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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 Women's World Cup: U.S. vs. North Korea 2nd half live blog

ESPN's Julie Foudy points out (rightly) that the U.S. doesn't seem to have any swagger yet, I think she's know too.

No substitutions for either team at halftime.

Chaney gets another chance and stop me if you've heard this before but she shot it right at the goalkeeper.

Damn, Chaney had open-heart surgery when she was 3-years-old.

Haha what? North Korea waits until two minutes into the second half to take a defender (Yun) out for Yi. Interesting tactic.

After a free kick, Shannon Boxx (best fake porn name in the business) puts it over. Good pressure by the U.S.

Rodriguez finds Wambach and she somehow puts it over the crossbar from six yards out. The U.S. is buzzing now, a goal is coming soon if they keep this up.

Get it girl, Cheney scores in the 54th minute on a header from Wambach's cross. 1-0 U.S., well deserved and pretty finish. Nice job by Wambach to cut it back (leaving the defender flat-footed) and great service to Cheney.

First career World Cup goal for Cheney.

And North Korea hits the crossbar with a shot. I guess they're not going to roll over even though they're down 1-0 now.

O'Reilly volleys wide.

Wambach takes a rough challenge but appears to be OK. They need her to be healthy. A header off the ensuing free kick goes off a North Korean head for a U.S. corner.

Christie Rampone has 235 career appearances for the U.S., the most of anybody in the 2011 Women's World Cup.

Wambach gets a header from in close that goes off the crossbar. Should have been in, the North Korean goalkeeper got a piece of it.

The announcers keep complaining about the heat. It can't be all that bad in Germany.

North Korea makes its second substitution.

Fourth U.S. corner is complete garbage, into the side of the netting. Even Landon Donovan hasn't hit one that bad (as far as I can remember).

Another goal would be nice for the U.S., I think it's time for my girl Alex Morgan to come on.

Rodriguez (or A-Rod, shudders) almost snipes a goal, nice save by the North Korean goalkeeper. Goes out for a U.S. corner kick.

75th minute, Alex Morgan in for Rodriguez. Great performance by Rodriguez. Another U.S. corner.

Nice Krieger hit the bar from distance and then Rachel Buehler (2nd ever goal) picks up the loose change and puts it in through a ton of traffic. Huge goal for the U.S., goodnight North Korea. (2-0 U.S.)

Rapinoe in for O'Reilly. Good game for O'Reilly, her work rate was there all game.

The teams trade chances.

The U.S. has never worse than fifth place at the World Cup.

Wambach's shot saved but Rapinoe scores on a 50-50 ball. However, it's called off since the goalkeeper caught it at the same time. No goal but it doesn't really matter in the long run.

Final: U.S. 2 - North Korea 0

Great second half by the U.S., they seemed like a completely different team after a slow first half. They earned this and they're now on top of Group C. That goal by Rapinoe would have been nice for her confidence but I'm sure she'll get over it.

Two pretty goals but they'll need to play a more complete match and also finish better when they meet tougher opposition.

Up next, the U.S. meets Colombia at noon on Saturday.

2011 Women's World Cup: U.S. vs. North Korea 1st half live blog

Group C action continues (Sweden beat Columbia 1-0 earlier this morning) in Dresden, Germany.

The U.S. gets its 2011 World Cup underway and expectations are high for Pia Sundhage's squad. They struggled in qualifying and haven't won the tournament since 1999 but they have as much talent as anybody.

North Korea is the youngest team in the 16-team field.

Lauren Chaney got the late start and she just had the first real opportunity of the game. Her shot from outside the 18 was easily handled by North Korea's goalkeeper.

The U.S. won in 1991 (the first Women's World Cup) and '99.

Chaney hasn't started since March.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo (who looks like Fergie of Black Eyed Peas' cousin) is rocking an all purple jersey and shorts combo.

Heather O'Reilly wins the first corner kick of the game, for the U.S. Ugh, the goalkeeper bungles it but the U.S. can't really get a foot on it. North Korea clears it out before the U.S. regains possession but hits a cross right to the goalkeeper.

Carli Lloyd gets free at the top of the box but can't put anything on the shot.

Haha ESPN's Ian Darke talked about the North Korea's men team from last summer's World Cup 2010. The team was publicly humiliated and the coach was sent to work at a building construction site. Fun times, who wants to go to North Korea?

Ouch, Lloyd takes a really scary fall on her back/neck but she seems fine. She went up high for a header but was hit by a North Korean player in the air and landed awkwardly.

North Korea wins its first corner kick but doesn't do anything with it.

Yikes, deflected ball by the U.S. almost leaves it on the doorstep for North Korea.

Wow that's creepy, the U.S. women's team is the oldest at the 2011 World Cup (average age 27 years, 9 months which is almost exactly my age).

Another slippery play by the North Korea goalkeeper leads to a U.S. corner. Looking like the U.S. men, they don't do anything with it.

Ali Krieger is the only U.S. player that doesn't compete in the WPS. She plays in Germany.

Chaney gets another good chance but the puts it right at Myong-Hui (3 shutouts in the Asian Cup).

Solo with a nice save on the 16-year-old North Korean star. Corner kick for North Korea.

Lloyd with another chance, right at Myong-Hui. Lloyd and Chaney are getting loose, Wambach has been pretty invisible so far in the first half which is not good for the U.S.

Holy crap, North Korea played a slight cross along the goal line and Solo completely whiffed. Luckily for the U.S., nobody connected for North Korea.

10 of North Korea's players are teenagers. Who's their coach, Justin Bieber?

Amy Rodriguez got free but her shot was blocked by a North Korean defender. It could have possibly gone in, good chance.

The U.S. has been held scoreless three times in first halves during group play, twice against North Korea.

Yikes, this is like watching the U.S. men's team. The women's backline is leaky and almost cost them a goal there, Solo had to come up big.

Nice counterattack by Rodriguez but she couldn't find Wambach who was tightly marked.

Damn, I was just thinking that Rodriguez was pretty cute and they said she's getting married soon along with O'Reilly (what a shame).

Lloyd hits a nice cross of a free kick but nobody on the U.S. can touch it. If they redirected it, would have been 1-0.

North Korea takes a long shot from outside the box that goes wide.

Halftime: U.S. 0 - North Korea 0

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gold Cup Final: Mexico 4, U.S. 2

I spent Saturday night enjoying myself at a Matisyahu concert and even though, I couldn't avoid the final score and a few updates on Twitter and the ESPN bottom line, I'm thankful that I didn't watch the Gold Cup Final live.

Mexico rallied from an early 2-0 deficit for a well-deserved 4-2 win at the Rose Bowl over the U.S. men's national team.

