SOCCER SEASON IS HERE — 

5 01 2013

So, as I sit at Starbucks in Burlingame I find myself having a bit of an internal debate … and yes, without a doubt soccer has become my favorite sport to cover at the high school level. I guess I can go over my logic at a later date, but I tell ya, it felt great the last couple of days talking to coaches and trying to get a landscape of the PAL in 2013. And then, even cooler to be out yesterday afternoon at Aragon, bumping into friends and watching some quality soccer.

So here goes, our preview for the girls’ soccer in the PAL Bay Division ran in Friday’s edition. I put a little something together for the front of SPORTS. Here you go. It came out cool — it was just a stock image and then the placement of school logos over the soccer ball panels.

PAL  girls'

You can read the entire 1,200-word preview here.

But, briefly … I can’t wait to see Woodside play. Just jogging through their roster and talking to their head coach makes me think this will be a special year for them … oh, but only half as cool as NEXT year … talked to a San Mateo High School defender yesterday at Aragon, and she described at the team as “young” and gave me one those smiles that said, “we’re in for quite a year.” … Apparently, I haven’t been able to reach the San Mateo head coach because, he’s in Spain … Saw some familiar Aragon faces yesterday, too, which was reassuring … I think it’s a two-team race (Carlmont-Woodside) with Burlingame third, maybe 1-2 if they get healthy.

Anyways, boys’ soccer was published on Saturday. I decided two of the same visual treatment was overkill. But, I re-did the ball just for the heck of it. Here is it.

Picture PAL boys

You can read the entire 1,200-word preview here.

But, yes, like I said, I was out at Aragon vs. San Mateo on Friday. San Mateo is good. Aragon is going to be solid in the Ocean. If you want to read my story, here ya go.

Picture 4

I just realized I make a cameo in that photo, see me in the red BARCA hoodie (courtesy of my older sis!)? Handsome as ever I tell ya. Anyway, briefly … San Mateo is going to be good — their defense looks solid and they have Will Amaya who is a sensational keeper. … Took a lap around the Aragon track with Mrs. T — always awesome to catch up friends … This Mendoza kid is something else, he’s going to be fun to watch. … Speaking of fun to watch: Luke Petersen (Carlmont), Chava & Chavita (the Salvadors at Woodside), Jonah Synder (Burlingame), and while I didn’t write an Ocean preview, Aldo Severson and this kid Platino at Aragon (dude, what a pretty goal).

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EURO 2012 — DAY 2

9 06 2012

Well, if you’re like me, you’ve pinched yourself a couple of times already … and yes, not definitely the UEFA Cup is on.

As a fan, yes I was intrigued by the futbol played in Day 1 but admittedly I was sort of disgusted by Group A when it was drawn, so my interest level for Games 1 and 2 (of 31) was based on finding out something about these teams. I went 0 for 2. I did pick a draw, just in the wrong game. What we know is this • The Czech Republic’s defense is terrible and while it may even pass as laudable the truth is, if Cech plays like an amateur goalkeeping, C.R. is going 0-3 … • That said, whatever Russia had for breakfast, box it up and sell it. Wow. They’re a fast, fun team to watch … • This man should not be allowed to referee any more futbol matches. Simply abysmal … • Pimp of the Day: This guy. 

Today is a big day for July! with the Netherlands taking the pitch against Denmark and Portugal vs. Germany to begin the Group of Death festivities. Again, in  honor of sticking with consistency, some looks around at the globe newspaper wise — images are from the Newseum. My favorite is from the Netherlands.

Loosely translated, the headline reads “BRING IT ON!” … yes, indeed. Please do. OK, gallery time. As you’ll be able to note, the German papers are playing up the Bastian/Ronaldo matchup a lot.





EURO 2012 — DAY 1

8 06 2012

It’s hhhheerrree!!

The ball gets rolling in less than 15 minutes at the UEFA Championships hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Spain is your reigning champion and one of the favorites this time around. That’s not here or there. What is here is a gallery from random newspapers in Europe showing how they commemorated the start of the European championships. Images are from the Newseum and since this idea isn’t an original, a shout out to the great Charles Apple is in effect (or is it affect?). My favorite? A newspaper in Poland “Magazyn” … might actually be a magazine, now that I think about it.





EURO 2012 — JULIO FOCUS

7 06 2012

The ball will roll very, very soon for the 2012 version of the UEFA Cup.

And who am I trying to kid? This is going to be a lot of fun. We’ve already broken down the groups and the brackets, so I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you where my eyes will be set for the tournament. Obviously, as futbol fans, we have different tastes and what not, so you don’t HAVE to be looking for the same things — but if you need a guide, then you’ve stumbled upon the right place.

