Archive for February, 2010

Chelsea takes on Manchester City and I’ll be keeping a running blog post while I’m watching the game.  If you look at my Top 5 Hated Soccer Teams list from my previous post you’ll see that these two teams.  Man City is higher on that list so I have (slightly) more venom for them.  I usually would have no use for this game but the whole Wayne Bridge/John Terry drama is too much for me to pass up.  If they weren’t playing each other I’d probably be watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal movie on Super Action, a replay of Korea winning baseball gold at the 2006 Beijing Olympics (for the 1,000th time) or South Korea’s exploits in the 2002 World Cup (for the 100,000th time).  As you can see, my Saturday night TV viewing is very limited in the ROK.

Besides the Bridge/Terry thing there are other important storylines with this game.  Man City manager, Roberto Mancini, may be on the hot seat since his teams poor run of form assures them that they will not win any hardware this season.  That’s not what the multi-billionaire Dubai owner wants to hear from a team he’s spent so much money on.  A loss here might seal his fate.  Adebayor is out of this game because of the red card he picked up against Stoke City.

Chelsea leads Manchester United by only one point after Man U’s win earlier in the week.  A loss here makes the title chase even more interesting.  Man City beat Chelsea at the Eastlands 2-1 on December 5th so the Blues will be looking for revenge.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Bridge and Terry are the main draw here.  Earlier this week, Wayne Bridge turned his back on England and doesn’t want to be in the squad going to South Africa.  Fabio Capello probably has mixed feelings about his decision but, at the same time, it might make his job easier.  There certainly will be less tension in the locker room and England has no shortage of left-backs.  England are my pick to lift the trophy but it’s still too early to be sure.  Bridge said he would refuse to shake Terry’s hand in the pre-game ritual.  Some of Bridge’s Man City teammates said they would do the same.  We’ll see what happens.  Either way, there will be plenty of boo’s and whistles whenever Bridge touches the ball.  I think Bridge and Terry shake hands, they’re professionals

Lineups:

Chelsea – Hilario (GK), Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry (C), Lampard, J. Cole, Mikel, Ballack, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka

Manchester City – Given (GK) (C), Richards, Bridge, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, A. Johnson, Barry, De Jong, Tevez,                           Bellamy

Substitutes:

Chelsea – Turnbull (GK), Ferreira, Alex, Belletti, Matic, Kalou, Sturridge

Manchester City – Taylor (GK), Onuoha, Sylvinho, Toure, Wright-Philips, Santa Cruz, Ibrahim

Referee: Mike Dean

The Game:

Players in the tunnel waiting to come out.  Mike Dean has words with Shay Given.  I wonder if he’s telling him not to refuse to shake Terry’s hand like some players had threatened to do.

Teams making their way out on the pitch and line up for the pre-game ritual.  Chelsea in all blue.  Man City wearing white with a red and black diagonal stripe on their shirts.  The look like River except with the added black stripe and the fact that River Plate’s uniform looks a million times cooler.

Pre-game handshake time.  Things going smoothly so far.  Terry extended his hand, Bridge looked at him but refused to shake his hand.  Crowd erupts in boos.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time.  I was wrong about Bridge being professional about this.

I guess John Terry is the bigger man

Mancini and Ancelotti have a hug and a smile.  Will this be it for Mancini?

1st Half:

Chelsea kick off.  We’re off.

Hilario handles a slow roller well.  It’s not a sure thing with him, given the way he looked against Inter in the Champions league in mid-week.

Boos for Bridge as he takes the throw in.

What’s with Jolene Lescott’s hair?

I wonder how long the crowd can keep up booing Wayne Bridge?

Cheers every time John Terry touches the ball.  Can they keep that up too?

Quick shot by Lampard.  Save Given.

Gareth Barry is not happy for some reason.  Ref has a talk with him.  I think a yellow card for Barry will happen today.

If John Terry scores, Stamford Bridge will explode.

Tevez’ first touch is a hand ball.

Nice move on the right side by Ivanovic.  Quick shot and Given saves.

Fabio Capello in the house.

What’s with all the (bad) tattoo sleeves?

Adam Johnson with a free kick from the right of goal.  Too strong for Kompany to get on the end of it.

Malouda thinks about taking a shot from 30 yards.  Not a good choice.

Mancini knows this isn’t Italy right.  Managers in England aren’t fashion plates.  Take off that stupid scarf!

Drogba hauled down by Richards right outside the box to the left of goal.  Where’s the yellow?  Free-kick.  Drogba over the ball.  Short pass to Lampard.  Quick shot.  Blocked.  Poor choice on the play.

Ballack finally makes an appearance at the 15 minute mark.  Nice shiner.

