Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dangerous Facts About Fernando Torres

Dangerous Facts About Fernando Torres: Needs little space to find enough green pasture to score. Defenders have an impossible time one on one. If need be, he will straight up beat you. Below, you will observe some examples. Learn Quickly When Defending

Fact: This West Ham defender posts up near the top of the box when Torres is fed the ball. A couple step overs and the defender is off balance enough for Torres to put the ball around him with the out side of his right foot. Torres uses his momentum so well when finishing. I mean seriously, the momentum follows from the approach and continues through the shot all the time. All of El Nino's attempts are dangerous and precise.

Fact: Remember the game winner of the Euro's last year...?(it's irrelevant because its below) Torres out positions one of the best left backs in the world, Philip Lahm. Using his speed, Torres works for this goal and straight beats the defender and chips the ball into the side netting. This is biggest goal of Torres's career so far.

Fact: One of his first goals for Liverpool and "If need be, he will straight up beat you." Snap! Look Out!

Top Performances: Didier Drogba is a man among boys

My uncle Mike sent me a text the other day with the statement, "6 - 0 and looking strong. Drogba is a man among boys." Truth spoken from my close Chelsea supporter/expert/uncle. So I say "True That" and here's the proof. Enjoy Mike.

Basically, Drogba is having a field day at Stamford Bridge and he keeps on getting better. Just have a look at Drogba's year so far. The best player from Africa and the captain of the Ivory Coast, Drogba, on good days is the Best Player I've seen. He's THAT good. So far this year, he's hit the ground running and below are a few of those genius moments.

The opening game of the season vs. Hull City. Drogba calmly turned the game around in favor of the Blues.

With the equalizing goal, Didier "wow's" us with his amazing shooting prowess. A Christiano Ronaldo reminiscent looking goal to open is goal campaign in 2009.

On the 92nd minute on opening day, Drogba shrugs off a defender and shapes the winning possession with a determined run. Receiving the ball close to the end line Drogba, with a flick of improvisation, highhandedly incites elation on opening day at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivorian plays at a high level with power and control. The best players in the game today can influence games with solo's as well as accompaniment. This last weekend against Tottenham, Drogba scores around three defenders with passion. His positioning led to an amazing touch around the keeper. Very classy.

Drogba is a legend in the Ivory Coast, a country that stopped a long a violent civil war in 2006. The war ended after the qualification of the Ivory Coast to it's first World Cup finals inspired the country to cease the fighting. It's been peaceful ever since and the Ivory Coast is going to make it's second appearance to the World Cup finals. In South Africa, look for Drogba and the rest of the Ivorian exports to be a serious contender in the Finals. African Soil and the breakout of African Nations on the world stage will co inside.

The top performer so far this season is upfront for the Blues. Watch out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How did you get three alliance approved assistants on such short notice?

Sergio “Kun” Agüero, Leo Messi, Fernando Torres. Those magic players. You know the ones…the players whose dazzling abilities seem to transcend our physical plane. The players whose skill and talent seem so unreal, that even the most basic of their feats seem impossible. All three of these aforementioned super heroes of football posses this something extra, it’s just that instead of fighting crime or saving the world…they chose to use their superhuman prowess to play football.

Messi has it for sure; he’s faster than a speeding bullet. When he whizzes and weaves in and out of defenders to make his Maradona-esque runs, the only thing we often see is a vapor trail. He finds the back of the net, leaving the opposition and us flabbergasted, wondering how the F.U.C. it happened. He’s at the corner flag celebrating, and we are left with a half vision of the turn he made four moves before the goal. It’s at this point we scratch our head, and realize that it’s magic, that there is no possible way he got from there to here without us and the other team seeing it.

Torres definitely has it. It’s not his speed though; he only looks to have that in spades. With Torres it’s something that has always struck me as (forgive this reference, please forgive) being closest to the Matrix’s own bullet time. That move he makes as Gerrard’s clever pass threads the ball perfectly through the back four to land just at Nando’s feet, is simply misdirection. It’s a trick, so that us “how’d he do that’s?” don’t see the real slight of hand. What we don’t see, or more importantly what we can’t see, is that Torres can control the space and time in his immediate vicinity. He warps and bends the fabric of his immediate surroundings so that what looks like a clever move, is really just a matter of a time shift in which he slows the opponents reaction times and leaves the goal keeper in the proverbial dust.

