Monday, December 25, 2006

The Godfather Is Dead. Long Live The Godfather.

James Brown passed away earlier today at the age of 73. In addition to being the Godfather of Soul, a music pioneer who basically gave birth to disco and funk which in turn begat hip hop, and generally one of the coolest dudes to ever walk the earth, he was a big huge Georgia Bulldog fan.

Vince Dooley with JB back in the day, wishing he had soul &
was superbad enough to do interviews with his shirt unbuttoned

He wrote a song called Dooley's Junkyard Dawgs, and PWD posted a sweet video a while back of him performing it at the Cocktail Party one year while rocking an all red jumpsuit. Hold on... it (thanks PWD - you sir are the Man).

I agree with PWD - there are too many
awesome things in this 3 minutes to count

It's no wonder we went something like 147-6 against Florida before Spurrier arrived - we had the freaking Godfather working his mojo for us. A massive loss for the music world. If The Big Payback isn't in your top 100 songs of all time, then something is wrong with your list. RIP JB.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, Part II

If that last post was a bit too California, feel-good-tree-hugging-hippie-crap for you, then you probably like to skip the introspection this time of year and just rock out.

Therefore, I give you the best Christmas song of all time, which also just happens to be the most rocking one of all time as well. Enjoy.



Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays wherever you are and whomever you are with. I am fortunate enough to be able to spend it with my sister, brother-in-law, neice & nephew.

I am a little Christmas-music'd out, so instead of one of the 12 songs you have heard ad infinitum over the last month I am sharing with you the most inspirational song that I know of, one which symbolizes positivity, peace and eternal hope, and reminds us all that if a 700 pound man with an amazing voice and a ukulele can make the world a better place, then there is no reason that we cannot do the same.


Peace be unto you.

Be safe and be well.

Catching Up

Been sick most of the week, and thus off the grid.

Last weekend, Kanu failed to score but his team got a result. Twice.

Arsenal 2-2 Portsmouth
Highlights & Goals

Once again Arsenal allow the visitors to score first. Allowing a goal in the last minute of the first half and then another in the 1st minute of the 2nd half was awful, but to their credit they did fight back to get a 2-2 draw, and had chances to win it at the end. I am a Wenger loyalist but I have to say that I think it was a big mistake not starting Adebayor since he was playing against his stated football idol, Kanu, and it is only logical that he would be inspired. In fact, Arsenal were pretty shit until Ade came on as a sub in the 56th minute, and shortly thereafter it was 2-2. He scored the first and helped create the 2nd, and clearly he was inspired. He only played 35 minutes and I can't think of him ever playing a better game for the Gunners. Oh well.

Red Stripes 4-1 Some Other Team.

The Stripes had to play a man (woman really) down, so it was 6 on 7, but they still handled their business in the quarterfinals. Kanu was fairly ineffective mainly based on a complete lack of sleep, but we did what we needed to do. On to the semifinals against a stacked Ernst & Young team on Jan 7; get past the sketchy auditors and it is likely Boutros Boutros Goalie in the final on the same day.

Spent the rest of the weekend with my visitors - my sister and soon to be 5 year old neice. Did some really fun touristy stuff on Saturday - cable cars, Ferry Building Farmers market, etc. Sunday we rocked the SF Zoo, which I must say is pretty badass. Got to see real live reindeer for the first time ever - good stuff.

Not much to speak of this week except earthquakes. After a year and a half of not feeling an earthquake in my apartment, I have felt 3 in the last 4 days. I did feel one at work last year, but the two we had earlier this year I didn't even feel at my place, as it is on bedrock, while friends who live in other areas on landfill had pictures fall down and whatnot. First Wednesday evening, then Friday evening, and again Saturday morning. 3.7, 3.7, 3.5, all in Berkeley on the Hayward Fault, which runs right under Cal's football stadium and right through campus. It is pretty trippy and difficult to describe, but basically what happens is the entire building sways about 2-4 inches and back again, all in a matter of about 2 seconds. Feels kind of like being in a ship at sea. By the time your brain realizes "holy shit, this is an earthquake!", it's all finished.

I was too sick yesterday to get out to the pub at 7 a.m., and apparently I missed quite a show, as Arsenal yet again conceded to the visiting team first, but this time came back to beat the shite out of Blackburn Rovers 6-2. Sounds like they played they played some serious joga bonito, looking forward to seeing the highlights.

