BPFL Week 30: League Cup Semis, Rare Stumble for the ’Keeper

Our Man at the Valley has this week’s Backpost Fantasy League roundup, which features an unlucky, and infrequent, loss for the top-of-the-table coloradokeeper, and the final stages of the BP League Cup:

This week featured the semifinals of the Backpost League Cup.  The draw yielded the following:

Useful Shot, That v. Herk City

Socr_Maniac v. Mudheads

Herk City got a shutout from Bacary Sagna and an assist from Ryo Miyaichi (a young player short on neither talent nor vowels), but not much more prior to Monday’s Manchester United match. Nonetheless, he led Useful Shot, That 24-18 heading into the match; Herk City had Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney to Useful Shot, That’s Clint Dempsey and Rooney as Captain.

In the other semifinal, Socr_Maniac led 20-18 awaiting Monday’s match, after factoring in an automatic substitution of Victor Moses. The Maniac looked like a clear favorite, with Rooney as his captain, and Patrice Evra and Danny Murphy also in his squad. Mudheads were relying on Dempsey and Valencia to overcome the deficit.

As it played out, an assist and a clean sheet from Evans was enough to offset the Rooney goal and Herk City were winners 45-32. The same Rooney goal was enough for Socr_Maniac, as he won 39-23.

The final, between Herk City and Socr-Maniac, takes place this week. Good luck to both teams.

At the top of the table, our leader Coloradokeeper suffered only his third defeat of the season, 44-42 to Sunshine FC.  And though there were wins for the rest of the top 5, the ‘keeper’s lead is still a very healthy seven points with only eight weeks to go.

Performance of the Week: Joakimovo Stado took the honor this week with an impressive 66 points.  It’s the second time in five weeks that Stado has claimed this gong.

Unlucky Loser The dubious prize was shared between Coloradokeeper and Afrikan Letsatsi, who each lost despite having 42 points. It was the second week in a row that Letsatsi shared this prize; unlucky on many different levels.

The big matches at the top of the table this coming week feature leaders Coloradokeeper against sixth placed El Nino and my Disgruntled Numpties facing off against Herk City. The loser of the latter match can forget about his outside chance of winning; the winner will take over third place.

Thanks OMATV. Week 31 kicks off tomorrow (Sat). Don’t forget to set your lineups, and good luck to all.

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German Fans Provide Their Team with Helpful Reminder During Goal Drought

Hi There. We’ve spent the past few days reeling from the U.S. U-23’s recent ouster from Olympic qualifying buried under day-job duties, but we’re attempting to get back on track today.

In the meantime, here’s footage from the German fourth division, where fans of Magdeburg, which hadn’t scored in five consecutive games, literally pointed the way to the opponents’ goal this past Sunday:

The choreographed instruction worked as Magdeburg forward Chris Wright, a Californian who played college ball at the University of New Mexico, scored  against Berliner AK ’07 to end a 558-minute goal drought.

Alas, Berliner snatched a late goal to win the game 2-1 and leave Magdeburg at the bottom of the table.

U.S. 3, El Salvador 3: Highlights

Despite the efforts of their captain Freddy Adu (above), who had two assists, and striker Terrence Boyd, who scored two goals, the United States U-23 team tied El Salvador 3-3 in a game they needed to win to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament.

The result, which eliminates the Americans, came after Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson botched his lines on a seemingly harmless long-range shot by El Salvador’s Jaime Alas in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Boyd—who absorbed a second-half punch to the face that bloodied his nose and went unnoticed by the officials—opened the scoring 61 seconds into the game, and El Salvador answered with two goals in a three-minute span before halftime.

Boyd tied it up in the 64th and Joe Corona gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead in the 69th, setting the stage for Johnson’s last-gasp gaffe.

Highlights here:

Due to club commitments, the U.S. team was missing several players who could have helped—and probably would have joined the team had it qualified for London—including Jozy Altidore, Timmy Chandler, Josh Gatt, and Alfredo Morales. But this was still a team that should have qualified relatively comfortably.

They had plenty of talent, they fielded multiple players with full-national team experience, and they were playing on U.S. soil (even if Nashville, which drew thousands of Salvadoran fans last night, wasn’t an ideal spot for home-field advantage).

They simply didn’t get the job done, and they’ll look back on their poor defending and very shaky goalkeeping as the main culprits.

World Cup qualifying starts in 43 days. How many of these guys will be a part of it?

