Y’all. Lots has been happening. Not personally, that stuff’s going fine. Not business stuff, either; that’s going fine, too. No, I’m talking about soccer stuff and basketball stuff.
Soccer stuff first: three other guys and I started a supporters club for a professional soccer club, ANY CLUB, here in Louisville. We’ve decided to call ourselves the Coopers, explanation being that bourbon barrels are an important part of how bourbon is made, even if it’s not the star of the show. It’s fun. You get it. Coopers!
Our next plan is to get a Facebook (I know, lame, but also useful), Twitter, and independent webpages up and running to grow the group. The bigger the group gets, the more potential interest in season tickets for this as-yet-non-existent soccer club to sell to its owners and the Metro Council. I’m also hoping to start a podcast that would run bi-weekly about local soccer. Seeing as most local soccer means college and high school, it probably wouldn’t be a very long pod, but I think podcasts are fun and want to do one.
This leads me to kind of a big question. I’ve been posting stuff on my blog, SBNation comments, and Twitter as Anything but Gatorade (duh) for like five years now. Since I want to use what little media power I have behind this brand (ha) to support the soccer effort, it’s probably best to finally use my real name, right? At least I think so. Tough call. Any input anyone wants to add would be appreciated.
Finally: college basketball. It’s coming. Big Blue Madness is TOMORROW NIGHT, y’all. I CAN’T WAIT. The stump speech from Coach Cal. The always over the top player introductions. I have no idea what the new guys look like, so those are helpful. The dunk contest masquerading as a scrimmage. The actual dunk contest. Matthew Mitchell dance party. I love it. What I don’t love, though, is how local TV, Dave Baker, and Rob Bromley take a slick, state of the art event and make it feel like something from the 80s. Get some new blood in there that makes the event exciting. Rob Bromley could make a rave boring.
The actual season isn’t far away. Kentucky’s gonna be really good. Let’s get after it. GO CATS.
Item one: the annual and boringly named Governor’s Cup football game between Louisville and Kentucky is being moved from the first or third week of the season to the final game in 2014, and probably beyond. I am a fan of this move because it puts even more import on the game, and makes easing into the SEC season a little easier rather than putting a tough and important game so early in the year.
Item two: Kentucky announces its 2013-2014 basketball schedule. Non-con highlights include Michigan State and Baylor in neutral sites, as well as regulars UNC, Louisville, and Providence (I guess). The rest of the slate is meh, but there are some interesting matchups with NCAA Tournament regulars UNC Asheville and Belmont, who are always very pesky, unlike actual bears who are very maul-y. Also: rematch with Robert Morris. Not sure if I’m excited about that or not.
Someone posted this in Reddit and I thought I’d add my two cents. I’d love to have a local professional soccer team in Louisville to support. Love it.
Not gonna happen.
Fewer than 200 people “like” the idea of MLS (let alone a lower tier league) coming to Louisville on Facebook. There isn’t a supporters group of any kind around here. The local Premier Development League team, River City Rovers, don’t even play in Jefferson County, presumably because they can’t afford the rent. I saw somewhere that their game attendance is less than 1,000 people per game, which struck me as high, to be honest. MLS is a rapidly growing league, and it hasn’t stayed in business this long by just plopping teams where there’s no support (Miami’s first go-round excepted, I guess). I don’t think Louisville’s ever going to get top-level pro sports of any kind unless the NCAA finally disbands altogether. Ugh. Oh well.
Jurgen Klinsmann is pretty good at his job; Clint Dempsey might need to start looking for a new one
I watched USMNT win its ninth consecutive match against El Salvador last night, and it was pretty awesome. For the US’s B-squad, this team as presently constituted has steamrolled everything and everyone in its path, Costa Rica possibly excluded, since Gold Cup play started (and just before, if you count the Guatemala friendly). While coach Jurgen Klinsmann was under attack from media and fans alike during the early stages of the World Cup Qualifying hexagonal tournament for CONCACAF, he’s done nothing short of turning a dull, uncreative, just-trying-to-get-out-alive team into one of the most entertaining squads I’ve ever seen play in the stars and stripes. The Gold Cup squad dominates possession, is uber dangerous in set pieces, and defends very well. Granted, the competition may not be on the same level as Europe, South America, or Africa, but the complete change in dynamics from about a year ago on this squad has been awesome to watch. While the players obviously deserve praise and credit for the turnaround, Klinsmann has more than earned his fair share of the same for what the team has become: dangerous, dominating, and most importantly, fun to watch.
Clint’s gonna need a new club: Don’t look now, but Tottenham Hotspur has been buying up quality midfield and wing attackers this entire summer transfer window: Paulinho, Chadli, and somebody else I’m forgetting. All that plus Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Jermain Defoe, and Emmanuel Adebayor makes for a crowded front line in what I assume will be manager Andre Villas-Boas’s preferred 4-3-3 formation. Dempsey is a proven goal scorer and does pretty well cutting in from the left side, but if Spurs finally sign that striker they’ve been looking for, then Deuce will probably be on the outside looking in. Clint’s a great competitor, by all accounts, and he’s a big reason why I started following Spurs, but it doesn’t look like he’s gonna have a place in the 23 man roster with all the new players arriving at White Hart Lane these days. I hope he proves me wrong, but, at this point, his best move may be to another club where he’s got the chance to play more regularly in anticipation of the World Cup next summer. While I hope everything works out, everything to this point directs me to think he’ll either be on the bench or out of Spurs altogether this next year. :(
If you follow me, you know a few things about me: a) I don’t post original content all that often anymore; 2) I recently picked up a soccer addiction; 3) I am an award winning choral singer.
