The Five Billion Person Party

Notes of a wandering American soccer fan

Archive for October, 2008

Life imitates Dream Team, African edition

Posted by steigs on October 16, 2008

Zimbabwe is a land with many problems — aging dictator, insane inflation, civil strife etc.  The people are getting no help from their soccer team, which has just failed to advance in World Cup qualifying, losing out to Guinea and Kenya for a berth in the final round of African qualifying for the first African-hosted World Cup.  The last straw was a 4-2 loss to Namibia, which must have been worse than it sounds, given that Namibia was up 4-0 50 minutes into the game.

So let the recriminations begin!  Round up the usual suspects!  European stars failing to come home to play?  Actually, no.  Witchcraft?  Hmm.  No.  What could it be?

How about a sex scandal?

Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Henrietta Rushwaya reportedly taking care of sexual needs of a high profile premier league striker spelling the demise of the nation’s hopes of qualifying for international soccer tourneys.

Oh, dear.  What are they talking about?

“Rushwaya and the player have left the senior team in a state of shock. When he comes home especially on a siesta from his overseas club, he camps at Rushwaya’s residence where they live literary like husband and wife…”

Sounds like quite the lady.  Perhaps she could run Harchester United!

Rushwaya herself is known for being generous with her body and numerous scribes have had a go. She is a very kind boss whose generosity has won her friends especially in the media as most of her scandals are deliberately swept under the carpet,” said the source on condition of anonymity.

Yeah, that’s one way to keep the press on your side, uh-huh.  She could certainly fit right in at Harchester United.

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Liechtensteiners for the Day!

Posted by steigs on October 8, 2008

This weekend, tiny Liechtenstein is matched against Wales in World Cup qualifying, which must give the Welsh the unusual feeling of being the Goliath, not the David.  As you might expect, Liechtenstein is not bringing a big set of travelling fans, perhaps 20 in all.

But there’s going to be to be at least double that number cheering for the Liechtensteiners in Cardiff

A group of Darlington supporters are making a 560-mile round trip to Cardiff to cheer on their summer signing Franz Burgmeier, a Liechtenstein regular.

The Darlington fans will miss their own team’s game at Luton, which also takes place on Saturday.

The Liechtenstein football federation is so impressed by its new recruits, it is giving them free tickets.

Darlington is currently midtable in League Two — three divisions below the mighty EPL, in other words — so having an international player in the side is something of a novelty.  It’s one they’re growing to like: 

Ms Schneider said the Darlington supporters were also buying Liechtenstein merchandise online.

“In our online shop, our national shirt is something they like to buy and I get orders now from Darlington,” she said.

Burgmeier certainly says the right things in return:

“The lifestyle is different from Switzerland but the people have been very friendly and the players are really helping me,” explains Bergmeier.

“I like the British lifestyle. They are nice people, they don’t worry too much about things.”

“I think Darlington should be in a higher division,” he said. “Look at the stadium. The club should be in at least League One or the Championship.”

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The Welsh, they play tough

Posted by steigs on October 8, 2008

Maybe it’s their mining heritage.  But playing with a broken foot?  And scoring the winning goal?  Meet Ian Williams of Pontlliw FC.  That’s tough:

Teammates were gobsmacked as the club’s star striker threw down his crutches and took off his cast before hobbling onto the pitch.

Within a matter of seconds he had found the back of the net with his first touch of the game.

Ian said: “I was only on the subs bench to make the numbers up, but when we were still drawing 1-1 with five minutes left to go, I was dying to get on. I asked the boss to let put me on, and he said ‘if you think you’re up to it, then go-ahead’.

“When the ball hit the back of the net I couldn’t believe it.”

I’ll bet he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t believe it.  Heck, what defender managed to lose a guy with a broken foot?

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Okay, we’re not average

Posted by steigs on October 6, 2008

I recently suggested that DC United fans found this season puzzling because, for once, we had an average team.  Based on games like the 3-0 loss to Chivas USA this weekend, I was wrong.  This has turned into one of our “we suck” seasons and we’re likely to miss the play-offs completely. 

What’s that?  You think we still have a shot if we can win a couple of the last games?  Let’s see, our next game is on the road against the two-time defending champion Dynamo — and it appears that we won’t have Gallardo, Emilio, Fred, or Moreno.  In other words, pretty much all of our creative players.  (Go Quaranta and Doe!  Make something happen!)

It’s time to consider next season, I’m afraid.  Does a team playing this badly need to be blown up?  Or is this all about the long injury list from this season?  There was a stretch this summer when the team was mostly healthy that they looked pretty decent.  Is Gallardo likely to be on the field more next year?  How about Fred?  Or Emilio? 

If we think we’ll see more of them, I’m actually inclined to give this cast one more shot.  For one thing, DC United will have a lot fewer games next season — no early season CONCACAF Champions League, no summer Superliga for us — which could make a difference for the older players.  For another, we just saw how badly drastic surgery can go awry. 

Does that meet coach Soehn should take the fall?  Perhaps.  It was clearly a rough start to the season — but that seemed to be about poor off-season personnel decisions.  How responsible should we hold him for those?  Me, I’d be inclined to give him another year — if you’re largely keeping this bunch together.  But it’s entirely possible that those closer to the situation think the team isn’t listening to him.  To me, it looks like they’re still fighting (most of the time) but often playing confused.  That could be the fault of the coach, of course, but it could also be the result of the endless chopping and changing forced by injuries and those initial poor off-season decisions.   

Who would we hire instead?  Richie (“ABMOD”) Williams?  Harksie?  I think Stoichkov might be available if you want to scare people…

Sigh.  And I was so much more optimistic a couple of months back.  At least there’s the US-Cuba game at RFK to look forward to…

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