Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Youth is Served: Manchester United 5 - Kitchee FC 2

photo by j / f / photosvia PhotoRee

With the pitch in diabolical shape after repeated drenchings from torrential rain, Manchester United played five-time Hong Kong League champion Kitchee FC in a game Monday night that was played solely on account of the English Champion's global commercial obligations. Facing the dual task of beating their easily outgunned opponent while trying mightily not to get injured, United used a youthful squad to dominate the proceedings, scoring three goals in just ten minutes of the first half to rip the contest wide open in the early going.

After Anderson fired wide of the post from 18 yards to offer a preview of things to come, Ashley Young hit the post and left Danny Welbeck with a relatively routine rebound to hand his side the lead after only 15 minutes had elapsed from the game clock. Chris Smalling rose highest to head home Tom Cleverley's cross and double the visitor's advantage just seven minutes later, before Fabio took Wilfried Zaha's imaginative feed and bent the ball beyond the outstretched arm of the beleaguered Kitchee goalkeeper to put the outcome beyond doubt.  Only the final margin of victory remained uncertain at the break.

Adnan Januzaj scored less than five minutes after the restart, steering Alexander Buttner's cross into the net and stretching the visitors' advantage to four, but it was at that point in the contest that the home side finally woke up. Kitchee pulled the first goal back with the best effort from either side on the evening, with Lam Ka Wak firing just past the fingertips of a leaping Ben Amos with a strike that brought fans of both sides to their feet.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Whistler Brewing Cheakamus Chai-Maple Spiced Ale

(5.00% ABV) Poured into a rocks glass on a hotel balcony overlooking a thickly-wooded hillside in Whistler, Canada. Cheakamus Chai-Maple Ale poured a Coca-Cola brown with a thin tannish head that quickly receded.

The beer smelled strongly of sweet candied maple. Chai was the first flavor we noticed upon tasting, before the maple joined in and the two flavors combined for an exceptionally long finish. The beer was relatively thin bodied with a lively, effervescent mouthfeel.

Maple Ale was different than almost any other beer we've sampled, and for that we've got to give the brewmaster credit for trying something new. It's probably not something we'd drink regularly, but for a late spring / early summer beer we found it refreshing. B

Saturday, July 27, 2013

In Moyes Time: Cerezo Osaka 2 - Manchester United 2

photo by Roby Ferrarivia PhotoRee
Ten minutes in and there were signs to encourage both sides, the ball zipping around the humidity-slicked surface of Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan like a greased watermelon on the Fourth of July. Although the players ran around the pitch as if intent on circling the track which surrounded it, there was precious little payoff in front of net -- in main part due to the sharp goalkeeping on display at both ends. As the game clock hit a half hour, the contest had comfortably settled into a tit-for-tat affair, with each attack by the visitors equaled impressively by the home side. It was Osaka, though, who finally broke the deadlock, taking advantage of a Chris Smalling mistake to grab a 1-0 lead -- showing that, if nothing else, United had become accustomed to playing from behind in the David Moyes era.

Although the visitors enjoyed a brief flurry of dominant, fluid football as the interval drew near, the second half began with the home side on level footballing terms once again. Ashley Young demonstrated that his diving was already in mid-season form, but the resulting Shinji Kagawa effort from the spot was denied -- rough justice for the hopeful fans in Osaka, perhaps, but justice nonetheless. The crowd favorite make quick amends, however, slotting Ryan Giggs' quick assist through Osaka 'keeper Kim Jin Hyeon's legs from a tight angle to pull his side level less than two minutes later.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Look, it's Shinji Kagawa!: Yokohama 3 - Manchester United 2

The game started with a bang as Yokohama's Brazilian forward Marquinhos put the ball in the visitor's net within 27 seconds -- and that only after United goalkeeper David De Gea was forced to deny the Marinos once already at full stretch. The young Spaniard needed to be at his defensive best in the contest's early going, and only some help from midfielder Adnan Januzaj and the goalkeeper's cat-like reflexes stopped Yokohama from tripling their advantage in the first 15 minutes.

