This huge soccer riot that erupted in Egypt is probably the most shocking thing I have ever seen on the soccer pitch, and not in a good way. After watching this, it makes me thing when fans take sports too far. Sometimes I feel like I want the game more than the players on the field, but this is just awful. The fact that people and the players were put into that kind of situation is just unimaginable. An event like that should never occur. I’m not only talking about violence, but I’m also talking about threats. That too, is taking sports too far. A prime example would be the recent death threats to San Francisco 49er KR Kyle Williams. Sometimes I think the fans just need to take a deep breath and realize this is just a game, including me.
It seems like this problem-child stuck again and this time Mario Balotelli’s career at Manchester City could be at jeopardy after yesterday’s embarrassing debacle. When Manchester City took on the Los Angeles Galaxy in the World Football Challenge, David Silva slipped in a ball that allowed Balotelli clear on goal, but instead of shooting the ball, he decided to back-heel the ball at goal. I’m not sure if he was trying to act cool or show boat, but whatever it was, it was absolutely embarrassing. Not only did he make his club look bad, he made himself look like an absolute fool. Just when I thought the Theyab Awana’s back-heel penalty was disrespectful, this was just about topped that. Balotelli had no need to “show off” especially with the game only 1-0 in the 29th minute. That just shows his respect for the game and the Galaxy’s players. His coach thought the same thing, as he was immediately subbed off to a nice scolding by manager Roberto Mancini. This 20-year old is no stranger when it comes to clashing with managers as Jose Morinho (one of the best managers on this planet) called Balotelli uncoachable. Mario has had constant criticism for his lack of work ethic and being a team player.
Who the f*ck do you think you are, Balotelli? You only made a total of 17 appearances for your club last season with only 6 tallies by you name. I don’t think you are in any position to show boat, let alone attempt a heel flick. Who seriously tries to score with a back-heel on a breakaway in an actual game? This should never happen. I don’t think I have ever seen any player attempt that in a pro match. Have you been watching too many soccer clips? What Mario did was disrespectful to the game and to the fans. It makes me absolutely sick to watch this kid waste his talent away. I would die to have his opportunity.
Although he is still young, Mario could have burned his bridges with the team here, which is a shame. This was supposed to be a big year for young lad with Tevez looking to depart from the team, Balotelli was supposed to be the featured striker (until or if ever Aguero transfers over). It’s looking like Mario is taking more steps backwards instead of forward in his young career. I would not be surprised to see him in another team’s jersey before the end of this EPL season. At this rate, perhaps a Has Been of the Month in the near future?
Passion, suspense, drama; this World Cup had it all. In the fourteen years I have been watching soccer, this is one of the best major soccer tournaments I have ever seen, women and men’s. It was full of surprises and improbable comebacks; it has Disney written all over it. This tournament, easily, had a couple of the best soccer games I have seen in a very long time. It was definitely better than the letdown in South Africa or the noncompetitive Gold Cup. This Women’s World Cup displayed brilliance in the closing moments on numerous occasions with underlying stories behind each of them. From the United States trying to get out of their 99’ shadows to Japan playing for a broken nation, this World Cup was something special.
Here were some of my favorite moments.
- Canada’s Christine Sinclair refused treatment after breaking her nose then proceeded to curl in a nasty free kick in the 82nd minute in a 1-2 defeat to Germany.
- French internationals Geatine Thiney, Elodie Thomas, and Corine Franco posing nude to garner publicity.
- Hungarian referee Gyoengyi Gaal allowing Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna to catch the ball off a deflection from the post and drop/play the ball like nothing happened.
- North Korean coach Kim Kwang Min blaming their loss to the USA due to some of their players being struck by lightning.
- England and its penalty crisis.
- USA’s Abby Wambach’s game tying header in stoppage time of the 2nd extra time against Brazil, allowing USA to prevail in a penalty shootout on the anniversary of the 99’ World Cup winning penalty shootout.
- Japan’s Karina Mayuma’s game winning goal in the 108th minute to stun two-time World Cup defending champs and hosts Germany.
- USA’s Alex Morgan.
- And off course the World Cup Final.
