Will We See Bayern Munich Vs. Barcelona?


Tuesday night was not the best night for soccer fans. Sure there were some great goals considering a total of 9 goals were scored in just two Champion League match-ups. But there was no great stories. Two underdog clubs Porto and Paris St. Germain had their dreams of glory dashed by two historically dominant titans of football, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, respectively.

But for soccer fans there is some saving grace. A potential matchup between Bayern Munich and Barcelona. This Friday we will see the draw or the semifinals and though a Bayern-Barca final would be ideal, Real Madrid could easily act as spoiler for one of those teams were they to draw them for the semis.

Not only would the match-up be two juggernauts pitted against each other, it would be a matchup of Pep Guardiola’s old team, that he led to two Champions League trophies and three La Liga championships in just four years, and his new team that has been very successful in the Bundesliga. The teams have not played each other in a non-friendly match yet.

Since Guardiola’s departure from Barcelona the team has done well, but by no measure were they as dominant as they were under Guardiola. Bayern Munich fans have high expectations for Guardiola and winning a Bundesliga championship last year and likely again this year is not enough.

Barcelona is also likely to win their league as well. So both of these teams’ fans look to Champions League as the defining moment. And both of these teams are at their best. Bayern Munich’s 6-1 rout of Porto was surgical with each of their top players in top form. Barcelona’s 5-1 aggregate win over Paris St. Germain was no slouch either, proving they are consistently dominant.

All of this could lead to a stunning final, but we’ll settle for a semi-final if it means we can see them play.

NBC Sports Attempts a Red-Zone For Soccer


Americans have always had an interesting relationship with the game of soccer, and every World Cup that comes around their is a sliver of hope from ex-pats living in the US that Americans will adopt the sport. After all, everyone is an expert at that point. But NBC Sports attempted to make inroads in attracting the American sports fan last week on New Years Day with Premier League Breakaway.

If you’re like most American football fans, you’ve heard of the Red Zone Channel for Sunday NFL games. The channel is attractive if you are a fantasy football player or simply enjoy watching important scoring plays as opposed to commercials. Premier League Breakaway was an attempt at this for soccer. It aired eight Premier League matches that looked in to all the goals and shots on goal live switching from coverage of one to the next

Not all the feedback has been positive, however. One search on Twitter of Premier League Breakaway and you’ll get a number of people complaining about an announcer who gave too much away, to complaints of it looking too much like a highlight reel from Youtube. One common theme from the anti-Breakaway crowd was it missing the nuance of a Premier League match.

This was there first go at it, and they’ve already shown a willingness to tweak the program to appease its viewers. Because of the overwhelming negative response to the foreshadowing by the announcer, Rebecca Lowe, at halftime she switched to allowing the viewer to see what happens. One can imagine that they will adjust a few other things for their next matches.

What comes of the experiment we will see, but perhaps more interestingly, we will see if this converts the casual EPL fan to fandom. But the European fan is fundamentally different than the American fan, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out as well.

Soccer Great Thierry Henry Announces His Retirement From The Game

Montreal Impact vs NY Red Bulls

Today, Tuesday morning the 16th of December, 2014, the French football master, whose time at Arsenal and the French national team is the stuff of legend, announced he will retire from the sport. He spent his last four years trying to help grow soccer in America while playing with the New York Red Bulls, .

Henry, now 37, started playing professionally at 17. He is the all-time leading scorer at Arsenal with 228 goals, and one of the best strikers the world has ever seen.  He scored over 350 goals in competition, 52 of those for the New York Red Bulls .

In the soccer community, Henry is revered, respected, and feared. So he will make a welcome addition to his new position with Sky Sports.

Henry was successful everywhere he played. His career began in 1994 with AS Monaco in France, in 1997 he was named the French Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year. The next year, Henry got his first shot at playing for his country in the 1998 World Cup. During that World Cup he led the team with three goals and also led them to a World Cup victory, all while Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps were on the team.

This led to well deserved notoriety and he was quickly purchased by Juventus in 1999, but he moved to Arsenal during the season. He would spend the next eight years at Arsenal in North London. He was at his best during these years and led the team to two Premier League titles and earned three FA Cup trophies.

In 2006, Henry led the French team again to the final of the World Cup where they lost to Italy on penalties. The following year Henry moved to FC Barcelona where he helped win two consecutive La Liga championships.

After three years in Barcelona, Henry decided to take his talents and notoriety to New York City. A city he says he has always loved. After four seasons all-star seasons, he decided to retire.


Soccer, or FootGolf?

footgolf silhouetteIf you want to practice your kicking accuracy but need a break from the soccer field, then consider FootGolf for your next cross-training workout. FootGolf is a relatively new sport that started about five years ago in Europe, but has recently spread to over 260 golf courses throughout the country.

How To Play FootGolf

Similar to golf, the aim is to get a ball into a hole in the least number of strokes possible. You start behind a specific marker, and kicking order is determined by who is farthest from the hole. FootGolf is scored the same as golf, with typical pars ranging from 3 to 5 per hole.

But FootGolf uses no clubs and no tees; players need to kick a soccer ball into 21-inch cups. Another significant difference is the tee-to-hole length, which are often under 250 yards to accommodate shorter kick lengths compared to drive lengths in golf.

