Houston we have a Dynamo problem

Dynamo Sporting KC

Chicken wing tussle: Houston Dynamo defender Sofi Sarkodie (8) battles it out with Sporting KC striker Soony Saad (22) (photo: Troy Taormina-USA Today sports)

Will America’s left back solve the dynamism deficit at the BBVA Compass Stadium? The Kenna’s MLS correspondent the Team Panda Rules OK manager hopes so. 

WHEN World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley first lines up in the orange shirt of the Houston Dynamo, he may well wonder why all the energy appears to be being spent off the pitch.

Because if my visit to watch La Naranja is anything to go by, it’s only the fans who are giving the Texas team any spark.

The Dynamo were simply awful in their 2-0 home defeat to Sporting Kansas City – even allowing for the absence of midfield general Brad Davis, who was Brazil-bound with Jurgen et al at the time.

But as bad as the Orange Crush were, their fans were terrific throughout – creating an atmosphere in sharp contrast to the one I found on my previous sojourn to Chicago Fire.

In all there were 18,396 Forever Orange fanatics pumped into the downtown stadium, which is just a short walk from the thoroughly recommended Flying Saucer and El Big Bad bars.

There were drums. A tangerine-faced version of Darth Maul. And at least a hundred Hispanic diehards blissfully unaware that their chants fitted perfectly with the melody of Karma Chameleon.

Well, this Boy George was impressed – and not just because the Dos Equis was flowing for a mere $10 a pop.

The majority of the noise – and it was constant – came from 200-300 standing fans behind one of the goals.

They didn’t let up for a second following the national anthem, and a bizarre pre-match video which saw Dynamo winger Andrew Driver boot a box of cereal and then a Battlefield Earth DVD into the air.

Driver, and his fellow Englishman Giles Barnes, would struggle to displace the chairman from his occasional appearance at Catford Power League on this showing (ouch! – the chairman).

Like the rest of the Dynamo, they were limp as could be, despite the advantage of the early sending off of Kansas midfielder, Antonio Dovale – an event which resulted in one orange-clad fan removing an actual red card from his pocket and waving it at the pitch.

From their rivals, only Seth Sinovic caught the eye – forever foraging down the left in the very realistic hope of finding more erratic Dynamo defending.

The experience of Beasley, who joined this week with Honduran midfielder Luis Garrido, will surely pay dividends both on and off the pitch.

I say off the pitch because the Texans have a very impressive club shop, with prices far more reasonable than their Windy City equivalents.

One expects a few Beasley shirts will be sold over the coming weeks. On this evidence, there aren’t many other names worth choosing from.

++You can read more about the Houston Dynamo on their website.

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Kenna gets ready for double figures

Every summer for the last decade a group of intrepids have gathered one evening in a London pub.

Bar, pavement, cigarettes.

An opening gambit familiar across the capital, but it’s what this particular party does next that were them apart.

Seated around hastily-shoved together snug furniture,

The ill-timed publication of this post has nothing whatsoever to do with red wine.

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Tactical Brambler completes world domination

Death Star

Death Star: Even with Alan Dzagoev the Testiculadew Land manager built an impenetrable team

WHEN the dust finally settles on a nail-biting Emerson World Cup in Brazil everyone will be asking themselves the same question: how can he be stopped?

Whether managing domestically in the Kenna League or at international tournaments, whether he’s present at the auction tactical Brambling or calling up remotely on WhatsApp in a tactical no show, even when he signs complete turkeys like Alan Dzagoev or Adel Taarabt, the manager in charge of the Testiculadew franchise cannot stop winning.

On Sunday evening a late goal from FadjeetaCabana‘s Mario Götze handed the Emerson World Cup to Testiculadew Land.

Until then a penalty shootout had looked likely. Up would have stepped Sergio Romero, in goal for second-placed Botafogo Pirates FC. Three penalty saves could have taken the booty to Somalia.

In the end the Testicualdew Land victory was inevitable. Daley Blind had already scored a goal in the third place play off, and a typically tight World Cup final played right into his hands.

Not even the abstract Emerson Unfair Play award was far away from the Testiculadew manager’s grasp. In theory his side could have picked up a red and yellow card in the final, lifted the inaugural award and still won the tournament.

As it is, Los Rojos almost lived up to their name with a single sending off for Claudio Marchisio and six cautions.

Burn out is a familiar phrase when talking of the international and domestic game. Managers have just 24 days to prepare for the 10th pre-season Kenna auction.

