MLS Cup Promo, with Soundtrack by Sleigh Bells

MLS Cup is practically here, people: Tomorrow, 4:30 EST, on ESPN.

• Beckham’s last game on these shores.

Possibly Donovan’s, too (but not really, right LD?).

• Brad Davis, his lethal left foot, and their chance to make up for missing last year’s final due to injury.

Ireland’s all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane, who’s in deadly form right now.

Up-and-coming U.S. center back Omar Gonzalez.

• Calen Carr’s Peter Cech-like helmet.

This game has a lot going for it.

Here’s the promo, with music by Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells:

Speaking of Sleigh Bells, if you’re a straight male (and probably even if you’re not), their singer, Alexis Krauss, will give you a tingly feeling. See here:

Back to the game, we’re calling it 3-1 for LA. Enjoy the Cup and the weekend.

Rubio Rubin Leads U.S. U-17s in Wild 4-4 Tie with Brazil

The United States Soccer Federation started the Bradenton U-17 academy program in 1999 and right out of the gate they produced/were blessed with an incredible crop of talent.

The 1999 group looks better with each passing year, having sent Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu, Kyle Beckerman, and Bobby Convey, among others, to the professional ranks.

With each new U-17 group that convenes in Florida, the question resurfaces: Where are the next Donovans and Beasleys?

It’s way too early to tell, but attacker Rubio Rubin of Beaverton, Oregon, could be the best answer to that question in years. Wednesday night, in the opening game of this year’s Nike Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., he scored two goals and set up two others to help the U.S. tie none other than Brazil, 4-4.

The Yanks held a 3-1 lead in the second half, and were up 4-3 with nine minutes to play, but could not hold on to the lead.

Here’s some postgame reaction from coach (and MLS ref Michael Kennedy doppelganger) Richie Williams, striker Ahinga Selemani (Ann Arbor, MI) and Rubin:

These games are not being televised for some reason (they were on Fox Soccer last year), and US Soccer is so far being stingy with the highlights, but hopefully we’ll be able to post them as the tournament progresses. The U.S. takes on Turkey tonight.

BPFL Weeks 13 and 14: Family Affair

BPFL Subbuteo

Co-commissioner MGlo, who continues to rule the BPFL roost, is here with a recap of Weeks 13 and 14. The top of the table is crowded with familial relations as a father-son duo are 1-2 and a pair of brothers are 4-5—followed by their brother-from-another-mother in sixth place.

Also, there was trash-talk via hyperlink.

Take it away MGlo:

Well it’s nice to see that after 14 Gameweeks my Old27m squad continues to lead the way. I put up 70 points against the Nearpost for a comfortable win. The victory ended my two-game losing streak and leaves me 8 points clear of the two second-place clubs.

In Week 13 I struggled with four dead guys, but I took care of that problem in Week 14 and am ready to face Colorado Keeper this week. Always a lively match, the Keeper has thrown down the gauntlet with this taunting link.

All I can say is he best hope I don’t win or I will be writing next week’s wrap up as well!

Speaking of the Keeper, he has now won two straight and is tied on points for the fourth spot with his brother, Disgruntled Numpties, and Abes Army. The former has won three of his last four matches, while the latter, since making changes for the first time in months, has lost two in a row. He has also lost twice to the Average club, which I guess makes him … below average?

All three teams are just a point behind I Am Liverpool and Markansas. The young-un has lost two of his last three while Markansas has won three in a row and four of his last five, with just one defeat in his last eight (6-1-1). That should make for an interesting matchup as the two clubs battle against each other for the second spot this week.

Performance of the Week: Surprisingly this award went to Fall River Marksmen, who pulled down 79 points this week, and did so without a goalkeeper! [Goalkeeper? We don’t need no stinkin’ goalkeeper!Ed.] Rafael and PGA range ball John Arne Riise both earned clean sheets for the Marksmen, with the latter getting 2 Bonus Points. Jon Walters scored a goal and also added 2 Bonus Points, while Swansea’s Wayne Routledge scored 2 goals and got the appropriate 3 Bonus Points. Gareth Bale pulled down 10 points from 6 different categories (Goal, Assist, Minutes Played, Yellow Card, Own Goal, Bonus Points), while up front Captain Robin van Persie and Rickie Lambert each scored a goal and earned 5 Bonus Points between them. Disgruntled Numpties won this award in Week 13.

Unlucky Loser: This one put a smile on my face as I Am Liverpool took home the gong in Week 14, falling 58-48 to Colorado Keeper. What a shame. I was rooting for you! Abes Army and Rise* of FC Hammer were the unfortunate ones the previous week.

Match of the Week:  Along with the two matches I have already mentioned, there is a relegation 6-pointer this week, as 14th-place Prison Mike (15 points) hosts 10th-place Fall River Marksmen (16 points). The convict has lost two straight, while the Marksmen ended their four-game losing run.

Thanks MGlo! We’re going to play you out with a little request from the Colorado Keeper:

Don’t forget to set your teams today, and good luck in Week 15.

Beckham Is Still Quick on His Feet

At an MLS Cup press conference yesterday, LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was in the middle of summing up how things turned around for the Galaxy four years ago, when a reporter’s phone started buzzing on the dais in front of him.

Becks took it from there:

We need a follow-up from the owner of the phone. Was it accidental, or a wiseass friend of his who knew where he was at the time?

