Between 1952 and 1994, 38 Formula One drivers were killed on the track in World Championship races. The story of the last of these deaths, that of Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, was told in the BAFTA-winning 2010 documentary Senna and received wide critical acclaim. This means that Ron Howard’s new biopic, Rush - which recounts the famous rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, and the devastating crash that left Lauda with severe facial scarring – has a tough act to follow.
Senna’s death acted as a wake-up call for the FIA, who subsequently tightened up safety restrictions on both the cars and racetracks of Formula One, and as a result there hasn’t been a single driver fatality in a contemporary Formula One car since. In the 1970s, however, when Hunt and Lauda were in competition, the nature of Formula One was almost gladiatorial due to the danger involved, and the trailers for Rush so far have promised to explore the mentality that drew drivers to the sport and gave them the courage to get behind the wheel.
The third trailer has just become available, and unfolds in a slightly different way to the extremely plot-heavy trailers that we’ve seen before. The main focus here is on the thrills of the race, the rivalry between Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda, and the “sexy” side of the film - which consists of a random shot of a dancer’s butt and a quick glimpse of Hemsworth in the shower with co-star Olivia Wilde.
While it’s likely that this trailer focuses less on the accident at the centre and more on the actual thrills of Rush in order to draw in the audience (after all, third degree burns aren’t exactly sexy), it also looks like Howard, and screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) have chosen to use the dangers of Formula One racing to explore both the psychological disconnect – the “lie” that drivers told themselves – required to take part in the sport, as well as the nature of the Freudian concept of the death drive (no pun intended), and the possibility that the dangers of the Formula One career only made it more exciting.
Sports movies aren’t for everyone, but the fact that Rush is based on a true story means that it should hopefully avoid the more overdone clichés. The story of Lauda’s crash and his rivalry with James Hunt is a fascinating one that’s full of real-life drama, and it looks like Morgan and Howard are planning to use it as a jumping-off point for an exploration of some of the more conflicting aspects of human nature.
Rush is out in theaters on September 30, 2012.
Article source: http://screenrant.com/rush-trailer-3-movie-2013/
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images New York and Boston fans don’t like each other.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
New York and Boston fans don’t like each other.
Whether it’s Bucky Dent, the Bloody Sock, Aaron Boone, or the Red Sox 3-0 comeback in 2004, memories of past victory and defeat die hard. With three series this month, May will write one of the most active chapters in the history of the New York-Boston rivalry.
Earlier this month, the Knicks dispatched the Celtics to notch one on-the-court victory for NYC. On the ice, the Bruins have three more chances to eliminate the Rangers to get to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years. When the Yankees and Red Sox meet for the 2,200th time on May 31st, both New York and Boston will likely have notched one series victory this May. Regardless of who wins that series, though, New York is virtually assured to win the off-the-court battle of the box office.
In the month of May, New Yorkers are paying $369 to see their teams play while Boston fans are shelling out an average of $265. Below is a breakdown of each series.
Celtics-Knicks NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (Knicks Win 4-2)
A generation of Knicks fans are still waiting for their first taste of championship glory, and as a result, demand was up for their recently-ended postseason run.
For the Eastern Conference NBA Quarterfinals, the average price for Knicks home games was $518, or 153% more than the Celtics home average of $205. Interestingly, Knicks fans only paid a 14% premium compared to regular season prices vs. Celtics fans 105% premium. This is due in large part to the fact that the Knicks had the highest regular season average ticket price in the NBA, while the Celtics had the 8th most expensive season average.
Unfortunately for Knicks fans, all that money went up in smoke when they lost the Pacers in game 6 of the Conference Semifinals.
Bruins-Rangers NHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:(Bruins Lead Series 3-1)
For the first time in since the 1973, the Rangers and Bruins face off in playoff hockey. Both teams had dramatic seven-game series in the quarterfinals, and whoever emerges from the series has a good chance to represent in Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup.
Despite their two losses in Boston to open the series, the average price for Game 3 at MSG went up 21% since the series started, to an average of $480, and a get-in price of $151. After their game 3 loss, the average price for Game 4–which the Rangers won in OT–increased another 10% in the 48 hours before the puck dropped. The Rangers playoff slogan this season is ‘Believe’, and if price movements are any indication, Rangers fans are expressing that belief with their wallets.
Bruins fans, on the other hand, seem to be losing interest as the series progresses. Since winning game 2 at TD Garden, the average price for Game 5 has decreased by 14% to an average price of $351. The average price to see one of the games at TD Garden is now $385.
Overall, Bruins fans are paying a 42% premium to the regular season average price for the four games at TD Garden, while Rangers fans are paying a 81% premium for the three games at MSG. The current average price for a Game 7 in Boston, if necessary, is $504, which compares to the a $354 average price for Game 7 against the Leafs. If it gets that far, prices will likely rise before the game, as fans pay up at the prospect of the next great New York-Boston moment.
Red Sox-Yankees: (5/31-6/2 at Yankee Stadium)
Baseball is the one sport where fans in Beantown pay a premium to the Big Apple. With just 37,400 seats, Fenway Park has the smallest capacity of any baseball stadium, which is a big part of why Red Sox tickets are consistently more expensive than the Yankees tickets.
The upcoming series at Yankee Stadium has an average price of $120 compared to an average price of $199 for the July leg of the rivalry in Boston. Red Sox Fans are paying a 59% premium to regular season prices for the July series while Yankees fans are only paying a 26% premium for the May series. While the prospect of seeing Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes for the first time may be impacting prices, the teams unexpectedly strong start is also driving up demand.
According to Ace Tickets CEO Jim Holzman, the interest in Red Sox tickets is better than expected. “A strong start, a likable team and lower prices have all contributed to healthy demand early in the year,” said Holzman. To be precise, ticket prices are up 19% compared to the same time last year.
Not to be outdone, however, Yankee fans are paying 27% more than the 2012 average ticket price, as the ragtag team sits, also somewhat unexpectedly, atop the AL East. For real drama, though, May baseball can’t compete with September. Between September 6th and 15th, the Yankees and Red Sox play six times, and the average price for those games is 38% higher then the two series in May and July. If the standings then are the same as today, the AL East will be on the line. At a get-in price of $39 for the series in Fenway and $23 at Yankee Stadium, that could be the best dollar-to-drama ratio of any New York-Boston rivalry series this year.
The Indianapolis 500 has become the most famous race in motorsports over the last 102 years, combining speed and daring in a heady blend that makes for must-see television.
With speeds topping 220 miles per hour, the race can be a true thrill ride for viewers. But that much speed can also turn deadly in a heartbeat. The race is one of the most dangerous endeavors in all of sports. Fifteen men have died during the Indy 500, with an additional 25 suffering fatal wrecks during practice sessions.
It’s a combination of modern technology and hoary tradition unlike any other in sports. The Indy 500 didn’t become the greatest spectacle in racing. It’s always been the greatest show on wheels—as the following signature moments and highlights show so clearly.
1909: The Brickyard Is Born in the Wake of Tragedy
Starting line circa 1909 (via http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com)
The inaugural race at the newly built Indianapolis Motor Speedway turned out to be a huge disaster. The track, made of crushed rock held together by tar, broke apart, killing two drivers and a spectator in the course of a race that lasted just two laps.
It was rebuilt that same year with 3.2 million bricks to create a safer environment for drivers and fans alike. The “Brickyard” was born.
1911: The First Indianapolis 500
The Indianapolis 500 was held for the first time and was a smashing success. Indianapolis all but shut down as legions of fans descended on the city, filling hotels for miles around. More than 80,000 turned out to see 37 drivers compete for a record-setting purse of $27,500. Ray Harroun won the race with an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour. After the race, the winner, whose car may have featured the first rear-view mirror in automobile history, didn’t have much to say but did have a favor to ask.
“I’m tired,” he’s reported as saying. “May I have some water, and perhaps a sandwich, please?”
