Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sunday Morning Striker: Make that Five Flavor Shots!

After the thrilling, edge of your seat, remarkable, exciting, tears-of-joy inducing, fantastic, enthralling US-Mexico Gold Cup final last week, SMS wiped the sweat off his brow, took a deep breath, and plopped down on the couch to watch She's the Man with Sergio and Heather, the Official Little Cousins of SMS. Normally, SMS is often mildly tickled at the selection of movies and TV shows his little cousins watch. But this one?

Wow. Just, wow.

For those of you who regularly read my soccer blog (the critically acclaimed "House of Soccer"), you already know that SMS is currently taking applications for the Official Girlfriend of SMS position. In short, applicants should be cute, former or current soccer players, and have a winning personality.

Anyway, during the 105-minute running time of She's the Man, Amanda Bynes not only became the darling of SMS’s eye, but the absolute prototype of the prospective Official Girlfriend of SMS as well. Prospective candidates for Official Girlfriend of SMS, take note: view this movie, and if you compare favorably toward Bynes' character (save for the whole dressing up as a guy, of course!), please send a color 8 x 10 color photo along with a 1,500 word essay on why you feel you are a good candidate for the Official Girlfriend of SMS title. Just remember, SMS does not take bribes - unless it involves money!

Those of you who have a soft spot for a cute, lighthearted comedy with some soccer thrown in, SMS highly recommends the adding this entertaining DVD to your collection.

In other news, the Revs and Chivas USA kicked off just after 10:30pm ET Saturday night. Boy, nothing better to occupy a perfectly good Saturday night than a night of televised soccer. Good thing SMS has a bunch of understanding friends and a wallet full of moths to support his nonexistent social life this Saturday night.

At 10:31pm ET, Brad Feldman announced that the Revs have yet to beat Chivas at LA. Luckily, a man named Burpo – Nick Burpo- was making his fist appearance in goal for the Goats during the 2007 season. However, the Revs were without Taylor Twellman (National Team) and Shalrie Joseph (injury), and SMS was aware that a tie will be just fine tonight. With both teams missing key players due to a little tournament called Copa America, SMS’s initial feeling was that no more than two goals would be scored in this match.

Among the off-sequence droning horns mixed in with the ubiquitous whistles and cheers, the Revs kicked off for the first half at 10:37pm ET. In the 5th minute, Chivas took a corner kick that bounced menacingly toward Jesse Marsch, who launched a duck well over the Revolution net for the first mildly-tense moment of the match.

In the 8th minute, Maykel Galindo picked up James Riley at the bus stop as the Cuban flew past the Demon Deacon and laced a hard shot that luckily went wide of the near post. By the 11th minute, Chivas was already taking its third corner kick of the match, as it was clear that a directing presence in Joseph was sorely missed by the guys in white.

At the 16th minute, Revs announcer Brad Feldman proclaimed that “TV38 has issues”…you got that right! The transmission of the match on Cox3 certainly provided some issues for SMS! (And since when did “problems” suddenly become “issues”?)

The Goats offensive journey continued and stalled in the first 25 minutes, as the ball seemed to have fancied the Revolution end of the pitch. “Riley for Flood” soon became the catchphrase of the match. In fact, between the vanilla Chivas offense and the unspectacular Revs defense, the game was so bland, it should have been televised in black in white!

But in the 33rd minute, a flicker of hope shone when Andy Dorman intercepted a sloppy Suarez pass Revolution territory deep in but misfired on a rocket that cruised wide and high of goal.
The Revs assembled itself into a mini-attack at the 35-minute mark with a series of passes that circled the wagons before it sputtered faster than Kevin Federline’s rap career.

As the first half began to dwindle, the match began to take on the flashiness of an Al Gore cameo on a “106 and Park”– which is to say, the amount of rhythm was in short supply.

During halftime, yours truly had to race down to Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee with a flavor shot of caramel – which was exactly what the Revs could have used going into the second half.
At 11:39pm ET, Chivas kicked off for half number two, and SMS was hoping that the slow-motion like proceedings of the first half would soon diminish.

Before SMS put the finishing touches on his third yawn in as many minutes, Pat Noonan slipped a calm pass to Adam Cristman at the top of the box before the rookie’s shot skipped wide of the net in the 50th minute.

In the 51st, Wells Thompson tangoed with Marsch on a floating ball that elicited a quiet chuckle from SMS before the Demon Deacon threw his dance partner to the ground.

