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Friday, June 25, 2010

Mudcats lose a heartbreaker while Bulls fall hard

Posted by on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 12:34 AM

The Carolina Mudcats played well Thursday night and the Durham Bulls didn’t.

Mudcats pitcher Scott Carroll
  • Photo by Nikolaus © 2010 Carolina Mudcats
  • Mudcats pitcher Scott Carroll
But they ended up with the same result.

Scott Carroll pitched a complete game, but it all went for naught as the Mudcats fell to 0-3 in the second half of their Southern League schedule in a 2-1 road loss to the Tennessee Smokies.

Meanwhile the Bulls fell victim to a 9-1 drubbing at Indianapolis.

The Bulls will return home Friday night against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, while the Mudcats will have three more at Tennessee before coming home on Monday against the Jacksonville Suns.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reflections on watching Brazil with Brazilians

Posted by on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Ivory Coasts Emmanuel Eboue takes down Brazils Kaká.
  • Andy Mead/ YCJ
  • Ivory Coast's Emmanuel Eboue takes down Brazil's Kaká.
RIO DE JANEIRO—The Rio de Janeiro FIFA Fan Fest (FFF) is a textbook example of how space can be manipulated to create and reproduce socio-economic hierarchies, cultural value systems and accelerate patterns of consumption. Watching Brazil versus Ivory Coast there on Sunday afternoon was a strangely unemotional experience in a country and city that prides itself on stopping everything for the national team.

The streets surrounding the FFF in Copacabana were full of yellow clad fans heading in all directions. Since it was Sunday afternoon, the Avenida Atl├óntica was closed to cars. On the sidewalks where there would have normally been camelôs (vendors) selling hats and shirts and beer and food, there were cops making sure that no commerce outside the realm of FIFA was occurring. The sterilization of the area surrounding the FFF was stunning. That public employees were directed to liberate public space for AmBev to sell beer at twice the price of informal vendors made me thirsty.

The line into the FFF was long. Hundreds of security guards regulated the waves of fans who passed through the various checkpoints. No one was concerned about the rules that prohibit the wearing of bathing suits into the FFF. However, inside the FFF, there were no musical instruments, no drums, no vuvuzelas (thank God). It would have been difficult to hear the crowd above the pounding bass of the booty beats coming from the gigantic stage. As the FFF filled, people passed out on the sand, hundreds lined up to get their beers and dancing started to take over the crowd. There was a definitive party atmosphere, ripe with anticipation. There were no songs about the national team, no syncopated “Brasil, Brasil, Brasil” chants, just people at a stage on the beach, dancing about with the people they came with.

The journalists were able to hang out in the shade of some palm trees in relative comfort, while the majority of the crowd baked in the afternoon sun. The VIPs in the Coca-Cola and Itaú boxes danced with the pretty lads that were there to lead them though some dance steps. In the Hyundai tent, young couples circulated around the cars. Two hundred people waited in line to get the Sony 3D experience. On the sand in front of the stage, people danced until the party was interrupted to watch a video game simulation (FIFA 2010, of course) of the Brazil versus Ivory Coast game, replete with live commentary. This is the spectacularization of the banal.

Thirsty, I went to get some beer and was shocked to see that it came out of a can and into a plastic cup. There were 18,000 people in the FFF. That’s a lot of cans. The maxim of the mega-event seems to be “maximize consumption.” I went back for more just to be sure. New can, new cup. Delicious.

I have catalogued for some time why I am not a fan of the Seleção Brasileira. I can’t take the smug satisfaction, the religious proselytizing mixed with crass commercialism, the corruption of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), the sense that willing the World Cup is an inalienable Brazilian right combined with a kind of dispassionate consumption of the spectacle.

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Preview day 14: Who else will join us (U.S.) in the knockout stages?

Posted by on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 9:39 AM

One game changes everything, the saying goes. For the United States it was more like one kick, a single Landon Donovan tap in propelled the Americans from elimination to winning a group for the first time since 1930. Coincidentally that year was the country’s most successful tournament in history as they advanced to the semifinals. Things are shaping up similarly now with the USA set to face Ghana for the right to play Uruguay or South Korea.

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And today, after the single most important strike in USA history and with a country experiencing the World Cup fever that others romanticize about, the tournament continues. We’ll add four more teams to our list of Argentina, South Korea, Uruguay, Mexico, England, USA, Germany and Ghana in the round of 16. We could lose the defending champion. We could see a team without a professional league in its borders advance. If yesterday is any guide, we’ll see a few stunners along the way.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

D. Johnson homer lifts Bulls, Mudcats fall to 0-2 in second half

Posted by on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 11:43 PM

Dan Johnson’s three-run homer was the key hit for the Durham Bulls as they beat the Indianapolis Indians 7-6 on the road Wednesday afternoon.

Dan Johnson
  • Durham Bulls
  • Dan Johnson
But things didn’t go as well for the Carolina Mudcats, who dropped to 0-2 in the second half with a 6-5 road loss to the Tennessee Smokies.

The Bulls will return home Friday night against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, while the Mudcats’ next home game is on Monday against the Jacksonville Suns.

