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Copa Cabana Beach Soccer Tournament
Santa Monica, CA

I was walking down Santa Monica's beautiful 3rd street promenade earlier today and I glanced over towards the pier and to my surprise I found hundreds of people playing beach soccer. At first I thought this was the Mecca of pick up soccer games, but as I looked closer I saw officials and fans and it was clear this was an organized tournament. This tournament is hosted every year by the Copa Cabana Beach Soccer League. I have included a small video of the days events.

Code of Conduct for Pickup Soccer

I've been wanting to put together a Code of Conduct for Pickup Soccer for quite some time, but just haven't gotten around to it. Well, I decided it cannot wait any longer. I want to have something up on the site before the spring season starts up in earnest.

If you have a suggestion, just email us, or add a comment, below. Basically, we want to lay out, in writing, how we all should act, and thus, how we all expect to be treated. So, we might have things like 1) be nice, 2) if you foul someone, apologize and help them up if you knocked the down, etc. Pretty basic stuff, but I think it'll be a good idea to spell it out.

I'll try to post some of my initial thoughts on this in a couple of days. Once we have something together we'll post it in a prominent area.

I expect it will be a work in progress, and there will be ways we can and should expand and detail it in the future, but for now the basics will work.

Thank you.


Lifetime Ban

That's what I would assign for this tackle:



It's clear to me that the intent of Augustin Binya was to decommission Scott Brown - either by breaking his leg or by shredding his knee. For me, that's enough for a lifetime ban.

Maybe he could apply to be reinstated by FIFA at some future time if his victim and enough people thought he deserved another shot.


Coach Ryan Should Have Been Fired

After Solo didn't show for a practice today (though, apparently it was excused), I felt my anger about the whole situation renewed. I sent an e-message to USSF through their web form:

To whom it may concern,

I believed keeping Coach Ryan after the Brazil game was a bad decision - not so much because he made perhaps the greatest tactical blunder in the history of US Soccer - but because of the petty way he handled the aftermath of Solo's post-game remarks.

Now, the situation has spiraled out of control. Coach Ryan has efficiently manipulated his players so that they are all afraid to speak up - and a young, gifted soccer player is nowhere to be seen.

The players themselves will now have to deal with the shame of distancing themselves so thoroughly from a former teammate.

Let's hope the new coach shows more sense and more class.


Wonder where I stand?

I think this is one of the most shameful sporting situations I've ever witnessed, short of direct violence. Coach Ryan's manipulation, leaving Solo out of the last game and threatening not only Solo but every current and future U.S. player via his "we have many good up and coming players" remark - the way Solo's teammates so readily abandoned her - it's despicable.

I tried to leave a voice mail, too, but I couldn't find a good number.

...This article shows how classless Coach Ryan is and the (pre-Gulati) USSF was - they treated Brandi Chastain, a true hero of American soccer, like a thoroughbred with a broken leg:

Or maybe they (the USSF) let petty jealousies and resentments with the veteran players cloud logic and reason. Maybe they hired someone who for $175,000 a year would do their bidding, who would clear out those veterans who hadn't retired and wouldn't complain when the team's games weren't promoted properly.

Back in 2005, three different players privately predicted that Ryan would get hired, the theory being that because they endorsed pretty much everyone else the federation would go the exact opposite direction just to spite them. And when Ryan was indeed hired, one player said: "The federation wants to show us who's running the show."

One of Ryan's first acts was to fly to San Jose, meet with Chastain at an airport hotel and inform her she was no longer part of the team. That's the same Chastain who had made the winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup final against China. And the same Chastain who had lobbied for Heinrichs' ouster.


So, the USSF didn't care about winning or losing, and the players had no say in who was hired as coach. But not only did the players not have a say in who was hired, the USSF made sure that they hired the only person that the players disapproved of - Greg Ryan. That is wrong, and that is why blind loyalty to any sport, team, or organization of any kind is wrong. First, we should stand up for decency. Reasonable people may disagree on the course of action to be taken with respect to Hope Solo and Coach Ryan, but I can't see how anyone could justify firing Brandi Chastain because she had the intestinal fortitude to speak out against her coach - just like Hope Solo.