Jules Goux (via wikimedia.org)
1913: Popping Bottles
The Europeans arrived in force and Frenchman Jules Goux won the race in his first appearance. It’s rumored that he drank six bottles of champagne during pit stops and told the press “Without the good wine, I could not have won.” Historian Donald Davidson insists that Goux, while admittedly drinking some alcohol during the race, was not three sheets to the wind:
On four of their six stops, Goux and his riding mechanic, Emile Begin, were handed a chilled “half-bottle,” containing about four-fifths of one pint. While they may have consumed some of the content the first time, the later bottles probably served as little more than an expensive form of mouthwash, with the pair following up a small sip by swilling some around in the their mouths and then spitting it out.
1919: Death Stalks the Brickyard
The remains of Thurman’s car (http://georgiaracinghistory.com)
After shutting down for two years while the track served as an airfield during World War I, the race returned with tragic results. Three men died during the running of the race, the first fatalities in Indianapolis 500 history. Arthur Thurman was killed instantly when his car turned over halfway through the race.
Louis Lecocq and his millionaire mechanic Robert Bandini were killed later in the race when their car caught fire after flipping over. It took authorities more than five minutes to extinguish the blaze and the two men, according to The New York Times, were burned beyond recognition.
1920: Pay Changes Enliven Racing
Change was brewing as race organizers offered a $100 payout for every lap led, according to the book The Indianapolis 500: A Century of Excitement by Ralph Kramer. The monetary incentive led to furious competition throughout the 500 miles as there was suddenly a compelling reason to risk a delicate car’s well-being in the early stages of the race. A driver who led every lap could double the winner’s purse of $20,000.
1930: Chet Miller Borrows from the Crowd
Rules changes eliminate the super-charged monsters of the 1920s and replaced them with cars that had more in common with vehicles fans might find in manufacturer’s showrooms. Although it wasn‘t intended as a response to the stock market crash of 1929, the changing nature of the race did open the field to more potential competitors and not just the super wealthy.
The less sophisticated cars came in handy for racer Chet Miller. When a pit stop at Lap 92 revealed a broken front spring, the part was replaced with a spring from a spectator’s Model T. Miller finished 13th, and after the race his pit crew put the spring back on the fan’s car.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1936: Meyer’s Milk Mustache Starts an Indy Tradition
Two traditions were born on a single day. Race winner Louis Meyer celebrated his victory with a bottle of buttermilk, and the Borg-Warner Trophy was awarded for the first time. The 110-pound trophy cost $10,000 and featured the face of every man who ever won the race:
Unveiled at a 1936 dinner hosted by then-Speedway owner Eddie Rickenbacker, the Borg-Warner Trophy was officially declared the annual prize for Indianapolis 500 victors. It was first presented that same year to champion Louis Meyer, who remarked, “Winning the Borg-Warner Trophy is like winning an Olympic medal.”
The trophy is now valued at more than $1 million.
1937: Oil-Soaked Shaw Wins His First 500
Leaking oil profusely, to the point his socks were soaked in it, Wilbur Shaw limped across the finish line just 2.16 seconds ahead of second-place Ralph Hepburn.
It was the most closely contested finish in Indy 500 history and would remain so until 1982.
Shaw would go on to win the race in 1939 and 1940 as well, becoming the second three-time champion after Meyer. Later, as the general manager of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he would popularize the saying “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
1949: Television Takes a Turn at Turn 1
Television attempted to capture the majesty of high-stakes racing for the first time as local station WFBM aired the race live. Three cameras were used to document the proceedings, including one at the top of the double-decker grandstand at Turn 1.
Among the action that thrilled home viewers was a fiery crash on Lap 23 that took leader and pole-sitter “Duke” Nalon out of the race. Nalon was lucky to survive and wouldn’t race again for two years after his close call.
1955: Vukovich Dies on the Road to History
(FROM THE BILL DANIELS AUTO RACING PHOTO COLLECTION)
Tragedy strikes Indy as Bill Vukovich, on his way to a historic third consecutive win, died on Lap 57 in a massive accident. Vukovich was leading the race when Roger Ward’s axle broke, flipping his car into the air and creating havoc for everyone on the track.
Vukovich collided with Johnny Boyd and flipped end over end. According to historian Bob Laycock:
I think I’d be short when I say he flipped 20 to 25 feet into the air. He was almost as high up as the trees.
When he landed, he landed next to the Mobil gas tank (north of the bridge) and there was a guy sitting in a chair who just got out of the way. That roadster landed absolutely upside- down and … there was not any space in those cars in that position for the driver. It almost sealed him in.
1967: Turbine Engine Falls $6 Short
After a rain delay forced the race to be postponed a day, A.J. Foyt shocked the racing world by upsetting the prohibitive favorite Parnelli Jones. Driving an innovative STP car with a helicopter turbine engine, Jones took a commanding lead and was out front for 171 laps.
The engine, smaller than those in every other car on the track, made Jones’ car much lighter than the competition, giving him a significant edge.
“I had been certain he was going to break,” Foyt would say later. “But, when he got past the midway mark and kept on going, I figured I was finished. I figured all I could do was keep going, keep as much pressure on him as possible to keep him running as hard as possible, and hope for the best, but about the best I could do at that point was to stay in the same lap with him.”
With just four laps to go, a $6 dollar ball bearing in the gear box failed, causing Jones to slip into neutral. As the STP‘s chagrined crew pushed the car into the garage, Foyt cruised to victory. Foyt is one of just three men to win the race four times.
1977: Janet Guthrie Shows Women Can Be Fast Too
Aerospace engineer Janet Guthrie broke the gender barrier, becoming the first woman to qualify for the race. She finished just 29th out of 33 cars when her timing gear failed on just Lap 27 but secured a place in history nevertheless. The next year she would place in the top 10, establishing her, and her helmet and race suit are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s collection.
She discussed the prevailing attitudes of the time in her memoir Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle:
Just a few years earlier, women had not even been allowed in the press box at Indianapolis, much less the garage area or the pits. A woman might be a reporter, a photographer, a timer/scorer, she might own the race car–but she couldn’t get near it at any time for any reason. A woman on the track itself was unthinkable.
1981: Who Really Won the Most Controversial Race Yet?
Bobby Unser was reinstated as the race winner after contentious hearings that lasted for months. Unser took the checkered flag, but it was later decided that he had illegally passed cars while the yellow flag was waving, penalizing him and leaving Mario Andretti the winner. Race fans were aghast, as was Sports Illustrated:
Even assuming Unser had violated the rules, the appropriate punishment would have been a one-lap penalty imposed during the race. By waiting until afterward, USAC deprived Unser of the opportunity to try to make up that lap…It was as though the officiating crew for the Super Bowl had decided to determine the game’s outcome by waiting until after the final gun to view films of a disputed touchdown.
Making matters worse, as several racers testified, what Unser did was common practice at the time.
“When ABC sent us the tapes we saw Mario did exactly the same thing I did,” Unser said years later. “Same lap, same turn, same place. Same everything.”
The ugly piece of politics, played up by ABC television, which recorded its commentary after the race had already finished, lent more than a bit of theater to the proceedings and led a disillusioned Unser to retire from the sport.
1982: Mears Falls Short in Photo Finish
Rick Mears was 0.16 seconds away from standing alone as the greatest driver in Indy 500 history. That was Gordon Johncock‘s margin of victory in a photo finish, preventing Mears from becoming the only man to win the race five times.
It was a bittersweet win for Johncock, whose mother Frances passed away the next day. He had flown home to Michigan immediately after the race and was able to spend time at her bedside before returning to Indianapolis for a victory banquet where he learned of her passing.
Photo by Ron McQueeney (via Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
1987: Old Man Unser Does It Again
Al Unser Sr. wasn‘t supposed to win the Indy 500 in 1987. He wasn‘t even supposed to be there. Five days before his 48th birthday he had no car and no hope. But, according to Sports Illustrated, he showed up anyway, hoping for a chance:
Even though Unser had raced successfully for Roger Penske the last four years, he had not so much as sat in an Indy Car this season. Penske dropped the 47-year-old champion in favor of two younger former winners, Danny Sullivan and Rick Mears. Unser was still out in the cold when Penske cut a deal with Ted Field, of the Marshall Field department store family, that made Field’s protege, Danny Ongais, his third driver.
