Saturday, December 23, 2006
Unfortunately, we lost one of the brightest, young, charismatic stars yesterday when DC United traded away Alecko Eskandarian to Toronto FC for allocation money.
Alecko won fans over by his incredible performance in MLS Cup 2004, by scoring twice in four minutes. He was named Most Valuable Player of the match. He suffered a season-ending concussion early in 2005 and sat out most of the season. In 2006, he returned (with headgear) and was greeted by DC fans with huge "Bringing Esky Back" and "Fear the Headgear" signs at RFK. This year he scored the only goal for the Black-and-Red against Real Madrid.
This trade could work out if the allocation DC received in the trade is used to lure some big talent to the squad. It could also work out if Esky never reaches his full potential or bolts for Europe. However, in the mean time, this trade kind of stings.
Esky quickly became my favorite United player when he celebrated a goal against the New York Red Bulls by grabbing a Red Bull energy drink and spitting it out in disgust. He had a knack for scoring goals, but also a knack for getting nicked. When he's healthy and hot, he's unstoppable. When he's injured or cold, he's no good.
It could have been worse. He could have been traded to arch-rival New York (Jaime Moreno in 2003) or he could have been traded to a Western Conference team so I wouldn't get to see him often (Freddy Adu). I can't wait to see him tear up the rest of the Eastern Conference next season. Here's to hoping he succeeds in Toronto (except when they're playing DC).
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The Washington Nationals suck. They're 26.5 games back in the NL East and have been mathematically eliminated. They're 12 games back of the NL Wild Card. On the bright side, the season is almost over and they're a half game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
Even the usually dependable D.C. United are laying eggs. The Black-and-Red are 1-1-3 since the All-Star Break and have almost blown their lead for the Supporter's Shield. They lost to the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Tournament to elimintate them from possibly achieving the first ever American Triple (U.S. Open, Supporter's Shield, MLS Cup). It's unlikely they'll win the MLS Cup since they'll most likely have to play Chicago again, and they always lose to Chicago in knock-out tournaments.
Monday, September 11, 2006
September 11th, 2006
FedEx Field : Landover, Maryland
The Washington Redskins open their 2006-07 season tonight at home against the Minnesota Vikings. The 'Skins have sky high expectations after last year's incredible playoff run and will be looking to start the season off right. The Vikings also have lofty expectations for the season after the wheels fell off last year's promising squad.
The Redskins lead the all-time series between the two teams, 10 wins to 7 losses. The most notable game was the 1987 NFC Championship game where the Redskins held on 4th and 4 on the Washington 6 yard line to send the team to Super Bowl XXII. The most recent game was the 2004 season finale that saw the 'Skins win 21-18 at FedEx Field. This was the game where Randy Moss walked off the field for the last time as a Viking with time still on the clock. Remarkably, Redskins headcoach Joe Gibbs is 8-0 against the Vikings, with two of those wins occuring in the Play-Offs.
After an awful pre-season, one that left me speechless, it'll be interesting to see the 'Skins first-team offense on the field. Did Al Saunders really only use 2% of his elaborate offense? Can Clinton Portis really be healthy from the shoulder injury after just five weeks?
This game will be the first Monday Night Football game telecasted on ESPN, in case you've been in a coma for the past six months. One interesting note will be the announcing as there's a definite D.C. presence in the booth. Former Redskins great quarterback Joe Thiesmann and current Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser make up two-thirds of the broadcasting team.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
1 CONCACAF Champions Cup (1998)
1 Interamerican Cup (1998)
4 MLS Cups (1996, '97, '99, 2004)
2 MLS Supporters' Shields (1997, '99)
1 U.S. Open Cup (1996)
5 Eastern Division Championships (1996, '97, '98, '99, 2004)
1 CONCACAF Champions Cup (2000)
2 MLS Cups (2002, '05)
2 MLS Supporters' Shields (1998, 2002)
2 U.S. Open Cups (2001, '05)
5 Western Division Championships (1996, '99, 2001, '02, '05)
It's worth noting that L.A. has the upper hand in the all-time series, 13-11-3. However, D.C. beat L.A. twice in the MLS Cup final, in the inaugural game in 1996 and then again in 1999. It should also be noted that the Galaxy have never missed the playoffs, while D.C. stayed home from 2000-02. Without question these two teams are the premier franchises of Major League Soccer.
