Monday, October 30, 2006

More about Soccer -- I wrote about the incredible atmosphere at RFK for Sunday's game between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. I wasn't alone in making those observations. I'd like to share part of John Eligon's article in the New York Times:

"[Gomez' goal] sent the crowd of 21,455 into a frenzy that rattled the aging R.F.K. Stadium. It was a fitting present for these soccer-savvy fans, especially after they saw their team bow out ungracefully from the playoffs last year with a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Fire in the first round. The crowd was draped in black, and their involvement in the game created an atmosphere reminiscent of matches in the soccer-crazed countries of the world. The fans continuously beat drums, rang bells, chanted, waved flags and bounced up and down.

It was an environment that Altidore, who will turn 17 in a week, appreciated. He recalled watching United midfielder Ben Olsen raising his arms late in the game to urge on the crowd.
“I wish I could play in front of fans like that week in and week out,” said Altidore, adding that he would not trade his New York fans for anything."

I hope that Altidore will play in front of crowds like that. He deserves to -- and when it happens, the kind of love Gomez got will pale compared to the cheers Altidore will get. It would be nice if he gets that kind of reception, while he is still here. He's about to turn 17, so he has at least one year here, before his ticket to Europe can be punched -- but, with MLS' possessiveness, I would guess Altidore will play in New Jersey for a few years. So, come on out, New Yorkers, and New Jerseyans. Check this kid out. To paraphrase a comment once made about another young guy from Jersey, Bruce Springsteen: I have seen the future of soccer, and it's name is Jozmer Altidore. The Red Bulls could be a lot of fun during those years. They outplayed United for two days, but United had Christian Gomez, and that was enough to win 2-1.

In U.S. National team news -- the U.S.S.F. President Sunil Gulati has confirmed that the coaching search has been reduced to five finalists. The leading candidate seems to be Jurgen Klinsmann -- rumors abound as to who are the other four candidates -- Carlos Queiroz is likely one, but it is anybody's guess as to the other three. All five have agreed that the U.S. should accept an invitation to next year's Copa America -- the South American championship to which Mexico was last invited as the reigning champion of the CONCACAF region. That honor will fall upon the U.S. this time around -- a great chance for American players to get a taste of the most intense competition outside of Europe and the World Cup. The U.S. last played in the Copa America in 1995. The MLS will cooperate with the national team for this tournament, which will take place during the 2007 MLS' season.

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