Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This Will Only Take a Moment...

photo by Steve Puntervia PhotoRee

...'cause that's all we have time for, as well:

o There's a great article in this month's Vanity Fair Magazine on Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead Brewery, the best little brewery you've likely never heard of.  Definitely worth a read, especially on how Shaun feels about his brewery's recent successes.

o Correspondent Ed is still in shock, wondering exactly how Manchester United's David De Gea was named PFA Goalkeeper of the year.  Prior to the announcement, Ed was fairly certain that Hugo Lloris had become the best young goaltender in England....

o Jose Mourinho calling his Real Madrid team "pure and naive?"  Which is exactly what he must believe the readers of this article in yesterday's Telegraph are....

o And for my friends in the Big Smoke, here's a little insight into London's craft beer scene.

This is farlieonfootie for April 30.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dodgy: Manchester United 1 - Arsenal 1

photo by mecredisvia PhotoRee

Two dodgy officiating decisions from Referee Phil Dowd's crew were all that separated Manchester United from leaving the Emirates with three points on Sunday, the Champions held instead to a 1-1 draw in a chippy contest played at The Emirates. On a day which United received a pre-game Guard of Honor from their opponents to commemorate their title winning season, the post-game stories revolved around none other than the man who also dominated the the headlines leading up to the match: United's leading offensive light, and first-time League winner Robin Van Persie.  

It was Theo Walcott, though, who began the day's action and put Arsenal on the board inside of two minutes after an uncharacteristically sloppy midfield giveaway by Van Persie. The Gunners also benefitted mightily from a misjudgment by the line judge, who neglected to spot the Arsenal winger starting his run at least a half yard offside before emerging unscathed in the box and poking the ball under David De Gea's outstretched hands.

Arsenal played the first half on Sunday as if it mattered -- which it did for them, in spades -- while the champions began the game sluggishly, as if still working off their Tuesday morning hangovers. Eleven minutes passed before the visitors found themselves with the ball in the home side's box, and that it ended up high and wide in the stands only added comedic effect to the disastrous opening.

Phil Jones headed wide from Van Persie's cross to create United's initial threat on goal, but the vast majority of the first half was played with the game comfortably under the control of the Gunners' midfield.  The home side denied the visitors time on the ball, and the Reds struggled to feed the ball into their man man -- the yellow card near the half hour mark signifying that Van Persie may have been feeling the heat of a crowd that lustily booed his every touch.  That he was joined by three of his teammates in the referee's book before halftime was another obvious sign of an uncomfortable performance from the visitors.

De Gea was forced to beat away Lucas Podolski's blast as the game began to stretch, but it was United's Flying Dutchman who came even closer to putting the ball in the net -- denied only by Wojciech Sczcesny's face.  If Van Persie had been quiet to this point in the contest, things were rapidly beginning to change.

The scoreline was soon leveled, although the equalizer came only after Jones was off target with his second header of the half. Inevitably, it was Van Persie who did the damage, atoning for his earlier carelessness and scoring from the spot after being scythed down in the box by Bacary Sagna -- the Frenchman compounding his mistake by adding a penalty and a yellow card to an overly casual midfield giveaway.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Fuller, Smith and Turner 1845 English Strong Ale

Drunk on a recent Saturday night while watching the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers play the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Despite the narrow 2-1 loss to a cross-state rival, the football was good and the beer held its own, too.

Fuller's 1845 had a big, malty smell to it, mixed with dark fruits. 

Malt character predominated, but the overall taste was complex and nicely balanced: toffee and molasses stood out.  The beer was medium bodied with nice carbonation.  We'll be drinking it again: B+

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale

It was a little difficult to see the color of this beer, as it was poured into a plastic Solo Cup, but it offered a luscious off white head, and was drunk at The Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Arnold Palmer's home golf course, located in Orlando, Florida.

Boont Amber smelled primarily of malt and caramel, with a slight chocolate undertone.

