Category Archives: England

UEFA Champions League Round of 32/16 Draw Announced

I don’t have too much time to go in depth right now, but I will try to give you a preview of all the ties before they commence in late September.

Here’s the draw, with the seeded team listed on the right:

Of note:

  • PK-35 Vantaa (Finland) are the unlucky team to draw Lyon, but I guess if you don’t win your qualifying group, you can’t complain too much
  • Standard Liege (Belgium) got Turbine Potsdam, which stinks a little, because Liege didn’t have to qualify (Belgium’s league was rated high enough to get an automatic spot, but Liege was not high enough to be in the top 16, and therefore not seeded). The last two seasons, Liege has been able to post a clean sheet in the Round of 32. Probably not this year.
  • Barcelona is playing Arsenal, which is obviously interesting from a name perspective, but not a great draw for Barca, Arsenal are probably among the top four teams in this competition.
  • Italian champions Torres drew a tough one in Apollon Limassol of Cyprus (see previous article). Still favorites, but interesting.
  • Fortuna Hjorring – with our friend Tiffany Weimer in tow – will play Glasgow City in what should be a very competitive encounter.
  • Inka Frings and Zurich will play French runners-up Juvisy, who aren’t Lyon, but do have Gaetane Thiney and a couple of other French internationals.
  • The draw for the Round 0f 16 was also announced, and what immediately jumps out is a likely Potsdam-Arsenal matchup, that is a shame it has to come that early, but them’s the breaks. Torres, Malmo, Goteborg (despite poor league form), Wolfsburg, Rossiyanka, Lyon, and Juvisy are the early favorites to join them in the quarterfinals, but we’ll cross that bridge (or bridges) when we come to them.

 

Olympics – Quarterfinals Preview: Six Degrees Of Ali Riley

“Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.”  – Grateful Dead

There might be someone on this planet that doesn’t like Ali Riley. Maybe she cut someone off in traffic somewhere once, and that person swears revenge. Maybe when she was playing at Stanford, she smiled a little too much and it rubbed someone the wrong way. But I’ve never talked to anyone who has a bad thing to say about Ali Riley. In fact, I’ve never talked with anyone who’s talked with anyone who’s been negative toward her.

Call it Six Degrees of lack of Ali Riley Negativity, I guess.

Riley grew up like any talented young soccer player in southern California, dreaming of playing on the biggest stage, which was within a stone’s throw of Riley’s home when Ali was just 11 and the United States beat China to win the World Cup in front of 90,000 people at the Rose Bowl in 1999. She continued up the youth ranks, good enough to get her a scholarship to Stanford, where she would eventually lead them to the national championship game in 2009.

Along the way, she got the attention of the national team, playing in the 2006 U-20 World Cup, and making her full international debut at a major tournament in Beijing two years later. Now a fixture with the national team, she might be its biggest star and with that comes all the publicity.

Of course, I’m not really fooling anyone reading this, am I? I mean, she has 60 caps for New Zealand by now, right?

Funny how life works.

When she was about to enter college, Ali’s dad John, a UCLA economics professor who grew up in New Zealand, decided to make a speculative phone call to people he knew in New Zealand to say his daughter might be able to help them if they wished. Riley had never been called into a youth national team here in the States, and by most accounts, had never really expected to. Making the U.S. national team is not as easy as it looks. Do the math of Division I college programs and quality clubs in the country and narrow it down to even a pool of a few dozen. Good luck.

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Olympics – Matchday 3: What We Learned – Great Britain 1:0 Brazil

Ironically, I got home today from camp and flipping through HBO, came across “Bend It Like Beckham”. I’m going to guess most of you have seen it, I happened to come in at the scene where a match is going on and some young men in the crowd are making fun of women playing soccer, “Can’t you just see them as proper footballers?,” one of them tries to interject before laughter erupts from the others.

Believe it or not, that movie came out a decade ago. Since then, women’s soccer in Britain has grown in the number of teams, but the prevailing attitude still seemed to be a little different than it is in more accepting countries, at least overtly, as much of the discussion seemed to revolve around how the U.S. looked more than how they played.

A couple of weeks later, at the hallowed ground of Wembley Stadium, more than 70,000 people packed the place to cheer Great Britain to a 1-0 win over Brazil, and a new era has been born. Well, we’re not that naïve, are we? But still a run to the gold medal game would certainly do wonders for the sport in the birthplace of the game, and with more structure for a professional league in place, could it be a watershed moment? And all they have to do is get by ….. the United States in the semifinals. Gulp. Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it:

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Olympics – Matchday 2: What We Learned – Great Britain 3:0 Cameroon

One of the toughest things when trying to project what’s going to happen in a tournament as it progresses is how much a single performance matters in the context of the entirety of it. Great Britain was awesome against Cameroon, arguably the best game I’ve seen anyone play at the Olympics to date. But was it because Britain was that good or was Cameroon – even though they seemed to be playing hard – that poor? And even if it was Britain, can they replicate it in the next few outings? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I was encouraged.

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Olympics – What We Learned: Day 1 – Great Britain 1:0 New Zealand

Probably not too surprisingly under a British coach and with a young, athletic team that might not quite add up talent-wise with some of the best in the world, New Zealand under Tony Readings came out with a high-pressing, direct style that gave hosts Great Britain a lot of trouble at times in the Olympic opener. But as it was at the World Cup last year, the Ferns came up a little bit short, thanks to Stephanie Houghton’s free kick in the 64th minute. With eight teams out of 12 instead of eight of 16, New Zealand still has a decent chance to advance. Here’s what we learned:

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[VIDEO] Arsenal Ladies FC 11/11 Post Game Report

Pictures have been up for a few days, and more will be going up soon, but here’s a bit of the video side of things to feed your off-season soccer fix as you wait eagerly for the USA v. Italy games.

