Soccer, mostly, but some other stuff, too

Archive for May, 2010

USA vs. England, v4.5 (1976)

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Any soccer fan knows of the USA’s historic 1-0 win over England in the 1950 World Cup (and if you don’t, you’ll be hearing enough about it in the next two weeks to fill you in). But, 34 years ago today, an American team of sorts played the English in a little-known, little-remembered game that’s but a footnote in US soccer history.

The event was the US Bicentennial Cup, held in (you guessed it) 1976 and featuring England, Italy, Brazil and a “USA” team made up of stars from the North American Soccer League. Thus, international stars such as Pele and Bobby MooreRodney Marsh and George Best were originally on the team, but pulled out – made up the American side, along with just six actual Yanks.

As you might have guessed, it didn’t go well.

The US team lost 4-0 to Italy on May 23 in Washington, then 2-0 to Brazil in Seattle five days later (Pele refused to play against his countrymen, not that it mattered). And, on May 31, in front of 16,239 Memorial Day celebrants at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, England delivered the final blow with a 3-1 win. Here are some second half highlights (which do not, unfortunately, include the only USA goal of the tournament, scored by Tampa Bay’s Stewart Scullion):

The Brazilians won the round-robin tournament with a 3-0-0 mark. By the way, the English FA does not consider this match to be an official one, and awarded no caps to its players. A 2001 FIFA decision would have retroactively removed it from any list of official internationals anyway, as it was not between selections of two FIFA member nations.

So, just so you have it, here is the official list of meetings between the US and England, in the lead-up to the June 12 World Cup fixture:

Date Result Site
6/29/1950 USA 1-0 Belo Horizonte, Brazil
6/8/1953 England 6-3 New York
5/28/1959 England 8-1 Los Angeles
5/27/1964 England 10-0 New York
6/16/1985 England 5-0 Los Angeles
6/9/1993 USA 2-0 Foxboro, MA
9/7/1994 England 2-0 London
5/28/2005 England 2-1 Chicago
5/28/2008 England 2-0 London

If they hold a Sesquicentennial Cup in 2026, I would imagine we could use our actual national team (though 2026 is a World Cup year and they’ll be a bit busy, hopefully).

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May 31st, 2010 at 9:20 am

The World Was Not Enough

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I was just thinking the other day that I’m about ready for some football. But for the next couple of months, we’ll have to be content with other things. Here’s a great recent find, though – the end of a World Football League game between the Chicago Fire and the Jacksonville Sharks at Soldier Field on July 17, 1974. Your play-by-play announcer is Mike Patrick, known to you for many years as an ESPN announcer, but at the time the sports director at WJXT-TV in Jacksonville.

As a side note, Fire quarterback Virgil Carter’s jersey (not the one he’s wearing in this clip, his red one) hangs in Lou Malnati’s Pizza in downtown Naperville, Illinois.

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May 28th, 2010 at 11:58 am

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Things That Make You Wonder

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How come Fast Company’s annual “The 100 Most Creative People in Business” issue always features an incredibly uncreative cover?

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May 28th, 2010 at 10:05 am

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Put Some Clothes On!

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This statue in downtown Phoenix, titled “Full Life Reach” is normally nude, but not this week, with the Suns playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals. Thanks to Ron Artest, the Lakers lead 3-2 with Game 6 tomorrow night here. (Thanks to my dog Angela Cook for the photo.)

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May 28th, 2010 at 9:19 am

More On Athletica’s Folding (Updated)

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From an actual reporter on the ground, and not just bloggers and fans who let the hurt blind them to simple explanations, we get this from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Tom Timmerman.

The different fates for the men’s and women’s teams happened because of different decisions by their leagues.

The WPS board of governors, which had considered taking over the Athletica, decided “the operational hurdles and finances just didn’t work out,” commissioner Tonya Antonucci said. With no funds available for the team’s debts and its ongoing payroll and operations, the Athletica folded.

Meanwhile, U.S. Soccer, which administers AC St. Louis’ league, looks headed toward reaching a deal for providing necessary funding. That deal to keep the team running through the rest of the season, and possibly beyond, could happen next week.

WPS is sexist, obviously. They must hate women if they didn’t opt to fund the team the rest of the way, right? I mean, it can’t be anything simpler than that, amiright? Couldn’t just be “operational hurdles and finances,” could it?

It’s simple when you’re angry to lash out and ignore the simple solution. But in things like this, Occam’s Razor usually comes into play.