A minute later, Noonan sailed a beautiful cross from the right flank to an airborne Cristman, who unceremoniously missed the header as the redirection crashed outside the net. Then, speaking of a crashed net, the goal had to be repaired soon after, as SMS downed the caffeine-laced iced cup of joe.

As the hour mark approached, it appeared that the Revs were beginning to show signs of life after a comatose attack for the first fifty minutes. But Chivas soon had response to the Revolution attack as Ante Razov danced into the right flank, drew two defenders, and delivered a beautiful ball to Marsch, who fired a quick shot that clanked the inside of the far post before coming to a rest inside the net at the 60th minute. 1-0, Chivas.

At the 67-minute mark, Gary Flood came off, giving way to substitute Khano Smith, in an effort to re-establish the brief attack that materialized in the early minutes of the half. In the 70th, the recently-inserted big man launched a wild cross that was amazingly harnessed by Wells Thompson on the opposite flank, before the former Demon Deacon sent in a hard shot that flew wide of the far post.

Then, in the 81st minute, Cristman took a vicious elbow from Claudio Suarez that sent the rookie to the ground. While the man advantage went to the road club, the real dilemma for Steve Nicol was whether one of his most potent weapons could continue. Luckily, the rookie only required a quick squirt of water and he promptly returned for duty.

During the final minutes of the match, the Revs struggled again to find an offensive tempo, as Chivas attacked intermittently. However, Chivas must have forgotten that they were a man down, as Calindo took a long pass down the left flank, and went one on one with Jay Heaps, turning the Rev defender around, before locking in his target and unleashing a fantastic ball that bulged the back of the net during the 89th minute. 2-0, Chivas.

With six minutes left including stoppage time, SMS typed “game over” in his Dell notebook. A little over six minutes later, it came to pass, and the wide shot of an empty stadium, accompanied by highlights of all the missed chances were flashed before the end of the telecast.

Stat of the Match Part 1: The Revs were out-corner kicked by the Goats 7-3.

Stat of the Match Part 2: The Revs didn’t record their second shot on goal until the 94+ minute.

Stat of the Match Part 3: The Revs have given up two goals in each West Coast match this season. The club beat the Galaxy 3-2 in their previous trip.

Stat of the Match Part 4: The Revs have given up the first goal of the match in each of their three defeats this year.

Stat of the Match Part 5: Three different Revolution rookies (Cristman, Thompson and Flood) started the match for the first time since the season opener at Chicago. Incidentally, the Revs were shut out in that match as well.

The OH BAY-BEE! Play of the Match: In the 37th, Chivas USA's Francisco Mendoza went to work on Gary Flood on the left wing, where he stutter-stepped the rookie, gave a little stop and go, before nutmegging a self-pass through Flood’s legs. The ensuing pass to a teammate went off its mark, but there were reports of young kids covering their mouths and waving their oversized tees at the panache displayed by Mendoza.

Truth in advertising: “America Runs on Dunkin.” Those of you residing or doing business in New England know exactly that were it not for the doughnut chain’s addictive coffee, workplace productivity would plummet from Hartford to Haverhill.

Random non-soccer thought: What exactly constitutes a “power lunch”?

Subliminal AFLAC spot? In the late-30, early-40 minute mark, a squeaking duck sound – a rampant, vigilant rubber duck - began to emanate during the telecast. This is the kind of hidden indicator that is essential to an insider’s understanding of the game. In this instance, it was metaphor for the Revs tenacity before the closing whistle, as they essentially honked out on defense during the final ten minutes.

US Women’s National Team feature: As the Women’s World Cup draws closer as the summer wears on, it is worth noting that perhaps the most important aspect of a championship-caliber club is the defense. This is especially true when you consider that Cat Whitehill has helped anchor a stalwart back line that has given up a total of only six goals this year. Whitehill is a 109-cap vet who first joined the squad in 2000, and majored in communications while at UNC. Curiously, if she were not a soccer player, she would be a cowgirl, according to her ussoccer.com bio. Hey Cat, I know a lot of farmers around here that could make that happen!

Join us next week for the rematch of the 2-0 loss in LA, as the boys in blue reacquaint themselves with the Goats, as Chivas flies to New England for Saturday’s match. And where will SMS be for this thrilling, can’t-miss affair? In Lime Rock, CT, as the 2007 American Le Mans Series visits Lime Rock Speedway on the very day of the match. Aiiyeeeeeeeeeeee! Don’t worry – SMS has a little secret that will allow him to view the match through the miracle of technology. How? You’ll just have to check back in next weekend to find out!

No comments: