Monday, October 31, 2011

All Tricked Out & Other Notes on Week 10 in the EPL

photo by Don Hankinsvia PhotoRee

o Both Chelsea's and Arsenal's defense in the London derby on Saturday were flat out embarassing.  I can't remember a game between two "top" teams in which so many chances were created in the first 15 minutes. The German national coach, Jogi Low, was watching from the stands, and must have spent some serious time squinting his eyes while trying to recognize defender Per Mertesacker, who looks a shadow of his former self.

o Arsenal's third goal of the afternoon was one of the strangest I've seen all season, if only for the utter lack of defensive composure and desire shown by the Chelsea back line.  Theo Walcott was bundled over by about five Chelsea defenders, yet still managed to pick himself up before any one of the men in Blue reacted in the slightest, dust himself off, and then proceed to beat Petr Cech on the near post; a true comedy of errors. The Special One must have been smirking while watching from Madrid.

o The fifth goal of the day for Arsenal -- let me repeat that -- the fifth goal of the day for Arsenal at Stamford Bridge was perhaps the most special of all.  I could watch John Kerry slip and fall all day long, as it always brings back special memories of Moscow 2008....  (We won't dwell on the irony of  Terry's slip occurring on Edwin Van Der Sar's 41st birthday Saturday).  Terry's fall -- to say nothing of Florent Malouda's horrendous back pass, which was so atrocious that whoever investigates betting in football might want to take a look at Malouda's bank account -- allowed Robin Van Persie to quickly take the free ball, with not a single Chelsea defender anywhere in eyesight, round Cech, and give Arsenal an unassailable 5-3 lead and all three points on the day. Who'd a thunk it?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Three Points Gained: United 1 - Everton 0

Photo by Hub on Flickr
It's time for the annual column-up-in-smoke trick today, in which my complete blog entry is deleted after I've written it, but before I've had the opportunity to post it.  I don't know whether to blame the miscue on the new iPhone and my lack of familiarity with the "keyboard," or instead whether I should blame it on watching the game on my laptop via, while simultaneously juggling the laptop and earphones (for the game), the iPhone (for my column notes), the iPad (for Twitter), and the television (for the circus that was Arsenal vs. Chelsea).

Nevermind, the result is still the same: a fully written blog over and done before it ever had time to see the light of day.  So here's the re-boot:

o Yesterday's win was an impressive one -- don't fool yourself.  Sure, it was the tale of two halves, but I can't remember many opportunities -- even in the second half -- in which Everton really looked like scoring.  It was United's first away win at Goodison Park in a number of years -- since 2007, I believe; it also meant that the Reds captured four points on Merseyside this campaign, versus the solo job they grabbed last season.

o United looked better offensively yesterday, at least in the first half.  The free flowing offense was back, and the movement both on and off the ball looked much more creative.  They also got back to the style of football they played early on this season, pressing the ball and creating turnovers high up the pitch.  Is it just a coincidence that yesterday was Tom Cleverly's first game in about 6 weeks?  I don't want to put too much pressure on the kid, and I also don't want to make him into the next coming of Wesley Sneijder (at least not yet), but it's undeniable that the team plays a completely different style of ball when Clev is on the pitch.  It was with some serious relief that I learned after the game that the injury which forced Cleverly off just after the interval appears to be nothing too serious -- this kid holds the keys to the United midfield this season.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Relegation and Amercanitis

photo by americanistadechiapasvia PhotoRee

Rumors are running rampant of foreign EPL owners conspiring in smoke-filled rooms to scuttle the current relegation system.  John Henry, principal owner of Fenway Sports Group, which (in turn) owns Liverpool, announced recently that he had no intentions whatsoever of attempting to tinker with the current system.  As a fan, I sure hope he’s telling the truth and that most of the other owners feel the same way.  First, I love meritocracies and the relegation system epitomizes those ideals.  Plus, a relegation system provides extra incentive to excel (or at least not suck).  As an example, the Miami Dolphins might benefit from the kick in the butt that would come from not even being allowed to play the New England Patriots.

But for many fans, the biggest reason to love relegation is that games which would normally be unimportant suddenly become hard-fought, exciting clashes between two bottom-dwelling teams who are fighting for their EPL lives.  Such games provide enthralling entertainment at both ends of the table toward the end of the season, ending either in improbable victory (Fulham 2008) or heartbreaking defeat (Blackpool 2010).  We Americans are often accused of imposing our will on the rest of the world regardless of the desires of the beneficiaries of our “magnanimity” and “best intentions.”  Let’s just please not meddle with a system based on merit that works.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau Oktoberfest Ur-Marzen

(5.90% ABV) Spaten Oktoberfest pours a translucent brownish-red, kind of like weak iced tea, with a thin white head that's gone before you really notice it. I get alcohol on the nose, which is strange for a beer clocking in at less than 6 percent. I also got malts, which you'd be right to expect from a marzen.