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USA! USA! USA! Late Donovan goal saves World Cup dreams

Posted by on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Landon Donovan and teammates Edson Buddle (left) and Benny Feilhaber after the game-winner in stoppage time.
  • Andy Mead/ YCJ
  • Landon Donovan and teammates Edson Buddle (left) and Benny Feilhaber after the game-winner in stoppage time.
RICHMOND, VA—It was shaping up to be the Year We Got Robbed, the moment the American soccer-interested public lost faith in the game's underlying propensity to justice and, worse yet, the moment folks stopped reading World Cup blog postings.

Instead, a clutch goal capping a well-worked team move in injury team has sent the U.S. through to the second round, and sent throngs of jubilant soccer fans into ecstasy around the country. It was fitting that the two best American players were at the center of the move—Clint Dempsey, whose first effort was saved, and Landon Donovan, who trailed the play and made the rebound his own, coolly tucking the ball into the net in composed but emphatic fashion.

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RailHawks exit U.S. Open Cup, lose to Charleston Battery 2-1

Posted by on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 7:18 AM

For the second year in a row, the Carolina RailHawks saw their hopes for a deep run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup come to an early end. And again, the culprit was a third-division squad from the USL-2.

For last night's game in Charleston's Blackbaud Stadium, RailHawks coach Martin Rennie started two defensive midfielders, Brad Rusin and Amir Lowery. Despite the cautious posture, two first-half goals by Rudolph Mayard and Lamar Neagle were all the Battery needed to hold off the visitors, 2-1.

In the second half, Rennie made three aggressive substitutions, successively inserting Sallieu Bundu for Lowery, Daniel Paladini for Rusin and Tiyi Shipalane for Gregory Richardson. A few minutes after the first two substitutions, in the 64th minute, the RailHawks pulled back a goal when striker Etienne Barbara found right back Greg Shields at the near post.

The Battery outshot the RailHawks 13-6, and no Carolina player took more than Matt Watson's two.

It was a tough night all around as the team traveled 560 miles round trip to lose before a crowd of 1,400. It's a disappointing U.S. Open Cup finish for the RailHawks, because America's lower division teams look to the century-old competition as a way to increase their exposure and make a run against MLS sides.

As a result of last night, it will be the Charleston Battery that travels next week to Bridgeview, Ill. to play the MLS Chicago Fire.

Here's the match report from the Charleston Battery.

The RailHawks return to USSF-D2 play this Saturday, June 26, at WakeMed Soccer Park when they host the Montreal Impact. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mudcats drop second-half opener, Bulls drubbed in Indianapolis

Posted by on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 11:00 PM

The Carolina Mudcats came up just short in their first game of the second half.

Mudcats pitcher Matt Klinker
  • Photo by Nikolaus © 2010 Carolina Mudcats
  • Mudcats pitcher Matt Klinker
And at least for one night, the Durham Bulls just weren’t very good.

Russ Canzler’s two-run homer in the seventh inning keyed a Tennessee Smokies comeback as they nipped the Mudcats 4-3 Tuesday night at Smokies Park.

Meanwhile the Indianapolis Indians evened their series with the Bulls, rolling to a 9-1 win at Victory Field.

The Bulls play two more at Indianapolis before returning home Friday night against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Carolina has five more games at Tennessee before returning home on Monday night against the Jacksonville Suns.

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Hosts bow out with dignity intact; France not so much

Posted by on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 12:03 PM

world_cup_logo.jpg

RICHMOND, VA—The usual cliches about a side "crashing" out of a competition in no way apply to South Africa's exit from this World Cup. Bafana Bafana put together not just a spirited but a technically excellent performance over the first hour of today's match vs. France, taking a two goal lead and very nearly going up 3-0 early in the second half when Katlego Mphela's close range effort hit the post. For a solid half hour, the impossible seemed possible: South Africa might win the match 4-0 and supplant Mexico as Group A's runner-up.

Instead, France got its act together after Thierry Henry, suspected ringleader in the failed French revolt of the last few days, got his chance on the pitch. A counter-attacking goal rolled in by Florent Malouda salvaged a small amount of pride for France and effectively ended South Africa's chances of qualifying.

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Africa on the brink as final games of group stage commence

Posted by on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 1:13 AM

world_cup_logo.jpg

RICHMOND, VA—Believe it or not, after 11 days of non-stop soccer, one-half of the World Cup is complete. Starting Tuesday, the tournament kicks up a notch with the final day of group play, as nations will begin to exit stage right en masse.

Leading that parade almost certainly will be host nation South Africa. South Africa needs two unlikely events to transpire. First, they need Uruguay to beat Mexico, preferably by two goals. Next, they need to beat France, by at least two and possibly three goals. Ordinarily one would say this was completely impossible. But with the complete disarray in the French camp, maybe it’s not.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Baker, Bulls' pen sizzle in shutout of Indianapolis

Posted by on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Brian Baker went five no-hit innings before Mike Ekstrom and R.J. Swindle finished up as the Durham Bulls won the opener of their road series with the Indianapolis Indians 2-0.

Brian Baker
  • Durham Bulls
  • Brian Baker
Matt Joyce homered while Omar Luna added two hits for the Bulls.

Baker, who was making a spot start in his first appearance in nine days, improved to 5-0 while Swindle picked up his first save. Jonathan Van Every, the first batter Ekstrom faced in the sixth, got the Indians’ hit.

Daniel McCutchen (4-5) took the loss.

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