I'm off to Sactown for the holiday.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Useless Predictions: Bowl Edition

TCU -12 v. Northern Illinois
Win. TCU 37-7 Northern Illinois

Rice -4 v. Troy
Loss. Rice 17-41 Troy

South Florida -4 v. East Carolina
Win. South Florida 24-7 East Carolina

South Carolina -6 v. Houston
Win. South Carolina 44-36 Houston

Tennessee -4 v. Penn State
Loss. Tennessee 10-20 Penn State

Oklahoma -7 v. Boise State

LSU -8.5 v. Notre Dame

Ohio State -8 v Florida

more to follow...

Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm Twisted Like Keith Sweat

Well, not quite, but it's the first thing that popped into my head.

7 a.m. PST. Setanta Sports USA

Obviously I want Arsenal to win, but of course Kanu plays for Portsmouth. I also really like Portsmouth - they're probably my 2nd favorite club. Amazing and classy fan support- they sing their asses off even when they are down 0-5 after 57 minutes, Kanu is having a renaissance there - leading the EPL in goals, Sol Campbell is playing well for them, and how can you not love their manager 'Arry Redknapp? The most entertaing manager out there, and a Londoner who has supported Arsenal since he was a wee lad.

So I'm not quite Ann Bowden or Brady Quinn's sister, meaning that you wont see 58,000 camera shots of me in the crowd with a homemade 1/2 Arsenal- 1/2 Portsmouth kit and 12 pounds of makeup on my face, acting overly dramatic and emotional because I know that they cameras are showing me 58,000 times.

Thankfully it won't be this awful

But it is a little tricky when your co-favorite footballer (PV4 of course) is going up against the team you love. I'll just rock the red Arsenal K25 kit and go easy on the makeup.

So here's hoping Arsenal win 5-3 with Kanu getting a hattrick. Shit, make it 6-3. Hopefully it will be better than last year, when Kanu scored for West Brom as they beat Arsenal 2-1. Don't want to see that again.

Score all you want, my man, as long as it's in a losing effort.

Come on you Gunners!

"On The Road To Athens..."

So begins the song "Chickenman" by the Indigo Girls. They are of course referring to Athens, Georgia, while the yet to be made Eurotastic Champions League remix will me musical inspiration, albeit over a shittastic techno beat, for the remaining 16 teams looking to get to the Champions League Final on May 23 in Athens, Greece.

Someone needs to make a CL 2006 Euro remix,
complete with a horrible techno beat

And that, my friends, is what I am referring to as I give you the draw for said competition that was completed this morning:

Champions League Round of 16 Draw

(England) - PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
Chel$ea (England) - FC Porto (Portugal)
AC Milan (Italy) - Celtic (Scotland)
Man Utd (England) - Lille (France)
Lyon (France) - AS Roma (Italy)
Liverpool (England) - Barcelona (Spain)
Bayern Munich (Germany) - Real Madrid (Spain)
Valencia (Spain) - Inter Milan (Italy)

The #1 seeds are all listed first, and they have earned the advantage of playing their 1st legs on the road and 2nd legs at home. The 1st legs will be played Feb 20 & 21, and the 2nd legs will be played March 6&7.

After the field is reduced to 8, another draw will be held which is completely blind (no restrictions on whom you can or cannot draw like in the round of 16 draw), and also 'locks' in the 'brackets' if you will, the rest of the way. In English that means that once the quarterfinal draw is made then teams will know who they will face in the semis if they win (they don't throw the 4 semifinalists back into the pot and do yet another blind draw).

Given that they could have drawn Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Roma, PSV, Celtic, or Lille, they have to be pretty pleased to have drawn PSV and avoided Barca, Real, and Inter (of course, Lille would have been nice but ManUtd won that lottery). Arsenal have played PSV 4 times in the Champions League in recent years and have never lost, and in one match back in I think 2002 they demolished them 4-0 in Holland. That being said, PSV are the defending Dutch League Champions and are leading the league again this year in runaway fashion. Plus I am sure that they will be fired up for the chance to put an end to the hoodoo that Arsenal have had over them recently.

Chel$ea - Porto will get a lot of pub since Mourhino coached Porto to the 2004 Champions League title in somewhat cinderella fashion, before anointing himself "the special one" and moving to Chel$ea to manage the mercenary millionaires (and become one himself). But Porto have lost alot from that team and given Chel$ea's resources they shouldn't have too much trouble going through.

Liverpool-Barca is, on paper at least, the tie of the round. The 2006 Champions against the 2005 Champions. Liverpool have in Rafa Benitez a Spanish manager who is very familiar with Barca from his days coaching in La Liga, and Liverpool have several Spanish players who will be uber motivated to take on the Spanish Champions, especially at the Nou Camp. Liverpool have won the European Championship 5 times and Barcelona twice, to this is quite a tilt.

