isolated occurrences of football

Sometimes working on new posts can be a difficult process. Selecting a subject to post about is difficult enough, but a million other thoughts run through my mind too. Do I need to be writing about what everyone else is writing about? I really should quit only writing about Tottenham. Will anyone actually care about this subject? So keeping on topic is often an infinitely harder task than one might assume. Soccer is splintered into so many different subcategories (clubs, countries, leagues, tactics, gear, etc.) that I often find myself starting a posting on a particular topic, and then finishing on another related topic. The Wikipedia-effect, if you will.

lonely soccer player

while this little guy seems lonely, the players on the following pitches might be a bit worse off.

For example, I’ve been working on a piece entitled just around the corner (which you can now find here) for about three weeks now. The post was born out of a thread I saw on r/soccer, discussing the close proximity of some rival grounds around the world. It seemed like an interesting topic that would make for a readable post. However, I didn’t want to be a complete mooch and hijack the thread content, so I thought it better to unearth some examples of my own. But in that research, I started stumbling across stadiums that weren’t just several meters apart, but instead were several thousands of kilometers away from their nearest neighboring pitch.

(Oddly enough, this research also spawned a post that made an earlier appearance on the blog this summer, the sort-of internationals. I wasn’t lying when I said it’s tough for me to keep on task.)

And since I got steered off course and find this more interesting now, you get to hear about the lonely football stadiums first. Don’t worry: you’ll get those “too close for comfort” pitches in a future post. I’m sure you’re giddy with excitement.

To start this off, let me be clear in saying this is not a definitive list. I’m sure there will be some forlorn field somewhere in the middle of nowhere that my simple internet searching couldn’t unearth. While a majority of the pitches on this list will predictably come from island nations, there are a few mainland gems to consider too… and as difficult as it is to find island stadiums, there’s absolutely no way I could find all of the isolated continental ones too. So forgive me if I left off your favorite marooned ground off the list.

ummm, where are those 2000 seats? no wonder nobody wants to come to play saint helena.

Francis Plain, Saint Helena Island
Found on the most isolated inhabited island in the world, the school-side 2,000 seat stadium is also the solitary pitch on the island. Trust me, I scoured the entire landmass on Google Maps looking for others. Located in the middle of the Southern Atlantic Ocean and currenlty lacking an airport, Saint Helena’s closest neighboring island is 810 miles away. While this helps to explain why the island was chosen to detain the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte, it also explains why it’s the only British Dependency to have never played an “international” match. That said, with the imminent development of an airport by the Crown, a movement has begun to establish a national team. I’m no betting man, but I’d put my money on this field becoming the home of that team — should it ever actually be formed.

a molini… moments away from being swept way by the sea?

Á Mølini, Faroe Islands
Though the Faroe Islands just won their first ever European tournament match a few weeks ago at the somewhat remote Svangaskarð Stadium — the home of B68 Toftir in a village of just 800 —  there was another Faeroe Island stadium that caught my eye for being much, much more isolated. Á Mølini, the home of EB/Streymur, is a 1000 seat stadium on the extreme Northern edge of the main island near the tiny village, Eiði. The first time I saw a picture of this pitch, I actually thought it might be floating on the ocean water. In fact it’s so remote, Google couldn’t even compute directions from the capital city. That’s probably why when EB/Streymur drew Manchester City in the Europa League a few years ago, the game had to be played away from Á Mølini… presumably because nobody knew how to get there.

mount sajama football match

this game was actually played during the summer in a tropical climate.

Nevado Sajama, Bolivia
Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly a pitch. But the top of South America’s second tallest mountain did serve as the sight of the highest altitude football match in history. And considering that two of the planned players for the match couldn’t even make it to the 21,463 foot summit due to altitude sickness, I’d say that this is easily one of the most isolated “fields” on the planet. It’s not known who won the game, nor do I think anyone really cares. All were just glad that nobody invited the Bolivian president to this match, as he probably would have given one of the scientists/players a kick in the frozen junk.

lawson tama stadium

probably one of the most attended stadiums on the list, it

Lawson Tama Stadium, Solomon Islands
It was about time that we included a pitch from one of the far-flung island nations of the Oceania region. There are literally dozens of pitches that I could have included in this list, all of which are perfect examples of extremely remote fields. But I picked the home of the Solomon Islands National Team because of their fan’s propensity to pack the ground. Despite the fact that the “stadium” has no official capacity, quintuple-digit crowds are not unusual when either Los Bonitos or OFC Champions League matches are being hosted.

the football pitch in gspon, switzerland

though located in central europe, the stadium in gspon, switzerland is is in — or above — the boonies.