It wasn't as sweet on the taste as one might have expected. Boont's taste was nicely balanced and restrained: a caramel malt flavor with a medium body and good carbonation. B+

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jaws, Part II

photo by candichevia PhotoRee
Every now and then Scott does talk some sense:
Jaws Part II came to a frenzied but quick conclusion as the Football Association (FA) meted out a 10-game ban to the masticating perpetrator, Luis Suarez. Unless you have been hiding under a rock (or are an American sports fan), you know that the Uruguayan's antics veered to the absurd when he literally bit Chelsea defender Branislov Ivanovic on the arm toward the end of the London club's visit to Anfield last Sunday. This toddler-like coping reaction came only minutes before, naturally, the perennial villain turned momentary hero when he then headed home the equalizer on, literally (again), the last play of the game in the 97th minute.
It is hard enough to be a wounded Liverpool fan after several years of crushing disappointment and the recent salty salve that is a twentieth League Championship for Darth Ferguson and the Evil MU Empire. Add to that a heaping dose of pathetically inappropriate behavior by the best player on the team and then reach repeatedly for the Maalox when your Prilosec just won't get the job done. We Liverpudlian faithfuls can only take comfort in the fact that we at least stopped defending the idiot some time ago. Such as that is.
Come on, Luis!  You absolute git!  Get a grip, snap out of it!  After two cannibal imitations (and they apparently actually call him “The Cannibal” in Holland), one high-profile racial taunt followed by an even higher-profile handshake snub, not to mention a previous career in diving, for the love God, PLEASE grow up!  If (when) you get another chance at Liverpool (depending on offers and your desire to stay), you can be sure it will be your last.

The immediate apology (reportedly not accepted by the aggrieved Serbian) and the immediate club fine were not enough to secure less than the 10-match ban. It was reported that statements made by the club and Suarez, positing that the punishment should not exceed the customary 3-match ban, may have hurt their cause and had the opposite effect.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bundes-bludgeoned: Bayern Munich 4 - Barcelona 0

photo by Tim Psychvia PhotoRee

Ed weighs in on a very bad day at the office for Barcelona:

Well, now we know the difference between the World Cup teams and the club teams.  Barcelona with a weakened Messi really looked a lot like the Spanish national team would have looked against Bayern Munich.  Possession, possession, possession; great passing and great control.  But pretty much no threats on Bayern's goal.

Bayern pressed all game, and they did so aggressively.  Javi Martinez blanketed Andres Iniesta and roughed him up all night, forcing him to play backwards and sideways.  The same was done to Xavi, who had no time to look up and peruse the field.  And without Lionel Messi able to charge at the defense, Barca was pretty much bludgeoned out of the Champions League barring a miracle at the Nou Camp.

After a first half which saw Bayern threaten, it was odd that Barcelona didn't try something different.  The Blaugrana could have been down by more at the time -- a clear and obvious hand ball by Pique was somehow missed.  I am constantly wondering exactly what the back judge is doing in these instances.  The hand ball was so obvious and intentional to block a shot aimed at the corner that the proper call could have been a sending off.  Regardless, Barca survived but didn't adjust, and so suffered the same fate in the second half as the first, only worse as they pressed and tired.

To be fair, Bayern also had one or two goals allowed that shouldn't have been.  Arjen Robben's goal was benefited by a Thomas Muller pick -- a play legal in hoops but called obstruction in soccer.  Again, what was the back judge looking at there? Or the head referee in this case.  Not even a close call.  The Mario Gomez goal was also offsides, but not by much so missing it was defensible.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Red Carpet: Manchester United Goes Hollywood

photo by Clinton Steedsvia PhotoRee

Hollywood's award season may be over and done, but the Championship season accolades are just beginning to come in:

Man For All Seasons: He may have suffered through a late season scoring drought, but no one can deny that he's back on his "A" game now: there can be no other choice for PFA Player of the Year than Manchester United's Robin Van Persie.  Scoring goal after goal in a season full of them, the Dutchman provided an even better-than-expected return on investment in his first year in red.  He may not have been a one man team, but without him this season's title race would have been a whole different kettle of fish.

Red Storm Rising: Woe to all the pundits who wrote off United goalkeeper David De Gea over some part of the past two seasons.  The young Spaniard has bulked up and quietly added several new dimensions to his game.  Already possessing the best reflexes in the football world, and offering pinpoint distribution skills, De Gea has added a strong aerial ability to his game over the last several months.  There'll be no more questions about his readiness to deal with West Ham or Stoke City -- now the only question being asked will be how Sir Alex has managed to do it again: sign one of the brightest rising stars in European football.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Absolutely Electric: Manchester United 3 - Aston Villa 0

photo by berevia PhotoRee
Manchester United celebrated their 20th Premier League title in entertaining style Monday night, thumping Aston Villa 3-0 in front of  home crowd of nearly 76,000 rapturous spectators. Any lingering suspense in the contest disappeared early, and the final score was the result of a barrage of first half goals from none other than United's main man of the season, Dutch forward Robin Van Persie.  The win capped off yet another fine season for the home side with four games still left to play -- and only a record League point haul now left to aim for.

