Sunday, April 10, 2011

Barca Wins and United Ties, but Strikers lose Home Debut

It has been a busy weekend here at Jedi Soccer.

Not surprisingly, FC Barcelona won its match against La Liga bottom-dwellers Almeria, but were compelled to come-from-behind to secure the win.  After a scoreless first half which saw Barca players Bojan Krkic and Javier Mascherano each collect a yellow card, just five minutes into the second period Almeria shocked the home crowd at Camp Nou when Miguel Perez-Roldan, AKA 'Corona,' took a pretty pass from Pablo Daniel Piatti and fired home a strike that momentarily silenced the Barca faithful, and sent a wake-up call to their opponents.  However, three minutes later Barca received a penalty shot which Messi Wan Kenobi dutifully put into the net to even the score.  At the 64th minute Messi passed off to Brazilian teamate Thiago Alcantara do Nascimento, who fired home Barca's second score of the night; and then two minutes into stoppage time Messi again found the back of the net for a final goal moments before the wistle, giving Barca a comfortable 3-1 come-from-behind victory. 

Next up for FC Barcelona: Real Madrid twice in four days, first in La Liga competition on April 16th in the second round of 'El Clasico,' and then again on April 20th in the final match of the Copa Del Rey at the Santiago Bernabeau in Madrid.  And still in the wings-- yet another probable encounter with Real Madrid in UEFA Champions League play, assuming Barca advances past Shaktar Donetsk after the second round of their series at the Donbass in the Ukraine.  All in all, Barca is looking at four encounters with their arch-rivals this season.

Meanwhile... across the Atlantic, DC United and MLS superteam LA Galaxy played to a 1 - 1 draw before a highly energized home crowd at RFK Stadium in Washington.  In the 14th minute Galaxy superstar David Beckham sent a beautiful corner kick into the box that was met by Galaxy forward Mike Magee, who headed the ball past United keeper Bill Hamid to open the scoring.  Up one goal, the Galaxy did a good job controlling the tempo of the match thereafter, but surprisingly did not push very hard for a second goal.  Second half substitutes Charlie Davies and Andy Najar brought a renewed sense of urgency to the pitch for United; but a red card for Santino Quaranta in the 84th minute left United shorthanded and apparently headed for defeat.  However, five minutes later in the closing moments of the match, United forward Charlie Davies made a run into the box and was fouled by Omar Gonzalez, allowing Davies to slot home the equalizer on a penalty kick, and that was the match, 1 - 1 and a point in the standings for both teams.  Overall this was a very well played match before a packed house of fans, and a good example of MLS quality at its best.

Finally, the new Fort Lauderdale Strikers opened their 2011 campaign with their home pitch debut at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday against Edmonton FC, in front of an announced crowd of 6,402 fans, not bad for a second division side.  Dressed out in their new yellow-and-red-hooped jerseys, reminiscent of the kit worn by the original Strikers, the reborn Strikers scored their first-ever goal in the 48th minute, when Argentine Eduardo Coudet sent a beautiful corner kick into the box that was headed in by Martyn Lancaster to give the Strikers a 1 - 0 lead.  However, Edmonton goals in the 55th minute by Shaun Saiko, and in the 70th minute by substitute Daniel Antoniuk, put the visitors ahead for good.  Despite two beautiful headed shots on goal by Striker Paulinho Le Petit late in the match, the Strikers ended their debut with a loss. Even so, the match was well attended and could easily have gone the Strikers way, so hope and optimism for the Strikers NASL season are the order of the day.

A fine weekend of football.