This is the post-game (post-match for all the EuroAWK readers) report from the 11/11 EUFA Women’s Champions League match between England’s Arsenal Ladies FC and Spain’s Rayo ValleCano de Madrid.

Photo Book – Arsenal Ladies 11/11 Champions League Match

A few days ago Arsenal Ladies FC was graced by a light British shower coupled with a delightful mud bath as they played Rayo ValleCano in a key Women’s Champions League match. The Ladies overcame their 0-2 loss just a few days before to the same Rayo ValleCano and finished with a spectacular 4-1 score.

The weather was in full force for this game, mixing shockingly bright sunlight with solid walls of rain. It made for quite the game environment that I was most fortunate to witness, my Canon camera in hand.

Below is a book that includes a sampling of my favorite images from the match. When presented with a team’s branding style I like to try and keep consistent with it, so my book’s design is intentionally reminiscent of the Arsenal Media Guide book.

Sadly, the amount of compression needed to get the file onto the site really reduces the quality of the images, so keep your eyes peeled for some specific spreads going up in the next week at a higher quality.

Arsenal Ladies 11/11 Match Photo Book

For those of you who want to see the book in a spread format, here it is!

Arsenal Ladies 11/11 Match Photo Book, Spread

England, Sweden Through to 2011 Women's World Cup

Sweden nudged past Denmark to advance to the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Denmark, down a goal in aggregate, scored two goals in the first half. That score would have put the Danes through. Charlotte Rohlin played the spoiler (or the hero, depending on how you look at it) and scored a goal in the 73′. The match-up was now tied 3-3 on aggregate so the game went to extra time. Rohlin struck again in the 4′ of extra time to put her side through to the World Cup.

 

England also went through, beating Switzerland 3-2 but that probably isn’t what’s going to define this match. Nor was it Kelly Smith’s missed penalty kick, Smith’s make-up goal, Eniola Aluko’s goal two minutes later or Faye White’s penalty kick.

England goalkeeper Rachel Brown was sent off in the 41′ and here’s why:

 

Who’s more at fault for this: the ref or the player? Bans should be considered for at least one of them. What an absolute disgrace.

England One Step Closer To 2011 Women's World Cup With 2-0 Win Over Switzerland

England passed their first test with a comfortable 2-0 win over visitors Switzerland in the first leg of the UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifying play-offs. Fara Williams opened the scoring with a clean finish in the 44′. The Everton midfielder followed up on a loose shot that had initially been struck by Kelly Smith. Smith would have her chance, however, as she whipped a shot past Swiss goalkeeper Marisa Brunner three minutes later. It was a particularly special goal for Smith who becomes England’s all-time goal scorer with 41 goals.

From all indications, it wasn’t a particularly dazzling or stylish performance from England. But it didn’t need to be. England capitalized on their opportunities which is something the Swiss could not do. Ramona Bachmann was at the fore of the Swiss attack but she couldn’t penetrate the English defense.

Hope Powell’s side included Rachel Brown, Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Rachel Unitt, Faye White, Katie Chapman, Jill Scott, Fara Williams, Rachel Yankey, Eniola Aluko and Kelly Smith. Powell elected to use just one sub, alternating Jessica Clarke for Yankey in the 89′.

England will take their lead to Wohlen, Switzerland for the final leg on Thursday night. England seem to be in command of the match-up and it will take an extraordinary effort if the Swiss have any visions of qualifying for their first-ever Women’s World Cup. As for England, a third appearance in the Women’s World Cup appears imminent.

Check out BBC’s match report here.

And Women’s Soccer United has video highlights here.

Dear England, This Is Your National Team

A football team donning the Three Lion’s striking kits took to the pitch this week. They had everything to prove and they knew it. They essentially needed to win their match and were expected to. After a shockingly uninspired first 45 minutes, their manager vociferously reminded them of who they were and what they needed to do. Their captain knew that this would likely be the last opportunity in a World Cup for many of the team’s players. So the team’s courageous central defender stood up and scolded, “there’s not one person in this dressing room who’s done enough – not even 50% of what they can do”.

They returned to the field and delivered a rousing comeback, coming back to equalize from two goals down. And who scored the decisive equalizer in the 88’?

The captain.

As you probably know, that team wasn’t the England team currently led by Fabio Capello. Capello’s men didn’t manage to show a hint of heart, tenacity, spirit or national pride in their performance against Algeria on Friday in South Africa. The dismal result has launched the squad – and maybe the entire country – into a frenzy. How could players that can excel at the domestic level come out so flat against the assumed worst team in the World Cup?

Questions regarding Fabio Capello’s man-management style and team selection abound. The England camp apparently can do little right. (Hell, at least the French can successfully launch a player revolt, Mr. John Terry). But perhaps England can now realize that its wild pomposity has little to do with its national team’s quality.

At least one national team’s quality, that is. England’s Women’s National Team exhibited everything its male counterparts didn’t in their performance one day after the Algerian disaster. The team needed to earn a result against group co-leaders Spain to have any chance of qualifying for their third Women’s World Cup. Things looked dicey as England performed poorly, conceding two early goals in the first half. But the team came roaring back for the draw, thereby keeping their World Cup dream alive.     

It’s kind of a shame that the team’s comeback occurred a day after the men’s comedown. Not that it would get much time in the national press anyway. Does England even know it lays claim to perhaps the most indomitable national team in all of women’s football?

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