The Rakes of Mallow's Voice of the Supporters

Friday, September 17, 2010

Your Soccer TV Weekend

Eintracht Frankfurt vs SC Freiburg 2:30 pm GolTV
Stoke City vs West Ham Utd 7:45 am ESPN2
Bayern Muchen vs. 1. FC Koln 9:30 am GolTV
Everton vs Newcastle Utd. 10 am FS+
Tottenham vs Wolverhampton 10 am FSC
Fiorentina vs Lazio 12 pm
Sunderland vs Arsenal 12:30 pm FSC
Sporting Gijón vs Athletic Bilbao 2 pm GolTV
AC Milan vs Catania 2:45 pm
Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid 4 pm GolTV
LA Galaxy vs DC United 10:30 pm FSC
Feyenoord vs Ajax 6:30 am
Manchester United vs Liverpool 8:30 am FS+
Udinese vs Juventus 9 am
Palermo vs Inter Milan 9 am
FC Sankt Pauli vs Hamburger SV 9:30 am GolTV
Chelsea vs Blackpool 11 am FSC
Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona 1 pm ESPN2

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The group stage of the UEFA Champions League always offers the opportunity to see Europe's elite match-up against lesser-known clubs. Now in my opinion there's nothing better after a long day of arduous classes than turning on the television for an exciting conclusion to the day's football and seeing Chelsea take on the Slovakian Corgoň League champions MŠK Žilina. It was truly a neck-and-neck affair. Chelsea only won by 3 goals.

In actuality a few compelling results took hold this week, the most significant of which involved Manchester United only taking a point at home against Rangers. Now, at one point in history, Rangers, along with their much more Irish-friendly Glasgow counterparts Celtic, were a powerful team, capable of winning European competition. In fact, only 3 years ago they were in the UEFA Cup Final. Sadly, Scottish soccer is nothing like it was in yesteryear. Rangers are in such financial turmoil that they have instituted a freeze on player transfers.  But even manager Walter Smith, with all these hindrances, has the sense to start Maurice Edu in an important game. Take that Bob Bradley.

Manchester United, for their part, aren't exactly in great financial shape either, but they have far more resources and compete in a much superior league than Rangers. In theory, the Red Devils should securely win this fixture when played at their breathtaking home ground Old Trafford. In fact, they shouldn't have trouble when they travel to the Ibrox in 2 months. Wayne Rooney should score a hat trick, and everything should be hunky dory in the merry old suburbs of Manchester.

Instead, Tuesday offered a frustrating encounter for Manchester United. Rooney, Chicharito, and the rest of whomever Sir Alex prodded onto the field failed to scare Rangers in a serious manner. Winger Antonio Valencia tore ligaments in his ankle and will miss most of the season. Rangers, for their part, rightfully earned the draw they sought and breathed new life into the England-Scotland rivalry. Manchester United, however, simply disappointed.

Man U's league play has been exciting but not dominant, as they have drawn their away matches against Fulham and Everton. Compared to Chelsea and Arsenal, who have seemed nearly unstoppable so far, Manchester United lacks their normal cohesively consistent domination. They appear unable to take hold of a match for the full 90, an issue that will punish any club.

This Sunday in the Premier League against equally unimpressive Liverpool, Manchester United can either join Chelsea and Arsenal as dominant English clubs or fall down the ladder among the mass of good-but-not-great teams in the EPL, like Manchester City, Tottenham, and Everton. This will be a huge match for Sir Alex's men. A win restores their confidence after a few disappointing results. A loss severely crushes their title hopes. Whatever happens, we're in for a thrill of a season as Manchester Untied, with impending retirements and transfers, begins a major transformation as a team.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Your soccer TV Schedule for 9/15

UEFA Champions League:
2:45pm Žilina vs Chelsea (Channel 401)
2:45pm Real Madrid vs Ajax (Chanel 200/37)

Concacaf Champions League:
10:00 pm Real Salt Lake vs Toronto FC (401)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Champions League returns today

Today Champions League returns.

No, not that Champions League

That Champions League. The Concacaf Champions League returns tonight featuring two American clubs. The Columbus Crew kick-off hosting one of Trinidad and Tobago's best clubs in Joe Public. This match kicks off at 8 pm tonight. The Crew are favorites, but the question is will they field a full side tonight. The Crew are competing on multiple fields. They are going for the Eastern Conference lead, and home advantage throughout the play-offs, the Supporters Shield, the US Open Cup, and of course the eventual goal of getting the MLS Cup. The Crew have always been prudent in international play though, so one should expect some youth players mixed into the lineup tonight.