EDIT: More from the Alton Telegraph’s Pete Hayes here, including this interesting tidbit:

“Even though the Vaids could have breached their contract, Cooper can’t just start putting his own money back into the club. If he did, that could be a breach of contract on his part. He could try to get a court order allowing him to fund the teams while looking for an investor, but arbitration is required first. But for arbitration, both parties need to be present. Without the Vaids, that’s going to be difficult.”

That’s a bit beyond me, but I don’t have much of a head for contract law. How true that is, we don’t know. But if it’s true, does that change anyone’s opinion of Cooper?

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May 28th, 2010 at 6:18 am

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The Things You See Sometimes

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I’ve been collecting these photos in my phone.


Saw this wine in Costco. Really? Seriously? Are you like seventh-graders who just discovered what that means?


Hey, only one of you ladies at a time!


This 3D-ish poster of former Lions quarterback Joey Harrington was at the local 99¢ store. I thought of getting it for my man Rob Colosia, but that would have been cruel.


Found this one in the toy aisle. Hooters waitress not included.

And I was taking a picture of myself with a sign promoting the USA Team Handball National Championships last weekend in Las Vegas when this random woman popped her head in my picture! (Actually, that’s my awesome girlfriend, Brenda.)

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May 27th, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Arrivederci, Athletica

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch confirms and Women’s Professional Soccer is supposed to officially announce soon the demise of Saint Louis Athletica for financial reasons.

The tandem of Athletica and AC St. Louis has been under severe pressure recently after overseas investors supposedly pulled their support of the clubs.

Now, there’s no way to spin this (though WPS will certainly try, as they did when the Los Angeles Sol went under). It may very well be that WPS has seven healthy franchises going forward, but it’s never a good thing – from a competitive standpoint or a public perception standpoint – when you lose two teams in four months.

The people who resurrected the women’s professional game knew this was a fragile thing – and it would have been, even in a normal economy. Maybe they can come through this, get through 2010 and still make a go of it. But unless all of the investors they currently have are united and committed, they’re going to struggle to overcome the perception that they’re Just Another Failed Soccer League.

As for those who would ask, “Why would you get rid of the women’s team that’s cheaper to run than the men’s team?” I would say this: at this moment, they’re looking for investors to try to “secure the long-term future” of the entire enterprise. All you need to do is look at history and see how many people have, over time, invested in men’s pro outdoor soccer versus the number who have, over time, invested in women’s pro outdoor soccer. It may be that they felt they’d have a better shot finding a white knight to invest in AC St. Louis than in finding one for Athletica. There’s no question that a men’s outdoor team or league has a far greater upside (and, yes, a far greater expense, but I don’t think they’re looking at it that way, nor would they sell it that way to potential investors) than its distaff version.

The NASL (of which AC St. Louis is a part) is also in a battle with USL, one that will come to a head (again) over this winter when both sides try to get USSF sanctioning for second division play in 2011. All things considered, it’s very likely that the St. Louis and NASL folks felt that – for now at least – the men’s show must go on.

That’s unfortunate for fans of Athletica – and the women’s game – but it’s economic reality.

EDIT: Here is WPS’ official statement. Their spin is that they now have the same number of teams as last year and that the early years of any new league are a challenge. Both true. But having done so well to launch and to complete season one in the midst of the Great Recession, the appearance of having lost two teams in four months is a pretty big blow to absorb.

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May 27th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

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Landon Donovan’s This Is Sportscenter Commercial

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I’m not a huge fan of ESPN or Sportscenter and I think these promos largely jumped the shark years ago, but this one made me chuckle, and Landon Donovan did a nice job with it.

That’s much better than Donovan’s Mexican Lottery spot, though not as unintentionally comedic.

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May 27th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

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Studio G

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We’re state of the art here. This is the new top-of-the-line broadcast studio in my office.

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May 26th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Best Goal Of The Weekend

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I have lots to write about our trip to Las Vegas this weekend, but before I (finally) go to bed, this dramatic ending to one of the semifinal matches at the National Team Handball Championships.

Quick scene-set: The New England Freeze (in white) and their regional/league rival and defending national champion New York City Team Handball Club are tied 26-26 late in overtime. A foul is called on New York as the clock runs out. New England gets one shot – and one shot only – from 9 metres to try to win, else we’re still tied and we’re going to penalty shots to decide who moves on to Sunday’s final. New England puts the ball in the hand of Marco Betsch. Here’s what happened:

Good stuff. The finals were fun, too. More later.

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May 24th, 2010 at 10:40 pm

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