beer from all over Texas and the best they could give us is St. Arnold, which isn’t even available outside the Lone Star State.

Colorado not only forces us to look at the shiny dome of Conor Casey, it also steals certain club colors and then blasphemes them by announcing their kits to be “burgundy.” However, at least the Mile High State gives the world some fantastic brews, the best of which come from Great Divide, Avery, and New Belgium. And since it’s a Sunday night and you’re watching the MLS Championship game (7:30pm CT on ESPN and ESPN3.com), why not pick up all three?

Who cares if you’re hungover come Monday. It’s not like anyone works before Thanksgiving, anyway.

Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (Denver, CO): The Yeti also comes in espresso and chocolate flavors, but I find the basic oak-aged to be the best. Pours an inky black and smells of chocolate, oak and caramel. Tastes of coffee and chocolate (who needs added flavors?) and is balanced by a bittery hop background. The finish is pure bourbon.


Avery "Old Jubilation" Winter Warmer Ale (Boulder, CO): It may not be Avery’s absolute best beer, but the brewery’s winter offering is more than solid, and who doesn’t want to celebrate the cup winners with a brew called Jubilation? This winter warmer tastes rather like a porter: lots of hazelnut, coffee and chocolate in the taste, with a bitter mocha finish.

New Belgium "La Folie" Sour Brown Ale (Fort Collins, CO): If you’ve only had Fat Tire, or even Mothership Wit or (god forbid) Skinny Dip, you’re missing out on the true greatness that is New Belgium. Skip the six packs next time and head for the fancy aisle, where you can either choose any of the Lips of Faith series, or just grab the brewery’s best—La Folie. This is Colorado trying to be like Belgium—again with the copying—and they managed to nail a sour red. This one has a tangy, sour aroma, with a taste of tart apples. Afraid of sour? Don’t worry, for a mild sweetness perfectly balances the sour.

***And yes, I did memorize each state’s nickname as a child. We didn’t have DVD players in cars in my day, and my parents thought flashcards were a fun alternative. Go ahead, quiz me. ***

About Kirsten:

Ever since Brazil caught my eye during the 1994 World Cup I’ve considered myself a soccer fan, but it wasn’t until the summer 2008 that I decided to find a club. I focused on the Premier League and eventually chose Aston Villa. Initially drawn in by the pretty clarets and blues, I found I liked their organization, their owner and their manager. I fell hard and now it’s too late—I can’t give them up. As for MLS, that was easy, as I live in Seattle. I also support Exeter FC, SSC Napoli, FC Koln, Estudiantes Tecos and Tooting & Mitcham FC, all for a variety of reasons including cider, tattoos, scarves, owls, and a soccer player texting while on the pitch. I’m the Managing Editor of SB Nation’s Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte. I also contribute to Two Footed Tackle.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Canadian voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."

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Teal Bunbury, former youth team international for Canada, subs in for the USMNT in yesterday's 1-0 win against South Africa in Cape Town.

Yeah, sure, loads of Canadians are upset that Teal didn't follow in the footsteps of his father, Alex Bunbury, but you gave us Celine Dion, Keanu Reeves, Justin Bieber, and Howie Mandel. I think the least you owe us is (at least) one international-caliber soccer forward.


Welcome to the United State of America, Teal Bunbury*!

* Yes, we're aware that he plays in the U.S. for Sporting Kansas City (formerly "the Wiz").

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

VIDEO - Highlights from USMNT vs. South Africa (November 17, 2010)

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Your USMNT.
The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team defeated South Africa, 1-0, in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town today. Juan Agudelo, making his national team debut, at the age of 17, scored the game's loan goal. Brad Guzan was forced into several huge saves earlier on, but the USMNT imposed themselves throughout the later stages of the first half and much of the second half.

Canadian youth teamer and Kansas City Wizards (we mean "Sporting KC") forward Teal Bunbury also made his international debut.

Breakdown and analysis from our partners at "The Shin Guardian".

* Post-Game Quote Sheet

US Soccer Match Report

Full highlights of the match:




Or just Agudelo's goal:



Video Courtesy of: USSoccer.com

Photo Credit© GERHARD STEENKAMP /U.S. Soccer

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NEWS WATCH - Major League Soccer Names 2010 "Best Eleven"

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The 2010 MLS Best XI


From MLSSoccer.com News Release:

Donovan Ricketts, LA Galaxy: The Jamaican goalkeeper started 29 matches in 2010, posting a 18-7-4 record with 11 shutouts and a .90 goals-against average, good for third best in the league.