Then there is the nightcap (10pm FSC) as Seattle Sounders FC travel down to take on Costa Rica giant Saprissa. This match is huge for the Sounders as since the miraculous group qualification, they have dropped two matched and need to take points in a place where not even the USA national team has ever gotten a point in. Expect Sigi to go for the full 3 points as Seattle looks to remove their quest for the Club World Cup from life support.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Irish finish weekend 3-1

It was a nearly perfect weekend for the soccer teams of Notre Dame. Both going up against nationally ranked teams in their respective tournaments. The men's team got the weekend going with a 2-0 victory against nationally ranked Drake. The Irish battered the Drake defense with large chunks of possession and over 30 shots. This constant battering came through as Steven Perry came through with a brace scoring the Irish's first goal of the season. This dominating performance by the Irish was a nice follow up to Cal Poly's upset of our rival Indiana just hours before at Alumni Stadium.

Meanwhile, the women were just short of a another victory against a top ranked opponent. While playing against #13 UCLA, the Irish seemed to struggle mightily throughout the first half, but ended it with a goal by Erica Iantorno. Inspired by the goals, the Irish came out with fire in the second to outplay the Bruins, but it was all for nothing sadly. The Bruins, like their male counterparts had done just a week before managed to parry an attacking Irish team. The Irish were then sent into overtime where UCLA got the Golden Goal.

Saturday came, and something happened, but in the end no one really remembers what. Something about one eyed quarterbacks, one man teams, and misery.

Returning to the pitch on Sunday, both the men's and women's teams, though 3 time zones apart, would play at the same time. The women played Loyola Marymount. Melissa Henderson scored in the second minute of the match. The team went on to dominate the lions and in the end wound up winning the match by Henderson's tally.

At Alumni Stadium, the men took advantage of a Cal Poly team that was a bit proud of their performance against the 6 time national championship on Friday. The first half went scoreless as both teams had their chances, but neither could convert in what seemed like a potential battle. As the Voice had previously pointed out, the Irish seemed to just be missing that extra inch to put the ball in net. And there was a worry among some fans that if Perry was the lone source of goals, what would happen if he went down with an injury. All these worries were flushed away when the flood gate opened in the 50th minute. The Irish continued to pass the ball around the box and the Mustangs packed it in making crosses extremely difficult to put in; but Cal Poly was not closing down that quickly on players at the top of the box. Defender Aaron Maund was the first to take advantage of this as he sent in an absolute scorcher from 20 yards out. This strike, if you ever get a chance to see it, watch. USA U-20 captain and Milk Cup MVP Dillon Powers decided to open his scoring account as well. As the pass from Jeb Brovsky settled at his feet, Power let a shot go. From behind the net one could see the Jubulani ball dance as it hit the ground and went in another direction to give the Irish a 2-0 lead. Then it was followed up by King's wicked strike from 35 yards out and Klazura's shot from 17 yards out and finally a goal by VanDeCasteele from a corner. Bringing the tally to 5-0. Coach Clark then made some changes to give individuals experience and the match settled down. Cal Poly did manage to draw one back in the 90th minute, but it could not help scale a now Everest of a lead.

Overall the Voice would say it was a good weekend for the Irish. The Women went 1-1 on their west coast tour. The loss was difficult, but it's not like it was against a truly weaker team. UCLA was #3 before losing last week, so they are expected to be very good. The Irish showed gusto getting back on the saddle and beating LMU. The Irish men, meanwhile, had pushed back after a shaky opening weekend to get their first win and goal on the season, all while winning the Berticelli Memorial Tournament.

Both Irish teams are due to play local rivals this weekend. We'll give our preview sometime later this week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No Hex Means No Fun Before 2014

Allow me to introduce myself as Cameron Goodman, a mentally feeble freshman who still has hope that the San Jose Earthquakes can win MLS Cup 2010. That's right with Geovanni, Wondolowski, and Joe Cannon's broken foot, the Quakes are unstoppable, unless of course the other team uses this exotic tactic called defense. Well, that's enough about how I spend my Saturday nights.

Recently, news has surfaced that our ethical friends at CONCACAF are determined to eliminate the Hex from the the final round of World Cup Qualifying and replace it with two groups of four teams each. The winner of each group would qualify for Brazil 2014, while the runners-up would face each other in a playoff to the determine the third North American representative.