On first taste, I'm getting thin malts -- it's rather biscuity, in fact. Spaten also has this herbal, astringent thing going on, too, which is a bit unfortunate in my opinion. It's a vegetal bitterness that just won't go away -- it's definitely part of the aftertaste, which extends for quite some time.

This beer is eminently drinkable, although nothing special, and certainly not my favorite of this year's crop of Oktoberfest beers. It's probably best suited for under a tent in Munchen. B-.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ten Plus One: Thoughts on the EPL Season to Date

Correspondent Ed Hanging Ten After His  Latest Column
photo by exfordyvia PhotoRee

Correspondent Ed has 10 things on his mind.  Oh, and one more for good measure:

1. I'm really confused about this Carlos Tevez case. He didn't refuse to go in, he just refused to warm up? Huh? Sounds more to me like his boss asked him to warm up and he responded with: "Why?". As in: "I'm not going to warm up because you're not going to play me anyway."  Well, that's cute and all, but I think Carlos has made the classic distinction without a difference. If you refuse to play unless you get a hug first, you're still refusing to play. For the sake of the sport, let him sit on the bench long enough to make sure no one else tries this again. All in all it's a sad story, as Tevez is a great talent and fun to watch.

2. David Silva is the best player in the EPL now, and he probably was last year, as well. Silva is what makes watching City worthwhile. Barcelona has about 4 guys -- Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Villa -- at or about Silva's level. Scary. Spain has probably never known such talent. Or are they just training their players better? I think both.

3. Natalie Sawyer is my SkySports News presenter of the month. She's got it on in all the right places. Plus she doesn't talk in that weird-imitation-male-broadcaster-speak that goes on at ESPN. What's up with that, anyway? Ladies on ESPN: feel free to talk sports without trying to sound like a snarky frat boy. We're fine with that. Really.

4. Since starting the season terribly, Spurs have been quietly. . . . . .winning. Now they're in fifth place, and only three points behind fourth place Newcastle. Hmmmmm, maybe we should keep it on the down low all season.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Back on Track: Manchester United 3 - Aldershot Town 0

photo by tompagenetvia PhotoRee

Playing in a stadium just one-tenth the size of Old Trafford, Manchester United went back to basics last night in a fifth round Carling Cup contest against Coach Dean Holdsworth's Division Two Aldershot Town.

Herewith, a few thoughts from "the game after," as United eased their way to a relatively straightforward 3-0 victory against industrious opposition, and began the effort to salve the self-inflicted wounds administered during the stoppage time beatdown on Sunday:

o I loved the feel of the broadcast. With its extra tight angles and close-up sideline shots, the camera was practically on the pitch during the contest.  The broadcast had a totally different feel than a weekend Premier League encounter, and the feeling pervaded the entire watching experience.  It had the effect of making the action on dsiplay seem initmately familiar: sure, this might have been Manchester United on display, but this was the game we all know and love at its very core, and the action felt much closer to what the average football fan's experience is with the game than the hyped-up glamour that is big time British football.

o Dimitar Berbatov looked a man among boys last night, which in all fairness, he should have. After all, the Berbinator did lead a certain English League in scoring last season....  The Bulgarian scored the team's first goal last night, and should have bagged a second just a short while later, before he was mowed down in the box by an Aldershot defender. Berba looked geared up and primed for the game, all full of poetry and trickery, and was the undisputed leader of United's attack.  In fact, as if proving a point to his Coach, Berbatov also played defense last night, tracking back repeatedly -- not a trait for which he is especially well known -- and took over the ball in many a deep lying position as he drove the team forward.

o After being thoroughly dominated for the first 25 minutes, Aldershot worked their way back into the game and gave as good as they got for much of the latter stages of the first half. But once again it was Berbatov to the fore: with a deliciously simple side-footed dish to an onrushing Michael Owen, Berbatov set the table for a 2-nil United lead, and quickly and dramatically closed off any remaining "shot" the Aldertownians had at getting back into the game.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Foothill Brewing Seeing Double India Pale Ale

Photo by Andrea_44 on Flickr
Beer: Foothill Brewing Company Seeing Double India Pale Ale

ABV: 9.50% 

Presentation: Poured from a 32 oz growler from Morganellis Party Store, Columbia SC

Appearance: Classic IPA copper/orange, with a nice two finger tan head, giving away to consistent lacing on all sides.

Aroma: Floral, pine, earthy, citrus - typical IPA - and nicely apparent.

Taste: Superior.  Not the over-the-top hop bomb of many doubles but a very complex, drinkable ale.  The initial sweet maltiness combines with a pine/earthiness before giving way to the fruity hop blast at the end, with a faint alcohol overlay.