The lesson is clear - if you are an athlete, and you hope to play for the U.S. national team, you'd better keep your pie-hole shut. Period. There is no discussion - no deliberation. There is one right, one wrong, one absolute ruler - and that ruler is the coach of the team. What he or she says is gospel, and if you dare disagree with it, publicly (Solo) or privately (Chastain), you will be fired.

All of this, of course, went down before Sunil Gulati took over. Gulati has proven to be no more competent than Ryan, but will he be as classless as Ryan, or will he make things right by firing Ryan immediately, and restoring some decency to the US Womens soccer program?

Time will tell.

...p.s. it seems the rest of the U.S. Womens national team hasn't been reading the Socster.com blog. Too bad - maybe they wouldn't have shamed themselves.

...a post on the NY Times' soccer blog, Goal, has a few comments worth excerpting:

...As to the remarks of Lori Chalupny, I had hoped that there might be some recognition that many observers feel that the punishment of Hope Solo was disproportionate to the "crime" - especially the shunning of Solo when she was such a big reason they made it to the semi-final match. ...
-- Posted by John D.

...this team(if you can call i that) makes me sick. What a bunch of inhumane, petty, children. and greg ryan is an afront to the sport of soccer. He should be fired now (even if that means paying him through the rest of the year). I wish there was a game by me so i could go and boo. Apparently solo will not be starting saturday and may not play at all in all three games. it just sickening. They should be congratulating themselve for making our team the laughing stock of the world, while slapping every fan in the face...
-- Posted by Meredith

...Care deeply about each other? Support each other? Hope Solo sure didn't see any of that support. Her now-famous comments after the Brazil match were arrogant, selfish, ill considered — and quite likely correct. But they were NOTHING compared to the ugly spectacle of the team turning its collective back on Solo. This wayward daughter was not allowed to eat with the team, practice with them, attend their Norway game, receive her medal with them, or even fly home with them. A "shunning" is exactly what it was, a show of excess which belies all of the team's pious pronouncements about its character and caring. ...
-- Posted by Dee LaLique

...Much good will toward the US Women's team will be permanently lost if Hope Solo is not welcomed back on the team. The disproportionate response by the team to Hope's outburst borders on vindictiveness. It is particularly egregious since Hope was in a large part responsible for the team getting to the medal round and they denied her an opportunity to be honored at the medal ceremony. The team comes across as ingrates. The powerful veterans gangling up on the rookie. I found it interesting that no one on the team spoke up, or dared to speak up, for her. ...
-- Posted by R. Chambers


My comment has not been approved yet - if it will be at all. (...approved).

...this blog thinks Solo deserves an apology, too:

Glad to see former UW soccer star Hope Solo is back on the US national team.

Now when is everyone going to apologize to her?

She was 93 percent right when she ranted about coach Greg Ryan benching her in favor of a waaaaaay-past her prime Briana Scurry for the World Cup semifinal against Brazil.

(The remaining 7 percent drag is due to her less-than-graceful phrasing).

The US lost that game 4-0 entirely because of that decision, truly one of the worst coaching moves I've ever witnessed.

Yet Solo was ostracized by her teammates for speaking the truth.

Sorry Solo wasn't being nice, Ladies, but it's time to recognize that you're playing big-time sports and that WINNING is everything. Being nice isn't what playing for world championships is about.

I know all about the sanctity of the locker room, but the social Darwinism of competing at the highest level should be more important and her teammates should have backed Solo instead of Scurry and Ryan.


I don't see how Scurry has anything to do with this, except for her part in shunning Solo after the Solo's comments - and that is shameful, no doubt - but 'siding' with or against Scurry? - that's a wholly manufactured paradigm, made up and enforced by one person - Coach Greg Ryan.

