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Soccer Culture

07 June 10:13 de la mañana

Just suddenly having [Fabian Johnson] on the squad feels like finding a solution to a problem you'd gotten so accustomed to that you'd stopped even thinking of it as a problem. He's the soccer equivalent of laser eye surgery or getting air conditioning for the first time.

Is Fabian Johnson the irrefutable savior of American soccer? Alone, it's unlikely.

But in Brian Phillips' article on the US men's national team at Grantland, he argues that Johnson is just another reason why US soccer is poised to push the limits on how well – and subsequently, how poorly – they can play.

Essentially, with a more attack-centered mentality and a formation to maximize the talent in the midfield, the potential to produce big-time performances (we're looking at you, Scotland) are ever more likely.

With that being said, against powerhouse teams like Brazil – where a 4-1 loss seemed to sting a whole lot less than a scoreless draw with Canada because, well, the team looked better – the risk of being dumped with an unsightly scoreline is also on the rise.

It's time to drop the "up-and-coming" tagline (it's been far too long), start playing up to the talent available (not to say that the US will consistently take down the world's elite, but just ask the past two World Cup champions, Spain and Italy, if they still get a can't-wait-to-play-them feeling in their stomachs when they see the United States on their schedule), and stop accepting losses to teams well below the Americans' capabilities (a la Panama in the 2011 Gold Cup on US soil).

"By gambling that he can teach the USMNT to walk before it's really gotten world-class at crawling," Philips writes, "Klinsmann is taking an already chancy situation and stirring in a fresh vial of crazy."

With the 2014 World Cup as the ultimate showcase of Klinsmann's US side, perhaps straying from the status quo and going for glory is just the type of craziness we need.

04 June 12:50 de la tarde

Buriram United

Anthony Ampaipitakwong's new home is Thunder Castle.

More accurately, San Jose are in negotiations with Thai Premier League side Buriram United over the transfer of Ampaipitakwong to the reigning league champions, which are also known as Thunder Castle and have a stadium to cement that impressive moniker (see above).

All in all, it looks like a solid move for Ampaipitakwong, who was on the outside looking in during his time with the Quakes. He heads to a team with Asian Champions League ambitions, a sweet nickname and a 24,000-seat stadium worthy of the Thunder Castle brand. Buriram United even have an English-language website, meaning Ampai's fans in the United States can follow his every move.

01 June 3:56 de la tarde

They aren't even top half of their own league – ninth of 12 teams in the Gran Liga de Oxnard to be exact – but Cal FC are playing on the big stage.

Fox Soccer announced Friday that they would be televising the US Open Cup fourth round match between Cal FC, which is coached by Eric Wynalda, and the Seattle Sounders at Starfire Stadium (correction: The story previously stated incorrectly that the game would be played at CenturyLink Field) live on Tuesday (10 pm ET). In other words, Cinderella is going to the ball and a camera crew will be following her around to document the whole thing.

That's good news for US Open Cup aficionados, of which there seem to be many in the early stages of the 2012 competition. Don't go betting the farm on Cal FC just yet though. They may have knocked off a Portland side that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but the three-time defending champions are up next and aren't likely to be so wasteful.

Still, they'll get their moment in the spotlight with plenty of reason to believe they can compete at the very least.

01 June 10:29 de la mañana

Ce dimanche, le Canada reçoit les États-Unis dans les cadre des festivités du centenaire de l’Association canadienne de soccer.

Le premier duel entre les deux équipes est aussi le premier match à domicile de l’histoire de l’équipe nationale canadienne. Il a eu lieu le 27 juin 1925 à Alexandra Park, stade de Montréal domicile du club CNR (Canadian National Railway), basé à Pointe-Saint-Charles (si l’un d’entre vous sait où était situé ce terrain, merci de partager l’information).

Environ 3500 personnes ont assisté à la rencontre. Six joueurs du Québec faisaient partie du onze de base canadien. L’un d’entre eux, Ed McLaine, a inscrit le seul but de la partie peu après le quart d’heure. Finisseur redoutable évoluant au poste d’intérieur droit, McLaine a plus tard défendu les couleurs de Providence, dans le championnat des États-Unis, professionnel à l’époque.

Le match de ce dimanche sera le trentième affrontement officiel entre les deux pays.

Canada : Arthur Halliwell, George Campbell, Andy Clarke, Fred Dierden, John B. Foy, Bill McKean, Roy Faulkner, Jim Galloway, Ed McLaine, Dave McKenzie, Alex Smith
États-Unis : Jimmy Douglas, Irving Davis, Jock Ferguson, Tom Stark, Tommy McFarland, Henry Meyerdierks, Barney Battles, Davey Brown, Archie Stark, Bob Millar, Tom Florie
Arbitre : Horace S. Lyons
Le but : 16e McLaine (1-0)

31 May 10:49 de la mañana

Le Cal FC, Petit poucet de la Coupe des États-Unis, a réussi l’énorme surprise des seizièmes de finale, en gagnant à Portland 0-1 après prolongation (résultats complets ici).

De quoi susciter l’embarras du président du club de MLS, qui s’est excusé auprès de ses supporters, et permettre l’espace d’une soirée au Cal FC de faire partie des… tendances mondiales sur Twitter !

