June 30, 2012

Reasons why Americans hate soccer

Recently, Detroit City FC and its supporters have been getting a good amount of attention through various media outlets, namely this Detroit News article. While the reporting has been good for the soccer community, the response of the masses largely hasn't. People in the Metro Detroit area and America in general seem to feel very strongly against the beautiful game, so let's sum up some of the main reasons why.

It's boring: Having to pay attention for a whole 45 minutes at a time is hard for some people in the age of ADD America. The only way people will sit through a 4 hour baseball game is if you keep stewards coming to them to keep them fed and having fireworks after the game.

Diving: Understandable, but still debatable. Drawing fouls is a common part of basketball, so why should it be any different in soccer? There are no time outs or tv commercial breaks aside from halftime, so being able to stop the play and start again is a key strategic facet of the game. Let's be clear - I'm not defending the embellishments that we see from certain players, but to say that drawing a foul is a reason not to like a sport is simply ridiculous, considering how often it happens in the other American sports.

Racism/xenophobia: Yes, Americans are still racist and xenophobic (which means you don't like for'ners). Soccer is largely supported by ehtnic minorities in the states, and is seen as something alien by many. Could anti-soccer sentiment be an offshoot of the immigration debate and concern over the rising Latino population of the US?

To make a statement: I'm still not sure what this statement is, other than "there are things that I don't care about, let me tell you about them". If you really didn't care about soccer, you wouldn't feel the need to talk about it. Ever.

It's not a "real" sport: Neither is poker, auto-racing, or the activity known as "fantasy sports"

Anti-soccer enthusiasts in America don't know what it feels like to be absolutely passionate about something, only to have the majority of people around you not only disagree, but who go out of their way to bring you down a peg because of what you like. So let's make them feel the same way.

Football fans: Your sport is based on Rugby, a REAL man's sport that doesn't use pads or have the lengthy artificial breaks in between plays that you need. Admit it, you need those breaks because it's hard carrying 300 pounds of fat 2 yards at a time. You have instant replays that the officials get wrong roughly 50% of the time, despite a mass of video evidence at their disposal. You claim your sport is rough and tough, but you have rules that protect players from roughness. You need 52 men to play 11 positions. Your players wear spandex and touch each others' butts just about every play, but you think soccer is gay. Football is a thug sport, where your coaches cheat their way to the Superbowl, and your teams pay players to injure other players, thus disrupting their livelihood.

Baseball fans: Your sport is based on book keeping and resembles a math story problem. Your players wear dress slacks. It's one of the select few sports where a fat man can be considered athletic, not because of his speed or skill, but because he can hit stuff hard. Your players use more accessories than a fashion show. One of the most exciting moments is watching an old man kick dirt at another old man. Steroids don't even help to make your sport more exciting, and when a player gets caught using them, they don't even have to disprove that they ever took them. Your games are so long you have a point two thirds of the way through each game designated for getting up and stretching.

Basketball fans: Your players are overpaid and went on strike for more money during one of the worst financial crisises in history. There's 4 teams in your entire league that actually garner interest, primarily because of the egomaniacal children that play for them. People only care about March Madness because of sports gambling; nobody gives a shit about Kansas University for the academics. People only ever cheer if a 7 foot tall player does slight hop and places the ball directly into the hoop. Your sport is fixed.

Hockey fans: Your sport went away for an entire season and the entire country didn't even care or notice.  If the Red Wings had a history of losing like the Lions, nobody would follow them. Visibility is so bad at your events that you need a special light to tell you if your team even scored. Your sport is for toothless tough-guys with posture problems. Just admit it, you only go for the fights.

NASCAR fans: I don't use small enough words to really get down on your level, so here's a ball, try not to hurt yourself.


Soccer fans are the best fans there are. Anyone who has been to a match overseas or south of the border will tell you about the atmosphere and how that regular season game was louder than any championship final here. Go to any regular season sporting event in Detroit and you're at just that; an event. People dont go for the game, they go to take the girlfriend or the family out. They go to woo that client and leave early to beat traffic. They get up and go to the bathroom 3 times a game because of all the breaks inserted into play. They go because they're not expected to do anything. People are more excited to do the wave than to pay attention to the game, and it shows. You can't even get fans to applaud good play that doesn't involve a point being scored.