Head coach Bob Bradley's team could not have scripted a better start as they got up 1-0 in the eighth minute on a flick on header by his son Michael off a Freddy Adu corner kick. Just 15 minutes later, Landon Donovan made it 2-0 and temporarily quieted the pro-Mexican crowd following a nice through ball from Clint Dempsey.

There was way too much time left on the clock though as Mexico quickly got one back in the 29th minute from Pablo Barera. It was tied five minutes later as Andres Guardado got a gift right on his foot from Eric Lichaj that he just had to barely redirect in.

The third Mexican goal, by Barrera, in the 49th minute was more a result of his skill as he hit it one time with the outside of his right foot. To add more pain and misery, Carlos Bocanegra had a terrible giveaway which led to the final goal by Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos (an absurd chip over Lichaj on the far post).

These two bitter rivals aren't much different in overall talent level. The U.S. has the edge in goal and midfield while the Mexican forwards are far superior. However, the biggest mismatch is the porous U.S. defense trying to stop Dos Santos and Javier Hernandez (aka Chicarrito).

It didn't help that American fullback Steve Cherundolo went down with an injury and head to leave way too early (in the 10th minute). His sub Jonathan Bornstein and starter Lichaj were simply outclassed. Mexico always seemed to be on the verge of a breakaway or a great opportunity. Tim Howard can only do so much and none of the goals were really his fault; you can't always expect superhuman stops.

It's clear that the U.S. fullbacks have to get way better but there's no easy solution.

On the positive side, Adu is officially back on the map. After his nice cameo against Panama (1-0 win in Gold Cup semifinals, he played almost a full 90 minutes and proved to be one of the most dangerous Americans with the ball on his feet.

Dempsey had a relatively quiet game by his standards although he should have had a goal as his shot was ripped off the post in the second half.

There's no shame in losing to a quality side like Mexico but the U.S. has to win games that they lead by two goals. Mexico earned its spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup by not getting rattled and proving to be the much more dynamic offensive side. Once they grabbed the lead, they were able to play their Montreal Canadiens style game of flopping, faking injuries and wasting time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Preview of One Goal's Documentary About The U.S. Men's National Team

LADUMA Sneak Peek from Juice Groove Films on Vimeo.

My friends from college have been working feverishly on a documentary on the U.S. men's soccer team. They just released this sneak preview and plan to have the full length film debut this fall in New York.

Please check it out at and like them on Facebook (One Goal).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gold Cup live blog: U.S. vs. Panama 2nd half

The second half starts with Landon Donovan replacing Kljestan. Don't ask me why he didn't start for the second game in a row. As far as I know, he didn't attend any weddings last night.

Panama makes a decent run but get called offsides.

Dempsey wins a free kick outside Panama's box.

Jesus, both Donovan and Jones go down on the field with possible injuries. Hope they're OK.

Well I guess Jones is fine, he just won a ridiculous 50-50 ball with a couple super athletic touches. More energy in that one play than his team has showed for basically the entire match so far.

U.S. is getting stagnant now, I swear if they lose to Panama again, Bradley should be fired on the spot. There's no excuse.

Good run by Lichaj but his cross was too fast for Bedoya to connect on. Finally, some life from the U.S. in the second half and a chance.

Panama with its best chance of the game but they can't connect on a cross that was right on top of Howard.

Freddy Adu is set to come in, don't know yet for who. This illustrates how desperate Bradley is, turning to a guy that hasn't played for the U.S. in years. Yikes.

Adu is in for Agudelo, haha he hasn't played for the U.S. since 2009. Disappointing game for Agudelo, he lacked creativity and his decision making was bad all night.

The U.S. seems to have gotten a spark with Adu coming on, they win a corner.

Bocanegra gets a yellow card for the slightest push you'll ever see. Ugh, don't start handing out cards like that please.

Cooper hammers a shot that Howard deflects over for a corner. Cooper is out for (Edgar?) Renteria.

There we go. Adu finds Donovan, who gives Dempsey a perfect cross that he redirects in. 1-0 U.S. in the 76th minute.

Dempsey's 22nd goal for the USMNT, ahead of Bruce Murray and two behind Joe-Max Moore.

Howard with a routine save, Cherundolo forced the shot with a tackle.

Godoy for Gomez and Torres in for Panama, Barahona out. Last changes for Panama.

Wow, Adu makes a crazy run to keep the ball in play and give it back to Bradley.

Adu wins a corner, mature play. U.S. just needs to milk the clock at this point.

Three minutes of added time and that's before Jones gets cleated up high (possibly in the face).

Ball gets flicked on by Panama in U.S. box but they shoot it wide. U.S. defense did a nice job collapsing on that offensive player.

Final: U.S. 1, Panama 0

It's all about Donovan and Adu's work off the bench. Making Bob Bradley look like a genius (which is pretty hard to do). The U.S. didn't play particularly great but they got the result and didn't have to sweat it out in extra time.

Mexico faces Honduras at 10 p.m. in the other Gold Cup semifinal. As a U.S. fan, you have to want Mexico since it's their biggest rival but Honduras is a much more beatable team. Who to root for?

The final is Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Gold Cup semifinal: U.S. vs. Panama 1st half live blog

After losing 2-1 to Panama in the Gold Cup group play a week and a half ago, the U.S. has a chance to get some revenge after suffering one of its worst defeats in recent memory. The Gold Cup semifinals take place tonight at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

The U.S. faces Panama and then Honduras plays Mexico. A dream final of U.S. vs. Mexico on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl is what everyone wants but first they both have some work to do at the home of the Texans.

Jozy Altidore is done for the Gold Cup (out 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury) so Juan Agudelo gets the start in his place, other than that it's the same squad that beat Jamaica 2-0 on Sunday.

U.S. starters:
Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Lichaj
Jones, Bradley
Bedoya, Kljestan, Dempsey

Panama starters:

Machado, Torres, Baloy, Henriquez
Barahona, Henriquez, Gomez, Cooper
Tejada, Quintero

U.S. wins the first corner but as usual, doesn't do anything productive with it.

Bedoya did a nice job to keep the ball inbounds and Agudelo tried to back down a defender in the box but he was called for a shaky foul.

Jones needs to play a little more cautiously since he's carrying a yellow card. Panama has four players with yellow cards.

Great reminder, that was the first time Panama had ever beaten the U.S.

Long ball for Bedoya is snatched up by Penedo who comes way off his line to grab it.

Jones with a beautiful ball across the field to somebody's chest. That's what they need more of, some less Vanilla passes.