Things to look for tonight include the return of Santino Quaranta, who was traded to the Galaxy recently, and the treatment of Landon Donovan by the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava. They don't take kindly to the poster child of American soccer.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
This game was definitely a step in the right direction for the team. Most of the usual starters did not play. Troy Perkins, Freddy Adu, and Chrisitian Gomez did not see the field. Ben Olsen and Jaime Moreno were subbed in during the 60th minute and seemed to set the pace for the final two goals scored in the game. The mere fact that D.C.'s second team can beat their biggest rivals by two goals is exciting. Now all we need is for the first team to get out on the pitch and dominate someone. They'll have a shot this Saturday as D.C. United takes on their closest rival in terms of success, the L.A. Galaxy.
Bruce Arena got some boos and a lot of cheers for his return. It's hard not to like the coach, but if he sticks with the Red Bulls for a while I'm sure I'll grow to despise him.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Tomorrow night marks a non-league meeting between D.C. United and Red Bull New York aka New York Red Bulls aka MetroStars aka NY/NJ MetroStars or whatever the hell they're called this week. The winner of the match advances to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
These two teams have sparked a bit of a rivalry, as they compete for the Atlantic Cup. United has won three of the four competitions and hold the lead in 2006. This season, the Black-and-Red hold a 1-0-2 record with the Red Bulls. Although this particular match will not count towards the competition, expect tempers to flare regardless.
Earlier this season, D.C. United's Alecko Eskandarian (YouTube highlight vid) celebrated a goal against the Red Bulls by taking a big swig of the Red Bull energy drink . . . and then spiting it out disgustedly on national television. Also, the company that owns the Red Bulls and the Red Bull eneregy drink, Anschutz Energy Group, paid for over 800 fans to travel for free to Washington, D.C. to see the two teams compete. This didn't sit well with D.C. supporters and there were reported incidents after the game in the parking lots.
Finally, this game marks Bruce Arena's first visit back to RFK Stadium as a visiting coach. He led D.C. United to three MLS Cups, winning two and losing one, in his three years as head coach from 1996-1998. After his run with the U.S Men's National Team, he took the job as Red Bull's head coach. It'll be interesting to see how Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles great him.
I fully expect D.C. to turn things around after their little slide of three straight ties. Since this game is for a knock-out tournament, one team is guaranteed to win, and everything looks to be in D.C.'s favor. A loss to the Red Bulls would be disasterous.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
The team played very well in the second half. Christian Gomez scored on a cross in the 56th minute to tie the game before being subbed out with a hamstring pull. Despite outplaying the Rapids for the last 45 minutes, the team couldn't push ahead in the mid-afternoon heat.
Coming into this game, United's home record in the league was 8-0-1. The Rapid's road record in league was 1-6-1. This was a gimmie game and the team blew it. Was the ref bad? Yes. That was definitely a Penalty Kick for Freddy Adu, who was getting fouled all game. Was it hot as hell down on that field? Yes, and the team dealt with that to get the equalizer in the 2nd half. But these are issues that great teams will overcome to win.
The Black-and-Red are winless in their last four MLS games (0-1-3) against mediocre teams like Red Bull New York, Real Salt Lake, Chicago Fire and the Colorado Rapids. Back in July when they won 7 in a row and had a 14-game unbeaten streak going, I was sure that this team was not only the best league team but also the best MLS team ever. Now, um, not so much.
This team needs to start dominating. In the next month, they play eight games of the utmost importance. I am proclaiming this stretch to be Remove All Doubt Month. United need to use these games to run away from the league, clinch the Supporter's Shield, and put themselves in position to claim their 5th MLS Cup. Unless they start playing they way they're capable, D.C. United will keep floating towards dissapointment in November.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
My first concert ever was seeing the Foo Fighters play a free show at Tower Records in Rockville, MD in 1997. This show couldn't match that in terms of sheer awe, but I did get goosebumps a few times throughout the performance. One of those times was hearing "Marigold" as a lead-in to "My Hero." Hearing two of my favorite Foo tracks played back-to-back was surreal.
