DJ WATCHES SOCCER – WEEKEND OF MARCH 19th

 

GAMES I WATCHED

 EVERTON v ARSENAL: Jim Beglin said it best on the NBC Sports broadcast: “Everton are a top 4 team going forward, but a bottom 6 side in the back.”

To prove this, Everton nearly scored in the 2nd minute, then conceded in the 7th. To be fair, it was a magnificent goal by Arsenal. Very Barcelona-esque, with lovely and precise touch passing combined with deadly finishing. Could’ve used more of that Wednesday against, oh I dunno, BARCELONA.

Arsenal scored a second in the 42nd minute on a breakaway that, I don’t mind saying, and will suffer no dissent, Tim Howard would have stopped. Robles is good, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see how you have him above Timmy. Apparently Howard is going to Colorado Rapids after the EPL season. Ugh. I’m glad to see him back in the states and all, but he’s a starting goalkeeper for any team in Europe, save three or four. Everton is not one of those teams excepted. If his repatriation is inevitable, I’d still much rather see him go to an Eastern Conference team in MLS. FC Dallas have enough problems.

The second half reminded me of one of those cat toys where a toy mouse is suspended from a string attached to a stick. The cat is very active, and at times nearly gets the mouse, but the human in control of the stick never quite lets that happen. 2-nil to the Arsenal.

CRYSTAL PALACE v LEICESTER: I wasn’t expecting a particularly exciting game, but I watched (as opposed to Chelsea v West Ham) for the same reason I watched the Soyuz launch and docking with the ISS Friday, which is to say, it’s just something you need to see. Manned space flight is an incredible, borderline miraculous spectacle. So is the idea of Leicester winning the Premier League. So how can you not watch a little piece of either one?

In fact, which, in your view, is more amazing – that mankind can slip the surly bonds of earth and build a huge scientific laboratory in space, or that Leicester might take the league? You can vote in the comments section.

Often you read of teams being saddled with the criticism of “lacking urgency”. This did not describe Crystal Palace even remotely. After being down 1-0 at the half, they came out like a house afire in the second. Urgency, they haz it. But, they had no luck finishing and Leicester has Kasper Schmeichel in goal. The only knock against Schmeichel is that he isn’t as good as his dad. But that describes 99.9999999% of all humans ever born.

Unlike your dad or mine, Kasper’s dad is Peter Schmeichel, and you cannot, CAN NOT, name a better goalkeeper in history. As good? Okay, maybe a handful. Better? Nope. If I was Kasper, I’d be pretty happy with the label “Second-best Schmeichel ever”. Leicester keep the top spot, winning 1-0.

THE MANCHESTER DERBY:

Mostly I read Hillary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies during this game, because I was nearly finished, and didn’t expect much out of the game. Bring Up The Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall, a story of Thomas Cromwell’s role in the making and unmaking of Ann Boleyn (who, if you’re keeping score, was the 2nd of Henry VIII’s six wives).

I highly recommend the books, but if you’re more a TV person, you can check out the BBC miniseries version of Wolf Hall, which is fantastic. Mark Ryland is one of the finest actors working today, and his Cromwell is pitch perfect. Damian Lewis, no slouch, is a more subdued though no less unreasonable Henry VIII than Robert Shaw’s version in A Man for All Seasons.

Now, A Man For All Seasons is another treatment of the Henry/Anne story, with the focus on Thomas More, not Thomas Cromwell. Paul Scofield is transcendent as More. It’s really a must-see movie, if you like slow-paced, really long films about English monarchical chicanery. And who among us doesn’t?

I’m forgetting something . . . oh, United beat City on yet another goal by young Marcus Rashford.

GAMES I SAW THE HIGHLIGHTS OF (NO, GAMES OF WHICH I ONLY SAW THE HIGHLIGHTS . . . NO, GAMES OF WHICH THE HIGHLIGHTS WERE THE ONLY . . . OH, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

Highlights are the main way I watched MLS this weekend, due to an appalling lack of Internet access. My ISP insists there’s nothing wrong with our Internet service, which, if you don’t count the fact that it doesn’t provide, ya know, Internet servce, is a completely reasonable postion for them to take. I was about to point out to the technician on the phone, for the sake of clarity, that ISP is an abbreviation for INTERNET SERVICE Provider, but I didn’t think that would help me at all.

NYCFC v ORLANDO: You can’t hardly miss more open shots than NYC did in this game. Orlando once again relies on Wondo 2.0 (Cyle Larin) for the gamewinner in a fairly lucky 1-0 road win.

FC DALLAS v MONTREAL: I actually WISH my Internet had been out last weekend, so I couldn’ve missed the horrific thumping Houston laid on FCD. I’d have considered it a gift from the soccer gods. But nooooooo, I had to WATCH that. This, I missed. And let me tell you, the highlights were beautiful. When a goalkeeper doesn’t even take a step in pursuit of a free kick, it’s been done right. Mauro Diaz, you amaze me man. Urruti’s goal from the run of play might, might I say, have allowed a step or two for the keeper, but only just. Jesse Gonzalez was about two feet outside the penalty box when he made the punt that led to the goal. But let’s not let trifles like that spoil a perfectly fine moment.

RED BULLS v HOUSTON: If you look up “defense” in the dictionary, you will see no reference whatsoever to this game. With the exception of Felipe, who had two goals that were unqualifiedly good, the defensive generosity shown in this game was very much like an NBA All-Star Game. I mean, I haven’t seen generosity like that since the morning after Scrooge saw the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Red Bulls 4-3 for their first win of the season.

MISCELLANY, EPHEMERA, AND TRIVIA

  • Warren County Middle School Soccer Update: Another snappy 10-nil victory for the boys this week. The score was 5-0 after ten minutes, so coach Matt Jackson had to invoke the “five pass rule”, so that no one was allowed to take a shot before five passes had been made in the buildup. Goals by Jerry Mrema, FD de Santiago, John Jackson, Brian de Santiago, David Castro, Bryce Redmon, and Albert Rouse. There’s some ODP-level talent here in Warren County – Oscar Pareja could do worse than to send someone up here to have a look.
  • Did I say to bet on UT-Chattanooga last week? Clearly I meant Middle Tennessee State. I hope you understood my meaning rather than, say, my literal wording, and acted accordingly. If you did, you’re welcome. If you didn’t, then, well, that’s what you get for gambling on the first round of March Madness.

 

 

 

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