Ottmar Hitzfeld Gspon Arena, Switzerland
Though nowhere near the height of the pitch in Bolivia, the mini-pitch located in the Swiss Alps does hold the distinction as the highest elevated pitch in Europe at 6,587 feet. The town of Gspon, though only a (comparatively) short distance away from many of Switzerland’s major cities, is isolated in the fact that there aren’t any roads that leads to the village: you either have to hike up the side of the mountain, take a ski lift, or be flown in by helicopter. The stadium itself serves as the home of FC Gspon, and has also hosted the European Mountain Village championships. As recently as 2009, it wasn’t any more than a gravel pitch until it was renamed for Ottmar Hitzfeld. However, the German footballing legend had never even visited the hamlet before being flown in by helicopter for the dedication ceremony. (Want to see some more? Here are some shots from “around town”, as well as some more shots from a few matches in the “arena”.)

galolhu rasmee dhandu national stadium in the maldives

the stadium in the capital of malé can hold 10% of the national population.

Galolhu Rasmee Dhandu, Maldives
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean — about 250 miles from the mainland — the Maldives National Team makes its home in the capital city of Malé. Considering it’s one of only two kept, grass pitches in the island chain (though there are many others spread throughout the 26 atols that comprise the nation) every single match in the island’s top Dhivehi League is played in the Rasmee Dhandu stadium. Seating just over 10 thousand spectators, it’s one of the largest buildings in a country considered the smallest in Asia.

stade d'arlit, arlit, niger

the groundsmen in arlit are clearly top notch. well, there is grass in the middle of the desert. maybe they are top notch.

Stade d’Arlit, Niger
Niger is the 22nd largest country in the world and 6th largest in Africa, yet there are only five football stadiums in the entire country. Since a majority of the land-locked country is covered in desert, most of the country’s population and stadia can be found near its (relatively) lush Southwestern borders. However, there is a small uranium mining town in North-central Niger by the name of Arlit. A large French expatriate population works at the mines, and predictably, they’re going to need their football. Therefore the town’s 7000 “seat” Stade d’Arlit is the only footballing temple within a 900-mile radius. Home of the Niger Premier League side Akonkana FC, it’s so remote that I can’t even find a picture of the damn thing, and the only picture I could find that showed any football in Arlit is this.

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wrong side XI: center back

this is part VI in the “wrong side XI” series, where i’ll be selecting my very own starting eleven, assuming of course that i could choose any player from any team in the world. you can read the rules i’ll be following to make my team selection, and what formation i’ll be squeezing them into, on the first post in the series.

gerard pique, ledley king, neven subotic, nemanja vidic, and giorgio chiellini

one of these big men will anchor my defensive line.

After what’s seemed like about ten years, I figured it might be worth getting back to making my picks for my wrong side of the pond XI. It’s been at least a month since my last post in this series, which didn’t seem that horrible until I remembered that I was trying to make this a weekly ritual. So it’s without saying that it’s time to get back on track… no promises of increased frequency quite yet though.

Diving in to the task at hand, let’s pick back up by selecting the last of the defenders in my starting line up: the other centerback. Unlike his libero counterpart from the last post, this centerback tends to be the defensive linchpin of his side. Rarely straying from his back line, he’s the rock on which the rest of the team is built. In most cases, he’s like a general that leads by example.

And it’s those qualities that make this pick such an important one. A player without the adequate skill, intelligence, conviction or personality can cause the rest of the team to crumble around him, like removing a keystone from an arch. Witness Arsenal, a side rich with attacking talent, but unable to scale the highest heights because they lack the strong presence in the heart of defense. Conversely, part of the reason that Manchester United and Chelsea have had such success over the half decade is due to the strong leadership that comes from their primary centerback (Rio and Terry respectively). It’s hardly surprising to see this player wearing the armband for most sides.

