NEW YORK -- Giorgio Chinaglia died on Sunday.
Younger and newer soccer fans in the United States probably know nothing about Chinaglia. On Wikipedia, they can learn that he scored 242 goals in 254 games for the New York Cosmos, 98 goals in 209 appearances for Lazio, and earned 14 caps for Italy (including two in the 1974 World Cup).
On YouTube, they can watch his famous assist on a Fabio Capello goal against England at Wembley from 1973 (below). And on Twitter and various blogs, they can discover his famously prickly personality, the one that dared to criticize Pele and in all seriousness said things like: "I am a finisher. That means when I finish with the ball, it is in the back of the net."
But what you can't learn from Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, or Twitter is the symbolism of Giorgio Chinaglia. He was a living symbol of the efforts made in the 1970s and '80s to make soccer a major sport here. Sometimes, he seemed like a ghost of the NASL's bittersweet run, but he was always there, carrying the banner of the game's past that eventually gave rise to the its present.
Unlike Pele or Franz Beckenbauer or Carlos Alberto, Chinaglia remained in New York after he retired from the Cosmos. He didn't just pick up and move on when the money ran out on the NASL. Instead, he stayed, worked in the game, did some TV analysis (including his legendary head-to-head on-air battles with Eric Wynalda during the 2002 World Cup), and c0-hosted a radio show on Sirius XM with longtime friend and soccer executive Charlie Stillitano.
And because of all of that, he was one of the most visible flagbearers for the NASL's ongoing legacy.
MLS, early in its existence, wanted nothing to do with that legacy. The league was meant to be a break from the past, a new venture, one that would not fall into the same patterns and turn down the same dead ends that the NASL did.
But in recent years, MLS' mindset has shifted with regards to the NASL and the past in general. The Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Portland Timbers all chose to fully embrace their NASL histories, right down to the clubs' names. This year, the San Jose Earthquakes -- who likewise adopted their NASL moniker -- celebrated their past by putting historic images on their season tickets. And, of course, there is the on-again, off-again New York Cosmos resurrection.
To me, the remembrance of things past is vital to the success of the present and the potential of the future. I enjoy both watching MLS matches and sporting my Detroit Express t-shirt. It reminds me that, no matter what people around the world say, soccer is not a "new" thing in the US and Canada. It's been around for a 100-plus years.
I believe that Giorgio Chinaglia died appreciating that history. He was just waiting for the rest of us to appreciate it too.
Leave it to Jimmy Conrad to liven up media day, a normally subdued affair defined by the same five questions and lots of fringe players waiting patiently for someone -- anyone -- to meander over and stick a recorder in their face.
Conrad and the KickTV cameras made their way to Red Bulls media day a little more than a week ago to ask the hard-hitting questions normal journalists don't have the courage to ask. You know, things like whether Victor Palsson prefers yogurt or cereal. I won't give anything else away, other than to say Thierry Henry wasn't particularly amused by Jimmy's line of questioning. Seems to be a theme there.
I had the pleasure of being on the other end of the microphone during media day a few years in Kansas City when Conrad was still knocking heads in MLS instead of cracking jokes in front of the camera. Let me tell you, it was nothing like this.
The US Olympic team may have crashed out of the CONCACAF Qualifying tournament earlier this week, but Kansas City is still going to be a happening place for soccer this weekend. And I'm not even talking about Mexico vs. Canada or Honduras vs. El Salvador.
I'm talking about Budweiser Poolball. If you haven't heard of it, which you probably haven't, check out the video below. As someone who enjoys the occasional game of pool and takes any opportunity to kick the ball around, this is a beautiful marriage of footy and nightlife entertainment. Kansas City had the good fortune of having a couple of these tables set up around the city on Thursday and Friday for the lucky residents to enjoy.
If you gave me a day to mess around on one of these tables, if that's the right term, without limit, I would ask for three. Seriously. It's that awesome. I'm sitting at my desk imagining trick shots, seeing-eye combos off the rails and chips cross table. The possibilities are literally endless.