Jámison Olave, Real Salt Lake: The big Colombian center back led the RSL defense to a new record for fewest goals scored in a season (20), and he added three goals at the other end.

Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake: The American missed only 27 minutes all season long. He also scored two goals, including a stoppage-time header to save a point against rivals Colorado.

Omar Gonzalez, LA Galaxy: Last year’s Rookie of the Year was even better in 2010, leading the league’s second-stingiest defense (26 goals against). He also notched two goals.

Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy: The US international led the league in assists (16) for the first time in his career. He also hit seven goals of his own. This is his fourth Best XI nod.

David Ferreira, FC Dallas: The Colombian playmaker scored eight goals and dished out 13 assists, second-most in the league. Despite being the most fouled player in MLS, he played all but one minute of the regular season.

Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake: The Argentine No. 10 had another balanced season, hitting seven goals and posting nine assists, leading the league’s most prolific attack.

Sebastien Le Toux, Philadelphia Union: A breakout season by the French attacker made the expansion side competitive from the start. Winner of the Fair Play Award, he finished with 14 goals and 11 assists, accounting for 71 percent of Philadelphia’s scoring.

Dwayne De Rosario, Toronto FC: Always dangerous, the Canadian international hit 15 goals for the Reds, including five match-winners. This is his fifth Best XI nod, tying him with Chris Armas and Jaime Moreno for most all-time.

Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes: The previously unheralded striker exploded for six goals in the final four games to take the Golden Boot with 18 total goals. Nine of them were game-winning goals, helping the Quakes reach the playoffs for the first time since reforming in 2008.

Edson Buddle, LA Galaxy: The US international scored nine goals in the first six games, earning himself a spot on the World Cup team. He finished with 17 goals, good for second in the Golden Boot race.

Photo Credit: MLSSoccer.com, Getty Images


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

VIDEO - USMNT Visits Football For Hope Center in South Africa

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The USMNT visited the Football For Hope Center in Khayelitsha to support the efforts of Grassroots Soccer to educate children on the subject of HIV/AIDS. The players and coaches learned about the program and then participated in activities that use soccer to teach these at-risk kids about behavior, understanding and dealing with the disease.



Video Courtesy of: USSoccer.com

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VIDEO - USMNT January Highlights

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Cupcake Camp is back. The USMNT will face Chile (sans miners) on January 22, 2011 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Here's some highlights from previous January international matches:




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Who We're Buying A Beer For...

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A short-list this week as we get back into the beer-buying swing of things (two weeks in a row... OMG!) Saving some money for the holiday season so we can't hand out too many, of course.  Here's our weekly lists of people or groups or inanimate objects that are propelling American soccer forward.


1) Bill Clinton

Will Billy Bob be celebrating again soon with the USMNT?
Ol' "Slick Willie" is at it again! First he was the U.S. number one fan during the National Team's run in South African this past summer. Now the former President is jetting off to Zurich to make America's final case to host the 2022 World Cup. Clinton, along with the rest of the U.S. delegation will appear in front of the FIFA Executive Committee to make their best, last case for hosting the world's premier sporting event and bring it back to the United States.

The Honorary Chairman for GoUSABid has been working tirelessly for the American dream to host the World Cup again since his appointment to the roll before this summer's tournament.  Clinton, as many of you recall, President when the U.S first hosted the Cup and has been one of the bid's biggest advocates.

We've always been a fan of Bubba and his charm (so good with the ladies, too!) and his love affair with U.S. soccer has only deepened our appreciation of the nation's 43rd President. We brought him a beer when he joined the U.S. bid and highlighted his "FBM Moment" after the dramatic win over Algeria, but Clinton continues to go above-and-beyond his role as an American soccer ambassador.

Clinton has made no secret of his late-life love affair (the good kind) for soccer, declaring back in June, "I've fallen in love with soccer at my very advanced age."


So to, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton! Free Beer Mover! American Soccer Ambassador!


2) Butter Leather Jackets


You gotta problem with this look, ref? I didn't think so.
FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman collected three titles this past week: Western Conference Champion, Major League Soccer "Coach of the Year" and, most importantly, "fashion icon". 


The 61-year old was the center of all sorts of talk when he sported the "brown bomber" jacket during Dallas' match against Real Salt Lake. Hyndman later revealed that he's had the jacket for 15-years, dating back to his days coaching at Southern Methodist University.


Beyond what Hyndman is wearing on the sidelines, it's the product that he's leading on the field that's really making headlines. FC Dallas demolished the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night, 3-1. Los Toros denied the Galaxy a second-straight trip to the MLS Cup and booked their own spot for the first time.