“That Was Painful”: One Man’s Running Diary of the Nightmare in Nashville

The U.S. U-23 team lost to tied El Salvador 3-3 in Nashville last night, a result that eliminated them from contention for the 2012 London Summer Games and represents a colossal failure for a team loaded with talent and (allegedly) rising stars.

The manner in which it came—on a glaring, Robert Green–like goalkeeper error in stoppage time—made the loss that much more difficult to take.

Forget that the referee and the linesmen missed a second-half punch by El Salvador’s Alexander Lardin that bloodied the nose of U.S. striker Terrence Boyd (in the El Salvador penalty area, no less), and forget that the crucial tying goal came in the fifth minute of stoppage time when only four minutes had been posted—this result was on the Americans.

They did battle back impressively from a 2-1 deficit, but their defense was terrible, they lost their poise at key moments, and their goalkeeping was simply awful.

The failure to qualify for the Olympics (for the third time since 1976) is bad enough, but when you consider that NBC—the Olympic broadcaster—launched a new TV deal with MLS this season, and a team stocked with 14 MLSers just failed to beat Canada and El Salvador in succession and will not be appearing in the Games on NBC this summer, it becomes that much worse.

We’ll put up some highlights in the next post, but before then, here is a series of emails we received during the match from Our Man at the Valley, who was watching, and cringing, from a remote location in the Rocky Mountains (kickoff was just past 9:00 pm ET):

9:28 p.m. ET:

1.  Alas is a great name for a misfiring striker. [Remember that name—Ed.]

2.  Nice finish on the goal. [Terrence Boyd from Brek Shea, in the second minute.—Ed.]

3.  Very helpful result with Cuba. [Incredibly, Cuba, which lost to the U.S. and El Salvador by a combined score of 10-0, has tied Canada, meaning the U.S. can win the group with a victory in this game, and El Salvador can do the same with a win or a tie. Group winner likely avoids Mexico in semis.—Ed.]

4.  This game is unlikely to end with 22 players on the field.

9:46 p.m. ET:

5.  We have a really slow left back. [That’s Chivas USA’s Jorge Villafana, who made MLS via a reality TV series. Really.—Ed.]

6.  And a right back with no touch. [Houston Dynamo reserve Kofi Sarkodie.—Ed.]

7.  Announcer is blaming Hamid for equalizer but I don’t think it was his fault. [Defenders. Again. Even though they’ve got several inches in height on opponents, they’re giving up headed goals on a corner.—Ed.]

9:50 p.m. ET:

8.  Caleb Porter should have made that substitution 4 minutes ago. [GK Sean Johnson on for the injured Bill Hamid, after El Salvador scores soft goal to go up 2-1.—Ed.]

10:05 p.m.

9.  Freddy needs a right foot.

10.  If El Salvador sit back like they did in the last 5 minutes of the half we have a slight chance.

11.  Except for that whole counterattacking thing.

12.  Porter should bring Diskerud on. [Ha!—Ed.]

10:28 p.m.:

13.  Color commentator—Alan someone [Hopkins? We have the Mun2 feed.—Ed.]—just suggested 4-4-2 rather than 4-3-3 because we are losing midfield. I agree.

14. Glen Davis must have an El Salvadoran girlfriend.

15.  I am taking Bill Hamid out of my MLS fantasy team. May replace him with Jimmy Cuellar.

10:35 p.m.:

16.  Boyd and Adu are the class of this team.

[Goals by Boyd and Joe Corona  put the U.S. back up 3-2.—Ed.]

17.  Really, Adu is the best player on the field. Good thing they allow overage players in this tournament. [Ouch. In U.S. defense, there are four or five other players—U23 players—who would be here if available. Altidore, Gatt, Morales, Chandler….—Ed.]

10:43 p.m.:

18.  If we sit back we’re dead; if we attack we’re in trouble. Should go to 4-4-2 now.

10:59 p.m.:

19.  Shea has looked better over the past 20 minutes. Very poised.

20.  Michael Stephens is on.  He’s on my MLS [fantasy] team! [OMATV is more of an EPL fan than, MLS. But he’s warming up to the domestic league.—Ed.]

11:02 p.m.:

21.  Wow that was painful.

[This email arrived seconds after a speculative 25-yard shot from—yes—Jaime Alas beat U.S. keeper Johnson in the waning moments of the game to tie the score at 3 and eliminate the Americans from the 2012 Olympics. Alas.—Ed.]