As is Bayern Munich (3 times Champions) against Real Madrid (record 9 time European Champions). I think that all of the ties will be very good, except for ManUtd-Lille, which I expect ManUtd to win handily. AC Milan should actually take care of Celtic, who are great at home and awful on the road in the CL. Don't be suprised to see Celtic take an exciting lead in the first leg at home, where they have only lost 1 of their last 19 CL matches, only to go to Milan full of hope and see it all go pear shaped (0 wins, 1 draw, 11 losses in Champions League away matches).

Feb 20 is a long time to wait for the playoffs to start, but it will be here soon enough. I guess it is better than college football fans, who have been waiting for a playoff for over 100 years and might be waiting for 100 more.

Champions League Knockout Stage For Dummies

For those not in the know...

Now that the group stage is over, the last 16 is a knock out (playoff) format. Up until the final, the two teams drawn together play what is called a 2 legged tie and it works like this: the first leg is in one team's stadium, and the 2nd leg, often referred as the 'return leg' is in the other team's stadium. This is the only fair way to do it since home field advantage is so massive in soccer. The winner is determined by the combined score over the two legs. Think of the two 90 minute matches as one 180 minute match broken up into 2 halves.

But what if they tie, Kanu? What happens then?

If the total score (they always call it aggregate) ends up being even, then the first tie-breakers is away goals, specifically the number of goals you scored away from home compared to the number that the other team scored away from home. For example, If Arsenal lose 1-2 to PSV in their first leg in Holland and then win 1-0 at home, the aggregate score is 2-2, but Arsenal "go through" (read: win) because they scored 1 away goal while PSV scored 0 away goals. So scoring away from home is massively important. You will see teams that lose their away leg 0-1 alot more upset than ones that lose 1-2.

OK - I get it. But what if away goals are even?

Ahhh. If at the end of the 2nd leg the aggregate score is tied and the away goals are even, then extra time is played - two 15 minute overtimes. If it is still tied, then it's on to the lottery of penalties.

That is how it works in the round of 16, quarterfinals, and semifinals. The Champions League final is a one match affair played at a predetermined neutral venue (think Final Four sites, which are awarded a few years in advance) where each team is allocated maybe 10% of the tickets and the other 80% go to UEFA and its marketing partners. This year's final will be held in Athens, Greece in May.

The winners get their hands on this.
And a shitload of cash.

Oh, and the teams will be collecting a boatload of cash every step of the way towards the final, with cash payments for each stage reached as well as a huge bundle of TV revenue. Courtesy of Bobbeh:

Prize money to be paid out to the 32 group teams-$363 million.
Pool money from TV to be shared-$355 million.
Estimated prize money for the eventual winner-$29 million.
Total sponsorship and TV revenue generated by the Champions League-$986 million.

So now you understand why it is so vital for teams to finish high enough in their league to qualify for the following season's Champions League. A team in the CL gets millions more in their coffers than a team who doesn't, and they use it to lure the best players, who want to play on CL qualified teams because they want to play against the best of the best, which is naturally the other CL qualified teams. In modern day Euro soccer, this competition by and large is the instrument that keeps the rich richer, and predictably you see many of the same big powerhouse clubs in the competition over and over year after year.

Oh-my-how-money-is-ruining-the-game cynicism aside, winning the Champions League is the biggest achievement in club football (if you take the elitist stance that most do that European club football is massively superior to club football played on the other continents). The CL is for European club football what the World Cup is for national football, and every footballer aspires to win it.

Winning the CL is like Ron Burgundy


Round of 16, 1st Leg: February 20-21
Round of 16, 2nd leg: March 6-7

Quarterfinals, 1st leg: April 3-4
Quarterfinals, 2nd leg: April 10-11

Semifinals, 1st leg: April 24-25
Semifinals, 2nd leg: May 1-2

Champions League Final, Athens Greece: Wednesday May 23, 2007

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend Review: Sticking It To The Man Edition

Amid all the rain...

Chel$ea 1-1 Arsenal.

Halfway through the 2nd half it had 0-0 draw all over it, and I was thinking about an interesting article I read on Friday about how the Prem is now the lowest scoring league in Europe this year, the new Serie A if you will. But things soon came to a boil.

Tasso Flamini puts Arsenal ahead.