If the mood was celebratory before kickoff, it was ratcheted up another level right at the very outset, as United found themselves on the board with less than two minutes gone: Robin Van Persie finding the back of the net after beautiful interplay involving Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia, and Ryan Giggs -- the ball journeying from side to side before ending up in the back of the net. Despite falling behind so quickly, the visitors could have considered themselves fortunate not to be two in the hole when the Dutchman fired just over the bar a minute later, the United attack in full gear, and the atmosphere inside Old Trafford resembling the energy of the team: absolutely electric.

Rafael banged the post in yet another just-miss attack from the soon-to-be-champions, the stadium absolutely buzzing now, as if the home fans had saved up several weeks of frustration and decided to vent it all on their relegation threatened opponents.
Christian Benteke came close to leveling after 11 minutes, reminding those watching of the Villans' ability to counterattack to semi-devastating effect. But any sense the result was somehow hanging in the balance was completely snuffed out in the 13th minute, when Van Persie unloaded a left-footed cannon on the Villa goal in one of the must-see moments of the season: the over-the-shoulder ball coming at Van Persie as he hit the top of the 18 yard box, a picture perfect offering from Wazza that was topped only by the outstanding quality of the Dutchman's finish.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Schnebly Redand's Winery and Brewery Big Rod Key West Blonde Ale

(5.30% ABV)  Served on draft at Yardbird in Miami, in a tall rocks glass with a wedge of lime. The beer was golden in color with little to no head apparent.

The overwhelming smell was coconut -- easily identifiable in the U.S. mainland's most tropical city. The beer had the crisp golden ale profile, but the taste of the hops were nicely mellowed by the refreshing flavor of coconut.

This beer is a revelation, offering a completely different experience than every other blonde ale out there. The twang of the lime nicely cuts the fattiness of the coconut. Definitely recommended, especially for hot summer days in the tropics: A

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"I'm a Stress Free Kind of Guy": On Dictators and Other Bad Guys

o "I'm a Stress Free Kind of Guy." And with those words, Boston bombing suspect Dhzokar Tsarnaev tweeted his last social media message -- although we suspect the words didn't accurately capture the 19 year old's true feelings.  False bravado can feel awfully good when you're not under pressure.

o Friday night in the US was highly reminiscent of the famed OJ car chase from June 1994.  Separated by almost 19 years, the two incidents highlighted television's unique ability to captivate our imagination as no other medium.  Although there was one key difference, and it could spell television's ultimate downfall: social media.  Watching reporters on TV felt, for the very first time, like reading a newspaper: television was reporting the "old news," while social media was crackling with all of the up-to-the-minute, vivid details.  Combining Reddit and Twitter with the internet's ability to allow one to listen to the City of Boston police scanners, social media was 10-15 minutes ahead of lamestream media in reporting the details of what was happening Friday night.  Tsarnaev was hiding in a boat?  Social media had it at 7:09 pm, complete with a photo of said boat (via Google earth and Bing); NBC news "broke" that little bit of information around 7:30 pm.  To this viewer, television's hegemony on breaking news feels like it is gone -- the laptop (or iPad, iPhone, etc.) has now become the go-to device to keep up with all the latest. 

o Good grief: could this guy look any more like Doctor Evil, even if he tried?  Loading seven guys onto the front of a very small boat is never a good idea, but it's even worse when you are trying desperately to prove that your country is a world power.  Next comes the demand for "one million dollars"....

This is farlieonfootie for April 21.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Victory Brewing Swing Session Saison

(4.50% ABV)  Poured at the home office on Masters' Sunday, with the golf playing a secondary role to the beer. Swing Session poured a burnished gold color with a thick white head that left behind heavy lacing on the glass' rim.

The beer smelled primarily of yeast, spices and hops -- the essentials of a good farmhouse saison.

The taste followed, although the rosemary and clove dominated early on before herbal and citrus notes kicked in. It's not nearly as spicy as the nose would imply: B

Friday, April 19, 2013

Right, We'll Call it a Draw

photo by Darkstreamvia PhotoRee

Scott is still trying to work out how the Top Four Finish disappeared....
Come on!  Back to back 0-0 draws?  The second against Reading?  If there was ever going to be final proof that this is not Liverpool's year, last Saturday's game was it. Watching the game, it was impressive how Reading's Alex McCarthy seemed to get a critical touch on every shot. Watching the highlights later, with save after save in rapid succession, whether point-blank or long-range, I am convinced that was the single best goalkeeping performance I have ever seen. It almost makes the two lost points worth it to have seen it...  Nah.