...Hope Solo jersey sales at #8:

1. David Beckham Jersey
2. Marion Barber Jersey
3. Tony Romo Jersey
4. Walter Payton Jersey
5. Tim Tebow Jersey
6. Brett Favre Jersey
7. Michael Vick Jersey
8. Hope Solo Jersey
9. Devin Hester Jersey
10. Vince Young Jersey
11. Randy Moss Jersey
12. Patrick Willis Jersey
13. Reggie Bush Jersey
14. Tom Brady Jersey
15. Peyton Manning Jersey
16. Larry Bird Jersey
17. Joe Montana Jersey
18. Craig Biggio Jersey
19. Steve Nash Jersey
20. Mia Hamm Jersey

...from soon after the incident:

More than anything, I'm dismayed that instead of focusing on what should be a fantastic final -- Germany plays some of the most deliberate, skilled soccer you'll ever see, and Brazil plays the flashiest, prettiest ball you'll witness -- the world is focused on this crap. And that in a time when we might have a woman running for president, we're telling this one to shut up and that she spoke out of turn.


...a really well-written, balanced article - one that finally hints at what Hope Solo might have been thinking when she made those now-infamous remarks:

But when you look at the substitutions he made in the game, and you are left wondering could Coach R really be that bad? Over time we will get to the bottom of this very sorry state of affairs, but until then the simple fact remains the hugely talented and almost Beckhamesque Hope Solo has suffered the most appalling heart break the game can offer.

Not even penalties come close to the coaches axe, especially when you have just kept 3 clean sheets. In World Cup competition a coach will do his very best to avoid changing his center backs and goal keeper. If that triangle is in any way changed it undermines the entire team.

The player's lose the comfort of being able to play backwards, the confidence drains and the team plays to avoid losing, not to win. So it cannot have crossed Solo's mind that the axe was around the corner. When told by Ryan it would be surprising if Solo didn't faint from the initial shock, the hurt will have torn her in two, and then once she adds up the factors to her benching an unrelenting rage is likely to have enveloped her.

She would systematically have gone through the so called reason and realised she was the victim of a misguided agenda from team mates, or a soccer coach that has made one of the most reckless decisions in the history of World Cup Football.

Solo was then expected to sit in the dressing room and act normal. The team didn't look right on the field they were either shell shocked by the coach's actions, or riddled with confusion over the machinations that led to Solo being dropped.

Looking on from the bench, and in the subsequent interview, Solo was bitterly hurt and disappointed she could not be on the field to help her team mates to victory. The normal dressing room reaction should have been to close ranks against the media, but amazingly she was left high and dry.

This suggests the coach and players were trying to sweep a major internal problem under the carpet. Solo should not have criticized her fellow 'keeper's performance, but Scurry has enough experience to understand the circumstances.

Given the nature of the modern dressing rooms it can be suggested the older players became distracted by Solo's charisma and star power, I think anyone who has kicked a ball in anger would have loved to have pulled off such empathy and immediate football justice. Her courage to speak out and stay composed despite appearing to choke back tears has made Hope Solo an even bigger star and name in U.S households.


Learn to apologize; Learn to accept

The background is this: A couple of months ago, I almost got in my first pickup soccer fight ever. My team was getting crushed - it happens on occasion - this particular day I was on the losing end. So, while covering an opposing player, I managed to either strip him of the ball or have him lose it somehow - but in the process, I accidentally kicked/slashed him - hard to say exactly what it was b/c I hardly remember - it was just some incidental contact that happens when two players are sparring for position on a ball, etc. It would not have been called by a ref because it was relatively minor and I doubt anyone even saw it - I only barely felt it myself. The player who lost the ball he was visibly upset - he kinda made that face that pro soccer players make when they get kicked a little bit - a kind of grimace, then gave a little rub of his ankle or shin, and then continued playing. Someone on my team got the ball, I believe. I did _not_ apologize. I should have.