Jesse Lingard was in the right place, right time for the counter attack, and -- somewhat kindly for the visitors -- the game was back to equal by the time the clock hit 20 minutes. Although Lingard emerged with the glory, the goal was all but set on a platter by the beautiful wing play of Wilfried Zaha, who took full advantage of the 39 year old Yokohama defender who was unfortunate enough to draw defensive duties against United's new signing.

'Unfortunate' also aptly described Yokohama goalkeeper Enemoto and his hapless defender Masakaza Tashiro who combined for a horror show to welcome -- just barely, but welcome nonetheless -- young Januzaj' free kick over the line for a 2-1 United lead near the half hour mark. The Reds may have been on top at this point in the evening, but little did they know that would be their highpoint for the night.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Deep (but Mediocre)

photo by JennyHuangvia PhotoRee
It's not like Ed to make snap judgments and all, but check out the last paragraph -- a highly uninformed opinion!:
o Watching the USA B-team paste the El Salvador B-team was enjoyable. Well, the US team did have 'A' players such as Landon Donovan and a few others, but still it's nice to see. I think unlike years gone by, the US actually has some depth. Granted, the teams they are playing in the Gold Cup are poor, but what better way to handle that then to absolutely crush them?
Players that impressed me from the roster included Mix Diskerud and Joe Corona. Both were good on the ball, though Corona was the better of the two. Obviously Donovan and Eddie Johnson appeared to be athletes of a completely different level, but it was still nice to see Klinsmann get time for the next team and have them perform. While this is just a small part of what he will ultimately be judged on, it's hard not to be happy with the direction of the US program right now. I must admit I had my concerns (and still do) when I heard (and continue to hear) that tactics aren't something he has worked on. But to a large extent personnel is policy as can be seen by the adjustment against El Salvador to spread them out with Eddie Johnson, a player that I had yet to see much from on the international stage.

o How much did PSG pay for Cavani? $84MM?? The amount seems outlandish until you consider how much we've been paying these families in the Middle East over the years. Well, it still seems outlandish. If it does anything it may actually slow down the exchange of top tier players as everyone thinks they should get that amount now. Was he worth it? Not unless he gets them a Champions League victory.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Kassik's Kenai Brew Stop Morning Wood English IPA


Morning Wood poured a burnished copper that appeared almost cherry red in the near 'round-the- clock sunlight of an Alaskan summer. The beer also had a huge, off-white head.
The initial smell was hoppy, although we also detected a fair amount of malt in the nose, as well.
Morning Wood displayed a subtle hop and malt mix upon tasting, not too much of one or the other, but fairly well balanced in keepign with the british style.  It was tingly on the tongue -- maybe a bit too much so.  On the whole, it was better than average, but we found beers in Alaksa we liked  more: B 

Getting Fit: Manchester United 5 - Australian League All-Stars 1

David Moyes mixed up the lineup for his second game in charge of Manchester United, swapping six starters from a week ago, although its doubtful that the 85,000 Aussies in attendance at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night noticed much. Staring Lindegaard, Rafael, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra, Giggs, Carrick, Cleverley, Lingard, Zaha, and Welbeck, United faced a lineup of off-season A-League All-Stars in much cooler conditions than in their prior outing, thanks to the mild Sydney winter evening.  

In stark contrast to the torpid performance turned in last weekend, it took leas than 12 minutes for Jesse Lingard to score the first goal of the Moyes era and set United on their way.  When Danny Welbeck tucked away a second on 35 minutes it capped off a half that was dominated by the visitors. Showing considerably more fluidity, speed and decisiveness in front of net, the English champions knocked the ball around with a high degree of confidence -- and few more so than the youngster looking for a call up from the reserve squad, Lingard. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Midnight Sun Brewing Mammoth Extra Export Stout