Face it, you're lazy and uninteresting people and you follow slow sports because your brains just don't fire off synapses fast enough any more. You care more about refreshments and accomodations than supporting your local teams. Sure, you buy the gear, but if you cared about your city you wouldn't feel the need to hate on a local team and the sport they play. You make me embarassed to be a Detroit sports fan.

June 24, 2012

Detroit City FC 1:1 AFC Cleveland

City dropped two points, perhaps deservedly, in the final match of the 2012 Rust Belt Derby.

A new record crowd of 1,743 were on hand to see Detroit take on rust belt rival Cleveland at home. This match swung from one side to the other throughout. Much of the possession was contested throughout midfield, and turnovers were the norm in the run of play. City threatened numerous times in the form of Cyrus Saydee and Stefan St. Louis, but were unsuccessful in converting their chances.

Le Rouge were lucky to get a goal off a bit of sloppy defending, with Keith Lough finding Stefan St. Louis for the finish in the 23rd minute. Le Rouge produced a number of shots in the first half, but would go into the locker room at halftime in the lead 1-0.

The second half saw a shift in Cleveland's tactics, going to 3 at the back and 4 in midfield. This effectively clogged ball movement in the middle, forcing Detroit to rely on wing play and switches. The closest chance near the end of the match was Keith Lough's try from above the 6 yard box. Having broken down the right wing, and around the fullback, Cleveland's keeper rushed out to gather the ball. Lough tucked the ball across the box from near the rear touch line, hopped the keeper, and lashed one towards the net, only to have it cleared off the line by a Cleveland defender. A minute later, Cleveland broke down the right flank and slotted one low past the keeper in the 86th minute. Goal scorer Thomas Schmitt ran over to the Detroit fans and taunted them, and was predictably met with missiles.

The match would end drawn at 1, and Cleveland were presented with the Rust Belt Derby trophy at the conclusion. The result is somewhat disappointing, in that Detroit could've scored at least 1 more goal with the chances they had. Le Rouge needed a win to match Cleveland's 7 points in order to win the Derby. The draw kept them in 2nd place with 5 points, with Cleveland in 1st on 8. It was a bittersweet moment for the inaugural season of not only Detroit City but also the Rust Belt Derby, losing it in the last match at home. But what is football without the passion and the drama.

City remain in first place of the Great Lakes Conference, 3 points above Cleveland who are a game behind.

June 21, 2012

Michigan Bucks 5:0 Cincinnati Kings

The Bucks returned to their scoring ways on Thursday night, racking up 5 against the Cincinnati Kings. Despite each side maintaining equal possession for the first 20 minutes, it was the Bucks who were able to convert first; Tommy Catalano puts a corner kick from the left side into the right position for Justin Sass to deliver a rising header in the 19th minute.

A minute later, the Bucks nearly converted on a fast break turnover immediately following kick-off. The pressure would pay off only minutes later, with the Bucks forcing a free kick on the left flank. Similar to the first goal, Tommy Catalano sends in a high cross, this time meeting up with the other centerback, Kevin Cope, who was unmarked as he raised up and headed home for the Bucks second goal. Michigan continued to threaten in the first half, with Stefan St. Louis rising to almost head the ball out of the keeper's hands, and later nearly flicking a fast ball with one touch over the keeper.

The Bucks continued their plan of attack through pressure in their offensive end. This paid off in the form of Nermin Crnkic forcing a turnover near the left edge of the box. He turned inside towards the 18 and across goal, firing home the Bucks' 3rd goal in the 61st minute. Later, in the 65th minute, Sebastian Harris would collect a throw in and send a low pass in to Tommy Catalano on the right corner of the penalty box, who had no problem hitting in the Bucks' 4th on the 65th minute.

Cincinnati's biggest threats of the match came from a volley at goal in the 67th and a free kick outside the box in the 86th, which was hit into the wall. Constant pressure from deep midfield in the form of Nate Boyden would lead to the break down the left side. A few balls back and forth, and Nate slotted a pass from Kenny Uzoigwe into the net a minute into stoppage time.