Well, next thing I know I have the ball - I'm streaking down the middle towards goal, and we've got numbers. I whiz past the guy who I accidentally strafed just 20 seconds earlier and next thing I know I'm looking up at the sky - he clobbered me from behind. So, I was bent, naturally, and got in his face. After a couple of chest bumping routines and some not-so-nice words, we were pulled apart - no punches thrown - and then we continued to play - me all over him whenever he tried to get the ball because I was still bent.

Over the course of the rest of the game I started to calm down a bit and realize that however wrong he may have been to cut me down from behind like that, it all started with me - if I'd just apologized for strafing him early on - whether I thought he was just being sensitive or not - none of this would have happened. Probably not, anyways.

So, after the game I apologized for blowing up, etc., and he did the same. All is well.

The moral of the story is 'learn to apologize'. It's quick. It's easy. It's not a big deal. Even if you think you didn't necessarily do anything wrong, or intentionally - just do it anyway. Accidents happen - none of us is perfect. Apologize - a quick "I'm sorry" - pat the other player on the back, maybe drop a little "you okay?" in there - and all is well.

I usually have no problem with that, but a bunch of circumstances came together on this day to help me lose my cool - my team was getting crushed, i was chasing a lot, i was not getting the ball back, it was hot, i had gotten strafed earlier at least once during that game by other players and didn't get any apologies, etc. None of this justifies my earlier non-apology - I'm just setting the scene for how this thing happened, and how these things tend to happen - this particular pickup game sees a lot of nastiness - more than any other I've ever been involved with - and I've seen pickup soccer in several states/cities/countries over ten+ years, now. Part of the reason is that there are so many players out there - new players coming all the time - people don't know each others' names - so minor incidents spiral and get out of control quickly.

The other half of the story, of course, is learn to accept an apology. If someone apologizes, say, 'alright', 'cool', 'ok' - whatever - and move on. People aren't perfect - they make mistakes.

Finally, if someone is out there terrorizing people - do your part to stop it. Speak up - don't be a coward - tell them to cool it.


Soccer players facing scrutiny

Um, racism dies slowly:

"Don't get me wrong. I love to see people use the field, because that's what the field is there for. But when you have at least 100 foreigners...," said Starmer, with a sigh. "I'm not prejudiced, but my belief is that if you live in a country, you should not try to change that country. You should join that country."


Pickup Soccer vs. Exclusion

One of the best aspects of pickup soccer is it allows strangers to become part of a group pretty easily:

One day during the brightening spring, I walked out onto the school yard and was invited to join in a pickup game of soccer. I nearly tripped because I ran so fast to the group of my classmates. I became a defender, vigorously protecting my portion of the field with my full body. The sting of the deflected ball on the soccer field below was pale in comparison to the agony of exclusion I had felt on the jungle gym above.


I really like this article.


This is so bad

Just sad:

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido has paid tribute to Antonio Puerta, saying the club had lost a "diamond" following the 22-year-old's tragic death.

The Spain international collapsed on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest during Saturday's Primera Liga game against Getafe.

Puerta was able to walk off but suffered a relapse in the dressing room and required cardiac resuscitation.

He was rushed to the Hospital Virgen del Rocio in Seville but passed away on Tuesday afternoon.


His girlfriend is pregnant.


Liverpool deserved it

That's my take.

If you have players diving all over the pitch, then surely you have to expect that you are going to get burned yourself:

but Torres appears to have something about him. He is no great physical specimen – witness the number of times he hit the deck in the first half, with Terry imploring the referee to book the forward for diving


Torres was diving all over the pitch - and it was blatant. And we don't have YouTube highlights to confirm, but one of the dives - either from Torres or one of his teammates - resulted in a yellow card for a Chelsea player who did not even touch the Liverpool player on the 'offending play'.

Sorry, I can't feel sorry for cheaters.

