Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NCAA Quarterfinals: The Upsets Continue, My Favorite Pick Out

A little late but...

UMass 2, Illinois-Chicago 1

The cinderella run continues as UMass grabs their first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance, but now #5 Ohio State stands in their way. Then again, you have a squad that's already overcome #1 seed Boston College. I think you'll see their run end though as UMass was familiar with BC's style of play. We can't say the same about a strong Ohio State squad.

#5 Ohio State 4, Bradley 0

It took the Buckeyes a 12-minute quadruple salvo in the second half to get rid of the pesky Bradley Braves. Ohio State carries the momentum into the semis against UMass as they have not lost in their last 14 games (11-0-3). Not to mention the fact that the Buckeyes have Xavier Balc, a firm candidate for player of the year (2 goals in this match)

#11 Virginia Tech 1, #3 UConn 0

My favorites - gone. That's what an early goal will do. Forward Patrick Nyarko scored in the 22nd minute and Tech's defense withstood a UConn offensive barrage to hang on to a 1-0 result and a spot in the Final Four.

#2 Wake Forest 1, #10 Notre Dame 0 (OT)

Austin da Luz ensured the Demon Deacon's second consecutive appearance in the Final Four. A lot, though, has to be credited to Wake Forest's defense and their goalkeeper Brian Edwards. Their biggest asset came in the form of home field advantage - 5,000 strong - which has propelled the Deacons to an 18-0-1 home record. Not too shabby.

Semifinal Match-Ups
To be played: December 14th, 2007

#5 Ohio State vs. UMass
#2 Wake Forest vs. #11 Virginia Tech

Because I Think...'s Final Pick
Got to go with the favorites on this one...#5 Ohio State vs. #2 Wake Forest.

Galaxy's New Target: Maciej Zurawski

Ruud Gullit has set his sights on a pretty big one. Big in the sense that, just like Juan Pablo Angel, my first instinct was - this guy could really wreak havoc in the MLS.

Take Jerzy Podbrozny, Lubos Kubik, and Piotr Nowak and times it by two and you have Zurawski. Maybe that's a little excessive - but when this guy is on form, he can play. He has fallen out of favor under Gordon Strachan at Celtic, but no one can deny 31 goals in 64 caps for the Old Firm giants. Add that to his international success (16 goals, 67 caps) with the Polish national team and the fact that he started all three games for his country at the 2006 World Cup and you've got yourself a 31 year-old striker in dire need of a David Beckham cross and regular playing time. Even before Celtic, this guy has done nothing but score goals...he honed his skills at Wisla Krakow, averaging almost a goal a game.

"The offer from Galaxy is very serious," he told the Scottish Daily Mail."They are really determined to sign Maciej and treat him as a big star."I am flying to Los Angeles this weekend to make things official."

This is a reasonable rumor - not one that would take a lot to actually go through. It's just a shame it's not the Chicago Fire making the move. It's been a while since they've had that Polish on-field presence.

Monday, December 10, 2007

ESPN Looking into EPL TV Rights!

Don't get your hopes up as the rights aren't really open-for-bids until 2009, but still - pretty exciting.

All this apparently, because George Bodenheimer and the rest of ESPN are "bullish" on the prospects of soccer in America.

Read here!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hot Link: Danny Dragoi to Italy; Castel di Sangro

Ran across this great little article over at Big Apple Soccer. It's about ex-St. John's University and Brooklyn Knights player Danny Dragoi, who recently signed a contract with Italian Serie C squad A.S. Verese 1910. Looks like he'll be playing straight away and the long and short of it is that - in these small Italian towns - soccer is life and many of the biggest supporters have the greatest access to all of the players.

Reminds me of one of my absolute favorite soccer books - The Miracle of Castel di Sangro.

Read it. Instead of an American player going over there - it's an avid soccer fan turned journalist who follows the trials and tribulations of a once Serie B team - Castel di Sangro.

NCAA Third Round: Upsets Continue

Third Round results:

UMass 3, Central Connecticut State 1
Illinois-Chicago 1, #8 Creighton 0
#5 Ohio State 4, #12 UCSB 3 (2OT) (bye bye defending champs)
Bradley 3, #13 Maryland 2 (2OT)
#3 Connecticut 5, South Florida 0
#11 Virginia Tech 1, Old Dominion 0
#10 Notre Dame 2, #7 Santa Clara 0
#2 Wake Forest 3, #15 West Virginia 1

Well the later rounds are starting to shape up - with Ohio State the only seeded team left in one half of the bracket while it looks UConn and Wake Forest have the upper hand in the other. Still holding true to Connecticut coming away with it all. You just can't bet against Julius James, O'Brian White (3 goals against South Florida), and NCAA assist champion Mike Pezza (Jersey guy). Wake Forest looks to be gaining momentum as well though - led by a hot shooting Cody Arnoux and captained in the back by U-20 standout Julian Valentin.

The Quarterfinal Match-ups look like this (playing Dec 7,8,9):

UMass vs. Illinois-Chicago
#5 Ohio State vs. Bradley

#3 Connecticut vs. #11 Virginia Tech
#10 Notre Dame vs. #2 Wake Forest