The match finished 5:0, with the Bucks extending their 2012 regular season unbeaten streak to 9/9 and their current win streak to 5 wins in a row. Although a game ahead, the Bucks sit in 1st place of the PDL Great Lakes Division, 8 points clear of 2nd placed River City Rovers.

Box Score
19' Justin Sass (Tommy Catalano)
23' Kevin Cope (Tommy Catalano)
61' Nermin Crnkic
65' Tommy Catalano (Seb Harris)
90+1' Nate Boyden (Kenny Uzoigwe)

Nermin Crnkic (76' Kenny Uzoigwe)              Stefan St. Louis (45' Anthony Grant)
Josh Steinberger (68' Bim Ogunyemi)
Tommy Catalano (76' Miche'le Lipari)                   Matt Bahner (68' Adam Hintz)
Nate Boyden
Nate Robinson (72' Steven Miller)                                                 Sebastian Harris
      Kevin Cope                        Justin Sass
Sean Teepen

EURO 2012 Predictions, part 2

Welp, it's time to grade my EURO 2012 Group stage predictions. I predicted the following winners and runners up:
Group A: Russia, Poland
Group B: Germany, Netherlands
Group C: Spain, Croatia
Group D: England, France

In actuality the groups finished like this:
Group A: Czech Republic, Greece; 0%
This group demonstrated that a percieved powerhouse in Russia is just as vulnerable as an underdog like Greece, especially when considering the rules concerning who advances to the knock-out stage in the event of a tie on points. I think the difference in the method used in this tournament compared to the World Cup threw a few people for a loop, myself included. But hey, what's football without a range of permutations for a team's future on the last day of play.

Group B: Germany, Portugal; 50%
Germany were widely favored to win this group and they didn't disappoint. 3 wins in 3 matches is admirable, but this isn't the free-scoring Germany from the 2010 World Cup. Each of Germany's 3 wins was by a single goal, and when considering the wide range of offensive talent that the Germans possess, this team has underperformed up to this point. Germany is of a special class of nations that can win 3 in 3 and be considered underperforming.
The Netherlands, my pick as runners-up, had a dismal showing considering they were knocking on the door of the world title just 2 years ago. Portugal demonstrated that they are more than just Cristiano Ronaldo + 10, and while it may be a stretch to call them underdogs, they did very well for themselves to emerge from the Group of Death after falling to Germany in a close 1-0 match.

Group C: Spain, Italy; 50%
Unless you're a fool for crazy odds and big returns, you probably picked Spain to go through on top of their group, as they should have. The defending European and World champions may have been expected to advance without a hitch, and while drawing Italy wasn't the worst result for them, it could have given the Spanish players the motivation they needed to buckle down for the tournament.
Italy, despite the ongoing match-fixing controversy going on in their domestic league, gave a good acconut of themselves in the three matches. Had they dropped the point in either of their ties they risked being eliminated.

Group D: England, France; 100%
While much can be said about hometown moxy, football pillars England and France were clearly the favorites to go through in this group. Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored what could be the goal of the tournament (latching onto a wonderful Seb Larsson cross with a leaping volley), but good form a group does not win. Apparently neither does goal differential.

Total: 50%
Not my usual 60% when it comes to handicapping matches, but it could have been (slightly) worse. I guess I should stick to the Premiership

So, what will happen in the upcoming matches? Here are my picks

Click to enlarge
My favorites from each squad:
Czech Republic: Petr Jirácek
Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo
Spain: Iker Casillas
France: Samir Nasri
Germany: Mario Gomez
Greece: Giorgios Karagounis
England: Steven Gerrard
Italy: Andrea Pirlo

My Big Upset: Portugal over Spain. Cristiano Ronaldo is finally showing that he can turn in performances on equal par for his country as he does for his club. Clearly he's not the only elite player for Portugal, but he is certainly the talisman that all eyes are focused on. As I said in part 1, I feel like Spain could be in for a shock. Granted, they could come out and completely destroy France, Portugal, and whoever they face in the finals, but my gut tells me that this rivalry could send shockwaves through the tournament with such a result.