Overall: Outstanding combination of complexity and drinkability, with a very well hidden high ABV. This beer made me very very happy, and not just because of the monster ABV. I will definitely drink this again, hopefully often.  A+

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stand Up and Take Your Medicine: City 6 - United 1

photo by trekkyandyvia PhotoRee

Well, there's no prettying up that one. It was ugly, yes. It was brutal, true. Worst of all, it was humiliating to lose 6-1, AT HOME, to our most despised cross-town rivals and the pretender to our once and future throne. Yes, Sunday, October 23rd was a momentous day in the City of Manchester, a day which turned out just slightly different than the way the Red three quarters of the city envisioned before they set out for Old Trafford yesterday.

But the loss, which puts Manchester City five points clear at the top, and a whopping ten goals ahead on goal differential, and leaves United searching for answers from a distant and hurting second place position, was notable for much more than it's final score. Yes, the loss was much more notable for the following elements:

James Milner was Easily the the Man of the Match. Yes, I know the cameras will all have focussed on the rocket-fueled Mario Balotelli and his "Why Always Me?" Shirt? (Hint: it's because you're a marvelously talented jackass, Mario), and you could also easily make a legitimate claim for David Silva, he of the perfectly-weighted through ball, the puller of all the the right strings, who runs City's multi-geared offense with Xavi-like efficiency, but for me at least, City's win began and ended with Milner. I've slagged him off before, to be fair, but today the Englishman was the difference in the two sides when the game was on the line.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Split Weekend

photo by ralphhogaboomvia PhotoRee

The staff at farlieonfootie really like these split EPL weekends: this one, for example, featured five games on Saturday and four on Sunday -- including the big one showcasing two teams from Manchester. What could be better? 

I understand the Sunday games are partly the by-product of European mid-week contests (forcing Tottenham to play way too many Sundays this season), but I also just like spacing out all the contests over two days, allowing one to soak all the football in and savor each game, rather than be forced to drink through a firehose and switch between one of five or more BPL 3pm kickoffs (10am EST), while knowing the outcome of the other matches before you have had an opportunity to see any of them unfold.  I like balance in the schedule, just like balance in our lives: it just makes everything work better.

Plus the European contests make it like having your cake (Saturday and Sunday football) and eating it, too (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday football).  A game almost every day of the week.  Again, I ask you: what could possibly be better?

o After witnessing the sad but laughable beavhiors committed by Wolves' fans this weekend after they fell behind Swansea City 2-nil before the halftime break, farlieonfootie has several suggested mottos for the team's marketing department to trot out to the various Wolves' booster clubs before their next home outing against Wigan in two weeks' time:

Wolves' Tiny Tots Club : Molineux: Where even the small children are encouraged to swear at you and call for your head. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Sebago Brewing Boathouse American Brown Ale

(4.80% ABV).  Poured on draft into a pint glass in Maine, Sebago Brown is indeed appropriately named. It's dark -- in fact, it's very dark. The beer's smell has not inherited the color's boldness, though: it's almost timid, with some mild mannered roasted malts making their presence know -- but just barely.

There's not a lot going on, taste-wise, either, with this beer. It's most notable feature is the off-peanuty-tasting finish, kinda like a roasted pack of Planters. It's very dry, and not quite to my liking: B-

Friday, October 21, 2011

Desperately Seeking Barca

Watching desperately seeking Susan and embroidering my Boomshakalaka piece.
Photo by Kate* on Flickr

Correspondent Ed is desperate.  In so many ways:

While Manchester United were putting together one of the most forgettable displays in recent memory against a team which not even Fergie knows the name of, and while City was fighting for its life against a Villarreal team that hadn’t yet won a game in Champions League, Barcelona was absolutely toying with the leader of the Czech league and waltzing their way to yet another victory in Europe.   Iniesta to Messi to Iniesta to Messi to Iniesta to the back of the goal might be hard to say but it’s surely amazing to watch.  It looks so easy; if only it were.

Barca possessed the ball 78% of the time in a 2 to nothing victory that coulda woulda shoulda been more like 10 to nothing.  The Czechs never had any opportunities, never had the ball, and looked like a bunch of 8 year olds trying to make it in an adult league.  At the end of the game I half expected Barca coach Pep Guardiola to give the Czech coast a good old fashioned noogie.
So why do I bring this up?  Because, as Fergie and most of Europe knows, winning the EPL is great, but winning the Champions League is what it’s all about.  And right now neither City nor United – the two teams that will be battling Sunday for the top spot in England – look even close to being up to the task.   
As everyone must recall, last year Barca absolutely pummeled United in the finals, and they did this to United at Wembley.  Since that game, I believe that Fergie has made it his goal to take down the miniature titans of Spain, and I believe his offseason additions of speed were designed to do just that.  And at the beginning of the year this new United Squad looked like they might be world beaters.  They even beat a Messi-less Barca in a pre-season friendly.  But as the season has worn on, much of the sparkle has been lost, and while United has looked solid, they haven’t looked to be even close to the level of the Catalans.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Opportunity Wasted

photo by Eric The Fish (2011)via PhotoRee

Using the Manchester United - Liverpool game as his drawing board, Correspondent Scott presents his most fair and balanced piece yet:

There is no Rooney, no Nani and no Chicharito in Manchester United’s starting eleven when Liverpool hosts the reigning champions at Anfield.  Is this, as Kevin Keegan is reported to have said, an insult?  No, I’d say it is an opportunity.  Unfortunately, it is an opportunity wasted.  A win would put Liverpool back in the title hunt but poor finishing dooms them to continue their fight for European play next year.