U.S. U-23s in Do-Or-Die Clash Tonight

The U.S. U-23 team must beat their counterparts from El Salvador tonight in Nashville (9:00 ET, Universal Sports, Mun2, CONCACAF TV) to advance to the semifinals of the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Anything short of a victory and their Olympic dream almost certainly turns to dust (Canada would have to lose to Cuba for the U.S. to advance in that scenario—an extremely unlikely outcome).

If they do win, they stay alive for another round to most likely face Mexico with an Olympic berth on the line.

But first they must defeat El Salvador. Will coach Caleb Porter—who admitted to being surprised and troubled by Canada’s defensive 4-3-2-1 formation in Saturday’s loss—make significant changes to his lineup?

Captain Freddy Adu put some of the blame for Saturday’s upset on fatigue, and since the El Salvador match will be their third game in five days, you’d expect to see some new faces out there tonight.

We’d love to see what Terrence Boyd—or “Terrence Body,” as the commentator on the CONCACAF feed called him—could do with a start.

The same goes for speedy winger Joe Gyau (top) who has added a spark in two cameos already. A midfield featuring Gyau, Joe Benny Corona, and Mix Diskerud should be able to outgun El Salvador—comfortably.

What about at the back? Goalkeeper Bill Hamid and center backs Perry Kitchen and Ike Opara all looked shaky against Canada. Will they bounce back, or will Porter try other options in some of those spots?

Then there’s the psychological element heading into this all-or-nothing encounter. Porter said the team was rattled by Canada’s tactics on Saturday—and they looked  it. Their coach seemed unsettled at being outmaneuvered too.

Some of the players on this team were members of the U-20 team that failed to qualify for the last youth World Cup with a loss on the final day of qualifying. How will they come out for this one? How will they react if something goes wrong early?

We’ll find out tonight.

BPFL: Belated Gameweek 29 Wrap

We are one game away from completing the 30th Gameweek of the inaugural BPFL season, so let’s get the Week 29 summary up, shall we? Here’s co-commissioner MGlo:

And then there were four! We are into the semifinals of the Backpost League Cup and things are really heating up. There is only one Top 10 team left in the competition, and third-place Herk City will be in a confident mood to progress after their 62-53 victory over second-place Dynasty of FC Hammer. We’ll hand the mic to James Alexander Gordon for the Classified Cup Results:

“In the Backpost League Cup:

mudheads 41 Bryan 04 Leverkusen 33

Herk City 62 Dynasty of FC Hammer 53

Tranungkite 30 socr_maniac 58

Thissiteblows@P.Mike 30 Useful Shot, That 45”

Thank you, Mr. Gordon.

•••

Looking over the League table, and hoping my figuring is correct, since the site still hadn’t updated as of this writing, coloradokeeper now has a 10-point at the top. It looks as if it’s his to lose and Paddy Power is already paying out on their title bets.

The battle then becomes for second place and it’s a tight one as three teams are within three points of each other. Second-place Dynasty of FC Hammer is currently struggling with just one win in their last five matches. A point further back in third is Herk City, who have won three straight and will face fourth-place DisgruntledNumpties in Week 31, a match that will go a long way to determining how the table sorts out. Speaking of the Numpties, they’re currently the hottest team in the league. They are unbeaten in their last 11 (10-0-1) and have won seven in a row.

Ahmad Haziq Hashim moved into the fifth spot, leapfrogging El nino, who dropped to sixth after losing to seventh-place The Xerex’s Team. El nino ended a two-game winning streak while Xerex ended a two-game losing run. Afrikan Letsatsi, who have only taken a point from their last two matches, are struggling to hold down eighth place, obviously still woozy from the heady win over coloradokeeper three weeks ago. Giorgio Chinaglia remain ninth, tied on points with Letsatsi after ending a five-game losing streak. My Old27m team rounds out the top 10, having won three in a row, and five of the last six. I will be looking to move up the table this coming week, and in the process exact some revenge on mudheads, who knocked me out of the Cup.

Performance of The Week: Our fearless leader coloradokeeper took the gong this week, for the third time this season. The league leaders trounced tranungkite 68-30, with their defense and forwards leading the way. Both Thomas Vermaelen and Johnny Evans scored a goal, earned a clean sheet and pulled in Bonus Points. Up front Yakubu grabbed a goal and 3 Bonus points, while Captain van Persie notched an assist.

Unlucky Loser: We had a tie this week between Dynasty of FC Hammer and Afrikan Letsatsi. They drew their match with 53 points each, a total good enough to beat 33 other clubs, but not each other.

Thanks MGlo. With Week 30 ending after today’s Man U-Fulham match, keep an eye out for that wrapup, which will include League Cup semifinal results.