Tim Cahill Talks MLS and FIFA 13

Former U.S. national team defender and KICK TV correspondent Jimmy Conrad sat down with Red Bulls attacker Tim Cahill at the New York City launch party for FIFA 13 this week.

The Australian international and ex-Everton man had some kind words to say about Major League Soccer, but he needs some work on his FIFA 13 trash-talking game.

Take a look:

Seems like a good bloke, that Cahill. The Red Bulls are going to need him to prove he’s a good investment down the stretch of this MLS season.

New York has a potential trap game against last-place Toronto tomorrow night, then three more regular season games to lock up a playoff spot.

They’re currently clinging to third place in the East, ahead of D.C. United on goals scored, and just five points ahead of sixth-place Columbus. The top five teams in the conference qualify for the postseason.

Prison Mike’s USMNT Pop Quiz: The Answers

Thanks for playing, everyone. Judging by the results, you’re a very honest group who stuck to the no-Googling rule: the average score clocked in at below 50%. But more on the results later; here are the answers:

1. Who has more caps, DaMarcus Beasley or Brian McBride?

Beasley. He’s 10 years younger than McBride, but has 97 caps (and counting?) to the Fulham legend’s 95.

2. Who has more caps, Jeff Agoos or Alexi Lalas?

Goose. With 134 U.S. appearances, he’s third on the alltime list. Lalas has 96.

3. Who has the most caps by a goalkeeper?

Kasey Keller, with 102. Many of  you guessed Tony Meola, who has 100. (Brad Friedel has 82, Tim Howard 81.)

4. Who has the  most caps, period?

Cobi Jones. Most people guessed Landon Donovan (he’s second with 144). How soon we forget the speedy, dreadlocked and underrated former LA Galaxy winger, who had 164 appearances for the Stars and Stripes.

5. Who is the youngest player ever to earn a cap?

Freddy Adu. Almost everyone guessed correctly on this one. He was 16 years, 234 days old when he was called up for a friendly against Canada in 2006.

The two runners-up here are Mike Slivinski and Mark Jones, both of whom were called up for a 1991 friendly against Jamaica, at 16 years, 318 days, and 16 years, 332 days, respectively. Someone needs to do a “Where are they now?” on that duo. Behind them on the list are current MLSers Bobby Convey (Kansas City) and Eddie Gaven (Columbus), who were both 17 and change when they debuted for the U.S.

6. Of the following, who has the most points (goals and assists) for the USMNT—Tab Ramos, Earnie Stewart, Carlos Bocanegra, DaMarcus Beasley, or Clint Mathis?

Mr. Beasley again. The guy is as underrated as Cobi Jones. He has 47 points (7th alltime) in 97 appearances. Stewart—the most popular guess—is next with 44 points (in 101 caps).

7. Who has more goals, Claudio Reyna or Alexi Lalas?

Some of you correctly guessed that this was something of a trick question, as the defender Lalas has more goals (9) than the playmaking midfielder Reyna (8).

8. Who got called up first, Cobi Jones or Kasey Keller?

Keller. Got his first cap in 1990; Jones debuted in ’92.

9. I scored three goals against Paraguay in the 1930 World Cup, a performance officially credited by FIFA as the first hat-trick in World Cup history. I was born, raised, and died in Fall River, Mass. Who am I?

Bert Patenaude, who scored 114 goals in 158 games from 1928 to ’31 in the original American Soccer League, which was at the time an international-caliber circuit.

Read about him here, here, and here. It might inspire you to pick up one of these.

10. What is the highest FIFA world ranking the team has ever achieved?

Fourth, in April 2006. Of course the current FIFA rankings have England third, so … consider the source.

And the winner is … Mike G, who hails from a leafy village on Long Island and bears a resemblance to former USMNT winger Steve Ralston:

Mike got six of 10 right, including the team’s highest ranking. Thanks for playing, and thanks to Prison Mike for organizing.

Your MLS Week 29 Goal-of-the-Week Nominees

It was the week of the long-range rocket as Juninho, Danny Mwanga, Javier Morales, and Simon Dawkins (a Tottenham loanee, btw) all struck from distance, while Robbie Keane tormented poor Toronto FC defender Ashtone Morgan in the box before blasting home.

Enjoy:

We have to go with Dawkins on this one. That was a filthy effort. Keane’s cutback clocks in at No. 2 on our ballot.

Eredivisie Cranks Out Lightly Racist “B.A. Baracus” YouTube Clip for Jozy Altidore

U.S. national team striker Jozy Altidore doesn’t look all that much like Laurence Tureaud, the actor known as Mr. T,  who played B.A. Baracus on the laughable, lovable mid-1980s TV show The A-Team.