The first fifteen minutes see no real chances by either tentative side and is most notable for a few phantom fouls and Patrice Evra’s yellow card miming skills, for which he receives an official consultation.  Even through the following fifteen minutes, Liverpool look disjointed, with the reliable and crafty Jose Enrique being the only bright spot.  But right around the half hour mark Liverpool begins to pull it together and only four minutes later have a first real chance at goal when Luis Suarez inexplicably pulls the ball back to his weaker left foot before cannoning directly into David De Gea.  For the balance of the half, Liverpool is clearly playing better – winning the ball back quickly and pressing relentlessly.  Nevertheless, as the halftime whistle blows, Liverpool has still failed to capitalize on the fact that United’s three best players are on the bench.

The second half starts with both teams pressuring the ball and space is limited.  Dirk Kuyt’s header toward goal that is blocked by the arm of Jonny Evans is a good no-call by the referee, as there is clearly no intent and the arm is only slightly away from the body (the Dutchman’s protestations notwithstanding).  Jordan Henderson comes on in the 57th minute for Lucas Leiva who is riding a yellow card.  Liverpool continues to look the better team but need to score.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I Saw at The Revolution

photo by dbkingvia PhotoRee

The following report on the Champions League matches pitting CSKA Moskow vs Trabzonspor and Manchester United vs. FC Otelul Galati may or may not have been influenced by the narcotic I was under the influence of when I wrote it:

I was awoken,
as if from a dream into a drug-induced fog.
I saw a black man with blue hair
who was Love himself,
kicking a ball,
and heard loud steel guitars and head-bashing music.
The twin scents of fear and death hung heavy in the Russian night air.

I felt the empty seats in the stadium begging to be filled,
asking for an owner.
And through it all, a game wrote itself in red and white letters.

I saw my best friend smile and wave at me
as people drank greedily
from cups of green and orange liquid. 
I limped past them,
shuffling in a circle that would never end. 
As if from Hell itself, a red fire was lit,
and only a hot shower from above offered any brief bit of respite.

The scene then shifted:
I saw a verdant pasture in a distant land,
the philosopher-king riding into battle,
girded to the loins and surrounded by his best men. 
The anthem played,
stirring the soul of the collective nation,
while Romanian children shivered
underneath protective arms.

I heard men speaking in tongues from Wallachia and Transylvania,
but they knew only little of Vlad Tepes,
despite the violent cut and thrust on the field of battle below.

The tribal music of another continent
beat loudly into my head.
I slowed my breathing,
as the scent of clove and malt filled my mouth and lungs.
Moving as if underwater,
I willed the men in blue and black to show some fair bit of passion.

Yet still they refused.

Then they rested, as did I.
My eyes searched for any opening
as the black shades were drawn close,
and the weight of a thousand feverish dreams crashed down around me. 

I woke again
as a searing pain filled my insides,
the sharp knife twisted round.

Blood was spilled as tempers rose,
frustrations turned vocal,
and the leader exhorted his men one last time. 
The ball swirled round, no one in charge,
and my vision filled with yellow flowers.

A hand sticks out,
the orb meets net,
and the pain is dulled.

The Captain is hit and bloodied,
an undeserved and ghastly red smear besmirches his uniform,
and the action is joined
by the men from Central Europe.
My fever burns like a white-hot, bitter orange blanket
and specks of saliva cake my mouth,
as the Romanians stream forward as they did in The Night Attack.

The tide is turned.
A man from England is spilled again,
and the ball is driven home one last time.
I collapse in a feverish relief, drained of every ounce of my being.

This is feverish farlieonfootie for October 19.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Right Brain Brewery Will Power Dry-Hopped Pale Ale

(4.90% ABV)  Served on draft in Michigan, Will Power appears with an orange hue and only a minimal head.  It's decently carbonated, and smells citrusy, vaguely like an orange.

