Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Barca Stomps Villareal 5 - 0

From the Guardian UK:

Cesc Fabregas described playing with Lionel Messi as "awesome" after the World Player of the Year set him up to score for Barcelona against Villareal on his debut in La Liga.

The former Arsenal captain, who returned to his boyhood club earlier this month, raced on to Messi's pass just before half-time, rounded the goalkeeper Diego López and slotted into the empty net to put the champions 2-0 ahead on Monday evening. A recruit at Barça's youth academy at the same time as Fábregas, Messi later added two goals as they strolled to a 5-0 victory.

"It's a pleasure playing with him," Fábregas said. "You know you can give him the ball at any moment and he'll decide the match on his own."

The pair already look to have created a formidable partnership as Barça seek a fourth straight Spanish league title and a third Champions League crown in four years. Fábregas also volleyed a brilliant goal from a Messi assist in the 2-0 European Super Cup win over Porto on Friday.

"Time will tell if I carry on scoring," Fábregas said. "For the moment I have a lot of desire to do things well and I am very happy on the pitch."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rowdies Beat Strikers 2 - 0

On a weekend that saw DC United's match against the Portland Timbers at RFK Stadium cancelled because of Hurricane Irene, our beloved Fort Lauderdale Strikers lost another match against in-state derby rivals Tampa Bay.  This is the second time this season that the Strikers have lost to Tampa Bay.

Goals by Aaron King and Mike Ambersely were all  that Tampa Bay needed to win.  The Strikers best chance came in the 28th minute, when Teopolo Morales blasted a point-blank shot that was impressively saved by Tampa Keeper Jeff Attinella to keep the Strikers off the scoreboard.

This win elevates Tampa Bay to third place in the NASL, while the Strikers fall to sixth place.  Only the top six sides will advance into the NASL playoffs, which begin in a few weeks.

With the USL-PRO League season over for the Charleston Battery, and Jedi Soccer side FC Barcelona idle this weekend, the last few days have been thin on Jedi soccer action.  That should change tonight, as Barcelona take on Villareal to kick off their 2011-2012 campaign.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Barca Triumphs but US Domestic Season Sputters

On the same weekend that saw FC Barcelona, the premier team we follow here at Jedi Soccer, crush Napoli in the Joan Gamper Trophy invitational match at Camp Nou by the score of 5 - 0, the US-based domestic sides we follow all sputtered their way towards the end of their respective seasons in the MLS, NASL and USL-PRO leagues.

In Spanish League preaseason action-- extended by the players strike-- Barca schooled Napoli from the Italian Serie 'A' league in the fine art of football, scoring five times enroute to a majestic Gamper Trophy victory.  Two goals by the incomporable Messi Wan Kenobi, and additional contributions by Fabregas, Keita and Pedro were more than enough to put Napoli away.  With this additional preseason match, Barca appears now to be fully geared up for another triumphant Spanish League campaign which we are certainly looking forward to.

Across the pond here in the States, however, things were not so rosy for Jedi Soccer.  In MLS action, DC United fell to an attacking Sporting KC side by the score of 1-0 in Kansas City.  A crossed goal by Chance Myers was all the scoring the KC needed to overcome a lilstless DC United, which falls now to 6th place in the Eastern Conference and is in danger of not making the playoffs.

In NASL action, the season is down to its final six games, as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers fell to the league-leading Carolina Railhawks by the score of 2-0 this weekend.  The loss drops the Strikers down to sixth place in the league standings, and under the NASL playoff format, only the top six teams will advance.  So, with only six matches remaining, Fort Lauderdale is in danger of not making the playoffs.  It's a story of sixes.

Finally, in USL-PRO league action the Charleston Battery's season came to an end with a 1-3 loss to Orlando City, which now advances to face the Richmond Kickers in the American Division final.  In an exciting match that was tied going into overtime, Orlando went ahead in the 100th minute, followed by the ejection of Dane Kelley for a second Yellow card, and the final goal of the night two minutes into the second overtime period.  Thus the Charleston Battery's season comes to an end, with the USL-PRO League playoffs carrying on without them.

It's an outcome I fear both DC United and the Strikers will soon be facing, I'm afraid.  Let's hope not.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Barca Wins Supercopa

Yesterday FC Barcelona defeated arch-rivals Real Madrid 3-2 to claim the Supercopa de Espana trophy, which is the opening competition of the Spanish league season.  The match was marred by the now-characteristic rants from Jose Mourinho for Real Madrid.  It was a spectacular match, marred princi[pally by the Madrid manager's all-to-frequent misbehavior on the pitch.  As reported in the International Herald Tribue (from the UK),

"A Lionel Messi double inspired Eureopean and Spanish champions Barcelona to a 3-2 victory over bitter rivals Real Madrid in their Super Cup secobnd-leg clash and a 5-4 aggregate win.

The ill-feeling between the two sides was apparent throughout, but boiled over at the end of the match which saw three players sent off.