A great Flamini goal gave the Arse a 1-0 lead with 12 minutes to go and it looked like it might just be Old Trafford all over again. An absolute blinder be Essien put those thoughts to rest in the 84th minute - a stunning strike, absolutely unsaveable. At that point it was frustrating because Ash Cole fouled Hleb to gain Chel$ea possession that led to the goal, but no foul was given. But after Chel$ea hit the woodwork not once, but twice in the added 4 minutes, both with the goal at their mercy and one from 2 yards out, the frustration of 1-1 turned into happy/lucky to get a point 1-1. Chel$ea hit the post 3 times in total, and after Porto hit the woodwork twice on Wednesday you have to say it was a fortuitous week for The Gunners.

In addition to being a really talented footballer, Didier Drogba has always been a cheating, diving cunt, but yesterday he really stepped it up. His performance was like a one man re-enactment of Portugal's 2006 World Cup campaign. After about the 5th incident, which ironically was the most legitimate of the match, Mats had seen enough: he promptly went into Mad Jens of North London mode and pushed Drogba, who fell like he had been shot. DD then got up and went over and pushed Mad Jens to the ground. After much deliberation the ref gave them both yellow, which I have to say was a pretty level-headed decision. Many refs, who like to be the center of attention (Graham Poll, Mike Riley, Steve Bennett) would surely have sent them off (or in Poll's case given them each 3 yellows).

As predicted, Mats pulled a classic Mats.

And of course Mourhino was a classless fool afterwards and lured Wenger into yet another verbal bitch fight like two 14 year old girls. So pretty damn entertaining for a 1-1 draw.

Speaking on stunning strikes, did you see Matthew Taylor's 45 yard volley on Saturday? Wow. Not off of a 30 yard cross at an angle like RVP's goal of the season nominee, but much farther out, which in the end will probably be internalized as better.

Oh, and Kanu's goal that put him back into the EPL scoring lead was pretty great , too.

Red Stripes playoff campaign was rained out, so next week then for that.

One of the highlights of my weekend was sticking it to the man, the man in this case being Ticketmaster. I bought my tickets for the January G Love show from the local venue box office, thus saving the $8.50 "convenience" charge per ticket and the $5 "processing charge". It made me feel all warm and fuzzy to put one over on those vile & evil fuckers. I think Kris Kross had Ticketmaster in mind when they famously said, in their badass 12 year old way, "you can get the finger. The middle".

Kris Kross: hates Ticketmaster, too.

Finally, I watched The Game Of Their Lives last night. It is pretty horrible, and Patrick Stewart as the narrator was painful, but if you are going to make a movie about one of the biggest upsets in soccer history then eventually I am going to watch it (the upset being the US beating England 1-0 at the 1950 World Cup, a scoreline that was literally so unbelieveable that when the news was wired back to England, no one in England thought it was real, they just assumed that the telegraph was a typo and that the score must have been England 10-0 US. Allegedly...).
So you've been warned. The historical information gleaned from watching is interesting, but the movie is so cheesy, formulaic, stereotypical, and poorly acted that you might need to do some eye-rolling exercises before you fire up the DVD to be sure that you don't pull a muscle rolling your eyes during the film.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

"You're Just Tottenham With Money"

My favorite anti-Chel$ea taunt that a Brit told me last year.

Some perspective from ANR:

A quick calculation of the squad transfer values (in) are roughly £234m v £39m. In fact the likely Arsenal first eleven cost just £8m more than a Chelsea substitute, Shaun Wright-Phillips. And the Chelsea subs bench over three times the cost of the Arsenal first eleven.

Chel$ea-Arsenal. Fox Soccer Channel. Sunday 8 a.m. PST.

So Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chel$ea tomorrow, a fixture that I always love since it reminds me of Chelsea-Arsenal 1999, when Arsenal were down 2-0 to Chelsea with only 15 minutes to play. Chelsea had the stingiest defense in the Premiership (at the time) that year; in fact they had not conceded a single goal at home yet that season, so a loss was damn near certain. In the 75th minute Kanu pulled one back for Arsenal, and then miraculously scored another in the 83th minute to secure a great come from behind draw. Except he wasn't done. In the 90th minute he scored an absolutely ridiculous goal(better video here, way better commentary from Martin Tyler here), giving him an amazing hat trick, Arsenal an amazing win, and securing himself as an instant Arsenal legend. I can't find it, but a few years ago there was match report by a Gooner who had tickets to this match but couldn't go because his wife went in to labor, and he was at the hospital listening to the match on the radio, and long story short they named their baby Kanu because of his performance in beating hated Chelsea in miraculous form- the kind of crazy obsessed fan story that would have been on Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer if it existed back then.