Drogba makes a nice pass across goal to no one.  Where’s Cole or Lampard?

Rough entry by Malouda on Johnson.  Free kick for Man City to the right of goal about 20 yards out.  Johnson takes the kick.  Straight to Hilario.  Save.  Another poor free-kick choice.

Nice quick shot by Joe Cole.  Given punches.  Possession favoring Chelsea.

20 minutes in and Tevez has yet to touch the ball with his feet.

Crowd giving Hilario sarcastic cheers every time he kicks the ball.  That won’t help his confidence.

Bellamy a mile offsides.  He doesn’t think so.  Of course he doesn’t.

Drogba heads an Ivanovic pass right over the goal.  Close

Chelsea leads in shots 6-1 at the 25 minute mark.

Tevez receives the ball at the center line.  I’m sure Chelsea don’t mind him getting the ball there.  Quick back pass.

Nice run by Joe Cole.  Passes to Ivanovic.  Return pass to Cole too strong.

Anelka has a go from 20 yards.  Right to Given.

Malouda OWNING A. Johnson so far, 30 minutes in.

Drogba shows up on the right makes a cross on goal.  Kompany almost put it into his own net.  Corner.  Ball comes out, to Ivanovic.  Cross.  Drogba, Richards, and Zabaleta go down in a heap.  Drogba and Zabaleta knocked heads.  Drogba gets up but Zabaleta on the ground and looks dazed.  He walks off the pitch slowly.

Joe Cole and Bridge having a chat at 32 minutes.

Richards steps in on Anelka.  Free-kick Chelsea.  Malouda takes the kick from the left of goal.  The kick crosses the field and out.  Poor.

Crowd can’t keep up with booing Bridge.  They’re losing interest.

Lampard’s errant shot goes to Drogba who puts it right over the goal.  Another close one.

Zabaleta returns at 35 minutes.

Nice run by Anelka.  Diagonal for Drogba in the box.  Too long.

Tevez is pretty much just taking up space.  A non-factor.

I forgot Gareth Barry was still in the game (36 minutes).

Is Craig Bellamy supposed to be somebody?

Anelka pretty much doing whatever he wants.

GOAL Lampard at 42 minutes.  Nice pass from Joe Cole.  Lampard was alone in front of goal.  What were Richards and Kompany doing on the play?  Chelsea lead 1-0.

I hope Mancini is just renting.

Surprisingly clean game so far.  Not many whistles.

Man City looks shaky.  Two shots by Cole and Lampard stopped by Given.

GOAL Man City.  Tevez scores (45+2).  Game tied 1-1.  Tevez goes 1 v 2 on the break.  Hilario pretty much just watching as Tevez zigzags and can’t get his hands on Tevez’ weak, rolling shot.  Did I mention Hilario is terrible?

Lescott almost heads in a free-kick.  Hilario overplayed it.  Lucky it was wide.

Mike Dean blows the whistle for half time.

Half:

Terry giving it to the linesman as he walks off.

Lucky goal by City.  Otherwise, they have been awful.  Chelsea in charge of the play.

Can a coach get fired during the game?

2nd Half:

Manchester City kicks off and goes backwards.

Richards makes a hot run up the right but hen he remembers he plays defense and promptly gets confused and loses the ball.

Step in by Terry.  Free-kick Man City right outside the area.  Tevez, bridge and A. Johnson standing over the ball.  Wall set.  Bridge puts it right into the wall.  Malouda makes a run but it fizzles.

Nice effort by Carvalho to keep play alive.  Ivanovic loses the ball in the box.

GOAL Man City (51 min).  Bellamy makes a run on the left side and what looks like a pass turns into a goal.  Right under Hilario’s left hand.  He overplayed it again.

Man City up 2-1 on two goals against the run of play.

Drogba pushed off by Lescott in the box.  Referee says no.  Dean was wrong.  Lescott even extended his arm to push-off.

Ballack taken down to the left of the box.  Drogba will take the free-kick.  Wall set.  Blocked.  Corner.  Lampard takes.  Shot goes through the box.  Cross by Terry.  Save by Given.

Joe Cole is doing a lot of work.

Crowd is a bit dead except for the Bridge boos, which have picked up again.

Zabaleta shown a yellow card (57 min) by Dean for constantly asking for a yellow card.  Karma.

Ivanovic picks up a yellow (58 minutes) for a body on Barry.

Substitutions coming.

Man City:  Wright-Philips for A. Johnson (60 mins)
Chelsea:   Belletti for Mikel (60 mins)
Chelsea:   Sturridge for Joe Cole (61 minus)

I can see the Mikel substitution because he was never really part of the game.

Why did Joe Cole come off?  He was running the midfield and controlling play.  Mistake.