Dave was very chatty the whole night. He's always had a great sense of humor and it was awesome to hear him tell stories. The "Hold on! You forgot your jumbos!" story as an intro to the b-side "Skin and Bones" was a great way to add some local flavor to the homecoming show. Dave also told a great story about Kurt and Chris before playing "Friend of a Friend." Very cool.
The setlist was what I expected. They played just about every song off of the acoustic disc of the new album, a lot of their hits ("Everlong," "Times Like These," "Walking After You," "February Stars," "See You," and "Floaty") and only one rarity, the aforementioned "Skin and Bones."
The band played for more than an hour and a half, but the show never dragged. There was a healthy mix of solo stuff mixed in with a full band performance. Dave started a few songs solo and finished them with the band, which worked really well on "Times Like These" and "Everlong." The backing band was incredible, with Taylor Hawkins rocking out the whole time and Pat Smear staying chill as ever. The keyboardist from the Wallflowers and the violinist/singer Petra both stood out, as well.
Long story short, the Foo Fighters still put on a kick-ass show almost ten years after I first saw them. The acoustic tour is still in the beginning stage, so if you get a chance to see them do not pass it up.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Who cares? Who would ever pay to watch a pre-season football game? Is there any reason to watch tonight's "game"? Nothing good can come out of it. Best case scenario is that nobody gets hurt.
Pre-season NFL football should be eliminated. Get rid of all but one or two pre-season games and add two regular season match-ups, preferably with geographical rivals (BAL-WAS, NYG-NYJ, HOU-DAL, etc.) If a team doesn't have a geo-rival, then tough titties. They have to play a home-and-home with the Arizona Cardinals.
Now, with all that being said, the past two soccer exhibitions have been awesome. D.C. United waxed Celtic by four goals and the D.C. United/Real Madrid match-up made my mouth water. During the Red-and-Black's draw with Los Galacticos, there were a handful of really entertaining moments. The best part was Troy Perkins stopping Roberto Carlos' absolute laser of a free kick from just outside the box. That was a world-class save . . . even if it didn't mean anything.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Tonight, D.C. United takes on perennial Spanish power Real Madrid in Seattle, WA of all places. The match can be seen on Comcast SportsNet at 11:00pm. The international friendly will mark D.C.'s first action since their U.S. Open Cup win over the Columbus Crew. That is, if you don't count the MLS All-Stars victory over Chelsea, in which eight players sported the Red-and-Black shield.
In today's Washington Post article, Real Madrid is described as having "the history of the Dallas Cowboys with the recent performance of the Boston Red Sox and the notoriety of the Los Angeles Lakers."
Not too shabby.
They're stacked to the brim with world-class talent, including: David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro, Raul, Robinho, Roberto Carlos, Ruud van Nistelrooy, etc. Unfortunately, Zinedine Zidane retired after the World Cup and Ronaldo won't make the trip. They truly are one of the world's premiere club teams and it's an honor for D.C. to go up against them, even if it is just an exhibition.
This match is ultimately useless, but it will be nice to see MLS's best franchise square off with a world-class power. In the past year, the Red-and-Black have matched up quite nicely with Celtic (Won, 4 - 0) and Chelsea (Lost, 1-2). It's nice to see these teams playing the best US soccer has to offer instead of MLS clunkers like the Los Angeles Galaxy.
I would have liked to include a YouTube video of Real Madrid to show what they're like, but I couldn't find any video that didn't have horrible Euro-techno as the soundtrack (Exhibit A, Exhibit B).
Monday, July 31, 2006
The shark tail is pretty cool, but nothing compared to the shark head on the opposite side of the building, facing east. My only guess for why they put the tail on the busier side of the street is to keep drivers from careening off the road. The sight is truly something else.
By far the best view of the whole building is from the Silver Spring Metro Station. This angle gives viewers the most complete shot of the shark.
