Interview with James singer Tim Booth

timboothBy Jon Langford

As you might expect with a band that’s 32 years-old, James have experienced line-up changes, drug addictions, in-fighting, break-ups, reunions and almost every other rock ‘n’ roll cliché you could care to think of. But what separates James from their peers is that this is a band that has never lost its relevance (a remarkable feat when you consider they’ve survived such un-timeless trends as Madchester, baggy, Britpop and beyond).

So while their peers are currently rolling out nostalgia tours playing “the hits” to anyone that’s still willing to listen, James are back with their thirteenth studio album La Petite Mort (French for “the little death”).

I caught up with frontman Tim Booth ahead of the band’s sold-out Webster Hall show to talk life, death and football.

FT: One common theme on La Petite Mort is death and I know this is something you’ve sadly had to deal with recently…

Booth: It’s not “sadly” though, because it’s a fact of life. There’s birth and there’s death and they’re two different windows. Being at my mum’s death was actually an amazing revelation for me because I realized it was a birth. And that’s not even a spiritual idea; when it happened it really just felt like a birth.

FT: I know you’ve said that your mother’s death was just about the nicest way that anyone could go, pain free and surrounded by love.

Booth: She was ninety and she really wanted to go about six years earlier. You know, we’ve got this whole thing about prolonging life, but we’re prolonging life at the wrong end. I’d like to live long, but I wouldn’t like to live long in those last fifteen years, they don’t look so exciting to me [Laughs]. But if we could extend life when we’re in our twenties, that’d be nice.

FT: It would. So was writing the lyrics for this record therapeutic for you or was it difficult to confront your thoughts and emotions?

Booth: It wasn’t difficult. The words wrote themselves. Most of the lyrics I write write themselves and it was indeed therapeutic writing them. I don’t tend to think ahead so I just kind of threw myself into them and I’m very happy with them. But then of course when it came to having to sing them every night I went, “Oh shit.”

FT: Because you’re sharing very personal feelings with strangers?

Booth: No, I don’t mind that. It’s because some nights I’ll burst into tears and you can’t sing when you’re crying. Some nights I get the balance right with being really emotionally challenged and stirred up that it goes into the song, but you can’t control it because grief is a very strange thing. It comes in waves. Sometimes you can laugh about your mother dying and other moments you’re in tears. It’s very odd.

FT: I think that juxtaposition really comes across in the album, too. You’re dealing with a subject that many people would find morbid, yet the album doesn’t feel melancholy. I think “Moving On” must be one of the most uplifting songs about death ever written. Lyrically and musically.

Booth: We’ve always done that, where the band purposely play uplifting music to a heavy lyric. Take “Come Home” for example, “After thirty years I’ve become my fears/I’ve become the kind of man I’ve always hated” and yet that was in a pop song. So we’ve always worked with contrasts and contradictions. I believe paradoxes are the most fascinating statements about life. You can make a statement about life and the opposite can be equally true and that’s about as close as we can get to a real truth, when the opposite is also true. Our whole approach to this album was about celebrating life and not mourning death. It’s not a Western approach. It’s more of a South American one. That’s why we had the Day of the Dead imagery as artwork. Down there they talk to the dead, they take the piss out of them, they leave food out for them. It’s a much more tangible relationship.

FT: That’s a healthier way of dealing with death, I think.

Booth: I think so too. In the West it’s so hidden from us. When my dad died I was in New York and they promised me they’d keep the casket open until I got there and they didn’t. I really wanted to see him because I needed to say goodbye to him, not a box. I watched an amazing documentary years ago that’s stuck with me. It was filmed in a village in Bali and there was this old man that they thought was aged somewhere between 105-115, they didn’t know exactly, and he’d been a famous artist who worked according to the moon cycles. One day he called the village together and told them that, according to the moon, it was time for him to go and he lay down and died. And then the village passed his body around and they kissed him and they cried and they said goodbye. I thought to myself, “Holy fuck, that’s the way to go, that’s what we should be doing.”

FT: I think the video for “Moving On” profoundly captures what we’re talking about here. Was it a collaborative effort between the band and the director, Ainslie Henderson?

Booth: Yes and no. We’ve known Ainslie since he was about 19, and he’s been making these amazingly beautiful animations for a few years now. We’ve really wanted to work with him for a while and so we asked him to pitch a script for “Moving On.” The first one he sent over was crap so I rang him up and we talked about the song and I told him the story of my mum dying and the story of Gabrielle dying who was my mate that lived in New York and was one of the people I loved the most in the world. So Ainslie went away and thought about it and one day he was listening to the song on his headphones and he passed by a store with a ball of wool in the window just as the line “Time always unwinding” was playing. Two days later he sent me the fully formed storyboard.

FT: It deals with a difficult topic beautifully.

Booth: They’ve started showing it to kids who are dying in hospitals in England. Kids with terminal illnesses want to know about death because they’re dying, but the parents don’t want to talk about it because they don’t know what to say.

FT: Okay, let’s leave the topic of death for now because otherwise that’s going to be all we talked about. Do you have a favorite track on the record?

Booth: “Walk Like You.”

FT: And is there one that’s your favourite to perform live?

Booth: “Curse Curse.”

FT: There’s a lyric on “Curse Curse” that goes, “Turn the TV up/Copa del Rey/Messi shoots and scores/A hundred thousand came.” I think that line really captures the religious-like quality of football. What’s the story behind the lyric? Were you watching a Barcelona game when it came to you?

Booth: I’m very aware of the ecstasy that men get from a goal being scored. I love watching Barcelona, so Messi was easy, and also because sex is messy so the metaphor worked on all levels as I was comparing the goal to the sex happening in the hotel room next door. They’ve done a study on men that shows if your team wins your testosterone goes up at least twenty percent, but they’ve found it hard to study what happens when your team loses because most of the men are so depressed after a loss that they don’t even come back for the study.

FT: On the new record the band worked with a producer they’d never collaborated with before, Max Dingel. How was the process and what did Max bring to the table?

Booth: It was great. Max is a German who speaks great English. He’s very precise and he’s very patient, which you have to be to work with this band because everybody has different ideas and everyone’s very passionate about the music. Max is a real sonic maestro. He filled up the studio with all this old equipment from the sixties, seventies and eighties that he’s collected. It was great.

FT: Speaking of the eighties, in the early days it took James a few years to find mainstream success…

Booth: Seven years.

FT: …Was there ever a point where you thought of giving music up and doing something else?

Booth: Not really. There was one day when our drummer suggested it and we all looked at him and went, “Fuck off.” We were sure that what we were doing had value and that it would eventually be recognized. Our live audiences were growing in a very encouraging way, but the problem was we couldn’t get played on the radio or television. This was a long time ago when there weren’t many TV and radio stations. Even when we were playing to 5000 a night in Manchester, we still couldn’t get played. But then one day, Radio One suddenly decided to start playing us.

FT: Every album James has released since what would generally be considered the band’s heyday, the nineties, has charted in the top twenty in the UK Albums Chart.  In your opinion, how has the band managed to stay so relevant?

Booth: Actually, we’re bigger now than we were in the nineties, just not in the U.K. In places like Peru and Mexico we play to 15,000 people, and these are territories we’d never been to before about five years ago.

FT: How about in the U.S.? How would you summarize James’ career here?

Booth: There was that moment where we nearly broke, but then we took three years to release an album and in that time the head of the record company changed and the new guy hated us. And that was the end of that.

FT: Getting back to my question about how James has managed to stay so relevant, what do you think your secret is?

Booth: We’re still hungry and we were never too successful. I think if you get really fucking successful it’s hard to motivate yourself. We’ve been successful, but we’re still a working band, you know, we still have to work our arses off. I think we’re very proud of what we’ve done and we want to maintain that and push it further. We’re not finished. I left in 2001, but that was different. The band was a mess because of addictions and various other things, but now we’re back and we’re the strongest we’ve ever been. We’re getting on better than we ever have done and musically we’re a force. So as long as that continues, we’ll continue.

FT: Do you still enjoy touring?

Booth: Oh yeah. I love touring, love it. Especially with a new record. But it’s scary as well because we only just about know the songs. We’re not a band that rehearses a lot, but we like the energy that that brings. It’s better than being over-rehearsed.

FT: You’ve often said that because of the liver disease you suffered as a young man you’ve had to be careful around the drink and drugs lifestyle that many rock and roll bands traditionally indulge in and, as a consequence, seek your highs elsewhere.  Is one of those highs dancing?

Booth: Yes, dancing is my drug. I dance a lot and it brings up altered states. I drink once every three months and I take drugs once every two years, so I get high from dancing and meditating. Both of these things allow you to go deep into your psyche and find parts of yourself that are buried.

FT: I read somewhere recently that you’re currently writing a novel. How’s it going?