In Case You Missed ’Em: Three Great Goals from the Past Week

We’re a little late on two of these, but all three are worthy of multiple looks.

First up, Philippe Mexes, French center back for AC Milan, getting all Rivaldo-like* on Anderlecht in the Champions League last Wednesday:

Then there was Lukas Podolski’s stinging volley for Arsenal against Montpelier, also in the Champions League:

Sweet chip from Olivier Giroud to set him up, and what a finish.

Finally, a terrific team goal from Borussia Dortmund against Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga yesterday—a sweeping move from left to right, finished off by a one-touch exchange in the box and a clinical volley by Jakub “Kuba” Błaszczykowski**:

That one might’ve been the best of the bunch. Watch out for Dortmund in the Champions League, people.

*If you clicked the link and watched that Rivaldo goal, you may well have just witnessed the greatest goal in the history of the game. It was his third of the night, and it won the match 3-2. No, really.

**Kuba also scored what was, for our money, the best goal of Euro 2012. Here it is again, Poland vs Russia:

Assessing the MLS Year-End Awards

Most of the MLS year-end awards have been handed out. Who got robbed and who got properly rewarded?

Let’s take a look:

Rookie of the Year: Austin Berry, Chicago Fire

Runners-up (in order of votes received): Nick DeLeon, D.C. United; Darren Mattocks, Vancouver; Luis Silva, Toronto FC; Connor Lade, New York

Justice? A central defender, Berry started 28 games and had an excellent season. But he benefitted enormously from playing alongside German World Cup veteran Arne Friedrich. We’d have given it to dynamic D.C. winger DeLeon.

Defender of the Year: Matt Besler, Kansas City

Runners-up: Victor Bernardez, San Jose; Aurelien Collin, Kansas City; Jay DeMerit, Vancouver; Carlos Valdes, Philadelphia.

Justice? Besler was excellent in 2012, and a huge part of why Kansas City conceded a league-fewest 27 goals. But if you were starting a team, you’d probably pick Bernardez for your backline ahead of the 25-year-old former Notre Dame man. The players and clubs both picked Bernardez in the balloting. All that said, Besler thoroughly deserves a call-up from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann—stat.

Coach of the Year: Frank Yallop, San Jose Earthquakes

Runners-up:  Peter Vermes, Kansas City; Ben Olsen, D.C. United; Frank Klopas, Chicago; Sigi Schmid, Seattle

Justice? Yes, as coach of the Supporters’ Shield winners, Yallop deserves the honor, but Olsen, who got a D.C. team held together by chewing gum and dental floss to the playoffs, should have received more votes.

Comeback Player of the Year: Eddie Johnson, Seattle

Runners-up: Chris Pontius, D.C. United; Alan Gordon, San Jose; David Ferreira, FC Dallas; Steve Zakuani, Seattle.

Justice? Yes. There’s some confusion about the criteria for this award, but Johnson’s comeback from four years in the career doldrums to produce 14 goals and three assists for the Sounders works for us. Gordon would’ve made an excellent Most Improved Player, but the league doesn’t have that award (they should though!).

Here’s Eddie lighting it up for the boys in green this season:

Fun fact: EJ won this award in 2007, too. At the ripe old age of 23.

Goalkeeper of the Year: Jimmy Nielsen, Kansas City

Runners-up: Dan Kennedy, Chivas USA; Michael Gspurning, Seattle; Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake; Andy Gruenebaum, Columbus

Justice? Sure. Truth is, all of the nominees had sensational seasons, from Kennedy standing on his head repeatedly to keep Chivas USA from getting embarrassed, Gspurning ably replacing a legend in Seattle, Rimando combining the rock-steady with the spectacular for RSL, and Gruenebaum pulling saves out of his nether regions on a regular basis for the Crew. We’d have been fine with any one of them winning.

Here’s the White Puma in action, and then deflecting credit for the award:

Newcomer of the Year: Federico Higuain, Columbus

Runners-up: Victor Bernardez, San Jose; Michael Gspurning, Seattle; Young-Pyo Lee, Vancouver; Oscar Boniek Garcia, Houston

Justice? Another very competitive field, but we’d have to say yes, justice was served, because Higuain almost singlehandedly revived Columbus’s offense, and nearly carried them to the playoffs, bagging five goals and seven assists in 11 starts down the stretch. Crew fans can’t wait till next year, when they’ll have him for a full season.

Higuain highlights here:

The MVP award will be announced tomorrow, when it will be handed to San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski.

Joey Barton Is A Performance Artist

This is occasionally thuggish former Premier League midfielder Joey Barton speaking to the English press last season (after Shaun WrightPhillips goes first):

Sounds like a lad reared in Merseyside, right?

Now here’s the same Joey Barton speaking to the French media after his debut with Ligue 1 side Marseille, where he’s on loan this season:

Cheeky b******.

That’s some Andy Kaufman–level japery right there.

Here’s Barton’s explanation on Twitter:

“In my defence, it is very difficult to do a press conference in Scouse for a room full of French journalists. The alternative is to speak…

…like a ‘Allo Allo!’ character which is choose. Its simply a case of you had to be there. #youstupidwomen!”

And here’s a clip of ‘Allo ‘Allo!, a BBC sitcom from the 1980s.

H/T to Our Man at the Valley.