Adding, the incredible righteousness all over the press about one mistake that the referee made - it's boring. It's a near-impossible job, the players and managers are treated like gods and the refs are left to deal with the crowd, players, and managers alike. It makes no sense at all. How about we start sanctioning players for diving? Not just a yellow card when an offensive player rarely dives so badly in the area that the ref has no choice but to award a yellow. Next time any player simulates, anywhere on the field, they should see yellow. That will prevent these more serious mistakes from happening.


...thanks to The Offside for a pointer to the video. This is really bizarre, but the referee apologized, and after looking at the replay, I'm almost positive this was a good call - the correct call. There does appear to have been contact. And it does appear as though the Liverpool player tried to pull back from what was going to be a PK, but he didn't pull back quickly enough, Malouda milked it, and the ref called it. It all seems pretty straitforward and essentially, if not perfectly, honest to me.


David Beckham talks to Al Jazeera


Soccer spoken here

Enough of the competitiveness, let's get back to our roots:

The soccer field has become a gathering place, said Hosh, who has lived in Columbus for seven years but started playing as an 8-year-old in his native Somalia.

"We don't have a lot to do in the evening," said the owner of the Capital Cafe on the North Side. "Also, a lot of people come just to see friends."

The fields at Innis Park attract players from throughout Africa and Central America.

"That's the beauty of football," said Fahad Farah, a 20-year-old Ohio State University student and Somalia native who has played with people from Ghana and Sierra Leone at Innis Park.

"It brings people closer together. Everybody loves to play."

International play among immigrants often fosters friendships, said Abdirizak Y. Farah, outreach coordinator for the Community Relations Commission in Columbus.

"It is the unifying factor among all these immigrant communities because of the passion they find in soccer," he said. "It's a universal passion."


Oswaldo Sánchez - not good; Carlos Tevez - pathetic

In a sad display of goalkeeping, Oswaldo Sánchez, goalkeeper for Mexico, was afraid to challenge for a ball, and allowed a field player to beat him to a ball on or within his own six yard line. See the pic here for the very unflattering scene.

Sánchez should never have been tending goal for Mexico. He was a legacy. Their other keeper proved himself to be a much better keeper. Sánchez effectively gave away the game there, but not before getting caught off his line and conceding the second goal of the game. Mexico never stood a chance with Sánchez in goal.

But, to add to the shame of Tevez and Argentina and soccer as a sport, Tevez dove in the area to help produce the third goal for Argentina:

Five minutes later, Tevez went down in the area and, although replays showed he fell before any contact was made, a penalty was awarded. Riquelme nonchalantly chipped the ball in for his fifth goal of the tournament.


Sánchez is just a player - he was brave enough to go out on the field and perform as best he could. It was the coach of Mexico, Hugo Sanchez, who was responsible for keeping his better goalie on the bench. Hugo Sanchez should soon be out of a job.

And Carlos Tevez and Christiano Ronaldo can now vie for best diving ability on Man United's front line.


Stop Getting Red Cards

That's what I would tell my goalkeepers. These keepers make some awful mistake, the other team gets in a position to score, and then the goalkeepers decide that the best course of action is to foul the offensive player - thus causing the referee to produce a red card and offer the offensive team a penalty kick.

I watched the U.S. keeper do it in the Gold Cup, another keeper before him (possibly in the Gold Cup, fouling Damarcus Beasley when Beasely was at a position - well on his way to the endline - to have just about zero chance to score), and now the Paraguay keeper here in the Copa America. Why do it? Why throw the game away like that? Why not just force the offensive player to make the tough/impossible play and actually shoot the ball on goal and try to score it. If he scores, you're a goal down - that's it. If he doesn't score, you're still even. If you foul the offensive player, you go down a player and probably down a goal from the PK.

I would expect to have heard someone, anyone, condemn this insanely stupid tactic. These players are supposed to be international level (even most of the U-20s play professionally) - amateur hour is over. This condemnation hasn't happened. Why?

Now, Paraguay is down 3-0 at halftime, with one man down, also. Brilliant. By the time we're done, the score might be 6-0 or worse, injuries, fights, etc. Paraguay are near-hopeless to win this game - they were as soon as their keeper decided to end their chances.

