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  • the ncaa tournament was ridic.  while my brackets were far from spectacular, the competition was top notch.  many feel good stories (Davidson, Memphis), fast paced coast to coast action, and buzzard beating shots (last nights end-of-regulation shot from Kansas) to amaze even the most passive of sport spectators.  Thanks Kansas for winning, bringing my bracket result from bottom feeder to a “respectable” middle of the pack.
  • champions league.  this being my first full year following just about every single match in the tourney, and we got a nightmare quarterfinal round with four English Premier League teams.  Thankfully, Arsenal and Liverpool will cancel each other out, and Chelsea might be eliminated by Fenerbahce (small chance).  After the dust settles, Barcelona and Manchester United may face off in semifinal match-up with a large enough talent pool to satisfy the Futbol Gods.
  • baseball (beisbol) season kicked off last week (almost 2 weeks if you count the Red Sox/A’s calamity in Japan).  and thank god.  i’ve found myself already in midseason form cursing out the weak Yankee bats, distracted by our inability to play short ball, and amazed by questionable starting pitcher.  On the plus side Wang, Joba, and Mariano are destroying the competition right now.
  • looking for my tax papers.  i thought i had them all i one place but i was wrong.  this hunt for documentation was a sport in of itself.
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yeah, this is what it’s supposed to look like in it’s new theoretical incarnation.  as cool as it may be, this was supposed to be completed already, but the corporate entities of Red Bull and AEG disputed about many things, one of them the design.  apparently AEG, who among owning other arenas, also organize and promote concerts, wanted to build a permanent stage on one of the stadium ends.  Red Bull said HELL NO!, citing possible damages to the field due to any extra curricular activities.

Red Bull bought them out, and now we have a newish design, the only new idea seemingly some glass that will not protect the field from the elemnents, but will keep the patrons(somewhat) dry.

I dont even watch the New York Red Bulls, even though they have an exciting young player (Altidore) who may be shopped to a European team (possibly Benfica, under Freddy Adu’s recommendation).

It’s hard to remain excited about a stadium that may be ready for the 2009 season of a team I never watch.  The only reason I keep an interest is because I truly want futbol/soccer to rise in popularity in the U.S. of A. (that is to say, I would like the quality of play to increase, leading to a hike in popularity).  and i won’t support an organization that to this day utilizes Giants Stadium as their home turf, only to struggle to fill up 1/5th of the seats.  it makes for a truly miserable experience.

added to that the additional coverage of international soccer on our cable networks, why should one even bother with a lesser product?

Hopefully the new purrty stadium it will be completed by their new deadline, and above all let’s hope the talent on the pitch will mirror the quality of the field, something the corporations mentioned above obvious did not care much for.  I for one have made a mental pledge to support the new stadium financially by attending at least one game, hopefully more to come.

  • i crashed the party in our fantasy football league.  My team scored a lot of points this season, but my record did not reflect it.  nonetheless, i barely made it into the playoffs and won my first round game in convincing fashion.  off to the final four round, i’m headed.
  • just in time to get my soccer fix comes the last round of Champions League group play.  Yes.  Barca, Lazio, Inter, Bremen, Lyon, PSV, and others will be in action today and tomorrow, and I’m putting my game face on (read: sitting on my ass with some junkfood and getting ready to yell “holy shit”, with pipe dreams that i’ll be heading to the gym after the games are over).
  • What a game that was between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao last weekend.  1-0 los blancos, but Bilbao played one hell of a match.
  • The NY tackle football Giants seemed to have clinched the wildcard, albeit with some sloppy plays in between.  i’ll take what i can get.  i honestly thought we would be a bottom 10 team this year, but they always find a way to surprise.  now if we could only beat a good team…
  • if you have Gol TV, then you know Ray Hudson, a God among mere mortals.  whether if its passionate brown-nosing, erratic behaviour, alcohol-and-sex related outbursts, or what appears to be the sound of him choking on live television, it’s hard to hate the man.  Hudsonia chronicles the spectacle, in his very own words.  and if you ever wanted to play a Ray Hudson drinking game, well look no further.

quick confessional:  i never even knew what the Champions League was until a couple of years back, when the final match was Barcelona vs Arsenal.

now, i can’t not watch it.  every 3 weeks that matches are scheduled nothing separates me from the TV.  I know it would be more benificial to get my ass to the gym, but soccer rules!  and fuck it, it’s the European clubs.

but here in the US, my only outlet for CL games is the “ESPN family of networks,” and boy do they find ways to fuck it up for me.

I was looking forward to watching the Inter Milan vs Fenerbahce match, i dont really watch any Inter games, so it would be something new for me.  The alternative was Barcelona vs Lyons, and I watch Barca like every week.  I avoided the internet for a few hours before I got out work, left early, and made it home to watch the televised delay (the games are played in Europe, so the ESPN channels designate 3 matches, one live, and the they are all shown from 5 pm on).  I turn on the Inter game on ESPN Deportes only to find the fucking final score on the crawl only seconds after I get comfortable game.  The score was 3-0 Inter.