Barcelona were far from their best with their players looking rusty as they lacked their usual cutting edge, while Real played with determination. Andres Iniesta put Barca ahead with a deft finish before Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th goal in a Real Madrid shirt to equalise. Messi, though, proved to be the key player as he scored at the end of the first half and again three minutes from the end with French striker Karim Benzema finding the back of the net in between.

“Words fail me in how to congratulate my players on how they played tonight,” said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. “They are extraordinary and legendary players.”

Guardiola only gave new £29million signing former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas a few minutes of playing time towards the end of the game. But it was enough time for Marcelo to be dismissed for a late challenge on the Spanish midfielder.

Villa and Ozil were also red carded in the subsequent angry exchange – the latter being sent off from the substitutes bench as he had gone off earlier in the half – which prompted Guardiola to issue this warning after the match.

“Marcelo got a red card because we all know what happens after tackles in certain areas of the pitch,” said Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho. “It was a spectacular game from the first to last minute. But from the first minute of the second half, and I don’t criticise it because I know people do it, the ball boys hid the balls.
“It happens with small teams when they find themselves in difficulties.”

And so, Jose Mourinho blames the absence of ballboys for his teams loss.  Based on his antics the last two seasons, I don't thenk the problem is that Barcelona is a small club... I think the problem is that Jose Mourinho is a small coach.  And getting smaller all the time.  Visca el Barca!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Supercopa & US Team News

It was a busy and generally victorious weekend here in the land of Jedi soccer.  In Supercopa de Espana action, La Liga winners FC Barcelona took on Copa del Rey winners Real Madrid for the fifth time this calendar year, and it was a splendid match.  Mesut Ozil scored first for Real Madrid in the 12th nminute, but David Villa equalized for Barca a short time later, and then the incomporable Lionel Messi gave Barca the improbable lead right at the half, with the go-ahead goal in first-half injury time. 

Then, during halftime, the news that the long-rumored deal to bring Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona from Arsenal finally broke, bringing welcome news to Barca players and fans alike.  Despite this, after the re-start Xabi Alonso equalized for Real Madrid, and that was the match and the end of the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana 2011, a 2-2 result at the Santiago Bernabeu.  The season-opening action now shifts to Camp Nou for the second leg on Wednesday.

Across the pond, yesterdays MLS debut by DC United goalkeeper Joe Willis was a splendid success, with the rookie keeper from the University of Denver positng no less than six saves, including stopping a free kick, enroute to a stunning and unexpected 4-0 stomping fo the Vancouver Whitecaps.  Two goals from Chris Pontius in the 45' and 71' minutes, and additional scoring by Andy Najar in the 48' and Stephen King in the 81' would have been the story of the match on any other night, but the real story is the powerful debut of Joe Willis in the net.  It is now clear that all other issues aside, DC United has three capable goalkeepers on the roster with Bill Hamid, Stever Cronin, and now Joe Willis.

In NASL action, our beloved Fort Lauderdale Strikers yet again produced a tied match, with their 1 - 1 outcome against FC Edmonton.  The late goal in the 79' minute by Strikers substitute David Santamaria gave the Strikers the tie at Foote Field in Edmonton, after a first half goal by Edmonton's Paul Hamilton.  Despite the frustration of yet another tied match, the Strikers have now clawed their way back into playoff contention, standing in fourth place in the eight team league.

Finally, the Charleston Battery completed a seasonal sweep against the Charlotte Eagles.  Needing a win to advance to the playoffs, the Battery generated 3 goals in the first half to take a 3-1 lead, but Charlotte threatened late in the game by scoring two goals of their own.  Fortunately by then the Battery had posted four goals, with two from Mike Zaher, one from Zach Prince, and one from Nicki Patterson, and it was enough to preserve the win and advance into the playoffs.  The first round of the USL-Pro league playoff series begins this weekend, featuring USL-PRO seasonal chanmpions Orlando City hosting the Charleston Battery.

As the US soccer season ends, the European leagues start up once again.  Football-- its for every season.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Strikers Win Again!

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers have won their third match in a row, defeating the NSC Minnesota Stars at NSC Stadium with a goal in the 67th minute by Martin Nunez, for the only score of the night and the win.  As reported on the Strikers website,

"The game's lone goal came in the 67th minute when Shriver, on a long diagonal run, took the ball to the lower corner of the penalty area and passed backward to a cutting Nunez who slotted his shot inside the far post to beat NSC Minnesota goalkeeper Joe Warren. Nunez was brought into the starting lineup because the Strikers usual starter, Abe Thompson, was serving a one game suspension after receiving a red card in the Strikers previous game."

