My love for all things Keel Cam is well documented. New York's mop-topped defender is simply magnificent at providing behind-the-scene moments with his own brand of humor and some spot-on one-liners mixed in for good measure.
He's done it again with "Keel Cam Part 5," an examination of what tagging along for team bonding at the golf course with the Red Bulls might be like.
My favorite lines:
"That has house written all over it."
"Dax, grab your balls."
"Maybe stand up on your toes, just to get the full flex."
"Does Bruno Mars have any golf game? The club looks as big as he does."
"Can I introduce my caddy, Mehdi Ballouchy?"
As Ryan Meara says, anything for Keel Cam. Let the ridiculousness begin...
Herculez Gomez handles Twitter about as well as any American soccer player, so it was no surprise when the Santos Laguna striker took to the interwebs early Thursday morning following his side's 2-1 loss against Seattle in the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.
Gomez, who is enjoying a nice run of form after struggling for playing time early in his Santos tenure, scored his side's only goal -- slipping the ball past Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and inside the back post after taking a deft touch with his back to goal -- and was a threat for most of the night, leading his team with five shots (three on goal) and five fouls suffered.
All in all, it was a decent night for both sides. Seattle took control of the tie, earning a one-goal aggregate advantage heading into the second leg, and got a jolt of confidence ahead of their trip to Mexico. Santos, despite being outplayed for most of the match, got their precious away goal, giving them plenty of reason to believe they can shake off the loss in Seattle when they return to Torreón next week.
Beyond the requisite thank yous, Herc dropped a few interesting nuggets that you can find below. #90left was the theme of many of his tweets following the match, a fitting refrain considering MLS sides have had so much trouble earning results in Mexico.
Seattle should be very proud of what they have built in such a short time. I can't wait to bring the series back to the TSM. #90left
— Herculez Gomez (@herculezg) March 8, 2012
With a little prodding from Ives Galarcep, Herc also addressed his burgeoning hair helmet, which was hot topic on Twitter during the match, as well as the attention he received from Leo Gonzalez during his 84 minutes of action.
@SoccerByIves and the fro is only going to get worse... Think Morrison. My jersey took a beating, you can thank the LB for that. #90left
— Herculez Gomez (@herculezg) March 8, 2012
UPDATE: Saturday's games between D.C. United and the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire and Charleston Battery have been canceled due to inclement weather. D.C. win their third straight Carolina Challenge Cup with six points from two games. Chicago finished second with three points.
The original version of the following stories claimed that D.C. United had won the Carolina Challenge Cup based on a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Fire. This was incorrect, and each story has been corrected to reflect that. Tiebreakers, in order of importance, are total points, goal differential and goals scored.
D.C. United will clinch their third stright tournament title on Saturday night if they draw or win against the Columbus Crew. In the case of a D.C. loss, the Fire will win the tournament if they defeat the Charleston Battery and are also able to make up their current defiicit in goal differential — D.C. are plus-three while Chicago are even after two matches. If the teams finish tied on goal differential and points, the title will be awarded to the side which scored the most goals over the tournament's three matches.
CORRECTION: D.C. United has not yet clinched Carolina Challenge Cup championship. I apologize for the confusion. #MLS
— Andrew Wiebe (@AndrewWiebe_MLS) March 3, 2012
Algunos de ustedes ya saben que por unos días dejé a un lado la pretemporada de la MLS en Orlando para “pegarme la rodadita” a Miami y ver el partido amistoso entre la selecciones de México y de Colombia.
Entre las muchas caras conocidas que vi en el entrenamiento de la selección de México estaba Fernando Fiore, el flamante presidente de la Republica Deportiva de Univisión, y de una vez me dije “imagino que debe tener una opinión muy particular del partido”. Aunque sé que la tiene, no me la dio, pero si tuvimos una pequeña – y ventosa – charla sobre este juego y Rafa Márquez… aquí les va:
Dato curioso: cada uno de los cuatro clubes de la MLS que disputará el torneo de pretemporada Desert Diamond Cup en Tucson, Arizona tiene en sus líneas a al menos un jugador latino que no jugó en la MLS en 2011.
New England Revolution contará con John Lozano y Fernando Cárdenas, dos colombianos provenientes del América del Cali.
A su vez, los New York Red Bulls tienen a su propio colombiano en el experimentado Wilman Conde, quien ya había jugado en la MLS con Chicago Fire y regresa para alinearse con los toros de la Gran Manzana.
Por su parte, el Galaxy tiene al brasileño proveniente del Alajuelense de Costa Rica Marcelo Sarvas y al debutante mexicoamericano Rafael García.
Por último, Real Salt Lake cuenta con cuatro jóvenes latinos que participaron en el SuperDraft este año: el uruguayo Enzo Martínez, el brasilero Diogo de Almeida, el argentino Emiliano Bonfigli y el colombiano Sebastián Velásquez.
Los clubes emeleseros tendrán la oportunidad de mirar a sus jugadores en acción para tomar decisiones finales sobre quien será titular, quien será reserva y quien se ira del equipo. La pregunta es simple: ¿Quién de estos latinos tendrá el mayor brillo en Tucson?
The images of freezing players in Wednesday's Zenit St. Petersburg-Benfica Champions League match would make anyone shiver.
It should also give even the biggest "European-calendar" zealot some pause. For one thing, the temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit at kick off. For another, the field at Petrovsky Stadium was a disaster.
Maybe it all gave the Russians a home-field advantage. After all, they pulled off a 3-2 win, thanks to two goals from Roman Shirakov.
But even the Zenit hero himself came out and complained. “Should we play in such freezing cold? I don’t think so,” Shirakov said after the match. “The ball feels like a rock. You could easily break a leg.”