MY TEAM — Haha, very funny. HUP HOLLAND BABY!! HUP!

Of course, your truly will be watching intently at the Netherlands futbol team. We just whooped the hell out of Northern Ireland (6-0) and took care of Slovakia soundly (2-0). I’ll be looking mostly at some newer faces Gregory van der Wiel … Kevin Strootman … Luuk de Jong … they might not see much playing time (except for van der Wiel), but I’ve heard good things. Holland is ranked 4th by the FIFA in the latest rankings and don’t get me wrong, I love this team, but that back line is suspect. So, we’ll see how it goes.


P
ICTURE FROM ESPN FC

The Netherlands is stuck in the GROUP OF DEATH, or Group B, which features four teams currently ranked in FIFA’s Top 10. Obviously, the biggest most experienced hurdle there is Germany. And while many seem to not trust anyone on Portugal NOT named Cristiano Ronaldo, they are ranked 7th and won’t be a cakewalk. Neither will Denmark. This is definitely a group to watch for sure. No doubt. Hells yeah.

MUST SEE GAMES — Shit, if you can, watch them all. They’ll be on ESPN’s family of networks and I’m sure UNIVISION will do the same with their networks. Good thing for us West Coasters is that the games aren’t too early — 9 a.m. and 11:45 appear to be the consensus starts for the first rounds games. A couple that I have my eye on are:

It’s the first real test for Portugal, who you either love or hate. I have Germany winning 3-1 or 3-2, depending on what Ronaldo shows up.

I had a couple of people tell me they disagree with this pick. BUT, I’d like to remind the court that Spain in a notorious slow starter in major tournaments. I think La Forza has more than enough talent and moxie to push Spain and use that to get far into this tournament. Italia wins 2-1.

You have to watch this match because, well, it’s too damn fun. Futbol powers that don’t like each other very much going at it. Awesome. A lot of people seem to like England in this tournament. I uhhhh, am not so convinced. France looked really sharp against Estonia is a warm-up for the tournament. I like them in this match 3-2.

While I’ll be glued to all the Dutch matches, this one is going to be a dousy. It’s no coincidence that Germany is on my short list twice — they’re a young, exciting team to watch play the game. I didn’t pick a winner here … I think it’ll be a draw 2-2, 1-1. Which means BOTH teams must take care of business against Portugal and Denmark.

PLAYERS TO WATCH — Of course, you have your Ronaldo, your Xavi, Iniesta, Robben, Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Ozil … the list is long. Here a couple players I got my radar on, just because.

Benzema looked really sharp in that game against Estonia. I saw both his goals, and wow, it’s always nice to go into a big tournament with that scoring feeling.

In order for my boys to do well, they’ll have to contain this guy in Group B. Ericksen is a true beast. Dynamic in the midfield, deadly around goal. He’s one of Group B’s most dangerous players.

Lost in that Italy/Spain thing in Group C, will be players like Luka, who exploded in the EPL this season and with a good tournament, will have transfer rumors swirling even more around his name. Modric is a treat to watch play the game.

He’s the best midfielder not named Xavi or Iniesta in Group C. Tough player, creative … I have Italy making the Finals mostly because of this guy.

I’m sorry guys, but a month of top quality futbol? Who can ask for anything better. I’ll do my best to blog a bit about the games I catch. Of course, my destination of choice is Mad Dog in the Fog, located in San Francisco Haight St. Click on the photo and LIKE them on Facebook. 

Seating is limited, but pure futbol awesome isn’t. It’s probably the best futbol vibe on the West Coast. Perhaps, I’m being biased. No wait, not perhaps, I am. With that said, let the games begin. HUP HOLLAND HUP!!





EURO 2012 — PREDICTIONS AND FIXTURES

6 06 2012

The clock is ticking, my futbol friends … we are only a day away from the UEFA Cup version 2012. I’m super pumped. Actually, I’d be super duper pumped if it wasn’t for the fact that I totally screwed up my ankle not too long ago and have thus sworn off craziness for a while, BUT, SUPER pumped works just as good when you’re me.

For those wondering how this post is going to pan out, it’s very simple: I like to embarrass myself with predictions all the time. I love being wrong. But more than that, I love thinking I’m wrong and actually being right … THEN … doing my happy dance all over the “haters.” So hopefully, you’ll see me celebrating come the beginning of July. OK, fixtures are below for opening round games with the red circles denoting who I think will win said match. If you don’t see a circle, it’s because I think it’ll end in a draw. Further down, you’ll find my bracket for the knockout phase, and then you’ll see who the people at ESPN FC are picking to win (SPAIN??! Really?! Y’all trippin). Ah yes, those times are apparently WEST COAST times.