Mike Dean giving Tevez and Terry a taking to after the players had words.  Tevez should’ve been shown a yellow for the push (63 mins).

Sturridge has had two touches and looked terrible.  Fans booing the move.

Long pass by Ballack out-of-bounds.

Ivanovic bails out Hilario by stopping Bellamy on the break.  Corner.  Barry takes and Hilario alertly punches.

Man City has a bit of momentum.  Chelsea has stalled.

Anelka fights his way into the box and takes a quick shot.  Blocked by Given.

Ballack given a yellow (68 mins) for wasting time and tells the linesman to go fuck himself.

Substitution:

Chelsea:  Kalou for Carvalho (70 mins)

Bellamy takes a long-range shot which Hilario surprisingly stops.

Kalou should make a difference.  He looked good against Inter in the Champions League.

Given charges out to anticipate Drogba (71 mins).

Sturridge looks terrible.  Why Ancelotti?

Nice long shot by Ballack.  Given there.

Belletti takes Barry down in the box from behind.  Penalty for Man City and red card for Balletti.  Chelsea reduced to 10 men.  Tevez takes.  GOAL (76 mins).  3-1 Man City.  GAME OVER!!!

Mancini saves his job I think.  Wasn’t Mark Hughes fired after a victory?

Manchester United will stay one point behind Chelsea in the standings.

Substitution:

Manchester City:  Santa Cruz for Bridge (78 mins)

Looks like Mancini wants to score more goals.

Weak shot by Lampard (79 mins).  Save Given.

Wright-Philips with a screamer (80 mins).  Wide right.

Ballack shown yellow/red for tackle on Tevez.  Chelsea down to 9 men.

Fans are starting to stream out as Tevez pretends to limp off.

Shot by Drogba easily saved by Given.

GOAL Bellamy (87 mins).  Wright-Philips makes a nice run on a break from the right and crosses to Bellamy for the tap in.  Where’s Hilario?  4-1 Man City.

Manchester City has three goals against the run of play.

Garbage time.

Substitution:

Manchester City:  Sylvinho for Tevez (90+1)

Anelka is taken down by Barry in the box.  Penalty.  Lampard to take.  GOAL (90+1).  Man City lead 4-2.  Too late to help.

Abramovich looks bored.

Mike Dean blows the whistle to end the game.

Game Thoughts:

Mancini lives to see another day.

The Joe Cole substitution is puzzling because he was a huge part of the game.  Chelsea started going downhill with the introduction of Sturridge.

Sturridge looked out-of-place and tight.

Cech will be out a least a month with the leg injury he picked up mid-week against Inter.  If they can’t hold on to the lead at the top of the table, this will be a major reason why.  Hilario is terrible.  He doesn’t seem to know what to do.  He overplayed all three Manchester City non-penalty goals.  How did Chelsea get stuck with him as their back-up?  With all the money they spend they can’t get a decent back-up?

Chelsea was the better team up until Balletti’s red card.  Manchester City made the most of their breaks.

I don’t think I saw De Jong or heard his name during the whole broadcast.

Lampard looked second best to Joe Cole in the game.

Ivanovic got caught out on many City breaks because of his always going forward.

Referee Mike Dean had a good game.  Not many whistles until the 1st red card.

Manchester United are now one point back and Arsenal is theoretically three points back.

It’s weird watching the game in Korea because I don’t know what the announcers were saying but I could hear their excitement.  Would have liked to have heard the English broadcasters call this game.

Crowd was not as angry with the score as I thought they would be.  They kind of just accepted it.  After Bridge was replaced at 78 minutes, the crowd kind of went dead.

Did I mention how bad Hilario and Sturridge were?

Not City's best decision but they're used to making poor choices. Mancini lives another week.

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Yesterday, one of The Blasian’s (remember him?) favorite teams, Inter Milan took on Chelsea at Giuseppe Meazza in the Champions League Round of 16 clash.  Inter won 2-1 and look good, not great, going into the return match in three weeks time.  Before I go into the actual game let me tell you about these two teams.

Last week my favorite team, AC Milan took on a team I really, really like, Manchester United.  Inter and Chelsea are the opposite of that.  They both make my Top 5 most hated soccer/football/futbol/calcio teams.  Both teams are probably tied for third on that list.  Let’s take a quick look at what that list look likes:

Top 5 Most Hated Soccer Teams
1.  Juventus (Italy)
2.  Manchester City (England)
T3. Inter Milan (Italy)
T3. Chelsea (England)
5.  Roma (Italy)

Even though Inter and Chelsea are on this list I have to admit that I do like some of the players on these teams whereas I hate everything about Juventus and Man City.  Juventus and Man City have no redeeming qualities and there is not one player, coach or member of management I like on either of those teams.