“Kun” Agüero, at 21 has it on and off the pitch. The dude already gets grand supreme being points for making a baby with Maradona’s daughter to give the legend his first grandson, and that’s just off the pitch. On it, Agüero excels at exhibiting this same magic his peers Leo and Fernando employ with regularity. It frightens me to think what will happen if and when a big club shells out the 50 million odd euros it will take to pry him away from Atletico and bring him to a fishpond more stocked with talent. He has some playmakers at Madrid, true, but even Torres had those and look how many goals he scored in his first season at Liverpool.

But I digress; we were speaking of footballing magic, and not big money transfers. Agüero’s magic lies not in an ability to be faster than fast, or to have control of time and space in his immediate vicinity. Agüero’s magic lies in the fact that the football is merely an extension of himself. It is like a fifth appendage, and he controls how close or how far it lies from his foot. He controls how fast it skips across the playing surface and how close it gets to defenders. Agüero is tethered to the football on an invisible leash, and this is why just when we think he’s going to lose the ball between the defender and the goal, he gets that near impossible off balance shot off and scores that impossible goal.

On August 25th, 2009 when Atletico Madrid played Panathinaikos in the second leg of their Champions League qualifiers, the world bore witness to just a little taste of Agüero’s magic. He had already scored a magnificent winner in the first leg, and when he received the ball just outside of the penalty area while surrounded by three defenders, it should have come as no surprise that he would have no trouble eluding any of them. Agüero dribbles quickly moving the ball a half a yard from his left foot. The first defender is so confused, he falls over on himself, and Agüero’s magic allows him to pull the football closer to his body as if catching up with it. The next move is easy, because Agüero was paying attention as he often does. He knows that the second defender has had to pick himself off of the turf. The defender was watching the move Agüero made, and not expecting him to come out of the defensive fray that surrounded our special player, he has lost his balance and fallen. Agüero dribbles towards the edge of the penalty area, and his defender is barely able to track back to him in time to commit a tackle that can at best be described as a day late and a dollar short. Agüero has anticipated the tackle and the shot is off and the football is in the back of the net, he runs to celebrate and the defender can only throw his arms up in frustration. Could have, should have, and would have my man.

So, you say you still don’t’ believe in magic, have a look for yourself. It’s the last goal and it happens about 2:40 seconds into the reel.

This is the first post by Christian Conlon. Sharing his passion for the game.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

England book their ticket to South Africa

England! Looking Serious.

Qualifying calmly with two games to spare, England is a new team. They've shaken off the shocking loss to Croatia that kept them out of the Euro's last year. Moreover, the squad has been meticulously picked according to balance and cohesion on the pitch. They look like a new team. A much better team.

It was just last year when I was watching England struggle to qualify for the Euro's and shaking my head in disbelief at the lack of teamwork. England's two top superstars, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, could not play together to produce something productive. David Beckham was crossing the ball from the right while the young and speedy Aaron Lennon watched from the bench. The midfield was imbalanced and lacking control. I could go on but it's all in the past.

All the aforementioned has changed. England have a new skipper and a new attitude. Gareth Barry is holding down the midfield and adding vision to the game. Frank and Stevie G are lighting up the game like the superstars they are. England's youth is being given a chance and Fabio Capello is using England's arsenal of top class weapons superbly.

England qualify with the most goals scored in the European groups. The group as it stands now shows a beat down. 31 Goals For. 5 Goals Against. A +26 goal differential.


Simply stated, England has played eight qualifiers. England has won all eight and dominated their group. They have never qualified with games left to be played in qualification. This in turn allows England to test out their firepower and establish a strong bond before the World Cup.

England moves forward as a collective unit after this first goal. They shine as one team and confidence beams from their play. Have a look.

It's all over...Then Croatia score. Then England score and politely say "Thank You Very Much"

World Cup Mix #2

Here we go again with another WC 2010 mix. Have a brew or two and be happy. Under a year away kids!

Clint Dempsey: America's home grown talent

Fifa Football Mundial did a piece on Clint Dempsey which sums up his career really well. Dempsey is a great American talent and the best player we've exported other than a keeper. He makes me proud, knowing that he's knocked down many milestones for American exports. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Burnley celebrates it's first home victory via a blazing volley

Making their Premiership debut, Burnley hosted their first match in top flight English football. However, the side they faced happened to be the champ. Manchester United.The atmosphere at this game had the entire stadium behind Burnley no matter what the outcome.

