Monday, March 5, 2018

MLS Preview - From MLS

Should've run this last week, but better late than never.  This is the preview of the 2018 MLS Season as found on the MLS website.  New Media editor Ben Baer picks the Union to finish 11th in the East with New York City FC winning the East and Real Salt Lake taking the West.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

MLS vs. the Fans

As the Major League Soccer opens its 23rd campaign, there is a battle brewing in many cities between the teams and their fans, as reported in today's New York Times.  Meanwhile, the Union opened the season with a 2-0 win at home over the New England Revolution.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Carli Lloyd Comes Back to NJ

Carli Lloyd will play her league games this summer in the Rutgers University stadium she called home for her college career.

As reported in the Inquirer, her NWSL team of the past three years, the Houston Dash, traded Lloyd to New Jersey's Sky Blue.  She requested the trade to be able to live with her husband, Brian Hollins, who is a local golf pro, year round.

Dash manager Vera Pauw showed class in granting Lloyd's wish even though the team was not required to.   “She is a player you don’t want to trade…," Pauw is quoted as telling the Houston  Chronicle, "but I know what it is like to live away from the one you love. We could stop her from going to New Jersey because we had her rights, but in the end, there is more in life than soccer.”  The Chronicle ran a story on the trade.  Lloyd expressed her gratitude to Pauw and the Houston fans on Twitter.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Christmas Truce of 2014

Wars have started over soccer -  El Salvador attacked Honduras in July 1969 after beating Honduras in a World Cup qualifier - and wars have stopped for soccer - in 1967 the two factions in the Nigerian civil war agreed to a 48-hour cease-fire so they could watch Pele play in an exhibition in Lagos.

So it should not be a surprise to learn that Germans and English soldiers stopped fighting on Christmas Day 1914 to play soccer.  Or so the legend goes.

The New York Times wrote on December 25, 2014:

"Yet on Dec. 24, much of the Western Front fell silent as ordinary soldiers made temporary peace with the enemy. This was the remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914.

According to several accounts, soccer games were played in no man's land with makeshift balls that Christmas. Lt. Kurt Zehmisch of Germany's 134th Saxons Infantry Regiment witnessed a match.

Eventually the English brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as our friends for a time."

Other historians have questioned whether such a game or a truce actually took place. James Masters in CNN in December 2014 quoted several.  The article noted that regardless of historical accuracy, the English Premier League was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the truce and since 2011 had sponsored a Christmas Truce youth tournament in Belgium.

The consensus seems to be that while there may have been some instances of enemy soldiers kicking a ball around, there was probably not an actual truce between the two armies.  Still, one can only hope that some day all global conflicts will be decided on the soccer pitch (or basketball court or hockey rink or ...) rather than on a battlefield.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

MLS Coming to Nashville

Move over NHL Predators, Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame.  Major League Soccer is coming to Nashville.

MLS announced today that Nashville will begin play in 2018 - the first of four expansion franchises to be awarded.

Wonder if the team will be named the Cats?  Nashville cats.  Play clean as country water.  Nashville cats.  Play wild as mountain dew.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

World Cup Draw: Germany, Brazil the Favorites

So Iceland is in and the United States is not.  But then neither are the Netherlands, Chile or - to the greater shock of its citizens - Italy.  And now Iceland and the 31 other countries competing in the 2018 World Cup in Russia know who their opponents will be.

The New York Times provided live analysis of the draw from the Kremlin Friday and the day before a team-by-team analysis.

So with no U.S. in the Cup this year, my favorite is of course Germany, which is also the favorite of many bookies - along with Brazil.  Deutschland is in Group F with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.

The first game is June 14, Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, 11 a.m. Eastern Time.  Germany begins June 17 at 11 a.m. against Mexico.  The final is Sunday, July 15 at 11 a.m.  I hope to be back at the German Society of Pennsylvania watching the finals as we did last World Cup.  Check out the schedule and other World Cup info at the FIFA World Cup site.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Coach P is Running Again (Not For Office)

Six and a half months after my pacemaker surgery it was good to go to the starting line of a race today at the 11th Annual Haddon Township Turkey Trot.  Debbie and I have been a proud sponsor of the race for at least six years after she ran into race director John Foley at a nail salon one stormy day back in 2011.

This year I planned to train more and build up to running the full 5K without walking, improving on my 2016 time of 37:28.  (Keep in mind that back in the day my PR was 21+ and I would warm up for a 5K by running 5K.)  I was building up on mileage on the treadmill, until one day my heart stopped for about 5 seconds and I was diagnosed with a bradycardia (slow heartbeat). 

Next thing I know I was flat on my back at Virtua Hospital feeling great but with a temporary pacemaker that prevented me from moving for two days until the surgeon was available to do the procedure.  The cardiologist recommended not running for six weeks, which I stretched to seven, but I kept walking during that time.  Very gradually I began running a bit with the walking.

I did not run a full mile until this past Wednesday.  At my age (71) six months without training requires about six years to get back to baseline.  So I wasn't sure what to expect when I went to the starting line today.  Fortunately the weather was ideal - low 40s, manageable humidity, no wind.

I hit the first mile in 11:07, walked/ran the rest of the way and finished in 40:17 - not great but I'll take it.  During my first New York Marathon in 1980 I remember crossing the 59th Street Bridge at 16 miles and hearing people say Al Salazar had won.  Today, sort of like that on a much smaller scale, I was thinking early in the second mile that the winner had most likely crossed the line (he had) and at 20 minutes - when I still had half the course to go, I expected my son Scott had finished.  He had - after being uncertain whether he could break 20 minutes, he came in at 19:33, good for first in his age group and 24th overall.

After the race we posed for our traditional picture in front of the Pour House sign.