Archive | June, 2011

Another Mexican Golazo

27 Jun

What is it that Mexican footballers can’t do these days? Giovani dos Santos set the bar over the weekend, or so he thought, by dancing around Tim Howard and the other American “defenders” and then chipping a splendid shot into the top corner.

Well that bar was crushed this afternoon by Monica Ocampo, who unleashed a 30-yard screamer to help Mexico salvage a point against England in their opening match of the Women’s World Cup.

Believe it or not, an English goalkeeper was not at fault for once!

Player Sent Off For Prince Albert Piercing

23 Jun

Taunting, swearing, tripping, punching, tackling, shirt-tugging, shirt removal, dissent…d**k ring?! It appears a new item has entered the lexicon of bookable offences after an Australian player in Melbourne was sent off for a rather intimate piercing.

Aaron Eccleston, captain of Old Hill Wanderers, was struck in the groin during a match against Swinburne University reserves causing him to fall to the ground in agony. As expected, Eccleston lowered his shorts to make sure everything was still intact (and void of any gashes). Unfortunately for him, the referee noticed the shiny metal ring adorning the captain’s scepter and asked Eccleston to remove it. When he refused, a yellow card was issued pursuant to the rules of the game which forbids players from wearing items, including jewelery, that are “dangerous to himself or another player.”

The video above shows the aftermath of the incident with both the player and referee entering the dressing room for an intimate moment with the intimate piercing.

Eccleston’s club issued the following statement:

“During the first half, our player was struck in the groin by the ball, and left the field to receive attention. At this point the referee became aware that he had a body piercing. He subsequently received two yellow cards, firstly for re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission, and secondly for privacy reasons being unable to prove that he had removed the piercing.”

Privacy reasons?! A man who pierces himself in that region has thrown any notion of personal sensitivity and privacy out the window. There was clearly no issue exposing himself to the stranger who performed the horrifically unimaginable act of piercing his manhood, so it seems rather silly he couldn’t do the same for a referee.

Now this is neither the place nor time to discuss the merits of such a piercing (there are none) and the thought of it is making me queasy. More important though, is why would he not wear a cup or some other form of protection?! Where I have no sympathy for people who kill themselves driving drunk, the same can be said for people who pierce sensitive regions and then step on the playing field without any protection.

As for the icing on the cake, Eccleston tweeted the following later in the day: “I don’t think my mum’s going to be particularly happy!”

Me neither.

(reported in The Guardian)

Bundesliga Kit Preview – 2011/12

21 Jun

“German efficiency” – a term not thrown around lightly these days. It manifests itself in all facets of life in Germany, most notably sausage, cars, and football. Home to one of the most profitable and well-attended leagues in the world, not to mention a recently earned extra Champions League spot and an assembly line of young talent emerging through the ranks, German football continues to improve upon itself and does not seem to be slowing down.

The question is, does all this success attach itself to shirt designs? While it’s impossible to rate a German automobile as sub-standard, can the same be said for the new kits on display this fall?

Let’s find out… Continue reading

Where In The World Is…Gerard Pique?

21 Jun

In Jerusalem! Quite the life for the young Barcelona center back. In addition to winning everything for club and country, he is currently dating Shakira and following her around Europe for her concert tour, which has arrived in the Holy Land. Shakira is also scheduled to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference to promote her Barefoot Foundation – a non-profit organization aimed at bringing education to all children worldwide.

Pique is pictured above at the Western Wall in a moment of silent prayer and reflection. I have an idea what might be going through his mind…

1. I hope this hand-out yarmulke they gave me doesn’t have lice

2. Thank you so much for Shakira!!

3. Thank you for my bountiful riches and trophies

4. Shakira’s hips is a gift that keeps on giving

5. Does it count if my runway hair flip makes contact with the wall rather than my forehead?

6. I, in addition to that toilet, paid a heavy price for ordering extra hot sauce with my schwarma.  Please help stop the burning!

7. Thank you for Shakira’s incredible flexibility!!

8. Why did Mourinho get a nicer yarmulke!? And where is that note of his? I want to rip it to shreds.

9. If I have sex in the Dead Sea, will I still float?

10. Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Shakira?

