10:41 AM 0 comments

A Breathless Loss at the Azteca

The U.S. MNT should stick to this line when explaining yesterday's 2-1 loss to El Tri in Mexico City:

"The altitude and the smog sapped our energy and affected our play in the second half. In and ideal world, we would have 14 days to train and acclimate. But we didn't have that luxury."

Maybe this is just a fantasy explanation for the U.S. MNT's collapse yesterday. In reality, our boys just played defense and seemed listless throughout 60 minutes of play. In the beginning few minutes, they played their counter attack with swagger and speed. Charlie Davies' shot past Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa was a beauty, and demonstrated another reason why this New Englander will make it big in Europe. But after that, it seemed our boys just sat back and decided to simply defend against the incessant stream of attacks from a more spirited El Tri. The stunning (and really lucky) goal from Macias Castro (19') could have been prevented if they put more pressure.

Castro's goal reminded me of Giuseppe Rossi's strike during the Confederations Cup. Both players were given a lot of space to take a chance, and their shots paid off.

In the end, the U.S. seemed flat-footed. They couldn't maintain possession offensively and kept turning the ball over. In the end, it's no surprise that Mexico found a hole in the U.S. defense and exploited it.

A message to Team USA: Consistency. Please!
5:22 PM 0 comments

Barca's Training Session in SF

I got a chance to watch Barca's training session today at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. It was $10 and it was a really cool experience. These guys play at such a high level. Fascinating to watch the types of drills used to sharpen their dexterity. Enjoy.

6:42 PM 0 comments

Barcelona Practice Tomorrow in SF! But...

I've been following a number of posts in the Blogosphere and the Twitterverse about a practice that FC Barcelona will hold the morning of Friday August 8 at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. I'm almost 100% sure they will practice there tomorrow, based on this online invite posted by the San Francisco Parks Trust. The only problem is that it's an exclusive event limited to 200 people at a price of at least $150 a ticket.

There's another rumor floating around the blogosphere that Barca fans will be able to attend the session for a $10 admission fee, according to this post from Soccer Training Info (thanks to @CaptainArsenal for posting on Twitter).

Now the real question: should I stay or should I go? Might be worth a shot, given I'm going to miss Barca's match against Chivas on Saturday. Worst case scenario I'll catch a glimpse of the bus while freezing my tail off in the fog of Golden Gate Park.

If anybody has any details, feel free to comment.
9:41 PM 0 comments

Becks Is Still A Stud

Watching the LA Galaxy face off against Barcelona on Saturday at the Rose Bowl was a treat for soccer fans. Barcelona played almost every player (Iniesta warmed up but didn't play) and put on a clinic for the 93,000 fans in attendance. It's one thing to watch Barcelona's free-flowing style on TV, it's another to watch the speed and precision in person.

But I digress. The real spectacle that night was the man everyone loves to hate. David Beckham proved to the drowning boos and rants that the dude still has his groove. His passes were creative and accurate. One second he's delivering the ball up from goal, the next second he's launching passes to his strikers on the other end. His sense of field presence is uncanny. He delivered pin-point passes in stride to his teammates, most of them seeming not knowing what to do with the ball. He was a man among boys.

Beckham's free kick created an interesting effect. I've never heard such a deafening sound of stunned silence when his free kick bulged the net. From my vantage point to the right of goal, the arc of his shot was a sight to watch as it curled into the upper corner past Pinto. The fans that were once booing him looked around with eyes bulging and began to clap. Check out the clip:

Now I can sympathize with Becks's desire to return to Milan. Wouldn't you? At Milan he's surrounded by players who are moving at his rhythm. They're playing at his level. With the exception of the speedy Landon Donovan, the rest of the Galaxy aren't up to snuff.