When Ongais wrecked his car in practice and doctors demanded he sit the race out, Unser got his chance—and made the most of it. He became the oldest winner in the race’s history, taking home the Borg-Warner Trophy for the fourth time, tying A.J. Foyt‘s record and establishing himself as an all-time racing great.
1992: The Closest Race in Indy History
Al Unser Jr. became the first second-generation driver to win the Indy 500, holding off Scott Goodyear by just 0.043 seconds in the closest race in Indy history. Viewers at home initially missed the finish when ABC cut to a camera obscured by a track official. But an overhead shot soon showed just how close the finish was.
“I was trying to make that race car as wide as I could make it,” Unser said of his attempts to block Goodyear, who wasn‘t upset by the maneuvering.
“I call it ‘using the race track,’ ” Goodyear said. “And I’d be doing the same thing if I was Little Al.”
1999: Stewart Does the Double
Vincent Laforet/Getty Images
By the end of the day, Tony Stewart had driven 1,090 miles in pursuit of racing glory—and raced his way right into fans’ hearts. He fell short in both the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Coca Cola 600 later that same evening, finishing ninth and fourth, respectively. But it was the effort and gumption to even try running both races in a single day that made Stewart a star.
“I want to win the Indianapolis 500 more than any other race there is,” Stewart told the press. “If I could guarantee one race where I would win, it would be the Indy 500. I want a win in that really bad.”
It’s a dream, as yet, unfulfilled.
2000: Pablo Montoya and the Scourge of Politics
Racing politics dominated the headlines as CART racing champion Juan Pablo Montoya came to Indy for the first time to challenge rivals at the Indy Racing League. Montoya was a natural villain to fans used to more “down home” racing stars. He fueled the flames of the rivalry when he participated in a CART race just the day before the event and slapped a John Deere sticker on his supercharged car.
And then he went out and cruised to victory, leading 167 of 200 laps. He dug the knife in deeper when he proclaimed the Indy 500 was “just a race,” although he later admitted to The New York Times ”I feel…happier than I was an hour ago.”
Danica in 2005
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
2005: Danica Arrives on the Indy Scene
Rookie Danica Patrick became the first female driver to lead a lap during the race, eventually finishing fourth. More than a competent racer, Patrick was a media sensation. ABC’s Jack Arute told USA Today she was the network’s best hope to stop a persistent ratings slide, calling Patrick the “one person, one story, that’ll catapult you exponentially into the consciousness of the American sporting public.”
Arute was right. Powered by Patrick, ratings were back up to 1996 levels. Dan Wheldon, the race winner, was nearly a forgotten man as Patrick mania was at its height. He credited his pit crew with the win in Popular Science:
With 30 laps to go, I’m sitting in the lead, with Danica pushing me pretty hard. We kind of went back and forth, but it was one of those races where my car was not bad to start with, but it wasn’t great. The changes we made not only made the car quicker and better and more comfortable through traffic, but when I got into the lead I was also able to stay in the lead.
2011: Hildebrand and the Most Shocking Loss Ever
Wheldon again went head-to-head with a rookie, but had appeared to fall short. J.R. Hildebrand had a commanding lead as he approached Turn 4 but lost control of his car, crashing into the wall rather than cruising to victory. Wheldon, who had finished second the two previous years, almost seemed to feel bad about winning the race that way, telling the Associated Press, via ESPN:
“It’s obviously unfortunate, but that’s Indianapolis. That’s why it’s the greatest spectacle in racing. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Just four months later Wheldon was killed in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He was 33 years old.
2013: Can Franchitti Join the Triumvirate?
Three-time winner Dario Franchitti will try to match A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears by becoming just the fourth man to win the race four times. It won’t be easy as Helio Castroneves and A.J. Allmendinger are expected to mount fierce competition.
The race airs live at 12 p.m. ET on ABC.
DURHAM — It was going to be the biggest game of the ACC tournament anyway, by far the most anticipated, arguably more than even the championship game. The stakes Saturday night are even higher now, after N.C. State’s win over Miami on Friday.
North Carolina and N.C. State will renew a rivalry that finished in a three-way split between the sixth-ranked Tar Heels, ninth-ranked Wolfpack and rain during the regular season. This time, the winner will not only claim Triangle bragging rights but advance to the ACC championship game Sunday.
“We definitely wanted another crack at them in that third game, because we think we can hang with them,” N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner said. “Obviously, they’re a very good team and they’ve proven that all year. It’s going to be tough, even with Carlos (Rodon) on the bump. It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be exciting to see that matchup.”
Thanks to the ACC’s somewhat odd set of tournament tiebreakers, N.C. State’s 7-1 win over Miami early Friday made North Carolina’s game against Clemson late Friday night inconsequential. It was a small price to pay for pumping a little more excitement into Saturday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Wolfpack saved ace starter Rodon for just this eventuality, getting four serviceable innings from spot starter Logan Jernigan on Friday against the Hurricanes, pitching his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the third as Miami could muster only one run. The Wolfpack’s potent bullpen took over from there, with three relievers combining to allow one hit.
Rodon (8-2, 3.86) will face Hobbs Johnson (4-0, 2.18) in a battle of powerful teams with contrasting styles: the speed of N.C. State as epitomized by Turner and the power of North Carolina as epitomized by third baseman Colin Moran.
“North Carolina and N.C. State, those are two top-10 teams,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “Great pitching. Great programs.”
Morris should know. His team was outscored a combined 17-1 by the two in-state teams Thursday and Friday.
(Watching Miami struggle to a sub-.500 ACC record in baseball is a reminder that conference expansion, however well intended, can have unexpected results — on what planet would the Hurricanes win an ACC basketball championship while falling behind in football and baseball? The ACC would be wise not to count its basketball chickens quite yet in this latest round of expansion.)
In the two games in Raleigh at the end of April, North Carolina won the opener 7-1 behind Tar Heels ace Kent Emanuel and N.C. State responded with a 7-3 win in the second game with Rodon on the mound. The third was rained out, leaving unfinished business for Saturday. For the Wolfpack, it isn’t just about this year. It’s about last year as well. N.C. State played North Carolina in Greensboro in 2012 with a shot at the title game on the line for the Wolfpack. Rodon threw nine shutout innings but the Tar Heels won in the 12th to play spoiler, sending Miami to the championship instead of the Wolfpack.
“We fell a little short and we still have that on our minds this year,” Turner said.
That game drew a record-setting crowd of 10,229, predominantly N.C. State fans. Who knows how many will show up on Saturday, with the same prize on the line for both teams this time around?
The official capacity of the DBAP is 10,000, but the Bulls’ single-game record is 11,060. Friday afternoon, the ACC was already selling standing-room-only tickets for Saturday night. It may not be the ACC championship game, but it’s certainly going to look and feel like it.
DeCock: firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947
Here are five college sports stories people are talking about on May 24
1. 100 days until kickoff
The big news in Buffs land today is the verbal commitment of offensive lineman Isaac Miller. Buffzone’s Brian Howell takes a look at the 3-star recruit from Longmont’s Silver Creek High School. Hopefully it’s the first of many in-state recruits staying home.
The Raptors’ big man was a member of BoCoPreps.com’s all-region team in 2012 and his blurb in the story reads: “Not too many opponents could match up size-wise with the 6-foot-7 Miller, who helped provide ample time for (Ben) Sjobakken in the pocket.”
Glancing at the calendar, we’re only 100 days away from the Rocky Mountain Showdown when the Buffs look to avenge their 2012 loss to the Rams. Second-year Colorado State coach Jim McElwain’s team returns 15 starters from last year’s 22-17 victory. The former Alabama offensive coordinator talks about starting the season with a rivalry game and the Tide’s influence on CSU’s program in this video.