I get pine and orange citrus after my first taste, which gradually mellows out into a hoppy finish.  It's a good but ultimately not great beer; with low alcohol, though, it's easily sessionable.  I'll give it a B.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Of Peter Pan and Supermodels: EPL Week Eight in Review

photo by Loren Javiervia PhotoRee

o Mario Balotelli's overhead kick aside, Manchester City looked a bit pedestrian in the first half without Kun Aguero and David Silva in the lineup against Villa on Saturday. Not that you couldn't say the same thing about Manchester United earlier in the same day, with Wayne Rooney, Nani and Chicharito on the bench. I guess these stars really do earn their paychecks...! City pulled it back around in the second half, and Aston Villa never looked as if they were in the contest after the break. The stage is now. set for quite the Manchester derby next weekend, but the  question is which Roberto Mancini-led team will show up: the cantennacio, defensive-minded one, or the more attack-minded side that has featured more often this season.....

o I'm beginning to think Baltotelli's hairdo is a stick-on strip  It changes much too often to be real.

o Owen Hargreaves limped onto the pitch for the Sky Blues on Saturday without pulling a muscle in the process. Will wonders never cease....?

o Alex McLeish had Villa looking in form on Saturday; or rather, that should be he had them looking in the same form that he had Birmingham City last season. Hope the Villans fans didn't get overly excited about their undefeated start.

o I thought I'd heard just about everything in an English accent, until I heard the commentator during the Chelsea - Everton game refer to the Blues' owner as Ro-MAN Ab-ra-MO-vitch.  I don't speak much Russian, but isn't that a case of putting the accent on the wrong syl-LA-ble?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Still Life in Red": Eight Things We Learned From Manchester United's Draw With Liverpool

photo by needopticvia PhotoRee

Sir Alex can still spring a surprise with the lineup, as he did on Saturday with Rooney, Nani, and Chicharito all beginning the action on the bench.  Many United supporters gasped when the starting XI was revealed, but I for one saw it a bit differently. There's a reason teams have a squad, and United's is bigger than most -- and I for one would not be interested in taking a chance at a draw in the Champions League come Tuesday night. Even though it's relatively early on in the group stage, the mid-week European tie has taken on a dramatic feel after the two early draws.  Although I think we'll emerge with a comfortable home win, I felt the same way going into the FC Basel encounter. If offered a draw pre-game at Anfield yesterday I likely would have taken it, and if Ryan Giggs hadn't flinched at an inopportune moment, the Mighty Reds of Manchester may have taken all three points on the day, despite the B-side which played the first 65+ minutes of the contest.

o It's still early in the season, but the free flowing football we saw at the beginning of the campaign from United appears to be a thing of the past.  The match against Liverpool began as a jumble of turnovers, jangled nerves and frayed tempers, and to be fair neither side showed any quality whatsoever on the ball. The second half wasn't much better, and United were never really able to create a sustained period of attack, even after the intriduction of Rooney, Nani and Chicharito.  Some of that is to be expected given point #1, but United appeared weak in midfield today -- a recurring theme from last season -- and would seem to my feeble football mind to need Tom Cleverly's creative spark on the ball. To my eyes at least, Fletch still appears a shadow of his former self. 

o Rio Ferdinand still has it. There's been a lot of talk in the press over the past few weeks about how Rio has lost it, is past his prime, etc., and also increasingly loud rumors about Rio coming across the pond to play for the MLS' Chicago Fire, but based on his performance against Liverpool in the first half yesterday, those days are still in the future and Chicago will have to wait. The English centerback was fluid and free moving on both sides of the ball yesterday, and stood in front of net like the Colossus of Rhodes.  If not for Charlie Adam's blatant playacting, Ferdinand had the type of stellar afternoon that would have put a hush to the all the criticizers -- at least until the next game.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Birreria Eataly Wanda Chestnut Mild Ale


Hand pumped from the cask at Birreria Eataly in New York, Wanda pours -- well, a chestnut brown, completely dark, as if a shade has been pulled around the glass and totally encompassed its contents.

The beer offers a smallish off-white head that lingers lovingly around the rim of my Dogfish Head glass. It smells mild; there's virtually nothing there to the nose.

Its taste is like a mild brown ale, with just a hint of coffee and chocolate. 

But then it gets you: chestnut. It's there, very mildly, but unmistakably so. If this were more chilled it could be so subtle that you'd miss it, but hand pumped from a cask it comes through perfectly. Chestnuts are traditional in Italian brewing, but new to beers made in this country.  In my mind, they would make the perfect addition to your holiday lineup -- can we get this in a bottle, please?

I like it.  A lot: A-.

Friday, October 14, 2011


The farlieonfootie crew prior to attending World Beer Fest.
Correspondent Ed is on the Bottom Right.
photo by brizzle born and bredvia PhotoRee

