Archive for October, 2009

27
Oct
09

Rafaball Strikes Again

BenitezRafael Benitez’s six seasons at Anfield have been marked by one consistent trend: when his team’s fortunes appear bleakest, the Reds have the ability to summon their finest efforts. On Sunday the concept of “Rafaball” was once more on display.

The last time LFC lost four straight, Margaret Thatcher was enjoying high tea with Ronald Reagan. With captain Steven Gerrard in the stands and star striker Fernando Torres returning from injury, there was reason for apprehension as the three-time defending league champions arrived in Liverpool. But as if to borrow a line from the team’s anthem, Rafa believes that at the end of the storm is a golden sky. And again that golden sky came in the form of an inspired Liverpool performance and a deserved 2-0 win that re-ignites their title chase.

We’ve seen this act before under Benitez. The signature Rafaball victory came in his first season in charge. Down 3-0 at halftime in the Champions League Final against AC Milan, Liverpool rallied to tie the match and won in a shootout. And Liverpool would never have reached that Final without a furious three-goal outburst in their final group stage match against Olympiakos that secured passage to the knockout round.

Since 2005 there have been many more Rafaball moments. From 2-0 down against West Ham, the Reds tied the 2006 FA Cup Final on the brink of stoppage time before winning in a shootout. There was a 2-1 win at Barcelona in the knockout stages of the 2007 Champions League, won on goals by Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise after the former had attacked the latter with a golf club in the team hotel. Passage to the 2008 Champions League group stages seemed unlikely after an 0-1-2 start, but the Reds won their next three by a combined total of 16-1 and advanced to the semis.

Manchester United were familiar with Sunday’s performance. Last September LFC won at home 2-1 without the services of Gerrard or Torres. In March, just as the team’s obituary was being penned, the Reds shocked the Old Trafford faithful with a 4-1 victory. In both matches, ManU scored first before the Reds rallied.

The frustrating flip side to Rafaball is that legendary wins are often followed by flat performances. Every Liverpool fan should be on guard heading into Saturday’s fixture at Fulham. But if the Reds can continue to play Rafaball, this campaign will have plenty more pleasant surprises.

Originally posted at The Soccer Haus

26
Oct
09

Chicago LFC (outdoor playoffs)… and LFC 2-0 MUFC

I’ve never been so excited to write about a pathetic performance from Chicago LFC.

It was an early morning for most of the members of Chicago LFC, for some it was just an extension of the late Saturday night.  A majority of the team headed over to The Globe Pub at 9AM to watch a completely off form Liverpool FC (1 goal scored and 4 losses in the last 4 games) take on the defending champions and their biggest rivals, Manchester United.  It was a so called, ‘Super Sunday,’ fixture and everyone was up for it.  I won’t give a summary of that match, though I’d much rather talk about that, there are people much more capable of doing that on websites like the BBC or SkySports News.  Or any other website really, I’d read them all if I were you, bask in the glory of the moment.  I certainly did.

I tried for about 10 minutes to get a picture of Torres celebrating his goal in here.  But it didn’t work.  So just close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine it.

Torres v Man U 2-0 passing Rio

My you have a good imagination... Rio is thinking "Oh shit"

So it was a great atmosphere at The Globe, fantastic in fact,  then as the final whistle blew it was out the door to race over to Rauner YMCA to play a must win match of our own.

Surprisingly, mostly everyone turned up on time at Rauner and we were able to get warmed up before the match.  We had just about a full squad, which meant there were 68 people on the substitutes bench.  The match kicked off and it was a high flying start for Chicago LFC.  About 30 seconds into the game, Pat Garrity ran through the defense and put a shot on target, the ball skipped over the keeper, 1-0.  With confidence from the early goal, Chicago LFC applied even more pressure, without even the slightest bit of an attack forming from the first round playoff opposition, Bagkat FC.  The pressure paid off and Kobi scored a quality goal to make it 2-0.

Then it all began to unravel.  With a 2-0 advantage, CLFC seemed to go into cruise control.  Within ten minutes of being on auto-pilot, Bakgat FC scored on one of their first attacks.  The game had totally changed and Bakgat took the momentum into half time.