2. Notre Dame’s Weis buyout could reach $19 million
It’s good to be Charlie Weis, at least from a financial standpoint. The former Notre Dame football coach and head man at Kansas could receive up to $19 million from the Irish as they excruciatingly pay for his buyout. Buyouts are something Buffs fans are all too familiar with and an inevitable part of early coaching changes.
After digging through federal tax documents, the Chicago Tribune reports the athletic department in South Bend, Ind., is writing out huge checks for past failures. Weis went 35-27 in five seasons with the Irish and was 1-11 at Kansas last year. His bank account, though, is doing quite well.
3. All aboard the Buckeyes bandwagon
Sticking with college football, CBS Sports’ Jeremy Fowler has a question and answer with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Expectations are high in Columbus following last season’s 12-0 run. The Buckeyes return Heisman hopeful quarterback Braxton Miller and will be bowl eligible after a one-year, self-imposed ban. Meyer shines light on his tenure at Florida and proposes changes to recruiting rules. Ohio State might be our only hope of ending the the SEC’s college football reign.
4. Missy Franklin’s new rival
Yahoo’s Prep Rally blog focuses on Aurora’s own Missy Franklin and the swimmer who might be her biggest rival when she hits the collegiate pool as a member of the California Golden Bears. The 5-foot-3 Celina Li, of Pleasanton (Calif.) Foothill High, recently beat the 6-foot-4 Franklin in the 200-meter individual medley at the ATT Winter National Championships in Austin, Texas.
Both swimmers will be call Berkeley home this fall and the Bears are favorites to unseat Georgia as the NCAA women’s swimming and diving champs. Cal was second in 2013 after taking the title in 2011 and 2012.
5. Green Bay men’s hoops sticks with Wardle
Green Bay men’s basketball coach Brian Wardle was accused earlier this month of mistreating players (making one player run while ill) and verbally abusing them. The university announced that following an internal investigation, Wardle will keep his job. Wardle’s story is part of an unfortunate trend in college athletics that began when former Rutgers coach Mike Rice was fired in April for similar allegations. Rice is currently receiving counseling for anger management.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that the school would like to add a few marquee non-conference contests to future football schedules. Included in the list of desired opponents are Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech, via fbschedules.com:
“I would love to get Pitt back on the schedule, I would love to get (Virginia) Tech back on the schedule, I would to get UVa back on the schedule, another school that we used to play a lot, and even Penn State,” Luck said. “Is that possible? Well, it takes two to tango, but I think the good news is we will see some stronger non-conference schedules as we go forward.”
Each of those schools has a history with the Mountaineers. West Virginia and Pittsburgh played 104 times between 1895 and 2011 in the Backyard Brawl, one of the best rivalries in college football. But like so many other great things, the dreaded scourge of conference realignment killed it when the ‘Eers moved from the Big East to the Big 12.
Though not nearly as big of a rivalry as the Backyard Brawl, West Virginia and Virginia Tech met 51 times between 1912 and 2005, including every year since 1973. In 1997, the schools began playing for the Black Diamond Trophy, which apparently symbolized Appalachia’s coal heritage. The Mountaineers and Hokies haven’t played since Virginia Tech left the Big East for the ACC.
Another historical rival, Penn State, played West Virginia in each season from 1947 to 1992 and a total of 59 times. The series ended when the Nittany Lions gave up their independent status for Big Ten membership, and the Mountaineers probably would like another shot at the blue and white. Between ’56 and ’92, West Virginia defeated Penn State just twice.
While Virginia doesn’t have as much familiarity with the Mountaineers, the schools have played 23 times.
More from SB Nation:
On the streets of San Francisco’s Bay Area where he grew up, they still call him the “Blockmonstah”. His mother is one of 33 siblings (no, it’s not a typo), half-brothers and step-relations included. His younger brother is among college gridiron’s more formidable prospects and one of his many uncles is none other than the former Wallaby colossus Willie Ofahengaue. Welcome to the unique, slightly unnerving world of Samu Manoa, the big man from an even bigger family aiming to outmuscle Leicester in Saturday’s Premiership grand final.
It may even be that Twickenham, for all its familiarity with imported hard men, has never hosted anyone quite like Northampton‘s unsung American idol. The Saints have had some bruisers down the years – Pat Lam, Buck Shelford, Corne Krige, Courtney Lawes – but no one to match the gravel-voiced Manoa for quiet intent.
“Hitting people is what I like,” he drawls, gently massaging his knuckles. “I don’t really mean to hurt them but whoever is in front of me I’m going to give you what I’ve got. I’m not scared of any player. Even if you’re bigger than me I’m still going to put a shoulder in. If I get bumped, I get bumped, but even if I go back, you aren’t going to run by me.”
This, self-evidently, is a pumped-up 6ft 6in, 19st warrior to keep on your side if at all possible. In the semi-final against Saracens the entire Saints team responded splendidly to the occasion but Manoa played out of his multitattooed skin. Barely two years ago he was still playing amateur rugby for San Francisco Golden Gate, laying concrete and working as an electrician to earn a buck.
You would never guess it now. As Dorian West watched his man pluck balls out of the sky and rampage around in training on Wednesday, the Saints’ forwards coach shook his head yet again. “We were amazed he wasn’t nominated for the Premiership player of the year award. He’s been unbelievable for us and he’s only going to get better.”
The United States, admittedly, is not about to grind to a halt to watch a game of Premiership rugby, even a final as potentially seismic as this one, but the “Blockmonstah” could be the global ambassador it has been looking for, a trail-blazer for a generation of athletic American dreamers whose lucrative gridiron careers never quite took off.
“There are a lot of good rugby players out there in the States,” says Manoa, who is scheduled to join his compatriot Takudzwa Ngwenya in the Barbarians squad to face the Lions in Hong Kong next Saturday. “It’s just that nobody knows about ‘em yet.”
Which was pretty much his own low-profile story until recently. He might still be back in Concord, just east of San Francisco, playing part time had the former Leicester and England full-back Dusty Hare not seen him representing the US Eagles against Saracens at the Honourable Artillery Company ground in London. A polite enquiry was made on a Tuesday and a curious Manoa found himself on a plane to England two days later.
“It was the first time I had seen a professional club in a stadium. I watched them play Gloucester and I just liked it. I came back and my agent said: ‘What do you think, do you want to sign?’” His reply – “Where’s the paper? Let’s do it.” – was instantaneous. “I had no idea what it would be like. It was basically a big adventure. I told my lady: ‘You down to go with me to England?’ I didn’t know how it was going to pan out but it is going good right now.”
It has not been glamour all the way; Northampton lacks for Golden Gate bridges and California-style sunshine is – how to put this – somewhat rationed. When he came home after his first season, some five or six kilograms leaner than when he left, his mother Patricia thought someone had also been starving her boy. “I thought I looked pretty good but she said: ‘You look skinny. Are they even feeding you out there? What’s the coach’s number? Give me the coach’s number and I’m going to call him!’”
West would not have stood a chance. “My mum’s one of 33 and my dad’s one of nine. My mum hasn’t even met half of her brothers and sisters. Her younger sister is younger than me. It’s crazy.”
The family extends to Hawaii as well as Tonga, where his grandfather, a former Tonga captain, went to extreme lengths to persuade him his rugby future lay in the South Pacific. “My grandpa tried to make me stay and make me miss my plane. He wanted me to play for Tonga. I remember saying: ‘Am I going to earn anything?’ and him replying: ‘No, you just play for the love of the country.’ I was like: ‘Man, I’m not going to get nothing out of this. Sorry, I’ve got to go.’”
The upshot was a debut for the US Eagles against Georgia in 2010, with his second cap due when Ireland play a Test in Houston on 8 June.