Correspondent Ed checks in with a report from farlieonfootie's first-ever annual corporate retreat, held at the World Beer Festival in Durham, North Carolina last weekend:
Georgie Thompson of Sky Sports News (Bigger, Better and – would you believe it – in HD!) is smiling tonight, sitting in her tight black cocktail dress and telling us the straight story on some exciting new rules regarding the FA.  Oh that’s right, they’re not exciting, they’re just excruciatingly and painfully boring.  But boring has become the new fun because we’re still in the midst of a seemingly endless two week international break, a break so mind numbing that I might just accidentally drive that fork into the back of my hand and --  Ouch!!!! – please let it end, PLEASE!!
And what have we at been doing over the break?  Is it research?  Is it in depth interviews?  Well, actually the boss-man decided to have our first company retreat to North Carolina for a weekend full of events that would culminate in the annual World Beer Fest celebration.  All of this with our farlieonfootie colleagues and some “friends” from our well-known “aren’t they just the bees knees” sister site,
Upon arriving in beautiful Chapel Hill, we were treated to a rigorous twelve minute thirty second game of footie.  When it was over, we sat down for some dinner (it's seemingly always pork in North Carolina) and drinks.  I’m not sure if it was the weather, the footie, or the realization of some twisted dream, but the bossman got a little bit ahead of himself that first night and found himself as wicked hammered drunk and confused as a Northeastern co-ed at a Northwestern frat party – a curious decision considering this was the night BEFORE the Beer Fest celebration that he’s been waiting to attend all year.  Of course, it all came to a rather predictable end when he sputtered out a few profanities, then started laughing hysterically, and then fell to the floor in tears, screaming:  “No, Bobo, No!!!!” 
Like we all haven’t seen that before.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bring Back The Good Old Days

photo by hillary hvia PhotoRee

Correspondent Mark is somewhat disappointed by the early record of the new coach of the USMNT, Jurgen Klinsmann.  Correspondent Scott chimes in just long enough to agree to a man-crush on the new 'It' Boy of US Soccer, Breck Shea.


I don't know how many of you out there watched the game against Ecuador Tuesday night, but Jurgen Klinsmann is quickly showing just how good Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley were. I can't remember a 1-3-1 period in recent US Mens Team history, and I'm not sure two goals in five games is the attacking style we were looking for. 

I'm not one to give up on a guy after only five games, but any hopes that Klinsmann was going to make this look easy have certainly been quashed. 

Bruce Arena, meanwhile, has quietly put together the second best season in MLS history. He also had the best season over a decade ago with D.C. United. I still think he's the best coach in the country, but I don't think we'll see him back any time soon. 

The only thing clear with the national team is that they are relying on two fullbacks who are going to be too old to play in the next World Cup (if the US qualifies) and that Breck Shea and Clint Dempsey are on a different plane than the rest of the team. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What? No Beer Review?

photo by Thomas Faivre-Dubozvia PhotoRee

More so in order to dry out than for any other reason, after publishing more consecutive beer reviews than at any time in our long and distinguished blogging history, farlieonfootie returns to its football-flavored roots on Tuesday to watch on as the US took on Ecuador in the Big Apple.  Herewith, some observations from the big night, which ended with a disappointing 1-nil loss, courtesy of Tim Ream failing to properly mark his man late in the contest:

o Rumored European target Breck Shea began the game brightly, unleashing a testing, long range bullet at the Ecuadorian goalie in the first five minutes.  Despite the fact he looks more like he belongs on a surfboard in the Orange County lineup next to Frankie Hejduk than on a soccer pitch, I like the look of the kid and hope he lives up to his early promise.  Whether he can succeed in Europe is another question altogether, but he's got the size to make it work -- now we need to see if he's got the head and feet.

o I was interested to note that the Ecuadorian goalkeeper, Maximo Banguera, wore a baseball cap during the game. 

At night. 


And to top it all off, the hat appeared to be advertising HGTV in HD -- as in the Home & Garden Television Network.  Home decorating tips, anyone?

o  There were lots of yellow shirts visible in the crowd, broken up by smaller pockets of Red, White and Blue.  Due to the massive number of immigrants in this country, the US National team is one of those rare cases in FIFA in which the "home" team is not always better supported than the "visitors." It's a bit like the situation faced by the professional sports teams in Miami, a city in which everyone is originally from somewhere else: when the Jets, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Flyers, Cubs or Steelers come to town, the local team is often under-represented as compared to the opposition.  To counter this disadvantage, the US plays it smart, often seeking to play its most formidable CONCACAF rival -- Mexico -- in a place like Columbus, Ohio.  In February.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Ceveceria Bucanero Fuerte American Adjunct Lager

(5.40% ABV). Poured into a modified pilsner glass as the sun set over the Caribbean Sea, Bucanero Fuerte offersed only the slightest bit of malt on the nose. It had a rather creamy, bland taste, with maybe a bit of malty bread, and some vague but unidentifiable sweetness. Cuba's not really known for their beer, and now I know why. Next time, I'll stick to the rum: C-

Monday, October 10, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Birreria Eataly Sofia Belgian White

Hand pumped from a cask at the Birreria on top of Eataly in New York City, Sofia is a murky goldish orange color, with a thin white head that stays and stays.

I'm getting strong orange and coriander on the nose. It's a bit thinner than I expected, but it's still very good. A strong pepper taste comes through on tasting the beer. It's not hot, just very tasty, and slightly unusual -- like nothing I've ever had before....