...final score, 6-0.

...The Argentina v. Peru final was abysmal, too, except for some of the goals that Argentina scored. 4-0. Maybe it was the case that Peru were just completely outmatched, but I never agree with sitting back and taking a beating like the U.S. used to do for so many years. Instead of trying to hold onto a heroic 1-0 or 2-0 defeat by packing your own box with defenders, why not actually try to, you know, play the game? So, when that inevitable first goal from the favorites comes, as it invariably does, then the defense-minded underdogs decide they're finally going to give it a go in haphazard fashion, with much less time on the clock now, and so the favorites wind up easily slicing up the defense of the haphazardly-attacking and newly-disorganized underdogs. It's completely predictable. I've been in many games where my side were overmatched and we held on for dear life, but I can't remember us consciously just booting the ball downfield and waiting for the counter-attack. In the end we may have gotten beaten, but at least we'd held onto some pittance of self-respect - we actually played the game.


Henry to Barca

Check out the photo over here.

I've seen figures from 20,000 to 30,000 - he hasn't even played a single game yet - that's pretty cool.

I've always liked Henry - not just his playing style, but as a person. Check this interview video.

Labels:


Death Threats

So, Lionel Messi scored his wonder goal, which led me to his Adidas commercial. Very cool stuff. I love that you don't have to be a physically big player to be world class in soccer.

But then I stumbled onto Beckham's Adidas commercial:



One of the best players in the world can mess up in a World Cup game and be terrorized by his own fans for three and a half years. And he was only finally excused for his 'treachery' when he scored a dramatic goal for his side. I guess his pursuers finally figured he'd had enough. Swell folks.

If and when folks terrorize soccer players for their performance on the pitch, all decent people everywhere need to condemn it - completely, forcefully, and without hesitation.


Welcome, Startup School Participants!

We are at Startup School today, so please stop by and tell us your favorite club - the smaller and more obscure, the better. My favorite club at the moment are the Puerto Rico Islanders, who just whooped up on FC Dallas. I'll try to wear something soccer-obvious. Yes, even Chelski fans are welcome. ;)

Socster.com is about changing the world through soccer. The idea is to grow our community by relentlessly focusing on customer service - a la Craigslist. We help people find pick-up soccer games to play in, and then help them build community in whatever ways they see fit.

Chief among our values are anti-racism, anti-bigotry, and anti-violence. We started as an exclusively pickup soccer site, but we've recently begun branching out. We think the pickup soccer 'philosophy', both here in the U.S. and around the world, is one to be admired, and it should be shared more explicitly. Respect for diversity in all its forms, teamwork and cooperation, responsibility to the greater good - these are things that pickup soccer can teach us.

We're not overly concerned about making money - for us, there really is nothing more important than trying to make the world a better place. No, we don't take ourselves too seriously - we've just had the chance, over the years, to play pickup soccer with hundreds/thousands of people all around the world who continue to inspire us to do better, to be better. So, Socster.com is not just about getting you off your behind and out onto the pitch, it's about getting you to be more active in all aspects of your life - to lead a healthier, happier, more meaningful existence with your family, friends, and your community.

If you need to find a local pickup soccer game, just have a look-see (or try our light Google Calendar integration). Or, you can ask me, as Palo Alto is my hood these days (there is at least one game I know of this weekend that is pretty reliable, though I haven't played in it for a few months - Sunday, 3pm, across from Stanford Mall).

And if you know any cool (technical) peeps who might want to help build a slow-growing, but focused 'Get off your butt and play soccer and change the world in the process' community, drop us a line. We recently picked up some expert (and inexpensive) technical talent and we're looking for more. We're all (ok, both) working for equity or equity+.

Have a great day, today!