More photos after the jump: Continue reading

Where In The World Is…Kaká?

20 Jun

 

Having a catch with Mickey Mouse in Disney World! Ahead of next month’s Disney Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament, featuring over 200 teams from 16 countries, Kaká traveled to Orlando to promote the event. Joining him were three NFL players – Bryant McFadden of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Travis Johnson of the San Diego Chargers, and Greg Jones  of the Jacksonville Jaguars – and it’s safe to assume they had absolutely no idea who this boy-faced guy was. At least the feeling was mutual.

Kaká impressed during his five foot toss with Mickey, who went easy on the Real Madrid man by lobbing meatballs at him to catch. On the same token, the NFL boys showed Ochocinco-quality skills with a soccer ball at their feet… To their credit, nobody was nutmegged.

EPL Kit Preview – 2011/12

16 Jun

With most of the Premiership clubs already settled on their new kits for the upcoming season, lets play Joan Rivers and take a look at what to expect from these walking billboards. Explanations and grades included. Continue reading

Ronaldinho Embarrasses His Teammate

15 Jun

Ronaldinho has spent the past six months in Brazil, leisurely playing out his football career for Flamengo. The samba boy remains unfit and a sucker for late night dance parties and, not surprisingly, he’s only made four appearances for the club and scored twice (one of them the clincher for the Rio de Janeiro State Championship).

Be that as it may, you still cannot avoid the undeniable truth that Ronaldinho possesses the best ball skills of any player on this planet…when he’s not moving at full speed in an actual match. Does that make videos like the one above any less satisfying to watch? Hardly.

Warming up for another 90 minutes on the bench, Ronaldinho can be seen juggling and contemplating which club to visit after the match.  In a moment of elation after deciding where to go, he punts the ball sky-high, turns around, waddles a few steps, and KILLS IT with the barest of touches. Now for some reason or another, his dope of a teammate thought he could sneak in and steal the ball. Instead, he unknowingly sets himself up for a lesson in respecting your elders.

One touch, inside-snake, nutmeg, embarrassment.

It’s too bad Ronaldinho no longer has the drive to perform like this week in week out. Even worse, the video ends just before he collapses from the wind sprint and is immediately carried to the VIP lounge of the recently chosen discoteca.

The (Mis)Perception of Great Goals

15 Jun

Twenty-six years ago, number 23 launched himself from the free-throw line and produced one of the most indelible moments in NBA history. The result was a perfect score of 50, and another early milestone for the kid who would become ‘Air Jordan.’ Fast forward to this past February. A relatively unknown kid from the Congo also took off from the free-throw line sparking immediate comparisons to Jordan’s dunk and ecstatic praise from the commentators. He received a 45/50 and was eliminated in the first round of the competition.

It’s easy to pick apart the merits of both dunks above – Michael’s came in the final round against one of the other all-time great dunkers in Dominique Wilkins, while Serge Ibaka’s was the very first dunk of the competition. Michael dribbled up the court while Ibaka carried it like a loaf of bread. Michael had won rookie of the year the previous season and was already en route to greatness. Ibaka, not so much.

Regardless, both dunks were identical but they received very different scores. Why is that? Apparently, it’s not nearly as important how the dunk was executed but who executed it – or at least that’s how the judges saw it.

The same thought process afflicts the football community when great goals are scored by lesser known players. It seems such unexpected moments of brilliance are a mere anomaly, whereas we would come to expect the great players to produce great goals regularly. And therefore, for some reason or another, their goals reign supreme.

Take FIFA’s Puskás Award given annually to the best goal scored around the world. A shortlist of ten nominees is voted on by fans, which provides a telling perspective on their judgment absent of bribery and cheating – FIFA’s forte. It was first awarded in 2009 to Cristiano Ronaldo for this shocking display of audacity and power. Iniesta’s dramatic winner versus Chelsea came second, followed by Grafite’s slaloming run and back-heel against Bayern Munich. Any honest person looking at these goals would come to the conclusion that the third was head and shoulders above Iniesta’s and probably Ronaldo’s as well. I could name a whole slew of players who could tee up a shot from 40 yards and hammer it into the net past an unsuspecting goalie.

