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Monday, May 21, 2007

TDH at Giants Stadium, and other consolations

TDH rode the bus out to East Rutherford, New Jersey yesterday for an unprecedented event. The New York Red Bulls entertained the Columbus Crew, with two recently arrived Latin American stars on the pitch. For the Red Bulls, striking at number 9 was a newly shorn Juan Pablo Angel. That's right, the black headband is a thing of the past. For the Crew, winging it at number 7 was Guillermo "El Mellizo" Barros Schelotto. The banners for Guille were everywhere: "Guille, Boca loves you" and "Guille, thanks for everything! (Go Crew)" were TDH's favorites.

And what a contrast the two players presented. Angel didn't do a heck of a lot of running at the beginning, but he soon got into the swim of things, dancing through the woeful Crew defense and distributing ably to New York's wingers. When he put away his first Red Bull goal ever, the rain-soaked stadium erupted in as much pandemonium as the 10,321 fans in attendance could muster.

By contrast, Guille spent most of his 67 minutes running into space, not getting the ball and then waving his arms in frustration and mock amazement. Naturally, he also had a few choice words for the referee. He moved from right, to left, to center in an effort to get into the play, occasionally with success. But the guy didn't seem to be enjoying himself, while it might as well have been Angel's birthday. More power to Bruce Arena.

In the bus on the way back to Manhattan, a rowdy crowd of semi-drunk, twenty-something New York fans performed a minor football miracle. From the back of the coach, they sang adapted versions of TDH's favorite European and Latino football chants for the entire half-hour journey. Virtually all of them harked back to the MetroStars era. Here is TDH's number one, to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, which will be familiar to the Toon Army:

DC United went to Rome to see the pope;
DC United went to Rome to see the pope;
DC United went to Rome to see the pope;
And this is what he said: "F*CK OFF!"

"Who the f*ck's DC United?"
"Who the f*ck's DC United?"
"Who the f*ck's DC United?"
And the Metro marches on....

TDH also applauds the fans for this Columbus-appropriate taunt: "We all laugh at a yellow soccer team, a yellow soccer team, a yellow soccer team...."


Obviously, that was a pleasurable evening. It was only slightly enhanced by the experience of seeing Manure lose the FA Cup, with Kiki Ron completely neutralized by someone who's probably seen him plenty of times on the practice pitch, the much-maligned Paulo Ferreira. Peter Cech had an absolute stormer, clearly back to his best and TDH's Man of the Match.

TDH joined Mara in wondering why Young Joe was removed and not SWP. The latter's supposed to be super-fast Shaunie-on-the-Spot, yet where was he when Drogba was dribbling alone up front? Nowhere to be seen. And don't tell TDH that The Special One could only play Cole or Robben on the left; both of them have played on the right, too. You can't argue the result, but it was Drogba's class that won the day. More power to him.


Anonymous jonathan said...

Cech for man of the match? I can remember one brave pounce at Rooney's feet and... not much else. Mind you it's still hard to argue with you given that so few in the outfield showed any inclination to attack with the sort of verve we may have felt entitled to expect from the country's two premier teams competing in such a showpiece occasion. As a curtain-opener for the new Wembley this excuse for a football match was nothing less than disgraceful.

Sure, there have been some poor finals in recent years (I begin to wonder whether the fondly-remembered classics of my 80s and 90s youth were an aberration) but this is the first time I can remember contemplating just turning off and walking out of the room. Only the football fan's innate sense of ritual kept me tuned in- just a pity the respective managers felt no similar need to mark the occasion by setting their players free of their ultra-defensive shackels to lay on a performance worthy of the occasion. The sight of more than one forward occasionally in the opposition box may have been a start.

Drogba's goal was expertly taken, granted. But it didn't belong in this match. The FA should have witheld the cup on general principles, and awarded it to, let's see now- the Premiership club whose manager comes first in alphabetical order. Yes that seems entirely right (and let's face it we have just won the intertoto cup on flimsier grounds)....

3:59 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Come on, Cech had that great double-save and never missed a catch. He generally bossed the back with a makeshift defense. I would only entertain Ferreira or Drogba as alternatives. No problem with your idea for the Cup, though....

4:49 PM  
Anonymous jonathan said...

Oh the double-save is starting to ring some faint bells now. Although (and it pains me to says this) double-saves in FA Cup finals are always going to suffer in comparison to the exploits of Sunderland's Montgomery in '73, as shown in the BBC build-up on Saturday. They show it every year, I think it's the law, the same way that whenever a 3rd round giant-killing is in the offing they have to show Hereford's Ronnie Radford hitting the Newcastle net from 35 yards and all those seventies kids in Parka coats invading the pitch...

Yes and Ferreira does deserve some credit for keeping Ronaldo in his pocket all afternoon, which can't be as easy as he made it look.

12:14 AM  

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