Booth: I am writing a novel but I haven’t touched it for about six months because of the new record. I’m not a natural writer and I have to fight a lot of procrastination. I can’t write on the road because I need silence to work.

FT: What’s the book about?

Booth: It’s kind of a ghost love story.

FT: What’s next in your burgeoning acting career? Any forthcoming roles we should be aware of?

Booth: I haven’t even got an agent. It’s weird, I moved to L.A. and I had this agent and I never really got put up for anything. If something comes my way I’ll take it, but I’m not looking for it because James has become pretty all-consuming.

FT: Before we finish, let’s talk football. Like me, you’re a Leeds fan. What do you make of Massimo Cellino?

Booth: [Laughs.] He seems very honest, but paradoxically, obviously dishonest simultaneously… probably… according to a judge anyway. I love his outbursts. They’re hysterical because he says and does things that nobody else would or could. Stuff like, “He’s fired!” and then a few days later, “No, he’s not fired and I should really fire myself” and then a week later, “No, he is actually fired.” Sadly, I think the Football League will try and get rid of him, which would be awful for Leeds. But if he stays it’ll be a roller coaster ride and we’ll see a lot of managers come and go. He’s passionate and who knows, maybe he’ll get us back into the Premier League.

FT: Do you think Leeds have any chance of going up this season?

Booth: I don’t think so. I also think not letting Neil Redfearn carry on was a mistake. The players seem to play for him. And what’s more, it’s hard for a new manger to come in after the team has won a few on the trot and then the new guy doesn’t get the results. It puts a lot of pressure on the new manager.

James new album, La Petite Mort, is out now.

Video for “Moving On” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWPgJkOdUZU

The End of an Era

esclogoBy Tim Hall

Unfortunately, as the New York Red Bulls season winds down and the great unknown of the playoffs looms on the horizon, El Pastor, the bar that the Empire Supporters Club have rallied at for home games since the opening of Red Bull Arena in 2010, is also winding down, as it will be closing within the next few weeks.

The most asked question about all of this is “why?” and, after considerable soul searching on this matter, I can tell you that the ‘why’ isn’t important. It simply is a reality, and no amount of hand-wringing over the particulars is going to change that. Sometimes life is not reasonable, and sometimes it is best to not try to reason with it. If you really can’t sleep at night without knowing every single detail about every little thing, perhaps you can find some cold comfort in the statement “life’s not fair.” There is no overarching force of justice in the universe, and bad things can and do happen to good people.

It’s that last bit – “good people” – that I want to stress, because Mr. Marques, the owner of El Pastor, has treated this ragtag bunch of soccer fans and derelicts like gold from the first time we met him. No, not like gold, better, like family. No one is blind to the fact that the ESC was bringing a pretty considerable amount of money to this bar and so being nice to us was just good business sense, but there’s a big difference between raking in the cash and pocketing it and what Mr. Marques and his team did. They brought in a pool table, improved the service, expanded the beer selection, set up a permanent TV on the patio for those really nice days when sitting inside is a sin, painted Red Bulls colors, and about a million other little things. It’s all about the little things. Always.

We first found El Pastor, thanks to a tip from a member, on a bar crawl we used to establish a new home base before RBA opened (and, also, as an excuse to get together and have a few drinks during the long winter offseason). Even though we visited a number of other bars on that particular day, El Pastor just seemed like a natural fit. It wasn’t expensive to have a few drinks and a sandwich for lunch, the stools at the bar invoked the feel of an old-school lunch counter that, even if you’ve never actually been to one, somehow screams Americana. There was the patio, which even though it was covered by snow at that first encounter, still gave all of us the idea that it would serve as a good transition from baking in the parking lots of Giants Stadium in the hot New Jersey summer. And there was parking, always an important plus for those coming in from the far suburbs or those hauling in assorted club gear.

There isn’t a better feeling in the world than sitting outside on a Saturday afternoon in the spring, cold beverage in hand, blue sky overhead, friends around, talking about soccer or anything else, and El Pastor provided that, and we’ve been so incredibly lucky. We’ve also been able to use the space in other ways, as well. We held a few concerts out in the parking lot, invited some friends to rock out and raise some money for good causes. I’ll never forget the lead singer of one of the bands running off during a guitar solo and climbing onto the roof covering the patio a good fifteen feet off the ground. That was definitively rock-and-roll. We’ve set up a dunk tank and basically tortured one of our members for a few hours (sorry, Jay). We’ve hosted two professional wrestling shows – again, raising money for charity – that were the most hilarious, joyful, silly things I’ve ever seen. It didn’t need to make sense, it just needed to be fun.

There have been late nights singing karaoke. There have been pow-wows in an area we thought of as “the upper deck” where a few of us would abscond and discuss the game and the matters of the day. There were the Christmas parties upstairs where, even though the soccer season was over and (more often than not) a disappointment, we still got together to spend one more night in each other’s company before the holidays like the bizarre warped extended family that we are.

And there have been individual moments that maybe don’t amount to anything to people who weren’t there or don’t understand the context. There was the night that Paul picked up a plastic chair out on the patio, slammed it down and made a ridiculous face. There was the night a group of us stayed behind to take care of a friend who had a bit too much to drink and needed the company instead of driving home. There was the time that my brother Mike executed, what is, to the best of my knowledge, the only successful judo throw in El Pastor history on a guy that was clearly off his gourd and decided to get aggressively friendly with Mike’s then-girlfriend. I don’t think we ever saw that kid again. Maybe when a guy flips you onto your back in a crowded bar on a Saturday night it’s bad for business, I’m not sure, but Mike and said girlfriend are now engaged with two kids, so, they’re doing just fine.

And there was the night we won the Supporters’ Shield as league champions, just about one year ago now, I walked around that bar and hugged everyone I knew, and maybe one or two people I didn’t. No worries if we weren’t the best of friends over the years. In that moment, all of the past nonsense was squashed for the joy of the moment.

There was sangria made with Sunny Delight that could be a major problem if not enjoyed responsibly, but there was rocket fuel espresso on offer at all hours inside, and boy did we need it sometimes. There was food and drink and laughs and songs and friendships and bonds and memories.

And now, that’s going to go away. I’m not so much worried about what the future will hold. The ESC has always been resilient, we’ve had to be to support this team through the years. We’ll land on our feet and when we do we’ll invite all of you out there to come join us wherever that may be.

But I am wistful. It’s a bit like losing a friend, only, if there’s any good to come of it, we get to say goodbye on our own terms and not hear about it after the fact.

Thank you, El Pastor. Thank you, Mr. Marques. Thank you Max and Joe and David and Carlos and all the other bartenders and waiters and cooks that we’ve crossed paths with. We are forever thankful to you. You are our family, and wherever we end up, you will always be welcome to join us there.

Sampdoria and Milan Look To Challenge Leaders

serieA_172x121By Michael Ottolenghi

The international break has been a bit of a misnomer for Serie A.  While the national team played in the watered down qualifying rounds of Euro 2016, Inter nearly fired their manager, Chievo did fire theirs, Juve were accused of stealing the title and the Italian parliament passed the latest law seeking to curb fan violence in Italian stadiums.

As usual, the Juve-Roma showdown rumbles on.  The controversy surrounding the reigning champions’ 3-2 victory against Roma before the international break rekindled conspiracy theories about Juventus, harking back to the dark days of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal of 2006.  But while Juventus came out on top of that game, last Saturday’s results confirmed, yet again, that these two teams will compete for top spot on a weekly basis.
Juve’s 1-1 draw against second bottom Sassuolo allowed Roma to close their deficit to the Turin club to one point, with their own 3-0 win against Chievo (causing the first managerial change of the season, with Rolando Maran taking over from the fired Eugenio Corini in Verona). The return of the Champions League this week will again test both teams’ squad depth, as Roma face Sampdoria in Genoa on Saturday and Juventus face Palermo in Turin on Sunday.

Of the two games, Roma’s is the tougher, particularly after their Champions League drubbing by Bayern Munich.  Sampdoria are no Bayern, but they have emerged as this season’s early surprise team, and currently sit in third place three points behind Roma.  Under manager Sinisa Mihajlovic, Sampdoria have become a compact, aggressive outfit with notable quality up front in the form of Italian strikers Stefano Okaka and Manolo Gabbiadini (both of whom scored again in the 2-2 away draw in Cagliari last Sunday).

The club has recently changed ownership, with new boss (and film mogul) Massimo Ferrero immediately trotting out the necessary clichés about “projects” and returning the club to former glory.  But those clichés, tired as they are, do show a new boldness within the club that once showcased the talents of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini, as Ferrero expressed his disappointment at the draw with Cagliari, telling journalists he had hoped to enter the Roma game on the back of a win, to allow his team to go second in the table after defeating the Roman side.  With re-energised home support and Mihajlovic’s past as an iconic Lazio player, Roma can expect a tougher ride than Juventus will have against a Palermo side who struggled to record their first win last Sunday in an injury time 2-1 victory over Cesena.