My favorite to win: Germany. This is a team bordering on greatness. They're good in competition, but a string of 3rd place and runners-up finishes for the players on the international and club level to me signal a hunger. Not just for the glory, but for pride. If this current crop of German players fail to take home a trophy having fielded a similar team in the past 4-6 years, they could be considered to be the best team never to win it all.

June 16, 2012

Detroit City 3:0 FC Buffalo

Le Rouge made a record crowd of 1,429 proud by coming away with a win over FC Buffalo on the Saturday before Father's Day.

Detroit dominated both on offense and defense and created numerous chances, finishing the night 3:0. The game took on a chippy feel early, with numerous hard fouls and tough challenges. Joey Dillon came off, his arm in his shirt like a sling after falling and being stepped on. Despite the rough match, Detroit was able to keep their cool, denying Buffalo good chances on net for much of the game and constantly pressing on the attack. Numerous fast breaks saw 2 City attackers keeping 4-5 Buffalo defenders on the back foot and scrambling to cover.

The Detroit win and Binghamton's 2:0 win over AFC Cleveland puts Le Rouge into first place of the NPSL Midwest-Great Lakes Division on 16 points, with a goal differential of 13 (20 for and 7 against).

Scoring Summary:
19' Keith Lough (Knox Cameron)
69' Dave Dwaihy (Kyle Bethel)
90' Kyle Bethel (Keith Lough)

Starting XI
Jeremy Clark
Nick Lewin        Kofi Opare (62' Zach Schewee)          Adam Bedell             Josh Rogers 

                                  Spencer Thompson        Joey Dillon (31' Latif Alashe, 77' John Timm)
 Ezekiel Harris (62' Dave Dwaihy)                                                        Cyrus Saydee (79' Jon Evans)
Keith Lough
Knox Cameron (45' Kyle Bethel)

June 15, 2012

Michigan Bucks 1:0 Forest City London, 6/15/12

The Bucks are unbeaten at home in PDL play in 2012
It was a tight game Friday night as the Michigan Bucks hosted Canadian side Forest City London. Coming into the match, the Bucks sit in 1st place in the PDL Great Lakes Division, 5 points ahead of 3rd placed London. With a game in hand and 2 points over 2nd placed River City Rovers, the Bucks had, in this match, an opportunity to pull away from the pack.

The match opened with pressure by the Bucks on the counter-attack, which paid dividends when Steven Miller set up Scott Caldwell for a goal in the 10th minute. The Bucks did well to break up attacks in their defensive third and to keep London on their heels with offensive pressure. They began the match in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation, but shifted during the second half to a 4-2-3-1.

The best chance London had came in the 62nd minute, only to be denied by Adam Grinwis as he came up with a great diving penalty save. While they did threaten on occasion, London would rue their missed opportunities and inability to overcome the gridlock created by the Bucks in the run of play. This, however was not an easy match for the Bucks, their closest opportunity in the second half coming from a free kick; Bim Ogunyemi curls one over the wall, which hits the far post and falls out the Catalano on a run from the free kick fake - his rebound shot, hard and low, is cleared off the line by a scrum of London defenders.

The night ended 1:0 in favor of the hosts. They now sit in 1st place on 19 points, 5 points clear of 2nd placed River City Rovers. Despite the loss, Forest City London remain in 3rd on 11 points, 1 point above Hamilton FC RAGE. The Bucks will face the Toronto Lynx Tuesday the 19th and the Cincinatti Kings Thursday the 21st, both 7:30 @ Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
Check out the PDL standings here

Michigan Bucks:
Adam Grinwis- Stew Given, Sebastian Harris, Kevin Cope, Nate Robinson - Chad Barson - Tommy Catalano, Nate Boyden - Scott Caldwell - Steve Miller, Stefan St. Louis

FC London:
Reece Richardson - Joshua Hughes, Rene DeZorzi, Chris Dillon, Geraldo Garza - Tyler Hemming, Thomas Owens, Gary Ogilvie - Martin Lange, Bryan Da Cruz, Denver Spearman

Goals: 10' - Scott Caldwell (Steven Miller)