So who’s the man I chose to lead my team from the back? Read on…

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i want to be like you

There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of, “the best form of flattery is immitation.”

liverpool's adidas third kit for the 2010/2011 season

exhibit a: liverpool's third kit looks strangely familiar.

It’s always seemed to me that the undertone of the phrase implies that someone is angry at having been copied by a lesser person. “How dare they jock my style!” seems to be the general feeling being broadcast by the copied party.

But really, it’s a good point to get across to the offended. You know you’re doing something well when other people are trying to be like you. There’s no doubt that those enviably looking on at your successes will inevitably try to replicate some of the steps you took to get to this point. So effectively, their copycat behavior is ultimately a testament to your awesomeness.

In certain circumstances, it’s possible that even those you once strove to be like are now striving to be more like you. If that’s the case, then you are really sitting pretty…. so Manchester City, take your well-earned bow.

Examine Exhibit A, up and to the left: the recently leaked 2011/2012 third kit for Liverpool by Adidas.

As is commonly known, Liverpool have long been the most successful club in English football. With 19 league titles, 7 FA Cups, and 5 European Cups, the Mereyside club have been the side that everyone (and I mean everyone, right Sir Alex?) in England wanted to be.

Also widely known is Liverpool’s recent fall from grace. It’s been two years since the Anfield outfit have finished inside the top four, and this upcoming season will be their first without European football since the 1999/2000 season. Whether this dip in results is due to the increased competitive abilities of the rest of the league or due to a decline in the club (it’s likely a bit of both), the fact of the matter is that Liverpool are now the ones staring enviously up the table.

And what better way to get back to the top than to emulate those who are currently at the top, right?! And who better to emulate than world-conquering Manchester City?

manchester city's 2007/2008 away kit by le coq sportif

perhaps liverpool think they can repeat city's meteoric rise if they start dressing like them.

So how are liverpool copying the citizens? Take a look at the kit to the right.

You see what i mean?

Sure, City’s 2007/2008 away kit by Le Coq Sportif isn’t exactly the same as the Liverpool’s new third option, but they are remarkably similar. The shorts and socks to be worn with both kits are white. the light blue and black striped shoulder sash persists in both, though in slightly different weights and locations.

I mean, could the Adidas designers really not have noticed the similarities? Aren’t they paid to check on these things?! They had to, which leads me to believe that maybe they did notice it and were actually trying to summon City’s mojo through the finest form of flattery.

However, if that is the case, then there are two huge problems with this.

  1. Maybe picking this Mancunian kit to imitate wasn’t the smartest of ideas. The season that City wore them, they finished 9th. Hopefully Dalglish and company are prepared for the consequences of wearing this imitation.
  2. When are they even going to wear this thing? Liverpool don’t even really need a third kit this season. None of next season’s Premiership clubs have black home kits, which means that Liverpool’s sharp looking away kit will work just fine. (If you’re wondering about Newcastle’s more-black-than-usual striped kit, Liverpool would wear their traditional reds anyway). Secondly, for most squads, a third kit is needed for European travels. But as i mentioned above, that’s not even an issue for them this year.
So, if Liveprool really want to channel the success that City has seen over the last two years, maybe going with a plain light blue kit would have been a better homage. It doesn’t really matter though, as this kit will probably only see the pitch during preseason.
But regardless of the reason Liverpool chose this particular kit design, it’s fairly simple to determine the real reason it even exists in the first place: so they can sell it to you to make money… wait, wait a second… maybe they are trying to be like Citeh after all.

ten words or less #29

martin palermo of boca juniors

martin palermo prepares for his post-retirement gig as the superhero, "boca man".

blah blah blah, this is the introduction paragraph. i know you don’t really care what i say in this space at all. all you care about is getting to the links below. if i were to write something really important or interesting in this area, like “ke$ha is the lovechild of ryan giggs and julia roberts”, you probably wouldn’t even notice.

or would you?

getafe decided to spend their first dubai money on this!? – theoffside.com

a beginner’s guide to the transfer window. – offthepost.info

64% sure nobody from norwich has ever been to italy. – youtube.com

so, supporting tottenham means i shouldn’t trust my wife? – inbedwithmaradona.com

and now i’m a fan of the german women’s team (NSFW) – bild.de

amazed that neville doesn’t throw like a girl. – dirty tackle @ yahoo.com

lol. but seriously, enough with the 1999 talk. – theonion.com

love truly is blind: modrić got hitched this weekend. – jutarnji.ha

the sort-of internationals

The international game is back in focus now that the European club season has come to a close. It’s a special time, as rival fans put aside their differences in united support of their national teams. And luckily, there is no shortage or lack of variety in international fixtures to distract us from the summer heat.

xavi playing for catalonia against argentina

wait, why is xavi playing in a shirt that’s not from spain or barcelona?