Regardless of which team you were rooting for, this final delivered excitement and drama. The United States looked like the more dominant side throughout most of the game, but couldn’t squander their chances. When they did finally tuck one in, they gave Japan life by not being able to clear the cross to safety. In extra time, Wambach gave the USA a slight lead in the 104th min., but once again Japan showed their resiliency by tying the game off a Sawa flick in the 117th min. Then in a penalty shootout, everything went wrong for the United States as they missed their first three shots. The underdog Japanese squad, once again, pulled another surprising upset, this time winning the World Cup for the first time in their nation’s history. From a neutral prospective, it was a beautifully played match. Heck, even the referring was really impressive, as the game flowed smoothly.
Hats off to the Japan’s Women’s National Team as they perhaps just pulled their version of the “Miracle on Ice”. Me, being half-Japanese, wrote this team off before the tournament even started. Oh man, was I wrong. The crown was well deserved, especially when you have to beat teams like Germany, Sweden, and the United States. Nobody had picked Japan to win those games, but they somehow pulled it together in the end and produced an astonishing finish. The team showed good character as they used the inspiration of the natural disaster to stir their will to win for their country. With everything that has happened with the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis, the World Cup was able to reunite the Japanese people giving them something to cheer about. The soccer gods or god ,in general, was definitely watching over this team. Watching the way this tournament unraveled for them was just destiny.
Also, congrats to the USA Women’s National Team, they too played hard and got the nation talking about soccer (which is very rare). The World Cup Final only broke a record for tweets per second (7,196), topping the death of Osama bin Laden. It was a very good run and final. It just wasn’t their time. They should be proud.
Yes, two Women’s World Cup posts in two days and we have a good reason to. Just when I thought I saw perhaps the best soccer game of the year thus far yesterday, the United States v. Brazil matchup just topped it. After going up one nil in the first 75 seconds, thanks to an own goal by Brazil, nothing went right for the United States. When I mean nothing, I mean zilch. It looked like everything was going Brazil’s way once the referee awarded a very controversial penalty (…..wait, two penalties kicks) and sending off of Buehler. IMO, this is the worst f’n call I have ever seen in my entire life of watching soccer. Yeah, Marta pulled a sick flick over two US defenders, but she didn’t have full control of the ball afterwards. She went airborne in an attempted shot which resulted in her and Buehler’s legs getting tangled. Buehler was just in the wrong place in the wrong time and no malicious intent was involved. For a referee to award a penalty, let alone a red card, is absolutely ridiculous. What’s even worse was the lovely Hope Solo (I want to marry you now) made a magnificent save on the penalty kick attempt, only to be retaken due to her “moving off of the lateral line”. I’ve seen so many goal keepers take 2-3 steps forward and never get called. Solo did nothing wrong and moved laterally instead of in a forward direction. This is clearly a legal move by all FIFA standards. Some may argue that a US player may have run into the box early, but what kind of ref seriously calls that? That is a kind of call you see in my recreational soccer league here in San Antonio. This referee crew was inconsistent throughout the entire match and has no business ever stepping field in any World Cup. This wasn’t the only huge call the crew missed, but Marta’s second goal was assisted in an offside possession. I don’t know how much Brazil paid these refs, but their officiating was absolutely pathetic in all soccer standards.
The United States was not only competing against Brazil, but also had a duel with the referees. Thank goodness justice was served. In the final seconds of stoppage time of the second extra time, the United States finally made an opportunity count. After having a few unlucky possessions, Rapinoe kept her cool and made a beautiful cross towards the back post to connect with Wambach. Abby showed her composure and provided the States with a world class finishing, tying the game in dramatic fashion. With the Brazilians stunning, thinking they had won the game, it was all set it done in penalties. The United States showed why they are ranked the number one team and finished all of their penalties with ease, also getting another big save from Hope Solo. How many legal saves does she have to make in one game? The United States, like Japan, showed heart and resiliency. Not only were they down a player but they were down a goal. They never gave up and showed strong mentality throughout the match even when things aren’t going their way. Many teams would have faltered in that situation, after going down a man (or should I say woman). Team USA showed the heart of a champion. This game could not have ended in a more dramatic fashion, especially on the anniversary of their 99’ World Cup winning shootout. I am proud to call myself a US national soccer fan, no thanks to the men’s team. This couldn’t have been scripted any better. Congrats to our US women’s team. Into the semi’s we go.
Final: USA 2-2 Brazil (5-3 PKs)
Player of the Match: Hope Solo, GK
Photos courtesy of Yahoo Sports.