Break a leg? Not good.
The reality is, a game like this is not fun for anyone -- not for the coaches, not for the players, and certainly not for the fans. The conditions aren't that far off from those in, say, Toronto or New England on any given Saturday night in February. Though there would probably be more snow.
So, the question is: Would you really want to go watch games in 17-degree weather? And you, MLS player, would you want to play on that field and kick a "rock"?
Yeah, didn't think so. Neither would I.
There are two topics in American soccer that consistently reappear with all the certainty of death and taxes. One of them is promotion and relegation; I'm not going to touch that with a ten-foot pole.
The other is the notion that MLS should shift to a winter schedule similar to the one used by most of Europe. I say "most of" because there are Scandinavian and Russian exceptions to the rule. For a great read on what you get when soccer is played in stadiums where it is cold enough to hang meat in the stands, check out Jack Bell's latest blog post for the New York Times.
Here's the short version though: players wearing closets full of clothes, cement balls and a pitch that resembles a WWI battlefield.
How playing games --and watching them-- under such conditions could be seen as a viable option in the U.S. and Canada, places where the game is strong but still growing, I'll never know. Call me soft or worse but there is little beauty in watching frigid players endeavor to avoid injury while battling the cold on a rock-hard pitch. Using Russia as an example may seem extreme but when you see comparable temperatures in cities like Montreal, Toronto, Boston and Chicago it's not a total stretch to make the comparison.
I'm not saying soccer shouldn't be played in less than ideal weather but there is a difference between cold and crazy. And staking the future of a young league on February matches in Canada, the Midwest and the Northeast, would fall under the later.
So ask yourself...do you really want a winter schedule?
¡Cuidado Galaxy! No eres el único club de Los Ángeles que sueña con tocar el cielo con las manos.
Al mejor estilo Hollywood, Chivas USA se vistió de pionero y presentó su nueva playera de manera muy particular: durante un vuelo de Volaris de Guadalajara a Los Ángeles el miércoles utilizando a Juan Pablo Ángel, Jorge “Sueño” Villafaña y Dan Kennedy como modelos, seguidos – por supuesto – de las siempre sonrientes ChivaGirls.
Contó Rodrigo Morales, Vice-presidente de Mercadeo del club, que la presentación además de ser muy unica fue también muy simbólica.
“El primer [símbolo] es que es un vuelo desde Guadalajara, donde nuestro club hermano fue fundado, a LA, donde queda nuestra casa. También, mantener a Chivas a esta altitud es importante porque si revelamos nuestra playera de este modo, entonces vamos a necesitar una temporada fantástica en 2012, estoy seguro que pasará”.
Este evento pone a Chivas USA – de temporadas débiles en años recientes – en la obligación de mostrar algo interesante esta campaña. La afición pide nuevas ambiciones por parte de los Rojiblancos y – siendo honestos – al menos uno de los dos equipos de Chivas tiene que hacer un buen trabajo… pero eso solo se hace con los pies sobre la tierra.
Una última cosa, y la pregunta de pronto sobra, pero ¿Si cambió la camiseta?
The Philadelphia Union -- in particular, manager Peter Nowak -- have taken a few hits this offseason. Understandly so, considering some of the messy player transactions, such as the sudden flight of goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and the bizarre Sebastien Le Toux situation. I'm still not clear whether Le Toux was forced to go to Bolton or if he just failed and tried to pass the buck. Either way, he's with Vancouver now.
This all comes on the heels of a late overseas training stint for Danny Mwanga, Kyle Nakazawa's trade to LA, Veljko Paunovic's retirement, and the loss of Justin Mapp in the expansion draft. Plus, don't forget the explanations given by Nowak about Carlos Ruiz's transfer to Mexico.
But there has to be a method to the madness, right? Nowak seems sure. He tweeted this out on Monday in response to a fan's question:
“@Doug_Cutaiar: "I don't need details. Can you just assure me you guys know what you're doing with these moves this off season?” Yes.
— Peter Nowak (@Peter_Nowak) February 14, 2012
That response -- "Yes" -- is so perfect. So simple. So Nowakian.
Lest any of the second-guessers forget, Nowak and the Union are still on the correct trajectory for a club born just two years ago. That is, in Year 2, they improved over Year 1, and even made the playoffs.
So despite the departures and the confusing aftermaths, at some point, everyone needs to have a little faith and give Nowak the benefit of the doubt. After all, he's succeeded everywhere he's been. And so far, he's succeeding in Philly.
The first day of the NASL combine started on the training complex of the Ft. Lauderdale strikers, with the level of play high and a few tiring matches in the heat.
For the weekend, we have been split up into four teams. I am in the white team and we have an international mix with Argentines, Brazilians, Australians, Norwegians and, obviously, an Englishman.
Our goalkeeper Steffen Haraldsen works for the Norwegian parliament and plays semi-pro in Norway. Interesting enough back story you might think, however he also is a massive fan of Major League Soccer and MLSsoccer.com and watches videos on the website everyday. The reach of MLS has apparently extended to Norway.
The standard of play was really high in the first game, which we drew 2-2. The same goes for the temperature. The 80-degree sunshine and high humidity made it a cagey opening as both sides didn’t want to over do it in the heat. The need to conserve energy was key considering there are two more games coming up.
But like I said, the standard is high, with former Genoa and Levante players, Serie A and La Liga teams respectively, among the hopefuls trying out for the NASL. There are 50 or so coaches and scouts watching, and everyone is eager to impress.
Tomorrow we have another game and then an opportunity to relax in the evening, and a few of the lads are going to head to the movies.
Stay up to date with the video blog every day, as I will be updating on the latest news from the NASL combine.