Sure Inter has won a few scudettos lately they but they haven’t won the Champion’s League/European Cup in my lifetime and this makes me very happy.  The Blaisian (who dat?) can say whatever he wants about Inter but you can have all the league championships you want but you’re nothing until you win in Europe.  Plus, don’t think winning one puts you in the same sentence as AC Milan.  Same goes for you Chelsea.  Try to win in Europe before you think you’re on par with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

I’m sad that AC Milan or Manchester United will be out after the Round of 16 but at the same time seeing Inter or Chelsea out makes it a little better.  The one thing that scares me is that Inter or Chelsea will go through to the final and beat AC Milan or Manchester United. That would be my ultimate nightmare.  Although, if it were reversed and AC Milan or Manchester United beat one of those two teams it would make winning the title even sweeter.  AC Milan has one quite a few Champions League/European Cup titles but the one I savor and remember the most is when we beat Juventus in the 2003 final in Manchester.  It was like winning two titles at once.  The Blasian (where are you?) would be unbearable if Inter won the Champions League.

The game:

To be honest, this game wasn’t that exciting.  I thought Chelsea worked hard and deserved better.  I wonder what the referee was thinking on the play where Kalou got taken down right in front of the goal?  Eto’o was disappointing.  Ivanovic (Chelsea) and Sneijder (Inter) had great games for their respective teams.  Maybe the game played too much like a chess match because both coaches knew the other team as well as anyone.  Chelsea better hope that Cech is able to play in the return because Hilario looks terrible.  The guy looked frightened when he came in to the game and can’t execute a goal kick to save his life.

Inter will go into Stamford Bridge with a slight advantage.  That away goal by Chelsea is big.  Chelsea can go through with a 1-0 win but if Inter scores then Chelsea will need to win by two.  Even though I hate both teams, I would love to see Inter crash out first.  Not just because The Blasian (I think he still writes for this blog) likes them but because they are and always will be second class citizens in Milan.

I don’t know if I should say this but I don’t like Mario Balotelli.  Please Blasian (come back soon), don’t rip me because he’s your guy.  It has nothing to do about his skin color.  I have no idea why the Italian fans have a problem with his ethnicity because on the field he’s all Italian.  What does that mean?  He’s such a whiner and goes down in a heap with minimal contact.  How has he not played for Italy yet?  He’d fit right in.

Italy, don't boo Super Mario because he's black, boo him because he dives and whines

Now that all of the games in the first leg are complete, lets take a quick look at the other games and what might happen in the return.

AC Milan – Manchester United (2-3), Manchester go home looking real good.  Three away goals are huge and I have trouble believing that Milan can score two, let alone win by two.  Then again, if Ferguson decides to play Neville on the right then Milan could probably do whatever they want (see Everton).

Bayern Munich – Fiorentina (2-1), Bayern got the benefit of a non-call from the referee and the linesman.  Klose was offsides not once, but twice on the play.  Sure, Fiorentina got an away goal but I think Bayern will find a way to get this done.  Don’t forget that Bayern went to Torino and beat Juventus 4-1 to knock them out of the tournament.

Lyon – Real Madrid (1-0), Lyon shocked Madrid but an ever healthier Ronaldo should make the difference at the Bernabeu.  I can’t muster up any excitement for Lyon because Jean-Alain Boumsong is one of their defenders.  Rangers, Newcastle and Juventus fans know what I’m talking about.

CSKA Moscow – Sevilla (1-1), a good showing by Sevilla in frigid Moscow puts them in the driver’s seat going back to Sanchez Pizjuan.

Stuttgart – Barcelona (1-1), the defending champs were frustrated by the German side and the return should be interesting.  Don’t put Barcelona in the next round quite yet but playing at the Camp Nou should help.

Porto – Arsenal (2-1), Arsenal looked terrible in this one.  Who knew that Almunia, as bad as he can be, is the best Arsenal can do in goal?  That being said, Arsenal rights the ship and advances at the Emirates.

Olympiakos – Bordeaux (0-1), the French leaders look good going back home.  Bordeaux have lost only once at home this season in Ligue 1

This isn't Funny Money, it's just funny

Olympics again. A question came to me after today’s hockey game what does the Canadian 5 dollar bill stand for….? I had three guesses

1) The number of goals given up to the United States team on Sunday night

2) Or does the 5 that stands for the popularity of Hockey in America, behind Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Auto Racing.

3) or the most economical choice, that it’s the conversion rate of Canadian dollar for the US dollar:  for every 3 given up the US gets 5.  If that’s not the conversion rate, it soon will be. People will be in a tear to get out of the country, your past time is gone!