Can they raise their game to challenge the Tactical Brambler?

Emerson table – final standings

Emerson World Cup 2014 - final standings

Emerson World Cup 2014 – final standings

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Kroos to the heart

Toni Kroos

Rarely Kroos about it: The German midfielder is as technically brilliant as he appears to be modest

I THINK I’m in love with Toni Kroos.

The feeling first flickered on Tuesday evening, as Germany gave one of the most assured performances in World Cup history.

Before then I’d barley noticed this cog in the German machine. As so often happens at major tournaments the eyes of the beholder were drawn to a young pretender: the outstanding James Rodriguez.

The young Colombian was unbelievable in Brazil. Beating players, setting up and scoring goals with panache. The jaw-dropping chest, turn and volley versus Uruguay and the eye-contact penalty against Julio Cesar won James the admiration of the world.

If any parallels can be drawn between a multi-million dollar international football tournament in industrialised South America and a love story set in an early 19th Century rural community in Dorset, then it’s clear that Rodriguez assumed the role of the young, flash Sergeant Troy in Thomas Hardy’s pastoral masterpiece Far From The Madding Crowd.

Initially successful in wooing the much-sought-after Bathsheba Everdene, Troy didn’t last the distance, and from the fringes of consciousness the sturdy, honourable, hard-working shepherd Gabriel Oak figure of Kroos emerges to win the her heart.

For Kroos excels in attacking midfield. He moves the ball around with ease and picks out teammates with little difficulty, splitting the opposition in half with a subtle dink.

In between the battle cries of Thomas Müller and the all action swashbuckle of Bastian Schweinsteiger, the brilliance of Toni Kroos can be overlooked, and like Bathsheba rehiring Oak because he’s the only man who can cure her flock of sheep from bloat, I feel the fool for ignoring his talents for so long.

It wasn’t until this week’s semi finals, where the hubris of the tournament is stripped away to leave the most efficient and worthy teams – and sadly in this instance Brazil, Netherlands and Argentina – that one realises the person right in front of them all along is the true star. I felt a similar awakening four years ago when Diego Forlan scored a sublime long-range goal against the Dutch. While I was awaiting magic from household names, I suddenly realised Forlan had been doing this all along.

Kroos is not only an excellent player, he hasn’t succumbed to the celebrity of his peers. As others insert hair plugs or shave their squad number on the side of their head, Toni wears the quaff of a seven-year-old boy whose mum has just fiercely brushed it before the funeral of an elderly relative.

Even as one can imagine the rest of the German team whooping and hollering in the dressing room at half time in Belo Horizonte, of course before Jogi Löw slid in to cool enthusiasm, Toni would be quietly restoring his side parting, not out of vanity but because he wouldn’t want his family to get disapproving looks from neighbours.

At 24, Kroos can surely go on to be one the most enduring stars of world football and the most deserving lifter of the Jules Rimet on Sunday night. As an Englishman he makes me no longer feel ashamed of wanting to a replica Deutschland shirt to add to the collection of Italian club sides and Eastern European minnows.

There’s only one catch to this beautiful romance. It turns out Toni Kroos was signed at the Emerson World Cup fantasy football auction by the Testiculadew Land manager.

Going into the last two games of the tournament, the most controversial manager in 10 years of the Kenna League is nine points ahead of the pack on 179. With Kroos, Leo Messi and Daley Blind he’ll take some beating.

In second place with 170 points, Botafogo Pirates FC will rely on David Luiz, Jerome Boateng and Sergio Romero.

In third, Fat Ladies could add to their 169 points with performances from Thomas Müller, Martin Demichelis, Wesley Sneijder and, ahem, Fred.

In a cruel paradox for the rest if the league, T-Land are also a red and yellow card away from picking up the Emerson Unfair Play award.

Added to his Kenna league and cup double last season, the manager would enjoy the most successful year of any since the league was founded in 2005, taking the mantle from the chairman’s domestic double and Dr Khumalo World Cup in 2010.

But I’m not bitter. I just hope Toni Kroos is happy.

Emerson table

Emerson World Cup table - 10 July 2014

Emerson World Cup table – 10 July 2014

Emerson Unfair Play table

Emerson Unfair Play table - 10 July 2014

Emerson Unfair Play table – 10 July 2014

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Best and worst team of the World Cup

James Rodriguez grasshopper

James Rodriguez: No flies on the Botafogo Pirates FC playmaker, just a massive grasshopper

BOTAFOGO Pirates FC pillaged their way to the top of the Emerson World Cup over the quarter final weekend, and with two of the tournament’s standout players it’s not hard to see why.

Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez and Uruguay defender Diego Godin walked into the Emerson Team of the Tournament so far, made up of one player from each country to be signed at the auction last month.

Rodirguez looks a snip at £17m for his 50 points, but it’s not all been plain sailing for his Somali manager – he also has three players in the worst team of the Emerson.

Quite how Botafogo Pirates FC find themselves top of the table with Xavi, Loic Remy and Samuel Inkoom, who have scored three points between them, remains a mystery.

At £10m for his two points, Xavi is almost the worst signing of the auction, yet the Pirates stand seven points clear at the top, largely due to their two stars. The manager will look to the trio of Jerome Boateng, David Luiz and Sergio Romero to carry his side over the line.

Many fingers will point when it comes to worst signing of the auction, but the Horn of Africa really should have sounded loudest for two players.

The first is Fabio Contreao of Kappa Wearers FC. For his £10m the manager didn’t even get an appearance. Pepe ended on nil points too, but at least he picked up a red card.

The second is Lokomotiv Leeds £10m gloveman Vorm, who after Saturday night’s penalty drama appears to be the only Dutch goalkeeper who isn’t part of Louis van Gaal’s plans.

Only four games remain of this scintillating World Cup. Will Testiculadew Land’s Leo Messi, Toni Kroos and Daley Blind close the eight-point gap on the Pirates? Have Fred, Wesley Sneijder, Martin Demichelis and Thomas Muller got at least seven points in the tank to take top spot? Who will win the Emerson Unfair Play award?

Look out after the semi finals for the next thrilling instalment.*

*may not be thrilling

Emerson Team of the Tournament

  • Total points: 306
  • Team value: £155.5m

GK – Hugo Lloris (FRA), Sporting Lesbian, £0.5m – 21 points

DF - Diego Godin (URU), Botafogo Pirates FC, £11m – 13 points

DF – Rafa Marquez (MEX), Los Rojos, £0.5m – 21 points

DF – Jan Vertonghen (BEL), The Man From Piedmonte, £10m – 19 points

DF - Gary Medel (CHI), Fat Ladies, £0.5m – 11 points

MF – Arjen Robben (NED), Los Rojos, £29m – 39 points

MF – Thomas Muller (GER), Fat Ladies, £27m – 36 points

MF – James Rodriguez (COL), Botafogo Pirates FC, £17m – 50 points

MF – Xhedran Shaqiri (SUI), FadjeetaCabana, £2m – 23 points

ST – Neymar (BRA), Copa Lallana, £8m – 37 points

ST – Messi (ARG), Testiculadew Land, £50m – 36 points

Worst Team of the Emerson

  • Total points: 7
  • Total value: £46.5m

GK – Michele Vorm (NED), Lokomotiv Leeds, £10m – n/a

DF – Fabio Contreao (POR), Kappa Wearers FC, £10m – n/a

DF – Laurent Ciman (BEL), Copa Lallana, £3.5m – n/a

DF – Inkoom (GHA), Botafogo Pirates FC, £1m – n/a

DF – Azpilicueta (SPA), Young Brazilian Boys, £0.5m – minus 1 point

MF – The Ox (ENG), Fat Ladies, £0.5m – n/a

MF – Willian (BRA), Bauru XI, £8m – 1 point

MF – Antonio Valencia (ECU), The Man From Piedmonte, £0.5m – 2 points

MF – Xavi (SPA), Botafogo Pirates FC, £10m – 2 points

ST – Loic Remy (FRA), Botafogo Pirates FC, £7m – 1 points

ST – Hugo Almeida (POR), Ophelia Hunt FC, £5m – 2 points

Emerson table

Emerson table - 7 July 2014

Emerson table – 7 July 2014

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Welsh waffle

Young Brazilian Boys manager

Massive Bel: The Kenna League’s most ardent Welshman is now claiming to be Belgian

FOOTBALL World Cups must put unnecessary strain on a Welshman.

Having not appeared in the tournament since 1958, and only then because the Suez crisis had made a farce of qualification, the Dragons have spent the last 56 years in the wilderness. Little wonder they’re always banging on about rugby.

For this summer’s event in Brazil, the closest a Welsh footballer has come to participating is either wearing an Alice band for the commercial breaks in ITV coverage or as a pundit whose CV is laughable compared to his colleagues on the BBC sofa.