Away from the title challenge, the big fixture of the weekend sees Milan take on Fiorentina at San Siro.   The two teams enter the game in contrasting form. The Filippo Inzaghi experiment continues to go well in Milan, with last Sunday’s 3-1 away win at Verona showcasing Keisuke Honda’s versatility.  Milan are fourth in the table, just one point behind Sampdoria, and will be encouraged by the fact that results have come despite the lack of a clear tactical plan.  Inzaghi has given his attacking players a lot of freedom and is fortunate to have players like Honda, Stefan El Shaarawy and Jeremy Menez, who have all contributed goals and assists this season.

Inzaghi deserves credit for reigniting the careers of all three of those players, and also for shoring up a creaky defence, with the centre-back pairing of Alex and Adil Rami performing decently so far (albeit against middling opposition). What the team lack is a striker in the Inzaghi mould, or indeed in any goal-scoring mould, as Fernando Torres floats through games with no discernible connection to the rest of the team.

Fiorentina, on the other hand, have plenty of out and out strikers, but most are out injured and the viola sit in mid-table mediocrity, despite early season ambitions of European qualification. Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez are injured, while  attacking midfielders Juan Cuadrado and Josep Ilicic have also failed to find their form this season. Montella has to get his team clicking in order to at least replicate last season’s fourth place finish, and a win at San Siro would be a true statement of intent for the viola.

Cosmopolitan League Latest

cosmoyellowBy Jay Mwamba

Pancyprian Freedoms rebounded from their first loss of the season to chalk up two 5-0 wins in three days in the US Open Cup and the Manning Cup.

Six-time Open Cup winners, the Greek-Cypriots got off to a flying start against EDSL envoys Stade Breton in the first round at St. John’s University last Thursday night. German ace Yannick Reyering bagged a hat trick while Andreas Chronis and Billy Antoniou added a goal apiece.

Pancyprian await the Sporting Astoria-Real Westchester winner in the next round.

On Sunday, the George Halkidis-coached club began their quest for an unprecedented eighth Manning State Cup with a 5-0 rout of the LISFL’s OB Fenerbache on the road.

Phil Bannister [two], ageless Brazilian goal merchant Julio [two] and Taso Polydefkis saw off the Turks to book a date with holders New York Greek Americans in round two.

“In both games the competition obviously was below the level we’re accustomed to at the CSL but in both games we did a lot of good things,” noted Halkidis. “In both games all 18 [players] on the roster saw significant time.”

His side was coming off a 3-2 defeat to CSL First Division rivals United FC in the USASA Amateur Cup a week earlier.

And with Pancyprian’s reserves blanking Istria 2-0 in the D’Arpino Cup, the club’s confidence couldn’t be higher.

Nick Psaras, a 17 year-old prodigy, and George Apostolidis scored for the reserves. “I’m sure [Nick] will get a call up to the [senior] team pretty soon,” Halkidis predicted.

COSMIC POWER
CSL clubs won nine of ten Manning State Cup tie played last Sunday, with last season’s losing finalists Manhattan Celtic the only team from the league to slip up. They lost 1-0 on the road to Serbia [HASL].

A number of the CSL teams won emphatically with New York Athletic Club’s 9-0 blowout of the LISFL’s NY Polet on Travers’ Island the largest on the day.

LANDSLIDE
CSL champions Lansdowne Bhoys raised early hopes of a grand slam season with their 5-2 triumph over Port Jefferson in the Manning Cup, four days after a 4-0 romp in the U.S. Open Cup first round.

Daryl Kavanagh [10th], Tom Wharf [35th], Sikele Slyvester [70th], Shadi Harb [80th] and Gareth McGlynn [88th] tallied for the Yonkers Irishmen. Losing finalists two years ago, they tackle New York Rovers next.

TURKEY SHOOT
Lansdowne had earlier traveled to Long Island in midweek for a US Open Cup tie with OB Fenerbache in Coram.

In that match, Karamba Janneh, Stephen Roche, Kavanagh and Mohamed Kaba connected to qualify for this Thursday night’s second round tie  with NYAC at Tibbetts Brook Park [Field 3].

HAMMERED
Julian Stahler and Christian Carrasquillo each struck twice in New York Rovers’ 4-1 thumping of Hampton United on Randalls Island.

ROAD KILL
Kwesi Mills [four] was the star in Central Park Rangers’ 5-1 road win over Istria.

Conor O’Donoghue accounted for the other goal with Mike Nieraeth and Damian Lopez [two] claiming assists, and Stal Mielec looming ahead.

CPR celebrated a rare double rout this season following their reserves’ 4-1 victory in the D’Arpino Cup.

Mike Boas, Tyler Webster, Tomer Abikzer and Hamza Deheina got on the score sheet, with Devin Roche, Chris Norelli and Mike DeChristopher providing the assists.

TIMBER!
Visiting Forest Park were put to the ax at McCarren Park where Stal Mielec run rampage in a 6-1 blitz.

Jacek Lawniczak [two], Paweł Basisty [two], Marcin Jaworek and Ronald Montrnegro produced the win.

FIERY UNITED
Manning Cup winners in 2013, United FC made it three wins in a row in all competitions with a 6-2 thrashing of hosts New York Irish Rovers on Long Island.

The prolific Paul Nittoli and Mohammad Masriqi each had a hat trick.

“Very strong team work — very happy with midfield work. Finally [the] guys are starting to understand each other,” remarked Alex Zaretser, who had props for defensive midfielder Pavlo Kolonifa.

He had even more to cheer about after his second unit ousted Stal Mielec ‘B’ 3-1 in the D’Arpino Cup.  Bohdan Matsushenko and Anatoliy Taranenko [two] scored.

Krzysztof Daniszewski replied for Stal.

EAGLES DARE
Clarkstown Eagles were the other CSL top flight side to advance in the State Cup. They edged Westbury 2-1 on Staten Island courtesy of Edmir Arucevic and Alex Shkrelli, who got a late winner [75th].

FLAMHAFT CUP
Division Two leaders Shamrock maintained the CSL dominance over Port Jefferson opposition, mauling the club’s second tier team 5-0 at St. Michael’s Playground in the Flamhaft Cup.

Shane Moore, Mike Stone, a Mohamed Fofana penalty kick, an own goal and Santiago Rigby put paid to the Long Islanders.

REAL DRAMA
Aaron Krepack scored an 87th equalizer to set New York Ukrainians on the way to a dramatic 5-4 away penalty victory over holders Real Westchester from the EDSL.

“The last five minutes, Aaron came inches from a game winner twice,” recounted coach Steve Kovalenko. “He managed to hit the crossbar after bursting into the box, and also forced a miracle save from the goalkeeper.”

It ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and in the ensuing shoot-out, David  Alkasimi, Adam Maliniak, Jesse Alexander and Krepack were on target before goalie Alex Broz saved Westchester’s fifth shot.

That’s when Date Reosuke  stepped up and coolly slotted home Ukrainians’ winner, avenging last season’s 3-2 defeat to the same team in the process.

Ukrainians’ seconds pipped Westbury Azzurri 2-1 in the D’Arpino Cup on goals by Dmitri Jacob and Uriah Cunha.

DOXA THROUGH
James Zaidan’s second half brace saw Doxa through to the second round 2-0 at the expense of Real NYC.

His first goal came on a breakaway that ended with him dribbling the Real goalie, said assistant coach Frank Bouklis.  The second was a shot to the far corner.

The Doxa reserves had a goal from Kevin Sales in a 1-0 D’Arpino Cup decision over Oceanside United.

ROSY GOALS
New Amsterdam United’s Jesse Rose scored twice but it wasn’t enough to avert a 3-1 loss to NY Olympiacos.

SPORTING LOSS
Sporting Astoria fought back from 3-1 down against the EDSL’s Honduras at Evander Childs High School only to succumb 5-4 on penalties.

The CSL side trailed early but Damian Paz leveled from a penalty won by Marc Vilson. Honduras then scored twice more provoking a second half Sporting rally.

Don Harrison pulled one back one Mohammed Jalloh’s assist before goalie Carlos Hernandez’ long punt was flicked on by the towering Adbou Tall, controlled by Paz and fed to Vilson for the equalizer. It came with a minute to spare.

Sporting, however, came up short in the shoot-out.

Boss Ed Romero singled out Paz for Man of the Match honors with Vilson a close second.

D’ARPINO CUP
Manhattan Celtic’s reserves knocked out NY Polet 2-0, thanks to John Palladino and Mike Gand.

SERBS STUNNED
Jordan Vera, from a free kick, and Johan Quinde, off an Abu Jalloh ball, scripted the Sporting Astoria reserves’ 2-1 upset of HASL side Serbia.

“A tough, physical match up,” Ed Romero termed it. “They are a first division reserve team who are currently first in their group. It was a great win for us.”