Canada, you put kids playing hockey on your money! How did we beat you?

It's so big, Stanley!

Most Americans can’t tell you who won the last two Stanley Cups, not to mention its been almost two decades since a team from Canada won Lord Stanley’s over compensating thing, I mean it’s like a 55 year old with a Corvette Convertible.  Although our current players were raised in the Mighty Duck era, so we have the Gordon Bombay drive, there is no excuse for losing to us.  You should just submit your application for statehood now because it seems like we are already home in Vancouver!

As Tony Kornheiser says “Good Night Canada!”

The Bearded Guy

As most of our readers know, we are English teachers in Korea. Now I am in a similar boat as The Mark, I do not really care who wins these Olympic games or who participates in them. Sure if its on I will be watching, but I do not know the schedule, the athletes or many of the story lines besides what Tony and Michael talk about during the Morning PTI, 5:30 PM Eastern/7:30 Am KST. 

I believe the correct term is Photo terrorism.

According to them, PETA is not thrilled with Johnny Weir,  I could have gone without seeing his costumes. But If I had to witness them so you do! Anyways beyond that and the talks of Lindsey Vonn’s calf, I did not know whats happening with the American teams and individuals in Vancouver. 

That all changed yesterday as my administrator turned on the Korean broadcast of the Olympics. During what happen to be one of their main events, Speed Skating.  Now I have seen Koreans practicing speed skating….I have never seen any one in the United States speed skate. So I thought, ‘cool’, we are head to head, they can celebrate their victory of over America and it will all be a great day.’ 

Things started out great, we were in second with about 6 runs left, my administrator turned to me and fist pumped after one of the runs….Let them celebrate its Speed Skating… a crowd of the teachers started to gather around the computer and take in the event. This was going to be their Gold

Enter Shani Davis of Chicago,  and the second to last heat, six of us watching: four teachers, one administrator, and the foreigner (me),  mix in a language barrier and you are primed. Mo Tae-Bum had already set the standard with a time of 1:09.12.  As the race started they got closer to the screen trying to will on their skater to beat Davis, to have a collective fist pump in my direction. But coming around the second turn it was evident, that this guy was not their savior, Davis took over and started putting some distance between them, but things were still alright with the Koreans due to Mo Tae-Bum’s performance. 

Vh1 Best Month Ever Candidate: February-Shani Davis

Yet as Davis kept moving faster and things started to look pretty grim for South Korea and me. I started getting glances, looks of disappointment. Davis crossed and he was the new leader, 1:08.94, the Americans ran on to the ice and were congratulating him, and the Korean station showed it all. Let me say this my co-workers were not mad at me….just disappointed, kind of like “how could you have done this to us, Bearded Guy. How could you win this one?” 

How does one respond to that? 

I can’t say “I didn’t know we even had a team.” Although that would be mostly true, I do not want to hurt their feelings more, by saying “I did not even care about the event.” All I could do was sheepishly shrug. Avoiding their further embarrassment, they quickly dispersed but the damage had been done, at least to their psyche. 

Sorry Korea,  we are better at most sports, some that we do not even know about, than you! Beyond that apparently we have more in speed skating than Apolo Anton Ohno, who is also the arch-enemy of South Korea. I think they hate soul patches! 

Apparently this is the worse way to win in Korea: having to Stand next to Ohno

Note:  How does the US women hockey team beat Russia 13-0? Isn’t hockey their thing? Could I compare it to United States losing in football internationally? Thoughts? 

1000m Long Track Champion represent 

The Bearded Guy 

You can’t have two favorite teams.  It just doesn’t work.  When I lived in Chicago, some people would say, “I like the White Sox and the Cubs.”  Not possible.  Eventually these teams will meet and you have to choose.  One day (not anytime soon) the White Sox and the Cubs will be in the World Series and then they will have to pick a side.  If they can’t, then they were never a fan of either team.

Pick a side and live with it

I’m a Cleveland Browns fan and I could care less what the rest of the league is doing.  Sure, I have a man crush on Tom Brady but I’d choose the Browns over the Patriots every time.  I’m a White Sox fan and the rest of the league is none of my business.  I did like seeing the Yankees win the World Series but that was because everyone hates them so much.  Being a Clipper fan isn’t easy but there is never a time when it’s alright for the Clippers to lose.  If you play for the Clippers then I love you but if you left us, screw you.

You're dead to me

I thought soccer was different.  There are so many different leagues to follow that it’s easy to have multiple favorite teams.  In Germany’s Bundesliga it’s Bayern Munich, in Spain’s La Liga it’s Real Madrid, in Scotland’s Premier League it’s Rangers, in Argentina’s Primera Division it’s Boca Juniors and in MLS it’s……I don’t care.  My two favorite teams are AC Milan and Manchester United but if I had to choose, and sometimes I do, it’s AC Milan.