Damn cool. Now, if only the Discovery Channel would get around to promoting a Bear Week...
Sunday, July 23, 2006
One of the most popular new additions is the live-action Presidential Race between George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The first race was won by GW, the second by Honest Abe. Today's race was quite the contest...
The cheating Roosevelt was disqualified, and the race was awarded to Tom. No word on any action from league officials.
View from Section 505, row 7, seat 8.
Friday, July 21, 2006
View from Section 545, row 3, seat 6.
The Nationals relinquished the lead to the Cubbies on a two-run homer by Aramis Ramirez, and then squandered a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the 7th inning. In the 8th, however, the Nats took the lead for good on a two-run double by Alex Escobar.
The new owners emplore the fans to "paint the town red" for the entire weekend, with giveaways including hats, t-shirts, and towels scheduled for all three home games against Chicago.
Paint his town red, paint his wife white.
One thing that really surprised me was the audacity of the Chicago Cubs fans. Rather then embody the "loveable loser" mentality of the team, the fans went for the "drunken asshole" vibe made popular by New York Yankee fans. The one difference between the two is, oh I don't know, 24 World Series championships.
I'll never understand the popularity of the Cubs. They're easily in the top-5 most popular MLB teams, and they're horrible. Almost always have been. They've won ONE play-off series in the last 98 years. Why do I have to pay for premium seats to see a team that's historically terrible and currently 21 games under .500?
The new amenities are neat. The entire atmosphere has changed drastically from the first half of the season, and the fans reacted accordingly. One of my friends sarcastically asked as we walked to our seats, "Are we in D.C. or is this St. Louis?" My favorite change was taking the President's Race off the Jumbotron and onto the field. Similar to the race in Milwaukee, four oversized cartoon Presidents raced to a finish line behind home plate. George Washington took the victory in the inaugural live-action race, overcoming an early lead by Abe Lincoln. Good times.
New live-action President's Race. Fan-tastic.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
It was awesome watching United play at top form with many of their key starters not on the pitch. For various reasons, Jaime Moreno, Brian Carroll, Bryan Namoff and Troy Perkins all did not play. They looked excellent and I can't wait to see them keep this torrid pace up for the second half of the Major League Soccer season. Other teams in MLS should take notice that even when the best players from the best team in MLS are on the bench, the reserves can still take it to a storied team like Celtic. The impressive form of D.C.'s second and third stringers was not lost on the Scottish media.
Mark Wilson of The Herald in Scotland writes of the elite team of MLS:
Even without [Jaime Morano] there was plenty to make the visitors wary. One defeat in 18 matches and a 17-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference are statistics that deserve respect, whatever doubts can still be cast against the overall quality of Stateside football.
He brings up a good question. Can doubts still be cast on American soccer? Or rather, how big are these doubts after another impressive United performance against a highly-respected foreign foe?
Obviously the MLS is light years behind the top leagues in Europe, but the league is definitely headed in the right direction. D.C. didn't just defeat Celtic, that wouldn't be big news considering the Bhoys are on the beginning of a pre-season tour and playing without key starters of their own. What is news is that the Black-and-Red whooped them up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. John Harkes said it best during the Post Game presentation, American clubs are no longer in awe of European clubs, including powerhouses like Celtic.
Anyway, Freddy Adu looked fantastic and surely raised some eyebrows. He'll definitely bolt for a top-tier EPL team in the near furture, if not next season. Luckily for D.C. United, the performance last night from reserves shows that they'll be able to keep pace without him.
D.C. is back on Saturday as they return to MLS action to take on the Columbus Crew at RFK.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Tonight D.C. United will take on Celtic FC in a friendly at RFK Stadium. The match pits two perennial league champions against each other for the first time. D.C. United have won 4 league championships in the ten year existance of Major League Soccer (1996, 97, 99, 2004) and two Supporter's Shields in 1997 and 1999. Celtic have won 40 championships in the Scottish Premier League, with the earliest being in 1896 and the most recent in 2006.