Captain Bryn Griffiths provided another (a)rousing speech, but it didn’t quite get the response it deserved as CLFC trotted out for the second half.  Within minutes, the seemingly inevitable happened, 2-2 on the counter attack.  Chicago LFC had managed to do what even Liverpool couldn’t do against the defending champions that morning, piss away a 2 goal advantage.  It was a deserved two goals from Bakgat, so there couldn’t be any complaints in that department.  They continued to apply pressure and CLFC seemed ready to concede a few more, but managed to stick to the opposition enough to put them off.  CLFC even managed a few good chances before the ref called for the end of regulation.  The end of regulation meant it was straight on to penalties.  The teams huddled up near midfield and watched as CLFC looked to match and possible surpass the record for worst ever start to a penalty shoot out.  Clearly, CLFC were interested in achieving some sort of accomplishment on the day, good or bad.  The 3 CLFC takers missed and the 3 Bagkat takers scored, and it took a save from Aran Quinn, the CLFC male MVP, to keep it alive.  CLFC penalty takers (Heather then Mark) then brought it back to even terms with Aran Quinn continuing on with the saves.  Quite the accomplishment, considering the start they had to the PKs, it came down to a Bagkat spot kick and Aran went the wrong way, Bagkat were through to the finals 3-2 on penalties, Chicago LFC were knocked out in the first round of playoffs.

It was pure dissapointment on the bench, but orange slices and the end of season awards ceremony helped cheer things up quite a bit.

Here are the awards voted for by the team:

October 2009 CLFC ,LC, WI, 559

Male Player of the Season - our very own Pepe Reina - Aran Quinn

October 2009 CLFC ,LC, WI, 562

Female Player of the Season - Steve Staunton (sometimes outfield, sometime goalie) - Hollice Wrobel

October 2009 CLFC ,LC, WI, 557

Most Improved Male Player - our Masch - Max DeZutter

October 2009 CLFC ,LC, WI, 558

Most Improved Female Player - our Italian-American left-back - Judi Cutrone

October 2009 CLFC ,LC, WI, 563

Goal of the Season - Brittany Parenti's 20 yard, top left corner, on her weaker left-foot, unstoppable goal! Amusingly, it was against our very own Arif!

Save of the Season – A dead heat between Hollice’s finger-tip save in our first game of the final session, Dan’s hand-ball on the line in extra time against Strangers and Judi’s last ditch tackle against that guy from FC Hangover. He was one on one with her with all the time and space in the world and she took the ball off his toes!

These following awards were democratically decided upon by Bryn and are in no particular order:

The Robbie Fowler “Substance Abuse” Award – Kevin Achettu

The Abel Xavier “Rival to Red” Award – Arif Ismail

October 2009 CLFC ,LC, WI, 554

The Voronin "Ponytail" Award - Jenny Sze

The Aquilani “Injury” Award – Al’an Blasio

The Luis Garcia “Lookalike” Award – Kurt Bauer

The Michael Thomas “Arse to Red” Award – Koby Larbi-Siaw

The Emiliano Insua “Left-back” Award – Liz Risoldi

The David James “Shot Stopper” Award – Christopher Liebelt

The  Lucas Lieva “Good Lucas” Award – Lucas Felt

The Rob Jones “Most games at right-back without even the slightest sniff of a goal” Award – Dan Skinner

The John Arne Riise “Ginge” Award – Mark Killeen

The Yossi Benayoun “Israeli” Award – Dani Avni

The Dirk Kuyt “Work-rate” Award – Greg Whalley

The Alan Kennedy “Scorer of the Winning Penalty in a Shootout” Award – Melissa Gomez

The Albert Reira “Winger” Award – Heather Ribeiro

The Ryan Babel “Pacey” Award – Meredith Lansdown

The Robbie Keano “Irish Striker” Award – Patrick Garrity

The John Barnes “Dribble your way to goal” Award – Remi Soyode

The Xabi Alonso “Beard” Award – Rich Watkin

The Glen Johnson “West Ham to Liverpool” Award – Toby Emms

The “Superfan” Awards went to Carlos (Melissa’s boyfriend) and Adam (Liz’s fiancee).