"He's tall, he black,
he's had a heart attack,
Kaa-nuu, Kaa-nuu!"

So fond memories for me, although lately Arsenal haven't done shite against The Blues. Kind of like a bizarro Georgia-Tennessee thing going on (Tennessee won 9 in a row over Georgia in the 90s, only for Georgia to win the next 4 in a row and 6 of the next 7). Amazingly, Arsenal did not lose one time to Chelsea in any competition between 1995 and 2004, but since then Arsenal have not beaten Chel$ea once in any competition over the last 2 seasons. It seems unlikely that Arsenal can do the business over Chel$ea at Stamford Bridge, but as I said before Georgia played at Auburn earlier this year, all things are possible. They have already gone to Old Trafford this year and beaten the league leaders Manchester United without TH14, so you never know. That being said, William Gallas is injured and Kolo Toure is suspended - facing Sheva & Drogba without your 2 best defenders is a tall, tall order. Arsenal's back 4 tomorrow will have an average age of 21, and Drogba has made Senderos his bitch in recent meetings. All of these things scare me more than being without TH14.

The big talking point is of course Ashley Cole, Cashley Cole, Cuntley Cunt, or whatever you choose to call him. This is the 1st time that he will face his old club since the shameful and stupid way that he engineered his move from Arsenal to Chel$ea, which caused a grat deal of bad blood between the two clubs and between Arsenal fans and Ash himself. The root of the issue was a secret illegal meeting (that wasn't so secret) in a London hotel between Cole & his agent, Mourhino and other reps of Chel$ea 2 days before a massive Arsenal-ManU match. Illegal for starters, they all lied about it and denied it ever happend, then Ash decided that somehow Arsenal had betrayed him and not vicey versey and wouldn't shut up about it, even writing a book that no one seems to be buying. This from someone who was a London boy and Arsenal fan since a child, who the club took in and turned from a youth team trialist to the best left back in the world, a fan favorite and Arsenal legend and future captain in the making. Now he is public enemy #1, made even worse that he went to cross town rivals Chel$ea of all places.

Arsenal fans have printed 20,000 fake 20 pound notes which they presumably are either going to wave at him or throw into the air, and to be sure he will get a shitload more schtick from the travelling Gooners, and deservedly so. I'm with Arseblogger on the whole thing.


He'll either be rattled and somewhat ineffective, or he will play a blinder and score 2 goals.

Here's hoping that Adebayor can channel Kanu 99 and the Arse can do something special. I'll be rocking the shit out of my red 1999-2000 Kanu kit for sure. And I love the fact that Mats aka Mad Jens of North London is talking shit about Ash - you know he is fired up and will be up for it and play a blinder tomorrow, and probably a get a yellow or red card to boot. I love that guy.

Come on you Gunners!


I feel like William Wallace today.


For the first time since Labor Day, I have an entire weekend free. No more Saturday college football-fests until next September. As much as I love college football, I'm glad that it's over and I once again have entire weekends free to explore & have adventures in and around SF.

Of course, it is going to rain here all weekend, so we're not off to the best start.

Have a great weekend.

Oh, and Kanu scored today as Portsmouth beat Everton to regain sole possession of the EPL scoring lead. Hell yeah Kanu!

Kanu to David Weir: "Get off me, bitch!"

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Klinsi Leaves US Soccer With Blue Balls

Klinsi was the prettiest girl US Soccer had ever seen, let alone had the chance to be with. She was way out of his league, yet she still talked to him and flirted with him. After Klinsi and Germany broke up, and US Soccer and Bruce Arena broke up, she even flirted with US Soccer and let him take her out on several dates. He was so excited to land the woman of his dreams, who could take him to heights he could only dream of.

OMG Klinsi is soooo hottt,
I can't believe he's even talking to me.

So they went out on some dates, and Klinsi smiled and laughed at US Soccer's jokes, but when it came time for the physical, Klinsi always put him off and said just wait until we are together, then I will show you things that you have never seen. The anticipation built and built in US Soccer's pants, and he was more confident than ever that Klinsi would be his woman since they were spending so much time together and having so much fun.

Yesterday Klinsi walked away, without warning, telling US Soccer "I just don't think we are a perfect match. Sorry", and leaving US Soccer with a painful hyper-inflated case of blue balls.

Klinsmann walks away; it turns out he's a major cock tease.

He added, "It's not you. It's me" and "please don't cry. This is hard enough as it is. Please stop crying" which just made US Soccer feel even worse because he knew it was him indeed and Klinsmann was just lying and trying not to be overtly mean.