There's also a hint of orange that emerges gradually. I really like this one -- I could drink it all day long. A-.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Philadelphia Brewing Joe Coffee Porter

photo by eli.poussonvia PhotoRee

(5.00%) Poured on draft at a cigar bar in the City of Brotherly Love, Joe Coffee Porter  was -- somewhat unsurprisingly -- the color of black coffee, with a decent milk chocolate colored brown head.

The beer's smell was minimal, very mildly coffee-like, although there's the general probability that the beer's smell was overwhelmed by all of the cigar smoke swirling around me, despite the best efforts of the powerful air vents nearby. 

Joe has a very deep coffee flavor, with a slightly milky aftertaste.  You're going to have to like coffee to enjoy this one.  It's got a thinner mouthfeel than you might expect, and it's fairly well carbonated.  I liked, but ultimately didn't love it: B.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Widmer Brothers Brewing Okto Festival Altbier

Up next on the Oktoberfest parade, we head approximately 5,400 miles away from Munich to get this next beer, from one of Portland, Oregon's most successful craft breweries. I generally find Widmer Brothers' styles to be on the simple side, but what they lack in complexity they more than make up for in their straightforward, honest and enjoyable expressions of style. In fact, their Hefeweizen was one of the first beers I had that really turned me on to craft brewing.

Poured from the bottle, Widmer Bros Okto Festival Ale is a deep caramel color, with a thinnish, off white head that dwindles but doesn't just fade away. The beer has a malty nose, and I also get just the tiniest hint of licorice. It's got some root beer on the taste, a fair amount of malt, and it's deeply satisfying.

It may be that I just came from my hot yoga class before cracking this beer (a bit like William Hurt lighting up a cigarette as soon as he finishes his jog in the early '80s classic film "Body Heat"), but Damn! this beer is good. It's simple and straightforward, but also nicely carbonated and rich tasting. I'll give it a B+.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Guinness Extra Stout

photo by Bruno Girinvia PhotoRee

Ode to Guinness, courtesy of Correspondent Ed:

in my den and
listening to the Sea and Cake somewhere
between sad and yesterday happy

Wondering if
there is a heaven there
must be lips and noses there
because without them we could have no


Always and forever an A.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: Farewell to an American Legend

photo by dawnzy58via PhotoRee

OK, first things first: I know this is a blog about football and beer, but it's also my blog, a blog on which I touch on the many things in life I see, do, or love -- in short, my many passions. And something happened last night that I would be remiss in not noting with at least a few sentences, however feebly they may fail to capture the many thoughts buzzing around inside my head right now: Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer on October 5th, 2011, at the age of 56.

Steve Jobs was not a football player, nor was he a brewer, but as I sit here typing this blog on my widescreen Mac I'm feeling a debt of gratitude to a man I never knew, but who made a profound impact on our inter-connected 21st century lives, in much the same way that Walt Disney, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison impacted the lives of millions in an earlier day and age.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Penn Brewing Oktoberfest Marzen

Continuing our Autmn beer theme, we move onto the Marzens, and just in the nick of time to celebrate the last gasp of Oktoberfest.  With the first offering we travel a long way in terms of miles from the old country, but just a short bit in terms of spirit: Penn Brewing's marzen is a pretty good domestic take on a German Fall classic. 

Poured froam 12 ounce bottle into a chalice, Penn Oktoberfest is a stunningly clear caramel-tinged color with a whitish head that quickly fades into yesterday's news. This marzen is very mild smelling, maybe a bit malty, but in truth there's not alot there that I can detect. On drinking, I'm getting relatively simple malts and some slight breadiness in a very straight-forward rendition of the style. It's nothing spectacular, but eminently drinkable. Prost!: B

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale

(5.00% ABV).  It's that time of year when the weather begins to change, even if it's altered by just that little bit here in the American south.  Fall in South Florida is more closely associated with hurricanes and daytime highs in the upper 80s than falling leaves and hot cider, but we still see it as our seasonal duty to review at least a few of the industry's autumnal offerings.  We decided to begin this past weekend with a beer from one of the nation's most prominent craft brewers, the Brooklyn Brewery.

Poured from the bottle, Post Road Pumpkin Ale is a crystal clear, reddish brown color, with a head that acts as if it needs to get going somewhere -- and quickly. Post Road's smell is all pumpkin and Fall spices, primarily cinnamom and nutmeg, with the pumpkin scent being dominant.

