Costa Rica’s World Cup run creates buzz for Central American Nation


Costa Rica went to the knockout round of 16 in their very first World Cup appearance, but 2014 proved to be their most successful tournament yet.  They beat Greece 5-3 on penalty kicks in extra time to advance to the round of eight for the first time ever. And they fought extremely hard in the quarter-final round, finally being vanquished on penalty kicks. Yes, coming within inches of making the sem-finals was HUGE for Costa Rica.

[Read more…]

FIFA Hand USMNT German Gift


By Alex Simon 

Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones’ application to switch to the U.S. national team from Germany has been approved by FIFA. The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the switch in nationality on Tuesday. A recent FIFA rule change allows players who have not played in a competitive match for a national team to switch to another country in which they have citizenship. Jones’ father was born in America.

The last month for the U.S. Men’s National Team has been an emotional and physical roller coaster. Days after qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, the USNMNT found out that one of their teammates was involved in a deadly car crash. Days after that, they put on an inspiring performance against the Ticos, in honor of their friend. However, the match against Costa Rica brought more challenges for the U.S. Oguchi Onyewu, the US national team and AC Milan defender, tore a tendon in his left knee and will be out at least 3 months. 

With the World Cup less than 8 months away, U.S. coach Bob Bradley needs to start deciding Joneswho will make the 23 man roster. The U.S. have friendly matches scheduled to help the team stay sharp and to help Bradley see who deserves the remaining spots on the World Cup team. Jones, who turns 28 soon, has been sidelined since summer by a hairline fracture of his left shin and has not played in the German Bundesliga this season. If healthy, Jones is a lock for the squad and will likely replace Ricardo Clark as the team’s central defensive midfielder. Most likely, Michael Bradley will play more of an attacking role in the central midfield.

Like many American soccer fans, having Jones is huge news. Jones is a hardnosed player who has played top flight football for several years in Germany. The U.S. can use an abrasive type like Jones, who’s toughness will be a positive impact for a team that is known to be “soft” at times. With Davies most likely out for South Africa, U.S. fans will have to hold their breath that Onyewu and Jones will be healthy come tournament time. Because he won’t be ready to play for the U.S. in its European exhibitions in November, it appears the only game Jones will be able to appear in for the U.S. before World Cup training camp will be in March– the last international fixture date during the club season.





Shorthanded Fire take on Donovan, Becks on ESPN2


By Alex Simon

Tonight the Fire visit the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  With the win and a D.C. loss or tie, the Fire will clinch a playoff spot for the 11th time out of 12 years.  The Fire will be without many of their regulars, most notably Cuauhtémoc Blanco.

The Galaxy received good news yesterday regarding their DP (Designated Player), David Beckham.  Beckham missed last week’s game against Columbus due to inflammation in his ankle, but is expected to start against the Fire.  The Galaxy has a chance at something they have not been able to accomplish since Beckham signed with the team in 2007. Just like the Fire, a win would clinch a spot in the playoffs for L.A. pending the result of the D.C.-Chivas match.


Blanco did not even make the trip to L.A.  This is the second consecutive match Blanco will miss because of his strained hamstring.  Without him, Segares, Thorrington, and possibly Rolfe, it will be tough for the Fire to create offensive opportunities.  The Galaxy had the most goals allowed in MLS last year, 62.  This year they have been scored on only half that number, 31.  A big reason for that is rookie defender Omar DonovanGonzalez.  The 6ft. 5in. Gonzalez has been superb each time I have tuned in for a Galaxy match this year.  Fire will have to worry about Beckham’s free kicks and service, but most of all Landon Donovan.  Donovan burned the Fire defense last time the two teams met.  The Fire lost that August game to the Galaxy 2 nil, and I do not expect Friday night to be much different.  Unfortunately, I favor an inspired Galaxy squad 2-0 against the banged up Fire.

Note: the only thing worse than a Fire defeat tonight, would be a Fire defeat plus Donovan getting hurt.  (Knock on (Kerry) Wood)  The U.S. visit Honduras October 10 for a crucial World Cup qualifier, and need a healthy Donovan.

Fire tie TFC, another disappointing 2-2 performance

Justin MappDeRo

By Alex Simon

It was an ugly performance by both teams’ backlines Saturday night.  However, a late inexcusable mistake by a Fire substitute let the visiting TFC (Toronto FC) side off the hook.  Thus, the Fire played to a 2-2 tie against Toronto.

While Chicago’s playmaker Cuauhtémoc Blanco was sidelined with a strained hamstring, TFC’s star player, DeRo (Dwayne De Rosario), made his presence felt from the get-go.  In the 6th minute, DeRo scored off a defensive blunder by C.J. Brown and Wilman Conde.

“We’re gift wrapping goals. It’s like Christmas time. If they beat us with a good goal, fair enough, but quit giving away easy goals and putting ourselves behind the eight-ball. That’s the bottom line,” said Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch after the match.

