Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sunday Morning Striker: Red Bulls and Revs draw 2-2, and Red Bull causes late submission (again!)

Recently, Sunday Morning Striker attended two soccer matches within the span of four days, which may be some sort of record (note: it isn't...four in one day is the current record). The lucky pair was Brazil-Mexico and Revolution-FC Dallas. Now, if you attended both of these matches as well, the crowd involvement was night and day, apples and oranges, Britney and Christina. The former was one filled with drums, sambas, and a sea of canary yellow. The latter was another run of the mill, sterile crowd, save for the Fort and the non-stop crying baby two rows behind me.

But back to the overwhelmingly pro-Brazilian faithful: such is the sunny, colorful disposition of Brazilian soccer fans (futbol fans, to be more accurate - the words "Brazil" and "soccer" go together like Paris and Pele), and the vibe throughout the crowd was electric and highly-infectious. Never, in all of SMS's life, has he attended an event containing a bevy of 68,000 passionate fans, almost none of whom used their seats for sitting, but rather standing the entire 90 minutes.

This got SMS thinking: what can be done to amp up the atmosphere at Revolution games? What can be learned from Brazil-Mexico crowd a few Wednesday nights ago? Some suggested free tickets for the scantily clad Brazilian women for the rest of the season. This could work. But SMS have a much better (note: family-friendly) answer.

Now, before I elaborate on this no-fail idea, be advised that SMS is a man of the people. It would be much more financially rewarding to pitch the idea directly to the Revs for a lucrative, incentive-laden deal, have them counter it, which in turn would bring SMS's roster of lawyers to negotiate a fair deal to which SMS rides to Revs games in a limousine for the rest of his days.

So here it is - two words, but one fantastic idea: Revolution Song Girls.

Now, SMS understands that soccer purists may initially scoff. “There are no cheerleaders in soccer!” you say. Let SMS amend that for you - there are no cheerleaders in (Eastern European) soccer. But there are cheerleaders in Mexican soccer, and there are definitely cheerleaders in other MLS organizations, such as Colorado, Columbus, and Chivas USA has the ChivasGirls. But what I propose are not cheerleaders - SMS proposes song girls.

Song Girls would amp up the crowd between short stoppages in play (prior to goal kicks, free kicks, corners, as well as during halftime). Hey, watch where you throw that tomato! Anyway, after the tendonitis kicks in, ice down the arm and consider this: it would be run by a person knowledgeable in soccer, thus, there wouldn't be cheers during the run of play. A perfect display for the song girls would be prior to a corner kick. Think about it: Steve Ralston calmly jogs toward the flag, the song girls would come out, right behind the opponent's net, and wave their shiny navy and silver pom-poms in anticipation for the kick. The Revolution Song Girls would, of course, also appear in dance and song after a Revolution goal, and SMS already has visions of Khano Smith bowling over a few Song Girls as part of his goal celebration (just ask Jay Heaps about this). This would rank high on many fans’ entertainment scales.

Those of you who aren't forced read this column might retort, "Hey, wait just a minute, Sunday Morning Striker! Didn't you mention back in May during the Columbus match that the soccer gods frown upon cheerleaders?" SMS’s answer to that is this: there's a difference between song girls and cheerleaders. Trust me. You see, Revolution song girls would bypass the standard, cleavage bearing cheerleader tops in favor of tight, Revolution-branded sweaters (Adidas Climacool during the summer months) with matching short skirts, thus projecting that wholesome, girl-next-door image. There's your primary difference. In any event, just to be sure, SMS has circulated a memo to the soccer gods themselves humbly requesting their approval of song girls.

Next time: why the Revs need to ditch the costumed Slyde mascot and employ a real, live fox for its matches...and I'm not talking about Jessica Alba, though SMS wishes he was.

In other news, the Revs kicked off against New York on the football-lined pitch of Giants Stadium Saturday night. With only five matches remaining, the second-place Revs looked to secure three points in the hopes of overthrowing the current king of the hill, DC United, for the Supporter’s Shield.

The home team wasted absolutely no time establishing their rhythm, when the inexperienced but electric Francis Doe crashed his way through the Revolution backs in the first minute and immediately challenged with a quick flick into the box. Luckily, Avery John snuffed out the threat as he poked the ball away.