After three games without a goal, it seems Luis Suarez caught the 0-fer bug from which Robin Van Persie only recently recovered. And with Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge similarly infirmed of late, the run-in for the Reds could prove difficult. Fortunately, at the other end, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina seem to have found their form again, the latter with another brilliant point-blank effort that saved not only a sure goal but also sure blushes for the visiting Liverpudlians.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Blow Me: Manchester United 2 - West Ham United 2

photo by Gerald Yuvallosvia PhotoRee
Manchester United drew 2-2 with West Ham in a mid-week trip to Upton Park, salvaging a point on a day when the visiting side played less than their usual best.  Hauling themselves back from two separate deficits, the Reds were unable to take the final step and find a late winner against a physical and determined West Ham United side.  Antonio Valencia and Robin Van Persie matched goals with Ricardo Vaz Te and Mohammed Diame, although it was Andy Carroll’s name that United fans found themselves cursing most after the conclusion of the spirited contest.
The home side began strongly, a not unexpected result amid the cauldron of noise at the Boleyn Ground, with Carroll narrowly skimming the post under gloaming skies.  West Ham passed the ball crisply and ten minutes passed in a blur with the theme of the game not yet apparent, as both sides suffered from turnovers and found themselves unable to impose their respective gameplans.  By the 15 minute mark, though, the theme of the contest was beginnign to come into focus: Matt Jarvis using pace to beat Rio Ferdinand to the end line, and Carroll outleaping his marker to head the ball into the path of Vaz Te’s for the opening goal – the Hammers’ speed and physicality getting the better of a diffident United defensive effort.
The away side seemed to be suffering through the general malaise that has plagued virtually all of their recent games, the end product bedeviled by passing that was not accurate enough, pace not quick enough, and movement not wily enough – through 25 minutes and the ball was still unfamiliar with the gentle caress of West Ham ‘keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen’s hands.
Although Jaaskelainen’s gloves were still unsullied five minutes later, the scoreline was leveled when Shinji Kagawa outplayed the entire West Ham defense to pick out an unmarked Valencia in front of goal, the winger finding himself left with only a tap in for the equalizer.  The goal was the first of the season for the Ecuadorian, and it changed the complexion of the contest: for the first time in the half it was the visitors looking the more fluid of the two sides.  If Sir Alex planned to pull out his famed hairdryer at the interval to castigate a largely uninspired performance, however, the final corner of the half offered him a golden opportunity to warm it up, with the Scot absolutely incandescent at the non-call on Carroll’s dangerous foul on United ‘keeper David De Gea just prior to the whistle.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Lexington Brewing Kentucky Bourbon English Strong Ale

(8.5% ABV) Drunk from a snifter glass at the World of Beer in Sarasota, Florida. Smells like wood, caramel and bourbon. Inviting.

Its bourbon-y, vanilla-y and butter-y, all at the same time.  The bourbon is definitely there on the aftertaste. Not great, but pretty good: B

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Abita Brewing Amber Vienna Lager

(4.5% ABV)  Poured at the home office to celebrate yet another Manchester United victory, in a season full of them. Amber poured a warm copper color with a thickish, mocha-colored head.

The beer gave off a slight whiff of chocolate and caramel, but the overall nose was fairly mild.

It's malt forward, with some chocolate notes in the background and a big, malty finish. Refreshingly effervescent, Amber is a real tongue tingler. It's got a bit of a thin mouthfeel, but it works for us: B+

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marching On: Manchester United 2 - Stoke City 0

USS Nassau Sailors march in formation during ships decommissioning ceremony.
Photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery on Flickr

Manchester United took another giant step in their inexorable march toward the 2013 Premier League title, emerging from their Sunday trip to the Britannia Stadium as convincing 2-0 winners over Stoke City. Although a trip to the Potters' grounds has caused many teams to break into a cold sweat in the past, the home side's poor form -- collecting the fewest points in the League since New Year's Day -- meant that United had little to fear from a toothless effort on a blustery day in Stoke.   Michael Carrick scored early and Robin Van Persie broke his two month goal drought late in the contest to momentarily stretch the lead at the top of the table back to 15 points over Manchester City.

Encouraging signs were evident from the beginning for the Reds, who scored on their first attempt of the game, as Michael Carrick toe-poked a failed clearance past Asmir Begovic's outstretched arm and into the net for a 1-nil lead less than five minutes in.  It was another set piece goal in a season full of them for the away side, and one that compounded Stoke's considerable woes: Fortress Britannia is in the process of being transformed into a stronghold in name only, as the home side fall closer and closer to the relegation zone.

