Earlier this week, I realized I hadn't done a Hat Trick and Question of the Day since before the MLS SuperDraft. Yikes. There have been very good reasons for this though: Between covering the draft in Kansas City, looking at the St. Louis soccer landscape and interviewing both current and former members of the Fire organization, it's been a very good time to write for Hot Time in Old Town. And there are plenty of great ideas/stories currently in the pipeline. But for now, here's a Hat Trick/QOTD that will hopefully get some people talking:
Keough passes away
On a very sad note, former United States Men's National Team defender Harry Keough passed away on Tuesday. He was 84.
Keough is most well known by the world as being part of the United States' 1950 World Cup squad that defeated England 1-nil in one of the greatest upsets in soccer history. The result was so shocking that when British newspapers received the score over the wires, they believed there was a misprint and England had won 10-1. Even Keough said after the game, "We didn't think we'd beat England."
After the World Cup ended, Keough didn't return to a high-profile soccer career. He simply went back to his old job...as a mailman. He played for a number of local clubs and later coached at St. Louis University, where he won five NCAA championships. In 1976, Keough was elected into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
In the movie The Miracle Match (Based on the book The Game of their Lives), Keough is played by Zachery Ty Bryan (of Home Improvement fame). Keough's character is seen in the opening of the movie delivering mail to the father of his then-girlfriend Alma. In real life, Keough married Alma and had three children: Ty, Colleen and Peggy. Ty picked up the game as well and had 7 caps with the USMNT.
For information of Keough's life, check out SoccerSTL's coverage of his passing.
We'll miss you Harry, and it's a shame I never had the opportunity to meet you.
On another quick St. Louis soccer note, the Illinois Piasa indoor club continues their playoff push as they host the Detroit Waza on Saturday at 7:30pm. Here's hoping they have a moment of silence for Keough's death before kick-off.
Oh, Fabio, we'll miss you so
The latest Three Lions savior has left the building.
Fabio Capello resigned as England manager yesterday over a dispute with their Football Association over the way they handled former captain John Terry's scandal. Terry has been criminally charged with racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during an October 2011 English Premier League match.
Late last week, the FA stripped Terry of his captaincy. Then, earlier this week, Capello expressed his displeasure with the FA's decision, which led to yesterday's decision. Capello's contract was set to expire at the end of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships this summer.
I'll try my best to minimize my personal opinion of what I think about the Terry incident. I find it odd that insulting someone based on his or her race during a soccer match is a criminal offense. Is it deplorable? Absolutely. But consider this: Did anyone get this upset when, during the 2006 World Cup Final, Italian defender Marco Materazzi made sexist remarks about members of French midfielder Zinedine Zidane's family? Not by a long shot. Yes, Zidane went on to headbutt Materazzi, which created a larger worldwide buzz, but I think my point is still valid.
It's my personal opinion that insults like these are thrown around a lot more than anyone wants to admit. I don't think any of it is done with a truly malicious intent; if making a racist, sexist, or even homophobic remark will help a player gain an edge or get inside another players head, then they will do it. Terry just so happened to get caught on camera and the Crown Prosecution Service saw an opportunity to make a statement about the issue.
I think Capello did the right thing in sticking by his player. The English FA is a very powerful organization that, at the same time, believes it has a lot more influence than it really does. It's their way or the highway. The best comparison I can come up with for American sports is Notre Dame. Even though Notre Dame has not been a true college football powerhouse since the days of Lou Holtz, they believe they are still in the upper echelon.
But now the FA will have to decide whether to look for a temporary or long-term coach. They'll also have to decide if they want someone they can control who may not be as talented (Steve McLaren filled this role before Capello was hired) or shoot for the moon like they did with Capello.
Right now, it appears as if current West Brom (and former Fulham and Liverpool) boss Roy Hodgson, Tottenham's Harry Redknapp or current England U-21 and interim senior manager Stuart Pearce are the safe bets. Renowned international names such as Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho or Arsenal's Arsene Wenger will likely be thrown around, but it seems the popular sentiment is for a native Englishman to take over.
Isn't it nice that the USMNT finally has some stability for once?
From Sueno MLS to an American Dream
Chivas USA defender Jorge Flores made headlines when he recently changed his last name to Villafana to honor his mother. There was something else about his story that stood out to me: he's also chosen, at least for the moment, to play for the United States U-23 National team.
Although he was born in Anaheim, California, he grew up in Pénjamo, Guanajuato, Mexico before moving back across the border to attend high school in the United States.
In 2007, Villafana was signed up for Spanish language network Univision's Sueno MLS (MLS Dream) program. He then proceeded to beat out thousands of other entries to win the show and a tryout with Chivas USA.
After a slow start to his career, Villafana's Chivas career exploded this past 2011 season when he made 24 starts and became a mainstay in the line-up. This past off-season, he was protected ahead of Impact de Montreal's expansion draft, in which they lost unprotected defender Zarek Valentin in a move which raised many eyebrows.
As I mentioned earlier, he also earned himself a call-up to the U-23 United States National Team ahead of next month's qualifying tournament for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. It does not appear the Mexican U-23 team ever made a similar offer.
Now perhaps there's a chance that if Mexico called Villafana up at the full international level, he would bolt in a heartbeat. We already have the Joe Corona saga as an example of how quickly minds can change in either direction. On the other hand, you have the precedent set by Jose Francisco Torres and Edgar Castillo of truly wanting to play for the Stars and Stripes.
I'm not going to lie; this is a very emotional subject for me. Every time I see Italian striker Giuseppe Rossi, who chose the Azzurri over the Red, White and Blue, on television, I resist the urge to break the remote. When the United States played in the Gold Cup Final against Mexico in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and were outnumbered in attendance by staggering numbers, I said things I now regret. When Grant Wahl tweeted this, I un-followed him and don't read his columns anymore. Illogical? Yes. Guess what? It's my national team; I get to be this way.
But now I'd like to ask a question: Which North American national team will be more successful over the next ten years?