Now, after the opening round is done, here’s how I think the teams will be left standing … that’s right baby, HUP HOLLAND HUP!!

That’s actually straight from ESPN FC’s online Bracket Predictor … which actually tells you what the rest of the world thinks and the rest of the world seems to think that Spain is going to repeat. I have to disagree. I think their defense is suspect. I think Torres is non-factor, I think Villa is only a slight factor and unless Iniesta or Xavi start scoring all the goals, I don’t think Pedro has the chops up front. But, well, I’ve been wrong before (many times).

Tomorrow, we’ll look at a couple of things I have my eye on during the tournament … as well as where you can catch me watching the matches. Until then, everyone, please, bow down to the ORANJE!





NETHERLANDS HOME KIT — HUP HOLLAND!

17 04 2012

Yes. It has finally arrived. I had my inclinations that the Netherlands home kit would hit the stores just in time for their friendly against Bayern Munich after the away kit made its debut in a glorious win over England (in which my boy Robben had a pair of goals). Anyway, according to a worldsoccershop.com you can now buy the home kit. Here it is.

I wish I had more time to write about it, because it’s probably my favorite Holland kit. But, I don’t. So, we’ll take this up at another time.





2012 ATHLETES OF THE YEAR — SOCCER

29 03 2012

Those of us who feel like we know the game of futbol love it for a variety of reasons. We see things differently. And while goals pay the bills (and rightfully so; you can’t win a game if you don’t score), there are nuances to the game that make it beautiful. I think that’s where the Daily Journal Soccer Players of the Year struck a chord this time around. There were a couple of players that put up some great numbers and other publications chose to highlight them. I wanted the Daily Journal to go a different route, and show a different understanding of the Beautiful Game.

GIRLS’ SOCCER — RACHEL KILLIGREW >> STORY HERE

I’m going to put Rachel on the spot here: I called to inform her last week that she had won and the girl screamed like I told her she had just on the mega-million! Haha. It was great to hear how excited she was to win. Rachel deserves it. For my money, no one wore the captain’s armband better. She was on the short list of the league’s best defenders … but she was much more. She was like, the pulse of the CCS winning Aragon team. Rachel played hard, tough, darn near vicious sometimes, but always within what I felt was fair. And I’m just in love of that goal she scored against Mitty.

As you can see, we picked our All-Daily Journal Girls’ Soccer Team. Here’s a closer look.

I had a hard time picking players. As a writer, and lover of the sport, there were those players whose game I fell in love with from a very early part of the season. And as a writer, I wanted to be fair to all 300+ players in our coverage area. That’s not easy to do. Believe me. Yes, I went the 4-3-3 route. I love that style of soccer, offensive options galore. I only had a line under the name to try and sum up why a player deserved to play on the team, but honestly, we could go on forever. What we didn’t get to do, time and space being a factor, was put together an All-Underclassmen team. There were so many great young players out there. It’s pretty exciting for Peninsula soccer to have that much awesome talent as freshmen and sophomores. The league (PAL) is in good hands.

BOYS SOCCER — BENNY ANGELES >> STORY HERE

Man, we mulled this choice over for days and days. At the end of the day, San Mateo’s rings were what tipped the scale in Benny’s favor. Up until Sunday, the race was between Benny and Menlo-Atherton’s Aaron Oro, who’s been a favorite player of ours since last year. It could have easily gone to him. But San Mateo’s run through league and CCS was special. And again, there were things that Benny did that never saw the box score … sometimes not even our stories. But that’s not to say that they didn’t go unnoticed. It does however, get harder to write stories when there is a lack of numbers — as was the case with Rachel. But as I wrote them, and filled the word count with ease, I realized we had made the proper choices.

Here’s  a closer look at the All-Boys Soccer Team. Better, purer scorers on the boys side of things. Therefore, a 4-4-2 was a better choice in my view. This one was easy either. There were a lot of great players we didn’t get to see too much of this season, but their reputation preceded them.

The deed is almost done. We have one more Athlete of the Year to go. Then we can focus fully on baseball and softball. As for now, July! bids adieu to the prep futbol season. It was a great ride. I feel very lucky to have seen some great futbol. We’ll go hard on the blog during the Euro Cup in June. Until then, we’ll leave you the words of Rachel Killigrew … “keep it low, and hard.”

Adios! Y VIVA EL PINCHE FUTBOL!