Though the Red Bulls came out charging, the proceedings settled down after the fifth minute, as the hard artificial surface at Giants Stadium produced the ubiquitous hyperactive bounces that both teams failed to control in many instances.

Accordingly, the Revs’ first legitimate threat appeared in 21st minute from none other than the dead ball, as they were awarded a free kick from about 35 yards out. Steve Ralston booted it right in the path of Claudio Reyna, and though the blocked kick directly went to Jeff Larentowicz nearby, the follow up comically hit Reyna yet again, and the threat soon dissipated.

Still failing to attack from the run of play, the Revs took advantage of another dangerous free kick in the 22nd minute. Ralston this time looped a curling ball to Taylor Twellman as the striker rose above his mark to head it point blank past Waterreus. 1-0 Revs.

Coincidentally, the Red Bulls unsuccessfully tried borrow the blueprints on the Revolution goal when Reyna launched a free kick that met the skull of Doe, who headed the ball wide of net in the 25th minute.

Then, in a pressure-cooker sequence, the Energy Drinks crashed the Revolution end when they put together a dangerous attack in the 35th minute that ended in a shot saved by Reis. On the ensuing corner kick, Juan Pablo Angel beat the keeper but Michael Parkhurst, playing inside the far post, thumped it right back out to keep the equalizer at bay for the time being.

But Parkhurst couldn’t preserve the goose egg alone in the 37th minute when the Red Bull attack finally reached its boiling point. Dane Richards bravely took Avery John one-on-one on the right and lifted a perfect ball to Doe, sitting right on Reis’ doorstep, and nailed home the equalizer.

New York began the second half much like the first, and controlled the bouncing ball almost at will, which forced Reis to bail out his teammates on a couple of quick Red Bull attacks. Though the defending corps dangerously bent, the keeper managed to keep the proceedings tied for much of second half.

During a seemingly innocuous sequence in the 70th minute, New York defender Chris Leitch swept a ball right to a teammate deep in his end. But the ball was grossly misplayed, and Twellman, still retreating upfield, intercepted it, took a quick touch, slid the ball toward the far post, and into the net. 2-1 Revs.

Now masters of their own destiny with the one-goal advantage, the Revs tried to solidify their defending for the remaining twenty minutes.

But with only six more minutes left in regulation, Angel broke free and went barreling forward all alone on Reis, and deftly put the ball right past the keeper for the equalizer.

Curiously, the final minutes took the appearance of a Quentin Tarantino flick – unpredictable with lots of violence, as both clubs traded possession and fouls. For reasons unknown, Richards took down Shalrie Joseph hard just after the Grenadan cleared the ball out. Then, Larentowicz and Reyna began to trade elbows and shoves alike soon after. Even Angel, who was awarded an early yellow, brazenly bated the opposition with a few shoves. With a fun filled four additional minutes of stoppage time, anything was liable to happen to either side.

Unfortunately, stoppage time was about as funny as “Get Fuzzy” for Twellman, who suffered what appeared to be a bothersome leg injury. The gritty forward, never one to call for a substitution, was writhing in pain and had to be taken out for Wells Thompson two minutes into stoppage time.

Adding insult to injury, James Riley was called for a questionable foul deep in the Red Bulls end, giving New York one final chance for the go-ahead. Angel took the free kick from 30 yards, but the Revolution wall astutely blocked it, as the ball never approached the area. The match ended seconds later, and the continuously bouncing ball was finally given a well-deserved reprieve.

Stat of the Match, Part 1: The Revs are now 11-1-3 when scoring the first goal this season.

Stat of the Match, Part 2: With Taylor Twellman’s double, the Revolution have now posted back to back games in which one of their own chalks up two goals. Last Saturday, Pat Noonan scored two against FC Dallas.

Stat of the Match, Part 3: Red Bulls Francis Doe, playing in only his second match Saturday night, has only seen action against the Revs this season. His first MLS match: August 25th against New England.

Stat of the Match, Part 4: With Angel’s 84th minute equalizer, the Revs have now allowed the tying or go-ahead goal in the final fifteen minutes four times this season.