STRUMPF CUP
On the wrong end of many a drubbing in the league this fall, Missile FC finally found the opportune time and opponent to inflict one of their own last Sunday. It happened in the Strumpf Cup against Ofi Crete. The HASL club was hammered 9-1.

Jeff Durosier [three], Jo Valentin [two], Ben Alexandre, Dashi Ocvil, Stanley Bogard and Georges Handy did the damage.

SKID ENDS
Williamsburg International ended a three-match skid at the expense of fellow Metro Two side Barnstonworth Rovers who were outshot 3-1 on penalties in the Strumpf Cup first round.

Rovers’ Sergio Restrepo [75th] canceled out Logan Roos opener to force a 1-1 tie and penalties.

Andreas Moudatsos, Sergio Garcia and Steven Stone converted for Williamsburg whose goalie Benjamin Hanbury-Aggs was an intimidating presence.

Manager Juan Gonzalez Casares rued his team’s fortunes in the shoot-out.

“Thierno Cisse put it in, Aldo Morales hit the post, Matt
Donovan hit the keeper and Brandon Rowley hit the East River.
Disappointing to lose it all in penalties after fighting hard during
the 90 minutes,” he lamented.

MAULED
Mola SC were mauled 5-0 by CPR Reds in their Strumpf Cup encounter.

Timur Mone [two], Antonio Bishmade Rejman, Declan Heffernan and Richie Kavanagh connected.

“We kept possession the majority of the game and were relentless defensively, leading to very few opportunities for Mola,” said Blake Berg.

BRAVEHEART STYLE
FC Bravehearts could afford to concede four goals against New York Galicia and still win handily in their cup tussle.
Hat trick hero Oumar Maybe, Diego Mayanga, Jonathan Jacob, Izquierdo Garcia and Memo Ortiz were on target in an 8-4 rout.

FIVE-STAR VLLAZNIA
Sedat Musovski, Fabio Gripi, Albert Ruci [two] and Ritvan Mehmeti starred in NYC Vllaznia’s 5-0 romp over South Jamaica Port.

METRO STAR
Goalie Cameron Jires Feudjio was the NYC Metro Star hero in a 3-1 penalty victory at Lindenhurst.

Desire Nizigama [32nd] and winger Cristian Vasquez [56th]  — the latter on his return to his hometown — had scored in the 2-2 regulation time draw when Feudjio came up big in the shoot-out.

“He stopped three penalties and we scored through Eduardo Pumagualle, Vasquez and Elmer Batres,” reported a delighted Edison Calle.

BROOKLYN SIX
Chris Lanza [two], Jordan breslauer [two], Vinny Sibiero and Bryan Vega led
the charge in AO Brooklyn’s 6-1 ouster of  SC Eintracht.

HARD HITTERS
Sam Atwood struck twice to ease Gotham Argo past New York Ittihad 3-1.

Nico Eceizabarrena and Nick “Pugs” Pugliese had the assists, with Nico earlier setting up Eric Goncalves.

CLOSE CALL
Mikelange Francois broke Ridgewood hearts with a late long range winner in a 3-2 result after Grenadier Zenith had blown a 2-0 half time lead.

Clifford Augustin and Wilkemps Francois had Zenith in front early but Cosmin Chis [48th] and Ayhan Bekdemir’s [55th] replied to for Ridgewood.

“The goals gave us a huge boost but Grenadier scored again in the 75th minute and despite our sustained pressure we could not score again,” said assistant manager Ovidiu Ordean.

“[Our] keeper kept us in the game as he made seven or so saves that could hav been easy goals. [We] capitalized from a 30-yard shot that sealed the victory,” said Jacky Felix.

GOTHAM FALL
Gerry Smith and Josh Southall fired Mr. Dennehy’s into the Strumpf Cup second round with a 2-1 win over Gotham City.

Elsewhere in the Strumpf Cup, Mohammad Basir Mashriqi was the difference as Brishna squeaked past the LISFL’s NY Girensunspor 1-0.

MARTH CUP
In the Marth Cup for Over-30 teams, Manhattan Kickers Premier blanked LI Gaels 2-0 with goals by Nick Bill [70th] and Gilad Bloom [80th].

New York Greek Americans needed penalties to defeat Lindenhurst after a 1-1 draw in which Kyriakos Malias had tallied.

They won 5-4 in the shoot-out.

Chris Holterhoff, Darran Cronshaw and James Carrico scored for Nieuw Amsterdam but it still wasn’t enough as Baisley netted five.

NO MIRTH
Shamrock bowed out 2-1 to ten-man Barnstonworth Premier.

Ian Thorne [25th] and Alan Tardieu [35th] scored for Premier before Alex Berne got a goal back [60th] off a Danny Parkin rebound.

Manhattan Celtic Bhoys also exited 3-0 on penalties go Garden City after a 1-1 tie in which Gareth Hasson had scored.

The Women’s College Season So Far

janecampbell

Jane Campbell of Stanford. A potential future USA goalkeeper.

By Pat Glodkowski

This week we look at the women’s teams that have been performing well up to this point in the college season. Amongst these teams, we may find our future NCAA champion.

Not surprisingly, the teams that are performing well in the Women’s league have a relatively strong correlation to good performing teams in the Men’s League. There are plenty of familiar names from last week in this week’s review. Pac-12, Atlantic Coast, and Big Ten teams seem to have a dominance in both sex’s respective leagues. There are some differences though, with teams from the Southeastern Conference also making the top rankings here.

Hailing from Pac-12 are the two teams that everyone essentially expected to see on the list. UCLA and Stanford. These teams have a fantastic rivalry going on in the west, which has perpetuated high expectations for both teams. These teams have taken top spot in the NCAA RPI ratings for a reason. Reported records of 13-0-2 for UCLA and 12-2-1 for Stanford simply cannot be ignored.

Recently, Stanford thrashed Colorado 3-0, earning their 12th shutout for the season. The Cardinals have the firepower of Taylor Uhl, Pac-12’s top scorer last season, who got them going as she headed in a wonderful goal to give Stanford the lead. Coach Paul Ratcliffe has nothing but good things to say about his player, praising her as capable of making “a big impact” on their results. Keeper Jane Campbell has managed 10 clean sheets this season to bring her career total to 16 and has been noted as one of the pivotal players for the team. Hopefully, she will one day serve as the national team’s goalkeeper.

Stanford’s performance this year made the UCLA derby all the more interesting. The home team was losing to Stanford in front of 3,222 spectators. UCLA was down 1-0 until two moments of brilliance in the dying minutes of the game lifted them to victory of their rivals. The Bruins unfortunately conceded in the 52nd minute despite their persistence. Stanford’s joy lived on for a short period of time as Ally Courtnall and Annie Alvarado combined to crush the Cardinal’s spirits. UCLA coach, Amanda Cromwell, was pleased to see the passion in her player’s game.The pressure finally paid off as two goals came to down Stanford. As the season progresses, only few doubt that UCLA will continue to climb up.

Moving across country, the Atlantic Coast Conference has left an impression on fans nationwide. North Carolina is third in the RPI ratings and 6th in the NSCAA ratings. Both standings reflect their improvement over the season as the NCAA rated North Carolina as No. 8 earlier this month. They started rather shaky with a record of 1-2-1, and it looked as if they were on the verge of seriously underperforming this season. Now they have 9 straight wins to dispel any criticisms. One of their wins came from a momentous game against Virginia Tech. Tech had a 10-straight wins record coming into the game, and shockingly fell to UNC by a margin of 3-2. At this stage, the momentum is with UNC, and perhaps it will extend to the playoffs.

Virginia Tech did not seem like they could catch a break when they were felled by No. 2 Florida State. FSU has been heavy favorites coming into the season, which has been justified by their 14-1-0 record. A header scored by Dagny Brynjarsdottir in the 87th minute gave the Seminoles a late victory over the stubborn Virginia Tech team. The late goal was made all the more thrilling by the fact that FSU had opened the scoring on the 82nd minute only to concede moments later. One can say that it seems as though Virginia Tech fell off the tracks while other teams have been soaring past them.

Meanwhile, the other Virginia school, UVA, has had an entirely different story. Like FSU, they maintain a 14-1-0 record, and are big favorites in  the NSCAA. Virginia has been able to topple really any opponent presented to them. With players like Tina Lordanou and Makenzy Doniak, it is hard to disqualify them from being serious contenders this season for the national championship. Head Coach Steve Swanson seems to be a bit reserved on his expectations for the season, which perhaps suggest there are still some kinks the team needs to work out before seriously considering a long stretch into the playoffs.

The Big Ten has showed its worth with Penn State and Wisconsin representing the conference very well. Both teams have respectable records that make their potential presence in the late stages of the tournament all the more practical. Unfortunately, both teams have noticeably struggled in some of their games, which will cast some doubt on their future performances. Penn State’s loss to Rutgers stings for more reasons then one, and like their male counterparts, highlights some flaws to the Big Ten competitors.

Florida and Texas A&M have been running rampant, boasting strong records, making them dangerous teams to play here on out. Florida had a fantastic game against Mississippi State, beating their SEC opponents by a thrilling score of 5-1. Though they were praised for their amazing efforts on the night, they later fell to Kentucky, although there was no shame in that as UK boasts an undefeated home record.

Texas A&M made stunning strides such as delivering a historic win against Kentucky. In light of Florida’s loss to this team, its impact has all the more meaning. Texas managed to squeeze in a goal to win 2-1 in the final minute of the game, breaking the hearts of UK fans. Bianca Brinson was responsible for their final goal, which marks the Aggies’ 200th home win. The team dominated Kentucky through most of the game, conceding a goal because of confused defending coupled with a moment of accuracy by the visitors.

The women’s season is very much up for grabs across the board. Teams from multiple conferences are all easily capable of clinching the title this year. Watch this space.

EPL Latest

joehart

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart saves a penalty from Tottenham Hotpsur’s Roberto Saldado during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

By Jack Simpkin

Last weekend, the Premier League was back to it’s brilliant best, offering us penalties, red cards, plenty of late drama, and a staggering 40 goals between the 10 fixtures.

There is only one place to start, and that is at Saint Mary’s where Southampton recorded their biggest league win in almost a century in thumping Sunderland 8-0. Another two goals from summer signing Graziano Pelle took his tally for the season to six, whilst the other goals were shared around, including two own-goals from Santiago Vergini and Liam Bridcutt. It was a particularily terrible outing for Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone. who has since pledged to organise re-payment from the Sunderland players, to the 2,600 Sunderland fans who made the 650-mile round trip on Saturday to watch the game. Gus Poyet was clearly embarrassed by his team’s performance and will be expecting a much better display, if not result, from his men on Saturday when they host a stumbling Arsenal side, back at the Stadium of Light.

Arsenal are now without a win in seven in the EPL after they could only manage a point last Saturday at home to Hull City, and they were close to giving up all three but for a Danny Welbeck equaliser in the dying minutes of the game. Goals for Mohammed Diame and Abel Hernandez had put the visitors 2-1 up, having seen Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal in the lead with a brilliant solo-effort inside the opening 15 minutes.

Steve Bruce will be reasonably happy with his side’s current league position of 11th but he’ll be looking to get into the top ten this weekend when the Tigers travel to Anfield where they’ll face a Liverpool side that overcame Queens Park Rangers on Sunday in the weekend’s most exciting tie. Four goals in the game’s final eight minutes took the score from 1-0 to Liverpool to 3-2. Off the bench, Eduardo Vargas scored twice but two own-goals and a fantastic strike from Philippe Coutinho were enough to secure three much-needed points for Brendan Rodgers. Harry Redknapp’s side are still bottom of the Premier League but they showed just how well they can compete, and they will be confident of a win this weekend as they play host to Aston Villa.

That game will be keenly contested though as Paul Lambert will be after the three points for Aston Villa having seen them lose 3-0 to Everton on Saturday. The Toffees were relieved to end their poor run of form with a win in this match, the home crowd making a big difference having played away from home in all of their previous four matches. Phil Jagielka, Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman all scored, in that order, to secure the three points with relative ease. Roberto Martinez will expect his side to add another three on Sunday when their travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley.

League leaders Chelsea extended their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. Oscar scored after just six minutes with a beautiful free-kick and Cesc Fabregas doubled Chelsea’s lead six minutes into the second half with his first Premier League goal since December 2010 when he scored for Arsenal against Chelsea.

Despite Chelsea’s excellence it was two red cards that took the headlines from this fixture. Cesar Azpilucueta received a straight red card five minutes before the break, but Damien Delany followed him three minutes later after he picked up his second yellow of the game. Some fans, as always, would question some of those decisions but one thing we can be certain of is Chelsea’s efficiency when it comes to London derbies, having lost just one in their last 16. Jose Mourinho’s men will face a much harder test this weekend though when they welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge.

Man United’s inconsistent form continued on Monday night when they had to settle for a 2-2 draw away at West Bromwich Albion. Goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Saido Berahino meant the visitors had to come from behind twice, firstly via Marouane Fellaini and then in the 87th minute with a low shot that found the bottom corner from Daley Blind. Both Palace and West Brom will face considerably easier opponents this weekend in each other, as they face off at the Hawthorns.

One of the standout individual performances of the weekend came from Sergio Aguero who scored all four for Manchester City, as they beat Tottenham 4-1 at the Ethiad. For only the second time in Premier League history, four penalties were awarded in one game; Aguero took three of them, and missed one, whilst Joe Hart saved the other from Roberto Soldado. Christian Eriksen had equalised for Spurs after the Argentine opened the scoring after 13 minutes but after that it was all City. Manuel Pellegrini will be after another win on Saturday when his side face West Ham at Upton Park, as they once again try to close the gap on Chelsea.

Sam Allardyce will be confident of picking up a result in that game having seen West Ham rise to fourth spot in the table after they beat Burnley 3-1 on Saturday. When Diafra Sakho opened the scoring after 49 minutes, he became only the second West Ham player to score in five consecutive Premier League games. After that, goals from Enner Valencia and Carlton Cole were enough to cancel out George Boyd’s strike on the hour mark. That goal may seem insignificant but it was in fact Boyd’s first in a Burnley shirt and it ended a run of 406 minutes without a home goal for the Clarets.

Newcastle picked up their first win of the season on Saturday beating Leicester City 1-0 thanks to Gabriel Obertan’s second ever Premier League goal, and his first since February 2012. The win lifted Alan Pardew’s sides up into 18th place and he’ll be hoping his side can really gain some momentum now after their early season woes. This weekend’s fixture won’t be easy though as the Magpies travel to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham.

Lastly from last weekend’s Premier League fixtures, Stoke City beat Swansea City 2-1. Both sides won and converted penalties but a brilliantly placed header by Jon Walters with 15 minutes to play was enough to take all three points for Mark Hughes’ side who are next to make the trip down to Saint Mary’s. They face high-flying Southampton on Saturday. As for Swansea, they return back to Wales to play Leicester, a game they will be targeting as one to win.

Cosmos Prepare For Play Offs

CrossIslandCrewBy Cesar Trelles

After coming off a scoreless draw against North American Soccer League leaders Minnesota United FC, the New York Cosmos returned to prepare for their final home match of the season scheduled for this Saturday 10/25 againsttheir long time rivals the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

While the team clinched a post season spot with their draw against Minnesota, head coach Giovanni Savarese is not one to coast into the post season.

“We are very content with our team and the effort that they put in right now to continue to be alive in this season”, commented Savarese.

“We are looking forward to these next two matches as we still have the potential to arrive in second (seed). So we are going to give everything that we have to try and come out as high as possible in the table”.

While finishing high in the combined points table might be the ultimate objective of coach Savarese over these final two matches, this week has presented some distractions to the team that he would rather not have to deal with.

On Tuesday it was reported that the New York/New Jersey Red Bulls have once again recalled midfielder/defender Connor Lade back to the Red Bulls for a rather insignificant match against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday as part of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). The Red Bulls have already been eliminated from CCL competition and thus this match is just a formality to finish off the CCL group stage. The Cosmos of course are in the midst of trying to head into postseason play with as much momentum as possible and were hoping to use Lade defensively for their match on Saturday.

Already the Cosmos will be without Carlos Mendes this Saturday who picked up a red card late in the match against Minnesota. They might also be without Roversio (knee) and Jimmy Ockford (hamstring) due to injuries.

Wednesday, as reported on the website Big Apple Soccer, Cosmos COO Erik Stover confirmed that the New York Cosmos were no longer interested in taking back Connor Lade via loan as the back and forth caused by the loan was a distraction for the team. Earlier in the season, head coach Giovanni Savarese had confirmed that a verbal agreement was made with RBNY and that they would not recall Lade for the remainder of the season. Since that venal agreement RBNY has now recalled Ladd twice.

As if the Connor Lade situation were not enough, the Cosmos are also now dealing with media buzz created by ESPN FC when earlier in the week an article was posted on their website stating that legendary Spanish striker Raul had come to terms on a contract with the New York Cosmos. The negotiations between Raul and the Cosmos of course have been dragged out since the Cosmos visited Dubai last winter during the off season. While in Dubai, rumors and speculation of Raul coming to the Cosmos were started and have continued in earnest throughout the season. Just this month he has been spotted at a Cosmos home match with his family and even at Cosmos training sessions.

“Right now we are focusing from the technical staff about the match that we have this coming weekend against Tampa.” suggested Savarese when asked about Raul. “Nothing else right now is on our mind.”

Cross Island Crew Tidbits:.

•    This Saturday October 25th will be the final home match for the NY Cosmos when they face off against the Tampa Bat Rowdies. It will also be fan appreciation night.

•    Supporters Scarves are available Cross Island Crew Supporters Scarves are available for sale for $20. For information email crossislandcrew@gmail.com or visit www.crossislandcrew.com

The Price of Football

bowlerBy Bill Thomas

We are at that time of year again, when the BBC trots out the results of its cost of football survey and everywhere across the land, opportunistic politicians pop their heads above the parapet to castigate the “greed league” and demand, as clueless politicos are wont to do, that “something must be done”, before disappearing back into the undergrowth again to spend time with the family, sometimes even their own.

Much as we would all love everything to be free in this land of milk and honey, that’s not how anything works, certainly not football. And while there are certainly some eye watering figures quoted in some areas, in general I’m getting a bit fed up of “the clubs” getting battered for setting high prices.

Football clubs operate in an economic model, the capitalist system, just like every other business. If you want good players, clubs have to pay them. If they are going to pay them, then they need to raise the money, and they do that through ticket prices allied to television revenue.
It is the same as everything else. To a large extent, you get what you pay for. If you want a 17” TV that can sit in the corner of a bedroom, it might set you back a couple of hundred quid. If you want an all singing, all dancing one that occupies a wall of your front room and also makes your dinner, you might have to fork out a couple of thousand. Why would football be any different?

It would be easy enough for clubs to slash prices by half – providing the players were willing to take a similar cut, which I’m assuming they won’t. Why should they? Would you? In which case, the club has to get them to leave and then employs players who are half as good, at which point the supporters go ballistic because the team is rubbish.

On that basis, it looks as if we should blame the players. Actually, we shouldn’t. The fellas we should blame run Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris St Germain, Manchester United, Barcelona. They are the people who instigated the idiotic arms race, with its inevitable conclusion of mutually assured destruction that has disfigured the game, overpaying in fees and wages while waving their wads of cash in the air, igniting a trend that all the clubs have had to slavishly follow if they want to give even the illusion of competing. Ross McCormack at £11million? On what planet is that regarded as a sane transaction?

Beyond that, I get a little bit tired of government sticking its nose in to moan about football pricing when they spend the rest of the time extolling the virtues of the free market. Around 95% of the seats in the Prenier League in England are filled. People are paying the prices so why cut them? That’s your free market isn’t it? I don’t see government busting a gut to do anything that genuinely forces the petrol companies, the supermarkets, the utilities to bring their prices down and that’s on the things that we genuinely cannot live without.

Football is a business, just like those operations, so may I respectfully add that government keeps out of it? Or, it could do what it does with the film industry and give football a handout, because most clubs need it rather more than Disney requires the handout George Osborne gave them to help them make that barely heard of, loss making little movie franchise called “Star Wars” in the UK.

As to what you buy in the ground, the prices you pay for tea and hot dogs often are high, but no more ridiculous that you end up paying at a service station on the motorway or at a concert – again, that’s the problem of being part of a captive audience, and also buying from an outlet that can only sell to you on 19 or 20 occasions a year. You try making that particular business model work.

Here’s the thing that people don’t really think about. All of that TV money that floods in? It goes straight back out again to pay players, agents, transfer fees, taxes, maintenance, keeping a stadium operating. It doesn’t go to subsidizing other bits of the business because if it did, it would hit the player budget and nobody, least of all supporters, want that. The food concessions have to make money. The programme has to make money. The media department has to bring in money. The hospitality department has to make money. The bottom line matters, and if you don’t have one, you’re not going to be around long.

Via the same logic, while everybody wants to see clubs do more to bring in the next generation, it is very difficult, especially in grounds that are near capacity. Let’s do kids for a quid at a place where the adult seat is £20 for instance. You get in 20 kids in a full stadium, that’s £20 in revenue. Meanwhile, there are 20 adults who couldn’t get in and were willing to pay £20. You’ve tossed away £380. Show me many businesses that are going to sign up to that maths.

Yes, football should be cheaper. So should pretty well everything else you can name. The real issue is not why the cost of football has gone up faster than inflation. The question is why have most working people seen the value of their wages decrease in real terms, thus making football less affordable.

Odd how the politicians aren’t talking about that isn’t it?

Spurs Answers

keano1 – What was the name of the ground they played at before moving to White Hart Lane?

Northumberland Park

2 – Which side had Tom Huddlestone played for before joining Spurs in 2005?

Derby County

3 – Who succeeded Harry Redknapp as manager in 2012?

Andre Villas-Boas

4 – What bird is featured on the club crest?

A Cockerel

5 – Who made 854 appearances for the club between 1969 and 1986?

Steve Perryman

Cosmos Clinch Play Off Spot

nycosmos_logoThe New York Cosmos earned a hard-fought point, and clinched a spot in The Championship – the North American Soccer League’s four team postseason tournament, in a 0-0 draw at league leaders Minnesota United FC on Saturday night.

This was the third meeting of 2014 between the first and third place teams in the NASL Combined Season Standings, and the first at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. New York entered the match on the heels of a last-minute 2-1 victory against Ottawa Fury FC, while the hosts were coming off a 3-2 victory at Tampa Bay in the midweek match on Wednesday.

“It’s great to clinch a spot in the postseason,” said Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer after the match. “Obviously this isn’t the way we planned it, but at the end of the day it’s all about making the postseason and seeing what we can do from there.”

The visitors came out the stronger of the two sides, and looked purposeful going forward in attack. The first real opportunity of the match, though, came for Minnesota. Speedy Minnesota midfielder Miguel Ibarra motored away down the wing and sent in a low cross towards midfielder Kevin Venegas, who saw his effort saved at point-blank range by Maurer in the 15th minute.

United continued to push forward in attack, and nearly had the game’s opening goal through the aforementioned Ibarra in the 30th minute. Ibarra was played in on goal after a neat flick on, and rounded Maurer after a well-controlled first touch in the box, only to see his effort cleared off the line by Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman. The danger wasn’t clear, though, and Maurer was called into action once more following a stinging free kick from Minnesota’s Daniel Mendes in the 32nd minute.

Just minutes later, Minnesota appeared to be clean in on goal, only for the referee to bring play back to award a yellow card to Cosmos midfielder Danny Szetela for a tug of the shirt in the 35th minute. Minnesota players were upset with Younes Marrakchi’s decision, and the score remained 0-0 going into the break.

The second half began much the same way as the first, with the Cosmos controlling possession in the midfield, and creating a majority of the opportunities. The visitors heaped cross after cross into the Minnesota box, but were unable to find the score to break the deadlock.

The hosts soon grew into the second 45, though, and gave the Cosmos something to think about through the movement of Venegas. The Norwalk, Calif. native made a marauding run into New York’s penalty area in the 65th minute, but was marshalled off the ball by Szetela. Minnesota continued to keep the pressure on the visitors, and it was Ibarra once again who came close to finding the back of the net. The United States international was played into the area with a perfectly-threaded through ball in the 74th minute, but Freeman was alert to the danger and did well to force Ibarra away from goal.

Then there was a moment of real controversy in the 85th minute that nearly turned the match on its head. Minnesota United was awarded a penalty after Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes was judged to have barged over Ramirez in the box. Mendes received a red card for the foul, and Ramirez stepped up to the spot to try and give United a late lead. The league-leading goal-scorer sent his effort high and wide, though, in the 87th minute, and the match remained level at 0-0.

The 10 men of New York defended furiously for the remainder of the match, and left Minnesota with a point and a clean sheet.

“It was a hard-fought draw for sure,” said Cosmos assistant coach Alecko Eskandarian. “The guys worked their butts off until the end, and obviously dealt with a few different scenarios we didn’t perceive. Hunter Freeman moved to center back, [Hunter] Gorskie checked in at right back, we switched things around and didn’t miss a beat. The guys fought hard, and in the second half the play was much better. [We] created a few opportunities, but we didn’t concede, and at the end of the day we’ll take the draw on the road.”

Next up, the Cosmos will welcome the Tampa Bay Rowdies to James M. Shuart Stadium for their regular season home finale on Saturday, Oct. 25. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Crunch Time for Cosmos

prostpartyBy Cesar Trelles

The New York Cosmos turned in a performance this past Saturday at Shuart stadium that the 2013 version of the team would be proud of.

In the 93rd minute, Hagop Chirishian tapped a well placed cross from Hunter Freeman into the left hand corner of the net for a 2-1 lead that would give the Cosmos a dramatic victory and three crucial three points. With the season reaching its conclusion, the Cosmos find themselves in third place 10 points behind Minnesota and 6 points behind San Antonio in the combined points table. While their place in the combined points table is enough today to qualify them for the NASL postseason, they must be wary of the teams that are gunning for their spot behind them.

“We cannot decelerate, we must keep earning points and keep on getting better” said Cosmos Head coach Giovanni Savarese on Tuesday after the team’s workout.

Getting better is a must since two of the Cosmos last three matches are against teams that are ahead of them in the standings. One of those teams Minnesota United FC, awaits the Cosmos this Saturday in Minnesota.

“We want to finish the season in the best way possible. This game vs Minnesota is a final for us, in fact all of our remaining matches are finals for us.”, expressed Savarese.

Lurking behind the Cosmos (40 pts) in the points table are the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers with 35 points, Carolina Railhawks with 33 points and FC Edmonton with 31 points. Both teams have been playing some of the best soccer in the NASL as of late and would love nothing more than to pass the Cosmos and steal their spot in the postseason.

The team’s final match of the regular season will be against the San Antonio Scorpions, a team that has already given the Cosmos troubles both times they have faced them this season. San Antonio are firing on all cylinders after a 7-0 trouncing of the Tampa Bay Rowdies this past Saturday.

Savarese also realizes that if things hold the way they are in the standings, not only will the Cosmos wrap up their season against San Antonio, but they could end up playing their first round playoff match against them due to the new NASL post season format.

“Truth is we have to get through our current games. We cannot look ahead, that’s it. But at the end we dont care who we will play. We are trying to earn as many points as possible.”

“It would be interesting however that we could be playing San Antonio in the last game and end up playing our 1st playoff game against them. The same thing happened to us last year when we ended the season against Atlanta and went on to face them in the Soccer Bowl”.

At the beginning of the 2014 NASL season, commissioner Bill Peterson announced that the NASL would move towards a different method of deciding its league champion this year. In years past, the winner of the spring season would play the winner of the fall season in a single winner take all match called the Soccer Bowl. Many teams in the league argued that there were several problems with that structure such as the spring season winner shutting down in the fall because their spot was secured in the title match. Some also pointed towards the fact that if one team jumped out to an outrageous lead, then there wasn’t much for other teams to play for the remainder of the season.

With the new structure in place this year, not only do the spring winner and fall winner make the post season, but points earned over both seasons combined come into play. The teams with the next two highest point totals over the course of the two seasons also make the post season as the third and fourth seeds.

Once teams are decided, the first seed plays the fourth seed and the second seed plays the third seed – each in a single match. Those two winners then compete in the soccer bowl for the championship.

“For me I don’t like playoffs,” said Savarese. “There are times when teams make the playoffs that maybe don’t deserve to make the playoffs. I don’t think however that will be the case this year.”

Cross Island Crew Tidbits:
• On Saturday October 18th, there will be another Cosmos viewing party at Prost Grill & Garten in Garden City, Long Island. Gametime is 8:00pm.

• The final home match of the Cosmos 2014 season will be next Saturday, October 25 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Game time is 7:30pm.

• Cross Island Crew Supporters Scarves are available for sale for $20. For information email crossislandcrew@gmail.com or visit www.crossislandcrew.com

Telling It Like It Is

keane

Roddy Doyle and Roy Keane promote their book at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

By Bill Thomas

Roy Keane. God bless him. If anybody can liven up the dreariness of an international break, it’s Roy.

With an autobiography that is the written equivalent of a thousand yard stare, the great man has turned his withering fire on all and sundry and the game is a better place for it.

In these sanitised days when nobody is allowed to say anything in the least bit interesting on pain of death, having Keane telling it like it is is a glorious throwback to an era long past when we could be trusted to hear home truths laid bare around us without the nation supposedly risking a collective attack of the vapours.

At the risk of going down the “it used to be better in our day” route, well, it was. Turn on the telly for a bit of football in the ‘70s or ‘80s and you might hear Malcolm Allison, Derek Dougan, Mick Channon, Don Revie, His Holiness Bill Shankly and Sir Brian Clough himself, none of them holding back, all of them giving a blunt, forthright version of what it was they saw laid out before them on the pitch.

They weren’t always right, you didn’t have to agree with them, but to hear some real giants of the game going at it hammer and tongs was both proper entertainment and real education. And when they were at it, the likes of Brian Moore, Jimmy Hill, David Coleman or Frank Bough simply allowed them to get on with it. Nowadays, if dissent breaks out, you can see Gary Lineker breaking out in a cold sweat at the prospect and quickly changing the subject

I struggle to quite understand why that should be, why things have changed so much, why we are so keen to avoid giving offence at all costs in an era where there’s always somebody desperate to take it at the most innocuous thing anyway, however conscientiously the bland lead the bland?

Loath as I am to take instruction from the atmosphere polluting drivel that is “The X factor”, “The Apprentice” and the like, they achieve a position at the centre of what we call the national conversation by one simple means. They court controversy, they do not shy away from it. At what point has Alan Sugar ever saccharin coated any of his comments? Never. Taking his lead from Donald Trump in the original American version, Sugar has tried to be as outspoken, brash and obnoxious as possible, competing with Simon Cowell for the coveted title of television’s most celebrated pantomime villain.

And yet all of this is manufactured, pre-scripted hot air that drips of artifice, marketing, spin. All but the most gullible among us know that we are being played, that a dramatic arc is being followed, that we are on another tedious “journey” may the Lord help us.

But when there’s a game of football concerned, the one thing we do know is that it isn’t scripted, that it exists in the moment and the reactions that come to it should be equally improvised. And yet we hear the same pat descriptions of the action time and again, an identikit collection of views that are selected from a range of half a dozen. Big Mal would be turning in his grave if he heard some of the stuff that passes for informed and interesting comment these days. Still, at least that would keep him busy til Fiona Richmond turns up.

It isn’t good enough. Football, more than ever in this day and age of so many competing attractions, is in the entertainment business. We are not curing cancer, we need not debate games in chin stroking obliqueness. This is what we do in our spare time and if the game does not make that an attractive enough proposition, there are plenty of other things we can have a go at instead.

It is a most compelling irony that it is a man like Roy Keane who points the way forward, for never in the history of the game has there been a character with as little interest for the froth and the fripperies of celebrity, of entertainment, of the throwaway. Have you ever seen a man as dedicated to his profession or, more particularly, to winning, than Roy Keane?

And yet of course, that merely underlines the one dimensional way in which we are asked to view the world these days. Everybody is supposed to be reduced to caricature, to a cartoon of themselves whereupon we take the most obvious facet of their character, blow that so far out of proportion that it swamps every other attribute and never allow them to escape that prison of personality.

And so forever more, Roy Keane is supposed to be the snarling skinheaded scourge of referees and midfielders everywhere, kicking, spitting and fighting his way to another trophy. What drivel. Yes Keane was a winner, yes he was a hard competitor, but there was more to him than that, just as there is far more to him now.

Where we are asked to believe, risibly, that Joey Barton is some kind of renaissance man these days, Keane is more likely the real deal. I would urge you to try and catch the full version of his interview with Kevin Kilbane on BBC’s Football Focus – it’s on the BBC website
www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29571633 – with all due dispatch because it is 20 minutes well spent.

Discussing his two coaching roles, Keane – and surely the man is busy enough already, incubating a flock of swallows in that capacious WG Grace of a beard – shows himself to be a character of intelligence, charm and a goodly sense of humour, more than willing to laugh at himself and to acknowledge the absurdity of a world where we await gnomic utterances from blokes who are basically good at kicking a bag of air in the right direction. There’s no showboating, no grandstanding, just a rare bit of honesty delivered with like it or lump it candour.

Those are the building blocks of his character, those are the elements that once you know they’re there, make his opinions all the more fascinating, all the more credible. Keane is one of the game’s most engaging characters, one quite the equal of his old mentor Brian Clough, one with just as much to say that should fascinate and illuminate.

But just as Cloughie gave television the wide berth in his later years as he recognised its waning desire to do just that, so it is no wonder that Keane has concluded that punditry is beneath him.

God knows, it’s our loss, not his.

Donovan’s Last Waltz

donovanBy Tim Hall

On Friday night, Landon Donovan, a man who some would argue is the greatest American soccer player of all time, ended his career with his national team in a performance that spoke volumes not only about him, but about the state of the sport in the United States.

The game took place at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. It is, primarily, a stadium used for American football, the lines of which were still visible on the field on that chilly October night. It would be difficult to claim that the retirement of a player from national team duty is the biggest night in the history of the sport, but, it had a feel of something bigger than just an off-cycle friendly. Maybe not tuxedos and red carpets, but perhaps a few extra photos, a moment to be savored, a story to be told somewhere down the line. And yet, the fans in attendance could not escape those damned football lines, bane of the supporters’ existence throughout the modern renaissance that people like Landon Donovan have helped to usher in.

Tack on the fact that Rentschler Field is virtually impossible to get to from either New York City or Boston or, frankly, any point in between, and that parking there consists of dumping your car in a dark field and hoping it will be somewhere in that field, in some drivable state, after the game. It makes one wonder why on earth this would be place US Soccer elected to hold two matches in as many years when there are perfectly good stadiums nearby, until you remember that nearby Bristol is the home of ESPN. It’s only a thirty minute drive or thereabouts, close enough for Donovan and his USMNT teammates to pop over for a quick interview on gameday and for the commentators to carpool over without ESPN having to reimburse them for tolls. ESPN’s role in the last two decades of growth of the game in America is undeniable, and Donovan himself will be among the last to straddle the eras of niche product and household names. Now both are moving on, ESPN having ceded the broadcast rights to the next few major tournaments around the world, and Donovan to a career, oddly enough, where he might make a fine analyst for Fox Sports, the holder of those rights.

The seats where the biggest US supporters were stationed, in the ends of Rentschler Field, came complete with a partially obstructed view, owing again to the stadium’s primary purpose to allow the nation’s best and brightest students to give each other concussions. Our view of Landon Donovan has been similarly obstructed over the years by the man himself. The American midfielder has played the media game well, always giving us some but not enough. There was, most famously, the time when he gave soccer a rest for a while and disappeared to Cambodia without much of an explanation. We’d come to learn later that this was somewhere between feeling burnt-out and depression, the latter of which Donovan would speak about in his final pre-match press conference in the Stars-and-Stripes. There was also the time, after scoring what will surely go down as the most famous and most important goal of his national team career, sending the US through to the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup with a stoppage time goal against Algeria, Landon used the spotlight of postgame interview to look directly into the camera and say hello to his on-again, off-again wife Bianca.

He knew that we knew of the stories in the media about his relationship. This was Landon Donovan in a nutshell, somehow understanding that a few of us have done the backreading on the subjects of his life, that we’re in on his jokes, but not much caring to explain it to anyone else, and not choosing to give us any further peek behind the curtain.

When the whistle blew through the Connecticut air and it was suddenly about the actual game again, it was clear from the actions of all of Donovan’s teammates that the objective was to get Landon a goal as a sendoff. The problem here is that Landon Donovan has never been a target forward in that sense. He’s always played as a creative midfielder, a “true number ten” to borrow the parlance. A very good number ten, not so much penciled into the lineup as much as India inked. Even his most famous goal, that one against Algeria, was not of his own making. The credit there can be passed around like the ball was: Tim Howard’s excellent throw from the goalmouth to spring the attack, Donovan up the sideline with an excellent thru-ball to Jozy Altidore that hit him in stride. Altidore slides one across to Clint Dempsey, who is stuffed by the keeper, only for the rebound to come to Donovan, crashing the net like a midfielder should.

Sadly for the man and the fans, Donovan’s highlight goal in his final national team match would not come. He played over 40 minutes before being pulled to a rousing ovation of thanks by the US faithful. Donovan could have played more – usually a player gets about 60 minutes in before the grand farewell – but Landon had a club match that actually mattered the following day. That was Landon Donovan, too. He’s always had somewhere else to be. Despite being given a chance at a young age to blossom in the Bayer Leverkusen system, Donovan pressured them to loan him back to the States, where he played for San Jose. Still unable to fit in on German soil, a full transfer was made sending Donovan to LA Galaxy. Loans to Bayern Munich and Everton would also never amount to European success, with the feel that Donovan was always the one steering the ship, that maybe his heart was never in Europe. And then, as mentioned, there was his midseasons sabbatical to Cambodia, part of a mental and physical recharging that might have seen Landon blackballed from the game 50 years ago but is now understood a bit more.

Donovan’s night over, discounting interviews and video tributes and a lap around the stadium to applaud the fans, the USMNT would end up drawing Ecuador 1-1, and even that seemed to be in tribute to the legacy of Landon Donovan. The US Men, as he departs them, are good, are better now than when he first latched on at the tender age of 21, yet they still aren’t quite good enough to put away the really elite teams when needed. Oh, they can beat Mexico in sub-freezing temperatures at home, but they still can’t fight through to the very upper echelon.

So that Friday night perfectly encapsulated what Landon Donovan has meant throughout his national team career. What his career actually means, will be left to time and history to decide.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Sunday, October 19: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew – It’s the last guaranteed home game of the season, even though NY have made the playoffs, we still await seeding. So, it’ll be festive and no pressure, for the fans at least. Join the Empire Supporters Club at El Pastor (570 Market St. Newark) one more time.

The College Season So Far

wolverton

Andrew Wolverton – Record clean sheets for Penn State.

By Pat Glodkowski
    
This week we review how some of the best men’s college teams have been performing so far this season.

Conference games are underway, and the intensity of these matches have been picking up significantly. We have had record attendances, astounding goals, and uncovered many youth talents during the earlier stages of the season. However, now that the college soccer season is in the swing of things the stakes have been raised and there are many reasons to become more attentive to what is going on, ahead of the college soccer tournament.

The teams that have done well this season, impressing both coaches and fans have been primarily (though not surprisingly) in the Atlantic Coast, Pac-12, and Big Ten Conference.

Some players have already been making waves, such as Andrew Wolverton (PSU), Patrick Doody (Indiana), and Leo Stolz (UCLA). These players have set new standards for their position with goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton breaking Penn State’s record in clean sheets as well as helping their team to the best start in Big Ten.

The school had wild success beginning this year with ten straight wins, until they succumbed to Maryland University. Prior to that 4-0 rout by Maryland, PSU conceded only three goals, thanks in part to their esteemed keeper. He has set many records for his school in the past, and continues to break them this season.

Their top striker, Connor Maloney offers them a bright future as the team’s and Big Ten’s leading goal scorer. In Penn State’s last win that occurred against Rutgers, Maloney scored the lone goal of the game. Maloney recalls Coach Warming telling him to “be a beast at all times.” He further stated that the coach wanted to see intensity above all else in their games. So far this philosophy has prevailed with Penn State’s team hitting a minor dent in their otherwise perfect season thus far.

The other Big Ten competitor, who may cause Penn State major problems down the road, is Indiana. IU is currently ranked number 1 according to the NCAA RPI index, with a reported record of 8-1-3. This school has a perfect away performance, making any home team shiver with the fear of loss (even Duke would not be safe). Indiana has players that can combine their individual talents to find one another and click as a team. In their first game in October against St. Louis, IU conceded an early goal in the first minute. A few minutes later they were on the cusp of losing another, but keeper Sascha Otte spared them from going two down. The team managed to rally at the 23rd minute to find an equalizer thanks to good delivery from Patrick Doody, and a clinical finish by Jamie Vollmer. Indiana went on to overcome St. Louis 3-1.

Moving across the country, the Pacfic-12 has offered quite a lot of excitement with teams such as Washington, UCLA, and Stanford thriving this season. Washington has managed to charm the country by going in strong  and hardly leaving any game unnoticed. This past week, Washington had difficulties against a strong Oregon State side. After going a man down early on, they managed to hold onto a 1-1 draw against a fierce Oregon State opposition. Coach Jamie Clark recounted that day “we should feel fairly happy with a tie against a top-25 team on the road.”

Washington right now remains the only undefeated team in the Pac-12 Conference. Coach Clark believes his team has set a high standard for the team and hopes to maintain their good form. The country could very well be staring at potential national champions, should they maintain their form.

The other two notable pac-12 teams, UCLA and Stanford recently went head to head to obtain an unsatisfying 1-1 draw. Aaron Simmons of UCLA managed to record his first goal of the season, amidst a solid game from Stanford keeper Earl Edwards Jr. Edwards’s performance was all the more impressive and crucial as UCLA was ranked second in the nation and Stanford needed to maintain a good start to the conference games. This short stumble overshadowed UCLA’s previous win against Cal State Northridge where they won 3-0, courtesy of two goals from their star, Leo Stolz. Stanford has a chance to climb the rankings, but while evaluating their team, it is hard to say if they will continue to do well. They are missing some key components in their team, making it hard for them to keep up with their competitors.

The Atlantic Coast has also been host to a good many teams such as previous NCAA champions, Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are maintaining good form this season, despite losing a senior class from last year. Other familiar contenders in this conference include Syracuse and Virginia. As always these teams stand firm among the competition and offer hard-fought games. Virginia saw seasons of glory under the leadership of Bruce Arena, who is now considered one of the best MLS coaches. Often, Arena reminisces back to the UVA team he led prior to accepting a position with D.C. United, regarding his college team very highly. Syracuse offers major problems to teams doing extremely well. They will be hoping to overcome any obstacles to make a long run this season.

In the end,the chances of seeing a repeat win by Notre Dame seems slim this season, though not impossible. They have had a number of stumbles including a 1-0 loss to Boston College. After losing the early goal, Notre Dame could not muster the ability to break down BC’s defense. Other teams have had similar hiccups, but the loss of championship players may take a mental toll on the players. As of now, much like the Euro qualifiers, this season is still very open.