Up first are the all-important world championships. FIFA, not content to keep itself busy with just bribery, corruption and racism, has a full slate of tournaments this summer to keep us thinking about on-field matters instead of off. The world’s next generation of superstars will be on display in both the u-17 (Mexico, June 18 – July 10) and u-20 (Columbia, July 29 – August 18) World Cups. The lesser followed but equally entertaining Beach Soccer World Cup is being held in Ravenna, Italy, in early September. And who isn’t looking forward to the Women’s World Cup being held in Germany from June 26th to July 17th?!?!

There are also a number of regional competitions on the agenda, with four of the six regional confederations hosting major competitions during the summer. CONCACAF and CONMEBOL will each host their final round regional championships: the Gold Cup and Copa America respectfully. And UEFA’s European Championship and CAF’s African Cup of Nations will have qualifiers ongoing throughout the summer, as they attempt to whittle down to their final fields of sixteen.

And of course there will also be a full serving of the third type of international matches, friendlies, as teams prepare for their upcoming priorities. So what if they’re normally drab affairs that lack the passion of a competitve match and primarily used to test youngsters? There’s no shortage of matches to keep happy both neutral and major fan alike.

But if for some odd reason you can’t find any of those options enticing — after getting your head checked — you do actually have one more type of international fixture left to keep you entertained. Though with world championships, regional tournaments and friendlies off the table, what other type of international matches does that leave you?

The kind that don’t really involve “countries” at all.

Yes, there are actually national teams for places that aren’t actually countries. And no, I’m not talking about places like the U.S. Virgin Islands, who aren’t technically countries but do have true, FIFA-approved squads. (That said, the USVINT are currently ranked 200th in the world rankings and haven’t played a match since 2008… maybe they shouldn’t be a real national team).

Instead, these are the places that FIFA have turned their backs on. Despite this, these far-flung locales still feel the need to field squads to compete in friendlies and play in predominantly unheard-of competitions. They come from regions, principalities, islands, and even “non-defined areas” and play against squads hailing from other lands, real and not real. It’s for this reason that I like to call them the Sort-of Internationals.

So who are these teams?

The most famous of the Sort-of’s is the Catalonia national team. The spiritual home of tiki taka, the Catalonia region of Spain has long been a separatists dreamland. Entrenched in their own “national” identity, culture and language, the region has long sought sovereignty from the Madrid-based Spanish crown. The famous Blaugrana of Barcelona have long been a flag bearer for this movement, and this feeds into the social-undercurrent that intensifies the Barça’s Clásico rivalry with capital club Real. The passion for the independence movement and culture itself is also shared with Espanyol, the region’s other major football club.

But with all of the talent that sprouts from within the state’s borders, it’s unsurprising that a majority of the players “capped” by Catalonia come from Barcelona and Espanyol’s squads. Barça is famous for developing local talent into world class talent, and Espnayol’s has provided some of the strong local contingent too. With players like Xavi, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fàbregas, Gerard Pique, and Victor Valdés all having earned caps recently for the squad, you can easily fathom that they just might be a decent squad. (I also suspect that at least 79% of the reason why Spain won’t let Catalonia secede is that it would deprive the Spanish national team from a major contingent of the current world-dominating squad).

xabi alonso playing for the basque country, or euskadi xi

and what’s with xabi alonso? neither madrid nor spain wear green…

The star power doesn’t stop with the players either, as the squad is currently managed by Dutch legend Johann Cruyff. Such is the attraction of this Sort-of International squad that they have actually competed against “real” national teams such as Brazil, Nigeria, and even Argentina whom they beat 4-2 in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup.