But to the goofy Dutch journalist who did a recent postgame interview with the former MLSer, well, the two are dead ringers. The lame comparison, awkwardly made (though graciously handled by Altidore), has spawned the following A-Team themed clip from YouTube channel Eredivisie Live:

We get it, AZ Alkmaar are an A-team, and Altidore is African-American, just like Mr. T, but … come on. This is weak sauce. (And just for the record, the catchphrase was “I pity the fool,” not “Shut up, fool.”)

But hey, nice goals! Here’s to many more this season.

Oh, Look: UEFA Boss Michel Platini Wants to Move the Qatar World Cup to the Winter of 2022

International soccer’s powers-that-be are back on this one. You may recall FIFA’s suggestion, almost immediately after the bid was announced, to shift the 2022 World Cup from the molten-lava summer in Qatar (average high temperature: 115 degrees Fahrenheit) to its more moderate winter months.

After the idea was first floated, there followed a series of increasingly entertaining potential solutions to the problem of staging the planet’s most popular sporting event in its hottest location. The games would be played at night, the stadiums would be air-conditioned, or—and this was a real suggestion, not an Onion headline—robot clouds would be used.

Now, UEFA President Michel Platini, a former superstar with the French national team, is reviving the let’s-move-it-to-the-winter initiative:

“I hope it will be held in winter,” he said. “We have to go to Qatar when it is good for everybody to participate. What is better for the fans?”

What about the many, many domestic leagues around the world that would have to be shut down for a month or more for that to happen?

“In 10 years we can manage to decide how we can postpone the season for one month,” he said.

There are more complications: You couldn’t stage it in January—when some European leagues, including the German Bundesliga, are on winter break—because there’s a Winter Olympics that year (In the Tunisian desert. Kidding. Their location hasn’t been decided yet.):

“If we stop from Nov. 2 to Dec. 20,” Platini continued, “it means, instead of finishing [domestic seasons] in May, we stop in June. It is not a big problem. It is for the good of the World Cup, the most important competition in the world.”

We also wonder how such a change would impact the qualifying setup: moving the event up six months would most likely compress the schedule—and further disrupt domestic leagues around the world.

They could probably move everything around to make it happen. They could also probably move in those artificial clouds.

Fortunately, with 10 years to go until the event, there’s still time for them to consider the easiest move of all—that of the tournament to a different host nation.

 

Prison Mike’s USMNT Pop Quiz

Loyal Backpost reader and father of seven or eight Prison Mike started randomly emailing us U.S. national team trivia earlier today, so we thought we’d collect some of his questions and run a quiz here on the site.

Googling strictly prohibited. First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, second prize is a set of steak knives….

Here we go:

1. Who has more caps, DaMarcus Beasley or Brian McBride?

2. Who has more caps, Jeff Agoos or Alexi Lalas?

3. Who has the most caps by a goalkeeper?

4. Who has the  most caps, period?

5. Who is the youngest player ever to earn a cap?

6. Of the following, who has the most points (goals and assists) for the USMNT—Tab Ramos, Earnie Stewart, Carlos Bocanegra, DaMarcus Beasley, or Clint Mathis?

7. Who has more goals, Claudio Reyna or Alexi Lalas?

8. Who got called up first, Cobi Jones or Kasey Keller?

9. I scored three goals against Paraguay in the 1930 World Cup, a performance officially credited by FIFA as the first hat-trick in World Cup history. I was born, raised, and died in Fall River, Mass. Who am I?

10. What is the highest FIFA world ranking the team has ever achieved?

Good luck. Lodge your guesses in the comments. We’ll weigh in with the answers tomorrow.

BPFL Weeks 4-5: Sorting Through Last-Minute Transfers and An International Break

Our Man at the Valley is here with your Backpost Fantasy League recap. Take it away, co-commish:

International breaks can be confusing. It’s hard to get clear information before the resumption of the EPL concerning which players have returned with injuries or jet-lag worries. Before Gameweek 4 of the BPFL, managers were left searching for clues as to team selection. High scoring Robin Van Persie, coming off a hat trick for his new club, Manchester United, had been taken off with a thigh bruise after 45minutes of Holland’s second match within four days; would Sir Alex risk him at home to Wigan at the weekend?  Was it more prudent for a BPFL manager to choose another captain?

Likewise, players like Clint Dempsey and Javier Hernandez had little time to recover from transoceanic flights. Would they start soon after their return?

Compounding the issue for Gameweek 4 was that loads of players transferred clubs just before the beginning of September, joined their new clubs for a couple of days and then left for 10 days to play for their country. Would these newcomers, such as Hugo Lloris of Tottenham and France, or Matija Nastasic of Manchester City and Serbia, be quickly integrated into starting lineups? Or would they watch from the bench for another week?

