The Groundsman’s Shed

Grounds’ Clippings: Abramovich Takes Over Colorado Territory by groundsman

-After an unfortunate 0-1 loss to Spain earlier this month, and the excruiatingly dull 2-0 loss to England I witnessed at Wembley, the United States men’s national team got an exercise in ego boosting with an 8-0 trouncing of Barbados in a World Cup qualifying match on Sunday.  The scoreline looks pretty awesome, but the opponents were truly hopeless.  There are still some severe problems with fundamentals like ball handling and control, and even when given plenty of room by Barbados for improvisation and creativity, we played an extremely direct forward attacking style. 

Roman Abramovich is coming to America!  It’s old news, but it still brings a shiver to the spine, thinking he could buy up the Colorado Rapids club in the MLS and turn it into Chel$ki-Lite.  The Russian oil billionaire bought at 36 million dollar ranch near Aspen.  He already bought another property near Snowmass, CO back in February.  …so just what is he planning to do in Colorado that requires so much land and two houses?  (Answer: Pick up hottie snow bunnies on the slopes, no shame in that)


Waar de Engelsen zijn? Wo Englisch ist? где английские языки? Where are the English?  For the first few days of Euro2008, fans were singing it and saying it in different languages- and we have the answer… the English national team players are on beaches ’round the world, working diligently on their tans, apparently not even bothering with a bit of keepy uppy on the sand.  I mean, at least Steve McClaren is watching a bit of footy on the time off.

-The life of a football blogger is a bit well, different, during a major tournament.  With major news outlets analyzing every last morsel of each match, a blogger’s reach for material (when not on site) is somewhat limited.  So they go with whatever Getty images has available for a cheap ‘n’ easy post: WAGS and hot girls in the stands.  Por ejemplo: The top posts on both Newsnow and Soccerblogs have had to do “sexy girls” and/or “body paint” for the past 5 days or so. 



“What the hell is Capello doing?” (also titled “Captain Becks is Back”) by groundsman

I knew this would happen.  I said it, you thought about it, and now it has happened.  England manager Fabio Capello is handing the captain’s armband back to David Beckham for Sunday’s match against Trinidad and Tobago.  Now before everyone comes over all outraged about this being a terrible sign or a step back in the wrong direction, we need to take a look at Wednesday’s match against the USA:

I was at that match, and while I did enjoy my time there and the majority of England supporters were incredibly friendly and polite,  the live competition itself was only slightly more interesting than watching on television because of the pathetic abuse shouted at the few hundred USA fans from some younger England supporters.  Seriously, a chant like “your mother is your sister” or “when have you won a world cup?” can and was easily deflected with,

“You think we really hate ya, but you couldn’t beat Croatia- huzzaaaah, England.”

or “Come on Macedonia!” 

Even a simple, “Whatcha doin’ on your summer off?” was enough to make some of the England fans near us go quiet, look upset and then just call the whole lot “gay”.  I was however very proud of the USA fans for refusing to take part in the Mexican wave, because a) it’s stupid b) if the ball is in play, your eyes should be on the field c)neither team had much to cheer about as they both played like shit.

Which brings me back to the original topic: why is Beckham captain again?  The answer: Why the hell not?  It has become painfully obvious that the England team still need his crosses, as they really are the exact same team from 2 years ago.  Yes, Beckham was never particularly mobile, but as his teammates still lack the ability to pass to one another whilst running with the ball at the same time,  that’s not really an issue.  Also, the team was the “Golden Generation” with Beckham and the management of Sven Goran-Eriksson, so why not make Goldenballs lead out the team again?  They’ve already gone back to the old English 4-4-2, and Peter Crouch is getting playing time- the only difference between now and World Cup 2006 is that everyone agrees that Owen Hargreaves is a really good player.

The Bottom Line: Capello is probably just doing this to show that Beckham will be a part of his upcoming World Cup campaign.  Also- he’s demonstrating that he’s willing to do just about anything to make the other players work a bit harder during meaningless friendlies.

Read more from The Guardian here.

USA MNT Squad for May 28th Match Announced by groundsman
May 22, 2008, 12:07 pm
Filed under: England v. USA, football, meaningless friendly, soccer, USA

Care to see the England provisional squad?  Click here.

GOALKEEPERS: Dominic Cervi (Out of Contract), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton).

DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham), Dan Califf (Midtjylland), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham).

MIDFIELDERS: Freddy Adu (Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Michael Bradley (Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Eddie Lewis (Derby County).