October 2009 CLFC ,LC, WI, 556

Last but not least, and arguably the most important - The Steven Gerrard "Captain Fantastic" Award - none other than Bryn Griffiths!

As usual, the post match was at SmallBar and the team was together for the last time in at least a few months (with the teams splitting into two for the indoor season).  CLFC had a great start to the season, but then managed to drop silly points (clearly following the lead of the real LFC), and while the playoffs provided a chance to make up for that, the team simply weren’t up for it (or sober) for the first round.  And it showed.  Both the Men’s and the Coed teams will look to turn that around with the new season starting on what is sure to be a busy Halloween day.  Can you say shitshow?  Actually, I don’t think you can.  Bryn, censor that if you feel the need to.

Best of luck to both teams in the indoor season.

23
Oct
09

Your Club Needs You…

That's right, you!

That's right, you!

Liverpool Football Club stands on the brink of collapse the newspapers say… I say, BOLLOCKS!

Four consecutive losses, first time that’s happened since 1987 apparently, I don’t remember that because I can only think of the glory days when I think about Liverpool FC – the most successful British club.

So, all you Liverpool supporter’s out there, whether you are true-bloods or from wherever-you-are-in-the-world and happen to be fortunate enough to have the same great taste in football, come Sunday, Liverpool needs you to show your support.

I know Anfield will be a cauldron, so this is for the rest of us, not fortunate enough to be at the ground. I know that going to watch the games in the pub around Liverpool, London, or in Chicago, Hong Kong, Bangkok or Sydney may not seem like much in the grand old scheme of things but this Sunday is a day where I want every Liverpool supporter to wear his or her shirt with pride. The Mancs will be laughing, win or lose, if there are no Liverpool fans brave enough to show up.

We’re not Chelsea supporters, drunk on recent riches and supporting the hobby team of a billionaire! We’re not glory hunters who liked United “ever since the treble win”! (Sadly there of plenty of those “fans” Stateside).

We are Liverpool Supporters. We love this club for it’s rich history, not it’s rich owners. As supporters we’ve celebrated together when each of our 18 league titles were won in style, same goes for those 5 big-ears (yes, 5!), we’ve bounced together when Torres scores, laughed together when the Scouse humour has been seen on the pitch or heard in the songs we love to sing and suffered together during the tragedies of Hillsborough and Heysel.

We love this club because of the incredible comebacks we’ve seen – Istanbul is what Liverpool FC, and Liverpudlians, are all about. Sometimes down, but never out…

Remember me, Sir...?

Remember me, Sir...?

So, Sunday is a day for every Liverpool supporter to wear his club badge, crest, colours or shirt with pride. Win, lose or draw on Sunday we’re all proud to call ourselves Reds because of everything we’ve been through together as a club.

We are Liverpool Football Club, and as the song says…

When you walk, through a storm, hold your head up high,
and don’t be afraid of the dark, at the end of the storm,
there’s a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of the lark…
Walk on, through the wind, walk on, through the rain,
though your dreams be tossed and blown…
Walk on, walk on, with hope, in your heart, and
You’ll Never Walk Alone, You’ll Never Walk Alone… walk on.

And remember this...?

And remember this...?

20
Oct
09

Chicago LFC match report (matchday 6)

Apologies for not getting this out earlier, I have been busy learning to crypt walk for the last two days.

Many of the players on Chicago LFC woke up Sunday morning after an eery night of nightmares about beach balls.  On the face of it that doesn’t sound that bad, after all, what can a round, plastic object filled with air really do (apart from ruin seasons)?  And all it takes is one prick to get rid of it.  Yup, all it takes is one prick.  To get rid of it.  By throwing it onto the field.  Causing a ball to deflect off of it and into goal.  But seriously, beach ball nightmares can be bad. 