While I sympathize with the desire to give smaller teams like Jamaica, Canada, and Guatemala a greater chance to compete, I decry this proposal because it essentially guarantees that Mexico and the USA will be placed in separate groups and won't battle each other in the final round of World Cup Qualifying.

Honestly, what has been better over the past decade than chants of "dos a cero" echoing throughout the chilled confines of Columbus Crew Stadium or 110,000 fanatic Mexican fans causing Landon Donovan to go even balder. This is the rivalry of North America, and it has become one of the most impressive in the world. In an era where most players take the field for money and ego, the USA-Mexico rivalry involves pure national pride on the grandest scale.

Yes, I'm glad that the USA and Mexico are essentially guaranteed a spot in 2014, but without the thrill and challenge of playing each other, will they be adequately prepared to compete in Brazil?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mostly a good weekend for Irish Football

The weekend began with the women taking on #8 Santa Clara. The Irish took it to the visitors from California. They seemed to dominate possession and chances in the first half, and created a goal for the Irish. The second half had Santa Clara try to storm back to no avail as the weather took a turn and it began to pour. In Bloomington, from what reports say, the Irish outplayed #5 UCLA only to be beaten on a 1-0 scoreline. Their keeper stepped up and carried the Bruins to victory. Then Saturday came, Kelly coached and the Irish beat the Boilermakers. Then on Sunday, the women cruised to a 2-0 victory over Texas Tech in what seemed like a dominating performance. The team displayed excellent use of the wings as the fullbacks constantly overlapped with the wingers and forced Texas Tech into a defense mode. The victory sent the Irish to a 4-0-0 record. The men, however, weren't as lucky. Again the opposing keeper decided the match. This time it was #11 Cal's keeper stepping up and preventing chance after chance. The Irish seemed to play well defensively, but could not get that finish that they needed. They finished the match 0-0 2OT, and sent the men's record to 0-1-1.

The women's team has come out with strides and faced their what looks to be their toughest home match all year. As this blogger will be saying from here until they stop playing soccer this year, this team returns too much to not chase a title. The men's team faced the two favorites to the Pac-10 title and could not score, but then again neither could their opponents. The men play well on defense and play well going forward, there is just a lack in that little bit of magic it takes to beat a keeper. Remember, this team remains very dangerous even without taking a win on the weekend.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Man, the Myth, the Legend: a Tribute to Brian McBride

Today it was announced that USA, Fulham, Columbus, and Chicago legend, Brian McBride was set to retire at the end of this season. The man who had seen his fair share of World Cups, English Premier League, Bundesliga 2 and MLS matches, will be finally hanging up his boots after what seemed like an eternity. His career kicked off in 1996 when he was the first overall pick of the MLS Draft. During his time at Columbus he became one of the greatest American players ever. While not winning any silverware, he preceded to score and assist, until he got noticed by David Moyes. He entered the Premier League in 2000 on loan to Preston North End. He then preceded to go out on loan to Everton as well. In both situations he played brilliant, but Everton and Preston North End couldn’t match MLS’s asking price for its star striker.

At the age of 31, Fulham took McBride from America for 1.5 million as he appeared to be entering the twilight of his career. Instead, McBride excelled to a Fulham legend, including teaming up with fellow American Clint Dempsey to help keep Fulham up. There is now a Pub in the cottage appropriately named McBride’s. He then returned to the USA to end his career.

He was picked up by his hometown club, Chicago and has played there with the aging Blanco leading the Fire to play-off appearances, but sadly McBride has tasted limited silverware, which is a pity for such an amazing player. So when you go to your next soccer match, whether it’s ND, MLS, or your kids match, remember the man who avoided the spotlight and drama, and just kept playing the game how it’s supposed to be played. Brian McBride taught us that in a world filled with divers, cheaters, and thugs, one can have finesse, a physical presence, and be a personable human being even with fame. So if you ever raise a kid to play soccer, teach them how McBride played, because the world of soccer could always use more players like McBride

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hello World

Hey all,

My name is Eric Owens, I'm a junior at ND and Tim has allowed me to contribute to this blog. I thank him for the opportunity to share some of my soccer thoughts with you, the reader. Though I do love Notre Dame and soccer, truthfully I have not been very involved in combining these two loves and attending ND soccer games, men's or women's. I have been to a few, but I look forward to attending many more in the coming season. That said, I am an avid soccer follower, most notably of the EPL. My favorite team is from the blue half of Merseyside- Everton. I try my best to watch the MLS but I am just not closely connected to any one team to follow the MLS like I do the EPL. Without further adieu, here is my take on the first three match weeks in the EPL.