Stat of the Match, Part 5: Though they were outshot by New York nearly 2 to 1 (NE-12, NY-21), the Revs managed to salvage a point, despite their 2-4-2 record this season when their opponent outshoots them.

Hidden indicator of the match: During the last two matches played by New York and New England, both team’s pitches had football lines on them, and in both games, the Revolution scored two goals. Moreover, SMS had a serious headache after watching both matches due to said football lines.

Injured Becks gets no love: Gazing upon the local bookstore’s magazine aisle, SMS encountered the cover of Radar, in which Becks and Posh were prominently featured as one of the mag’s “100 Most Overrated” celebrities.

Now, SMS has heard this tired argument before. In fact, pretty much everyone who’s ever watched soccer for more than ten minutes has. No one who knows the game disputes that Beckham isn’t the best player in the world right now. At one point, during the late-90s and early-2000s, an argument could be made that he was one of the top ten players in the world at the time. But now, it’s obvious that although he’s till quite good, he’s not in anyone’s top-10.

However, the funny thing is that this argument is at least five years old. The claim that Becks is overrated is a lot like stating that Paris Hilton has just become a no-talent attention whore. Tell us something that we don’t already know. Yes, Beckham is overrated as a player, but who is going to knowledgably say that Becks is one of the best players in the world. He’s not. We know this. What’ll you tell us next, Radar? That Britney Spears is an unfit mother?

(Note: Interestingly, for the second consecutive year, a certain Sunday Morning Striker did not appear in this issue of Radar, and thus dispelling any discussions that he is overrated as a soccer journalist.)

Final York Revolution update: The “other” Revolution, they of the Atlantic Baseball League, finished second in their division to close out their very first season. They finished the second half of their season (the ABL oddly separates records for each half of the season) with a very unrevolutionary 32-31 record, which afforded them a head start on their offseason tee times. Additionally, it allows SMS to emphatically state, for the final time in 2007 that “our Revolution is better than yours!”

SMS Alma Mater update: The Anchorwomen began last week in convincing fashion, as they soundly defeated intrastate rivals Salve Regina, 5-1. SMS took in the proceedings at RIC Soccer Field, and during the second half counted…one…two….three times in which the Seahawks meandered past the half-way line toward the RIC goal. Jessica Cardinal netted a double, and Brittney Godbout collected three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in the victory.

Hoping to ride the momentum of their five-goal effort, the Anchorwomen looked to seal another victory against UMass-Dartmouth Saturday afternoon. RIC got on the board first courtesy of a Godbout goal in the 44th minute, but UMass tied it in the second half from a Sarah Killingbeck goal at the hour mark. The two clubs then headed to overtime knotted at one, but Killingbeck struck again in the 97th minute, giving the Corsairs the eventual 2-1 voctory.

US Women’s National Team feature: In case you haven’t noticed by now – and if you haven’t, shame on you – the US Women are playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and are heavy favorites to win it all.

Last week, during their final group match, Lori Chalupny scored in the very first minute against Nigeria, and the game ended 1-0 in favor of the US. Though the match appeared to be a cakewalk on paper, pitting #1 US against #23 Nigeria, the opposition did well to neutralize Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly, while also testing Hope Solo with some wicked shots. Nevertheless, the win clinched first place in Group B, and a date against England the following Saturday.
Saturday arrived, and in the first half, England had the US’s backs against the wall, and dominated possession, though they were unlucky to find the back of the net. In the second half, the US finally appeared, and scored three goals in the course of a wild 12-minute span that saw Abby Wambach (48’), Shannon Boxx (57’), and Kristine Lilly (60’) all score. With the victory, the US advanced to the semifinals, and will face Brazil on Thursday.

Join us again after the Colorado match in which SMS makes few more inane points, lists a few crazy stats, and will advise of the soccer gods’ decision on the song girls idea, as well as touch upon the concept of “Revolution” weather. Remember, no one is forcing you to read this! Plus, SMS always backs all of his claims and opinions with the iron-clad guarantee of 100% correct, or the next one’s free. Got a question, comment, or deeply-held grievance? Send an e-mail to Please know that Sunday Morning Striker may, just may, choose your e-mail on a completely arbitrary basis for publishing right here on

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