There will be considerable pride back in the Bay Area, home to a sizeable Polynesian population with its share of tensions and gang rivalry. For a time Manoa mixed with a dangerous crowd. “I was young and dumb. It was just neighbourhood stuff. Basically the whole area was like that … there are still youngsters there trying to act the fool. It wasn’t Samoans against Tongans, it was more a case of representing your city or your street. People better respect it. If nobody respect it…”
This summer, in an initiative with obvious potential, he plans a summer rugby camp for American youths seeking a physical outlet. “I’m trying to get all the youngsters back home to play rugby and let them know there’s stuff you can do with rugby. You can get scholarships now and they don’t even know that.”
How Northampton would love to get their hands on his 6ft 8in “little” brother Luke, currently being converted into a top-class tight-end by excited gridiron coaches at Stamford University. “All my younger brothers are taller than me,” sighs Manoa, his face momentarily falling.
“My rugby coach used to say: ‘Get your brothers over here’ but my Mum said: ‘No, the rugby ends with you!’” Is American football very different? “The sports are almost the same without the pads. You just have to carry 15lb when you are running.”
There may yet be one more chip off the same granite block; Manoa’s son, Kevaughn, has just turned five but already has the right idea. “My boy is a hard head. He’s punching everything so he’s either going to be a boxer or rugby player.” In the meantime, Leicester’s worst nightmare is to be beaten at their own forward-orientated game by a player who cannot wait to get stuck in. “I used to watch games on TV at Twickenham and think: ‘Damn, that’s got to be one good place to be at.’” If the Tigers want to win, they will have to do it tough.
Before it became his signature moment to date, Novak Djokovic was motivated by a slight.
He had just made the greatest shot of his career, maybe of any career: Down two match points to Roger Federer in the 2011 U.S. Open semifinals, he made the wicked, desperate cross-court forehand return that saved, for the moment, the greatest season of the Open era. The shot was terrific, but the match was still over, certainly, with Federer holding another match point.
As a final acknowledgment, Djokovic turned to the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, hugely partisan toward the great Federer, waving both hands high, as if to say You want more, don’t you? And everyone did. But Djokovic was also saying You should want more of me, too. Look at what I’m doing. I’m having the greatest season in history and NO ONE here is on my side?
We all know what happened next. Djokovic broke Federer’s spirit in that moment, right there. Federer was up 5-3, 40-15 in the fifth set, another potential final matchup with Rafael Nadal waiting. Federer never won another game. After that game, he never even reached another match point. Djokovic won the next four games, then steamrolled Nadal in four anticlimactic sets the following day for his third major of the year. The legend of the iron-willed Djokovic as the toughest out in sports was written that weekend, and it continues to this day.
The original slight, the abundance of respect for Djokovic but a curious absence of universal love from the tennis world, has never quite been massaged, has never quite healed. At some point, it was inevitable that despite his six majors, dominance over the rankings and recent destruction of Nadal in the Monte Carlo final (a place where Nadal had won eight straight titles), the wound would be reopened.
It happened in Madrid, where Djokovic was being stunned by Grigor Dimitrov, the young Bulgarian who seems to have patterned his every step on a tennis court after Federer. Dimitrov pulled off the three-set upset. But it wasn’t the loss that seemed to annoy Djokovic nearly as much as it was the crowd, who seemed to be pulling for the upset over the game’s best, suggesting once more that he hasn’t completely bridged the affection gap he confronted after saving that first match point against Federer 20 months ago in New York.[+] Enlarge
After Djokovic won the second set tiebreak, he went to his chair, incited the crowd with some hand-waving, and then shouted to them in Serbian. Numerous blogs and media outlets reported Djokovic’s words as obscenities.
Tension had built, crystallized by the fact that Djokovic is rarely, if ever, the crowd favorite, and having the crowd pull for Dimitrov seemed too much. The fans at La Caja Magica reacted negatively to Djokovic taking a medical timeout in the second set, commencing a series of whistles and boos and, to Djokovic’s great annoyance, lustful cheers after each of his miscues.
For the tennis crowd that loves rivalry, the 21-year-old Dimitrov blew up the bracket, his win denying a delicious Nadal-Djokovic rematch from Monte Carlo, but the crowd didn’t care. Just like in New York, the issue wasn’t underdog versus favorite, but anyone versus Djokovic. For all his fun and playfulness and talent and erudition, it seems that upstart or favorite, Djokovic is the villain.
Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player going right now — winner of five of the past nine majors, three straight Australian Opens, finalist in eight of the past 10 majors. He is the No. 1 player in the world. He plays with a ferocious indomitability on the court and owns a definitive, likable charisma off it. He is approachable and funny, evidenced by his comedy at Kids Day at the U.S. Open last year and his impersonations. But the roaring love of the tennis world is largely reserved for the two men who have carried the sport the past decade and into history: Federer and Nadal.
Of course, the two own the tennis imagination for good reason. Federer is the greatest player the game has seen, and Nadal is his greatest rival, overshadowed by Federer only in titles but not head-to-head. Together, they have accomplished more than any pair of men. Only Evert-Navratilova compares.
The Federer-Nadal camps are rabid, both entrenched, both passionate, both seeing Djokovic for part of what he is: the scary gate-crasher of one of the greatest rivalries in the history of all sports, the guy who keeps the major count down because he can beat them both. Federer-Nadal is as good as Ali-Frazier, Red Sox-Yankees, Cowboys-49ers. It is the matchup that makes fans watch the tournament draw, figure out the possibilities for the fourth round and the quarters and the semis, hoping for the dream final. It is the equivalent of the football schedule being released in the spring and circling a game that is nine months away.
Federer and Nadal will be, for many parents, the entry point or continuation of their love of the sport, the way the old guard talks about Mantle and Mays, Williams and DiMaggio.
None of which has much to do with Djokovic personally, but the individual nature of tennis creates, fairly or unfairly, a hero-villain dynamic. There are contemporary players, like Andy Murray or Tomas Berdych, who lack the leading man public persona and on-court game, and others, like Andy Roddick, who carry a certain brusqueness that marketers are paid to transform into charm, but Djokovic possesses a genuine winner’s flair.
Earlier in his career, Djokovic was temperamental; his on-court rage at his play and erratic serve did not play well against the regal and elegant Federer or swashbuckling charisma of Nadal. During his 2011 season, however, Djokovic seemed to carve out a space for himself both with his relentless, unbreakable play and the recognition that it would be he and Nadal fighting for supremacy of the sport. He carried himself like a champion. He put his personality, his intelligence and multilingualism on display. His commercials are funny.
But in the space of the public imagination, nothing much can replace the hold Federer and Nadal have on this generation of tennis.
Djokovic is in many ways Ivan Lendl, the great talent who upended Jimmy Connors-John McEnroe and McEnroe-Bjorn Borg, the player who played his way into the starlight. Lendl was respected, never loved. Lendl took over for Connors against McEnroe the way Djokovic has for Federer in many ways. A Djokovic-Nadal final is box-office, top-shelf athletic entertainment.
Unlike Lendl, Djokovic does not come off to the public as cold and distant. He is Eastern European, but the Serb luckily is not saddled with the Cold War and its nationalistic trappings. Nor does he possess something gauche or unprofessional as there seems to be on the women’s side with Victoria Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open champ who hasn’t quite been forgiven for her various odd fits of gamesmanship on the court.
At least only for now, Djokovic remains something of the outsider, despite his gifts. Djokovic is a worthy and great champion, and has a rabid fan base. He plays with a furious and admirable desire to succeed, to belong — no different than that of Federer and Nadal. He is, however, simply unlucky to follow the star show of two icons. Perhaps it is a slight that fuels him even as it wounds him, and over time, if he continues to dominate the game, the crowd tenor toward him will change. Nostalgia will take over and he will gain from its sentimentality in a way Lendl never did. Lendl on some occasions would mention to audiences that just once it would be nice if the crowd wanted him to win.
It should also be remembered that for much of the first two decades as a pro, Connors was never showered with universal affection, not until his surprise 1991 U.S. Open run that changed how the public would view him. In the meantime, as he dominates but can’t seem to win more than half of the crowd, Djokovic is faced with an interesting adventure in self-discipline: absorb the disappointment that winning the crowd is out of his control, or continue to lose his cool and embody the villain label he seems desperate to avoid.
