Man of the Match Follow Up

Obvious Choice

Obvious Choice

Thanks to the ever-increasing high tech world of Soccerati (blurry tivo and a cellphone camera), I verified what I thought I’d seen a few weeks back- namely, a poker/gambling website (rather than a “play for free” .net version) as a paid sponsor of the Man of the Match.  Since this type of ad is verbotten in the US, I still seek an explanation from anyone that can explain it.  Is it still prohibited? Is there an applicable exception? Or is it ignored when two drunk Irish guys put it on a channel in the 600’s?

Observations from the Weekend

1. During one of the Saturday morning games on Setanta (can’t recall which one), toward the end of the game the commentator awarded the FullTiltPoker.COM man of the match.  Given Danieldinho’s other endeavors, I figured he might know something about this.  To my understanding, that’s taboo in the USA, but Setanta lost (nearly) all of their contracts for BPL games except in the USA.  Was it an error in broadcasting the Irish feed, or have the rules become lax, or does no one care about a tiny rugby channel in the 600’s on satellite?  And who actually gets in trouble?

2. Obviously, I’m thrilled with the Derby result, all the more because of the (very) late stab in the back of Craig Bellamy.  And though I acknowledge that the clock said 95:28 when justice was served Owen scored, well beyond the advertised 4 minutes, I have always heard/read/known that the officials add one minute per goal scored and 30 seconds per substitute during the stoppage time.  While I’m certain that this is not a published rule or policy, it’s been around for a while to eliminate guesswork and make things somewhat uniform.  If this is in fact the case, why the crying?  And more to the point, well done SAF for inserting Carrick just to buy 30 more seconds.  Wily, old man.

3. I wouldn’t allow Ben Foster to guard a cup of warm piss.  Take away his two howlers, and we’re not counting into the 6th minute of stoppage.  Utd would be better to hang a wallbanger of Peter Schmeichel from the crossbar.

Mutu Bufu’d

Sa ma ia dracu
Sa ma ia dracu

I cannot in any legal sense get my head around this.   In 2003, Chelsea uses it’s newly printed oil mafia cash to overpay Parma for the rights to Adrian Mutu.  Mutu plays for a year, gets caught doing blow, and is suspended for 7 months.  Chelsea decides to terminate his contract, escaping having to pay his wages during the suspension by firing him “for cause.”  So far, I get it.

Chelsea then sues Mutu (through the various sport arbitrators) to try and recover the amount that it didn’t earn by reselling Mutu in the transfer market, and WINS, to the tune of over $24 million dollars.  Wha?  So many problems with this:

1. Where’d they get that figure? It is unfair to assess his market value based upon the inflated amount Chelsea paid, and he certainly didn’t live up to the valuation in his year at the Bridge.  Plus, the rumors of drug use had been confirmed by the suspension, which hardly increases a player’s value.

2. Chelsea didn’t have to terminate his contract and make him a free agent.  I understand why they did, and they benefited financially by not having to pay Mutu during his suspension; further, they gained by not paying his wages for the term of the contract that, cynically, he wasn’t worth.  But again, they CHOSE to forfeit their rights to Mutu rather than try and sell him, even for pennies on the dollar.  In any legitimate tribunal, Mutu is at least entitled to an offset for what they might have been able to get for him, and this is a sum that can be gleaned by looking at Mutu’s subsequent transfer history.

3. This is dangerous precedent.  Mutu was terminated for violating his contract, and has to pay what he would be worth if the club had sold him.  That figure was determined entirely by looking at what Chelsea paid for him.  Isn’t this a way for clubs that spend silly money overpaying for players just to make a splash to get out from under their own stupidity?  City could have terminated Robinho for going awol last year, and perhaps they’ll consider it moving forward if they could get their 55m back from him.  This is not a frivolous concern.

4. His wife is smoking hot.  Consuelo, Soccerati is here for you if you need anything.

Why Football is Better Than Soccer

I’m not blaspheming here- I don’t mean “Throwball” or “American Football.” I’m comparing soccer abroad to soccer in the US, and have chosen this morning to blame highlight the media coverage.

The same “rumor” from two sources.  First, CNNSI:

Colombia international Fredy Montero has claimed he has been in contact with Premier League side Fulham. Reports have suggested Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson could bid for the striker, who is currently on loan at MLS side Seattle Sounders from Deportivo Cali.

Next, the genius of The Guardian (UK):

Fredy Montero, who sounds like a minor bookie or middleman in an early 1980s big-budget gangster film who gets killed in an imaginative way – hung on a meat hook, buried in concrete – as a plot device to speed up a climactic gang war, but is actually a striker with coffee bar-based acoustic indie band The Seattle Sounders, wants to move to Fulham.

