Thursday, February 28, 2008

Riijkaard Maybe... Possibly... Thinking of Making Big Move!

"Although Rijkaard remains acutely aware that there is currently no position at Chelsea to discuss"... we here at The Guardian refuse to allow that reality to stop us from pursuing the hypothetical situation that the 45-year-old Dutch manager may, possibly, be interested in a job that is so far not available to him. Word on the street from our reliable gobshites is that the ridiculously handsome and cool as a cucumber Dutch cat may also be favoring a move to AC Milan, Aston Villa, Valencia CF, New York Red Bulls, or the most likely spot commandeering the Portland Timbers to USL championship glory. More news as we dream it up!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Night With Galway United

Not one minute inside the grounds of Terryland Park, the home of Galway United FC, and we take a wrong turn. We were late getting to the game, thanks to the extra pint of Galway Hooker Derek ordered in the pub beforehand. And despite the precise directions to the park given to us by our host Jim at the Dun Aoibhinn Guesthouse, it was a bit more of a hike than we anticipated--not so much far away as it was, as Jim described it, "awkward," including navigating a stretch of dark road with no lights or shoulder to walk on. And if you've ever been to Ireland, you know that drivers here are not what you'd call cautious.

But late is late and we were tardy at the wrong time. The home team scored as we bought our tickets. We raced in and tried to get our bearings. The stands were nearly empty, so we headed toward the rowdiest group, only realizing our mistake when I spotted the banner "Limerick Ultras" on the wall behind them. Good thing we're starting our football pilgrimage in Ireland and not, say, Italy. This ground of ultras numbered about thirty, all lanky young man, and they terrorized the Galwegian side by standing throughout the match and smoking the occasional banned cigarette. They even managed to start the game's only chant--"You'll ever be a wanker," we think, directed at the opposing keeper during a penalty kick. At any rate, we managed to hightail it to the other side of the pitch before someone forced us to stand or smoke as well!

Once settled in the bare stands, with only a couple hundred home side fans scattered throughout, we were able to focus on the match. Galway United FC is not a bad team. They seemed to have better ball control than the Timbers (though who could control the ball with that crap turf of old?), and a couple of pretty fast players. The Timbers could definitely give them a run for their money though, and would provide a pretty fair match-up. Galway was also better about attacking the goal (particularly in the first half) than the Timbers of late. They did seem somewhat predictable and lacking in creativity; however, a late-night perusal of the fan board revealed that some, at least, found the match a bit dull due in part to some key missing players. Apparently, Galway United FC does have some prettier moves. The keeper--we think it was their first string guy Alvin Rouse--made a couple of great saves, while defender Wesley Charles packs a powerful header. (We hope we are identifying players correctly here; Galway supporters please correct us if we're wrong.)

The final score was 3-2 with the tie broken in the 89th minute by a Galway penalty kick. A few moments earlier, unrelated to the penalty, a melee erupted on the pitch when a tussle in the midfield led to a Galway United player grabbing a Limerick player in a headlock. Much shouting and shoving ensued. Something to keep the blood up in the bitter cold--and speaking of the bitter cold, that's why we don't have a picture. Fingers too frozen to retrieve camera in time. It had been a long time since that halftime cuppa.

The crowd consisted mostly of men, either with friends or kids, and some teenagers, including a few teenaged girls. We spotted exactly two grown women. Galway seems to have an enthusiastic fan base online, but at this friendly there were no chants, no instruments, no singing, no tifo. No TA atmosphere in other words. The lack of women did mean that for once the line for the women's toilet was shorter than for the men's. In fact, I walked into a deserted toilet--deserted, that is, save for the one man in there pissing with the door wide open, as my mother would say, in front of God and everybody. I beat a hasty retreat so as to avoid embarrassing us both and tried to look nonchalant when he emerged sheepishly.