Dempsey wins a header in the box but Penedo gets it before Agudelo can.

Bedoya gets crushed on a tackle by Cooper who picks up a yellow. The former BC star was hit right in his back. Must of hurt pretty bad.

Bedoya wins a free kick midway between the box and midfield. He seems to be making things happen early on in this one.

Dempsey shoots from distance but it goes well wide. Like the confidence, don't enjoy the lack of accuracy.

U.S. looks to have a counterattack starting but Agudelo misplays a pass to Kljestan at midfield. Bad play, gotta complete that routine pass.

Great buildup by the U.S. Bedoya gives it to Cherundolo who hits a cross to Agudelo. His diving header goes off the Panama post and the U.S. can't connect on the scramble following that rebound.

Panama starts jawing with Tim Howard. Now, they're starting to flop and whine all over the field. I've never seen this team before (since I missed the last meeting) but they're already starting to bug me.

Bedoya gets called for a foul outside the U.S. box. Panama can't do anything with it but it goes out for a throw. They play the ball across the goal but nobody is there for Panama.

Dempsey gets taken down for a U.S. free kick. This game is getting chippy and I kinda like it.

Good buildup by the U.S. but there's too many bodies in the box and they put it out for a goal kick. Just gotta find that finishing touch.

Another yellow card for Panama (Henriquez) after one of their players kicks Bedoya after a play had gone by.

The U.S. with another chance in the box but they can't get the final shot lined up, Dempsey tries to do something with it but it was an impossible ball to control.

Panama wins its first corner in the 40th minute.

Agudelo tries to beat a couple Panama defenders but he clearly drags one down and is rightly called for the foul. He has to show more variety than just trying to blow by everyone. Doesn't work, even against a team like this.

Quintero wins a free kick for Panama right outside the U.S. box. Could have been a disaster there as Goodson got beaten and was forced to tackle him from behind. Barahona tries to be a hero and put it on goal from a tough angle but it goes over.

One minute of added time.

Halftime: 0-0

U.S. has carried the play although they have just had the one really good chance (Agudelo's header). As the announcers said, the U.S. desperately need Landon Donovan in the game. They need someone that can break a defense down consistently, they lack that at the moment.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gold Cup: U.S. vs. Jamaica 2nd half live blog

No halftime subs for Bob Bradley.

Jones scores in the 49th minute as his volley off a deflected header goes off a Jamaican defender and past Ricketts who had dove and was out of position. Not his fault. 1-0 U.S.

It's the first goal that Jamaica has conceded in this Gold Cup.

Wednesday's Gold Cup semifinals are at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

Jamaica hasn't impressed me at all so far today. Other than that first gift chance, they haven't looked dangerous. They seem to be lacking energy or something, where's Usain Bolt when you need him?

Damn, what a save by Ricketts on Dempsey. A ball by Cherundolo was crossed into the box and Dempsey was right by the goal but his header was stuffed. That would have been it for Jamaica.

Watson in for Vernan in the 64th minute.

Donovan in for Bedoya in the 65th minute. Great match for Bedoya, he is proving to be a valuable part of this team.

Jones gets through for a breakaway and a trip by Jermaine Taylor leads to a red card and a U.S. free kick.

U.S. offsides negates a good chance by Agudelo who goes tumbling over Ricketts.

Jamaica gets free in the box but a shot is blocked by the U.S. and deflected off Jamaica for a U.S. throw in.

Dempsey has a go on a long shot but it's stopped by Ricketts.

Jamaica's last sub, Daley on for Shelton.

Maurice Edu in for Jones in the 75th minute. Great job by Jones, his best in a U.S. jersey. He scored the only goal so far and earned the disputed red card by Jamaica.

Edu shoots wide, would have ended it for the U.S.

Haha the U.S. looks to have a 2 on 1 breakaway with Ricketts coming way off his line but they get called for an offside.

Dempsey puts it away with a sweet goal in the 79th minute from Agudelo. The cross went through a Jamaican defender's legs and Dempsey made Ricketts dive before he went around him and calmly finished. 2-0 U.S. Dempsey topped it off with the "you can't see me" celebration.

With that goal, Dempsey ties Bruce Murray (21 goals) for fifth all-time on U.S. scoring chart.

It goes without saying that this is by far the best performance by the U.S. so far in the Gold Cup.

The winner of this match gets El Salvador or Panama who play later today.

Bocanegra with a terrible giveaway right to Daley but Howard saves it from the top of the 18.

Two minutes of stoppage time.

U.S. wins one more free kick. Ricketts stops Dempsey's shot and Agudelo's half-chance on a rebound.

Final: U.S. 2, Jamaica 0

The U.S. really played well which was great to see. They needed this type of performance, badly. The U.S. advances to the semifinals on Wednesday, hope they get a rematch with Panama and that Mexico gets to the final by beating Honduras.

Things didn't look good with Donovan sitting at the start and Altidore getting hurt early but a bunch of role players and lesser known guys stood up for Bob Bradley. Jones' lucky goal seemed to get it started and Dempsey's goal was a beauty.

Gold Cup: U.S. vs Jamaica (quarterfinal) 1st half live blog

The U.S. men's national team takes on Jamaica at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC in a Gold Cup quarterfinal match. Winner advances to the semifinals on Wednesday.

Bob Bradley's troops are wearing their red jerseys, Jamaica is in their yellow kits. The U.S. went 2-1-0 in group play while Jamaica was unbeaten at 3-0-0.

After losing to Panama, one of the worst losses in U.S. history, the U.S. beat Guadeloupe 1-0 to limp into the quarterfinals. If they play like they did in those last two games, they'll lose by a few goals to a decent Jamaican side.

U.S. starting 11:
Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Lichaj
Bradley, Jones,
Kljestan, Dempsey, Bedoya

Jamaica starting 11:
Ricketts in goal
Vernan, Thomas, Reid, Taylor
Austin, Morrison, Phillips,
Richards, Johnson, Shelton

Altidore wins a U.S. corner kick, the first of the match. Bedoya hits an awkward volley over; I'm happy to see the former BC star in the starting lineup though. He's earned it, he's been one of the few U.S. players to stand out in these three crappy games.

Nice, Wondolowski didn't dress today but Freddy Adu did. Thank you Bob, you finally seem to be getting it (at least a tiny bit).

Haha Jamaica gets a great chance (that looked offside by a mile) but Howard makes the initial save and then they sky it over. Can't believe that wasn't offside and that wasn't finished. Lichaj was the one beaten on the right side.

Not good at all, Altidore goes down with what looks like a hamstring injury.

Bedoya heads it back to Dempsey who's wide open and he forces a good save by Ricketts, U.S. corner.