It will be interesting to hear the details leak out in the next week or so about what the real reasons were for the breakup. Probably money, but we'll see.

US Soccer then decided to go steady with Bob Bradley, who is not nearly as cool or dynamic as Klinsmann, but has always liked him and shown him attention, which is what he needs right now because he is devastated and feeling sorry for himself. And Bradley puts out like you wouldn't believe.

Ridiculously Late Weekend Review

Saturday morning Arsenal beat the shite out of little sister Spurs 3-0. Another great performance without TH14 (beat Hamburg away in CL, beat ManUtd at Old Trafford, now this), who either has an injured neck, has has some sort of bust up & falling out with Arsene Wenger, or both - depending on whom you care to believe.

Later Saturday morning I walked downtown, jumped on BART, and headed over to Berkeley to take in my first Cal football game, which just happened to be the 109th Big Game. I met up with A10 and his crew for breakfast, and right away it was apparent that although there was a game day buzz in the air, we weren't in the deep South: the TV in the restaurant was tuned to one of the early games CSPAN2, where a dude was discussing his book on the socio-politics of Western Civilization in the 20th century. Awesome.

Quick breakfast and then over to a really cool bar called The Bear's Lair for pregame festivities. A few beers and then we walked up to the stadium. Unfortuantely we didn't see the people who climbed up the trees to protest their imminent destruction in the name of the soon-to-be stadium expansion. Berkeley-tastic. We made it to our seats, which were in the equivalent of the UGA student section, situationally that is. Memorial stadium is one giant bowl, no lower/upper levels, and I don't think that I had ever been in such a stadium before - I must say it was pretty cool, and the sightlines were very, very good from our seats that were 42 rows up. The seats were all deliciously old-school wooden benches, similar to what Orson Swindle described in his trip to Notre Dame earlier this year. Another interesting thing is that the students are given the most prime real estate - between the 40 yard lines on the sunny side of the stadium. Interesting, I don't think I have ever seen that at a football stadium. The students also pass people all the way up to the top of the stands after Cal scores, which looks pretty cool.

A beautiful 65 degree sunny day made it a really pleasant, and it turned out to be a much better game than expected. Cal were 29 point favorites, and although the game was against their big rival they clearly were still hungover from the back to back late season losses to Zona & SC, so they basically sleepwalked through the game while Stanford played way over their heads. In the end it wasn't enough, and Cal won by 9. We walked back down to town, ate some Indian food, and then watched SC shockingly lose to the baby bears at a pub. Walked back to BART, made my way home, and watched the 2nd half of Arkansas-Florida. Sorry no pics- I left the camera at home thinking A10 would have his, and he did the same. Next time.

Saturday night I went to see Ozomatli at the Fillmore. Fucking awesome: if they ever come to your town, go. Hard to describe, but basically a fusion of latin, funk, salsa, hip hop. Great music, and they certainly lived up to their legend of putting on an amazing show. High energy, very interactive- at the end they brought their instruments out onto the floor and played in the middle of the audience, then did conga lines through the audience for a while. Great stuff. The opening band rocked as well - a Brasilian samba band called I think Samba Da. And The Fillmore lived up to its legend as well - if you are ever in SF and have a chance to check out a show there, definitely do. I'm pissed at myself that it took me a year and a half to finally catch a show there.

Sunday morning FC Red Stripes wrapped up the regular season with a 2-0 win: Kanu even managed not to miss this time and finished off a nice team goal (with his left foot even), then celebrated at a Cuban cafe with a grilled chicken and plantain sandwich. Playoffs start this week, and Red Stripes are seeded #2 out of 16 teams, behind only Boutros Boutros Goalie.

The Amazing Race went to Barcelona, which reminded me that I still have not written up my trip there in March (not to mention Argentina in September). I need to get that shit sorted out soon. It is supposed to rain all weekend so perhaps I can finally knock it out.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Arsenal Limp Through, But Are Through Nonetheless

Porto 0-0 Arsenal.
Despite claiming that Arsenal were going to Porto to win, Arsene clearly played for a draw, going with 4-5-1 with Adebayor alone up front. It nearly bit him in the ass, as Arsenal were outshot and outplayed. Porto had two off the post, and as late as the 77th minute in the other match CSKA Moscow were up 2-1 on Hamburg, so Arsenal had very little room for error. Hamburg came back late to beat CSKA Moscow 3-2, rendering the Porto-Arsenal meaningless except for which team would finish first & second in the group. In the last 10 minutes both teams basically said fuck it and didn't even really try to go forward, and that was that.