Howard Bryant | email
Madison sports fans looking to discover a sport on the rise are fortunate to have the USA Ultimate College Championsips (PDF) at Reddan Park in Verona this weekend. Forty teams total — 20 women’s and 20 open — are competing for national titles beginning with pool play on Friday and Saturday with elimination rounds beginning Saturday evening. Quarter-finals are Sunday morning with semi-finals in the afternoon at Mansfield Stadium on the Madison Memorial High School campus.
Both UW-Madison squads are in the field, with the three-time national champion Hodags seeded second in the open tournament and perennially contending Bella Donna seeded eighth among the women’s teams. The men wear baby blue uniforms most often, occasionally switching to black jerseys. The women alternate between red and black.
USA Ultimate is still a developing organization and it’s not particularly easy to navigate its website. Fans will want to pay attention to the Score Reporter pages, which have schedules and scores. The open scoreboard is here, women’s here.
The Hodags get going early on Friday, playing Cornell at 8:30 and arch nemesis Carleton College at 12:30. Pool play continues on Saturday with games against Harvard (10:30) and Florida State (2:30). The Hodags’ rivalry with Carleton, better known as CUT, is long and heated with Wisconsin taking the most recent game on May 5 for the North Central Region title.
Bella Donna starts off with a big test at 10:30 a.m. Friday against top-seeded Oregon. They play Minnesota at 2:30 p.m., Northeastern at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Stanford at noon Saturday.
Article source: http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=40013
In case anyone missed the week’s really big news, it looks like HOUSTON MAY BE HEADING BACK TO THE WESTERN CONFERENCE! Yes, struck by the debilitating dynastic prospect of more Dynamo vs Galaxy finals, MLS has acted resolutely by accepting $100 million of outside investment to start a new New York team and presumably shunt Houston back to the West in 2015. It’s a bold move, that everybody nobody saw coming, but arguably no more leftfield a move than bringing the Yankees in as partners…
The existing New York/New Jersey team, the Red Bulls, greeted the news from the top of the Supporters Shield standings, with the chance to emulate an unbeaten streak they last achieved some ten years ago (when Kevin Keegan was Manchester City manager). The Red Bulls face Columbus this weekend at the start of a three game home stand on the field and a possible 18 month one off it.
Meanwhile, as the rest of the league feasts themselves on the Red Bulls discarded games in hand, Montreal edge back into action, having apparently been determined not to run out of games as they did on last year’s run-in. The Garbo-esque Impact make a rare public appearance against a Philadelphia side who are beginning to show more than just McInerney’s goals.
Houston won’t be in the West just yet, but it’ll be a shame to miss their regular ongoing tussles with Sporting KC if and when they do go. After Sporting ended their record-breaking unbeaten home run a couple of weeks ago, the Dynamo will be out for revenge, though Kei Kamara will be looking for a definitive performance to show he’s back home. That’s this week’s NBCSN game on Sunday afternoon.
New England added insult to injury for the Dynamo when they added a second straight home defeat for them last week, and now they go home themselves to welcome Toronto, who might need a quick reminder of the long term nature of the revival project they’re working on, as the immediate pressures of poor league form pile up. Also feeling the pressure, the redoubtable Chelis at Chivas, who are slumping alarmingly after their bright start, and who face a tough trip to the quietly achieving Colorado side, who are finally getting their first choice players back, but who’ve done just fine with their so-called second stringers.
Colorado can’t rest up in that last play-off spot though, as a surging Seattle team are just behind them and going to LA looking to extract some revenge for last year’s semi-final elimination and prove that they are indeed, back. Seattle come into the game with the confidence of having beaten erstwhile frontrunners Dallas last week. Dallas are back home, yet again, to face San Jose. The Earthquakes are still scoring late goals, but they’re tending to get them single points rather than three points in recent games. They have one win in nine games.
Chicago meanwhile, have two wins in ten games, and the second worst goal difference in the league. They’ve just lost successive games to the Union and seem to think they might have the blueprint. That may explain why they’re rumored to be moving to bring Bakary Soumare back to where he started, and may further explain his “shop window displays” in those two recent games. The Fire go to RSL this weekend, who are back home themselves for the next four games — they’re tucked in nicely in second spot in the West and will hope to put a little bit of pressure in Dallas with that run.
Our regular cast of team reps join us this week, to begin ratcheting up the hype about what Dom Kinnear might wear for his first game back in the West, and also mention in passing the main stories for their teams heading into the games this weekend. See what they have to say below and add your own take on the weekend’s action, then join us on Monday to see if we’re any the wiser.
All kick off times are listed as ET
Sat 7:00PM, RFK Stadium (Univision Dep.)
Kim Kolb, Screaming Eagles:
When does a draw seem like a victory? When you’ve dropped seven in a row, that’s when. United built a little on it’s 1-2 loss to Dallas with some tweaks to the lineup such as Nick DeLeon in central midfield, and rookie Taylor Kemp made his debut. While not all is well, at least there are moments where things tend to work, and the return of Chris Pontius surely helped. With the team down 0-1, Pontius whipped in a cross that Kyle Porter got to on the far post. Putting a cross to the far post AND having a player making that run, let alone connecting on it was something that DC United hasn’t done since the days of Tony Sanneh. United is still bringing in a stable of trialists, this week there are three such players in town, including the grandson of Johan Cruyff. From where United was, there are no quick fixes, but the right attitude and some smart roster pickups/adjustments could salvage the MLS campaign.
Michael Pearson, Timbers Army, Portland:
After a improbable 2-2 draw in Vancouver that saw Futty Danso cruelly sent off late in the match, right before a glorious (if slightly illegal but very deserved) goal out of nowhere by Jose Valencia , kept the 10 game unbeaten streak alive for Portland. The Timbers didn’t play their best match, and some players appeared to already look a little winded playing Portland’s high intensity soccer, but the draw away from home kept the team on the roll, both in standings and in the Cascadia Cup competition.
Up next, Timbers face winless-in-9 DC United, who came away with a solid result against Sporting KC to end a 7 game losing streak. Timbers will feature yet another CB combination, as injuries to Silvestre and Horst, as well as the suspension to Futty, will force the debut of Pa Kah, Rauwshan McKenzie (recently signed but has trained several weeks with the team) or rookie Dylan Tucker-Gagnes. Regardless of what happens at the back, look for the midfield and attack, which has remained mostly unchanged, to continue the high possession, high pressure style that is continuing to earn the team points home and on the road. With DC’s spotty defense as of late, I suspect we will see another chance for the Timbers to earn points on the road.
Sat 7:00PM, Stade Saputo
Sofiane Benzaza, Mount Royal Soccer, Montreal:
After a few weeks of talking injuries, recovering from injuries would describe the Montreal Impact’s past week or so. Enjoying a bye week in Major League Soccer, the Impact almost lost two core players as both Jeb Brovsky and Felipe Martins felt their share of pain. We were told during the post-game press conference against the Vancouver Whitecaps that the Brazilian had passed kidney stones and was hospitalized for a couple of days. Jeb Brovsky’s case was even more dramatic — the right back broke his nose in 6 places when going for a ball in the air against the Whitecaps. The scary pictures of his bloody face were only matched by his bravery in coming back for the last minutes of the game.
Recovering from a grueling month of May, Les Bleus continue to be in the top five teams of the Eastern Conference with a few games in hand. Putting points in the bank early in the month of March is paying dividends. Will the Montreal Impact come out unscathed out of the MLS Spring into the Hot MLS Summer? The answer starts this weekend against the Philadelphia Union. The Union has not beaten any team ranked higher in the MLS standings but have never really laid down against the Montreal Impact in 2012.
Let’s just say that Marco Di Vaio still remembers Zac MacMath and his excellent saves. The Italian striker would not mind taking that monkey off his back and in the same time take the MLS goalscoring lead, held by Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney.
