Good Times on Chrystie Street: Steve Nash’s Showdown in Chinatown

Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash staged his fifth annual “Showdown in Chinatown” charity soccer match last night, and Team Backpost had a front-row seat.

The weather was perfect, an overflow crowd turned up, and soccer stars such as Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou, Rangers’ Maurice Edu, and the Red Bulls’ Mehdi Ballouchy combined with fish-out-of-water NBA players Danny Green (San Antonio), Elton Brand (Philadelphia) and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Milwaukee) to put on an entertaining show—all for the benefit of underprivileged children worldwide.

Some highlights:

• Not long after the pudgy, middle-aged ESPN basketball writer Marc Stein opened the scoring, turning in a cross from U.S. international Robbie Rogers, a solitary voice rose from the grandstand behind the north goal: “There’s only one Marc Stein. There’s only one Marc Stein.”

• In the first half, Rogers nutmegged Nash, but the Phoenix Suns guard wasn’t about to let him get away with it, expertly forearming Rogers to the turf. Here’s a clip, courtesy of Kick TV:

• For a man listed at 6′ 9″, the lumbering Philadelphia 76ers forward Brand did an unbelievable job of hiding on the field. He did his best to stay out of the fray, until it was unavoidable, much to the chagrin of Bucks forward Dunleavy:

• A few years back, Mavericks guard Jason Kidd played in the game, and while he was no Nash, he could knock it around a little bit. The NBA guys out last night had NO game. It was remarkable what a difference taking them out of their comfort zone made. They didn’t even look like athletes. At one point, a buddy of Green’s shouted from the sideline, “Come on DG! Get in there! Don’t be scared.” To which Green turned around and said, “I got nothing. It’s just not comfortable out here. Psychologically.” A few moments later, he added, “It’s not coming back. From when I was younger. My game is gone.”

• Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry, a mainstay of the event, was on hand and was introduced before kickoff, but he sat out the match. He’s recovering from a calf injury. Also present but sidelined by injury were U.S. and Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden, and New Jersey–born Italian international Giuseppe Rossi.

• Kalou always has a good time at this event, and does his best to entertain the crowd. Here he is doing his thing before passing to Brand, who … fluffs the layup:

This event, held every June at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, benefits the Steve Nash Foundation. Click here for more info.

Photo: Bowery Boogie.

Lenhart’s Postgame ‘Goonies’ Reference Inspires SJ–LA Promo

After San Jose scored three goals in the last 15 minutes to upend the Galaxy 3-2 on May 23, Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart, aka Big Bird, was asked about the team’s ability to rally late in games (they’ve scored four stoppage-time winners this season). “Goonies never say die,” said the springy-haired striker.

Cut to this week’s promotional spot for Saturday’s rematch with the Galaxy:

The game, which is at 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium, is sold out.

MLS Goal of the Week Nominees: Barklage Leads A Crowded Field

Below are your Week 16 MLS Goal of the Week candidates, and they make up a shiny, sparkling group, from Patrick Ianni’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic impression to Marco Pappa’s I-can-actually-use-my-right-foot screamer.

But we say the award has to go to New York’s Brandon Barklage, for the degree of difficulty of the shot (nine times out of 10 the player flubs that, or sends it way over the bar), the importance of the goal (it put New York in front just before halftime, pacing an eventual 3-2 win) and the context (it came against the team that cut him loose last winter, and it was his second goal of the game).

Take a look:

The winner will be announced on Thursday.

New York v DC United: Extended Highlights

Do yourself a favor and carve out some time for this clip: you’ll see Red Bull New York take one on the chin early, only to rebound and thoroughly dominate DC for the first hour of the game.

You’ll see Mehdi Ballouchy produce his best game ever in a New York shirt, and Dax McCarty outplay Dwayne De Rosario, the man he was traded for last season, when De Ro went on to win the league MVP award. And most importantly you’ll see—holy crap, Brandon Barklage! Where did that come from? Take a look:

New York coach Hans Backe called that first hour the best soccer the team has played during his tenure (and they pulled it off without Thierry Henry, who is returning from a calf injury and only played the final 20 minutes).

What changed the game was the insertion of Montenegrin (and Yugoslav-born) midfielder Branko Boskovic in the 61st minute. He turned the midfield battle DC’s way with his composure on the ball and ability to pick out teammates (see him find Maicon Santos at 12:10), making the last half hour dicey for New York.

But they held on for a 3-2 win that pulled them level with United atop the Eastern Conference standings (DC maintains first place on goal difference, but New York has a game in hand).

And our money’s on Barklage for Goal of the Week with that outrageous second strike.

Donovan, LA, Exploit Real Salt Lake Gaffes for Comeback Win

LA Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan scored two goals and set up a third to rally his team from a 2-0 deficit to a 3-2 win over first-place Real Salt Lake in Utah last night.

This way to the highlights:

Those were some glaring mental errors by the home team, but still, a fine performance by LD—and a statement game from the Galaxy. They look to be shaking off their slow start and poised for a second-half surge up the table.

Also: Beckham sporting the “Sherwood Forest” facial hair.

Seattle’s Patrick Ianni Channels Ibrahimovic for Equalizer vs SKC

Sporting a new, late-1980s-style soccer haircut, and returning to the starting lineup for the first time since injuring his back on May 5, Seattle Sounders center back Patrick Ianni scored on an acrobatic side volley in the 15th minute to lift Seattle into a 1-1 tie with visiting Kansas City last night.

Here it is:

Kansas City’s Jacob Peterson had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, taking a pass from Aurelien Collin after a KC throw-in into the Seattle box, and hitting a deflected shot past the Sounders’ third-string keeper, Andrew Weber.

The result extended the Sounders’ winless streak to a franchise-record six games, while stretching Sporting’s unbeaten run to four matches.

Both teams return to action this weekend as Kansas City visits Philadelphia on Saturday night and Seattle heads down I-5 for a meeting with Cascadia archrivals Portland on Sunday (5:00 ESPN).

MLS Goal of the Week Nominees

We suppose former Real Madrid and Benfica man Julio Cesar will get the nod this week, and his volley was pretty sweet—but man, was he left wide open.

Beyond that it was the passes—Gershon Koffie to Darren Mattocks; Davide Chiumiento to Sebastien Le Toux; and Patrice Bernier to Felipe—that stole the show in Week 15.

Take a look:

That Gershon Koffie, by the way, is only 20 years old. He’s put together a few good games this season and is definitely a player to keep an eye on.

It will be interesting to see how the arrival of Designated Player Barry Robson, who was voted Middlesbrough’s player of the year this past season, affects Koffie’s playing time and mentality.