How many people know Gattuso once played for Rangers?

On Tuesday night the two teams met at the San Siro.  I didn’t want this game to happen but it did.  Somehow I just knew that when the draw was happening for the Round of 16 in the Champion’s League that these two teams would face each other.  I also knew that UEFA would find a way for Inter and Chelsea to play each other as well.  Random draw, my ass.

They have played each other before, the last time being in 2006/2007, but this game made me realize that AC Milan is my favorite team and always has been and that Manchester United is just a team I like.  I wrote a post saying that Serie A was in decline and that the Premiership was where it’s at.  Sure, that may be the case but I grew up with AC Milan and no other team can get in the way.  I’ve followed United since the days of Hughes, Irwin and Cantona but I’ve been a Milan fan longer.  Sorry United, I tried to fool myself and tell people my favorite teams were Milan and you but I can’t do it anymore.  AC Milan forever.  Forza Milan!!!!

Aways and forever

On to the game:

Manchester United went into the San Siro and beat AC Milan 3-2.  Looking at the score it may seem like it was a good game but it wasn’t.  There were some moments of brilliance but there was also a lot of meaningless and sloppy play.  If you just looked at the stats then the game seemed even and it was for the most part.  The game was ultimately decided on a defensive error between Thiago and Nesta.  Other than that, this game had tie written all over it.

Ronaldinho scored after three minutes with a little help from Evra but the Brazilian wouldn’t have an easy night after that.  Sure, he helped set up Milan’s second goal with a nice pass on Seedorf’s cheeky back-heel but for the most part, United’s Rafael made sure he didn’t have much space to work with.  Rafael did what a lot of defenders fail to do with Ronaldinho and other finesse players, he tried to keep Ronaldinho from putting the ball on the ground.  Ronaldinho did a lot of juggling but Rafael was there when the ball was about to hit the ground.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looked ok but it looks like he’s trying too hard.  He’s heard the boo’s from the fans and the rumblings that he may be on his way out and I think it’s really affecting him.  Hopefully Milan doesn’t give up on him too quickly because I think he can really help this team when he finally finds his touch.

Don't give up on this guy

Andrea Pirlo was brilliant.  The guy is a magician on the field.  Surrounded by so many big names, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves but Pirlo can put the ball where he wants whenever he wants.

I don’t understand what Pato’s role was in the game.  It looked to me as if he was playing too far back to be effective.  He’s not the playmaker, he should be the finisher.  Pato needed to be up front with Huntelaar instead of trying to get the ball to him.  Pato took a more forward position after Inzaghi replaced Huntelaar but I wonder why Leonardo didn’t just keep him up there the whole time?

David Beckham is puzzling.  I’ve seen him in a few games since his return to Milan and I don’t understand what he’s supposed to be doing.  He takes free kicks but other than that he doesn’t look like he wants to go forward at all.  He’s mostly passing the ball back or sideways.  Beckham doesn’t really make things happen.  Is that what happens to you when you play in MLS?  If I’m the other team, I don’t really have to play him close because he’s not taking the space.

Wayne Rooney continues to have his career season.  I hope this carries on to the World Cup.  He was in the right place at the right time on both his goals.  You make a mistake and you pay.  On the third goal Rooney got between Thiago (gonna be great) and Nesta.  They must of both said “you got him” because neither player went toward him when he got the ball in the area.  That was game over.

It's Rooney's world, we just live in it

Antonio Valencia turned this game around.  He came in 65 minutes into the game and paid instant dividends.  His pass led to the second United goal and he was eating Favalli’s lunch for the last 25 minutes of the game.  The left side of the Milan defense couldn’t control him at all.  A young, energetic defender like Antonini (injured) or Abate might have helped there.  Valencia is having an awesome first season at United and I think he’ll be making a lot of money very soon.

You're gonna be a rich man soon

Park Ji-Sung was a bit disappointing.  He usually gives teams fits with his speed and energy but he didn’t look his normal self in the game.  I thought when Valencia came on that Park would do more but maybe they were playing to close to each other.  I think they need to be on opposite sides.

Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes were solid.  The only negative this is Carrick’s late yellow/red card which will keep him out of the return match.  But, I could’ve swore it was another player who made the late challenge and not Carrick but non one is reporting it so I’m sure it will stand.

The referee for the match was awful.  He missed quite a few calls and at least one United handball in the box.  He looked lost out there.  Here’s hoping Olegário Benquerença doesn’t get anymore big games.