The U.S. gets more pressure but no good shot off. However, they get another corner. Good work since Jozy left a few minutes ago and Juan Agudelo came in.

Yellow card for Jamaica for a tough challenge on Kljestan.

Cherundolo goes down with a shoulder injury but he's coming back on which is good.

Jones with an obvious trip, he gets a yellow card for his troubles. Easy call, gotta be smarter than that.

Jamaica gets loose at the top of the box but the U.S. defense clears it out. The backline looked shaky there for the U.S., almost committed a foul.

Dempsey wins a free kick from 30 yards out and forces a decent save over the bar by Ricketts. U.S. corner but they don't do anything with it.

Good run by Jones gives the U.S. another corner, gotta make the most of these.

Jamaica counterattacks off the U.S. corner but the final shot is an easy save for Howard.

Kljestan hits a top-spin shot that Ricketts knocks out for a corner. Bicycle kick by Dempsey over the net.

Bedoya with a snap header wide, good work by him and Kljestan.

Agudelo takes a long shot that's stopped and Jones has a chance on the rebound but he can't square it up and it goes out for a goal kick.

Great thru ball from Bradley to Lichaj but Ricketts makes a diving save and holds on to it.

Halftime: U.S. 0, Jamaica 0

Feels like the U.S. should be up by a goal or two but Jamaica did have that one ridiculous chance that they somehow didn't score on. U.S. is carrying the play and controlling possession. Keep playing like this and a goal or two will come although Ricketts (LA Galaxy) is a quality goalkeeper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gold Cup: U.S. vs. Guadeloupe 2nd half live blog

Talking to Shimer at halftime (he's in NC). He rightly points out that the U.S. seems generally disinterested in this entire tourney. They should wake up since this decides who goes to the 2013 Confederations Cup which is a sneaky good tournament.

Jozy's goal was nice but Dempsey had two easy headers in the box and Wondolowski should have bagged at least one goal.

I can hate on Bob Bradley all day (and I will at times) but the players also have to step up and perform. It seems like they're taking many steps back from the progress they made last summer in the 2010 World Cup.

And the second half is underway.

Clint Dempsey is now Fulham's all-time leading scorer (didn't know that).

Altidore wins a free kick outside the box as a Guadeloupe defender bumps him in the back.

Jozy with a nice run, shields the ball from a couple defenders and hits a shot that's deflected out for a U.S. corner. Great display of his strength although a goal there would have been better.

I'm repeating myself but Cherundolo sent another good ball into the box but it seemed to surprise Wondolowski who couldn't do much with it.

Jones finds Donovan with a cross in close but Landon somehow puts it over the bar. U.S. is snakebitten right now.

Dempsey wins a free kick and hits a shot off the crossbar and over. 1-0 U.S. in the 60th minute.

Enough, the U.S. has to put this game away so they can get their stars some rest.

Alejandro Bedoya in for Wondolowski, long overdue. Haha and Fox Soccer Channel puts up Feilhaber's name on the screen instead of Bedoya (he gets no respect!).

Yellow card for Guadeloupe after a hard foul on Dempsey. Donovan with the free kick to the side of the box. Looked like it could have been a handball but the U.S. didn't really deserve the call anyway.

Donovan puts a ball into the box but Grandel stops Bedoya on a decent shot from the side.

Guadeloupe corner, they're only down 1-0 in the 73rd minute. This is a joke.

Foul by Lichaj, a bit of a flop by a Guadeloupe player.

And Dempsey has the ball basically on the goal line but he can't put it in as it's blocked by a Guadeloupe defender.

Jozy wins a free kick right at the top of the box, thought maybe it'd be a penalty kick. Altidore is out, Kljestan is in. Good game by Jozy.

Bedoya almost puts a header in, he has been a bright spot off the bench. Earning his minutes.

Michael Bradley out (to protect his yellow card), Maurice Edu in. Last sub for the U.S. 1-0 in the 85th minute.

Great run by Dempsey but he puts the shot well wide. Something is up with him tonight, he doesn't have his usual killer touch.

Two minutes of stoppage time.

Kljestan finds Dempsey alone in front of Guadeloupe's goal but would you believe it, he misses?

Final: U.S. 1, Guadeloupe 0

U.S. advances to face Jamaica on Sunday afternoon (quarterfinals, 3pm at RFK Stadium on Fox Soccer Channel). If the U.S. plays like this again, they'll lose by a couple goals. They barely beat one of the worst teams they'll ever play. This game was beyond depressing. They had a million chances but couldn't put them in save for Altidore's missile.

Gold Cup: U.S. vs. Guadeloupe 1st half live blog

Never in a million years did I think I'd be watching let alone live blogging a sporting event involving Guadeloupe yet here I am. The U.S. men's national team suffered one of its worst losses ever on Saturday (losing 2-1 to Panama) and now they face a must-win to get out of the group stage of the Gold Cup. That's probably the most depressing sentence I've ever written.

Anyway, Canada just drew 1-1 with Panama. So a U.S. tie or win puts them through to the quarterfinals to face Jamaica (3-0) on Sunday in Washington, DC.

U.S. starting 11:
Howard; Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Lichaj; Dempsey, Jones, Bradley, Donovan; Wondolowski, Altidore.

Guadeloupe starting 11:
Grandel; Ictoi, Viator, Tacalfred, Zubar; Racon, Gamiette, Auvray, Loval; Socrier, Nabab

Lichaj is making his Gold Cup debut, this is only his fourth match with the team.

I wish I could give you more insight on the Panama loss but I missed it live and once I read the recap I couldn't bare to watch it. Yeah, I'm a baby.

At least the U.S. has a good crowd, soldout Livestrong Arena in Kansas City (the new MLS only stadium).

And we're underway, Altidore wins a free kick outside of the Guadeloupe box.

JP Dellacamara and Kyle Martinho are the announcers on Fox Soccer Channel.

Guadeloupe wins a free kick outside the U.S. box. Howard comes out to get the deflected shot but he goes out for a Guadeloupe corner kick. Sweet Jesus, Howard bungles the corner which leads to a shot off the crossbar and over. Yikes.

No worries, Bob Bradley is shown on the sidelines in his usual dead to the world state.

Ugh, Jozy had a nice to work a 1-2 into space but he gives it right to a defender.

Dempsey wins a free kick outside the Guadeloupe box. Dempsey fires it on goal and Grandel tips it over the crossbar for a corner kick. Nice shot, good save.

Ok, Jozy scores one of his best goals that I've ever seen. A rocket from 25 yards out, Grandel barely moves (9th minute, 12th international goal, 2nd of the Gold Cup). 1-0 U.S., what a strike!