Okay, you probably didn’t know the third thing.
Due to kind of dodgy weather in Louisville over the past weekend, I spent most of my Saturday and Sunday watching MLS and Confederations Cup soccer. Saturday, I watched Philadelphia Union play FC Dallas to a 2-2 draw, and then watched Sporting KC beat Columbus Crew 3-2 that night. I’m still a relative noob when it comes to soccer, but it was fairly apparent to me that central midfield play was kind of lacking in both games, and Graham Zusi is a pretty dominant player that SKC are lucky to have. He was awesome. My other observation was that the crowd in Phila was tame compared to Kansas City’s - they banged drums and sang all night, and that’s the kind of atmosphere I’d like to be a part of.
Sunday, I watched most of NYRB v. Houston Dynamo, which wasn’t quite as entertaining. Houston plays pretty well out of the back, but didn’t generate many chances to score goals in the final third. Much more exciting, however, was the Confed Cup final between Brazil and Spain. That was an exciting game to watch. Awesome performances from David Luiz, Neymar, Fred, and Hulk. That’s what I like - high tempo, high pressure, exciting. Brazil really went right at Spain, giving them little chance to dominate possession through short passes and build up play like they’d done previously in the tournament.
CONCACAF Gold Cup starts this weekend, and AMERICA plays next Tuesday.
I don’t really have a favorite MLS club. Columbus is closest to me, but I hate Ohio so they’re out. I like going to Chicago, but their SBNation site is kind of boring and they haven’t been all that good this year outside of US Open Cup play. Sporting KC was fun to watch, as are Portland Timbers. I’d prefer to follow a team I could watch live, but such is not life in the Southeastern United States. Hopefully that changes someday.
Hulk is probably my favorite Brazilian player, if only because he’d rather be wearing Aussie Rules Football shorts and looks like he could have torn Jesus Navas’s arms off and beaten him with them last night.
It’s odd that Red Bulls don’t get any media coverage from the NY Times; it’s kind of odd that MLS doesn’t get much shrift anywhere. Even SB Nation doesn’t pay that much attention to it, though their offerings are more than most. This past weekend was a scoring explosion and hardly anyone is talking about it. I think MLS is a league on the rise (if they can get out of their own way/NASL’s shadow), and media would do well to cover it more.
I’ll make this brief: Vanderbilt is terrible at basketball this year by anyone’s standards. Kentucky was mediocre by Kentucky standards until a goblin in Florida’s goalpost roasted Nerlens Noel’s knee into oblivion. Now, if the Cats’ play against Tennessee last Saturday is any indication, Kentucky might be awful by just NORMAL standards. This makes for a real happy fun good time basketball game tonight against Vanderbilt. Keep in mind these were probably the two best teams in the SEC last year, both of whom now seriously risk missing the NCAA Tournament.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say those dance cards will be empty come Selection Sunday.
Sans Noel, Kentucky is just a collection of talented pieces that do not work particularly well together. There is a leadership vacuum on the floor. The team that was destroyed by the goddamn Volunteers a few days ago would probably struggle to beat most Sun Belt teams. Not that they were setting the world on fire with Noel healthy. At least they were winning games.
Vanderbilt, having lost 95% of its scoring from a year ago, is doing about as well as you could expect a team that lost 95% of its scoring to do. They’re undersized, have no consistent scoring threat save maybe Kedren Johnson, Rod Odom still thinks he’s a shooter for some reason, and their defense is scrappy if not particularly effective. Better days are ahead, though, because there have been some flashes of good play from Kevin Bright, Kyle Fuller, and Sheldon (I think) Jeter.
Nonetheless, this is going to be a pretty bad game, and I’m going to go watch it. Yuck I mean ENTHUSIASM!
Haven’t written much about much of anything lately; having 2 kids under 3 will do that. Part of the reason is I’m more or less melancholy (thanks, KSK!) about Kentucky basketball, Vandy basketball, and just not obsessed enough with recruiting to talk much about Kentucky football yet. Although, yay Coach Stoops for doing a better job recruiting in the past month than any previous UK coach did ever. YAY! No, seriously, I skipped the Vandy game tonight to watch Homeland with my wife, which may have been a better use of my time. I don’t know. Kentucky is just making me sad right now.
Also, I’ve been kind of immersing myself in soccer. I’m hooked. It’s ridiculous. I watch it all the time, especially in those super cool middle of the night feedings with the 9 week old. IT IS SO MUCH FUN. Although I do worry that it’s almost like I’m becoming a part of a community of people that I likely will never meet face-to-face, which is a little dehumanizing. It’s not like people in Louisville don’t care about soccer; they totally do. But the only one of my friends who is particularly intelligent on the issue, having played D-1 at IU and UofL, kind of hates watching it unless it’s the World Cup. Meanwhile, my dumb ass is streaming Capital One Cup matches over the internet on Wednesday afternoons and bitching out Eden Hazard for kicking a ballboy while Chelsea are (NOT IS! I SPEAK BRITISH!) down 2 away goals on aggregate in extra time to Swansea, whom I like very much. Read that sentence again. It is the most soccer sentence YOU WILL EVER READ EVER. I stalk Tottenham Hotspur’s SBNation page like [insert Manti Te’o joke here no let’s go with Black Rob] woah. They’re nice, check it out.
When you think about it, it’s a little silly but forgivable that Americans as a whole aren’t rabid soccer fans like the rest of the world. Who knows, it may come to that one day. I don’t know where I was going with this paragraph. I’m tired.