Tim Howard’s True Doppelganger: Greg Matzek or Vin Diesel?

You may have seen the story, here, or here, about Milwaukee radio man Greg Matzek‘s encounter with Everton and U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard in Memphis over the weekend.

If not, here’s a quick recap: For years, people have been telling Matzek that he looks uncannily like the U.S. keeper.

In 2005, ESPN featured side-by-side photos of the two in a “separated at birth” feature.

If Howard’s TV insurance commercial ever came on while Matzek was watching the Women’s World Cup this summer, no matter where he was, the conversation immediately turned to his striking resemblance to the player.

Such was the case this past Sunday, when Matzek was watching the WWC Final in a Memphis sports bar. The difference this time, though, was that Howard was also in the sports bar. Take it away Matzek:

“The same advertisement with Howard aired, and Ryan, Mike and I started chuckling again at my unquestionable likeness to Howard. I also received a couple more texts. About three minutes later, Ryan, who used to play soccer for UW-Milwaukee, looked over my shoulder and said, “excuse me, are you Tim Howard?”

Confused, I turned to look at the man who was five feet behind me eating a salad and drinking a Blue Moon—it was the real TIM HOWARD!

I’ve been around professional athletes for the majority of my professional career, so I understand the etiquette when approaching them. That all went out the window when I realized my celebrity look-alike was near arms-reach away from me.

“Holy sh**!” I said. “I’m you!!” (nice one Greg).

I introduced myself, shook his hand, explained how we have been linked in years past, and showed him the ESPN Page 2 web site on my IPad. He absolutely loved it! He seemed most amused that I dressed as him for Halloween—he even asked for pictures….

He also explained that he heard us talking about my likeness and was waiting for me to turn around so he could judge.”

We agree that Matzek–Howard (top) is a solid “separated at birth,” but does it top the Vin Diesel–Tim Howard resemblance?

It’s a tough call. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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MLS Notes

Catching up on the latest in Major League Soccer (while CBA negotiations continue in Washington) ….

D.C. United Waives Danny Szetela

File this one under Lo, How the Mighty Have Fallen: Former rising youth star Danny Szetela was let go by D.C. United last night. The 22-year-old midfielder began his professional career with the Columbus Crew in 2004, then did stints with clubs in Spain and Italy before returning to the U.S. and D.C. United as a prize signing last season.

The Washington Post‘s Steven Goff cites “off-field issues” and a knee injury that required surgery during the first week of preseason as factors in D.C.’s decision.

Does this mean the Red Bulls will swoop for Szetela, who has three caps with the U.S. senior national team? After all, he was born in Passaic, N.J., a stone’s throw from the new Red Bull Arena.

Separated At Birth?

A few Backpost readers have claimed that there’s an uncanny resemblance between the Columbus Crew’s two-goal CONCACAF Champions League hero Steven Lenhart and actor Brett “Thurman Merman” Kelly of Bad Santa fame.

After examining the evidence, we have to say, there’s something there. Maybe not separated-at-birth, but definitely long-lost cousins:

In any case, we foresee a breakout year for Lenhart in 2010. The athletic 6-1 striker had three goals and two assists in 10 starts last year, and judging by his performance against Toluca, is poised to top that in 2010.

As for Kelly, it’s hard to say—his only project on the slate this year is the stoner comedy High School, starring Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis and Colin Hanks, which debuted at Sundance in January.

But if there’s one thing we learned from Bad Santa (and we learned many), it’s that this kid can surprise you.

• Fire signs Collins John

The Chicago Fire signed 24-year-old Dutch striker Collins John, who had been on trial with the team since February. The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, reunites John with striker Brian McBride.

The pair teamed up at Fulham in the English Premier League from 2004 to ’07, and John led the Cottagers in scoring in 2004-05 with 11 goals.

Kansas City Adds Three Midfielders

Coming to terms with two Brits and a Moldovan, who play on the right, left and in the middle, respectively, Wizards GM Peter Vermes believes he has strengthened his midfield for the 2010 season.

The players are:

Ryan Smith, 23, who began his career in Arsenal’s youth system alongside Cesc Fabregas and Cael Clichy, and has since bounced around to six clubs, including Derby County and Milwall.

Craig Rocastle, 28, a journeyman with nine years of experience in England and Greece.

Igor Kostrov, 22, who has played in his native Moldova and in Israel.

Smith and Kostrov signed senior roster contracts with the league, while Rocastle has agreed to terms pending his approval for a P1 visa.

The youth of Smith (who has scored three goals in nine preseason games with KC) and Kostrov has to be encouraging for Wizards fans, as it suggests the jury could still be out on them, despite their undistinguished resumes, but Rocastle seems to be a reach. His last club was … wait for it … Forest Green Rovers of the English Conference—the fifth level in England.

Union Disunity

Peter Nowak, coach of expansion side Philadelphia Union, probably wants his players to play with a little fire in the belly, but this is going overboard: In its first preseason exhibition against a fellow MLS team, the Union had three players red-carded.

Veterans Alejandro Moreno and Danny Califf were sent to early showers along with Michael Orozco, a newcomer to MLS but a player with four years experience in the Mexican top flight. (Orozco, you may recall, was red-carded three minutes into the U.S. Olympic team’s final group match at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Nowak was the coach of that Olympic team.)

Nowak’s comment on Sunday’s display? It was “like kindergarten kids playing in the sand box.” Ouch.

Jason Kreis Completes Historic MLS Cup-Top Chef Double

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kreis's feat is unprecedented.

Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis capped an incredible month last night by winning the sixth season of Bravo’s reality show Top Chef, narrowly defeating his brother Bryan in the last elimination challenge of the hour-long season finale.

Coming less than three weeks after Kreis coached Real Salt Lake to a penalty-shootout win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS Cup 2009, the victory seals a unique and apparently unprecedented double for the coach/chef. According to Seymour Siwoff, venerable head of the Elias Sports Bureau, there’s no record of such a coaching/culinary double in the annals of sport or haute cuisine. “I went all the way back to the 1905 Chicago Cubs of Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, and found nothing comparable. Of course, Brown got his nickname from mishaps in the kitchen, so perhaps he wasn’t the best candidate.”

Kreis overcame the early loss of star midfielder Javier Morales in MLS Cup, replacing him with Clint Mathis, who filled in capably. Similarly, in the Top Chef finale, he prevailed despite a reconstituted-mushroom side dish that one judge called “gimmicky.”

Siwoff surveyed the entire history of U.S. and international soccer, including in France, and found nothing that ranks with Kreis’s achievement. He stated that U.S. baseball history comes closest to providing a similar accomplishment. “In addition to Brown’s ill-fated culinary career,” Siwoff says, “there was Chief Bender, Hall of Fame pitcher with the A’s, who, not surprisingly, was adept with a Bloody Mary and won several local mixology competitions. And the A’s Hall of Fame manager  Connie Mack made a fine pancake, but nothing on the level of this national double.”

Kreis said he plans to put the $125,000 prize money toward replacing Real Salt Lake striker Yura Movsisyan, who departed for Danish club Randers after the title game.

Note: post may not be true.