Donovan takes an elbow in the face but no foul call. Hope he's alright.

Wow, they showed a replay from the Guadeloupe goal and that shot took a crazy curve at the end leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.

Nabab breaks free for a partial breakaway but he shoots it out on the other sideline. Not sure which U.S. defender was beaten there but it wasn't pretty, he just ran by him pretty easily.

Jones tries to find Altidore with a through ball but he was offside, nice idea.

Brian Dunseth is the sideline reporter, haha what a selection of washed up mediocre American players.

Yikes, Goodson just got tangled up with a Guadeloupe player in the box but there was no call. There definitely could have been, U.S. dodged a bullet there.

Guadeloupe is offside but not before the player shoots it off the crossbar.

And I just found out on Twitter that Guadeloupe isn't even a member of FIFA. Uh shouldn't the U.S. be wiping the floor with these scrubs?

Lichaj makes a nice run into the box, drops it for Donovan but his shot is blocked. Wondolowski skies one from just inside the area (why is he on the team?).

Semifinal loss to Mexico (2007) and Quarterfinal loss to Costa Rica (2009) are the highlights of Guadeloupe's Gold Cup history.

And the announcers make me puke as they note Guadeloupe is a "good team." Yeah ok guys. Haha, their coach is wearing jeans (no joke).

Dempsey with a great chance that he usually buries. Cherundolo puts a cross right on his head but Dempsey puts it wide. Should be 2-0, no excuse.

Cherundolo with another great ball, this time to Wondolowski but it's just out of his reach.

Dempsey with a shot from distance that was ticketed for the back of the net. Good save by Grandel, U.S. corner. Bradley tries a backheel but it's cleared off the line.

If you're wondering Guadeloupe has 400,000 fake people, it's the size of Vermont.

Bradley almost found Dempsey with a sweet chip but Grandel came off his line to clear it out of danger. Good idea.

Cherundolo is flying around, almost had another sweet cross. It was knocked out for a throw in. He's one of the few U.S. players that is doing anything consistently.

Bradley finds Dempsey with a cross that Dempsey puts wide. Didn't matter since he was called offside.

There we go, Wondolowski earns a foul with a nice turn on a Guadeloupe defender on the edge of Guadeloupe's box.

Donovan's free kick is not the best (as usual) but Altidore earns the corner with a nifty move.

Wondolowski gets stuffed twice by Grandel on very good chances. Is Charlie Davies ready to return to the team? Bob Bradley still hasn't found one suitable replacement, anyone that can play with Altidore.

2 minutes of added time and I'm already tired of this game. The U.S. is going to win but they should beat this team by a minimum of five goals on a normal day but right now, they can't get out of their own way.

Halftime: U.S. 1, Guadeloupe 0

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gold Cup opener: U.S. vs. Canada 2nd half

Will Johnson of Canada gets clipped and flops at the top of the U.S. box but doesn't get the call. Maybe if people knew who you were you'd get a call guy.

Haha Johnson gets a step past Bocanegra but the ball goes off his shin pad and out for a U.S. goal kick.

The Ford Field grass (installed this weekend) is looking all beat up. Shocking since Detroit is known for it's lush agriculture.

Michael Bradley gets a yellow card for yanking on a Canadian player's shoulders. Apparently, single yellows get wiped out after group play.

Johnson gets a yellow on basically the next sequence with an ugly tackle from behind on Jones. That was much worse than Bradley's play.

Canada wins a free kick but the pass into the box gets headed wide. The U.S. is not doing much positive at the moment, time to wake up!

Bradley with a nice ball to Altidore, who mistimes his leap but a Canada defender knocks it out for a corner. After a scramble, Bradley's cross goes over the goal and out of bounds.

Is this real life? Canada is breaking guys down but just can't get the final shot off on Howard.

Dunfeld on Canada is down, stretching his leg. Haha Altidore stomped on his foot when he ran by (not intentional).

Oh baby, now we're talking. Cherundolo with a nice cross, deflected by Hirschfeld, Dempsey tries to do a crazy volley but it's deflected out for a corner.

Great goal by Dempsey. Altidore feeds him (deflected by Agudelo) and Dempsey slides bfore connected for a sweet goal in the 62nd minute. 2-0 U.S.

Chris Wondolowski in for Agudelo. Canada also makes a sub, Johnson out and Ali Gerba in.

Wow Gerba with a screamer that got deflected over by a diving Howard. 2nd corner for Canada. That snipe came out of nowhere from some guy I've never heard of.

Altidore gets taken down in the box but rather than get the call, he gets called for a foul. Weird.

After that, Altidore's day is over. Nice opener for Jozy, 1 goal and 1 assist. Sasha Kljestan is in for him, Dempsey moves to forward.

Side note: Former MLS and U.S. national team player Kyle Marinho has been a revelation on commentary with the always solid JP Delacamera.

Canada with another good chance but they're called offsides again (correctly).

Maurice Edu (the U.S.' last sub) is in for Jones. Good game for Jones, he had a couple nice runs (both ways). I'm a fan of his style: toughness and no frills.

Another U.S. corner (their 7th). How about one more goal fellas? De Roasario out and Robert Friend (haha great name) in. And some other Canadian bum is out and another nobody is in. The end.

Couple nice moves by Simpson (Canada).

Howard stops by to make a couple ridiculous saves. Canada corner.

Haha they showed the replay, Howard made 3 excellent saves in a few seconds. What a stud.

Edu with a header out of bounds for a Canada corner. Nice job to get it out of danger.

2 minutes of stoppage time.

Dempsey working on two guys in the box goes down. A little theatrical but if he got a PK out of it, you could understand why.

Game over.

Final: U.S. 2, Canada 0

Decent bounce back performance by the U.S. after getting embarrassed by Spain on Saturday. I'm still confident that I could suit up for Bob Bradley and they'd still get this result but hey, at least they won (by more than 1 goal).

Man of the match: Altidore

Up next: vs. Panama on Saturday

Gold Cup opener: U.S. vs. Canada 1st half

Gotta say it looks weird but it's kinda cool to see the game taking place in Detroit's Ford Field. On the other hand, the CONCACAF Gold Cup logo on Fox Soccer Channel is weak sauce. Looks like something you're child would make in Kindergarten. Listen, I know this tournament is a joke but that doesn't mean the coverage has to act like it.

In the 3rd minute, Jozy Altidore wins a free kick just outside Canada's box. Clint Dempsey takes it and it looked good but it got deflected out by the wall for a U.S. corner. 2 shots by the U.S. blocked and Canada clears it out.