Spain also partially houses another somewhat known “national team”, that of the Basque Country. Though not as well known as the Southern coast group from Catalonia, they also have capped a few illustrious players, including: Xabi Alonso, Fernando Llorente and Mikel Arteta. Many of the Basque players come from the region’s most prominent side, Athletic Bilbao. Bilbao’s unique cantera policy, which focuses entirely on both developing young players from the Basque region and recruiting top-level Basque players from other clubs, makes them the perfect feeder for the faux-national side.

The Euskadi XI, as the Basque Country side is known, not only plays publicized matches against Catalonia, but just like their most-frequent foe, they’ve also faced some prominent sides in friendlies. In fact, they’re currently on a three match winning streak against “real” national sides, which included wins over Estonia, Venezuela, and Serbia.

However, the quality tends to drop off pretty dramatically for the remaining 58 established sort-of international sides. But that’s not to say there aren’t some interesting “countries” to examine.

the guernsey national side kits

guernsey’s “national” side has some pretty sharp kits… and a sponsorship.

  • The Guernsey national football team, the British-owned islands in the English Channel, is well known for producing Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier. Le Tissier did manage to make a number of appearances for the Green Lions, both before and after playing for the better known Three Lions. The fellow channel islands of Jersey and Alderney also sport their own national teams, and the three “nations” regularly compete for their own cup, the Muratti Vase.
  • The Greenland national team, despite being a property of Denmark, appears on track to be elevanted to a FIFA-member status after the Sepp-asaurus approved their new field-turf pitch back in september of last year.
  • The Northern Cyprus national team is composed of Turkish-aligned Cypriots. But don’t you dare confuse them with FIFA-approved Cyprus national team that is mainly composed of ancestral-Greek players… that could get you killed. Officials on the Island aren’t dumb though: in order to spare the Mediterranean island any additional racial tensions, the two sides have never met.
  • The extravagant city of Monaco also has a national team, though they’re also easily confused with French Ligue 2 club side AS Monaco, which is composed entirely of players from outside of the principality. Like Greenland, Monaco have been eagerly been attempting to enter FIFA’s cool club for quite some time. Uniquely though, and unlike Greenland and many of the others on this list, the city state is actually a real country.
  • The Sápmi national team is comprised of players from the extreme northern reaches of Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland. The most famous player ever to pull on the sápmi strip is Blackburn Rovers midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen.
  • Sort-of national teams exist outside of the Europe, too. Some notable teams include: Easter Island (disappointingly not a team full of giant stone heads), the Faulkland Islands at the tip of Southern Argentina (who rarely can get a game, due to the pure lack of visitors), and Zanzibar in Africa (who, oddly enough, used to be a “real” national team).

For those of you wanting to take in a bit of the action of the sort-of international variety, you’re in luck! This year, the 14th edition of the Island Games will feature a football tournament that pits 15 teams from non-FIFA approved nations. More information about the tournament, which runs June 26 – July 1 on the Isle of Wight, can be found here.

So if anyone tells you that there won’t be any quality football to watch this summer due to the lack of club matches, be sure to smack them and tell them to open their eyes a bit wider… or maybe use a magnifying glass.

ten words or less #28

ronaldo trains with the brazilian national team ahead of his last game for brazil

fat ronaldo looks on as he "trains" with the seleção for the last time.

Summer has arrived with a vengeance in Southwest Ohio. Sweltering temperatures normally reserved for August have plagued those of us living in the humid Ohio/Miami Valley region, causing us to suffocate on the air so thick and heavy that Cristiano would trip over it.

Researching for the blog has been a welcome excuse for me to sit on my couch and enjoy the air conditioning over the last week or so, and today’s post is the beneficiary of said sloth. So if you’re trying to escape the summer heat, why not sit back and check out some of the interesting bits of soccer blabber from around the tubes.

The Gold Cup TV schedule. You should watch it. – totalsoccershow.com

How to build a stalker: step one… – kickette.com

Donor hair: Chicharito, Neville, Fabio, Park, Kuszczak, Berbatov, Obertan? – redcafe.net

Pienaar has to be thinking, “Great… always the same kit.” – footballshirtculture.com

The highlights of the tactical evolution from 2010-2011. – guardian.co.uk

FIFA adds racism to their stable of “awesomeness.” – msn.com

Before Ronaldo. After Ronaldo. – youtube.com

I want to hang these up in my house… tonight. – kckrs.com

man whore all-stars

Even though I’m still knee-deep into a very drawn out series of posts to select my very own wrong side XI, I feel I have to name another very important all-star squad from the world of football.

ryan giggs on the cover of the sunday herald

maybe giggs will learn that in the age of the internet, nothing is secret.