Nevertheless, the team arrived for a 10.45am kickoff with slightly weakened team, although they were reenforced by the return of a few key players.  Weird news early on, Chicago LIVERPOOL Football Club were asked to wear different colored shirts, after wearing Red tops since, I don’t know, 1892?  Being the polite, obedient people we are, we did agree to wear different colors.  All different colors.  Gay Pride CLFC took the field in about 15 different colors (despite only fielding a 11 person team, which made it all the weirder).  You could tell the team were up for it during the pre match warm up, with striker Kobi hitting shots as hard as he could against the back of the net, and off the side of his teammate’s faces (actually, just mine).

The match started and the only main change on the team sheet were the returns of Greg Whalley and Arif Ismail into the starting 11 at center midfield.  It was a fun game to play (no idea how I’d know this, as I am only a sideline reporter), but a terribly boring game to watch.  I nearly dozed off a few times, and I’d bet my life wee little Miles Skinner, who was in the stands watching, was asleep for a majority of the match.  There were very few chances for Strangers as the defence played brilliantly, left back Judi Cutrone chipping in with some well timed tackles.  Keeper Aran Quin was rarely tested, although there were quite a few obligatory dodgy moments.  Wouldn’t be CLFC without it.

So all was well in our own half, but the same couldn’t be said up front.  The team failed to string passes together, or go on any productive runs.  While everyone played well, it was clear that the final ball was lacking.  Still, a few half chances were created and winger Brittany Parenti went close with a shot from outside the box.  Soon enough it was half time, with CLFC on top but with nothing to show for it.

The second half kicked off, and CLFC were clearly looking for that extra spark.  So, logically enough, they sent on an extra player.  With 12 men on, the ref blew the whistle and issued a yellow card to our captain.  But since he was nowhere to be found, it was given to Mark Killeen instead… I’m sure that’s allowed within FIFA guidelines (as are beach balls, obviously).  The bench then witnessed some of the most pathetic arithmetic you will ever see on display, thanks to none other than Pat “I-can’t-count-that” Garrity.  Constantly insisting there were only 10 people on the field, Garrity would run on, only for the bench to call him back.  This happened a few times before a teammate quickly grabbed Miles’ “Learn to Count to Twelve with me” book and went to page two, where it indicated how one would hypothetically count to eleven, and potentially twelve if you really need too, though you may need a calculator past that.  Garrity finally gave it a rest.

While it was all laughs on the sidelines, the Reds (actually, Greens, Whites, Yellows, Blacks and a deep Magentas, although it was arguably a light Magenta depending on the lighting) were only continuing their poor attacking form.  A few more half chances were conceded to Stranger’s, and a few half chances were taken by CLFC, but nothing was happening, and it seemed likely that the game would end at 0-0 without even the slightest bit of excitement.  Seeing this as an unwanted possibility, a couple of CLFC player’s went ahead and earned yellow cards, and Stranger’s also got in on it.  Defender Kevin Achettu nearly earned a second yellow with a slide, though the ref clearly saw it for what it was (an awkward trip over the ball) a brilliant, stand-him-up, tackle.  Neither team were looking for goals though, it seemed.  Then right near the end, Pat Garrity, now knowing how to count past ten without using his toes, cut in through the box and sent a brilliant shot far post.  Unfortunately, the leprechaun in the opposition goal was able to parry it away with a great, great save.  Soon after that the referee blew the finals whistle and it was game over, 0-0, Chicago LFC ended a relatively disappointing season in 3rd place.

However, they still have the playoffs to look forward to next week and the team are confident they can still win the league championship, or whatever it is we are playing for.

I would just like to point out that while watching Liverpool play against Lyon right now, I just saw Anthony Reveillere of Lyon (who surely makes upwards of $60k a week for being a professional footballer) get called for a foul throw-in.  Don’t feel so bad everybody! 

But seriously, never do that again.

13
Oct
09

Chicago LFC (matchday 5)

Apologies in advance if todays game summary is littered with mustard stains and roast beef juice, it was the product of a lunch time blogging extraordinaire.

