Thursday, October 26, 2006


Early on, during my initial exposure to soccer, I was often perplexed by the use of the term 'unlucky'. It took a while for me not to cringe every time the word was uttered, and I'm still not a fan. You never hear a baseball player say, "Oh that's unlucky," when a teammate swings at a fastball and misses. If he did, the batter would likely chop him down at the knees on the way back to the dugout. But 'unlucky' isn't going away anytime soon in soccer football, so I'll just have to deal with it.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: the number 13. Considered unlucky, 13 is now the current number of teams in USL-1 (Toronto out, California and Carolina in). Having an odd number of teams is nothing new in professional sports, but something just doesn't seem right about 13 teams in the single-table format of USL-1. From a scheduling standpoint, it adds more parity and balance, which is a good thing (sorry Timber fans, no more feasting on Minnesota four times a year). It also means less than half the teams (seven versus six) would qualify for the playoffs, adding more legitimacy to the postseason.

But what if it turns out to be a bad omen? What if one of the 13 sides pulls an Edmonton midseason and bails? What if USL-1 really is unlucky, and not in the patronizing soccer sense? We'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ax to the Lynx

In a move that should come as no surprise, considering the addition of a Major League Soccer club to Toronto, the USL-1 Lynx are no more. The team will now play in the PDL, a level some would argue they have been playing at for some time.

From the Ax to the Road's standpoint, we're really not that upset with this development. You would think Toronto would be a cool city to visit once a year, but we were never really able to "do" the city. Early on, when the team still played within the city limits, we would be stuck in a hotel on the outskirts of the action. By the end of the Lynx's run, they weren't even playing in Toronto at all, but in a nondescript suburb.

The ATTR's most vivid memories of trips to Toronto include Timbers' goalkeeper Matt Napoleon being so mad at the locker room attendants that he took their cooler and a bunch of towels and hid them in one of our vans after a miserable defeat. Then there was Hugo and Fadi planning a mutiny before a match that came on the heels of a loss at Rochester. And who could forget the junior high rock band attempting to cover Green Day's American Idiot at halftime. Good times.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

UO vs. Cal: Live Blog

I understand this is off topic, but from a practice standpoint I'd like to take a stab at the relatively new craze that is Live Blogging. Since my day job is in the University of Oregon athletic department, today's Cal/Oregon match-up is as good a game as any to pound the keyboard to.

Final (24-45): Game? What game? Like the Ducks hopefully will do before touching the tarmac in Eugene, I've already forgotten tonight's result. 4-1, 2-1, not too shabby.

4th Quarter: The Tedford love fest that is ESPN on ABC is less than three minutes from completion.

4th Quarter (24-45): I just missed another Oregon score due to parenting obligations.

4th Quarter (17-45): Hey, at least the Yankees lost today.

4th Quarter: Back to that last post... I couldn't even tell you how Oregon scored its latest points. This blog is quickly deteriorating into a complete sham.

3rd Quarter (17-38):
Don't try this at home. No, really, don't try this at home unless you are alone. With crying kids, a new kitten tearing around the house, etc., etc., it's impossible to stay focused on the game. Now as I type this, the baby starts crying...

3rd Quarter (10-38): Where's the mercy rule in college football?

3rd Quarter: The new storyline for the broadcast is the fact that Nate Longshore leaves two tickets for Jessica Simpson for every game.

3rd Quarter:
This is the primetime college football game of the weekend and Musburger is telling people to switch over to ESPN to watch highlights of other games. That pretty much says it all.

3rd Quarter (10-31): A gift from the Yellow Bears as they go for the endzone on 3rd and 1 and come up short. Giving up three points on a drive feels like a stop at this point.

3rd Quarter:
I'm predicting 42 more points this half. I don't know who will get the bulk of them, but anything fewer than 80 total points in this one would be disappointing.

This may be a stretch, but the score really could be 10-7 Ducks at this point. 14 points off turnovers and a punt return for a touchdown are points Oregon could have prevented. On the other hand, I predicted UO would have a 1-2 record through the first three games, so I should really just keep quiet and be happy with a potential 4-1 start going into next week's home game vs. UCLA.

2nd Quarter (10-28): There's the fake I was anticipating... And after another weak run into a pile of players (who is wearing 28 on offense for Oregon tonight?), the Ducks break the plane for six!

2nd Quarter (3-28): Took a break to feed the baby and two more scores go on the board for the Cal Yellow Bears. Oregon looks awful and Cal is playing out of their minds right now.

2nd Quarter: Cal tosses an interception on 1st and goal! This game has the makings of a wild one of Oregon can find some offense on this drive.

2nd Quarter: This is embarrassing. Another INT and Cal is ready to punch it in for a huge lead.

1st Quarter: End of the quarter. UO needs to find a running game.

1st Quarter: It's early, I know, but Oregon must score a touchdown on this drive or this one could be over.

1st Quarter (3-14): If anyone was going to exploit Oregon's secondary, it was going to be Cal. Yikes, that was ugly. From 3rd and 15 to the endzone in two plays.

1st Quarter: Brent Musburger's sidekick just said J-Stew didn't play against Stanford. I guess that was another guy wearing his jersey that went for 168 and two scores.

1st Quarter: The Ducks have a potential momentum-changing possession and need to make the most of it. Not only did that first-play interception give Cal an easy TD, but it essentially gave the Golden Bears first possession in both halves.

1st Quarter: With Reggie Bush gone, Marshawn Lynch is now the top back in the Pac-10. Cal went to him once on this drive and paid the price with a P-U-N-T.

1st Quarter (3-7): I guess that first series INT changed the game plan as Oregon played it safe and elected to take the 3 points.

1st Quarter: Jonathan Stewart just ran into a pile of players for no gain. Incomplete pass means fourth down. Watch for the fake field goal...

1st Quarter: Dixon is working it around. Multiple shots of Ernie Kent in the crowd. And just like that Jordan Kent makes another catch down in the red zone.

1st Quarter: Hey, there's Aubrie! One of the student workers in my department just got some facetime on the ABC broadcast as the camera focused on the UO section. Just don't go all Jenn Sterger on me A-Dot.

1st Quarter: I still can't get past the yellow jerseys. Seriously, what a bunch of posers. They just showed the replay of Dixon's INT. In a word: Atrocious.

1st Quarter (0-7):
First play interception. Guess Dixon was confused by the yellow jersey on the opposing side of the field. Cal turns the TO into six - not a good start for the Ducks, especially on national TV.

Kickoff: Cal is wearing yellow! That's funny, their official school colors are blue and gold. I've never been a subscriber to the Eugene South stance that many fans have regarding Cal, but this changes everything. They couldn't be more blatant in their Duck envy.