Another U.S. corner won by Steve Cherundolo in the 5th minute.

3rd corner for the U.S. in the 8th minute. Nice collection by Juan Agudelo in the box earns the corner.

Landon Donovan hit a nice cross into the box and the U.S. wanted a handball but no dice. Couldn't tell, I'll have ot see a replay before I blast the refs. Good non-call.

Haha Agudelo won't turn 19 until November (FML!).

Another U.S. corner ends with Michael Bradley blasting a shot that Carlos Bocanegra deflects just wide. Good chance.

I don't care what my man smiling Bob Bradley said to the media ahead of the Spain sacrifice. Canada sucks and there is no excuse for the U.S. having any trouble with them. Nothing less than a three or four goal win is acceptable. If the U.S. wants to be taken seriously worldwide, they have to stomp the bums.

There we go, U.S. scores in the 15th minute. Altidore gets on the board after a nice ball from Donovan and quick turn. A better goalkeeper would have stopped it but it's nice to see Altidore get off the schneid. 1-0 U.S.

Last time the U.S. was in Detroit (1994 vs. Switzerland at the Silverdome)

Haha Canada's team logo is a maple leaf on top of a soccer ball, how stereotypical!

Jozy is working tonight, gets another chance in the box but his cross is stopped by Canada's goalkeeper.

Now they're getting creative, Donovan finds Cherundolo but his cross to Agudelo is too hot to catch up with.

Ugh, Dempsey had some time and space but couldn't make up his mind fast enough and had his shot blocked. Too bad, the U.S. had numbers.

Altidore crosses to Agudelo who shoots it wide.

Canada's first corner! And they predictably do nothing with it.

Dwayne De Rosario with Canada's first decent chance. From outside the box, he just curls it wide past Tim Howard who dove full extension.

Haha Jozy tosses some Canadian schmoe but rightly gets called for a foul.

Nice spin by Jermaine Jones in the midfield to start a U.S. counterattack.

You'd think with his love of soccer and pull in Canada that Steve Nash would suit up for a few games. But no, we're left with a patchwork team that features guys that play in Europe and MLS (that I've mostly never heard of).

Clarence Goodson with a nicely timed offsides trap catches a Canadian player a hair offside.

Agudelo takes a needless flop in the box on a cross. You're better than that Juan, come on bro.

Hirshfeld with a good save on Agudelo after the goalkeeper was going the wrong way. If there was more on that shot, it would have been in. It took a deflection off the defender too.

Agudelo with another shot, this time from long distance (outside the box). It's a bouncer and Hirschfeld makes the diving stop to keep the ball in play. Nice dipping shot by the youngster.

1 minute of stoppage time.

I don't think Bob Bradley could possibly show any less emotion, ever. The dude is a complete robot.

Halftime: U.S. 1, Canada 0

The U.S. should have a bigger lead but I'll take it after Saturday's debacle. Altidore and Agudelo are the brightspots so far for the U.S. Canada is terrible, just as I suspected.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spain is the No. 1 team in the world for a reason

Anytime you take the field against Spain, the reigning 2010 World Cup champions and the undisputed No. 1 team in the world, you're guaranteed to have your hands full.

When you play Spain with most of your best players on the bench to start, you might as well not show up. At least, that's the attitude that the United States seemed to take on Saturday afternoon as they hosted Spain at Gillette Stadium in what should have been a nice send-off for the U.S. before the Gold Cup.

Instead, it turned out to be a 4-0 beating handed to them by Spain which truthfully should have been 6-0 or 7-0. It was that bad. Alvaro Arbeloa scored on a 1-2 but the play was incorrectly blown dead. Alvaro Negredo's cheeky chip went off the crossbar and David Villa just curled a shot wide (all in the first 25 minutes).

"It's been a good moment in football for Spain," said Spanish head coach Vicente del Bosque. "We've had success for some time. We're all reaping the fruits of our labor and hard work."

Carlos Bocanegra (rest) and Landon Donovan (illness) didn't get off the bench while Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey were subbed on at halftime. It didn't make much of a difference since Spain jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead. I'll bet Tim Howard wished he got a similar break before the U.S. hosts Canada on Tuesday in Detroit for the Gold Cup opener.

"It's a tough test to play them (Spain) anytime, even tougher on the eve of the Gold Cup," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. "We've always chosen to take these kind of challenges, playing the best teams. It's the way to see what the game at the highest level is all about."

Spain's finishes were all clinical, leaving Howard with no chance to stop any of them. A leaky U.S. backline was at fault, compounded with Spain's top notch playmaking and shooting abilities.

Santiago Cazorla got Spain on the board in the 28th minute after a David Silva beat his man down the flank then played it to him in the box. Cazorla didn't waste it, putting the ball in the corner, upper 90.

Before the U.S. had a chance to regroup, Alvaro Negredo made it 2-0 after a long, looping pass that sprung him. Xabi Alonso, the Spanish midfield wizard, passed it from behind the midfield line.

Cazorla scored his second in the 41st minute, assisted once again by Silva. It was basically a replay of his earlier strike.

There were wholesale substitutions at halftime for both teams but that only made the game more dull. Neither team did much until Fernando Torres of all people took a through ball and hit a pretty shot off both posts and in. 4-0 Spain, game set match.

The good news for the U.S. is that they'll get right back out there on Tuesday with a game against a rival that they own. I think that's positive for them, rather than going back to training for weeks and letting this stinker stew in their heads.

"Hopefully there's something we can take from this game for the next three weeks and also moving forward," said a strangely upbeat Bradley.

Yeah, let's hope so Bob. If the U.S. doesn't at least get to the Gold Cup final (against Mexico), I'm going to buy the domain name ( and then we'll have something to really talk about.

Spain vs. United States 2nd half live blog

US subs: Bradley in for Jones, Cherundulo for Edu, Dempsey for Rogers, Wondolowski for Altidore, Goodson for Onyewu

Spain subs: Iniesta, Torres and Soriano all in.

Torres has a chance to go in for a shot but he completely bungles it. What has happened to this guy? He can't do anything anymore.

Lichaj gets forward and chips a cross to Wondolowski but its too high and it goes out of bounds. That kind of day for the U.S.

Torres hits a chip off the side netting.

Alejandro Bedoya in for the US. Ramos out for Spain, Valero in.

US gets its first 2 corners of the game.

Dempsey gets loose in the box but stumbles and can't do anything with it.

73rd minute. Torres gets a through ball from Borja Valero and hits it off both posts and in. 4-0 Spain. Yikes. Howard hasn't had a chance any of the goals.

76th minute Reina is out and Iker Casillas is in.