If this guy is doing your team's game, get ready to throw shit at the TV

So these two teams play each other again on March 10 at Old Trafford.  Should be fantastic.  With United’s two away goals, AC Milan is in big trouble.  They have to either win by two goals or win 4-3.  Look for some changes in the lineups.  I expect Gattuso and Borriello to be in the game for Milan and Giggs and Valencia (to start) for United.

I like you but I don't "like you" like you

I was recently recalling the sports movies of my  youth (the movies of The Mark’s post college experience), and started to see a trend. Hands down 1994 was the best year for sports movies. Not only Sports movies, but movies in general, here is the list of who was up for the Academy Award for Best Picture:

Forrest Gump

The Shawshank Redemption

Pulp Fiction

Four Weddings and Funeral

Quiz Show

What other line up has that much power! Then throw in the fact that it was the year of The Lion King, Dumb and Dumber, Clerks, Legends of the Fall, Natural Born Killers, The Mask, Speed, True Lies, Camp Nowhere, Ace Ventura, Blank Check,  and Wyatt Earp.

But back to my point, it was the sports movies that made the year.

One of many great sports movies!

Little Giants: Rick Moranis of the “Honey We Shrunk” series coaches a team of outcast and under sized kids (Little Giants) against Ed O’Neil’s, from “Married with Children” and more recently “Modern Family”, power house program (Cowboys). It’s an NFC East showdown in the middle of Ohio.  Ed O’Neil plays the local legend who comes back to the small town bask in the glory and coach a cut-throat Pop Warner Team. Moranis plays his brother who has always been overshadowed and wants to help kids from falling by the way side.  A David and Goliath story for sure, but with much more humor.

What are they doing now: Shawna Waldron, Becky “The Icebox” O’Shea, starred recently in the erotic thriller, Poison Ivy: The Secret Society. Apparently loaded with special features!

Pro Power: John Madden, Bruce Smith, Emmitt Smith, Tim Brown, and Steve Emtman.

Best Quote: “Without Icebox, Spike’s going to rip off my face and wear it for Halloween”

Staying Power: Just Watched it for the 90th time and might restart it!

Everyone kid's dream, besides Grandpa dying

Little Big League: Luke Edwards inherits the Minnesota Twins from his deceased Grandfather, and the takes on the roll of skipper. Turning the team from some misfits to the verge of a playoff run. Probably winning Manager of the year, while trying to balance is childhood friendships.

What are they doing now: Luke Edwards has been making a name for himself in Jeepers Creepers 2 and hopefully a 3rd one that is in development now!

Pro Power: In a one game playoff against the Mariners, The Twins face Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, and Lou Piniella. Beyond that there are cameos by Ivan Rodriguez, Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baegra, Wally Joyner, Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Raines,  Chris Berman, and others.

Best Quote:

McGrevey: I think you should trade me.
Mac: As soon as we find someone stupid enough to take you, that’s EXACTLY what we’re gonna do.

Staying Power: Downloading it now, want to catch up on lost time.

Above the Rim:  Duane Martin stars as basketball star who wants to go where Patrick Ewing and A.I. went to school.  He trying to find a balance between the streets and court.  Featuring the smash song by Warren G “Regulators”, and other hard hitting songs on the soundtrack.

What are they doing now: Duane Martin is now making some appearance in “Rita Rocks“, a show about a mother who starts a garage band (Can’t make that Shit up).

Pro Power:  Tupac, although he wasn’t an athlete he counts for this section!

Best Quote: “I was just thinkin bout spreadin my fingers and poppin my wrist.”

Staying Power:  One and done!

Interesting Concept

The Air Up There: Jimmy Dolan (Kevin Bacon) is a college basketball coach trying to land a big time sensation from Africa, Saleh. Only problem, why would Saleh be convinced to leave Africa for America, there seems to be a history there. Does anyone else see why he might be hesitant?  It comes down to a game verse a mining company that will make all the difference.

What are they doing now:  What isn’t Kevin Bacon doing? But recently he was in Frost/Nixon.

Pro Power: Although no Pro athletes are credited Dikembe Mutombo‘s brother is in the movie.

Best Quote:

Jimmy Dolan : Sister! You’re allowed to kiss?
Sister Susan: [smiling] Only if I really mean it!

Staying Power:  I saw it in theaters when I was 8 and haven’t seen it since.

Blue Chips: Nick Nolte plays Coach Bell a coach who is struggling with the morality of recruiting in the college basketball ranks. In order to get the top players, the coach sells out and has to deal with the path he chose at school and home.   Ed O’Neil also stars in this film as Ed. Shaq and Penny Hardaway are a couple of Nolte’s players.

Penny's acting debut

What are They Doing Now: Nick Nolte was the crazy Vietnam vet in Tropic Thunder. Shaq has won four NBA titles and Penny had little Penny Nike Commercials.