Le Cal FC est un club basé à Thousand Oaks, à environ 60 kilomètres à l’ouest de Los Angeles. Il a vu le jour en 2010 et évolue dans la « Gran Liga de Oxnard », une des divisions régionales de la USASA, le 5e niveau du soccer aux États-Unis.

Entraîné par l’ancien international américain Eric Wynalda, il est composé d’éléments locaux, jeunes (le plus âgé a 26 ans) et compte en ses rangs quelques joueurs prometteurs qui n’ont pas réussi à décrocher de contrat professionnel.

Avant de rêver aux exploits de Quevilly (club de D3 arrivé en finale de la dernière Coupe de France), le Cal FC devra commencer par passer l’écueil des huitièmes de finale : un déplacement à Seattle, triple tenant du titre !

Et vous, suivez-vous la Coupe des États-Unis ? Préférez-vous voir les équipes de MLS y démontrer leur suprématie ou s’y faire surprendre par des « petits » ?

30 May 10:00 de la mañana

Pour une équipe qui a des ambitions internationales, remporter la coupe de son pays est un chemin rapide pour accéder à la scène continentale. La Coupe des États-Unis ne fait pas exception.

Alors que le championnat est une épreuve d’endurance qui n’offre qu’une place en Ligue des champions (et deux autres aux finalistes de la Coupe MLS), il suffit de 5 rencontres à une équipe de MLS pour s’y qualifier via la coupe. On peut même y racheter sa saison, mais tout faux pas est interdit ! Le palmarès de cette vénérable épreuve presque centenaire montre toutefois qu’elle échappe rarement à un club de MLS depuis 1996.

Après deux tours qui ont opposé des équipes de divisions inférieures, les équipes de MLS entrent dans la danse cette semaine à l’occasion des seizièmes de finale. Toutes têtes de série, elles ne s’affrontent pas entre elles, ce qui n’a pas empêché 7 surprises à l’occasion des 14 rencontres disputées ce mardi. Pour les détails, voyez la couverture exhaustive offerte par mlssoccer.com.

Les supporters se passionnent aussi pour ce qu’on appelle le Petit poucet de la compétition, l’équipe de la division la plus faible. Au stade actuel, c’est le Cal FC (USASA), qui se déplace à Portland ce soir. Car les surprises font le charme de la coupe où, sur un seul match, les plus grands exploits sont possibles !

29 May 4:03 de la tarde

Schellas Hyndman is not a man worth messing with. Fortunately for MLS fans, comprehensive video backing that assertion up pops up from time to time.

The latest proof that pushing Hyndman too far is a terrible, no good, very bad idea comes from this video of the FC Dallas manager dropping a grown man to his knees with barely a touch. Hyndman was taking part in a radio interview that turned from soccer to, apparently, submission moves, prompting the black belt to demonstrate on one of his interviewers.

In case you were unaware of the former SMU head coach’s martial arts prowess, read this story from 2008 detailing Hyndman’s upbringing and eventual status as a master of self-defense. It’s fascinating stuff.

And in case you need further proof, here is a well-worn video that cements Hyndman as MLS’ toughest head coach (you can skip ahead to the 16-second mark).

24 May 12:25 de la tarde

Chicago Fire striker Dominic Oduro once bet his entire salary in a race against (the, in fairness, not professional athletes that are) his front office colleagues Brendan Hannan and Jeff Crandall. That might seem foolish, until you consider that Oduro thinks he is the fastest man in MLS.

The idea that anyone not named Usain Bolt would beat him in a race probably seems absurd to him, and it turns out that his confidence, in this case, was justified.

But apparently the Ghanaian's blazing speed is not reserved solely for the field. In the commercial below, you'll see Oduro get an entire shopping cart full of groceries in the five minutes until the supermarket closes and still have time for a shirtless celebration. If that's not impressive, I don't know what is.

Now when are we going to see him actually race someone so we can definitively settle the "fastest man in MLS" question once and for all? How about it, Dane Richards?

22 May 12:45 de la tarde

When his Colorado Rapids fell behind early in last weekend's match against Sporting Kansas City, manager Oscar Pareja kept his composure. He was confident in his players and their ability to fight their way back to salvage a result in the game.

Then again, Pareja knows a thing or two about playing under pressure.

Twenty years ago, Pareja was the star and captain of Independiente Medellin in Colombia, which at the time, was associated with the drug czar Pablo Escobar. In ESPN columnist Rick Reilly's latest column, Pareja tells the story of the time he received an invite to play against Escobar in his government-built prison – an offer he couldn't really refuse, for all the obvious reasons. It's not an easy story for Pareja to tell, but Reilly's column is a worthy read.

21 May 5:39 de la tarde

In case you didn't notice during Saturday's Chivas USA-LA Galaxy SuperClasico -- how could you not see it? -- Blair Gavin's mustache caused a little mini-stir.

It wasn't that the Goats' midfielder is now sporting a mustache. That's no big deal in this age of Movember and hipster irony. 

No, it's the style. Gavin's 'stache is downright stylish. It's Salvador Dali-esque, with a twist of Rollie Fingers and a whisp of Errol Flynn. It should be honored by the American Mustache Institute.

Anyway, it got us thinking about some of the other mustaches in recent MLS history, such as David Horst's "Horstache" or Heath Pearce's homage to John Oates or even Sacha Kljestan's Inspector Clouseau look.

And of course, we then had to know: Which is the best?