I don’t claim to be a big women’s soccer fan, but understand a few basic things: Germany is the clear-cut favorite this year, the tournament is in Germany, USA’s women team could probably beat the men’s team at this point. I tuned in kind of late when resident soccer guru Mr. Takase (aka J-Gome) told me it was one of the best games he’s seen all year. I was not disappointed and was ecstatic when Maruyama scored the game’s winning goal by going far-post after a beautiful lob pass by Sawa. It may not seem like much, but let’s put this into perspective:
– Maruyama’s goal in the 107th minute was the latest goal in Women’s World Cup History.
– Germany had 23 shots as opposed to Japan’s 9.
– Germany has won the past 2 Women’s World Cups.
– Germany is ranked as the #2 team in women’s soccer (3/18/11); unbeaten in previous 16 matches.
– Germany was favored by just about everyone.
Germany should have won this game and was in attack mode for much of it. Japan didn’t really flash that much offense and spent a lot of it’s time trying to absorb the attacks. However, they made one possession count in extra time. You take this into account after everything that happened with the earthquake and how it devastated Japan and this is a huge win not only for their soccer team, but for the country as a whole. Congrats to Japan, this was one of the biggest upsets in Women’s World Cup history.
1. Did Jim Tressel make the right decision of stepping down as head coach?
Today, Jim Tressel officially resigned as head coach with the Buckeye nation continuing to draw heat for players receiving improper benefits during his tenure. It was earlier this week when former Ohio State receiver Ray Small told the school newspaper that he (and many of his teammates) sold Big Ten Championship rings and other school memorabilia for cash. Many players also received “special” deals on cars. Jim Tressel knew about this but failed to neither act nor inform NCAA officials. He later lied to the NCAA about his knowledge regarding this matter and that has brought him all sorts of heat. Tressel received an email that disclosed information about his players selling items for cash, but he decided to turn his head.
I believe Tressel made the right decision. He had no choice but to step down. Lying to the NCAA is never excusable as a coach. We saw what happened to Bruce Pearl in Tennessee. I even think Tressel knew this was going on long before Pryor getting caught. Why would he lie to the NCAA if he wasn’t doing anything wrong? It’s good to see some setbacks in the Ohio State football program since Michigan sell off like no other. Perhaps Big Blue might win a game for a chance? As for Tressel, he has a very impressive football resume (106-22 in ten seasons at OSU) and should have no problems finding a job in the new future.
Who will become the new Buckeye head coach to open the 2011 season?
2. Should baseball do more to protect its catchers?
There have been talks and speculations that the MLB needs to think about protecting its catchers and base runners after witnessing Buster Posey’s season-ending injury. Posey ended up fracturing his tibia and tearing ligaments in his ankle in a collision at home plate with Florida’s Scott Cousins. Now the face of the Giants’ franchise is lost for the year.
Changing the rules to protect the catchers? Are you serious? I think this whole idea is a complete JOKE. This injury is nothing more than a freak accident, yet people are looking into more than it should be. The NFL is about to become a flag-football league, so let’s not mess up the MLB too. IMO, none of this talk would have even stirred if it were anyone else instead of Buster Posey. Collisions at the plate are part of the game and shouldn’t be tampered with. Right?
3. Would you consider him ballsy or just a retard?
Who am I talking about? The one and only; Jason Terry. Reports and images have surfaced of Terry’s newest tattoo that he had done back in Oct. Apparently, Terry guaranteed to win the NBA Finals before the season began and proceeded to even get a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy on his right bicep. Don’t believe me? Check it out.
Personally, I think Jason Terry is an idiot. He is nothing more than a poster boy for the Dallas Mavericks, symbolizing their underachievement. I hate all of his little childish, stupid antics on the court. The fact that he got a tattoo of the championship trophy before the season began doesn’t surprise me one bit. I really hope Dwayne Wade makes you his poster-child Jason Terry.
Heat 4-2 Mavs
4. Is there a dynasty brewing in Barcelona?
Barcelona became the kings of Europe for the second time in three years as they outclassed Manchester United to a 3-1 win. With already classified as the champs of Spain and Europe, can we consider this Barcelona squad one of the best clubs of all-time?
After seeing Barca pick-apart my favorite team, I am convinced that Messi and Co. are one of the best starting XII’s to ever see the pitch. The fashion in which Barcelona plays is nearly impossible to beat. Barcelona’s midfield has been simply unstoppable for the past three seasons. Sir Alex Ferguson said it in the simplest of words, “In my time as a manager I would say yes, this is the best team I’ve faced.” This is coming from one of the bests, if not the best, soccer manager in the world.