Dan Walsh, Philly Soccer Page, Philadelphia:
Until last Wednesday, it was beginning to look as though designated player Jose Kleberson joined Philadelphia Union solely because his loan deal expires in December, whereas the highly paid player he was exchanged for, Freddy Adu, was under contract for two more years. Forget that notion. Kleberson can clearly still play. He looks like the CAM the Union have lacked since the team began play in 2010.
The difference between Kleberson and Keon Daniel at center attacking midfield is like night and day. The Union’s midfield has finally shown fluidity, both in last Wednesday’s loss to Los Angeles and Saturday’s win over Chicago. No, it’s not perfect yet. (Danny Cruz still has almost no part in the short passing game, and there’s no guarantee Michael Farfan won’t be returned to the left flank, where he’s less effective than on his favored right side.) But it looks on its way. That could change the Union from a counterattacking mid-table team that regularly parks the bus to steal points to a good team that plays entertaining, attacking soccer. Defensive midfielder Brian Carroll looks like a different player when paired with Kleberson. With the Brazilian playing a more advanced playmaking role, Carroll has been freed up to focus on what he does best: shielding the back line. Not only does Carroll look better defensively, but so does the back line. Kleberson still looks only fit for 60-minute stretches. We’ll see what a week off does for him before Saturday’s game in Montreal.
Sat 7:30PM, Gillette Stadium
Julie Kumor, Midnight Riders:
Brian Ching is probably the only player on the field Saturday that remembers the Houston-Revolution rivalry of five years ago, one that existed despite the MLS office’s best effort to manufacture them. So five years ago going to Houston and getting a win and increasing their losing streak at home WOULD have been the headline. The Revs winning at all and finally looking like a team with potential SHOULD have been the headlines. Instead it was Ching’s post-game comments. He called out the Revs for “theatrics” and “time-wasting.” Well Brian Ching – it takes one to know one.
Brian Ching, you didn’t win this game against the Revs on Saturday. The Revs were the better team. I mean if you want your team to win, you should educate them about putting the ball into the back of their own net. I can criticize the Revs for their time wasting, you can’t. You came off like a sore loser, an attitude I am pretty sure Dominic Kinnear fosters. A couple years ago, Kinnear and I got into a sideline exchange at Gillette — while trailing the Revs that day he said “You can come down to Houston sometime I will show you my two rings.” So Brian Ching, I have a deal for you – I will give you the win you think you deserved on Saturday in exchange for either the 2006 or 2007 MLS Cup.
Sonja Missio, 90 Minutes of Hopp:
Someone just needs to come out and say it: whatever Toronto FC is doing (or trying to do) is just not working. Not in regard to the lack of wins, but in regard to the overall structure of the club. For a team that started off with such gusto, TFC has become a bore. Fans are no longer excited for new signings; it has just become a nuisance to remember another name of an over-30-loanee. Fans are becoming increasing agitated with the same style of play: long balls down the pitch and constant/needless back passing to the keeper (I’d wager that Joe Bendik is leading for most ball possession). And fans are realizing how hard it is to rally around a team that refuses to recognize its own faults. It’s one thing to lose games because that’s the nature of the sport, it’s another to lose because that’s the nature of the culture. And that culture is Toronto’s trap; the club relies on the same type of signings, the same type of style of play, and people wonder why they come up with same constant excuses. When Toronto take on New England on Saturday, what are the chances that TFC fans will think—even just for a fleeting second—”I miss the exciting old day when Chad Barrett played for us.”
Toronto needs a new plan, to think and act outside the team’s comfort zone, because the only thing worse than an angry fan, is a bored fan.
Sat 8:30PM, FC Dallas Stadium
Gina Zippilli, The Inferno, Dallas:
The main discussion this week was around the red card to Blas Perez in the last game against the Sounders. I can see why it was given, but I don’t think it was a red. And yes that’s partly my bias speaking, but also I don’t know what else he was supposed to do in going for a ball in the air but use his arms. The referee was standing right there and waved play on and it was only when Baldomero Toledo on the sidelines called it back and they saw the blood on the defender’s face that it was given. One it happened I didn’t expect it to be overturned, and it wasn’t so we’ll be without one of our best players, and a red card magnet, again next week.
The Seattle game was frustrating in that we struggled at first, got momentum and then in the very next play after a beautiful goal by Michel to tie it up we fell behind again. I think London Woodberry has a bright future and he’s a good kid, but he’s not ready to lead a defense, so the prospect of him up against the likes of Lenhart at the weekend scares me. We need George John back, but he’s just made of glass in some ways — injuries that other players recover from in two weeks take him six, and Schellas Hyndman tends to err on the side of caution when bringing him back, so we could have a second choice center back pairing again for a tough physical game. I’d accept a 1-1 draw for this one. It’s been a good run so far, but it’s clear that if we’re going to do anything in the playoffs it’ll only be with everyone fit.
Lisa Erickson, Center Line Soccer, San Jose:
The San Jose Earthquakes beat the Rapids 3-0!! Finally a great result and a clean sheet for the boys in Black and Blue; but alas the match was Sunday morning and in the MLS Reserve League. The night prior the Quakes got another draw and just another point at home against the Rapids. But looking to the new day, San Jose fans are hoping that the tide is turning and perhaps the Reserve League result will leak over into the regular season matches for the Goonies. San Jose are now playing at full strength after having lived through a batch of injuries and suspensions; now all are ready for some first team cohesiveness to start bringing the results.
Maybe singing “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again…” as they travel across the country in matches for MLS, as well as the US Open Cup will build that cohesiveness. First up, is a stop in Frisco, Texas to take on Western Conference leaders FC Dallas. Then they will go to Charleston, South Carolina for a quick Cup match before flying over to Rio Tinto in Salt Lake City. A bye week for some FIFA dates to recover before going a “Mile High” to challenge Colorado again in Commerce City. They’ll leave the Rockie Mountains for the nation’s capitol to fight the league’s worst team DC United. If the Quakes can bring home 9 points, their hopes for climbing back into the playoff picture will be a welcome relief to all.
Sat 9:00PM, Rio Tinto Stadium
Matt Montgomery, Under the Crossbar, Real Salt Lake:
Having played less than 40 percent of their matches at home, Real Salt Lake will be licking their chops at the prospect of a four-game home stand. With Chicago Fire the side coming first, the chop-licking should escalate: With only two wins and one draw, the Fire are running alongside Toronto FC and DC United in the fight for the worst-off side in MLS, and that offers an opportunity for RSL to really solidify their footing in the middle period of the season. With summer international absences approaching, forging good partnerships across the pitch will be of a high priority.
The home stand sees several players easing back into contention: Alvaro Saborio and his quad strain are closer to fitness and making the pitch, and Olmes Garcia’s adductor strain should be lifting, and Cole Grossman — who had been out following a concussion near the beginning of the season — is back into training. Importantly coming back into contention is Robbie Findley, who, despite some poor finishing last weekend, was a game-changing force, and just like that, RSL’s strike force is nearly entirely healthy. Opponents should be rightly a little worried about RSL’s renewed focus on attack, and with some set piece prowess emerging, the methods for scoring become many from relatively few. With the Fire likely to look for a point at Rio Tinto Stadium, there’s plenty of reason for RSL fans to expect a win.
Scott Fenwick, Editor, On the Fire, Chicago:
Just when it seemed Chicago was on a one-way road to nowhere (at least until summer transfer window time), its front office acted to bolster the squad. Big man center back Bakary Soumare got his wish: he’s returning to Chicago.
Granted, there’s still much work to be done – especially on the offensive side of the ball – but plugging a gaping hole in its defense and bolstering its depth will help the Fire rebuild from the back. Soumare’s arrival will likely shift Jalil Anibaba to right back and put “El Liability” Wells Thompson back where he belongs – on the bench as a reserve winger.