The home crowd waited until the ten minute mark to begin showing their displeasure, although it was unclear if they were jeering their own side's poor showing, or United's ability to keep possession for minutes at a time, the ball pinging back and forth and side to side through the away team's lineup.

Events finally veered back toward normality near the twenty minute mark, as Ryan Shotton's long throw in and Robert Huth's header in the box served as stark reminders of the home side's robust challenges and intended gameplan. The physicality seemed to drag United down into the muck and mire, as the brilliant passing display that graced the first 20 minutes of action was a distant memory as the clock hit 30 minutes.

The teams took turns trading fouls before the first bandage came out, an event surprising at the Britannia only in that it appeared on the head of a Stoke player, Andy Wilkinson. By the time first half injury time was blown dead, Stoke had managed to morph into a team of vampires, sucking all the life out of the game and dragging the visitors down to their subterranean lair.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg German-Style Pilsner

Poured from the bottle at the home office to remind ourselves of an office trip to the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, Utah.

Stiegl Pils was a clear and pure deep straw color with a massive head of white foam that stayed around in chunks.  The beer smelled of sweetish grain and grass.

The taste followed the nose, although a bit milder. It tickled the tongue as it went down, like a good pilsner should. It left an oily residue in our mouth after swallowing, and the taste stuck around for awhile. It's refreshing as a summer day -- even in Spring. B

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Scraping Bottom

photo by CottonCandyvia PhotoRee

o OK, we've joked about it before on these pages, but clearly it's no laughing matter.  Three drivers on the same team banned from getting behind the wheel of a car?   Something tells us it's either time for a full-time Drivers Ed instructor at the Etihad, or else these people need to hire RedCap.  ASAP.

o Criticize Sir Alex if you'd like, but on this issue he's spot on.  The international friendlies disrupt the rhythm of the season, injure star players, and most importantly, play havoc with our fantasy football team selections.  Stop them now, FIFA!

o Are there ever any new hires made in football, or is it just one big game of Musical Chairs...?  We've got nothing against Brian McDermott, but seriously.  He was just fired, and as soon as a club needs a manager he gets the call?  Was there no one else capable of coaching Leeds other than Reading's castaway?

o And on the other side of the FA Cup Semi-final:  Zzzzzz.....

o We can't afford to pay: Times are indeed tough at Reading, despite the fact they're owned by a Billionaire.  Hey!  You think he got rich by paying people well?

o Who says Arsenal hasn't won any trophys?  Oh, those were in women's soccer?  Never mind....
This is farlieonfootie for April 13.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Dogfish Head Sixty One India Pale Ale

Ya gotta hand it to the team at Dogfish Head. These guys just keep coming up with new, great off-beat beers.  Not content to stand on their laurels, these guys took their amazingly good, continuously hopped 60 Minute IPA and just made it better -- if that's possible.  Sixty One is a riff on the 60 minute IPA, as our friends aat DFH have added grape must to the mix, and the addition makes it a completely different beer.  Think it sounds interesting?  It is -- and delicious, too.

Sixty One was poured at the home office on a lazy Sunday evening, with a pre-recorded football game blaring away in the background.  Wigan vs. QPR, if we remember correctly, bottom-of-the-table clash of the minnows -- but a game which held an ending to match the excellent quality of this beer.

The beer poured a Shirley Temple colored pink, with a pinkish-white, fizzy head.  It smelled primarily of fruit -- grapes to be exact, and not too surprising.

Sixty One was fairly well carbonated, and not nearly as hoppy in our mind as the 60 Minute DFH -- the grape must seems to have mellowed much of the hoppiness out of the beer. The grape taste is there, although its a bit faint until the very finish.  Outstanding. A-

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Mr Fair Day Winners
Correspondents Ed and Scott, Pre-Game, with a Big Fan
Photo by humanstatuebodyart on Flickr
You want to know what it's like when really old men play soccer?  OK, this is what it's like, courtesy of Correspondent Scott:
Thank you to all who sacrificed life and limb for team “Over the Hill” yesterday at the FAU 5v5 tournament.  Despite losing in the Final, we did better and went further than we ever have (and anyone expected) by winning both our bracket games after an out-of-bracket hiccup to start.  Clearly pushing the boundaries of what rational men our age should be doing, I believe we acquitted ourselves well, even if it was against teams with names like The Brew Crew. Many will attribute our success to a nearly unanimous habit, which prompted Tucker to inquire “is it required for [them] to curse every time they come off the field?"