You can't talk about the start of the EPL without mentioning the champions. Chelsea have looked absolutely stellar to begin this season. 3 games, 14 goals, 0 goals against. The mercurial Nicolas Anelka has been in fine form and has been irresistible partnering with Drogba. Flourent Malouda has been great for the Blues too, and it really is difficult to see any team challenging the aging Londoners this season if they can continue this form.

Going down the table, I have been impressed thus far with Arsenal new boy Maroune Chamakh. His movement has been very intelligent, but I would say I don't think he is quite clinical enough in front of goal. Of course Theo Walcott has been brilliant for the Gunners thus far, but Wegner is going to have some serious decisions to make about where to deploy the talented Englishman if Chamakh cannot convert enough chances up top.

Man U is a tough team to read right now. Roo Roo is in terrible form, his terrible World Cup still haunting him every time he takes the pitch. The former Everton star is an integral part of Man U's success as witnessed last season. Dimitar Berbatov, however, has been very impressive for the Red Devils so far. Could this be the season that he finally breaks out and scores 20+ goals? No one questions his talent level, but his partnership with Rooney has never quite seemed to pan out quite like Sir Alex would like. Scholes has been phenomenal for them. It's been great to see him boss the midfield like he used to all the time in the late 90s. If he can continue the rich vein of form he is in, Sir Alex will certainly have some personnel headaches.

On the other side of Manchester, the Citizens have been a bit hit or miss. A 1-0 loss to Sunderland following a very convincing win over Liverpool has seen Mancini catch a lot of grief for his starting 11. Carlos Tevez did miss an open goal against Sunderland, and Micah Richards clumsy foul in the 87th minute more or less gifted Sunderland 3 points they most certainly did not deserve. If this loss is but a minor blip, then City can very well challenge the top four and are my favorites to secure a Champions League spot. Two players that NEED to stay in the side despite heavy competition are Joe Hart and Adam Johnson. Hart, finally given his chance at City after a very impressive loan spell at Birmingham last season, fully deserves to be the England No 1. Quite a talented young goal keeper (and good looking if I do say so myself). Adam Johnson's left foot and style of play is very similar to Lionel Messi. He loves playing from the flanks, cutting inside and challenging defenders, meanwhile opening up space on the outside for fullbacks to make forward supporting runs. Quality quality player.

Sorry reader, I am writing way too much right now. And if I were to continue down the table and reach Everton, which would take another 13 painful overviews as it pains me how poor Everton are playing. Not to mention I could right an essay about how much Everton suck right now. We will save that for a later day. Hope you enjoyed it, and I certainly do not blame you if you are not reading this right now. Too long I know. Thank you again Tim for the opportunity. See you all again soon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Big weekend for Irish Football (the one you play with your feet)

This weekend feature several important matches for the men's and women's teams in the quest for the College Cup. The #3 women begin their journey against #8 Santa Clara on Friday at 7:30 pm. This match will kick off with a March to the Match led by bagpipers from the Dillon Hall Pep Rally. Upon arrival to the match, the first however many fans in the stadium will get free scarves. This is ND's biggest home game based on the current rankings, and will be a test for a loaded Irish team.

Meanwhile, in Bloomington, the men's team will clash against the #4 team in the country, UCLA. This match will say a lot about the team, as most polls have placed them to the lower echelons of the Top 25, if not out of it. Hopefully the Irish will spring a surprise on the Bruins and the pollsters.

After a game of American football on Saturday feature Notre Dame and Purdue, football returns to Alumni Stadium for 2 more matches. At 1:30, the women will take on unbeaten Texas Tech in what is set to be an important match.

Then at 7 pm, the men's team is set to take on the Pac-10 dark horse, Cal. This match is going to be huge because it will be a battle for the Irish with another dark horse, and we are going to attempt to break the all-time attendance record for men's soccer at Notre Dame. The first however many fans will pick up a free 16 oz glass (Google if you don't know what that is equivalent to) and the Rakes of Mallow will have their first test to see if we can not only pack the house but "bring the ruckus."