United looked sloppy. This goal in particular was a sixth or seventh chance at attack. With the only goal scored to upset the champions, United Keeper Ben Foster whiffed at a hard hit volley by Robbie Blake. This ball was seriously hit. From the angle behind the goal, notice how fast the ball comes in.

Happy times for the newly promoted side.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Slick Street Kit: adidas Trofeo Full-Zip Training Jacket

Wearing a breathable training jacket regulates my body temperature better than any other. As street wear, the extremely cool black with white color-way seems to layer, compliment, feature with just about any other piece. It regulates my comfortable.

Front zip pockets utilitize the need to find a place on the sidelines to set your keys.

Zipped open, a water bottle sits half exposed.

The pockets are snug enough to mimic a gun/holster whenever you need a shot of hydration.

It is the jacket that I feel most comfortable.

World Cup 2010 Mixes

Leading up to the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, I'll be periodically posting some music mixes. They'll be appropriate for any WC party during that glorious month. So enjoy.

Fabregas takes a stroll. Starts and Finishes.

What can I say? This strike was all Cesc Fabregas. Simply, Manuel Almunia throws the ball to his wide open captain and the rest of the play from then on is improvised. The space Everton leaves in unbelievable and Fabregas makes them pay. Taking advantage of wide open space, Fabregas dribbles 3/4's of the field then rips an amazing shot. From outside the 18 yard box, the ball knuckles, dips to the floor, and squeezes in the bottom left corner of the goal. From the back camera angle, you can see the absolute genius behind the shot. It could freeze any keeper.

I would like to point out that this example can be used to highlight the difference between top class football and mediocre mid range professional soccer(MLS). You'd be hard pressed to see a shot like this taken with ease or even taken in the MLS. It would beat any keeper in Major Leauge Soccer. Period. Beautiful.

After the goal, Fabregas honors the fallen captain of Spanish La Liga club Espanyol, Dani Jarque, who died from a heat attack while on pre-season tour this past year. A fellow Spanish International, Fabregas couldn't have dedicated a more beautiful goal.

Everton v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League, Goodison Park
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Everton 1 - 6 Arsenal

On a break away, Arsenal threads a needle through the mid-field

This play displays the young attacking talent on Arsenal's side. Captain Cesc Fabregas is among the best attacking midfielders in the game today. He can be mentioned with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Xavi. The main difference that sets him apart from the aforementioned is age. He is at least seven years younger. Arsenal's captain is the leader on the pitch by nature of his position and talent. Fabregas is Arsenals most important player and it's future.

After clearing the ball out of the box, Andrei Arshavin wins the ball at the back of the Everton attack and sets the breakaway in motion. Arshavin finds Denilson in space and the young Brazilian scans up the field and reads the attacking runs of Fabregas and van Persie. A no look through pass to space on the wing is swiped up by Robin van Persie and driven up field. This counter attack chain is almost complete.

You'll notice that Denilson and Fabregas make eye contact right as the pass is fired to Van Persie. Cesc Fabregas see's the play develop once the pass is made and sprints to the top of the 18 yard box in a straight line. Fabregas positions himself brilliantly once the Everton defender runs to pick up Van Persie by turning on the boosters to receive the cross. He takes one touch and slots the ball through the five hole.

I love how Fabregas celebrates the play by tugging on his jersey as his momentum takes him to the team mate who fed him the ball Robin van Persie. Everton was sliced and diced by world class attacking talent. Class all the way.

Everton v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League, Goodison Park
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Everton 1 - 6 Arsenal

Denilson's Curling Upper V Strike

One of three goals I'm featuring from Arsenal's 6 - 1 opening game stomp of Everton at Goodison Park. This strike by Brazilian talent Denilson opened up the flood gates on American Goalkeeper Tim Howard. Despite Everton's horrendous defending throughout the game, nothing could be done about this strike.

Arsenal's patience on the ball is rewarded immediately when space is found on the top of the box. Nicklas Bendtner finds space by beating a defender and lines a pass to captain Cesc Fabregas. Fabregas, a dangerous world class player draws the attention of five defenders immediately when the ball reaches his feet. Three Everton defenders rush Fabregas. Quickly, Fabregas lays the ball to the wide open space at the top of the box vacated by an incoming defender.