After two disappointing  results on the trot, Chicago LFC showed up at Rauner YMCA 9am Sunday morning looking for a result.  And possibly gloves, a scarf, a nice red sweatshirt and thermals if you have them.  Please.  Most of the players thawed in their cars for a few minutes before running onto the pitch.  Chicago LFC had tried different tactics coming into the last two matches (not drinking the night before at all, then drinking right up until kickoff to the point where you can’t play) with the team ending up 0 in 2.  So they reverted back to the age old methodology of having a good Saturday night piss up, going to bed at 5am and taking the field with a weird nuclear warning like ringing sound going off in our heads. (editor’s note – Kevin is speaking for himself, not the entire team, when he describes our pre-match preparations; the majority of us are sensible and responsible adults!)

The return to tried and true pre-match rituals was a bonus to the fact that FC I’ll-be-honest-I-just-don’t-remember were forced to start the match with only 8 players.  Right from the go, LFC looked to apply pressure.  Long balls were looped over the defense and CLFC also capitalized on the extra space created by the missing players.  Disaster almost struck when defender Kevin Achettu cocked up on a long bouncy ball, acrobatically missing it completely.  The ball fell for the oppositions attacker, who was then challenged by keeper Aran Quinn and left back Arif Ismail.  While the ball was cleared away, Quinn came off the worse, with an apparent injury to the neck and a bloody nose.  Though let’s be honest, the amount of moaning and complaining that followed would be more appropriate if he had been shot.  6 times.  Like Fitty Cent, yo.

CLFC got their ish together and played a much more careful game, though they still pushed forward.  Eventually, a free-kick was awarded and captain Bryn “I know how to win” Griffiths sent in a bending ball that struck the perfectly timed glancing head of Mark Killeen.  The ball then struck the even more perfectly timed swinging shoulder of Mark Killeen.  Before it hit the somewhat awkwardly timed, swaying-in-the-wind nylon back of the net.

1-0 and looking for more, Chicago LFC went into half time with spirits up.  A few more goals would’ve been nice, possibly deserved and certainly warranted considering the 3 man advantage.  But who am I to ask for more?

The second half started off and it was more of the same, nearly-there attacks, built from the back, flowing to the front for CLFC.  A bit of kick and run from I’m-really-sorry-I-still-can’t-think-of-their-name.  A few good chances were spurned by what Bryn and Kobi will call poor passes, but what most people know as laziness (editor – They were poor passes!).  CLFC were still clearly in the hunt for that crucial second goal, and while their back line held firm, it was still concerning that the scoreline hadn’t grown.  Remi then played a beautiful ball up to Kobi a.k.a. “Titi Henry,” who turned and unleashed the most immaculate looking shot, bending back a bit and completely undoing the keeper.  Off the crossbar, back of the net, CLFC were up 2-0.

A few more attacks followed, with CLFC looking to place low shots after realizing that the opposition keeper didn’t have knees and thus was slow to get down.  CLFC then followed through with the recurring idea of sticking with what works, by sending a ball up to Bryn Griffiths, who let’s be honest is a bit more Andy Voronin (sans any hair, of course!) then he is Thierry Henry.  Bryn, not one to be outdone, sent in a looping shot that was sent into orbit by the head of an opposition defender.  This obviously confused the opposition keeper quite a bit as he then stood in place (completely outside of his area, mind you), probably wondering why God would curse him with a lack of knees, I mean, what had he ever done to deserve that, seriously, and in the mean time the ball came back down to earth, conveniently bouncing right into the net.  Bryn would have you believe that the shot was on target before it went off the defender’s dome (editor – it was!), but satellite imagery and trajectory projectors clearly show that the shot was due to end up crashing through a window somewhere just outside of Des Moines, Iowa.  Nevertheless, 3-0, home and dry.

The final whistle came not too long after that and it was a well deserved, although slightly underwhelming victory for CLFC going into their last game of the season.

Edit: I feel like it would be irresponsible to not mention the freakshow that showed up with a wig, then removed it at half time before dislocating his shoulder by running into the Great Wall of Remi.  It’s just it didn’t feel right fitting that silliness into a blog post that oozes class and literary genius.  I mean a wig?  Come on.

07
Oct
09

Nemeth scores again!