With this win, the Strikers now climb into 5th place in the NASL leage standings.  The top six teams in the eight team leage, will make the playoffs.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jedi Soccer August Report

This past week all four sides that we follow here at Jedi Soccer were in action, and all of them here in North America.  The much-anticipated matchup in Miami between FC Barcelona and Chivas de Guadalajara on August 3rd drew more than 70,800 spectators, the largest attendance ever for a professional soccer match in South Florida.  David Villa scored first for Barca in only the second minute of play, and for a moment it seemed that a rout might have been on.  But Marco Fabian tied the match in the 60th minute with a blast from 30 yards out, and two minutes later Omar Arellano's centering pass from the right wing found Fabian open near the far post. Fabian jumped and converted on a scissors kick from eight yards out, for his second goal of gthe night.  Then, Chivas went ahead 3-1 on Giovani Casillas' goal in the 72nd minute. Jesus Sanchez sped past the Barcelona backline and centered a pass to an open Casillas, who beat Pinto with a shot just inside the 6-yard box.  Jose Luis Verduzco scored Chivas' fourth goal in the 90th minute, and that was the match, an impressive 4-1 victory for Chivas over the best club in the world at the moment.

In MLS action, DC United tied Toronto FC in a wild match this past Saturday that saw United goalkeeper Bill Hamid sent off in the 7th minute for an agressive challenge outside of the box, and then United coach Ben Olsen was also ejected in the second half for dissent.  Reserve keeper Steve Cronin, who hadn't played a match for the first team at all this season, was forced into action.   And then, there was a six-goal barrage, culminating in a crazy goal - countergoal sequence just before full time which saw Toronto take a 3-2 lead, only for United star Dwayne De Rosario to complete a hat trick from the penalty spot two minutes later to equalize a memorable short-handed draw against Toronto.  This outcome brings United to sixth place in the MLS Eastern Conference, with the season now 2/3rd complete.

A more positive outcome was achieved this past weekend in NASL action by the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who defeated the NASL league-leading Carolina Railhawks 2-1 on Saturday.  Goals in the 38th minute by Walter Restrepo and a late goal in stoppage time by Martin Nunez, were enough to power the Strikers ahead for the win.  This outcome brings the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to sixth place in the 8 team leage, ahead of the scandalously bad but-MLS-bound Montreal Impact, and the dreadfully named Atlanta Silverbacks.

Finally, the Charleston Battery has lost twice in the last week to the USL-PRO leading Orlando City Lions.  On Wednesday the Battery faced the Lions in Orlando and lost 1-0, then just three days later the team faced the Lions again in the Citrus Bowl, losing 2-1.  This win gives the Orlando City Lions the first two of three possible titles this season:  the USL-PRO American Division Championship; and the USL-PRO Regular Season Championship.  They now will enjoy home-field advantage throughout the USL-PRO playoffs.

It's not often that all four of my teams are in action on this side of the pond, so it was a good week in the land of Jedi Soccer.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Big Jedi Soccer Weekend

Although FC Barcelona lost the heavily-attended exhibition match on Saturday against Manchester United at Fedex Field, our local American Jedi Soccer sides provided some excitement and satisfaction over the weekend.  Of note were the victories by both DC United and the Fort Lauderdal Strikers, which more than compensated for a loss by the Charleston Battery.

A pair of brilliant finishes by Dwayne DeRosario was all DC United needed to power past the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium, marking the first time the team has won in San Jose in 13 years.  As reported on the Potomac Soccer Wire:

"De Rosario took advantage of San Jose defender Nana Attakora’s slip to open the scoring in the 57th minute, latching on to an Andy Najar long ball and curling a ruthless shot past Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch.  The Canadian international’s second strike arrived nine minutes later and was even more impressive, as he drew several defenders out of position and combined with Chris Pontius along the left flank before meeting his teammates’ return pass with a fine one-timer into the top corner.  De Rosario, who began his MLS career with the Quakes, has now scored three goals since arriving in D.C. via a trade with the New York Red Bulls in late June, all of them strikes against former teams in San Jose and New York."

In addition to this brilliant performance, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers Brian Shriver posted two goals and Abe Thompson added another, as the Strikers powered past FC Edmonton in NASL action.  Shriver combined with Thompson in the 14th minute to give the Strikers the lead, and then Thompson added another in the 29th minute to put the Strikers up by two before the half.  Shriver's second goal in the 76th minute sealed the win, bringing the Strikers to 6th place in the 8-team league.

Only the Charleston Battery's 0-1 loss on Saturday to the Rochester Rhinos kept our Jedi Soccer stable from a clean sweep for the weekend.  Rhino's substitute Drew Cost scored the game-winner, slotting home for the visitors at Blackbaud Stadium in the 68th minute for the only score of the game.  The Battery heads to Orlando, Florida next week for a pair of games against Orlando City on Wednesday and Saturday. Both games kick off at 7:30 p.m.

So, on an action-packed weekend that saw Barca in Washington, United winning in distant San Jose, the Strikers scoring big at home, and the Battery coming up short against Rochestor, our weekend tally is 2-2 for Jedi Soccer.  But it was better than that-- how often does Barca play in Washington, even if Messi didn't play?  It was a good weekend.