On first sip, it's not as pumpkiny tasting as some other brewers' offerings, and Post Road shows a fair bit of malt and cinnamom, as well. It has a clean and long-lasting finish, but is fairly thin bodied for the style. It's drinkable, but not my favorite of the pumpkin ales: B.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Questions and Answers from Week Seven in the EPL

Question the Answers
Photo by walknboston on Flickr
Quick question for you: if members of the armed forces wears camouflage in order to blend into the background, why does Tim Howard wear it for his Everton 'keepers kit?  Every other goaltender in the league wears loud, garish colors, all the better to stand out: flourescent pink for Jussi Jaaskelainen, day-glo yellow for David De Gea, etc., yet Howard blends into the pitch with his vaious shads of green. Maybe it's so the opponents don't see him, which would explain Luis Suarez' point blank header right into Howard's arms with the whole of the empty net in front of him early on in the Merseyside derby on Saturday.

o King Kenny was looking a bit like a baseball manager on the sideline, wearing his Liverpool practice kit for the derby. In very few sports other than basesball does the manager wear the same thing as the men he coaches. Perhaps Kenny thinks he could still be out there cutting it on the pitch -- He certainly wouldn't be much of a step down in goal production from some of his newer signings....

o I didn't think it possible, but Luis Suarez somehow managed to enhance his reputation as a cheat with his antics against Everton on Saturday, losing a race to the ball to Jack Rodwell, and rolling over and writhing on the pitch as if his ankle had just been surgically removed. Now known around the league for petulance as well as his cheating disposition, Suarez is quickly becoming the man everyone else loves to hate.

o Referee Martin Atkinson once again saw fit to insert his name into the headlines on Saturday rather than letting the players hog the limelight. This isn't the first time Atkinson has done so, nor will it be the last. If the FA had any bit of common sense in its decision making -- it's a bit like yelling into an empty pit here -- they'll examine Atkinson's proclivities for making a name for himself in the games he oversees. And not in a good way.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Odell Brewing 90 Shilling Scottish Ale

photo by MacKinnon Photographyvia PhotoRee

Beer: Odell Brewing 90 Shilling Scottish Ale

ABV:  5.50%

Appearance: Amber, with minimal head and decent carbonation.

Smell: Some citrus overtones, with herbal hops and malt.

Taste: Sweet malt is nicely balanced with a touch of hop, mild bitterness to finish.

Overall: I'm not a huge fan of Scottish ales, but this is a fine offering from this excellent Colorado brewery. I will have this again: A.

Things Get Sticky As United Defeat Norwich City

Sticky gooey amazingness
Photo by SanFranAnnie on Flickr
It's a sticky situation at Old Trafford Saturday, as David De Gea is left out of the starting lineup, perhaps in retribution for his alleged donut stealing incident at Tesco earlier in the week, and Anders Lindegaard is handed the keys to the United goalmouth. Ashley Young is rested, too, angering hordes of fantasy football managers around the globe, but secretly pleasing owners of Ji-Sung Park, who is preferred in midfield to the former Villan. Despite United fans' pessimism earlier in the week, Wayne Rooney partners Chicharito up front, and the Reds' top striker partnership will be licking their lips in anticipation of goals against the newly promoted Canaries of Norwich City. United loanee Richie De Laet, a stalwart in Norwich's season to date, is ineligible to play, which should theoretcially further ease United's task in the blazing sunshine that greets kickoff.

United begin the contest with a couple of early turnovers, one by Anderson combined with a poor clearance by Lindegaard, leading to some early pressure from the visitors. The Reds' offense is slow to kick into action today, and the first ten minutes are notable only for the lack of any real opportunities for the home side save a tame Wayne Rooney roller toward goal.

Playing against type, Norwich continue to look the more threatening of the two sides, causing problems with their big men up front, and creating chances over the top and through the middle.  Things are not quite so pleasant on the Reds' side of the pitch, as several members of the home crowd begin to show their vocal disapproval of the Reds' continued struggles with sustained possesion after the twenty minute mark is reached.

The home side pick up their attacking intent near the half hour mark, if it's possible to do so without appearing threatening in the least.  It's a particularly toothless attack from the champions today, and the most optimistic fan can only surmise that they are saving their energy for the second half.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Welcome Back Stevie G!

Steven Gerrard
Photo by hammershaug via Flickr

Apparently, Correspondent Scott enjoys kissing the camera, as well:

When a player comes back after injury, especially from a second successive injury and after a lengthy lay off, you don’t expect too much.  But in the 10 or so minutes that Steven Gerard was on the pitch in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Wolverhampton at Anfield last Saturday, he made a startling impact.  Still a bit rusty, judging from his volleyed shot that caused one unsuspecting Wolves' fan to fumble his falafel, Gerrard's ability to change a game was evident nonetheless.  Perhaps I was influenced by the red-tinted lens through which I watch, but Liverpool appeared to be a better team with him on the field and the previous two games began to seem more like character-building speed bumps than ominous harbingers.

I applaud Kenny Dalglish’s restraint and patience as he has gently worked Liverpool’s number 8 back into the squad so as not to rush and reinjure.  And the crowd applauded appreciatively not only for his entrance into the game but also for his immediate impact on it.  In fact, the only one not applauding Gerrard was Luis Suarez  who forced an equine smile and slap on the back as he was replaced by the Liverpool legend before petulantly throwing a water bottle.  I understand that the best players never want to come off the pitch and may get angry from time to time, but when you are up 2-1 with only 10 minutes to go, you’ve scored a goal and you are coming off for a legend who is valiantly making a comeback from injury – show some class!