(7.80% ABV) Poured into a glass that should have known better after a long night of karaoke on the sea, Mammoth Extra Stout was jet dark black with a thick head of cocoa-colored foam that took more than a little while to settle down.  
The beer had the deep, dark smell of cocoa and coffee. Upon tasting, the chocolate ruled -- we tasted it both first and last-- with the bittering hops making themselves apparent only on the finish.
The beer was thin to medium bodied and displayed quite a bit of carbonation -- a mammoth amount, in fact -- much more than a Guinness or thereabouts. We enjoyed it on the open ocean: B+

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On Why We're Angry and Confused

photo by Arturo J. Paniaguavia PhotoRee

You think Wayne Rooney is angry and confused?  Here's a couple of things we've been dying to clear up, as well:

o David Luiz plus any amount of cash as a makeweight for Roo?  Please.  We'd rather see Luis Suarez walk through the tunnel at Old Trafford every week than be forced to cheer for Sideshow Bob.  If we're going to take a horse's ass, at least let's take one who knows how to play football.

o Did the Special One become so unhinged in Spain that he thought he could get one over on his rivals by publicly unsettling a player curently under contract?  Credit to David Moyes and the new press-friendly Manchester United PR department for leaking the inclusion of Juan Mata or Luiz in the proposed deal.  True or not, Moysie returned Chelsea's aggressive serve with a bullet aimed directly at Mou's ankles.

o Hmmm, let's see: Cristiano or Fellaini?  Thiago....or Fellaini....?  Fabregas.....OR Fellaini....?  ANYONE or Fellaini??!!  Why can't Moyes just admit he wants his former fro-laden hitman to follow him to Old Trafford?  Perhaps it's because he knows this now highly-likely move will be greeted with a massive sigh of resignation from the club's worldwide fanbase.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Granville Island Brewery Cloak & Dagger Cascadian American Black Ale

(6.25% ABV). Purchased at the Granville Island Brewery and drunk that very same evening at the Sutton Place Hotel in Vancouver, Canada.

Cloak and Dagger poured a root beer black color with a toffee colored head filled with bubbles of mixed sizes.  The beer smelled hoppy more than anything else, but there was a certain malt balance evident, as well. Upon a second sniff, we also caught a whiff of chocolate.

The dark chocolate and hops were  apparent on the finish of this medium bodied beer; it was fairly well carbonated, too. Nothing to write home about, but we wouldn't turn it away, either. B

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Inauspicious: Singha All-Stars 1 - Manchester United 0

photo by Onerasvia PhotoRee

They're baaaaaack!  Or at least some of them are. In a game most notable as the inaugural bow of David Moyes, the subplot involved the paucity of players available for the English champions as they took the pitch last night in Thailand against the Singha All-Stars. As it was, and keeping in mind it was only a pre-season game (and the squad's 2013/2014 debut, at that), Moyes' first lineup in charge of Manchester United looked like this: Amos, Fabio, Ferdinand, Evans, Buttner, Carrick, Anderson, Cleverley, Januzaj, Giggs, Welbeck. Some familiar names to be sure, but also at least one that caused anyone in the stadium but the most fervent of Reds to go scurrying for their souvenir game day program. 

A listless first half was always likely due to the oppressive heat and humidity at game time, and lethargy was definitely what the crowd witnessed during the contest's first thirty minutes. The sole source of energy from the visitors was powered by the feet of young Adnan Januzaj, who easily shifted sides of the pitch while simultaneously showcasing deft footwork, nice control and decent speed. Although United appeared to be getting on top of the match as it drifted toward halftime, it was only the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Ben Amos which kept the scoreline level at nil at the break. 

While the Singha All-Stars grabbed an unexpected lead less than five minutes after the restart, the visitors continued their feckless display well into in the second half. Even the much ballyhooed introduction of newboy Wilfried Zaha failed to change the outcome -- although the Championship Player of the Year did crash the post with a curling shot in the 82nd minute that would have put United on level terms, perhaps undeservedly so. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013


photo by eschipulvia PhotoRee

The tide has turned. It wasn't that long ago (1 year) that people were reporting complaints from the US camp about Jurgen Klinsmann while Mexico was sauntering through their pre-hex group, after winning the Gold Cup for the second consecutive time. But now the US has spanked two minnows and Mexico can't seem to buy or even borrow a goal, going down to Panama in a recent outing.  Not that Panama isn't a worthy opponent, it's just that this latest defeat is yet another point on the downward spiral that will inevitably see Chepo ousted.