With the near constant stream of super injunctions and confirmed tabloid stories about footballers having affairs and shagging ladies of the night, it’s only right that we give these men of such “quality” morals the credit they truly deserve… a man whore XI if you will.

Now in the spirit of fairness, I do want to make sure that I’m not unfairly labeling anyone as a cheater. And since it can also be hard to confirm who has actually committed such sinfulness, we’re also going to include players who are known for the playboy lifestyles.

So without further adieu, let’s get on to the dirtiest team in football:

Goalkeeper – Allan McGregor (Rangers)
Apparently the most faithful position on the pitch, I had to dig hard to find a current goalkeeper that plays the field… figuratively of course. After an hour of searching, I almost settled on this half-story from the South African second division. Luckily, a little extra dilligence yielded McGregor’s indiscretions. The most famous of those saw the Scotland keeper dating a series of young ladies, this despite the fact he had a live in girlfiend at the time. He later cheated on his mobster-linked ex-fiancée with that same live in girlfriend.

Left Back – Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
When not shooting club staff members, Ca$hley likes to spend the remainder of his free time either sexting pictures of his junk to American women or shagging with ladies of varying attractiveness. Apparently this became such a frequent issue that his supremely hot (yet infinitely annoying) wife decided to call off their marriage by text message. If he keeps this kind of behavior up, Cole could quite possibly be the most lonely man on the planet.

Center Back – John Terry (Chelsea)
Probably the worst teammate and friend you could possibly have in a squad, unless it’s this squad I suppose. It is never advisable to leave one’s WAG/daughter/mom around Mr. Chelsea. Just ask Wayne Bridge. And I don’t care that The News of the World have since said that the rumors were untrue. Something obviously happened because Bridge still refuses to play with his former best friend. Your 2009 Dad of the Year!

Right Back – Alon Harazi (retired)
I couldn’t find any mention of any other right backs involved in sex scandals, so we’ll have to turn our attention to the recently retired Israel defender. Hazari, who made over 600 apperances for Maccabi Haifa, was one of the contingent of Israeli players that had an all-night sex party full of prostitutes and alcohol prior to the country’s biggest ever match. Despite losing 0-5 to the Danes in the first leg of the Euro 2000 qualifier, Harazi and his teammates repeated the incident in denmark and lost 0-3. Didn’t exactly learn their lessons, did they?

cristiano ronaldo with a lovely lady

ronaldo may be a womanizer, but at least he never marries them.

Left Midfield – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
While Ronnie has a “long-term” girlfriend at the moment, and there haven’t been any rumors of infidelity in the relationship, the oily-skinned icon makes this team more for the ridiculous list of tramps/supermodels that he’s managed to bed over the last few years. Entire websites are devoted to cataloging his sexual conquests, which includes rumored hook-ups with American media whores celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. And when you have to pay-off an American waitress in South Beach to take the love-child you created with her, you probably know you probably deserve your spot here.

Center Midfield – Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
The man whose name we should not say is a late and surprising addition to the squad. Long revered as a model professional, the old Welsh wizard was tricking us all after it was revealed that he was a cheating bastard. And now rumors are spurting out that Giggsy has spent the last 8 years having occasional frolics with his brother’s wife. With all of the stress of sneaking around, it’s no wonder that we’re seeing his hair quickly turn grey. I’ll now spare you some poor viagra jokes.

Offensive Midfield – David Beckham (L.A. Galaxy)
A serial offender deserves to be on this list, even if some of that series are only claims. The world’s most popular footballer certainly has no shortage of admirers, though he has an inkling for the help apparently. Either way, i can empathize with Becks though: I wouldn’t want to have sex with a crazed, plastic Barbie doll like Posh either.

Defensive Midfield – Paul Terry (Darlington)
The older brother to the captain of England, it seems as if adultery runs in the blood of the Terry family. Though Paul has never been able to reach the playing heights of his younger sibling, he has had just as much success in destroying people’s lives. Back in 2010, Paul managed to carry on affair with the fiancée of his Rusheden & Diamonds teammate Dale Roberts, despite already being married to Paul Konchesky’s sister. Roberts was so troubled by the betrayal of his teammate that he soon committed suicide. Those Terry boys are just stand-up individuals, aren’t they?