Not pretty, but whatever, they are through to the final 16. And they actually finished as group winners, although I think it might have been better if they had actually finished 2nd as far as the round of 16 draw is concerned - more on that later.

Man of the match was easily and without question Porto left winger Quaresma, who ran the Arsenal defense ragged and hit the woodwork twice. His performance was the only thing worth watching in this match, unless you were at the pub where I watched the match, and then like me, you would have not been able to take your eyes off of our beautiful waitress who I am now completely in love with (unless of course you are a straight woman or a gay man, and then she too would have been as boring as the match).

ManUtd gave all the haters hope by falling behind 0-1 to Benfica (what an amazing strike by the Benfica dude), and for a few moments we were all envisioning ManUtd crashing out at the hands of Benfica for the 2nd year in a row. But it was not to be - they stormed back and won 3-1, so they are through as group winners as well.

In fact, all 4 English teams not only qualified for the knockout stage but won their groups as well.

Here is the breakdown of teams that qualified. The draw for the knockout stage is set for December 15th, and there are 3 things to keep in mind for the round of 16 draw: (1) a team cannot be drawn against the other team from its group (2) a team cannot be drawn against another team from the same country (3) 1st place teams cannot be drawn against other 1st place teams, only 2nd place teams, and obviously vicey versey for 2nd place teams. (after the round of 16 there is another draw for the quarterfinals that is truly blind - no such restrictions).

1A Chel$ea (England)
2A Barcelona (Spain)

1B Bayern Munich (Germany)
2B Inter Milan (Italy)

1C Liverpool (England)
2C PSV Eindhoven (Holland)

1D Valencia (Spain)
2D Roma (Italy)

1E Lyon (France)
2E Real Madrid (Spain)

1F Manchester United (England)
2F Celtic (Scotland)

1G Arsenal (England)
2G Porto (Portugal)

1H AC Milan (Italy)
2H Lille (France)

So if you are Arsenal, or any other group winner, there are some pretty damn good teams that went through as 2 seeds, starting with defending champions and La Liga leaders Barcelona, Serie A leaders Inter Milan, Dutch league leaders PSV Eindhoven, and of course Real Madrid. All of the 1st place teams will be hoping that they draw Lille. Something tells me that Chel$ea will draw them and Arsenal will draw Barcelona, but we'll have to wait until the 15th to see how it all shakes out.

Finally, an early prediction: Werder Bremen will win the UEFA Cup (the 3rd place finishers in the CL group stage drop into the UEFA cup, which is to the CL what the NIT basketball tournament is to the NCAA basketball tournament).

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Champions Do The Business; Hopefully the Runners-Up Can Do The Same

Barcelona 2-0 Werder Bremen.
Barca went up 2-0 in 20 minutes played them off the park in the first half. In the 2nd half WB played much better - where was that in the 1st half? - and outplayed Barca, but overall the score was about right.

Ronaldinho scored a super cheeky free kick to open the scoring from about 22 yards out. Most every free kicker in the situation tries to hit the ball just over the defensive wall and then have the ball curve back down to hit the target. As a result, the members of the defensive wall often jump up to try to deflect the free kick with their head. Well, on this free kick R10 had the balls to simply kick the ball along the ground, and as the dudes jumped up in the air, the ball went right under their feet and into the corner of the goal. The goalie had absolutely no chance since he was covering the other half of the goal and counting on his wall to defend their half. It was cheeky to even try such a stunt let alone score a great goal from it in a Champions League elimination match - I don't ever remember seeing such a kick attempted. I'll post a YouTube vid of it here once it becomes available.

How do you say "cheeky bastard" in Portugese?

5 minutes later it was 2-0 and that was pretty much all she wrote. The goal was a beautiful team passing Joga Bonito type, with a beautiful through ball from R10 to Giuly, who squared it for Gudjohnson to drive home. Gudjohnson was a mile offsides on R10's pass, and then again marginally offsides on the entry pass from giuly, but the goal stood, which would have pissed me off if I was a Bremen supporter. Soon therefter a great Deco run led to a Gudjohnson schooling of 3 defenders and a shot of the post which fell to Giuly with the goal at his mercy from 6 yards out and he managed to miss it in Kanu-esque fashion (me, not the real one - although I did actually score a nice finisher on Sunday, but I digress).

That was that. Joy for the Barca fans, disappointment for Bremen, and a little bit of anti-climax for the neutrals hoping for a barnburner.

Hopefully Arsenal can handle their business against Porto as well.