Unable to sleep due to aching legs and other body parts, despite bags of ice and a pile of Alleve, I had plenty of time on my hands this morning so, herewith, is a summary of our collective exploits, as well as a descriptive roster listing of the players and other key attendees, for posterity.

Game 1 - vs.  Elite SA (1-2)

Treating it much like a meaningless preseason game, we turned our age handicap into an advantage by wisely tricking the elitists into scoring an own-goal in order to save our energy for the following, in-bracket games. Before and after this, we pounded the innocent foliage beyond the western goal.

Game 2 - vs. Brew Crew (3-1)

Ed bagged a brace (one sizzling in off the crossbar) in this one after Dominic deftly controlled, turned and slotted past their 'keeper. At the other end, solid work by Judson allowed us to claim our first victory.

Game 3 - vs. Team Z (3-2)

Ed rifled one in from behind midfield before the Z Pack equalized. "Down" to only the allowed 3 subs after that, we surged ahead via pressure goals by Dominic then John before hanging on for the win.

Final - vs. Forza Unida (1-4)

After a slow start that saw us down 2-0 at halftime, we pulled one back soon after the restart and began to make a game of it. Alas, it seemed our years conspired against us, and our legs failed us, as we let 2 more slip in for a disappointing, yet still respectable, loss. All this drama unfolded as we were forced to sport green/yellow pinnies, sized for U11 Girls, which transformed us into a very slow-moving collective beacon of fluorescent and aging hope, while restricting normal diaphragm function and hindering our already much-labored breathing.

Cast of Characters:

Charlie "Houdini" Medrano ably coached the squad before disappearing in a puff of smoke prior to the final, apparently when there were no more groins to massage.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Where are We Now? (Some Thoughts After Round 32 of the BPL)

photo by olalindbergvia PhotoRee

Ed Never Asks for Directions, Even When Lost in the Woods:

I found myself listening to David Bowie's ethereal new hit "Where Are We Now?" the other day, and my thoughts wandered to the twilight of this year's BPL season:

United: The Worst Best Team in Recent Memory

With RVP gone cold, United is ending the season by limping across the finish line. (Wait, who was it that said United would be mid-table if not for RVP?  That's right, everyone other than their supporters).  Their point total is impressive, especially considering their lack of central midfield players or defenders.  It was exposed, of course, on Monday, when City made them look every much the B-team of Manchester.  It's possible that the plan was to counter them.  However, it says something that they just acquiesced control to the Citizens even if that was the plan.  They don't exactly do that to Arsenal or Chelsea.  It also cannot be concluded that the plan was to allow City to dominate them, which they did.  Giggs on Toure was a mismatch of the highest order.  Rooney was feckless as he has been for much of the season.  United were fortunate to be even close in that game.  It's possibly the worst they've looked in some time.  Yet . . . yet . . . they are so far ahead of City the league's been done for months.  Go figure.


Now barely two points ahead of Arsenal, it looks to be happening again.  I would say there's at least even odds that Arsenal will pass Spurs into fourth place this season.  That result will be familiar but catastrophic for Spurs.  It's also sickening that Arsenal is continually able to do this despite constantly being the most disappointing team in the league.  No, more than disappointing -- somehow the team just seems pathetic at times.  I mean, imagine relying on Laurent Koscielny to keep the center of the defense tough:  Eeek.

Even so, with Bale out and a tough game against Manchester's A-team to follow, it's not going to easy for Spurs.  Plus, even Gervinho is hot right now for the Gunners.  Unbelievable, considering his lack of talent. The question is, is AVB really that much better than Uncle Harry was last year?  If you just tally the points, the answer is no so far, despite his so-called tactical advantage.  Well, here's to hoping they pull it out.  Otherwise, Bale is definitely gone as will be others.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Heart-less: Manchester City 2 - Manchester United 1

No Heart
Photo by haven't the slightest on Flickr
Manchester United continued their late spring swoon, falling at home for only the second time this season in a 2-1 derby day loss to cross-town rivals Manchester City.  Although the Citizens' win moved them three points closer to the top-of-the-table Reds, more concerning for Sir Alex will be the heartless display turned in by his side, who have been seemingly unable to recover from the defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinal over a month ago.  Although United showed a brief bit of fighting spirit to pull back level early in the game's second half, the home side  were largely complacent for much of the contest, and few of those watching will deny that City produced much of the game's attacking thrust and -- on the balance of play -- deserved the three points. City's most spectacular effort came from one of the game's smallest combatants, as Sergio Aguero's late wonder strike sealed the derby victory.
United began the game with a makeshift defensive lineup, and were almost made to pay for it in the game's early going, but both David Silva's and Carlos Tevez's early efforts were blocked before they were able to inflict permanent damage. It was a wild and wooly opening five minutes, with both teams bursting forward in a veritable track meet of a football match.