Pro Power:  Shaq, Penny, Bob Cousy, Bob Knight, Rick Pitino, Larry Bird, and others.

Best Quote:  “Dwayne, you can get through college half-assed. Richard, you can get through LIFE half-assed. But I’ll guarantee you boys one thing: sure as hell, I’ll guarantee you this: you cannot *win* half-assed!”

Staying Power: Relevant today with all sorts of recruiting violations occurring daily!

Chi-towns Finest

Hoop Dreams: A Documentary about two high school basketball players in Chicago, William Gates and Arthur Agee, who are trying to make it to the next level. They are being heavily recruited but struggling with their academics.

What are they doing now:  “Gates said that after the film was released, his high school shunned him, his teammates “must have hated” him for the attention, and the NCAA revoked his and Arthur Agee’s athletic scholarships for becoming “professionals.

Pro Power:  Dick Vitale, Juan Howard, Chris Webber, Bobby Knight, and Coach K all make appearances.

Best Quote: “People always say to me, “when you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me.” Well, I should’ve said back, “if I don’t make it to the NBA, don’t you forget about me.”

Staying Power: Great Documentary about the realities of making it to the pros and college ranks.

Brendan Fasier's high point

The Scout: Albert Brooks plays a scout who discovers a top prospect Steve Nebraska, played by Brendan Fraser, in Mexico. Steve Nebraska serves as Brook’s redemption for past failures of his other prospects.

What are they doing now: Brendan Fraser is producing hits like Journey to the Center of the Earth or something like that and it’s sequel. Thanks Brendan!

Pro Power:  Bob Costas, Ozzie Smith, Bret Saberhagen, and George Steinbrenner III and others.

Best Quote: “I’m the Yankee, not you!”  Using best quote very loosely!

Staying Power:  Saw it on TV, didn’t feel like seeing it again.

On top of all these originals there were three sports sequels that were released.

The Runner-Ups

D2: The Mighty Ducks: Childhood favorite as Emilio takes his team to the international level to battle Iceland, not Canada or Russia. That simple fact makes it great, plus the scene where they get involved in the ‘street hockey game’ in L.A.

Best Quote: “Weuw, Weuw, Weuw, Kenny Woo.”

Major League II:  This one came up way short of the original. How did the first one go from R rated classic to a PG rated clown for some rude language.

Best Quote (loosely again): “Women: you can’t live with them, and they can’t pee standing up!”

The Next Karate Kid: This movie was made, and everyone was disappointed.

A line from the movie: “Julie-san, fighting not good. But if must fight… win!”

Enough said, 1994 had to be the best year in Sports movies, if you disagree post your list and we can go from there.

Salute

The Bearded Guy

The Winter Olympics start on Friday and I think I care less about them than I did about the Super Bowl.  The Super Bowl had a team I don’t care about (New Orleans) against a team I hate (Indianapolis).  Throw in the fact that I’m not in the states and the Super Bowl might as well have been the NHL Finals, except for the whole Jim Nantz thing.

I think the Penguins won the last Stanley Cup but I'm not sure

I guess I used to watch the Winter Olympics but I can’t remember anything memorable happening except for the Miracle on Ice, the Nancy Kerrigan – Tonya Harding thing and Dan Jansen getting his heart-broken over and over.  The only thing the Winter Olympics might be good for is to introduce you (me) to exotic, beautiful, foreign, female figure skaters.  It started with Katarina Witt in and then it was Kristi Yamaguchi and Oksana Baiul.  I don’t think I’ve watched too much of the last two Winter Olympics because I can’t think of any hot chicks from those games.

I’m sure the Winter Olympics offer more than just watching scantily clad, hot females, but what?  Why should I spend more than five minutes watching these games?  Part of my problem watching the Olympics is that the coverage was always America Über Alles no matter what channel they were on.  That won’t be a problem here in Korea but I still don’t care.  I’m pretty sure the coverage here will be very Korea-centric.  If a South Korean wins a  silver or bronze medal, forget about it.  If a gold is won by a Korean athlete, that athlete will automatically be the best ever at that sport and later we’ll find out how Korea invented that particular sport.    

If Kim Yu-Na wins gold in Vancouver, look for some history to be rewritten

To be honest, I’m not much of a winter person and maybe that’s why the 21st Winter Olympiad is being met with so much indifference by me.  Wait, I hate running but I am a huge track and field guy during the Summer Olympics so the lack of love for the cold can’t be the reason.  If anyone has any ideas on why I should watch the games from Vancouver, let me know. 

Is the fact that I loathe Canada a reason for my apathy?

America's upstairs neighbor