Celtic is the team of choice for Catholics in Scotland, with their arch-rivals Rangers FC representing the Protestant community. This sectarian split has caused Celtic to be the most popular team in Ireland, which I learned first hand when I studied abroad there. The majority of Irish football fans consider Celtic to be their World Class club football team. The Bhoys will also play Chivas de Guadalajara and New England Revolution while touring the United States in preparation for the start of the SPL.
The 2006 D.C. United are off to one of the best starts in MLS history. They have a record of 12-1-5 and are 17 points ahead of the second place team in the East. The Black-and-Red have the most wins, fewest losses, most goals and fewest goals against, as they've completely dominated MLS competition. Hopefully, a top-flight European opponent will test how good D.C. United can be and prepare them for the second half of the season.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Scalping is ridiculous. I really, really wanted to see the band Sleater-Kinney play at the 9:30 Club on August 1st. The band recently announced they were going on indefinite hiatus, which is industry lingo for breaking-the-fuck-up. This is really awful news considering their most recent cd, The Woods, was my favorite album of 2005. So, when I got wind that this show would be their 4th to last show ever I knew I had to be there.
I waited and waited and checked on the websites for both the venue and tickets.com for tickets. Unfortunately, I was about one hour late and they were already sold out! Crap!
I've missed bands before, but only one other time have I missed a band that was about to break up. Back when Q and Not U was on their farewell tour I couldn't get to see them and that still really stings.
Determined to get tickets, I searched on Craig's List and E-bay and the prices are completely outrageous. They're ranging upwards of $100.
One asshole writes:
. . . at least he didn't mention that they were PIT TICKETS!!!
I have two extra tickets to see sleater kinney tickets at the 930 club. i'll sell yo uthe pair for 90 bucks plus shipping.....first offer gets the tickets; i will take the listing down when the tix are gone. DO NOT HIT REPLY TO CRAIGSLIST LINK TO EMAIL ME BACK; EMAIL ME DIRECTLY AT MUSICMENDS@MSN.COM WITH 'SLEATER KINNEY TICKETS' AS THE TITLE.
This is so f'ing frustrating. Do I go against my values and beliefs and pay an absurd sum of money to a lowly scalper? Do I stick to my guns and miss one of my favorite bands?
Either way, I'll fight on 'till I have won. Hail Washington.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
According to ESPN.com, one of the spectators for the event was President George W. Bush, most likely celebrating either his 60th birthday or the impending war with North Korea. I didn't get a chance to spot the Commander in Chief, but I was closer to him than I've every been before. W, or 'Dubs', was probably enthralled by the Presidential Race, which saw Abraham Lincoln cheat to win by chucking the orange traffic cone at Teddy Roosevelt. "Honest Abe" is now 3 - 0 at games I've attended this year, reppin' the burgandy seats well.
View from section 470, row 4 seat 11.
In more postive D.C. sporting news, D.C. United defeated the Columbus Crew to further their unbeaten streak to 12 games. Alecko Eskandarian scored the only goal of the game as D.C. won 1 - 0. They are now an unreal 17 points ahead of the second best team in the East. I seriously need to get to some of their games this season, as they've been straight killing every team in sight. It looks like I'll get my first shot this Wednesday when the Black-and-Red take on Celtic FC in a friendly at RFK.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
When the Washington Nationals imprudently throw in the towel by sending All-Star outfielder Alfonso Soriano packing before the July 31 trade deadline, fans in the nation's capital should remember the bible verse John 16:24: "Ask, and ye shall receive."
Wait, when did we ask for Alfonso to be traded? Also, I know Washington D.C. is below the Mason-Dixon line and therefore technically the south, but we're not the Bible Belt, sweetheart. Save the good book references for your columns about Midwestern teams or the SEC.
As if White House scandals and having Peter Angelos right down the highway in Baltimore weren't enough, for 33 years Washingtonians hoped and prayed for a Major League Baseball team.
First, Baltimore would be 'up' the highway, not down. Her geography sucks. Second, if you make one more religious reference I'm going to throw something at you.
The Nats, in all their glory, were even in first place in the NL East for a little while, giving many fans a glimmer of hope that there would be a miracle on East Capitol Street.