So here are the qualifiers from the 1st 4 groups (rest tomorrow; winners can only be drawn with runners-up in the round of 16 draw):

1A Chel$ea
2A Barcelona

1B Bayern Munich
2B Inter Milan

1C Liverpool
2C PSV Eindhoven

1D Valencia
2D Roma

Come on you Gunners!

Champions League Match Day 6 Preview: Three Big Boys On The Ropes, In Varying Degrees

The final matches of the group stage are today and tomorrow, after which the field will be cut in half and there will be a winter break until February when the knockout stage will begin with the round of 16. Most of the groups have already been settled, but there are 3 pretty compelling storylines all involving quote unquote bigger clubs.

Complete Champions League standings can be found here.

1. Barcelona-Werder Bremen. Today. ESPN2. 11.45 a.m. PST.
Chelsea are through with 10 pts. but this match will determine the other team to go through. Werder Bremen also have 10 pts and Barca have 8, meaning that Barca have to win outright today or they will crash out. Bremen obviously only need a draw to go through. Could be a great game, as Werder Bremen play free-flowing offensive, attacking footy so there is potential for some Joga Bonito. The Nou Camp is the largest stadium in Europe at 100,000 and it will be an electric environment tonight for sure. Ronaldinho has been asked to carry the load lately with the injuries to Eto'o, Messi & Saviola, and of late he has been delivering. An exciting playoff match before the playoff eveb start, so it should be very exciting.

2. Porto-Arsenal. Tomorrow. Setanta USA. 11.45 a.m. PST
Arsenal need a draw to guarantee a place in the knockout stage. The could also make it with a loss as long as CSKA Moscow also lose to Hamburg, but that is not something that they want to have to rely on. Henry is suspended through card accumulation, but ironically Arsenal have kicked ass this year when he hasn't played (won away to Hamburg, won 1-0 over ManUtd at Old Trafford, dominated Spurs 3-0 on the weekend); hopefully they can keep that going, but Porto are no joke. They won the Champions League in 2004 under uber-asshole Jose Mourhino, and although he and several of the key players from that team have moved on they are still a quality side playing at home and they will certainly be up for it.

3. Manchester United-Benfica. Tomorrow. ESPN2. 11.45 a.m. PST
Celtic are through no matter what. ManUtd only need a draw to advance, but a loss will see them crash out for the 2nd year in a row. This is much more unlikely on paper than Barca or Arsenal failing to make it, but you never know. I for one would love to see it happen.

All of the other groups have already been decided as far as the two teams to qualify, with 2 exceptions. In group D Shoktar Donetsk could steal 2nd place from Roma with a win combined with a Roma loss, and in Group H 2nd place is up for grabs between AEK Athens and Lille (although they do not play each other tomorrow).

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Week 14 Useless Predictions

USC -12.5 @ UCLA

Arkansas +3 v. Florida
Loss (thank you, Reggie Fish)

Oklahoma -3.5 v Nebraska

Hawaii -8.5 v Oregon State

YTD: I suck.

Friday, December 1, 2006

A Rivalry Weekend of Sorts

Tomorrow morning Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham visit Emirates stadium for the first time in this season's first renewal of the North London Derby. As bad as losing to Fulham was on Wednesday, losing to Spurs would be 100 times worse. (the UGA paralell would be: as bad as losing to Vandy was, losing to Tech would be 100 times worse).

My stupid ass will be getting up at the butt crack of dawn and going to The Mad Dog In The Fog pub in the Haight to watch the match live at 4.45 a.m., which confirms that I am either dedicated or completely insane. Or both. (and Myles thought being in the US and watching Arsenal at the 'early' hour of 10 a.m. was tough? Hell, 10 a.m. is cake- 9 a.m. is about as good as it gets for a weekend match in PST dude, usually it is 7 and occasionally 4 or 5).

Then it's over to Bezerkeley to take in my first Cal football game at California Memorial Stadium with my buddy A10 and his mates. And not just any game, but rather The Big Game as it is known where Cal will absolutely destroy their rival Stanford and keep possession of The Stanford Axe (pretty interesting background story as rival trophies are concerned) for another season.

Barring a miracle or a rash of food poisoning,
The Stanford Axe will stay in Berkeley at least another year

Might check out the Ozomatli show at the famous Fillmore on Saturday night, then the FC Red Stripes regular season finale on Sunday morning and perhaps a little golf on Sunday afternoon if the weather is nice.

Not a bad little weekend. I hope you have a great one yourself.

Go Hogs, and Wake too.