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Tae Se on Bochum bus game consoles: “Great! Too Great!!” August 27, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Asian soccer, German soccer.
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Our favorite North Korean covert operative in Germany takes his first ride on VfL Bochum’s bus and is ecstatic to discover built in PlayStation controllers on it. Expect a similar feature in North Korea’s secret drill.

Jong scores! August 24, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Asian soccer, German soccer.
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Deviously charming tears

North Korea’s sneakiest bid to conquer the world: 1. do not give a picture of the Bergbaumuseum Bochum, in the German town of Bochum, as close a look as necessary; 2. Mistake it for the world’s largest subterranean drill; 3. Dispatch a crack engineer-cum-spy to steal the blueprints; 4. Build a giant drill that will allow socialism to burrow deep into South Korea.

That spy is, of course, Jong Tae Se, and he has three levels of cover. First, he has found the most unassuming of cover jobs: crack striker for VfL Bochum. Second, he maintains a charming blog that will doubtless convince everyone he’s a sweet guy. Third, he pretends to love Hummers so much nobody will suspect him of being a hardcore commie.

Today, he burnished his cover by blasting two headers past 1860 Munich to lead Bochum to a 3-2 win. Typically, he added extra polish to the cover with an exuberant little blog post, excerpted below in all its pluck:

13分 ボーフム (Minute 13: Bochum)

23分 1860ミュンヘン (Minute 23: 1860 Munich)

38分 テセ! (Minute 38: Tae Se!)

46分 テセ!! (Minute 46: Tae Se!!)

59分 1860ミュンヘン (Minute 59: 1860 Munich)
テセは4-5-1の1トップでスタメンフル出場! (Tae Se played alone up front in a 4-5-1!)

シュート3本での2ゴール!! (He shot three times for two goals!!)

Something must be done, before the blueprints fall into the wrong hands. South Koreans: if you hear any rumbling under the ground, know that it is already too late and also extremely improbable.

Own goal can’t get United 3 points August 23, 2010

Posted by michaeltomlinson in English soccer.
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Manchester United seemed destined for another late win Sunday after taking one goal advantage in the 84th minute. Like the story of a season past the go-ahead goal was put in by the second leading scorer from the 09/10 campaign, that being in the fashion of an own goal of course. Yes Wayne Rooney followed by self inflicted pain led the Red Devils to within mere points of the premiership title. And like the campaign of a  year ago United again floundered in the last third without Rooney prowling the grounds.

Chicharito seemed lost on the field for a good portion of the game seemingly only looking for a rogue through ball and giving little help the build up. Berbatov continued to look quick and adept on the ball and had moments of brilliance in terms of his positioning and touch, but didn’t  possess the ability to finish this time around. In fact if it weren’t from a sublime effort from Paul Scholes United could have very well walked out of Craven Cottage with nothing at all. To bring up the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and the subsequent non effort to replace him would certainly be beating a dead horse. Well I say if the colt has already filled its lungs for a final time whats the harm in a couple more cheap shots? Not into a stellar example of animal abuse image simulation? Neither is PETA.

Now back to what the idiom was intended to portray. Over the past two seasons United have added Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Javier Hernández to bulk up their strike force, while promoting Nani to attempt the impossible task of picking up where Ronaldo left off. The fact is he too is a stylish Portuguese winger and thats where the similarities end. It was improbable that United could replace arguably the best player on the planet, but they have done little to support the loss of talent on the left wing, with new support in the center to make up for it. Scholes and Fletcher are nice. And when Carrick is in Fergi’s  favor he sees a lot of the pitch. But all three are getting older and are showing it. The best clubs in the world are loaded with top attacking central midfielders, Real Madrid just got their second In Ozil if they don’t move him out to the wing. Barcelona has Xavi and Iniesta, Chelsea, Lampard and Arsenal despite their struggles in the latter 2000’s still has arguably the best of them all in Cesc.  As of now United seems content with fairly anemic wing play and 2 forwards who spend most of their time too far ahead of the flow of the game to get into the action. Scholes and Fletcher have been on great form through the first couple of matches, but I question how long that can last through the toils of a long premiership campaign. I am not one to question one of the greatest coach’s  player alignment, in fact I can’t blame him, who would he even put in the 10 spot if he were to use it? I’m not sure their is a player with the dynamic make-up and composure to fill such a role, which should never be the case for a team with talent in abundance.

Just so I don’t make this post all about United, I must say I could only catch the highlights of the City game today. And so it seems any English fan who feels obliged to punch Capello in the face for not starting the best keeper on the roster certainly has a case. Hart is good, shit I feel safe saying Hart is already a top 5 keeper in the Barclays.