5. Did Dan Wheldon win the Indy 500? Or did J.R. Hildebrand lose it?
J.R. Hildebrand had the win in his sights, but he crashed on the final turn, making way for Dan Wheldon to steal the victory.
I’ll admit I’m not a huge Indy/Nascar fan. Hell, I’m not a fan at all. But, with this being the 100th anniversary of the running of the first 500, all eyes were on Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With Hildebrand choking the race away, what do you think Wheldon’s response would be if one would ask if Hildebrand lost the race, instead of Wheldon winning it? I have a feeling this dude got lucky and he will never hear his name again.
This could be the biggest choke-job in Indy history. Remarkable finish regardless.
Manchester United and Barcelona are set to clash at Wembley with the biggest prize in club football on the line, making it a rematch of the 09’ Champions League Final. Barcelona ended up running away with a 2-0 victory in 09’, but United are looking to return the favor.
Believe all the hype as this Champions League Final will be showcasing, arguably, the two best clubs in the world. Both clubs have respectably won their domestic leagues in fashion and will field some of the world’s top players. Although, Barcelona are the favorites, I wouldn’t bet against Manchester United.
United comes into the final as a more complete team compared to their 2009 squad. Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, many criticized Manchester’s lack of “flair and flash”, but that has only made them better. The team possesses the ball much better and attacks as a unit; not individually. With other players having to step-up, it has made the Red Devils unpredictable.
Upending Barcelona will be no easy task, but Manchester has a very capable squad. Barcelona loves putting heavy offensive pressure on their opponents, so United’s best defense will be to attack right back. In my opinion, Manchester played too defensive minded in 09’. They are led by their superstar, Wayne Rooney, who has been on a Champions League tear. His pairing with Hernandez has created a dynamic goal-scoring duo. These two strikers must finish their opportunities. They cannot leave goals off the board.
The biggest challenge for United will be the midfield. Barcelona’s midfield loves to pass teams to death; therefore United’s need to contain their opposition. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes must be able to control the middle and hold possession. Also, Nani must make his presence on the wing. He has the capability of taking you off the dribble and putting pressure on your defense. These three players can stretch your midfield vastly. The midfield will be critical as it will dictate the shape of either team.
Tactically, I would like to see United play more offensive minded and put the pressure on Barca early. Manchester usually plays defensive minded in Champions League competition, but in my opinion they are going to need to switch it up here. If United let’s Barca settle into their half, they will eventually give up goal. The best defense for an attacking team is to attack right back. Put the pressure on their defense instead of yours. Barcelona’s defense is nothing special, the problem is, they never get tested. Let’s see how they respond with the pressure on them for a change.
Barcelona has been the best team in the world over the past two years and with this Champions League victory, they could very well be a dynasty. Their relentless attack has absolutely destroyed teams (just ask Real Madrid). The Spanish side may very well be the best passing team any club as ever seen.
Even though the Catalans are the favorites, they mustn’t take United lightly. United defense enters the final as the best defense in the tournament. They have yet to give up an away goal and with the game being in Wembley, it is basically a home game for Manchester. Barcelona will need to dictate the midfield if they want to breakdown this defense. Players like Rio Ferdinad and Emanja Vidic will make life frustrating for strikers. Xavi and Iniesta will need to switch the ball from side to side to open up some space in between United’s defense.
Defensively, Barcelona will need to be physical with Rooney and Hernandez. Rooney is no slouch and given the opportunity, he will knock you around. Barca will need to put a body on him at all times, and not let him get into open space. His versatility as a goal-scorer and assist-man will come alive if given time on the ball. Not only do you have to look out for Wayne, but you must contain Giggs and Scholes. Those savvy vets have all the tricks in the book and can still burn you despite their age. Giggs has had a say in majority of United’s goals in this competition. He is one guy you don’t want with the ball in space because he will not miss a teammate in scoring position.
Tactically, I would expect Barcelona to play as they always do; possession. They are going to pass you to death until you make a critical mistake. With all eyes on Messi, look for other players to make runs off of him into open space. He might be more of a decoy in this one.
Manchester United 2 -1 Barcelona
United comes out on top with the home crowd behind them.
Player of the Match
Edwin van der Sar, Manchester United, GK
His last game in a United jersey turns out to be a big one.