Substitutions: 53' Steven Miller Bim Ogunyemi; 60' Stefan St. Louis ↔ Anthony Grant; 71' Nate Robinson ↔ Justin Sass, 79' Nate Boyden ↔ Zach Steinberger, 83' Anthony Grant ↔ Simon Omekanda, 87' Tommy Catalano ↔ Kenny Uzoigwe // 53' Geraldo Garza ↔ Lucas Almeida

Yellow Cards: Nate Robinson, 59' // Rene DeZorzi, 69'; Tyler Hemming, 71', Gary Ogilvie, 78'

June 9, 2012

EURO 2012 Predictions, part 1

With the tournament underway, here's my predictions for the group stage winners and runners up. At the conclusion of the group stage I'll grade my predictions and estimated bracket, and make a second prediction as to how the knockout stage will play out.
My group winners and runners-up:

groupABC D
This would set up the following bracket. I have a feeling we're going to see a number of matches with extra background. I think that England could see Croatia and look at the opportunity as a chance to get revenge after missing out in the last tournament because of a last day qualifying loss to the same team in 2008. I could also see mighty Spain going down in the Semi-finals similar to the 2009 Confederations Cup loss to the United States. Russia will be a strong contender in this tournament, with a number of their players hitting a good run of form while at the same time being put into a group of teams that could struggle to match its level of play. Germany remain my pick for the winner barring any injuries to key players my top two being Philip Lahm and Mesut Özil. If these two can stay healthy throughout the tournament they have the potential to truly exert their will on the game. Both will be hungry after lackluster Champions League results and late tournament exits internationally.
We'll see how accurate this brash decision of mine was on June 19th. Who's your pick?

June 3, 2012

My 2012 Premier League Awards

2012 Premiership Top XI
Walker   Terry   Kompany   Evra

Clint Dempsey   Juan Mata   David Silva   Gareth Bale

Robin Van Persie   Sergio Aguero

Here are who I picked as my top players for each general position. These are the players who consistently performed throughout the season to be the best at their position both in their respective teams as well as in the league. I think that Manchester City followed through well on their goal of winning the Premier league. Having the best players will do that for you.
Best Goalkeeper in 2011-12: Joe Hart, Manchester City, 17 clean sheets, 27 goals conceded
Honorable Mentions: Krul (15), Friedel, Szczesny, Vorm (13)

Best Defender in 2011-12: Vincent Kompany, Manchester City, 15 clean sheets, 3 goals,
Honorable Mentions: Kompany, Terry, Walker, Clichy // Assou-Ekotto, Lescott, Vermaelen, Evra,

Best Midfielder in 2011-12: David Silva, Manchester City, 6 goals 16 assists
Honorable Mentions: Dempsey, Mata, Bale, van der Vaart, Sessegnon, Walcott, Nani

Best Forward in 2011-12: Robin Van Persie, Arsenal, 30 goals
Honorable Mentions: Wayne Rooney (26), Sergio Aguero (22)

Best Transfer: Papiss Cisse, Newcastle United
With 13 goals in 12 appearances since his transfer from SC Freiberg in the January transfer window, Cisse has proven an invaluable asset for Newcastle's fast and high powered offensive machine.

Biggest Disappointment: Joey Barton, Queens Park Rangers
For a man who tweets about himself being the best English midfielder, Barton's wrecklessness has proven to be his greatest weakness. The 12 game suspension he picked up as a result of lashing out at a number of Manchester City players in the last match of the season. Forces outside his own play determined which teams faced the drop, but he's lucky not to have been a catalyst in QPR's relegation.

Best Role Player: Clint Dempsey, Fulham
So much has been said this season about Clint Dempsey. He's one of the top two outfield American players, and the best player abroad. He holds the record for goals in the Prem by an American (50) and got 23 goals in all competitions in 2012, and tied Emanual Adebayor with 17 goals in the Premier league. He's clearly one of the best players at Fulham FC, and he'll be looking for a new club. I'm very interested to see who would try to pick him up as well as the price that they would have to pay for the American. The valuation of the best American abroad could say a lot about the valuations of all American players.
Check out Grant Wahl's interview with Deuce at si.com