Hyndman, in his post game interview on ESPN2, threw on his club's good-luck charm for the cameras and we can all be sure that in the winterly weather of Toronto we'll probably be seeing "supple leather" real soon.


Is this MLS' "wardrobe malfunction" moment? Probably not, but still hilarious to see the Inter-Net-Blogo-Sphere get in a tizzy over what to wear or not wear. We've already spoken our piece on what coaches should have on the sidelines.


Any other beer-worthy individuals or groups? Leave 'em in the comments section!


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Monday, November 15, 2010

Bob Bradley Dedicates Soccer Field in Irene, South Africa

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Coach Bob Bradley and U.S. Soccer give back to the Irene Middle School in South Africa.



Video Courtesy: USSoccer.com and Studio 90


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Sunday, November 14, 2010

MLS Is Awesome.... Pew Pew Boom! - Western Conference Final

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

MLS Is Awesome.... Pew Pew Boom! - Eastern Conference Final

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Image Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

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Friday, November 12, 2010

The Flight: The Most Random, The Most Tastiest Bits

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Great Soccer Reads/Links of the Week


* The Shin Guardian interviews up-and-coming American abroad Preston Zimmerman. A shocking interview of his crazy life abroad, finding his feet, and his indifference to the USMNT. A great two-part interview, plus he takes readers questions as well. Part I - Part II - Part III


* Nominate your favorite American soccer websites, soccer stores, best soccer bars, and best fan photos. Head to USSoccer.com. (Registration required)


* Portland Timbers have a great series on their website bring their fans up-to-speed on Major League Soccer with "MLS 101". A great read for soccer newbies or new fans to American soccer as well.

* Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated pays tribute to several "pioneers" of American soccer that retired or are retiring as his "Sportsmen of the Year".

* The power of the away match at a bar. Colorado-style.

* The Shin Guardian contributor Jay Bell put together a great video preview of this weekend's Major League Soccer Conference Finals. Super stoked for this weekend's action!!!!




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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Coach Bob Bradley Names Eighteen for Nelson Mandela Challenge

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United States Men's National Soccer Team Coach Bob Bradley named his 18-man roster for the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town, South Africa on November 17th (TV: 1pm CT on ESPN2 and Galavision).

Check out some great breakdown and analysis from our friends at The Shin Guardian.


U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (2): Dominic Cervi (Celtic), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

DEFENDERS (7): Gale Agbossoumonde (Estoril Praia), Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro), Brian Carroll (Columbus Crew), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Kansas City Wizards), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

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VIDEO - Getting To Know MLS Leading Scorer Chris Wondolowski

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We've had loads of Julie-Foundy-On-The-Couch-Dreams before, but it looks like San Jose Earthquake star and league leading scorer, Chris Wondolowski got there first.

Courtesy of our friends at The Offsides Rules (an infinitely cooler site that ours) here's Foudy's Q and A with the man, the legend, the MVP candidate. A before you go an knock the bizarre placed coach in the goal mouth; ask yourself if that could be any worse than the set of the short-lived "Soccer Talk Live" on Fox Soccer Channel.


Chris Wondolowski Bio from The Offside Rules on Vimeo.
.
Fun Fact: Wondolowski played college ball at Chico State which is in the same town as the awesome California brewery, Sierra Nevada!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MLS Is Awesome. Pew Pew Boom! - Goal of the Year Nominees

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With Major League Soccer Playoffs in high gear, let's take a look at some of the best goals of the 2010 regular season.




Vote for the AT&T Goal of the Year at MLSSoccer.com.

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MLS Is Awesome. Pew Pew Boom! - Save of the Year Nominees

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With Major League Soccer Playoffs in high gear, let's take a look at some of the best saves of the 2010 regular season.



Vote for your NAPA Save of the Year at MLSSoccer.com

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Who We're Buying A Beer For...

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Dunno if he'll give you a beer, but we will!
Oh, man.... we still run this column? You bet! The beer-buying is back and we've got a whole slew of honorees to hand out cold brew too.

Same rules as always as we give thanks and kudos to those helping the great game of soccer in America.


1) MLS Upsets

If there's one thing that gets sports fans interests' up it's seeing the little guy triumph over the giants of the sporting world. David versus Goliath. We've never seen a number sixteen seed take down a number one seed in the NCAA basketball tournament, but when it comes to Major League Soccer and their (often times assinine) playoffs; all bets are off.

