Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More about soccer and rugby

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

Most soccer federations have a cup competition in which any registered team can compete. The FA Cup in England is doubtless the most famous of these tourneys, but there is a similar competition in the US that gets much less publicity. Known as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, it features teams from the top 5 levels of American soccer, which includes the PDL. Although the MLS teams don't enter the competition until the 3rd round, they are not drawn against each other, which means each MLS team plays a lower-division side, usually from the USL. But last night, the Ocean City Barons, a PDL team that plays Ottawa on occasion, took on DC United, one of the top teams in MLS. Ocean City lost 2-0, which is still a good showing for an amateur team.

On a frustrating note, there was a game between USL2 side Harrisburg City and the New England Revolution taking place in New Britain, CT. I was planning to be in nearby Pawtucket, and would have travelled to see this game instead had my car not broken down yesterday. Harrisburg took the game to extra time and scored the winner in the 104th minute to upset the Revolution.

In fact, out of the 5 games last night featuring a side from the USL against one from MLS, 4 USL teams won - only Minnesota lost to Kansas City on penalties after a 3-3 tie. I'm not sure if the MLS teams were using their second-stringers, but still it's speaks well of the USL that their teams can compete with those in the MLS, and their progress should generate interest in those markets. But I wonder how much coverage this series of upsets will get in the mainstream sports media.

I really like that teams from different leagues can play each other - I'd love to see AHL and ECHL teams take on NHL teams in some sort of cup competition, but of course this would never happen - the additional travel, difficult of getting arena space on short notice, and potential injury to players stops this idea from going anywhere.

US vs Canada in Rugby

Another great sport that is hardly covered in North America is rugby. This will change this weekend, when the US takes on Canada in a World Cup Qualifying match that will be telecast on ESPN. It's July 4th, so most people will be out enjoying their BBQ, but it's a start. USA Today had a front page story in their sports section, so let's see what happens with ratings. And let's hope the World Cup gets some coverage in 2011.

A Great Site for Live Scores

I've been looking for a site that shows world wide scores for the most popular sports at a glance. I think that I may have found one at Flash Score, which includes smaller leagues such as the Canadian Soccer League, and also lists both Japanese and MLB scores on the same page. As a European-based service, Flash Score defaults to Central European Time, but you can change to your own time zone. The soccer scores have sounds when goals are scored or the game ends, which lets you know when something happens. With hockey, basketball, rugby, and tennis also available, you can get nearly all your worldwide scores with a click from one site. Once football and cricket are added, this site will allow you to keep up-to-date all the time, so add it to your bookmarks now.

What'd I Miss?

I also thought I'd follow online the Syracuse-Pawtucket game that I was planning to attend. It looked like a dull game with Syracuse leading 8-0, but then I realized that Chiefs' starter Marco Estrada had a perfect game through 5! Oh no, would I miss a rare minor league no-hitter?! Nope, in the bottom of the 6th, Gil Velazquez hit an infield single for the PawSox to break up the no-no, and Syracuse went on to win 12-0, with that single being the only hit for Pawtucket (although Estrada was replaced after 7 innings). So I didn't miss much after all.

Tonight I hope to catch the game in Norwich but it all depends on the car - I'll let you know later.



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