As the Chicago Riot season edges closer, the complete roster has been set. While a handful of players hail from Illinois, which is always nice to see, the full roster is pretty diverse, featuring players from many different countries like Montenegro, Croatia, Brazil, and Serbia. The story linked above gives a brief overview of some of the players on the team. Follow me after the break for more...
The Riot's first official game is tonight, Nov. 19th, vs. the Baltimore Blast. For those interested in seeing the exciting Riot in action, you can visit the Riot's official website to watch the match. The ability to watch a all of their matches online is a really great feature. Even if you can't make the match, or live further away from the Riot like myself, you can still catch all the action. I would encourage everyone to check it out! I wonder what's next for online viewing... Chicago Fire Academy games? Are you listening CFSC?
For those that like to take a Fire-like route to the Riot matches, the Globe Pub will be offering their regular bus rides. A Family Four Pack is another special deal available, tickets and concessions are only $69. Get the scoop here.
The Fire website has a cool link up for those that may want to learn some of the chants of Section 8 but don't know where to look. Take a look at this useful video. Another neat website I came across is Fan Chants just in case you need even more singing. Their library is extensive for teams other than the Fire and It's fun to read and listen to some of the chants for clubs around the world. Let's just say some get pretty crazy.
Big congrats to Marco Pappa for winning Goal of the Year. It was an incredible strike. What may be more incredible is the fact that the Seattle bots lost. Way to go Marco, hopefully we see much more of this from you next year!
In another quick Fire blurb, Baggio Husidic will begin counting against our salary budget next year as a former Generation Adidas player. Check out the link for the full list of MLS payers to count against their teams budget for next season.
The last couple of days have brought some disconcerting Freddie Ljungberg news. In articles here and here, Freddie's options are discussed. I would love nothing more than to have him back next year, but to me it sounds like the Premier League is the favorite destination right now. New York and Los Angeles are rumored to have some interest, I hope he doesn't go there. I have even seen a rumor that he could be an option for the supposed Cosmos franchise revitalization but does anyone seriously think he is going to sit out a year and just promote the club? Here's to hoping we keep Freddie. I'm not sure where the rebuilding starts if we don't sign him.
In other Fire/Team USA news, Logan Pause logged a solid night last night in the international friendly in South Africa. The game was held in Cape Town South Africa, in front of a large and vuvuzela filled crowd (it was like watching the game inside a giant beehive). Although not spectacular, Logan logged a full 90 minutes and I thought did a decent job of shutting down some of the midfield passing lanes against South Africa. As was noted on the site before, Bob Bradley called up an EXTREMELY young and inexperienced team. The average age of the "regular team" is 27 years old, according to the telecast and the average age of this team was 23.9 years old. It definitely showed as players unfamiliar with playing with each other at times had distribution and field coverage issues. in the end the US came up successful by pestering and generally frustrating a much more experienced South African team.
Here's a quick article for those that want to read up on the game. Players that looked particularly strong were Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo, Mikkel Diskerud, and of course, young Juan Agudelo, who at only 17 years old scored a dream goal deep into the match to give the USA a stunning victory. Teal Bunbury made his debut, but did not get a chance to showcase his talent much, as well as Gale Agbossoumonde who made a late appearance. I have heard a lot about Gale, but unfortunately he didn't get much of a chance to showcase his talent last night as he came on just before stoppage time.
It was very promising to see such a young USA side not only play with a much more experienced team, but BEAT that team to go along with it. I realize this young of a team won't always pull out a win like that, and now pressure on young players like Juan Agudelo will get ridiculous, but it was nice to see a lineup of a good number of MLS player perform generally well overall. I wish Logan could have been a bit more involved, but it seemed like his role was made very clear to him, and that was to stay in his area at all times. He did track back a bit to defend, but didn't really push forward near the goal at all.
Overall, it was a positive night in my opinion. Again, there was disorganization, bad passes, and confusion, but you will get that with any young team that has had little time to train with each other and no time playing together. Overall I think they gave a very solid performance given the circumstances.
The only real downside, in my opinion, was John Harkes and Alexi Lalas. Maybe it's just me, but I can't stand listening to them. Alexi is over the top and bombastic, which I am pretty sure is done on purpose for tv viewers. Harkes is such a homer it makes me embarrassed as an American to listen to him. I appreciate what he did as a player, and don't get me wrong, I root for the USA too, but he is so biased it makes me sick. I always try to be objective as a fan, even with the teams I love. Harkes just cannot fathom that the US can mess up or something they do can be wrong. He holds the US accountable for nothing it seems. Ian Darke, on the other hand, is a fantastic announcer, and I think Steve McManaman does well too. Soccer here is much different than in other countries, so it's nice to hear Darke's take on the game and play as it unfolds. And Harkes is always right there to call him wrong and say that what he is seeing is incorrect, that the American way is the ONLY way, when Harkes is wrong a lot in my opinion. I honestly think anyone else right now would be much better than either Harkes or Lalas. End of rant.