There’s Catching the Keeper Out, and Then There’s This

Wait for the third replay of this astounding long-range goal from Mor Diouf, a Senegalese defender who plays for South African Premier League side Supersport United.

That’s the one that gives the best angle of him collecting the ball deep in his own end with two minutes to play in a scoreless game. He looks up, sees the Mamelodi Sundowns keeper off his line, and … has a go from about, oh, 80 yards:

Click-click bang, indeed.

Greatest Misses: “What Just Happened?” Edition

This clip comes from the Chinese league, during a game between Shanghai Shenua and Tianjin Teda, and you’ll need to watch it twice to figure out how the hell the ball stayed out of the net.

Serbian attacker Vladimir Jovancic pounces on the rebound of a teammate’s shot off the post. On his first attempt, from about 18 inches out, his right foot flicks over the ball and unintentionally pulls it back sharply against his left leg.

It ricochets from there off the post, but then falls perfectly for him to sweep into the wide-open goal. He attempts to do just that, but something—a defender’s boot? An invisible force field?—spins the ball up and over the crossbar.

Take a look:

Shanghai Shenua, by the way—the team in blue above—is the current home of both Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba.

Will Ferrell Meets Petr Cech, Offers Helmet Upgrade

Chelsea FC is in the midst of a preseason tour of the United States—they’ll face the MLS All Stars tomorrow night in Philadelphia—and last week they met up with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in a Seattle hotel.

Ferrell did not forget to bring the funny:

The Blues knocked off the Seattle Sounders 4-2 last Wednesday before heading to New York, where they tied Paris St. Germain 1-1 in the first soccer game played at the new Yankee Stadium (the old one has a long history of hosting footy, including being the home stadium for the New York Cosmos in 1971 and ’76).

After taking on the MLS side tomorrow night, the reigning European champions will head to Miami’s Sun Life Stadium for a scrimmage with AC Milan.

Prediction for that one: Plenty of heat and humidity.

Best of Euro 2012

With only 16 teams in the competition, the European Championships roll from group play to tournament final in slightly more than three weeks. It’s a streamlined event, and we hope it stays that way—forget the recent push to expand the field.

But it does pass by quickly. So before the next major competition—the London Olympic tournament—gets going on July 25, let’s look back at the best and worst from Poland-Ukraine 2012

1. Best Goal Jakub (Kuba) Blaszczykowski, Poland vs Russia, group stage

Poland’s captain pulled his side level and inspired a nation with this cracker against Russia, set up by an ideal first touch:

Too bad neither of the hosts advanced out of group play.

Runner-up: Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s flying side volley against France.

2. Best Game

We’re going with the final, on the strength of Spain’s high-octane first half and sensational first two goals. Top players performing at their peak in the biggest moment.

Runner-up: England vs Sweden, group stage. Five goals, dramatic lead changes, and Danny Wellbeck’s sick (and slightly lucky) winner.

3. Biggest Flop, Team

Netherlands

By a landslide. The 2010 World Cup finalists and pre-tournament favorites went three and out, with some strikingly bad defending against Germany in the second game.

Runner-up: Russia

They were looking like tourney darkhorses after their 4-1 romp over the Czech Republic in their opener. And then… a tie with Poland, a loss to Greece and Do svidaniya!

(And if you’re wondering, Ireland wasn’t a flop; they were never getting out of that group with eventual finalists Italy and Spain, and an excellent Croatia.)

4. Biggest Flop, Individual:

Wayne Rooney, England.

The Shrek and Chad Barrett doppelganger took this dubious honor at South Africa 2010, and his Euro 2012 performance only enhanced his reputation as a club hero-international zero. After sitting out the first two games with a suspension, he scored a tap-in header against Ukraine and then was largely ineffective against Italy.

5. Closest Resemblance to Young Frankenstein’s Marty Feldman

Mesut Ozil, Germany

Takes the honor for a second straight major tourney. He is the Spain of this award.

6. Breakout Star

Jordi Alba, Spain

The 23-year-old left back buried Italy with goal No. 2 in the final. He joins Barca for the new season. The rich get richer.

Runner up: Mario Mandzukic, Croatia. The 26-year-old striker scored three goals and played his way into a contract with Bayern Munich.

7. Best Player

Andres Iniesta, Spain

Is it us, or does Iniesta not quite get his due?* He is easily one of the top five players in the world. He scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, and set up the winner in the Euro 2012 final with a gorgeous through ball to Fabregas.

8. Best Team that Didn’t Advance to the Knockout Stage

Croatia

They tied Italy and played an incredible game against Spain, creating multiple chances, and narrowly losing on a goal that might have been offside. They were excellent, and would have made a better quarterfinalist than the Czech Republic, England, and Greece.

9. Best Fan(s)

Super Mario Bros., Italy. But after that Gazzetta dello Sport cartoon, we’re not sure Italy deserves Super Mario Balotelli.

Runner-up: This fan, who rooted for—wait, let us finish reading her shirt—yep, she rooted for Germany:

10. Best Uniforms:

Netherlands away.

At least they looked good while completely tanking:

Runner-up: Tie—Portugal’s away, and Croatia’s “Full Tablecloth.”

Portugal’s cross is slick, and while we acknowledge Croatia’s are a ‘love em or hate em’ phenomenon, we’re in the former camp.

There you have it. What do you think of our choices? Was there a better goal than Kuba’s? A bigger flop than Rooney? Let us know in the comments.

*UPDATE: UEFA named Iniesta the player of the tournament. So, okay, he’s getting his due, and we salute the selection. Here are a couple of money quotes from the announcement:

Andy Roxburgh, the head of UEFA’s technical group, told reporters:

AndreaPirlo was magnificent for Italy, Xavi won it last time and could have won it again. Xabi Alonso was magnificent, but Iniesta sends a message about creative and incisive football and was superb throughout.”

And the man himself:

“I am very happy to win this title again, to do something unique and magical. This is practically unrepeatable and I am enjoying the moment. The important thing is that Spain are champions and that this is what the entire team wanted.”

Gotta love that guy. Not a word about his (richly deserved) individual honor. He’s only 28, too. Very good chance he’ll be able to add to his incredible legacy (he’s won two Champions League titles during this run) at Brazil 2014.

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.