A miracle? Really? Where's a brick when you need one?
Fast-forward to this season and those good times seem like a distant memory. The Nationals are currently 14 games out of first place, having won a measly 37 games. The most recent embarrassment was a 18-9 loss to the Marlins. Attendance at RFK Stadium is down almost 20 percent from last year, and the team has dropped from 11th to 17th place in attendance.Well, the Nats may be 14 games out of first, but they're also only 1.5 games out of second. The New York Mets are running away with the NL East and everyone else is left to play catch up. Even though they finished 81 - 81 last year the Nats also finished dead last in the NL East. Even with a losing record, the Nats could finish ahead of that this year. I think the organization would trade a few wins for a better finish. Glass half full.
Also, if the Nats are 17th in league attendance there must be 13 other articles that are more deserving of our time than this one.
Unfortunately, fans in Washington will be scrambling to see what's left of their beloved baseball club after July 31. They know it would take a miracle for the Nationals to both keep Soriano and make the postseason.
OH MY GOD. Seriously. Stop this. My liberal heart can't take it! As God as my witness I will strike thee down in anger and furious vengeance!
So I ask, Is this really the type of hype Washingtonians waited 33 years for? To be given a hopeless team in a $600 million stadium near the river with all of the stage drama of a prime-time soap? I should think not. But then again, Washington asked for it, and the city shall receive.
Preach sista, preach!
Washingtonians didn't wait 33 years for hype. Hype doesn't float in this town. We waited 33 years to be able to watch Ryan Zimmerman hit two walk-off homers and another game-winning single in less than a month. We waited 33 years to be able to watch Alfonso Soriano battle for the league lead in Home Runs while playing in the least homer-friendly park in the bigs. We waited 33 years to be able to watch baseball without going to Baltimore.
Can I get a 'AMEN'?
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
The Nats won in dramatic fashion with Ryan Zimmerman hitting a three-run walk off homer to send the fans home happy. I was at the game against Florida on Monday night 07/03 when they smoked the Fish 9 - 1. Although it wasn't as exciting as yesterday's game, it was awesome to see a Washington team not named United play well.
View from FB 4, press box.
At the game I attended, Alfonso Soriano hit two home-runs, his 25th and 26th of the season, and starting pitcher Pedro Astacio threw five innings and gave up one run to earn his first win.
Thanks to the fans, RFK Stadium can be an awesome place to watch a ballgame, which the dudes at Deadspin got to see first hand. (Too bad I missed them.) Fans were bouncing up and down, starting cheers without the aid of the PA announcer, and even doing the wave a few times around. That was great to see after the game on Friday night when everyone was booing them. Hopefully, they'll complete the sweep of the Marlins tomorrow and keep this hot streak going after the All-Star break.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Starting pitcher Mike O'Connor gave up like a hundred runs (actually 5) and then relief pitcher Jason Bergmann gave up like 13 homeruns (actually 3). The ever-potent Devil Rays line-up got 17 hits, including 5 home runs, in the hitter-friendly confines of RFK Stadium. OUCH.
Today, when the Nationals wake up sore from the 11-1 pounding they received from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night, their most lopsided loss this season, the trip to the ballpark will offer very little reason for optimism. The Devil Rays ensured that by drilling five home runs and 17 hits, while Tim Corcoran held the Nationals to three hits -- one a bunt -- and no runs in seven innings.
Losers of nine of their past 10 games, 15 games under .500 for the first time this season, the Nationals are long on bad baseball and short on hope.
Second, during the 9th inning, Tampa Bay right fielder Damon Jamall Hollins provided some entertainment. Since the home team was getting lit up, my section decided to cheer for him. He acknowledged us with a wave and even tried to toss a ball to our section, although just like the Devil Rays' aspirations, it fell way short. It landed in a luxury box below us. Still cool.
Third, almost like they were anticipating a poor turnout (for the Nats and D-Rays???), the team gave away free coolers to fans attending the game. In an ultimate sign of respect and reverence for the franchise, many fans didn't bother to bring them home. Luckily for me, I walked away with two. God bless Interleague Baseball.