Iniesta’s received as many votes as it did because the goal came minutes from full time and put Barcelona in the Champions League final, two intangibles he had no control over leading to a more appropriate interpretation of the goal as a lucky “right place right time” event. “Who the hell is Grafite? Only been in Europe for two years?! I’m voting for the World Player of the Year instead.” I imagine that thought went through many of the voters’ minds. A guy who spent five of the previous seven seasons in Brazil and Korea. A guy who scored an unimpressive 34 goals in an even more unimpressive 101 appearances in those seven seasons simply got lucky. His goal was nonsense.

Now let’s switch the goal scorers – Grafite belted the long-range shot while Ronaldo twinkle toed through and embarrassed an entire Bayern defense. You really think anyone other than Ronaldo would have received votes?

Even more alarming in 2010, Hamit Altintop picked up a whopping 40.55% of the vote to blow away the competition with this volley. Linus Hallenius came second with only 13.23% of the vote for his own incredible volley while arguably the best goal of the lot, a back-heel volleyed flick from Matty Burrows received less than 8% of the vote. Altintop scored his for Germany. Hallenius plays for a small second division Swedish club, while Burrows is a part time player for a semi-professional club in Ireland. Assign either of the latter two goals to Arjen Robben or Messi or Ronaldo, and are we having this discussion?

A good friend was arguing with me that Eric Hassli’s wonder goal for MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps over the weekend pales in comparison to Rooney’s bicycle kick against Manchester City. His exact email read as follows:

“and, i’ll go so far as to say it was more luck than skill in terms of where the ball went…Rooney is much more skilled, making his more of a realistic, serious chance, as opposed to this MLS scrub just ‘goin for it’”

We had gone back and forth about the difficulty of each goal, the timing, the league, the team. I knew it was only a matter of time before he would discredit the “MLS scrub.” But here is where his argument, and the widespread opinion that he conforms to, is wrong.

Most of the goals scored by Lionel Messi are extremely similar – a dizzying display of speed and touch followed by a gentle placement of the ball in the net. He is the best player in the world and we can expect to see such goals every time. Rooney is a phenomenal player, but how many of his goals are overhead bicycle kicks? How many goals in general, on any level in any league are overhead bicycle kicks? And for the players who do convert these rare goals, are we led to believe they can do it over and over again? Regardless of the quality of the player, a once in a lifetime goal like that is no more realistic if the scorer plays for Manchester United or for the worst team in Major League Soccer.

Eric Hassli knew exactly what he was doing, and with some luck and world class technique in the moment, he scored one of the best goals you’ll ever see. Wayne Rooney knew exactly what he was doing also, and with some luck to defy gravity and the physics of human contortion on a football pitch, he scored one of the best goals you’ll ever see.

Nine times out of ten Rooney wouldn’t convert that. Nine times out of ten Hassli boots that ball into the Pacific Ocean. Nine times out of ten Zidane isn’t scoring arguably the most famous goal in Champions League/European Cup history (with his weaker foot no less).

Viewers see goals as a manifestation of someone’s ability to convert the array of skill and talent in their arsenal into a piece of brilliance. However, if that brilliance is the product of a player who lacks an array of skill and talent, the goal loses its intrigue in the eye of the beholder. It is deemed less of a goal and that player gets cheated.

I can guarantee Rooney will win the next Puskás award for 2011. I can also guarantee that Rooney, with so much ability and more realistic chances of creating incredible goals, will never score a bicycle kick like that ever again.

WAG Wednesday Part 22 – Federica Nargi

15 Jun

Mama mia. Juventus striker Alessandro Matri chose his fiance quite well.

Nargi, a 21 year old Italian dancer and showgirl, is a former Miss Rome and also stars on a number of…does it really matter? I could have stopped at mama mia and done her plenty of justice. Matri has performed relatively well for Juventus this past season, and better continue to do so if he wants his lady friend to stick around.

More after the jump: Continue reading

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