FORWARDS: Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nate Jaqua (Out of Contract), Eddie Johnson (Fulham), Josh Wolff (Out of Contract)

If you’re not from ’round these parts, you may be wondering- “Where’s Jozy Altidore?”  He’s tired, folks.  His coach says he needs rest.  The MLS season is in full swing, so as with the rest of the year, Coach Bradley has to work around match schedules and club coaching to put out a side for a meaningless friendly.  The squad still looks pretty solid! 

I’ll be at Wembley, with bells on.  Will you?

13 days! by groundsman
May 15, 2008, 3:46 pm
Filed under: England, England v. USA, football, meaningless friendly, USA

Less than two weeks until my first trip to the UK, and the England v. USA friendly.

My match ticket arrived this afternoon, along with a lovely supporter’s scarf.

Are you an American making the trip abroad for the match?  Not making the trip but want to talk about the match?  Feel free to login and chat in this Facebook group.

Capello names England Squad for Upcoming Friendlies by groundsman
May 12, 2008, 9:42 pm
Filed under: England, England v. USA, Fabio Capello, football, USA

Joe Hart, Stephen Warnock, and Phil Jagielka are the interesting inclusions this time around. We’ll see if Owen is actually used for any amount of time during the May 28th match at Wembley against Team USA.

EDIT: Apologies if the squad seemed a tad small this morning when I posted this, but part of the blog entry got cut off! Yes, Steven Gerrard was named as part of the squad. Cheers!

Squad: Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Chris Kirkland (Wigan); Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), David Wheater (Middlesbrough), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), John Terry (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham Hotspur), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Stephen Warnock (Blackburn Rovers); Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham Hotspur), Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), David Bentley (Blackburn), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham Hotspur), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough); Forwards: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Michael Owen (Newcastle United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth), Dean Ashton (West Ham United).

USA to invade the motherland on May 28th. Who’s with me? by groundsman
April 3, 2008, 3:48 pm
Filed under: England, meaningless friendly, USA

Tickets for the England-USA friendly at Wembley Stadium on May 28th are available online NOW!

The match tickets are $115.00, with hotel packages starting at $895.00

Please insert your exchange rate jokes here->> _)_)

I’ll be there- will you? If so, comment below or just check back here for details on a US fan meetup at a London watering hole of sorts.  With the way the England team has been playing, you’re going to want to be prepared for a possible victory celebration.

Comment: The MLS Season Begins, and for once- I care. by groundsman
March 28, 2008, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Comment, football, Me, MLS, soccer, USA, World Cup 2006


I’m not going to lie– I last regularly watched the MLS in 2006, before and after the World Cup in Germany, when myself and many other American soccer fans were thirsting for more sport to watch.   ESPN/ABC were giddy with successful ratings from the international competition and began showing many of the domestic matches on the main channels.  Unfortunately, it became obvious to many fans of sport in general that there were light years of difference between the respective levels of play.  At the time I was simply an Arsenal supporter who would feverishly watch any and all Premier League action, sprinkled with a bit of Serie A coverage, and followed as much world football news as I could online.  I had no place in my mind and heart for the MLS with their creepily corporate team names, and bad camera work during the matches.  I felt sympathy for these professional athletes playing on gridiron fields with the yard markings still clearly visible, some who were college educated lads on less than $30,000 a year, but I just couldn’t put up with the sloppy play (all attack, no defense whatsoever) and the ill informed or non-existant punditry provided by the television sports networks.

Something has changed.

Not only are there more “name players” in Major League Soccer, but it feels as if from top to bottom, there’s more energy surrounding the league, and expectations are higher.  I don’t know if it’s The Becks Effect or not, but for the past couple of seasons, when I’ve told people I am a soccer fan they don’t look surprised or amused anymore– they usually nod excitedly and ask who’s my team and where I’m going to watch the match.  Not only is soccer in the U.S. (or at least where I live) seemingly more accepted- casual sport fans seem more educated about the sport.

As for the level of play within the league, I’m told it’s gotten significantly stronger.  I saw much evidence of that whilst watching the championship game last season (despite my shameful MLS prejudice, I make it a habit of watching the final matches). 

I’m admitting all of this to the ether because I have promised myself and my MLS-supporting friends that I will watch faithfully this season, since it may not be entirely fair for me to feel warmth for League One teams in England while ignoring players in my own country.  Atlanta does not have an MLS team, (though when the women’s league was in it’s heyday, we had a quite good squad) so I have been struggling to find a team to support (especially since I can’t travel to the matches and many of them aren’t on television), but I will attach myself to some squad- and like the Gunners of Arse, they will have a devoted and overly optimistic fan in myself. 

Any suggestions for an excellent squad for me to watch closely and consider granting my devotion would be rather helpful!  For now- remember Saturday is the big double header to open the season on Fox Soccer Channel!

[Photo: ebatty]