I turn to the Barcelona game on ESPN Classic; 10 minutes in the score is already 1-1.  It was a fast paced game, and both midfields were giving the other team plenty of pace to move arourn and make effective passes.  More chances to score for both sides during the first half.  In the 45th minute some argument arose between Xavi and Yaya Toure for god-knows-what reason, but Yaya would not let it go.  Barca skipper Frank Rijkaard  somehow gets invloved and he gets thrown out of the game.

The 2nd half featured the same kind of play-style, and eventually Messi was able to draw a foul inside the box and score the go-ahead goal;  he had been challenged by Juninho for the entire match and ventually one call had to go for the Argentine striker.  Moments later Puyol got away from a clear red card as he fouled Toure (i believe it was him) in a clear play towards a score.  it was outside the box and Puyol recieved only a yellow card.  It didnt matter, Juninho would later score on a penalty kick, tying the game 2-2.  That’s how it would end.

During the 2nd half, i was debating whether to see the Man U vs Sporting match or go see No Country for Old Men, but alas i saw the score yet again on the crawl.  2-1 Man U, it looked like a good game!  Made my decision a whole lot easier, and the movie kicked major ass, so I’m not mad.

Tomorrow’s matches feature Werder Bremen vs. Real Madrid facing off in Germany.  I better not mess this one up for myself.

here are all the earlier resuts.

i didnt watch any of the two games,  so admittedly i dont even know their quality of futbol.  but i do know this.  they lost 1-0 to venezuela, one of the worst teams in South America.  and they were crushed by Brazil by a score of 5-0.  it doesnt take a genius to understand that both score represent general diappointment and negative signs of what’s to come.

i know its only the first week of world cup qualifiers in South America, and there’s about 2.5  more years of this, but i’ll be looking at all their games with caution.

UPDATE:  I just saw the highlights for the Ecuador-Brasil game.  some of those goals are just remarkable, particular Ronaldinho’s effort, and Kaka’s shot.  Goal #s 2 and 5 are just pathetic on the part of Ecuador.

and take note on the oh-so-fine babe presenting the highlights.  I think i’m in lust.

UPDATE #2:   a more in-depth highlight real.  Brasil was just toying with Ecuador.  it was basically a practice drill out there.  Woe is me.

Ecuador – they really blew it.  I mean they sucked major bolsa.  It’s so amazing to see a team falter so bad in a tournament.  my brother insists that copa america is not really important – he’s probably right considering brasil didnt have their big guns in the pitch – but you still have to show up ready to play.  nevertheless i am eager to see what they bring for the eliminatorias, which should sooner than we may expect, or ready for.  the 2010 world cup is just under 2 years away!  can’t wait.

Argentina – wow were they dominant, almost.  all the stars made their presence felt, including inspiring performances by Messi and Riquelme, who caried on their respective great seasons into the tournament.  unfortunately they fell short.  which lead me to…

Brasil – Dunga was heavily criticized for the team he took to Venezuela, and for a couple opf their early pefomances, but it seems this team was destined to beat the Argentines.  It wasnt the brand of pretty football we’re all accustomed to watching, but their midfield defence was on point, not allowing any effective balls for the Argentine front.  Congratulations.

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I attended the Latin Alternative Music Conference last week and I must admit to being a bit underwhelmed.  I understand that the budget cant possibly compare to that of a CMJ or Austin City Limits, but the number of shows is something that has to be worked out better.  I tried to show up to 3 shows with some success: the SOBs acoustic showcase, the MTV3 sponsored show in the Bowery Ballroom, and Cafe Tacuba in Central Park.

The SOBs show was a total mess.  Some bands are just not equipped to strip down their sound and come off more “intimate.”  Worst of all, each of the many, many acts were restricted to two songs, bringing other problems  to the forefriont: 1) you can’t soundcheck all bands;  this wouldnt be a problem knowing this is an acoustic show, but every act thinks they can bring their own flare with different instruments they cant possibly tune in the short time, and 2) even if you build momentum after 2 songs, you are cut off.  They have to increase the set list to 4 songs and decrease the number of bands to showcase.  Pinker Tones were the marquee band but after 2+ hours of being there, i had to leave.

The Bowery show was alright.  The space is better,  beer cost about the same, but the atmosphere wasnt as stuffy.  Rock band Panda started it off and they had a young fanbase starting a mosh-pit, which was startling, considering how poppy their sound is.  they were good though, specially compared to The Dey, the following group.  They come accross like the latin version of the Fugees, except everyone sucked.  Totally forgettable stuff.  I saw a bit of the very attractive (IMO) Mala Rodriguez, but it was getting late and I had to leave.  She’s cool.

As for Cafe Tacuba, through a series of unfortunate events I arrived at Central Park as soon as they were announced, but the line to enter was so long and Summerstage reached heir max capacity.  So we just sat outside the venue like everyone else.  They played great from the parts we heard.  Me and my cuz left for a bit to get beer in between.