Even the traditional schadenfreude of watching their enemy over the dyke lament the state of the English national side has been dampened by a universal lowering of expectations in the Three Lions.

And how confounding must it be for the rest of the world to ask why the future Prince of Wales is president of the English Football Association?

All of which should go some way to explaining the ever more erratic behaviour of the Young Brazilian Boys manager.

All his life a proud son of St David, the Welshman first began to show signs of mental fragility on the opening day of the competition. He turned up to the Emerson World Cup fantasy football auction three hours late wearing a replica Belgium shirt and made wild assertions about his nationality, like Tin Tin putting on a Welsh accent and telling Captain Haddock he did know the difference between an AC Cobra and a two tone BMW 525.

It was a matter of minutes before the Young Boys manager lost the power of addition, overspent his budget and forfeit his £75m Brazilian striker Neymar, becoming the biggest single victim of the Titus Bramble ruling ever recorded.

The next indication of the manager’s failing faculties happened a few days later. Under continued questioning on social media over his phoney Belgian credentials, the wayward Welshman set out to prove his place of birth was Brussels – previously his second favourite vegetable after leeks.

Paying little to no attention to the threat of identity theft, he tweeted an inconclusive photo of his passport to the world. Several individuals with supporting paperwork claiming to be the Young Boys manager have approached Emerson organisers since. The Belgian embassy have washed their hands of the affair.

By Wednesday it was clear the Welshman’s sanity was hanging by a thread. The manager published a pseudo-paramilitary photo on his Facebook page of himself in the same Belgium shirt he wore at the auction (has he taken it off in two weeks?), a flag, face paint, fag end jammed in his mouth, wearing pharmacy bargain bin sunglasses and a beret.

Metropolitan Police have increased security at local schools.

After the last 16 round of matches in the Emerson World Cup, only a few points separate the top few teams. It comes as little surprise that the Young Boys manager is nowhere among them.

Download the latest Emerson World Cup team points and tables from The Rub

Emerson table – post round of last 16

Emerson table - 2 July 2014

Emerson table – 2 July 2014

 

 

 

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Suarez gets early auction bid

Luis Suarez Jim'll Paint It

The Thriller: Luis Suarez can’t avoid the spotlight for long, but may want to avoid sunlight (photo: Jim’ll Paint It)

A SHOCK bid of £1m has already been tendered for Luis Suarez ahead of next season’s Kenna League, despite the striker being banned from football for four months.

The chairman submitted the offer earlier today, convinced the Uruguayan would return to be top scorer next season. Fifa discounted the bid as ‘football related activity’ after a surprise inspection at Kenna HQ.

“We’ve learned from past World Cups that any Premier League player who emerges as the villain goes on to have an incredible season following the tournament. You just know with Suarez that he’ll come back from the ban all guns blazing,” said the chairman.

There is a modicum of evidence backing up the chairman’s wild claim. In the summer of 2006, Cristiano Ronaldo emerged from the World Cup branded ‘The Winker’ and proved so unpopular with Kenna managers he went for a snip at auction – just £22m.

Ronaldo went on to be top points scorer and helped FC Gun Show take their first Kenna title.

Aficionados will also remember Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, who had so dramatically failed to ‘dovetail’ at that same tournament, were the second and third top scoring players that same season. It’s unlikely this fact will have any impact on the value of James Milner come August.

Back at the top of the game, Luis Suarez may have hogged the headlines in Brazil, but in the Emerson World Cup another controversial figure is stealing the show.

Not content with sparking the ‘tactical no show’ scandal of the auction two weeks ago, the Testiculadew Land manager shot to the top of the table on goal difference today after another assured performance from striker Leo Messi.

“He’s bloody top!” exclaimed the chairman, who was being unusually loquacious today. “This begs belief. He used to have to turn up to auctions to hand the rest the league their behinds on the pitch, but now he can do it remotely. No manager is safe while he’s around.”

Testiculadew Land share the same points total as FadjeetaCabana, whose midfielder Xhedran Shaqiri scored a hat-trick last night.

Previous leaders Fat Ladies drop to third place. The chairman’s side Copa Lallana were shuffled down to fourth.

Lokomotiv Leeds maintained seventh place, but with a strike partnership of Suarez and Gervinho an Emerson World Cup challenge looks all but over for them.

Points scoring is expected to slow down considerably once the final group games have finished tonight and many players return home.