Premier league thoughts August 23, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Andy Carroll, huh? As I imagine I’ve made clear, I’m pretty dubious of anyone who spent his youth idolizing Alan Shearer, although I guess, if I were his father, I’d be happier with his idolizing Shearer than most men who’ve turned out for Newcastle in recent years (Barton, Bowyer, Dyer, Woodgate, Bellamy, etc.). But the kind of pressure he must be under (in Newcastle, wearing Shearer’s number, being a local boy, alone up front, basically the fulcrum of every little Geordie boy’s fantasy) staggers the mind.

Though he wants nothing more than to emulate England’s last great all-elbows dino-forward, his performance against Aston Villa, in which he popped up all over the forward line, marks him out as a far more modern brand of center-forward. (Boring talk of the English national team alert). With Fabio Capello, for better or worse, dispensing of Emile Heskey, Carroll can certainly claim a starting role for England if he plays like he did against Villa every week.

BELOW THE JUMP

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This Fowler boy’s quite good. August 21, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Australian soccer.
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When I watch a soccer game in a lesser league, I find myself wondering whether any of the players could perform in a more notable competition. I turned on Perth Glory vs. Newcastle United Jets to fall asleep and found one such player on Perth’s team. His name is Robbie Fowler. You may have heard of him.

Fowler isn’t playing the arch-poacher as he did in England. He’s dropping deep and has enough time on the ball to play Roman Riquelme–esque through balls over the top and through the channels with the outside of his boot. The Jets really haven’t got an answer.

It’s halftime now, with the Glory having just scored to make it 1-0. Mile Sterjovski, another player with a rich European career behind him, has been subbed off injured. The football’s not terrible, certainly better than a few MLS games I’ve seen.

Interesting note: the lead-out music for the halftime program is “Move on Up,” by Curtis Mayfield, and the lead-in music is “No One Knows,” by Queens of the Stone Age. Does Australia have laxer copyright laws, or do the TV stations feel they need to splash buckets of cash at using well-known songs as background music?

Predictions: Sky is the limit for Wolves, assuming the sky is falling. August 20, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Predictions record so far: 5-5

If I’m a fan of any English club, it’s Wolves, which is why tomorrow’s fixture with Everton is so depressing. I feel this could really be Wolves’ year. The club’s managed by Mick McCarthy, a misunderstood, excellent manager, who appears to have bought very well in the transfer window. Steven Fletcher surprised me quite a bit in his debut with his technical assurance and predatory qualities. People doubted him, myself included, at the start of the season (and it’s early to be making pronouncements) but maybe allied to more productive wingers than Burnley’s, he can up his goalscoring tally, especially with a partner of Kevin Doyle’s energy. And anyone, including probably Jelle van Damme himself, would have been surprised by how well the Belgian played last week. Wolves was already a solid team, but it has improved in a weakening division.

That said, Wolves probably still won’t beat Everton. And even if there is an away win in tomorrow’s clash, Wolves probably can’t aspire to be Everton, let alone someone higher up the table. I was struck when Everton beat Manchester United last year by how good it must feel to be an Everton fan. Your club is never going to win the title, so you don’t have to view every game as a chance to blow it. You’re not really good enough to expect to beat Manchester United, but you are good enough to do it with style if it does happen. It’s far more satisfying to watch your team beat the odds to outplay a giant than to watch them scrape a win, and that’s the kind of peak Everton fans get.

Not really so much for Wolves, which will never be able to put together as many truly quality players as Everton will run out against them tomorrow. The best Wolves can hope for is to be Birmingham City from last season and put together a run of results that propels the club up the table.

That said, it could be the year that happens. Everton 2-1 Wolves.

My equations system felt a bit forced last week, so I’ve decided to eschew it.

  • Chelsea, on their form, will probably expect to beat up on Wigan, on their form. Chelsea 4-0 Wigan.
  • How well Arsenal maintains cohesion without Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri remains to be seen. There’s no telling how well Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby or Robin van Persie will handle the number 10’s role, but they should still have enough to find the gaps left by a pretty offense-minded Blackpool. Arsenal 1-0 Blackpool.
  • There’s really nobody at Blackburn to take David Dunn’s place in midfield, so this one is a question of how well Sam Allardyce can shoehorn someone into the role (I.e. Morten Gamst Pedersen) or readjust his formation (i.e. bringing in Mame Diouf). Probably, though, I think he’s tactically cute enough to figure out a way to deal with predictable Birmingham at least enough to get a draw. Birmingham 0-0 Blackburn.
  • Mark Hughes beat Manchester United? I think not. Fulham’s kind of a Man U banana skin, but Hughes strikes me as caught between keeping Hodgson’s formula and imposing his own. Just think, too, of what a pacy striker such as Javier Hernandez might do against a slow pair of center backs like Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes, or what Paul Scholes might if they drop deep to protect themselves. Fulham 0-2 Man Utd.
  • All I can say about Manchester City vs. Liverpool is that Mario Balotelli is a force of nature. Man City 2-0 Liverpool.
  • Stoke’s aerial game is something with which Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong will probably feel extremely comfortable. It will be a good confidence boost after, you know … On the other hand, Spurs will be heavily reliant on crosses in to Peter Crouch or Roman Pavlyuchenko, since the Londoners’ cleverest passers, Luka Modric and Giovani dos Santos, are out. Stoke 0-0 Spurs.
  • Sunderland is a team everyone loves, and that’s because they’re becomingly fragile. West Brom also looked fragile against Chelsea, so fragile its difficult to envision the Baggies beating anyone. But you could see it. On the other hand, any of West Brom’s center backs probably would struggle to keep up with Frazier Campbell. West Brom 1-2 Sunderland.
  • Bolton plays a Diego-Maradona’s-Argentina-esque 4-4-2, which is probably just the thing for West Ham’s packed midfield. West Ham 2-0 Bolton.