Right Midfield – Frank Ribery (Bayern Munich)
All the money in the world sometimes isn’t enough to find yourself a quality WAG, as the unfriendly-on-the-eye yet tremendously talented Ribery knows all too well. Maybe that’s the reason Frank felt it necessary to fly in the forbidden fruit of an underage prostitute from Paris in 2010. The then 17-year-old Zahia Dehar is also rumored to have, ahem, worked with other French internationals such as Karim Benzema and Sidney Govou… so he’s not alone in his desires at least.

Forward – Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
While by no means saying he was right to sleep with an insanely pricey hooker, or a cheaper but older one for that matter, I can sort of see why Wazza might be prone to infidelity. He’s married to the same girl he’s been dating since he was a schoolboy, and it’s hardly imaginable that a young egotistic star on the rise could resist the lure of reaping the rewards of his talents. He probably felt a need to soil his wild oats. However, why he didn’t just head to the club to pick up some young pretty thing instead of paying for an overpriced romp in the sheets is simply beyond me.

peter crouch and abbey clancy

can someone please explain to me how crouch cheated on clancey?

Forward – Peter Crouch (Tottenham Hotspur)
Someone needs to pull Pete aside and have him look in a mirror: there’s no way he won’t recognize while staring back at his pasty, gangly reflection that he is not that attractive of a man. That same person should then show him a picture of his fiancée: there’s no way he won’t recognize that she is smoking hot and that he should have no business marrying a woman so attractive. Then that person should tell him that spending thousands of quid for expensive prostitutes is a giant waste of the very money that has allowed him to bag a girl as hot as Abbey Clancy.

Manager – Sven-Goran Eriksson
Even the managers can use their fame and fortunes to feed their sexual appetites! The former manager of every team ever has twice been caught being unfaithful to his wife. The first time was with a decently attractive Swedish TV commentator, the second with an English FA secretary. He apparently also heavily influenced his successor, as Steve McClaren must have felt the need to live up to the bar set by Sven.

Also, I would rue the opportunity if I didn’t give a nod to these other legends of the game with an additction to the nookie:

  • George Best: The England legend is the original football playboy, famously once saying, “I used to go missing a lot… Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World.” baller.
  • Garrincha: The former samba star is the Wilt Chamberlain of world football, having a confirmed 14 children and the possibility of another twenty-freaking-four around the world. Dads fret not, your daughters are safe: Garrincha passed away in 1983.
  • Jean-François Larios: The former French international famously had a fling with the wife of current-UEFA president Michel Platini in the lead up to the 1982 World Cup. I actually like him a little bit for it.
  • Ronaldo: Il Fenomeno tagged bunches of ladies in his time, and possibly even some transvestites.
  • John Harkes: The American version of Larios, Johnny boy was dismissed from the USMNT shortly before the 1998 World Cup for having a quickie with teammate Eric Wynalda’s wife instead of attending a team meeting.

Now before any of you readers jump all over my back for glorifying assholes that treat women like the property, I don’t condone the behavior of any of the men listed above… unless they’re single. If that’s the case, my advice to those boys is: get it out of your systems before you decide to settle down. No one really needs a super injunction, right?

the keys to the car

do you remember the first time you ever got to drive a car? i do. i remember feeling like i was a badass. “look at me, driving around with all of the other adults,” i recall thinking, despite the fact that i was just a naïve, pimply-faced 16 year old that was still struggling to control my pubescent hormones. but none of my character flaws (ADD, immortal, egotistic, etc.) mattered, because i was driving a freaking motorized vehicle like a grown up.

much like every other car-crazed 16 year old, i went flying about the streets of southwest ohio like a bat out of hell. seeing as how i was invincible at the time, i thought nothing of breaking speeding laws because i was an adult and i could handle it. blast the music and roll the windows down? sure… i could even handle four more distractions, so i’m going to pick up my friends now.

tim ream of the united states

ream took a beating last night, but also showed promise.

of course, this attitude eventually lead to trouble. six months into having a drivers license, i had rear ended two cars, a speeding ticket, and a trip to juvenile traffic court all resulted.