Robin Van Persie pulled just wide after being fed the ball by Wayne Rooney inside the box, as the home signaled their own attacking intent. Fifteen minutes in and the scoreboard showed each side with 50% possession -- an accurate indication of the evenhanded nature of the proceedings to that point in time, but one that quickly began to change.

It was City looking the more fluid of the Manchester clubs after the game's first quarter hour, and they were unlucky not to grab the lead near the 20 minute mark, when only Phil Jones' last ditch sliding clearance saved the home side's blushes. The Citizens had their ears -- not to mention the United defense -- pinned back as they pinged the ball around and through the home side's 18 YTD box on multiple occasions, gaining loads of joy on the left hand side of the pitch and looking for a goal to complement their growing advantage in possession -- but while Samir Nasri's shot sailed wide, James Milner's effort contained little venom and was handled easily by United 'keeper David De Gea.

While City maintained possession, it was Silva who caused the most problems with his jitterbugging style of attack. For their part, the home side relied on relatively infrequent opportunities to spring the counterattack during a first half in which they were unable to create any real opportunities -- bar a late Rafael toe poke which clanged off the goal's upper corner. What the game lacked in scoring as the teams went to the locker rooms, though, it made up for in intensity, as referee Mike Dean was forced to go frequently to his pocket -- showing a yellow card to Silva, Rooney, Giggs and Kompany -- during a feisty 45 minutes of action.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Devils Backbone Brewing Beggars and Thieves Rye Lager

Pours a clear gold-amber color with a whisp of a head that was gone before we knew it. The beer was produced by multiple Washington, DC area brewers to celebrate the 2013 Craft Brewer's Conference.
It's a bit sweet on the nose, but the overhwlming smell is yeasty. Beggars and Thieves is a lager with a twist -- not quite as clean tasting as a traditional lager, this one's brewed with rye. It's bready and spicy. The beer is well carbonated, and extremely sessionable at 4.9% ABV.
We don't love it but we wouldn't pass it up, either. B

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Capital Brewery Hop Cream Ale

US Capital Reflection
Photo by terren in Virginia on Flickr

Poured on draft at the Riverside Market in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Hopcream was the first beer we've tried from this small Wisconsin-based brewery.

The beer was a hazy, deep gold color with a massive white head, and smelled of grass and -- surprise, surprise -- hops, much as the name implied.

The taste was a bit unusual, and certainly unlike any other cream ale we've tried previously.  It's safe to describe it as a mix of flowers and biscuits.  The beer was hoppy, but ever so smooth -- a very interesting, off-beat approach. B-

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bad Ode (Not Technically) on Luis

photo by jikatuvia PhotoRee

Scott waxes lyrical about his (kinda sorta) favorite striker:

Should he go, should he stay?
I think he signed a six year deal.
What did he say in Uruguay?
And if he left how would we feel?

No more toothy grimace here,
No more racist taunting there.
Would we pout or shed a tear?
Or cry about how that’s not fair?

No more diving on the pitch,
No more writhing on the grass.
If he left for CL itch,
Would we mope or raise a glass?

Don’t be silly, Kopite rabbit,
His dribbling tricks could fill up bowls,
‘Megging others to feed his habit,
of scoring loads and loads of goals.

So yes we want him here for now,
Want him scoring just the same,
Then he can leave us anyhow,
When we’ve played a CL game.

This is farlieonfootie for April 6.

Friday, April 5, 2013


photo by emutreevia PhotoRee

In case you were under a rock the past couple of days:

o First, Caros Tevez, now Samir Nasri....  It's bad enough that City already had one player banned from driving for six months this week -- but two?   Seriously -- are they unable to afford a driving instructor? 