Football 1, Soccer 0.  Time for Soccerati to steal the torch and raise the bar for Soccer reporting.

Wha? Gerrard Spotted Tracking Back and Defending?

Jail 'im

Not so says the Southport, Merseyside prosecutor, noting that the closed circuit television feed shows Steven Gerrard as the aggressor, beating his victim with uppercuts and handspeed like a professional boxer. 

My favorite quote: “On this occasion, Steven Gerrard’s fists, not his feet, did the talking.  This was never self-defence in 100 years.”   Also not accused of defence in Merseyside: Alvaro Arbeloa, Fabio Aurelio.

So, What Have We Learned?

Vinnie was Brazilian?

A day later, what comfort can be found from a second place finish in the Confederations Cup? While moral victories are reserved for trophyless Merseysiders, yesterday’s defeat reaffirmed a few things for the USMNT and perhaps revealed enough hope to take the sting off of the second half Vinnie-tug.   Lessons from yesterday:

1. Bob Bradley is not good enough.  The snapshot of playing in a FIFA final doesn’t overshadow the weeks/months leading up to it.  Disaster in Costa Rica.  Narrowly dodged embarrassment against Honduras.  Being completely outplayed by the well-below par Italians, only to be saved by their rollover against Brazil.  Being given a 10 day reprieve from unemployment, Bob finally embraced the formation that every writer, pundit and blogger knew was best-suited for the players Bob chose, and benched players (yes you, Damarcus) that no one on the team believed in.  Personnel changes forced by circumstance and injury were made against Bob’s better judgment, and the team responded.  I believe that the Egypt and Spain results were completely in spite of Bob.  The performance against Brazil, even in spite of the questionable substitutions, shows what the team could be capable of if given a competent leader leading up to the World Cup.

2. DeMerit and Onyewu are good enough.  Actually, I think they’re better than good enough, with a healthy Spector spot-marking and chasing when necessary.  That is a decent threesome to build around at the back, although I do suspect that DeMerit’s hard tackling style may attract some yellow or red paper from a sensitive referee at some point.   While Bocanegra is still satisfactory, I don’t know that he still has the pace and skill to press forward AND get back to cover, which should be possible with the other three locking up the back.  I’d like to see more push from the back at his position, and the US has players to do it.  Schellas Hyndman has been misusing Drew Moor at FCDallas for half a season now, but Moor has shown himself to be able to get forward and finish when called upon, so perhaps the shambolic club coaching will benefit the USMNT.  Not to mention about 12 others that could get a run during the Gold Cup.

3. Altidore will be good, but he needs more seasoning.  I don’t know if his early departures were conditioning-related or just Bob Bradley overthinking things, but Altidore’s play off the ball resembled a tired person.  His movement with the ball was good, and he showed that he can hold up the front sufficiently, but every run without the ball was a post pattern toward the middle rather than occasionally moving out to create width.  This left the midfielders to thread a needle, slow down to get wide themselves, or hold the ball too long.  I think that more club playing time will expand Altidore’s repertoire and improve his fitness, and then his full talent will be realized.  For now, I think Kenny Cooper is a better fit when healthy, perhaps with Altidore substituting for him later in the game.  More importantly, though, I think that Altidore/Cooper/Davies is a viable rotation up front, especially if a fourth can be found without moving Donovan or Dempsey forward.

4. Kljestan and Beasley should not appear again for the USMNT.  And I wouldn’t pay full price for a Ricardo Clark replica jersey either.  However, MBradley played pretty well in a holding midfield role, and I’m optimistic about Feilhaber.  Further, the sudden bout of patriotism by our new German  American midfielder will lock up the middle nicely.  Donovan and Dempsey remain as solid wide playmakers.  And this is all without mentioning Adu and Torres, either of whom could star in the next administration’s squad.

5. JP Dellacamera needs a new phrase to replace “…changes EVERYTHING.”  My unofficial count was 7 things, either real or hypothetical, that did or would “change EVERYTHING.”  It’s not quite onionbag annoying, but it’s not good either. 

6. While reaching the final has undoubtedly spiked interest in this beautiful game, I can’t help but wonder how many more people would be aware of or care about the game at Mexico on August 12 if ESPN/ABC/Disney had aired Sunday’s game on ABC instead of running paid programming.  During the summer months, supposed “niche” sports like soccer in America need to strike big, and this tournament is as big as the USMNT is going to swing.  Woulda been nice for it to be on in more homes.  Frankly, I think it would change EVERYTHING.