And what to make of Canada's latest humiliation - a 1-0 defeat to the Caribbean powerhouse known as Martinique?  Any time you lose to an overseas territory of France with a fort as its capital, it's time to shift gears. I mean, I know Canada isn't actually as big as the Mercator projection on my map would have you believe, but population does matter and Canada's is 85 times bigger than their islander opponent's.  When the pool is that much bigger it should be a cinch to field a better team and win. Must be too much lugeing going on north of our border. 

Against Belize, Wondolowski took full advantage of Herculez Gomez' forced rest due to artificial turf by notching a hat trick before half-time. Being in the right place at the right time certainly helped, as did some sloppy defending, but one has to wonder if finally translating his MLS goal-scoring proficiency to the international game will help Wondo to a roster spot in Brazil. 

I watched the Belize game in Spanish, which is always fun. The commentators are just like Gus Johnson but with even more enthusiasm and 10 times more knowledge. And you gotta love that they call Torres "El Gringo Torres."

Other things I love are Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden. The former, before being money (as always) on an undeserved penalty, set up the latter, whose composure on the ball is impressive and very welcome, for a goal that will surely boost the returning midfielder's spirits and prospects.
I had to keep reminding myself that this was only Belize as we looked awesome - winning the ball back quickly, defending well, passing well and creating and converting chances. 

Maybe it's a trend - we also looked pretty good against Guatemala.  My Alpharetta friend, Steve, not even a huge soccer fan unless he is betting on the game, was impressed by Damarcus Beasley's play in that game. Calling the slight defender "My Guy" throughout, Alpharetta Steve liked his explosiveness and commented that "anything can happen" when he gets the ball. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Whistler Brewing Whiskey Jack English Pale Ale

(5.00% ABV)  Poured on draft into a pint glass and drunk in Whistler, Canada. Whiskey Jack showed a clear amber color with very little head, although what small amount there was appeared as white as the still visible snowcap on the surrounding mountainside.
The beer's primary smell was malt, with no whiskey character noticeable.  Despite the name and what we felt was a suggested mental linkage to the barrel aging phenomenon so popular with craft brewers at the present moment, there was no whiskey character at all to this beer.
Malt and biscuit were the first things we tasted, but they were followed by a strangely sweet finish. We didn't detect any hops at all in our sample. We don't believe this beer is Whistler Brewing's best effort; in fact, we liked their Paradise River Grapefruit Ale and the Powder Mountain Lager much better. B-


Monday, July 8, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Anchorage Brewing The Tide and its Takers Tripel with Brettanomyces (Batch #2, November 2012)

(9.00% ABV) Purchased in Ketchikan, Alaska and cracked open as the farlieonfootie corporate yacht pulled out of port recently. The Tide and its Takers was poured from a 750 ml bottle into a glass that was clearly intended for other beverages. The beer was brewed in the land of the midnight sun in conjunction with the venerable east coast brewery Dogfish Head, and aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels before being bottled.

The smell was recognizable almost immediately, as that familiar brett sourness was evident even though the glass more than a foot away. The beer appeared a hazy, deep straw color, and the downy white head stuck to the side of the glass like a man clinging desperately to a lifeboat.

The depth to the taste that was added by the French oak aging was immediately apparent. The beer tasted less of citrus that we expected from the nose; the typical Tripel sweetness was very restrained in this offering. The beer had a lively mouthfeel and was highly carbonated. As it warmed slightly we tasted green apples.

A very unique brew and one that -- predictably, with Dogfish involved -- very effectively blurs the line between wine and beer. Highly recommended: A

Friday, July 5, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Tyranena Brewing Company Bitter Woman American IPA

Ed Likes His Beer:

It's grim up north. But is it bitter? Well, yes if you're drinking some Tyranena Brewing Company's Bitter Woman IPA (5.75% ABV, Lake Mills, WI) on Stormy Lake in Conover, Wisconsin. The beer hits you with a hardwood IPA hops punch in the mouth, and when you back away from the shock, it goes right at you again for some more. A few sips and you start looking exactly like the woman on the label.