Denilson hits the ball with a full leg as the window is opened by Fabregas. Denilson follows through the entire kick and lands on his kicking foot. This ensures that his entire momentum is directed towards the top corner. Howard can only swipe a handful of air as he too is one full step behind the entire play.

Everton v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League, Goodison Park
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Everton 1 - 6 Arsenal

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Man City's Turn Around Counter Attack Skills

Record spenders in the transfer market this past year at 212 million pounds spent on players. This beautiful counter attack starts with Enamual Adebayor tracking down a mis touch to continue the attack. Adebayor lays a perfect heavy through ball in front of Sean Wright Phillips. While Phillips is one on one with the defender, Robinho and Garreth Barry make runs into the box looking for a cross. This draws defenders and leaves a hustling Adebayor with enough room at the top of the box. Sean Wright Phillips skips past the defender and leaves a perfect ball for a charging Adebayor who hits it with the inside front of his foot and follows through. 212 million dollars worth of top drawer execution.

Blackburn v Manchester City
Barclays Premier League, Ewood Park
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Blackburn 0 - 2 Manchester City

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Russia's Euro Run was Fun! Part 1:

Russia was the most exciting team in the Euro tournament of 08. After David Villa scored a hat trick in the open game for the eventual winner Spain, Russia woke up. 4-0 was the score and then the Russians snapped to reality and executed a plan. With a clean tactical approach beginning after the whistle to start the game up after Spain's third straight goal, Russia started playing. Each player has a role and each player from then on fulfills it. Not only fulfills their positional duties, but creates chances, and intern they give themselves a fighting chance in the tournament. The teamwork was absolutely beautiful at times. The shape of the team never broke quite like that again.

I watched every game Russia played in the tournament. I was rooting for them to beat Greece and they earned a victory. The next two games were truly aw inspiring. Andre Arshavin and Roman Pavliachenko launched their club careers with their performances. Arsenal and Tottenham as well as others have Russian talent on the radars until further notice.

1st goal: Roman Pavliachenko opens up the Russian score sheet in the Euros. Russia was overwhelmed by the size of the stage and the polished skill of club superstars that pack the roster.

Russia vs. Greece
Round Two Group Stages

Every game is certain elimination for Russia from here on. They played like they wanted the third game. Roman starting firing and the score could very well have been larger. A positioning error by Greece resulted in a goal that ended up winning the game for Russia. Russia takes another dose of confidence by eliminating the reigning champs. After the first defeat, to win with confidence against the former champs without play maker Andre Arshavin, is huge! They have everything to play for again.

Russia vs Sweden

Russia came into this game on a high note after knocking out Greece and suiting up Andrew Arshavin. Sweden had just come off a heartbreaking loss to Spain. Sweden's defensive side was literally threaded by David Villa for the winning goal and their defensive shape was dismal. Russia came at Sweden with all the pieces they had. Gus Hidink schooled the over-rated Swedish side. You'll notice that the Swedes look like they are literally being run around.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stabbed by a dagger. It came and went in a second.

After beating Greece in the first group stage match 2-0, Sweden faced Spain. Spain, coming off a dominating win over Russia 4-1 featuring a hat trick by David Villa were high with confidence. Getting into the rhythm of tournament play, Spain opened the scoring via a goal from Fernando Torres.

Sweden with their backs against the wall pulled one back with a cheeky little goal by zlatan ibrahimovic to tie the game at 1-1.

Both sides attacked and defended as if their lives depended on it and it seemed as though the game would end in a stalemate. But in a flash of brilliance Sweden was handed a ticket to a must win 3rd game by David Villa, giving him four goals in two games to start the eventual champions off. Villa put Spain on his shoulders and single highhandedly catapulted his team into the quarterfinals.

I remember watching this game and seeing the air get sucked out of Sweden. I couldn't imagine scoring a game winner in front of the opposition fans like that. Sweden's fans got a perfect view of Villa slicing a dagger through them like butter. Enjoy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Disecting Fernando Torres's first goal for Liverpool

World Class Fernando Torres Win's the heart of Anfield with his first goal for the Reds

This is one of my absolute favorites. After a crisp through pass from Steven Gerrard. Torres runs on to the ball and takes a touch. Ben Haim runs to defend on the first touch. Immediatly as Haim arrives and sets his feet to defend, Torres skins the Chelsea defender. Pushing the ball into space in front of him at the exact moment the Chelsea defense tries to bite.