Q. What did City's star midfielder say when offered a four year contract worth £45 million?

A. Ya ya.

o Is anyone the least bit surprised that Joey Barton is embroiled in yet another controversy?  Having worn out his welcome in England, Barton is well on his way to becoming a persona non grata in France, as well.

o The very definition of false bravado: Andre Villas-Boas confidently declaring that the ankle injury sustained by Gareth Bale last night "will not derail their season."  Oh, ok -- thanks for clarifying.  We were under the apparently false impression that Spurs were largely a one man team this season. Maybe two, if you count their other top scorer of late, Jan Vertonghen.

o False bravado, part II: Fernando Torres will fire on for the rest of the season -- or so says Rafa. Perhaps a cautionary note is called for: a brace by the Lone Ranger -- or is it Fernando Zorres? -- against a middling European team does not mean the Spaniard is back.

This is farlieonfootie for April 5.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Grand Teton Brewing Pursuit of Hoppiness American Amber Ale

Pursuit of Hoppiness was poured into a clear glass mug, and appeared a thick amber color, true to its promise, with a massive off-white head composed of millions of tiny bubbles.

The beer had a very hoppy, rich smelling nose.

It was maltier than we expected up front, and pleasingly bitter on the back end, with a drying grapefruit and pine taste.  Pursuit wasn't nearly as hoppy as we'd been led to believe after reading the label -- right up until the bitter finish. It was the first beer we've had from this brewery out in Idaho, and we'll give it a B+

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Trappist Westvleteren 12 (XII) - Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren) Quadruple

Introduced to much fanfare around the United States in December 2012, a very limited amount of Westvleteren XII was sold through select number of retailers on a one-time-only basis to raise money for the construction of a new abbey in Belgium.  Not just any beer, Westvleteren XII just so happens to be the number one rated beer in the world -- not because we say so, but because reliable sources around the world say so.  We reviewed an aged version (2006) of the beer a few weeks ago, and recently we found some time to take a peek at the monks' latest effort:

The beer was poured into a Westvleteren goblet at the home office, to celebrate Correspondent Ed being out on the road.  Westvleteren XII was a dark brown, root beer color, with a massive, uneven head of foam that stuck around and around.  And around.  One of our tasters commented that the beer's head reminded him of the ungroomed terrain of a alpine ski resort.

The beer's smell was rich and boozy, with a slight sour yeast undercurrent. Upon taking a sip, we found the beer surprisingly well carbonated at the outset.  Gradually, however, the carbonated mouthfell morphed into something decadently rich, even creamy, as the bubbles settled down.

We could tell you that it was rummy, with dark fruits and spices, but we'd be underselling it.  The taste can perhaps best be described in one word: complex.
Get some -- if you can find it. A+

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wipeout: Chelsea 1 - Manchester United 0

photo by Laram777via PhotoRee

Manchester United lost to Chelsea, 1-0 on Monday, in an FA Cup replay necessitated by Chelsea's remarkable comeback at Old Trafford a couple of weeks back. Denied the industry of Wayne Rooney due to an injury, United's attack sputtered throughout the contest, which was ultimately settled by the classy touch of Chelsea forward Demba Ba. Robin Van Persie missed two golden chances to equalize in the game's closing minutes, the Dutchman's misses mirroring his teammate's wipeout in their shot at  a domestic double.

Ba's goal, which brought a cagey contest to life in early second half, necessitated the dominant theme of the game's final forty five minutes: United attacking and Chelsea looking for opportunities on the counter.  Ultimately, it was the home side who narrowly made their way through to the waiting Manchester City, and United was left to rue the real cause of their removal from the competition: letting a two goal lead at home slip to a second half Blue wave. 

Monday's game began evenly, as both teams felt their way into the match, played at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge grounds. Strangely, it was the home side looking to spread the ball wide in the early going and United attacking to decent effect through the middle of the pitch. It was 12 minutes gone before either side slowed the ball down even a bit, with the game's first quarter of an hour passing by in a relative blur.

The game;s first half had the feel of a European tie, both sides interested in attacking, but not at the expense of leaving their defenders exposed to the full capabilities of the other side's playmakers. Ryan Bertrand was introduced for an injured Ashley Cole on 20 minutes, the regular Chelsea left back the victim of a pulled groin courtesy of Danny Welbeck's pace.

The teams traded attacking spells as the half ground on, although only one true chance was created, Demba Ba requiring David De Gea to show up as the game clock hit thirty minutes. The action began to heat up just a bit over the next fifteen minutes, goalkeepers' attention at a premium, with Nani and Chicharito testing Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and Eden Hazard and Oscar requiring the United 'keeper's attention at the other.   Although the paucity of real opportunities stood in notable contrast to the last time these two teams met, by the time the players left the pitch at the interval one had the very real sense the second half would be different.