And therein lies the paradox: For a country as puritanical about gambling as the United States, our most popular sports league does an awfully good job of communicating information to potential gamblers. NFL teams are fined substantial amounts for not properly updating their injury reports or depth charts. In England, a country that has a legal gambling shop or seven on every High Street, it’s nearly impossible to get good information as to prospective starting lineups.

By the way, the short answers to the above questions for Gameweek 4 were that Hernandez started; Van Persie and Dempsey came off the bench for brief cameos; Lloris was an unused substitute; and Nastasic didn’t even make the bench, though he started in the Champions League at Real Madrid a few days later.

Gameweek 4 of the BPL began with four remaining unbeaten teams. Gameweek 5 of the BPL ended with two unbeaten teams.

Of those initial four unbeaten squads, two faced each other in Gameweek 4 as Old27M took on one of the surprise clubs of the early season, Average. Average, who many predicted for a mid-table finish, were unaccustomed to the lofty heights of fourth place after two wins and a draw and Old27M beat them easily 54-40.

Additionally in Gameweek 4, my Disgruntled Numpties faced off against Clever and Witty, managed by James Brown, The two managers routinely form one of the laziest and most porous central defensive partnerships in Colorado’s Front Range Coed Soccer League. Thus it was somewhat surprising that they totaled four clean sheets between them. The Numpties ran out 48-36 winners.

The final unbeaten team, our defending champions Rise* of FC Hammer, beat Marskansas 52-35.

In Gameweek 5, my Disgruntled Numpties tasted defeat for the first time this season, beaten 39-32 by Marskansas. Old27M, with three consecutive Performances of the Week, seems like the class of the BFL, though it’d be rash to count out the other unbeaten team, our defending champion, Rise* of FC Hammer.

In addition to our remaining unbeaten teams, over the two Gameweeks there were also multiple wins for Colorado Keeper and The Losers. There were two losses for Average, Fall River Marksmen, Prison Mike and Nearpost.

Asleep at the Wheel: Nearpost, managed by RefBaiter, is the resounding winner of this week’s award. Despite a midweek email from the team manager apologizing for not making any changes yet this season and promising to be active in the transfer market this past week, a fifth consecutive loss was accompanied by a fourth consecutive week of zero transfers. Patience can be a virtue for a manager (at least that’s what Brendan Rogers keeps telling Liverpool fans), but Nearpost’s decisions to keep Alex Song and Ryan Taylor in his lineup (perhaps hoping that Barcelona loans Song back to an EPL club and that the Newcastle physio’s definition of “season ending injury” isn’t actually correct) are questionable at best. [Oh, snap!Ed.]

Performance of the Week:  In bowling three strikes in a row is called a turkey. In cricket three wickets in a row is called a hat trick. Here in the BPFL we’ll call winning Performance of the Week honors three Gameweeks in a row an Old27M, for that team added Performance of the Week honors for Gameweeks 4 and 5 to their equivalent performance in Gameweek 3. Well done.

Thanks OMATV. And just for the record, the Fall River Marksmen have 253 points, the fourth-highest total in the league. Doesn’t seem right that they’re mired in 11th place.

Galaxy Reels Off Fourth Straight Win, Serves Notice for the Postseason

Remember when Toronto FC eliminated Los Angeles from the CONCACAF Champions League back in March, and then the Galaxy got off to a 3-8-2 start in Major League Soccer? Seems like a long time ago now.

Bruce Arena’s men clipped that same Toronto FC side (well, an injury-depleted version of it) 4-2 on Saturday to run their record to 15-11-4 and move into second place in the West, ahead of Real Salt Lake on goals scored.

They’re doing it all in a way that should put the competition on notice—with Robbie Keane and Juninho on fire (check out their goals below), with Landon Donovan rounding back into form (he had two assists on Saturday to push his league-leading total to 14), with new veteran signing Christian Wilhelmsson fitting in—and without David Beckham.

They’ll have him back for the playoffs, which will only make them more dangerous.

Highlights:

Keane’s goals were his 13th and 14th of the year, tied for second most in the league, and the win clinched a playoff berth for the Galaxy. They’re back in action next week against Colorado.

MLS Hedges, Suspends Henry One Game for Kamara Incident

The MLS Disciplinary Committee announced today that it has suspended Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry for one game and fined the French Designated Player an undisclosed amount “for violent conduct which endangered the safety of Kansas City forward Kei Kamara” during stoppage time of Wednesday night’s pivotal Eastern Conference game at Red Bull Arena.

This action is dubious for (at least) two reasons:

1. If they’ve decided that Henry intentionally head-butted Kamara—which they must have, or else why suspend him—then doesn’t a head butt warrant more than a one-game suspension?