Let the record show, a "Let's Go Bruins" chant just started in the Gillette Stadium crowd. Love it, highlight of the day for the U.S. so far.

Today's announced attendance is 64,121.

Howard comes scrambling out to stop another bid by Spain. Don't know why Bradley didn't give him a breather after halftime, doesn't make sense with the Gold Cup starting on Tuesday.

And it's all over in Foxboro, the U.S. gets stomped 4-0 and it truthfully should have been 6 or 7-0. What a disaster.

U.S. vs Spain 1st half live blog

Spain has already broken down the U.S. defense twice but the first shot was well over and wide. The second one was blocked.

The U.S. just mounted its first attack but it ended with Robbie Rogers flopping.

Sergio Ramos with the best chance: takes a 1-2 and curls it wide.

Spain with another great chance but Silva is incorrectly called offside before he gives it to Arbeloa for an easy tap-in.

Maurice Edu makes a great recovery run to break up another Spain attack. The U.S. is predictably on their heels right now.

Alvaro Negredo hits the crossbar with a ridiculous chip, the U.S. is able to clear the shot out of play. Awesome through ball and sweet shot, should have been a goal.

Spain is just toying with the U.S. right now, David Silva took a shot after a couple nice passes and put it a tiny bit wide.

Juan Agudelo is looking dangerous, so far the only U.S. player to pose any threat with the ball at his feet.

Spain scores in the 28th minute, Santiago Cazorla from David Silva. Cutback in the corner by Silva, plays it to Cazorla who puts it in the corner, upper 90. No chance for Howard, 1-0 Spain.

Alvaro Negredo makes it 2-0 in the 32nd minute. Xabi Alonso found him with a long pass from behind midfield. This is getting ugly.

The US looked to have numbers on a counterattack but Eric Lichaj chose to run into traffic rather than give it to Agudelo who was open and calling for it. And then he left with an injury.

David Silva makes a nice move to get open but he could have done better with the shot. Howard makes the diving save.

Rogers with the best chance so far for the US but it goes wide.

Another quick passing sequence leads to Spain's 3rd goal. 2nd of the game for Cazorla. 3-0 Spain.

Talk about a nightmare of a half by the United States. Shimer is at the game and in the stands and he rightly pointed out that the only way the U.S. can even think of competing with Spain is if they have their full squad. No Donovan, Bradley and Dempsey=No chance in Hell (with regards to Shane McMahon)

Spain's starting 11

Spain's rolling out in a 4-3-3.

Pepe Reina-Goalkeeper
Raul Albiol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos & Alvaro Arbeloa-defenders
Xabi Alonso (captain), Sergio Busquets & Santiago Cazorla-midfielders
David Villa, David Silva & Alvaro Negredo-forwards.

Iker Casillas-Goalkeeper
Carlos Marchena, Andoni Iraola & Joan Capdevila-defenders
Andres Iniesta, Bruno Soriano & Borja Valero-midfielders
Fernando Torres, Pedro Rodriguez, Fernando Llorente & Manu del Moral-forwards

Head coach: Vicente del Bosque

Referee: Roberto Silvera (Uruguay)
First ast: Palbo Fandino (Uruguay)
Second ast: Miguel Angel Nievas (Uruguay)
Fourth official: Mark Geiger (USA)

U.S. starting 11 vs. Spain

The United States will come out in a 4-4-2 formation.

Tim Howard (captain)-Goalkeeper
Jonathan Spector, Onguchi Onyewu, Tim Ream & Eric Lichaj-defenders
Robbie Rogers, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones & Sacha Kljestan-midfielders
Juan Aguedelo & Jozay Altidore-strikers

Landon Donovan is out sick, he's expected back vs. Canada on Tuesday for the Gold Cup opener in Detroit.

Carlos Bocanegra, Freddy Adu, Jonathan Bornstein and Donovan are not in uniform today for the United States.

Marcus Hahnemann-Goalkeeper
Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson-defenders
Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Alejandro Bedoya-midfielders
Chris Wondolowski-forward

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jonathan Bornstein after practice

I have to admit that I didn't know who Bornstein was at first, I didn't recognize him but I saw other writers putting their recorders in his face so I followed suit. I have ripped him in the past but I have to say that he seems like a really nice guy. Oh and he's tiny, the U.S. site lists him at 5-9 and 145 pounds.

-"Soccer is soccer, sometimes throughout my career I've been asked to play different positions at different times. I think it's adding to my abilities as a player. I think i'll be transitioning back to my old spot. Try to play as I can when I get the opportunity."

-"I think even after the season ended, I do a lot of running on my own. Don't wanna be out of shape coming into camp. Get past where I was a week ago. I think i'm ready, you never know until you get out on the field."

-"Trying to be sharp every day, some days are better than others but overall I think its getting better."

-"Healthy competition. A great quality, move around in the back. Always look forward to learning as much as I can."

Tim Howard after practice

"I'll be anxious and nervous, that's how I've always been. I love that feeling."

-"It's going to be a big game. You have to stand up, a long 90 minutes. Over the last 4 years, we've played some pretty big games. If you ask them, we've given them all they can handle."

-"I watched Barcelona all season, I think everyone does. They're a tough not to crack so I wasn't surprised that they beat Man. U."

-"Argentina plays a 4-3-3 and molds it around Messi. I think Spain will play a version of that. It seems like Barcelona is ruling the world in terms of strategy and style right now."

-"Tough game but good game to start the Gold Cup with (vs. Canada). We're an older brother against Canada in soccer so I expect them to come out swinging. Because its the first game, a good result for us would go a long way. You always want to start a tournament well no question."

-"We've always said, we'll take on all comers. The tougher games you get to play leads to good things. I think playing on the border (in Detroit) will give them a lot of neutral fans."

Alejandro Bedoya after practice

"It's unfortunate that Benny got injured (opening up a spot for him), he's a good friend of mine, but things like that happen in football. You always have to be prepared, I'm here ready. My first major tournament. For me, its just keep on developing: learning from every training session and game."

-How he got the call to the team. "I was in Sweden on summer break (from his club season) and my girlfriend had just flown out there. We had a vacation set already for Barcelona. Already packed and ready to go so just changed my plans. Had to book my gf a ticket and came to the States. It's all for the better."

-"This is my opportunity, I have to show I belong here and hopefully I get the chance to play."

-"Disappointed not to make it initially but coach has some hard decisions to make. Good competition. See what I can do. We didn't go over it. Keep moving forward, gotta work hard."

-"Started out well in Sweden, 4 goals and 3 assists in 9 games so far in Sweden."

-"I have an agent for a reason (transfer rumors)."