This beer ain't for delicate hors d'oeuvres and don't even place it near a dainty dessert or there will be tears. But when you're roughin' it up in the north land, when you're beat up from too many hard nights in a tent, or too many cold days on the lake, well then this beer may be just what you need.

Or maybe not. B

A Road Map

photo by thejourney1972 (South America "addicted")via PhotoRee

Scott sounds off:

Beating Spain 3-0 is one thing. But doing it by completely off-balancing them for large portions of the game (including most of the opening 20 min), by harassing and pressuring high up the pitch and throughout midfield, is really something. Sure, Brazil had some luck - David Luiz' goal-saving slide (how did the ball manage to go over the bar?) and Segio Ramos' missed penalty. Not to mention a first goal that was the antithesis of Joga Bonito. But it takes a little luck to go all the way. After all, Spain was only in the final due to one missed penalty by Italy in the semi-final.

While Spain was beaten convincingly, that is not to say that they were dominated, despite the cacophonous Selecao fans. La Roja was able to take the reins from time to time and create opportunities. They were just less able to do so than normal, due to Brazil's gameplan, and it made all the difference. I'm not sure many teams can pull off what Brazil did but they certainly laid out a roadmap for victory over the defending world champions. And with all due respect to the Bossman, with similar effort and fan support, I think they can do it again in 2014, Confederations Cup Curse notwithstanding.

While I think it is still too early to be sure of Neymar's immediate impact at Barca (fitting into the system, Messi, etc.) there is no denying he has the chops to be the real deal. His goal in the Final was textbook field-awareness, skill and power - shuffling back onside, deft first touch and powerful left-footed strike to the only place that would have beaten Iker Casillas from that angle. I just might have to watch more La Liga next year.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July

photo by kevindooleyvia PhotoRee

Wishing our readers in the United States a very happy Fourth of July.  Enjoy the celebration....!

This is an independent farlieonfootie for July 4.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tumbling out of My Head

photo by Crystlvia PhotoRee
Because sometimes it's difficult to keep it all inside....

o Congratulations are due to Brazil for their resounding 3-0 victory over the world champs to take home the Confederations Cup -- but let's not get carried away by the selecao's triumph.  Putting aside the fact that no team which has won the warm up prize has ever gone one to win the big one, we just don't think the Brazilians are all that good. Having seen them play a number of times this past year, we believe that the team rode the home crowd support and got an excellent tourney from their big gun, Neymar Junior. Put the wear and tear of 11 months in La Liga on the kid, though, and we believe Brazil will be exposed next summer for what they are: a decent team, perhaps even a top 10 -- but a team that can look downright pedestrian at times, as well. We won't rule out a wave of popular support taking the team as far as the quarter or semi-finals next summer, we just don't think they have what it takes to go all the way. 

o And speaking of superstars, we fervently hope that the play acting we saw from Neymar will be gone by the time he returns home to play in the Cup, although we sincerely doubt it -- especially since his destination is Barcelona, home of the world famous divers and play acting superstars. The Brazilian's faking is so good as to make it  an integral part of his game. Grabbing his face when there hasn't been any contact within a half foot of it is something that threatens to overshadow his supposedly legendary talent. We hope he learns to rein it in...

o Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United?  Yes, please. Sir Alex'a departure probably threw a kink in the Real Madrid superstar's thinking, but we won't rule out his return to Manchester at aome point during the next 12-15 months. Sometimes it takes moving away to realize the grass is not always greener, and Ronaldo may not be enjoying his homecoming as much as he once envisioned. 

o In the meantime, we'll take Thiago Alcantara....  It would be nice to finally see someone leaving Spain to come to England to play football. Although his likely reasoning is to gain a better chance at playing for his country in Brazil next summer, David Moyes likely won't be too concerned at the young Spanish prodigy's motivations, as long as he's there pulling the strings alongside Michael Carrick this season.