Methinks August 17, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in War on ESPN.
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The War on ESPN was better when I remembered it was a joke.

ESPN invents new, unholy German Franken-club. You should stay away from ESPN. August 17, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in German soccer, War on ESPN.
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Funny thing about "Bayern Leverkusen" is it doesn't exist.

By now, my hatred for ESPN Soccernet is well-documented. The fact that many of their native articles are bottom-of-the-barrel (with exceptions for some of their World Cup coverage, as well as the work of Phil Ball and Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger), often containing falsehoods, is insufficient. Plenty of well-funded sites have very poor articles indeed.

But Soccernet must either have bad copy editors or no copy editors. At least half the stories I’ve read on ESPN contain at least one glaring grammar error. Here, I write about one article that contained seven dangling modifiers (I now realize the last one is not a dangling modifier). The soundess of an organization that hires a writer who seemingly doesn’t understand the concept of the dangling modifier is troubling enough, but not having a copy flow that catches such an incredibly basic error is pretty egregious.

When ESPN’s not kicking sand in grammar’s face as it shambles along, it’s often making blatant and embarrassing factual or spelling errors like the one above.

Today, I saw one such error that made me quite angry. It was a link to an interview with Michael Ballack that said he’d moved to “Bayern Leverkusen.” He has actually moved to Bayer Leverkusen, a club sponsored by aspirin-maker Bayer, but the writer of the summary appears to have gotten that club confused with Bayern Munich, whose name comes from the German word for Bavaria, a region that contains Munich, but not Leverkusen.

Whoever is writing the site’s display text is either too sloppy to proofread his or her work or simply not cognizant to the fact that “Bayern Leverkusen” does not exist.

I’ve made some grammar and factual errors on this blog, but this is a blog, where that’s to be expected, not that I don’t try my best. I’m not paid to do this. ESPN can’t point to any such justification. I don’t know if ESPN’s sections on other sports are so poorly edited because I don’t read them, so I can only speak to that part of soccer fans.

So to you, soccer fan: You’re a rational consumer and you have a choice. I’m not saying read this blog, although I’d like that, but there are plenty of soccer websites out there that care enough about their readers to hire people who’ll compose intelligent articles, and to make sure they’re properly edited. The Guardian is my favorite because I’ve been reading it for years, but if you’re an looking for something that takes a similar perspective to ESPN’s, Sports Illustrated’s soccer section is excellent.

SI’s used to be an afterthought, but when the World Cup came around, the magazine invested in hiring really excellent columnists: Jonathan Wilson, an absolute trailblazer in soccer writing, Sid Lowe, Tim Vickery, Marcela Mora y Araujo, Rob Smyth, Raphael Honigstein. They even poached ESPN’s US soccer staff.

ESPN: Improve. Now.

Latest installment in the “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE” Saga: Maradona to the USA? PLEASE August 16, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Argentine soccer, U.S. soccer.
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I confess: When I read about the possibility of Diego Maradona replacing Bob Bradley as United States coach, I got a little bit hot under the collar.

Forget Aston Villa, Diego! You could be the one to make soccer big here, big as your enormous balls. Please, Diego, please.

Cole does poorly, but there’s probably still hope for him. August 16, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer, Tactics.
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Joe Cole pretty much flopped against Arsenal Sunday. I have reason to believe he will still come good though. Zonal Marking, the nets’ premier footy tactics site, asks whether Cole’s three-game suspension will be the end for him. “If [Liverpool] reshape [to Hodgson’s preferred 4-4-2] and find success under a different shape,” the site’s author writes, “then Cole’s much-hyped central playmaker role may have lasted only 45 unhappy minutes.”

I’m more skeptical. (more…)