AEK lost their home game against Olympiakos Piraeus 2-1 last week but Nemeth looked  one of the star performers again for an AEK team that seems to be struggling for form and currently sit 10th in the Greek “Super” League.

Nemeth was denied an opening goal in the game by the “Hand of Zeus” but managed to claw his team back in the game at 2-0 down with a sweetly struck top corner finish. AEK might have forced a draw but Nemeth’s penalty claims were waved away.

It’s great to see the boy getting first team football but I’m still not convinced what playing with a team at that level will do for him. Many of his teammates seem to lack that killer pass or selfishly go for goal themselves despite him being in a better position – just think how much he could be learning at Melwood from Torres, Gerrard and co.

To watch the highlights on an outside site (Footy Tube) click here.

aek nemeth

05
Oct
09

LFC-Chelsea and Chicago LFC (Matchday 4)

Despite spectacular fall weather yesterday, the sun did not shine brightly on the men and women of Chicago LFC. A day of incredible frustration saw a pair of setbacks- one across the pond at Stamford Bridge and another on the synthetic grass of the Rauner YMCA.

Many members of Chicago’s proudest and most boisterous EPL Supporters Club made their way to Wicker Park’s SmallBar on Sunday morning, abandoning the madhouse atmosphere of The Globe in favor of a spot closer to the Y. Coincidence or not, the fortunes of Rafa’s men took a turn for the worse right around the time Kevin “Classy” Achettu arrived, as a goalless match at the half turned into a 2-0 LFC setback. The Reds had plenty of possession, but few quality scoring chances. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition; with their back-up goalkeeper in net, Chelsea played a near-perfect game defensively. They shackled El Nino and forced Liverpool runs off to the sides, where a series of crosses went begging for a recipient.

After the final whistle in West London, the caravan shot down Western Avenue, arriving at the YMCA just a few minutes past the scheduled noon kickoff. The early arrivals successfully convinced the officiating crew that an 11 v 4 match would not be a fair fight, and so those who could get their socks and shinguards on first took to the field to battle FC Hangover. The officials could smell the alcohol on Achettu’s body from a mile away, thus he was deemed unfit to play, judged a potential danger to himself and others. Unable to perform, CLFC’s Indian talisman wandered in search of his shorts and assumed the position of a tipped-over turtle along the sidelines.

With starting goalkeeper Aran Quinn deciding that attending the Bears-Lions game was a better use of his time, it was up to Hollice “Lady Town” Wrobel to man the nets. The game was a rematch of the summer league semifinal, won in dramatic fashion by the faux Reds in a shootout. Clearly revenge was on the mind of the opposition. Despite an early 1-0 deficit, CLFC received a boost when one of Hangover’s players decided to go thug life on Mark Killeen. Taking a swing at an Irishman might be common practice in Boston, but we frown upon those sorts of things in Chicago, and so FC Hangover were left to play the game with ten. (Update: Apparently the punch was thrown in the direction of captain Bryn Griffiths, not Mark. Since Bryn is English, and not Irish, the factual version of the story ruins my joke. So let’s just pretend the guy tried to punch Mark.)

In honor of the real Liverpool FC, CLFC looked lost and out of place on an opponent set piece early in the second half, which afforded Hangover a 2-0 advantage. But from there, the Reds began to find their legs, and when Killeen punched home a loose ball after a goal mouth scramble, the deficit was 2-1, with plenty of time remaining. Hangover spent the rest of the second half kicking the ball out of bounds, stalling on free kicks, and generally using the types of antics that would make Didier Drogba proud. Any hope of a dramatic equalizer ended late in the game when Remi Soyode was harshly shown the red card on a 50-50 challenge. Soyode claimed he got ball first, but the horrific “thwack” noise and child-like scream that came from the victim on the play had as much to do with the red card as the play itself.

Select members headed back to SmallBar to analyze the defeat, enjoy some oversized beers and poutine, and learn what Wrobel will be for Halloween. (Hint: don’t let her show you the card!) Despite a rough day overall, these are the moments that leave you smiling at the end.




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