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Chicago Soccer Smolderings 6/14: Marco Pappa's masterful performance, Chicago Fire PDL USOC and Gary Neville's First Pitch

Marco Pappa in a quiet celebration
Marco Pappa in a quiet celebration

Marco Pappa will officially miss this Saturday's game against the New England Revolution because Guatemala demolished Grenada 4-0 last night in Group B 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup play.  The substantial victory gives Guatemala a +2 goal differential over their next competitor, El Salvador.  Regardless of what happens in tonight's Group C games of Canada vs. Panama and United States vs. Guadeloupe, the top two 3rd place teams qualify so Pappa and his teammates can rest easy while El Salvador watches tonight's matches on pins and needles.  Video highlights of Pappa's play and some information on the Chicago Fire PDL team's USOC game and Gary Neville's visit to Chicago are after the break.

If Pappa is going to miss time with the Fire, last night's performance is the kind of game you want to see from the young budding star.  No. 16 scored a goal and had a good foot in all three of the other goals.  Check out the highlights below.  The first goal sees the Guatemalan team become a human pinball machine before the winning 'bonus' shot is setup outside the box.  Pappa has the second to last pass.  On the second goal, Pappa creates just enough space thanks to a crafty rollover and then catches his defender and the Grenadian goalie off guard to launch a rocket of a score.  The third goal is put in by the Philadelphia Union's Carlos Ruiz after Marco Pappa provides a very good cross into the box.  Jairo Arrelo finds the cross but also finds the crossbar on the subsequent shot.  Carlos Ruiz slams home the rebound to make it 3-0 and put Guatemala through to the Quarterfinals.  Last but not least we have defender Carlos Gallardo making a run from the back before passing the ball to Pappa.  Pappa shrewdly makes a move to draw two defenders away before passing the ball back to Gallardo.  The defender smoothly slips the ball past the last line of Grenadian defense to close the book on any hopes of an opposing comeback.  Hopefully Pappa can keep his confidence high and his lessons well learned when he comes back to play for the Fire.  Guatemala will take the field this Saturday or Sunday and we'll keep you posted on Pappa's play as usual.


The Chicago Fire PDL team plays the Iowa Menace tonight in the opening of the 2011 U.S. Open Cup.  Don't be confused by the fact that the Chicago Fire have been playing in U.S. Open Cup games, those have all been 'Play-in' games.  The Chicago Fire PDL team had to do some qualifying of their own just to reach the first round of the USOC.  If you are new to the USOC tournament, think of everything before tonight like NCAA Division I college basketball conference tournament games to get into the final NCAA tournament with the 64 teams.  The venerable The has an interesting preview on the Iowa Menace and some of the shenanigans they have been doing behind the scenes.  The will provide live updates starting at 5:30 PM CST on all USOC cup games happening tonight.

Going to another video, legendary Manchester United defender Gary Neville was in town last week promoting the Manchester United vs. Chicago Fire exhibition game on Saturday, July 23rd.  He threw out the first pitch for the White Sox vs. Oakland Athletics game and it was... well take a look for yourself.  I've seen many people under throw the ball but I've never seen someone over throw quite as hard as Neville does here.  Or should I say something like he sailed the ball over the man behind the home goal?  A little help on cricket terminology perhaps?  Anyway, enjoy the video.