DeRo was able to pick apart the shaky Fire defense once again, this time coming in the first minute of the second half.  The Fire D failed to get back on a TFC counterattack as DeRo sent a beautiful cross in the box, scored by unmarked ex-Fire forward Chad Barrett.

Fortunately for the Fire, as bad as their defense was, Toronto’s Nick Garcia was worse.  The Fire’s first goal came on a TFC own goal in the 14th minute, when Garcia chested the ball into his own net.  Then in the 78th minute, Garcia was caught ball watching and left Brian McBride wide open for the easy header from a Justin Mapp cross, equalizing the game at 2-2.  (Garcia’s lackadaisicalness on McBride’s goal was frighteningly similar to an Eddy Curry box out). mcbride

The Fire had several scoring opportunities late in the game.  None would be as good as the one the Fire had in the last play of the game.  With the game level 2-2 in the 93rd, Fire forward Patrick Nyarko beat his defender and passed to a running teammate.  Unfortunately, that teammate was late sub, Calen Carr.  With the goalie nowhere to be found, Carr just needed a simple tap in from a foot away from goal to be the hero.  Carr hit the ball wide of the goal, leaving 16,890 Fire faithful dejected with how the game ended.

Chicago vs Toronto Highlights 9/26/09

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly against TFC

The Good

Justin Mapp:
He was tremendous.  This was the best I have seen Mapp play since the Soldier Field days.  IF Mapp can play at a similar level in the remaining games of the regular season, he can expect major minutes in the playoffs.

Brian McBride:
Back in August, team doctors thought McBride would be out for the season after having shoulder surgery.  “Superman” is back and most importantly, healthy.  I asked McBride how the shoulder felt after last week’s game against Columbus, saying the shoulder was a non-issue.  He proved that against Toronto, giving TFC fits all night.

The Bad


With only three games remaining in the season, now is not the time to be dealing with injuries with the playoffs coming up.  Rolfe was a late scratch but the Fire said it was just precautionary.  Ward and Woolard are still out, but players I think we can do without.  Although Banner played well at left back, a healthy Segares is a major step up.  The same goes for Thorrington.  Not only is Thorrington a good player, but also provides toughness and grit that this team is lacking without him.  With Soumare gone, Thorrington would be a huge help to Conde and C.J.  With that said, if Blanco is not ready to go come playoff time, it does not matter how the other Fire injuries play out.  Blanco is without question our best and most valuable player, and without him, there will be NO deep playoff run.

The Ugly

The D:

The Calen Carr rant and why the f#$% Hamlet put him in the game to begin with is ridiculous, but I think and pray that the Calen Carr era is over. (Carr’s miss was equivalent to a kicker missing an extra point to win the game)  Carr won’t matter in the playoffs, but the defense will, and they really need to figure their s— out.

For the love of Soccer: Striving to Be Great


By Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson

One of the things that I find the most admirable in the world of sports is an athlete who loves what he does. It is quite a treat to watch an individual who not only recognizes their potential, but wants to fulfill that with their dedication and passion.

What is passion? John Maxwell, a well-respected Evangelical once said that a great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. At first glance, Eric Brown, a recent graduate and four year soccer letterman from Iona College looks like your average Joe. At about 6’1 and roughly 190 pounds (with wet clothes and a brick in his back pocket), Brown’s appearance and noticeably long hair may confuse you with Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash—a soccer stud, in his own right!

Don’t let that appearance fool you! Brown is an athletic freak of nature. As a senior in 2008 at Iona in New York, he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds. This is very impressive for Brown, who was honored by Coach Fernando Barboto as the “best all-around athlete” on that Iona soccer team in the MAAC Division.

Most impressive is that during his senior year at Iona he also trained with the Brooklyn Knights soccer club. “I never want to fall short of the goals that I have for myself and I would be cheating myself if I didn’t give myself every opportunity to see that goal/dream develop into a reality,” says the lively athlete who flourishes at the Sweeper position on the field.

“He plays the physical game at a high level and he’s mentally and physically tough,” says Aaron Balber, General Manager of The New Jersey Rangers FC—a team Brown played for last year. When you engage in conversation with Brown, you notice his love for the game of soccer. “Soccer is such a beautiful game, and it is the world’s sport, there is nothing you can hate about that,” says Brown.
But where does he get that drive from?

On July 8, 1986, Eric Brown was born in the Garden State. Renata Aparecida da Costa, the midfielder from the Women’s Brazilian National team was born that day too. Obviously, Brown was not cognizant that he would become the soccer guy that he is now, but even during the formative year of his life he knew that he was born to play this game.

During a recent phone interview, Eric recalled going to watch his father play in the Men’s league in the prestigious Bergen County area of northern New Jersey.