Why Play FootGolf

FootGolf is an attractive alternative for soccer players looking to get a different kind of kicking practice. Players will face new challenges like reading the green, but the pressure for making a solid kick in FootGolf is similar to the pressure of shooting in soccer. Players also get the advantage of practicing their dribbling in between holes. Although the game can include an element of goofiness, FootGolf is as serious as you and your friends make it.

In fact, the American FootGolf League (AFGL) held its first pro-am tournaments this September, and gave out $25,000 in prizes to players from all over the world. The AFGL has big plans to drastically expand that prize pool in the coming years.

Kickoff times for FootGolf generally take place in the evenings so golf courses can take advantage of the daylight leftover after golfers take their last tee time. Golf courses get to pick up a little extra revenue while soccer players and golfers alike can try out this new form of athletic activity. The next time you’re feeling like a change of pace from your typical training regimen, head to a golf course and try out this fun new sport.

TV Replays May Come To The Soccer World

One of the biggest gripes that some coaches have with the World Cup is the lack of instant replay. Whether you call it soccer or fubol, it still stands that every other major sport in the world, with very few exceptions, has some sort of reply into place. FIFA has long held the stance that it would diminish the flow of the game and cause issues moving forward. However, in a recent change of heart, one of the heads of the soccer world has changed his mind.

Sepp Blatter, is head of FIFA, and he’s the one that championing this notion, causing a great deal of speculation as to whether or not replays will be a factor in the future of the sport. As of now, there is no instant replay in place, and coaches cannot challenge a referee’s call.

Soccer Instant Replay

The Proposal for Instant Replays

The latest proposal will be for an instant replay solution that will be monitored by an individual that is neutral. Coaches may disagree with a call during breaks in the game, and would only be allowed to do so within a limited time frame. This changeover is very similar to that of the NFL’s replay rules, and will definitely cause a stir. There are some that say this would change up the flow of the progressive game of soccer, since the game continues forward without real breaks aside from the split between halves.

Date Set to World Cup 2015?

There is no date set on this option, but there may be a start at the Under-20 World Cup that is set to happen in New Zealand in 2015. If that’s a success, alongside goal line technology, television replay will come home to this game and could be a major component of all major games in the future. It should be noted that it took a long time for goal line technology come to the game, and that has been met with good results in 2014. It was as recent as 2010 that goal line technology would’ve made the deciding factor in World Cup tournament games.

FIFA is notorious for changing their minds, so perhaps taking this news with a grain of salt is a good thing. TV replays sound good, but until they are implemented in play, things are not going to change quite yet.

Booing Banned in Some New England Soccer Matches

NESCAC SoccerThe New England Small College Athletic Conference, otherwise known as the NESCAC, has served as an authority on the sport since its formation in 1971. It now sponsors 26 conference championships, including thirteen for men and thirteen for women. It represents and includes some of the most popular New England teams for the sport, including Amherst College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College. However, the Conference has often struggled with how to handle unruly fans. In 2011, it proposed a policy, which served to ask game officials to help monitor any unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of participating fans. If any such behavior was detected, the policy asked game officials to address the issue speedily and readily.

Now, according to an article recently completed by Fox News College Sports, the New England Small College Athletic Conference has been forced to issue another policy, which is very similar to the original mandate laid to the governing officials. However, this specific policy orders that all supporters and fans attending games are not allowed to boo any action taken on the field that meets their disapproval. Specifically, the policy asks supporters not to engage in any action that could be interpreted as offensive, confrontational or unsportsmanlike, including any form of booing or taunting, through the use of profanity, rude language or gestures. Essentially, any sole action that could be potentially construed as negative is prohibited while attending any affected games under this policy.

The policy was issued in the form of a letter, which was sent out by the NESCAC. The content was signed and agreed to by eleven colleges serving under the Conference; any supporter that attends a game at one of these colleges must adhere to the new policy or face the consequences of their negative actions.

Soccer Commentators Score New Deal

Roger Bennett and Michael Davies are two British soccer analysts, known for their amusing and cheeky commentary on the sport.  They made a name for themselves by producing a podcast on ESPN’s website Grantland; for their work on the podcast, they have earned a small, yet devoted following of fans.  However, according to an article recently completed for The New York Times, the duo recently won a significant increase in attention, due to their work for the World Cup.  For the event, they created nightly reports from a tiny room on ESPN’s beachfront set in Rio de Janerio, in which they employed their whimsical and self-deprecating tones to create amusing and compelling storylines.  Through these broadcasts, they have been propelled into the media mainstream in sports.

Roger Bennett and Michael Davies

As a result, the pair will host their own show on NBC Sports on Monday nights, which is scheduled to start shortly after the Barclays Premier League season begins.  The pair will be covering the league’s progress as a means of NBC attempting to pull on the increasing popularity of the sport in the United States.  NBC covered the league for the first time last year, resulting in the most successful run for the event for American audiences; the Nielson company estimates that thirty one million Americans tuned into the league, which doubled the figure from the previous year.  NBC’s choice to bring in Davies and Bennett indicates that they believe the sport is not only growing more popular, but the creative interpretations of the duo as well.  As a result, the pair has also been assigned the task of writing and producing online videos for NBC sports.

Davies, who has served previously as a television executive known for producing such shows as Wife Swap and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, declared that he was very excited to join NBC’s sports division.  This excitement is particularly rooted in joining the corporation that brought about some of his favorite television shows as a teenager, such as ALF, The A-Team and Miami Vice.