All in all, an interesting night, and we'd certainly attend games regularly if we lived there. One can't help wondering what it would be like to go to a match on a warm summer night, as opposed to a cold February one. But the lack of a vocal and visible fan base for this friendly, at least, made us long to stand shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of crazed Timbers supporters.

this was written by both Derek and me, even though my name is the only one on the post

Friday, February 15, 2008

questionable attempt at being hans van der meer

I snapped these in Galway a couple of days ago... before the weather turned soggy again.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Afternoon in Galway....

Walking along the beach in Galway yesterday, we noticed a pick-up game of football going on with a group of mostly African gents. A joyous sight indeed. Score was 2-0 when we left.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Captain Caveman

There are numerous reasons why Barcelona captain Carles Puyol is my favorite player--the heavy metal locks and constitution to match, his relentless drive to try and play all positions at all times while still being a team player, and most importantly, his loyalty.

Read more about why he's so damn cool here.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fever Pitch

Okay, not "better than ever" but back all the same.

My first full day in Dublin wasn’t supposed to be like this. But here I am, sick in bed at the bed & breakfast, watching the Sunderland v Wigan match secluded in our little room. No big deal, though. I’m happily out in the world again, where watching or attending a match is routine… just like catching a tackleball, basketball or baseball game is back home in the States. While seated in a shitty, overpriced bar at the Newark International Airport just before closing, there was a table crowded with a bunch of American soccer fans heading overseas as well. Exclamations of “Fulham” and “fuckin’ Dempsey” boomed across the room. I quietly shared in their excitement and thought to myself that yes, we (as in American soccer supporters) are slowly and furtively winning the battle of hearts and mind in our country. Many of the reactionaries in the mainstream American sports press would love for you to think that the battle was lost or better yet, that there isn’t one even being waged. But when I look and hear dudes like that (and they were truly “dudes”), I know that the roots of soccer in the US are strengthening.

Speaking of how the culture of soccer is slowly gaining hold in America, last weekend I spent Saturday afternoon watching Barcelona v Osasuna in rural Georgia (smack down in Bulldog country) with my mother-in-law, a rabid college football fan (Auburn in particular). She loved it, and though I don’t think she’ll be relinquishing her allegiance to tackleball anytime soon (not that she has to or anything), I think the sport gained yet another convert.

Anyway, I digress. And frankly, now’s the time to simply indulge in the ordinariness of having football culture surrounding me.

We arrived in Dublin from Atlanta on Friday. Once I found out that Keane’s lads were playing on television, I made prospective plans to venture to some Irish local and catch the game with like-minded souls, Sunderland being Ireland’s unofficial fave Premiership club.

Alas, it was not to be. Sure, I would’ve loved to have been standing, sitting or slouched in some pub watching the gritty and intermittently entertaining on-field play instead of lying in bed clammy, phlegmy, and doozy from my cold and that full Irish breakfast I managed to wolf down. But there will be other matches down the line to suffer through via television or in the flesh.

Okay, enough of my ramblings. My thoughts will… hopefully… get more focused as my cold abates and we start catching some matches in person.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

In Transit

Adaptation is a profound process. Means you figure out how to thrive in the world.
-- John LaRoche (Chris Cooper) in the film Adaptation

Although things have been quiet online... 2/3 of apm have decided to uproot from their rainy Pacific Northwest enclave and head back out on the road... and search for football life beyond the walls of fortress America. We figure it won't be that difficult to find.

So for those of you out there who enjoy our weird, idiosyncratic little blog... we promise we'll be back soon and hopefully better than ever. We're going to dearly miss watching our hometown club the Portland Timbers live in the North End. But perhaps some talented, cavalier, opinionated and like-minded soul will come forward to help
apm out and keep the spirit of the green & white vibrant on this site. We can hope.... If not, I guess we'll have to do the best we can and figure something else out. If there's one thing we know how to do, it's how to adapt.

In the meantime, cheers to anyone who's visited and liked our site. Stay tuned, as