2. The Red Bulls’ next match is on Saturday night at New England, where the field is artificial turf. Henry is well-known for not liking to play on artificial surfaces—he’s done it just once in his MLS career so far—and chances are he would have skipped Saturday’s game anyway.

Did MLS just compromise with one of its biggest superstars? How much longer would the suspension have been if Kamara had been cut by Henry’s fake accident?

The league hasn’t posted video of the incident to YouTube, but you can see a clip of it here.

Several things to note:

• The first thing Henry does after collapsing melodramatically is to grab the back of his head. Pretty flimsy: the video clearly shows that he hit Kamara with his forehead.

• Check the reverse-angle replay of the incident. Why is Henry even starting his run at this point? Teammate Sebastien Le Toux is going to take a corner kick, but he’s not ready to do it yet—he’s not even close.

• There have to be better, and more subtle, ways to get a dig in at an opponent, right? This is just weird, and, his ludicrous pantomime aside, Henry did run the risk of hurting himself as much as Kamara.

Sigh. He’s a great player, but an odd duck.

How Do We Know It Was a Big Game for RBNY Last Night? The Team Came Out Flat, and Henry Lost His S***

Sporting Kansas City came to Red Bull Arena last night, and the stakes were high: Six games to play, and just two points separating the teams at the top of the Eastern Conference table.

The winner of the game would be posting a direct message to the other team’s feed: 14o ALL CAPS characters of we-want-the-conference-title-and-the-playoff-homefield-advantage-that-goes-with-it.

The Red Bulls were coming off a solid 3-1 win over the streaking Columbus Crew, they were riding a five-game unbeaten run, and they were playing at home, where they hadn’t lost all season (10-0-3).

So naturally, they gave up two early goals and produced a sloppy performance en route to a 2-0 defeat. And at the end of the frustrating night, superstar Thierry Henry pulled one of his unhinged, poorly-disguised cheap-shot moves that might (should) get him suspended for Saturday’s important game at New England.

It’s not in the highlights below (c’mon MLS), so continue reading after the clip to find out what happened:

The Henry Incident

Late in the game, as the teams lined up for a free kick, Henry came charging through the top of the box and clipped Kei Kamara’s head with his own, sending the KC big man down, and then—and here was where it got rich—clutching his own head as if he’d been gonged by the “accidental” collision as well.

There were two flaws in the Frenchman’s charade, though: First, he was holding the top/back of his head in “pain,” but the replays showed he made contact with his forehead (the proper place to head the ball, and—if that’s how you roll—to head butt someone, because your forehead is hard and heading with it doesn’t hurt).

Second, the incident itself is just not plausible. You came running through a not-all-that-crowded part of the field and conked heads with an opponent? It wasn’t avoidable? You didn’t see the biggest man on the field directly in front of you? For real?

The incident is also strikingly similar to Henry’s 2010 kick of FC Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman (which happened two years ago to the day; see it here), and his 2011 knee to the back of the head of Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza (click here).

Henry suffered no repercussions for the Hartman incident (even though Hartman missed several weeks with an MCL sprain), but he did see a straight red for the Espinoza knock, as the ref judged (correctly, we’d say) that Henry could have avoided the contact and instead engaged in it deliberately.

What will happen in the wake of this one? Fortunately, Kamara was unharmed. Fair or not, if Henry had opened up a cut on the KC striker’s head (head wounds bleed a lot, remember), a suspension would’ve probably been a lock. As it happened, there was some grey area—a hallmark of all three incidents—that could produce enough doubt for him to benefit from. Or not. We shall see when the MLS Disciplinary Committee releases its report.

Some more thoughts on the Red Bulls’ biggest game of the year so far:

Dax McCarty has been one of New York’s best players all season, but he had a stinker last night. Loads of giveaways, overwhelmed by KC midfield.

This team is probably better without Rafa Marquez in the lineup. The high-priced former Barcelona man lends a touch of class on the ball, and he had a good game against Columbus last week, but last night, he was back to his lackadaisical, turnover-prone  ways.

New York’s tendency to concede early goals is alarming (and oddly reminiscent of the U.S. national team under Bob Bradley). They’ve surrendered 11 goals in the first 15 minutes of games this year. Yikes.

Kenny Cooper gets in good spots, but usually muffs his plays from those spots. He was part of several promising moves last night, but came away with nothing to show for them. He should have scored on a header from Henry’s brilliant cross, and he played an inexplicable ball directly to KC keeper Jimmy Nielsen when he had wide-open spaces in front of him, and Joel Lindpere streaking down the middle toward goal.

Hey, Lloyd Sam looked pretty good. The speedy former Charlton Athletic winger livened up the Red Bulls’ attack as a second-half sub. A bright spot for New York.