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I got tickets to see M.I.A. !!!  She’s playing this Saturday for free at the Siren Festival in Brooklyn but i’m not really down to go.  And I dont mind forking over $20 to see her in Studio B.  Whoo hooo it will (hopefully) rock. This will be my first time seing Maya in concert so I’m all sorts of excited.  Just on week away.  Party on!

Just days after that will be Rock the Bells in New York.  Rage and Wu-Tang together, so i’ll make up for the concert i didnt attend when i was like16 y.o.  Two concert in one week will help make up for the fact thaat I couldn’t attend the Long Blondes show i paid for, and the Morrissey show that was cancelled.  There, indeed, is a light that never goes out.

Ecuador vs. Chile, 2-3

I’ll keep this brief.  Ecuador pretty much dominated most of the game despite a couple of players in midfield playing sub-par soccer and an aging defensive line.  Unfortunately, they could not hold the 2-1 lead for long.

On offense, Ecuador was efficient.  They worked their passes well and created many opportunities for scoring and came up short a few times.  On defense, however, they were slow and static.  They never attacked the ball and Chile made them pay with some good strikes.  Hats off to Chile for not letting up despite some signs of giving up in the first half.

Mexico vs. Brasil, 2-0

Admittedly I didn’t watch much of the game, still in disbelief of Ecuador’s deserved loss.  The second Mexico goal was nice.  Brasil played their brand of beautiful futbol, but were unable to penetrate the Mexican backs. 

Overall, two surprising results in the Group B opener.

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peru vs uruguay, 3-0

Peru played one of their best games in recent memory in their tournament opener against a Uruguayen squad that just couldnt get it together.  They were hitting on all cylinders: their short-pass game was excellent, they had some nice execution on the defensive side, and took advantage of their opportunities on offense.

My peruvian friend Joe’s main complaint of the last 10+ years of the Peru national team was that they only played for personal glory; individuals had the skills but never meshed well as a unit purely for selfish reasons.  None of that showed tonight.  Some of the players had opportunities to take selfish shots, but opted for some well timed passes leading to the victory.

Uruguay didnt help themselves, however.  For a lot of the game they just played futbol with frustration, which was mirrored appropriately enough by Diego Forlan.  He played lackadaisical for the first 15 minutes of the first half.  When they gave up the first goal, he took some errant shots rather than letting the pay develop a bit more.  His teammates were no help;  for a player that’s better suited with a ground attack, it seemed that most of the passes in his direction came from the long air strike.

venezuela vs. bolivia, 2-2

It’s a bit astounding that my complaint of this game is how unispired it was, considering there were four scores.   But that’s about the size of it.  It seemed Venezuela was content with trying to hold their early lead and dropping their men back for defense, only to give up the advantage on an own-goal in the 39th minute of the first half.

To Venezuela’s credit they scored two impressive goals.  Both were the brainchild of Giancarlo Maldonado, scoring the first one and setting up the second goal to give them the lead in the second half.  He was the only player from both teams with any intelligence on the field.  Unfortunately for him, his team often would not play in the same pace, leading to a visible fatigue and consequent substitution with about 15 minutes left in the match.  It was again on the 39th minute of the second half that Bolivia scored the equalizer.

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i haven’t posted anyting in weeks,  life sort of gets on the way of free time.  so in order to feel e-productive i’m doing preliminary documentation of this year’s Copa America hosted by Venezuela.

Ecuador is in a tough group, rounded out by Brasil, Mexico and Chile.  I can honestly say i have no idea how the national team will perform.  Lucky for us the tournament will start on Tuesday, with Ecuador playing their first match on Wednesday.

One look at the Argentine squad and there is no doubt they are the faves.  Even la brujita Veron is in the team!  Not enough can be said about Messi.  And Riquelme’s recent performance in the Copa Libertadores makes him one to look for.

here’s the Ecuador call ups for the Copa America:

Goalkeepers:
Cristian Mora
(Liga de Quito), Marcelo Elizaga (Emelec).

Defenders:
Ulises De la Cruz
(Reading), Neicer Reasco (Sao Paulo), Oscar Bagui (Olmedo), Ivan Hurtado (Atletico Nacional), Giovanni Espinoza (Vitesse Arnhem), Jorge Guagua (Colon de Santa Fe), Renan Calle (Liga de Quito).

Midfielders:
Edison Mendez
(PSV Eindhoven), Luis Antonio Valencia (Wigan Athletic), Segundo Castillo (Red Star Belgrade), Edwin Tenorio (Liga de Quito), Patricio Urrutia (Liga de Quito), David Quiroz (El Nacional), Walter Ayovi (El Nacional), Luis Caicedo (Olmedo).

Forwards:
Carlos Tenorio
(Al Saad), Felix Borja (Olympiakos), Cristian Benitez (El Nacional), Felipe Caicedo (Basel), Pablo Palacios (Deportivo Quito).

If I’m as lazy as i plan to be, I should be able to catch every game, with hopes that I will be commenting on all matches.

Good luck to Ecuador and all nations involved!