Even more intriguing, what if MLS organized a Poolball tournament around All-Star Weekend? Who wouldn't want to watch Dwayne De Rosario and Graham Zusi go head to head? Thierry Henry vs. David Beckham?
You probably read that headline and thought... I bet he's talking about the record-breaking crowd that packed Olympic Stadium on Saturday. Or maybe what it all meant to Davy Arnaud, the Impact's captain and goalscorer.
You'd be wrong.
The moment that will stick with me the longest came on Friday evening. Not a soul was in the stands. The game itself was still almost 24 hours away. Chicago were winding down their training session, meandering to the benches as a contingent of 20 or so members of the Fire's Section 8 supporters group waited by the sideline to glad hand and shoot the breeze with the guys they were there to see play the next afternoon.
Waiting with them was a seven-year-old boy from Ottawa named Ethan Stroud. Wrapped tightly around his neck was a Fire scarf, but what really stood out was the intricate Chicago crest etched into the back of his head. While Ethan was busy talking to every Fire player who came in his general vicinity, soaking up the words and attention he recieved as he collected autographs on the back of the jersey that bore his last name and the No. 12, I spent a few minutes talking to his mother, Allison Darke.
She told me Ethan, who was born in Chicago, was adopted and that life hadn't always been this easy for the gregarious young man who rarely stopped smiling in the 10 minutes I watched him make what will surely be lifelong memories. He was born blue from lack of oxygen. He is paralyzed down part of his right arm. He hasn't let it slow him down.
He loves soccer, plays every chance he gets, five times a week much of the year. He plays on three teams. According to his mom, Ethan is the "first one in the van and the first one out of the van" when it comes time to head to practice or games.
"He doesn't have an 'I-can't-do-it button,'" she says.
His parents took him back to Chicago last July for his seventh birthday, an opportunity to visit the city where he was born. They didn't have time to catch a Fire game. That would come the next day among the 70 or so Section 8 supporters tucked in the far corner of the Big O's second deck.
At that moment, though, there was nothing more important to Ethan than what was going on around him. After Logan Pause, Dominic Oduro, Dan Gargan, Frank Klopas and the rest of the Chicago players and coaching staff made him feel welcome -- an understatement to say the least -- and signed his new prized possession, he did what any kid in their right mind would do. He ripped off his jacked and pulled the Fire's colors over his shoulders.
I walked away with the feeling that the next day's events would be special, no doubt, but nothing I did or saw that weekend could measure up to the pure, unadulterated joy Ethan got out of that experience.
Those 10 minutes reminded me what life (and soccer) should be all about. Optimism. Hope. Perseverance. Humanity. Too often, it's easy to forget that.
Then a moment like that comes along, and all it takes is a seven-year-old boy having the time of his life to deliver a reminder that what you're doing is just a drop in the bucket.
If you were one of the 47,568 fans at the Rogers Centre for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal between LA Galaxy and Toronto FC, you better hope you weren't picking your nose or making an awkward face at the wrong moment. If you were one of those unlucky few, don't be surprised if your technologically savvy friends give you some grief in the next few days.
That's because there was literally nowhere for fans to hide last Wednesday as their side jumped out to an quick 2-0 lead against LA before coming back down to earth and settling for a 2-2 draw. You can thank Toronto FC for that. The club set up a camera that captured a high-resolution, 360-degree photo of the scene inside the Rogers Centre.
Not only can you zoom in on just about any section of the stadium, making out faces and everything else as clear as day, but fans can also tag themselves, commerating what was a historic night for the club and its supporters. Needless to say, this is pretty awesome technology, and it really gives you an idea of what the stadium looked like on gameday.
Spend five minutes playing with it, and I guarentee you won't be disappointed. You may want to be on your best behavior at matches from now on, however. You never know who's watching.
Palabras no pueden describir lo que se vivió en el JELD-WEN Field de Portland en su noche de debut en la temporada regular de la MLS. Como las palabras no lo pueden hacer, voy a permitir que este mini-video lo haga.
¡Así es como se vive el fútbol de la MLS!
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: