Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seattle - Havana of the North

There must be something about Starbucks that lures Cuban soccer players to Seattle. Four years after Maykel Galindo joined the Seattle Sounders, Drew Carey's new club has lured Osvaldo Alonso to the birthplace of grunge. Fresh off his USL1 rookie of the year season with the Charleston Battery, Alonso is poised to patrol the Sounders midfield in front of Kasey Keller.

Rumor has it that fellow defector Reinier Alcantara may also be coming to MLS. His likely destination is Chivas USA, where he would hook up with... Maykel Galindo. It's a small, small world.

So Beckham's Washed Up, Huh?

When David Beckham joined the Galaxy two years ago, many folks said he was washed up/cashing one last check/joining a retirement league/etc. Of course this must be true, I mean Fabio Capello keeps calling him into the England squad, and he's scored two goals in two games for Milan, including this free kick bomb:

Not bad for someone who can't play any more....

The Giant Grella Invasion

I realize that there are probably five other people in the world who are hardcore about both soccer and Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I had to post this. Is it just me, or does former Duke University striker and MLS draft-spurner Mike Grella look like the love child of the main character from the film The Giant Spider Invasion?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Lure of Easy Money Has a Very Strong Appeal

In 2006 Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber famously said "We don't want the local bail-bonds company on the front of the Columbus Crew jersey." Were multi-level marketing companies like Amway, who just signed on as the shirt sponsor of the San Jose Earthquakes truly what he had in mind that day?

Sure, the FTC officially ruled that Amway isn't a pyramid scheme, and nobody has been able to prove that they constitute a cult. But do you really want your team/league associated with a company that's had to defend itself from such allegations, as well as lawsuits from a number of governments?

You might note that MLS is not the first American sports league to be associated with Amway. Co-founder Richard DeVos owns the Orlando Magic. Is this good or bad? I'll leave that to you to decide.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We heard you missed us... we're back...

Every year there are a couple of players who bolt from Major League Soccer to places across the Atlantic with crosses on their flags. Cold places like Norway and Denmark. So far this year the league lost Michael Parkhurst to a Danish club and Hunter Freeman to the Norwegians. We've also seen players like Marcus Tracy and Mike Grella skip MLS altogether to sign with lower-level European teams straight out of college.

Some players are going to sign in Europe no matter what. The lure of living abroad and the perceived chance of catching the eye of a huge club like Manchester United is too much to pass up. What's missed among the hand wringing and bitter invective on BigSoccer is the fact that many of these players eventually show up back in the United States. The grass is not always greener on the other side. With more than two months left for MLS teams to acquire players before the start of the season, these players have already floated back:

Steve Purdy (Germany)
Danny Torres (Norway)
Tally Hall (Denmark)
Mike Videira (Scotland)

So the next time you hear an American has left for Europe do not despair. Chances are they will be back eventually.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fire Draft Husidic

In this year's draft, my beloved Chicago Fire traded up to snag University of Illinois-Chicago midfielder Baggio Husidic. One of the most highly-regarded prospects in the draft, he scored two goals from two shots at the MLS combine. He'll get at least one year of tutelage under Cuauhtemoc Blanco in the Fire midfield and could be his successor one day. His Generation Adidas status (which means he does not count against the salary cap or take up a senior roster spot) certainly doesn't hurt either.

Husidic may also have the best pure soccer name in the draft. How can someone named Baggio not be a soccer star. Perhaps the next few years will see Beckenbauer Konstantinov or Maradona Jones enter the league.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Team by Any Other Name...

Philadelphia's 2010 MLS expansion franchise is taking votes on its future name, and the choices are quite underwhelming:
  • AC Philadelphia
  • SC Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia City
  • Philadelphia Union

Bleck. If you look slightly closer at the choices, they translate as:

  • Italian-sounding europoser name
  • Sort of American-sounding europoser name
  • British-sounding europoser name
  • Somewhat interesting American sports name

You're telling me that there aren't three other names with an actual tie to Philadelphia they could substitute for all the europoser names? I'd rather they recycle the Philadelphia Atoms name from the NASL than see any of these used.

Oh well. At least it's not Real Salt Lake.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Onion Strikes Again

I've been meaning to post this for a long time, but kept forgetting. Once again The Onion brings the funny with their take on the new Major League Soccer franchise in Seattle: Seattle's Disastrous Sports Year Continues With Addition Of Major League Soccer Team.

Another great MLS-related article from The Onion archives: MLS Free Agent Holding Out For Money which concludes "FC Dallas has asked the league to intervene, saying that actually paying Ruiz with money would put them over the $1.2 thousand MLS salary cap."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Holy F*@k It's Cold!!!!!

So, how cold has it been in Wisconsin the last two days? Imagine dipping yourself in liquid nitrogen. Then seal yourself in a freezer full of Bose–Einstein condensate and shoot that freezer into deep space. I'm only slightly exaggerating.

Truth be told, I had to buy voice recognition software to create this blog post. My hands fell off yesterday due to the cold.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Sounds of Zombies in Space... With Sounds

A review of Dead Space for the XBOX 360

Dead Space is a survival horror game with a twist. Instead of rambling through a mansion or research facility the action takes place in and around the interstellar mining ship USG Ishimura. The protagonist is Isaac Clarke (evidently Arthur C. Asimov was already taken) an engineer who ends up having to battle his way through hordes of disgusting baddies called necromorphs to get himself back home.

The game is pure monster movie horror flick. The necromorphs are really quite awful looking, sounding and acting. There are a couple of monsters I wanted to dispatch ASAP just to stop the horrible sounds they were making. Ramping up the "ick factor" is the fact that the monsters are most quickly dispatched by dismembering them. That's right, there's no quick shotgun blast to the brain-pan for these monsters. You literally have to rend them limb from limb to get rid of them. Yes, it's as gross as it seems.

Adding to the horror aspect is the overarching theme of madness. The plot tries to keep the player guessing as to who is sane. It's ambiguous to the very end, and adds quite a bit to the unsettling ambiance of the game.

Another interesting aspect is the zero-g gameplay that occurs periodically. During these times you're able to run and jump from place to place, dancing on the ceiling like an interstellar Lionel Richie.

There are some problems with the game. The Ishimura is evidently constructed of crepe paper and you have to repair nearly every system onboard in order to complete the game. By the end you really begin to wonder if you'll need to fix the slurpie dispenser in order to get the hell out of dodge. Another is the unrelenting ickiness of everything. It becomes depressing over time, so much so that I didn't want to play through it a second time. The game could have used one or two lighter moments to fix the pacing of things.

As a fan of games where you send zombies and their ilk back to their graves, I thought this was well worth playing. It takes a fair amount of time to finish, but since I really don't want to play this ever again I'm torn between saying to buy or rent this game. Since I'm cheap, I say rent it. You'll probably have to renew it to finish the whole thing, but it's still cheaper than purchasing it.