-"I've had some texts and phonecalls in the area, nice to see my college coach Ed Kelly today. Some of the people will be coming to the game tomorrow so it's going to be fun to see them. I love this area, Boston, so it's nice to be back."

Carlos Bocanegra after practice

"We want to step on the field and do well but in the back of our minds, we realize that Canada is the real focus (in the Gold Cup opener next week). We've been talking about Canada a little bit, after the Spain game we'll watch some video and get to know all their players and their tendencies. It's not that hard to switch over."

"Normally you're not talking about the second team in a lead up. It's a little different."

"Anytime you can get a game like this, test yourself against the best. They do all the things right at the highest level. If we do it against these guys, we should be able to do it against the CONCACAF teams."

Dempsey after practice

After the practice, Dempsey and the players spoke to the media as they came off the field.

"We had Andy Dorman, Pat Noonan, Taylor Twellman, Matt Reis, Jay Heaps. It was a great team, I miss playing with those guys but at the same time you've gotta keep moving forward to the best competition you can. That's why I went to Europe."

"To get to Europe, it's tough to make it. All you can do is take care of yourself."

"Both are physical leagues, pace of the game is a lot faster in Europe. Skill set and weather conditions. Being warm in the summer, it's tough to move around."

Bob Bradley press conference

I have to admit that the one and only time I had sat in on a Bob Bradley press conference (a year ago after the friendly against the Czech Republic in East Hartford), it was one of the most boring experiences of my life.

So admittedly, today I had very low expectations but I have to say that Bob brought it up a notch. He even cracked a couple decent jokes that went over too much with the chucklehead media assembled before him.

Some highlights from the Princeton grad:

-This game vs. Spain is great for the fans. "Spain is a team that soccer people all get excited to watch."

-his joke came when he talked about Xavi being out and Iniesta playing: "Xavi had 10,000 passes in La Liga this season so that ruled him out. Iniesta is at 9500 so he has 500 left, that's why he's playing."

-"All of us watched Barcelona vs. Manchester United (last weekend in the Champions League final)."

-this is an opportunity to play a good team and see how the U.S. reacts. the challenge of trying to get the ball.

-they want to prevent Spain from coming thru the middle and make them defend, it's hard to get possession 50/50% against them.

-Barcelona's foundation is in its academy. "I have an appreciation for how they do everything."

-he related a story about talking to some of their players a few months after the U.S. beat Spain in the Confederations Cup, he said Spain's players were very humble.

Clint Dempsey press conference

Before training this afternoon, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley and Clint Dempsey sat down for a press conference in what seemed like a back room at Gillette Stadium.

Some highlights from Dempsey (the former New England Revolution star):

-He talked about playing out his contract (2 more years) at Fulham.

-He said the main focus of the U.S. is to win the Gold Cup

-He admitted to not watching the 2010 World Cup after the U.S. was knocked out. "I went back to Texas and went fishing with my dad. You might not know too that my grandfather died the day of the Ghana match."

-He said the U.S. is a tough team to breakdown, "if we're all on the same page."

-"I'm excited to win Fulham player of the year. Now I need to replicate what I did last season."

-Returning to New England: "It's great to be back, I have some great memories here. We had some really good teams. I owe a lot to MLS, this is where it all started."

-Talking about Barcelona and Spain, he said Arsenal is similar in style. Man. U found ways to win games this season.

All the U.S. vs. Spain you can handle

Check back in this afternoon/early evening and of course tomorrow as I'll be checking out all the U.S. vs. Spain I can handle.

The U.S. got into Boston last night and they practice today at Gillette Stadium. Bob Bradley and Clint Dempsey are having press conferences before training.

Later, Spain will also practice. I will probably stick around for that too.

Tomorrow's match is at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN, be sure to check it out. The Red Sox are at 1:10 p.m. and the Bruins are at 8 p.m. so I think this works out perfectly.

Follow me on Twitter: @RichSlate for updates

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Manchester United legend retires

When your career spans 17 professional seasons and you spend it all with one powerhouse club, odds are you are a legend in soccer.

With the news today that Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has retired, I'd say it's time to start making his statue for outside Old Trafford.

The England midfielder formed the core of one of United's greatest ever teams along with Neville, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, which culminated in winning the Treble in 1999, though Scholes missed the final through suspension.

Fergie's Fledglings broke up in the subsequent years but Giggs, Scholes and the elder Neville continued to star as Ferguson built a new team. In 2008, nine years after missing out on a glorious night in Barcelona, Scholes started as United lifted the European Cup again, beating Chelsea on penalties in Moscow.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has frequently repeated this season that he wanted Scholes to continue for another year but, despite impressing at the start of the season, the Salford-born midfielder's powers had seemingly been waning in the latter part of the season.

Scholes, who will carry away a reputation for genius on the pitch and for humility off it, having shunned the celebrity spotlight his entire career, insisted deciding to quit was not an easy decision.

"I am not a man of many words but I can honestly say that playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United has been a real honour.

"This was not a decision that I have taken lightly but I feel now is the right time for me to stop playing. To have been part of the team that helped the club reach that 19th title is a great privilege."

Ferguson paid tribute to the midfielder, who has wowed fans since netting two goals on his debut against Port Vale in 1994, and revealed that Scholes will be joining the club's coaching staff.

"What more can I say about Paul Scholes that I haven't said before?" Ferguson said. "We are going to miss a truly unbelievable player.

"Paul has always been fully committed to this club and I am delighted he will be joining the coaching staff from next season. Paul has always been inspirational to players of all ages and we know that will continue in his new role."

United chief executive David Gill added: "It is very sad day for Manchester United fans around the world. We all know that Paul was one of the players that came through the ranks of the academy system in the 90s and has established himself as one of the greatest players to ever wear the United shirt.

"It is very important that the club keeps the associated with these great players and we are delighted that Paul will join the coaching staff.''

His final game for United was Saturday's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona, though fans will be able to show their final appreciation at a testimonial match in August.

United team-mate Rio Ferdinand led the tributes that flooded Twitter in the aftermath of the announcement.

Ferdinand said: "Paul Scholes retires from football....the BEST player of his generation, loved every minute of playing football with him. #legend.

"Paul Scholes aka Sat Nav went from a scoring midfielder to a dictator of the game (changed his game while still at top of the game) #genius."

It's always hard to see someone retire that has seemingly played at the highest level for as long as you can remember. You have to respect Scholes' choice to walk away rather than force United to the awkward stage of trying to get rid of such a storied player. I hate Man U but even I have to shower love on Scholes, a guy that always played hard, didn't say much and got the job done forever.