El Nino makes them pay. Torres opens his body up to the far post and follows through the shot and places it beautifully. Ben Haim was left to watch Torres number fly by as the goal is scored in a flash. If you really dissect this goal you can see that Torres follows through the shot and ends his momentum right in front of the end line. Any further and the shot would have missed because angle at the far post would have proved to tight. The finishing skills of Fernando Torres were very well known after scoring a slick goal like that. He went on to score 30 for the season.

Liverpool v. Chelsea

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's All Muscle Memory.

I love soccer. It's a game like no other. To play it requires programming. To be talented and natural with soccer means one's brain has the ability to control the quick muscles in the body well enough to react to the game with mindless execution. Players like Robinho and Christano Ronaldo to name a few can mindlessly step over a moving ball like no other. They have practiced the skill with the ball at their feet everyday for their entire life. They in turn, use the skill with confidence in play. It's all muscle memory.

This all became clear to me only recently. Following professional soccer for the first time in my life has given me perspective. When I was young, playing soccer was second nature and I now know that I never fully appreciated the game. I blame my lack of creativity while playing as a kid on lack of international soccer available on US television. I wasn't immersed. I don't think I could have named a professional football player besides Pele. If I only followed the game like I followed Seattle Supersonics basketball as a kid, I would have been a completely different soccer player... Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp dominated my interest and I mimicked their moves on the basketball court. Thus I enjoyed the game more as a kid. Perspective is incredibly important. Inside it allows a player to compare themselves to players better than themselves. It is this new awakaning of perspective that has motivated me to create this blog.

With the onset of complete obsession with the beautiful game, watching and playing it became an intergral part of my happiness. Stepping onto the pitch for a second go around was a slap in the face however. The first time I touched the ball in a scrimmage, I had a defender closing in on my possession and I had no clue what to do with the ball. I decided to pass to a teammate. Accuracy was a skill to be desired and the pass bounced to the opposition. With time to be precise, the opposition scored easily on my outnumbered teammates. A very overwhelming feeling of humbleness overcame me.

Fundamentals. I needed to learn the basic fundamentals of the game again.

Since that game, I have focused on the basic skills of the game and programmed them into my muscle memory. Again, it's all muscle memory. The skills are situational and the body is comfortable performing movements with the ball that are mastered (i.e programmed) into its muscle memory. Balance, power, positioning, speed, and execution are just some of the aspects of the game that your brain programs into your muscles. Kicking or dribbling with your dominant foot for example is comfortable because your body relies on it more often and has programmed the actions into your muscles. Thus making it passive in your mind while your playing.

Everyone has the ability to develop power, balance, touch, accuracy, postitioning, and speed based on repetition. Practice makes perfect as the old saying goes is all about memory. Not one aspect of a players game can be signed off as mastered. Every move can be developed situationally with the goal being to passify the thought of executing the move. A player must strive to achieve passificity in order to perform and execute the goals of the game. Therefore, I no longer look at an action as basic as kicking the ball and assume it to be perfected/passified starting from the ground up.

With perspective a player can develop a true love for the game. Practice has to occer individually as well as with others to effectively improve your game. Individual practice is the catalyst that can elivate your absorbtion of skill sets. Everytime you practice on your own, you improve your skills as if they were pages added to a book and every page has been memoried word for word.

There are many resources for individual and team drills available. Googling the topic can overwhelm a player with information that can be advanced and contradictory. Nothing can replace practice and trial and error. Everyone is different and any desired skill will come with 1% information and 99% practice. Training Ground is a great starting point and reference for explanations of skills seen played during the UEFA Champions league. It's updated often and the skills are explained by the heros of the game today. Practice these moves with both feet day in and day out and you'll add them to your arsenal. Watch the interviews and strive to share the point of view only experienced professionals have.

It's truely amazing the level the game has progressed to. Football is a test of brain power and physical skill. Every World Cup tournament holds the debut of a new type of game. Complete with a higher level of assumed brilliance, physical prowess, and required skill sets. The vast popularity of the game worldwide ensures that unique styles of skill manifest into an ever changing climate. The beautiful game's highest level doesn't have a ceiling. That's one of the reasons it beautiful.