“Every Sunday after church, my mom, sister, and I would go to my father’s games and spend the day watching the game and knocking the ball around with the other team mates. When I saw the bond they had and the types of people who played the game and how much fun they were having I knew that this was for me,” said the Ringwood, New Jersey native.

“He is the reason why I am today and I can’t thank him enough for making me who I am because my life is soccer; without soccer who knows where I would be or who I would be,” he added. It’s that desire and that encouragement that Brown always seemed to find or always came in his direction that seems to have molded him into the guy that is today.

“I love soccer because of my father, I can remember I always had a soccer ball at my feet or around the house,” said Brown. It’s that love for the game however, that makes a competitor want to compete on a night in night out basis.

Eric recalls vividly the knowledge that was given to him from Bryan Ward, a close family friend. Ward, an Englishman, was quite an influence in his life.

“Besides watching and talking with my father about the game, he used to ask me about my playing every time that I saw him and he just told me to keep it up,” exclaimed Brown.

Additionally, Ward encouraged Brown to never give up playing: “He constantly stressed to me that I was playing the greatest game in the world and to give it up would be a crime,” he continued.
Ward passed away on June 30th 2009 from cancer, but the knowledge and kind words will always stay with Eric. “I will cherish every word that he has ever spoken to me, and I believe that I at least owe it to him to give everything that I have to take myself to the next level,” he said.

During Eric’s high school career at Don Bosco Prep, an all-boys Catholic high school in Ramsey, NJ it was Brown who started to hone his craft and polish his skills. Brown who was coached by Roy Nygren, was a member of the 2002 Bergen County championship team and the 2002 – 2003 Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League Division C Championship team. To steal a phrase from the Anchorman, Ron Burgundy, “He’s kind of a big deal.”

He also garnered some respect from his fellow teammates: “Eric had a fantastic work ethic from what I remember,” says Ian Joyce, one of Brown’s teammates at Don Bosco Prep. Joyce, who plays goalie for Southend of the England premier league, also credits his leadership abilities: “He was a good leader in his class and always had great touches on the ball and good vision. Given his height he won a lot of balls in the air as well who now,” he added.

Soccer requires the will to win and the use speed. It also requires teamwork, leadership, and hard work. It was the late Vince Lombardi that said that the achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.

Since Eric was eight years old, he began playing in a club soccer league in Northern New Jersey coached by Tom Tucci. Coach Tucci, an honorable man of his word let his team know that if they played hard and worked together that he would place the team in overseas tournaments that would allow them to display their talents. Surely at eight years old the only thing on those kids minds might have been Wrestlemania X (that was a good Pay per view, by the way that’s when Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon had the ladder match for the Intercontinental title, but I digress) But when that team stayed together and played together, they were a force to be reckoned with.

During the summer of 2003, Eric along with his club league teammates went to face teams from Italy, Australia, France, and Germany and played with exuberance and a will to win. “The summer of 2003 when I traveled with my club team to Europe I was probably the greatest experience that I have ever had in my career to this point,” said Brown.

His professionalism is what surprised his coach the most. “Eric looked out for the team first and not himself as the individual player, I respect that a lot,” Tucci said. “He’s an extension of the coach on the field, and he picks his spots, and that makes him great, added Tucci. “He had the respect of his teammates,” he concluded.

Brown distinctly remembered his team having a meeting at the airport in London upon their arrival. During that time the team talked about what their goal was for the trip. “We don’t want to get killed, maybe tie one game and we will be happy,” said Brown.

The team actually did better than they expected. They actually won the Italy cup in that tournament and finished with two wins and one tie. “We flew home the next day with our heads held high, knowing we won the Italy Cup, and finished the tour with only one loss which was debatable,” said Brown.
“This was a life lesson for Eric and the guys that it doesn’t how skilled the other team is, if you work hard, good things will happen,” said Brown.

Life lessons, hard work, goals, aspirations, and dreams. Those are all things that have helped shaped Brown’s life experiences as a soccer player.
What’s next?

”I am not like most people you will find who are trying to break into professional athletics,” started Brown. “All I want is to still love the game of soccer and to have fun playing, I don’t care about the money or the fame or the crazy life of a superstar. I am doing this for the pure love of the game,” Brown added.

According to his agent, Ryan Badu of Evolution Sports management a London based football agency, they are in the process of speaking with one club in Sweden and two in Holland. As per league policy, those team names may not be disclosed.

“Eric is a defender with some exceptional qualities,” says Badu . “He is very fast, has good height and jumps very well,” Badu continued. “He has all the attributes to be a very good defender, because of his inexperience he will be better suited to right back at this moment however I am sure that he can develop into a good central defender,” he added. “At this stage he is still potential. Jay De Merit had very similar qualities without the speed that Eric has and he is now on your national team.” he concluded.

This sounds very promising for Eric Brown. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.