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.