What’s perhaps most intriguing now is Arne Friedrich’s fate. Practically, the right move should be to try to work a deal to get the German international to retire. With Friedrich close to max salary, his departure would help the Fire free up needed cap space. Psychologically, it would also help the organization and fan base look ahead, rather than continually lament the World Cup veteran’s absence from the pitch.
Certainly, now that Soumare’s back home where he wants to be, his suspect attitude should improve. Perhaps his arrival will inject confidence and life into a dejected Fire locker room, one that must be feeling pretty bad about itself at the moment. After all, “Kid” Klopas’s Fire has taken a measly 7 points out of a possible 30 thus far in 2013. This week, a tough task lies ahead at RSL though.
Solution? Park the bus with Baky.
Sat 9:00PM, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Todd Haggerty, Centennial 38 Supporters, Colorado Rapids:
Might I say there is a bit of tempered optimism in Commerce City? No, I’m not talking about the plans to revive the dog track but rather the Rapids and their one loss in the last eight games. Even more so, these precious points come via some of the league’s finest (Chivas USA, Toronto, San Jose, Columbus). A true test of the Rapids progress is likely to be revealed this weekend when they take on Chivas USA (again!). Unfortunately the weather is supposed to be warm this weekend so we are unlikely to see either Pareja or Chelis wearing sweaters.With the lack of sweaters and the improving health of the squad, this match should yield three points for the Rapids–strengthening their quest for the last playoff spot. In Open Cup news, the Rapids dismal coin toss streak continues as the team will travel to Florida to take on Orlando City SC.
Alicia Ratterree, The Goat Parade, Chivas USA:
This week appears to be very much the same as last week for Chivas USA and that is full of uncertainty. The team dropped another game in blowout fashion last week, this time to Real Salt Lake, and the honeymoon certainly appears to be over for Chelis. Although his tactics have never been what one would call rigid, the loose approach is growing less and less effective, especially against tactically astute sides like RSL.
Besides the continuing slide on the field, the rumors off the field have been even more fascinating. Late last week came word that Chivas USA and Chivas de Guadalajara were about to be sold, perhaps as soon as Friday. That didn’t happen, but rumors are still swirling. There have also been whispers about Chelis’ job security, but as of midweek, he was still present at training. Could there be massive changes on the horizon for this team? Who knows, honestly, but needless to say it is a time of pure uncertainty for fans of Chivas USA.
Sun 3:30PM, Sporting Park (NBCSN)
Malena Barajas, co-founder, Women United FC, Sporting Kansas City:
Unfortunately, a poor call by a linesman changed the course of last Sunday’s match between Sporting KC and D.C. United at RFK Stadium. A 29th minute goal by Sporting KC defender Ike Opara was disallowed denying KC the lead before the half. The match ended in a draw, with Sporting KC unable to finish several opportunities in the late part of the second half. Following the match, the head of the Professional Referees Organization recognized the error, which increased the frustration felt by the team and the fans.
Sporting can transfer that frustration to motivation on Sunday against rivals the Houston Dynamo. After ended the Dynamo’s no-loss at home record just two weeks ago, Sporting KC must defend its own turf. It does not hurt that it will be playing this match in front of a sold out crowd at Sporting Park. This match will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network. Prepare for the return of defender Chance Myers who has been out with a hamstring strain relieving Mechak Jerome who has been filling in during Myers’ absence. These three points are critical to widening the gap between Sporting KC and the Dynamo in the Eastern Conference table.
Next Tuesday, Sporting KC will face the Des Moines Menace of PDL in a third-round US Open Cup match. Should (read: when) Sporting KC advance it will potentially face USL PRO affiliate Orlando City SC, where Dom Dwyer, a Sporting KC loan, is leading the USL Pro in goals scored with 12.
Stephen Eastepp, Dynamo Theory, Houston:
From one week to the next, things got worse for Houston. As if losing the home unbeaten streak wasn’t enough against conference rival Sporting Kansas City, now the men in orange did the unthinkable – lost to New England. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if the Revs are the worst team in MLS, in fact despite their record, they have one of the league’s best defenses. If Houston wants to remain as a top contender, they have to take out teams like New England. So with the loss, the Dynamo now have a two game losing streak – both at home nonetheless.
Things could get worse for Houston as now they’ll travel to Kansas City to take on SKC again. The problem is the Dynamo will likely have to do it with both starting center backs shelved. Bobby Boswell is suspended after head-butting a Revs player, while Jermaine Taylor will likely sit after popping his shoulder out of place in the first half. If both defenders sit, Eric Brunner and Ricardo Clark will likely pair in the middle and could be a bit to unfamiliar with each other to lock down the backline. Sporting Kansas City will be looking to capitalize on loss of two of four defensive starters and sneak out another win in this exciting new rivalry.
Sun 5pm, Red Bull Arena (UniMas)
Dan Dickinson, Sports editor, Gothamist, New York:
This can’t be right. Didn’t you hear the news? Soccer is finally returning to the NYC area after thirty-something years, thanks to the endless benevolence of Manchester City and the Yankees. We’re all focused on potential stadium locations and figuring out how to chant “Come on Citeh” in a New Yawk accent. You’re telling me there’s already a soccer team in the area – and they have a home game this weekend?
A week of almost nothing but NYC FC news has strangely turned the first game of a three-game Red Bulls home stand into a statement match. Not a statement about their place in the league standings; they’ve reached top of the overall shield table in ages after downing LA late. Rather, it’s about their place in the sporting world. There may be no better way to broadcast “We’re already here” than by dominating the Crew. Keep an eye on Thierry Henry – last year, he went on a rampage against them in all meetings, but was shut out offensively during a road trip to Columbus last month.
Ian Fraser, Crew Union, Columbus Crew:
For all the criticism Robert Warzycha comes under in Columbus, the one thing that his teams are built to do is get points on the road. Two weeks ago I said the Crew were due for an ugly win and I was a week early. Toronto were, well, Toronto last week and instead of going into the break up a couple of goals they managed to trail by a goal and never recovered, as Columbus killed the game off.
It came to me that a good comparison for how Warzycha organizes his team shape is that of a ship anchor. It is wide at the bottom and is narrow at the top. The purpose of the anchor is to provide stability and prevent the ship from going astray. Only Warzycha doesn’t know when to pull anchor and allow the ship to roam in more comfortable waters.
Columbus drop anchor in Red Bull Arena Sunday. The Crew had the better of the Red Bulls in their recent matchup but came away with a loss. I imagine NYRB will be more assertive at home, as teams should be, and expect a different game this time. Columbus will have to absorb more pressure with a makeshift central defense as both starters are out. Also, Agustin Viana looks doubtful and Danny O’Rourke is just returning from injury. The Crew anchor looks to be vulnerable at the bottom this week but Oduro and Higuain provide strength at the top so it may just hold up.
Sun 11pm Home Depot Center (ESPN2)
Josie Becker, Editor, LAG Confidential, Los Angeles:
The big story for the LA Galaxy this week is trying to find their footing again after a grueling road trip. After getting two rounds off in the first ten rounds, to accommodate their play in the CONCACAF Champions League, LA started making up that time off with three matches in eight days all on the road. Their form wasn’t all that great, losing both weekend matches but showing well mid-week against the Philadelphia Union.
Landon Donovan was especially great in that match, managing two assists and a goal as well as being the contributing factor on the opening own goal on their way to a 4-1 victory. Being left off Jurgen Klinsmann’s US roster just hours before is widely cited as the reason for the breakout performance. However, there were struggles in New York. A big chunk of those struggles can be blamed on the Galaxy being without two of their first choice midfielders for most of the match. Mike Magee was scratched before kickoff, and Juninho suffered a knock not ten minutes into the proceedings. Their replacements had a tough time getting distribution going from the midfield.
Now the Galaxy begin a stretch where they’ll be the only MLS side without a bye week for a stretch of eleven match days. They’ll be without Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez for part of that stretch, as they’re away on international duty. Should they survive the fire, they should be in a good way for the playoff run.