Hollywood United

The US Open Cup is American Soccer’s version of the FA Cup in Great Britain. One of the most compelling features of the FA Cup is the possibility that a small, local football club can become a “giant killer” and take on a top-flight side (like Hereford United’s stunning defeat of Newcastle United in 1972). This year, the US Open Cup has a potential “giant killer” of it’s own, albeit with a bit more glitz: Hollywood United. Actor, Anthony LaPaglia, who was a professional goalie in Australia before his acting career, founded the club in the late 1980’s.

Hollywood United, from the USASA, has already upset the Portland Timbers, from the USL First Division, and will face the Seattle Sounders, also from the USL First Division, next in the 2nd round. If they can get past Seattle, Hollywood United will face a MLS team in the 3rd round.

Many Hollywood United members are former professional players and celebrities. Some are:

“Alexi Lalas, 1998 World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf, Paul Bravo, John Harkes, Eric Wynalda, John O’Brien, Richard Gough, Allen Hopkins, Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, actor and former English Premier League player Vinnie Jones, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury of The Cult, Ziggy Marley, actors Brandon Routh (“Superman”), Jimmy Jean-Louis and Santiagi Cabrera (“Heroes”) and the man who started it all, Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia.”

But before you imagine Vinnie Jones applying his patented testicle-crushing grip to the likes of Claudio Reyna or Brian Ching, most from the list above are on the Over-30 and Over-40 teams. Hollywood United fields a US Open team, stocked mostly with “younger more fit players.”

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Interview in Speigel Online with Orhan Pamuk

The Euro 2008 tournament is under way. Here’s a great interview with Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk about his love for Turkish football, community, and images from the stadium.

“The image that I remember most of all is of the Fenerbah├že players storming into the stadium before kickoff. They were called the canaries because of their yellow jerseys. It was as if they, like canaries, were fluttering into the stadium out of a hole. I loved it. It was poetry.”

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Boca’ dropped from the Cottagers

Photo from Goal.comI just read on EPLTalk that Carlos Bocanegra was released from the Fulham FC squad. Somewhat ho-hum news. He hadn’t played much last season. And was a tad overrated.

Roy Hodgson also signed Aussie keeper, Mark Schwarzer. Let’s hope this doesn’t spell the end of Kasey Keller’s tenure at Fulham (or the Premiership). He’s long in the tooth, but I’ve always enjoyed seeing his green jersey in goal. If he goes, that will leave only three Yanks on the squad.

Good news to hear that Jimmy Bullard should be sticking around. He’s fun to watch. It’s like watching the neighborhood hero take on the bullies from two streets over.

The Champion’s League final between Man U and Chelski was exciting to watch. I got to catch it during one of my “work from home” days. Although it was a bit like watching a Yankees-Red Sox series, it was still fun to watch. I didn’t really care to see either side win. I must admit, though, that it was tough to see John Terry slip on his penalty (and let Christiano of the hook).

I’m looking forward catching as much of Euro 2008 as I can. The Germans are favorites at 5/1. Usually, I like to back the English side. Since I can’t this time, I’m kind of leaning towards France, but I’ll probably let my allegiance grow organically.

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Yanks Reputation in “Proper” Football Safe for One More Year

I love underdogs. Can’t resist rooting for them. So when I became obsessed with this soccer video game titled, “Winning Eleven,” and decided that I needed to follow “proper” football (that’s what this guy from Liverpool I once met called it, as in “oh, you follow proper football, as well?”), I set out to find an underdog with the most potential to, as my friend Dave puts it, “justify my love.”

It didn’t take long for me to latch on to Fulham FC. They had a lot going for them in my book: their logo has a red/black/white color scheme (I’m naturally drawn to this scheme), they’re a London-based team, they play in an iconic stadium with a cool name–Craven Cottage–located on the River Thames, and most importantly, they have the most American-born footballers of any side in the Premiership: Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson, Carlos Bocanegra, and Kasey Keller.

Just one problem: in the words of Michael Davies, they were “absolute pants.” In the middle of this season, they were deep in the relegation zone, virtually guaranteed to drop from the Premiership. After a watching a few games, I pretty much lost faith in them. I figured they were goners and the Americans would be scattered throughout the American-footballers-too-good-for-the-MLS Diaspora. I began to tune out and refocused my attention on the baseball season (and the Dodgers!).

But somehow the Cottagers pulled it out. And I feel like a fraud for missing an amazing comeback. That’s what I get for doubting them. Lessoned learned, never count out a bunch of yanks. Wait till next year.

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