We've not even going to get into the "Geography Fail" that the playoffs are, but for suspense and upsets MLS can't be beat.

Exhibit A: New York Red Bulls have all the glitz and glimmer that befits a team based (just outside) in the Big Apple. Two Designated Players in French international Thierry Henry and Mexican international Rafa Marquez, and shinny new stadium, and the financial commitment from a major corporate sponsor. Unstoppable, right?

Enter the San Jose Earthquakes. They Bay Area side slide into the eight and final playoff spot on the back of league-leading scorer Chris Wondolowski. Over two-legs of their first-round playoff match the Earthquakes shook the Red Bulls defense to the core. Down 1-0 at home, San Jose rebounded to bounce out to a 3-0 lead (en route to a 3-2 aggregate win) on New York in Red Bull Arena. Even though Wondo found the score sheet in the second-leg it was USMNTer (probably worthy of another look from Coach Bradley) that was the fuel to the Quakes fire.

The little engine that could.

Exhibit B: The Columbus Crew took all the spoils in the Eastern Conference with 50 points and they've advanced out of group play to the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals, but all that was just window dressing as they fell to the fifth placed Western Conference team, the Colorado Rapids. 2010 is the year the "West Is Best". Despite crawling back to tie the series score 2-2, the Rapids were able to triumph in penalties.

Exhibit C: Last year Real Salt Lake got to player spoiler in the MLS Playoffs leading to their first ever MLS Cup, but this season they had the targets on their backs. FC Dallas, owners of one of the best home forms in 2010, rode that to pull out a 2-1 win a Pizza Hut Park. On the road they were able to use Dax McCarthy's first post-season goal to squeeze out a 3-2 aggregate series win over the defending champions.

Even though Los Angeles went into the 2010 playoffs with the Supporter's Shield owning the league's best points total, the Seattle Sounder we're one of the season's second half's hottest teams. No upset here; just quality soccer.

Three of four of the first-round MLS Playoff match ups showed that for excitement and underdog-rooting, American soccer is you one-stop-shop. And that's brew-worthy.

Maribel Dominguez (goal scorer
 in the 3rd min) and Co. handled the USWNT cooly.
2) Mexican Women's National Team

Losing sucks. Losing to Mexico really sucks. Having a lose to Mexico throw a huge wrench into your World Cup qualifying plans really, really sucks.

On Saturday night, the United States Women's National Team looked to be in the driver's seat heading into their Gold Cup semi-final against regional rivals, Mexico. The USWNT had outscored their group opponents 18-0, has never lost to the southern neighbors, and owned the world's number one FIFA ranking.

History means nothing when the whistle blows and Mexico took the game to their continental counterparts. The Lady Nats looked very much like their male counterparts giving up a third minute goal and then clawing back for the tying scoring. It only took two minutes for El Tri to find the lead and the final tally of the match to end it, 2-1.

Even though we'd hate to give too much kudos to Mexico we think that this loss, one of the biggest in women's soccer history, will play to the USWNT's advantage. The U.S. team has sat atop the FIFA rankings for years now and never falling lower than number two. We hardly think the loss will drop them further than second-best, but hopefully it gives the side and their coach, Pia Sundhage, some perspective and some drive moving forward.

Last night, the Lady Nats completed part one of their qualifying comeback, defeating Costa Rica in the third place match, 3-0. They'll face Italy in an away-and-home playoff on November 20th and 27th, respectively for one spot in the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany.

Here's to Mexio (hopefully the last time we've got to say that) for, hopefully, setting the America's head on straight and rebooting their World Cup drive.

3) Abby Wambach


Did you see what happened to Wambach in the USWNT match against Mexico? The Lady Nats' star foward went heavy into a challenge near the end of regulation and bashed her skull open.

USSoccer.com's USWNT Blog takes it from here:
U.S. forward Abby Wambach suffered a gash on the left side of her forehead in the waning moments of the USA's semifinal loss last night to Mexico. The team medical staff had to insert several large staples to close the gushing wound, but there wasn't enough time left on the clock for her to get back on. Back at the team hotel, Wambach received 13 stitches on her forehead and leading up above her hairline.
Staples! Are you kidding me??!?!? And this isn't first time that Wambach's been counted among the walking wounded. She played on after getting mashed in a first-round match in the 2007 World Cup against North Korea as well.

We're ready to put Ms. Abby in the Brian McBride Wing of the "American Soccer School of Hard Knocks".

Put a cold beer on the gash. We promise it will feel better.

Photo Credits: MLSSoccer.com, USSoccer.com, LegendsOfBeer.com

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