clearly, i was in over my head and i wasn’t ready for the responsibility of driving the car.

some might say that it’s my parents fault for giving me the keys to the car too early, as they failed to recognize that i wasn’t ready to handle the privilege of driving. but i disagree, and instead think my parents did the right thing. while i suspect they did recognize that i was probably too immature to step behind the wheel of the car aged just 16, they probably also knew that you have to let the chicks leave the nest at some point. it’s often said that learning by experience is the best way to learn, and while i often learned lessons the hard way (and still do), those early miscues eventually made me a better driver.

moral of the story: sometimes you have to let your kids to do things that they’re probably not ready for, just so they can learn a necessary lesson or two.

in last night’s gold cup tune-up against spain, USMNT coach robo-bob bradley did exactly that: he gave the keys to the car to the america’s next generation of footballers. and predictably, they crashed and burned like your average 16-year-old driver.

at this point, there’s little doubting that the americans are a nation on the rise on the international stage. we’ve had some respectable showings at recent world cups, made the final or the confederations cup, and have finally become a dominant force in our own region. but all of this success has come mainly on the backs of a core group of established veterans: donovan, dempsey, howard, onyewu, cherundulo, bocanegra, etc. and while these guys are all at or around their peak playing years, they’re all closer to the ends of their careers than the beginnings. we can’t continue to expect them to play every game from here until the end of time, so we’re going to need some young guys to step up and show they can contribute.

and honestly, what better way to test your youngsters than against the world’s indisputably best team who is looking for a bit of revenge for the defeat in the confederations cup two years ago? quite the trial by fire if you ask me.

in last night’s 0-4 drubbing, the US started nine players with less than 35 caps. of those, four were earning their fifth cap or less… two occupying spots in the american’s extremely leaky first half back line. two of the subs brought in during the second half had less 30 caps between them. so to say this was an inexperienced teamsheet tonight would be an understatement.

so with that in mind, maybe we should have expected an outcome like this. while i expected spain to come out winners, i also thought bob’s bhoys might keep the scoreline respectable. instead we received what can either be interpreted as a masterclass lesson in how not to play in the future, or a gigantic warning sign that the USMNT’s future isn’t quite as bright as we’ve quickly gotten used to during to.

for some players, last night was probably an excellent learning experience. tim ream was out worked by a physical álvaro negredo several times (especially on negredo’s off the bar chip), but i think last night’s bruises will taught the young big man an important lesson or two. and though juan agudelo didn’t live up to his hype, he showed some flashes against a very experienced and organized spanish defense. goodson showed well in the second half in the back, but was caught out for torres late ego-boosting goal. let’s just hope the fresh blood in the team took something from this moving forward, and will be better drivers moving forward for it.

robbie rogers takes on sergio ramos

rogers might not be able to cut it at this level.

unfortunately, i think this match also might have been the first nails in a few players’ coffins. jonathan spector, despite being a “veteran” with 31 caps, continued to show he can’t cut the mustard at the top of the game: he was too slow in decision making regardless of the position he played. robbie rogers again looked to be in way over his head when playing against the world’s elite. kljestan, another one of my favorite whipping boys, put in another indifferent performance. the 25 year-old would have needed to put in a massive performance to convince me to be impressed with him in the slightest. i’d like to be critical of altidore, but he rarely saw the ball… maybe because he didn’t work hard enough to find it?

either way, maybe there are some guys in bradley’s young contingent that don’t quite deserve to be the ones driving this team forward.

luckily, bob realized at half time that he needed to stop the bleeding and put in some of his big guns. the addition of dempsey, cherundolo and bradley certainly brought some calm to the side. but again, it took the addition of the old guard to make it a respectable match.

let’s be honest though too: the americans are not going to face a team like spain in the gold cup. that’s not to say that the won’t be facing any quality sides in the regional championship, but there should be enough talent in the squad to challenge the mexicans for the title, especially since bradley will have his best available for the tournament. but whether or not the young lads can shake off the ass kicking from the spanish in time for the first match against canada might be a more important thought to ponder at this point though.

who knows: maybe some of the youngsters will step up, showing they belong up here with all of the adults. but eventually, the next generation of yanks need to start carrying their weight and contributing, or all of the progress we’ve made in the last 12 years will be for nought.