Points and goals team by team available from The Rub.

Emerson table

Emerson table - 26 June 2014

Emerson table – 26 June 2014

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Controversial manager fights ‘tactical no show’ allegations

Emerson auction

Intensity: The climate of the Emerson World Cup auction has been compared to a World Cup clincher in Manuas

FRESH controversy over suspicious auction tactics has overshadowed the opening 10 days of an otherwise thrilling Emerson World Cup.

Flouting a widely-advertised ban on bidding in absentia, the Testiculadew Land manager – who finds his side in third place going into the final group games today – claimed to have been delayed on his way to the auction a week last Thursday.

In their munificence, Emerson World Cup organisers allowed Testiculadew Land to begin buying a side using cross-platform mobile messaging smartphone app Whatsapp on the assumption the manager would eventually turn up to complete his business.

The manager did not show up. The other 17 managers endured the pressure-cooker auction night atmosphere to buy 11 players, desperately scrabbling through the haze of Continental lager and gastro pub burgers to fill their teams at closing time.

All the while, the Testiculadew Land spent most of his budget on five players, and outside of the bedlam coolly selected the remaining players, emailing them to organisers afterwards.

The T-Land manager, who discovered the pernicious practice of tactical Brambling at the Olisadebe Euros auction two years ago, maintains his inability to attend the evening was for an innocent reason and that it gave him a disadvantage.

Emerson organisers aren’t so sure, and have hinted at wholesale changes to the practice of ‘filling up’ up teams once the auction has closed.

“If it was anyone else, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but this particular manager has more form than a Michaelangelo exhibition,” quipped the chairman this morning at a press conference in the saloon bar of the King’s Arms in Waterloo.

“There is a clear advantage to spending the lion’s share of the budget on five or six top quality players, knowing that – particularly in a World Cup with so many teams – there are plenty of players still out there.

“We’ve been in locked in the Kenna HQ situation room with the chaps from charts and graphs. In future any gaps in teams will be filled at random by some clever piece of spreadsheet jiggerypokery.”

In the Emerson itself, Fat Ladies top the table going into the final round of group games.

A hat-trick from Thomas Muller and a goal from Nani put Fat Ladies – whose manager made his first appearance at an auction since August 2009 – top, above a strong showing from Los Rojos.

Unlike his national side, the Spanish manager’s outfit started strongly, with three goals from Arjen Robben, one from Claudio Marchisio and one from Daniel Sturridge, although one of those sources will dry up very soon.

Down in the ‘England Basement’, Rio De Je Don’t Know bring up the rear. The manager will be hoping Hulk and Jelavic can conjure his team’s first goals on the tournament later this evening, but he’s probably not holding his breath.

Christopher Samba School, The Man From Piedmonte and Ophelia Hunt FC have also all failed to register a goal between them.

Leading the scoring charts with six goals are the chairman’s side Copa Lallana. The chairman now regrets abolishing the golden boot cash prize in favour of the Emerson Unfair Play award.

Full points and table available here

Emerson table

Emerson World Cup table - 23 June 2014

Emerson World Cup table – 23 June 2014

 

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Los Rojos

Manager: Jorge

Nationality: Spanish

International honours: none

Akinfeev, I – RUS – GK  £0.50 
Alves, D – BRA – DEF  £21.00 
Pique, G – ESP – DEF  £1.00 
Marquez, R – MEX – DEF  £0.50 
Uchida, A – JPN – DEF  £0.50 
Rakitic, I – CRO – MID  £18.00 
Robben, A – NED – MID  £29.00 
Witsel, A – BEL – MID  £1.00 
Marchisio, C – ITA – MID  £0.50 
Drogba, D – CIV – STR  £8.00 
Sturridge, D – ENG – STR  £7.00 
   £87.00 
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Testiculadew Land

Manager: James N

Nationality: English

International honours: none

Courtois, T – BEL – GK  £12.00 
Torosidis, V – GRE – DEF  £0.50 
Spahic, E – BIH – DEF  £0.50 
Blind, D – NED – DEF  £0.50 
Schar, F - SUI – DEF  £0.50 
Kroos, T – GER – MID  £0.50 
Dzagoev, A – RUS – MID  £0.50 
Barkley, R - ENG – MID  £0.50 
Honda, K - JAP – MID  £0.50 
Messi, L – ARG – STR  £50.00 
Balotelli, M – ITA – STR  £17.00 
 £83.00 
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