U.S. Men vs. Ecuador, Sunday 12 noon EST

on ESPN2:

When it comes to soccer, the style versus substance debate is almost as old as the game itself. For some nations like Brazil, it's not enough just to win; you have to look good in the process. Ditto for countries like Mexico and Holland. Given the latter pair's World Cup disappointments, it's as if both sides subscribe to the Fernando Lamas School of Soccer. It is better to look good than to feel good.

The United States has never been burdened with such expectations. The score -- quite rightly in most instances -- has been the only thing that matters. Yet the time might be right for letting aesthetic concerns take on more importance, and Sunday's friendly against Ecuador at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., would be a good place to start.


And Mexico play Ecuador on Wednesday, the 28th, at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum. Sold out. Would be nice to be able to scalp some tickets for that one.


National Weather Service Servers Down

Guess someone forgot to pay the bill on time, cause we're getting '403 Access Denied' errors along with '404 Not Found' errors from the NWS.

Expect our weather forecasting to remain broken until our government catches up on its hosting bill.

...NWS servers back up.


Anyone can play pick-up soccer

Even former presidents:

A short man wearing blue jeans and a windbreaker joined the other schlumps in the long line at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Redwood City last September.

A couple of hours later, the man rejected a friend's suggestion that he pull strings to get a driver's license.

Just then, someone spotted him in line and asked: "What are you doing? Aren't you the president of Peru? Where's your bodyguard?"

"I used to be the president of Peru," replied Alejandro Toledo, whose five-year term ended in July.


Looks like this game.


Largest Indoor Soccer Fields in the U.S.

Welcome to Pontiac, Michigan:

PONTIAC - The largest indoor soccer fields in the United States are to be a feature of a new facility that will be constructed at the Centerpoint complex on the southern edge of the city.

The Ultimate Soccer Arenas will be home to the Michigan Bucks of the United Soccer League's Premier Development League, a minor league affiliate for the Major League team the Columbus Crew. Offices and a ticket office will be in the new facility.

The team of managing partners for Ultimate Soccer, George Derderian, Jon Murad and Richard Tapper, put up their sign this week on the 15.8-acre construction site on South Boulevard west of Opdyke Road.

Groundbreaking for construction of the $10.5 million facility is expected in early March, Derderian said. The project is expected to be complete in July.

"This is going to be the largest indoor soccer facility anywhere in North America," Derderian said. "We aren't playing indoor soccer, we are playing soccer indoors.

"There is definitely a demand for it," he said. "Soccer is still a hugely growing sport in this county. More kids play than baseball. A lot of adults don't have places to play, and places don't have big enough fields."


Would be kinda cool if they could find that extra ten yards. But, still cool.


USL Rocks

That might be a bit of a stretch, but ever since I checked out the super-clean, super-professional-looking USL (wiki) website a few months ago, I've been thinking that someone at least semi-competent must be running the show. Can't say I've ever felt that way about MLS.

Saw it mentioned on another blog recently, but I noticed it when I first hit the USL home page a while ago - they're going to live stream all of their matches. That's pretty hard core.

At this point, I still don't watch MLS games. To me, they're not worth flipping on the stupid box. English Premiere League and World Cup/Qualifiers? Oh, yeah - of course. But not MLS.

USL, on the other hand, I think I could actually be interested in. I like the idea of smaller teams, in general. These larger-than-life mega-corporate-type entities that run pro sports in the U.S. (and now moreso in England, too!) - they just seem soulless - or heartless. They're cold and brutal. Exciting? Sure. But the outrageous ticket prices and all that? Phew. Spare me.

And I like the idea of guys trying to make it to the big leagues, even though MLS is not much of a 'big league' for most of the players - not compared to other professional sports. Smaller stadiums provide a more-intimate environment. You hear about players working second and more jobs to make ends meet, and you just have to applaud their efforts in attempting to reach their dreams - one step up the ladder - one step closer to being a fully-paid, full-time, professional soccer player.

So, one vote for USL success right here.

p.s. The Puerto Rico Islanders play FC Dallas in a day or two - that could be fun to see live. Not sure if it'll be covered, though.