Cards on the double at new stadium

Lynn stadium 1A reported crowd of 7,047 showed up to witness a dream start for both University of Louisville men’s and women’s soccer programs at the spanking new $18.5 million Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium on Friday evening.

Fans were treated to a high level of soccer, fireworks and music aplenty on an entertaining and balmy evening, one which saw temperatures in the 80s.

The natural turf field, across the road from the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium,  is surrounded by chairback seating for 2,300 in the main grandstand, bleacher seating for 900 in the east-end zone, and two berms which can accommodate 2,100. (Yes, after getting out the rusty calculator, I wondered how there were over 7,000 too!)

Add to this wonderful attraction the additional pulling power of a 15,500-square-foot training center – not to mention separate team locker rooms and lounge areas for the men and women – and it’s almost odds-on that both programs will get even stronger in the coming years.

The women’s team was up first and battled to a 1-0 victory over Ole Miss. That lone goal – the first at the new stadium – was scored by freshman Chatham DeProspo about eight yards out to the left of goal after 56.06. Sending in the cross was sophomore Kari Weinland.

Following the introduction to the crowd of benefactors Dr Mark and Cindy Lynn,  a rendition of the national anthem by the college marching band and the unfurling of one very large American flag in the middle of the pitch, the men’s team – ranked No. 14 in the NCSAA soccer coaches’ preseason poll – took to the field in a new-look claret and blue outfit against the traditionally black Maryland, ranked a lofty No. 2.

A quiet enough first half, in which Maryland held the upper hand, preceded a better second period which saw sophomore midfielder Andrew Brody head home in the 54th minute after he met a well-placed cross from the right by junior forward Ricardo Velazco.

Despite the Terrapins outshooting Louisville 10-7, and having a 5-0 corner-kick advantage (the last of which in the 87th minute almost saw Maryland tie the game), the Cards held on for a memorable win.

It was coach Ken Lolla’s 100th victory at Louisville (his record thus far is 100-47-23) in what is his ninth season at the helm.

My only real crib is current ticket pricing, which is $9 for general admission, and $12 for reserved chairback seats ($5 for youths for either). If you want to make comparisons to other Division 1 soccer programs, it’s $5 general admission to both Indiana and Kentucky games ($3 for youths at Indiana; $2 at Kentucky).

It will be up to the casual soccer fan to decide whether watching the Cards at the new facility is worth shelling out that much on a regular basis.

High school soccer previews are out!

Cole RaglandCAI-LuisArrendondoJHS

If anyone missed them, here are the boys’ and girls’ high school soccer previews featured in The Evening News And Tribune. Pictured above is Christian Academy of Indiana’s Cole Ragland (5), who scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Providence on Monday. The Warriors are likely to be one of the teams Providence will have to overcome postseason if they hope to repeat their achievement of reaching the Indiana Class A state final last season.

 

Midwest Region champs crowned

The 2014 US Youth Soccer Region II (Midwest) Championships saw 14 winners crowned Wednesday in the U13 through U19 age groups.

The winners will join the 40 National League qualifying teams and the champions from Region I (East), Region III (South), and Region IV (West) tournaments for the National Championships in Germantown, Md. from July 22-27.

The lone finalist representing Kentucky or Indiana was Lexington FC’s ’97 White boys’ team, which contested the the U-17 Boys championship against Chicago Fire. The Bluegrass outfit lost out by a single goal, scored in the 44th minute by Cobi Illian. Fire’s defense remained sturdy for the remainder of the match for the win.

Illinois and Michigan each provided five championship teams, Ohio North was represented by two winners, and Kansas and Missouri each had one champion.

The US Youth Soccer National Championship Series is the country’s oldest and most prestigious national youth soccer tournament, providing approximately 185,000 players on more than 10,000 teams from US Youth Soccer’s 55 State Associations

2014 US Youth Soccer Region II (Midwest) Champions:

U-13 Girls Michigan Hawks 01 (MI)
U-13 Boys WAZA FC 01 Juniors (MI)
U-14 Girls Cleveland FC (OH-N)
U-14 Boys Sporting KC Academy (KS)
U-15 Girls Alliance Academy 99 Black (MI)
U-15 Boys Michigan Wolves 99 (MI)
U-16 Girls FC United Select (IL)
U-16 Boys Chicago Magic Preacademy (IL)
U-17 Girls NSA Jaguars (IL)
# KC Metro Dynamos (KS)
U-17 Boys Chicago Fire Youth Soccer Club (IL)
U-18 Girls Cleveland United White (OH-N)
#Gretna Prima 95/96 Green (NE)
U-18 Boys Waza FC East 96 Jrs. (MI)
U-19 Girls Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo (IL)
U-19 Boys Raytown SC BGFC 94/95 (MO)

Advances to National Championships as Region II representative. U17 NSA Jaguars and U15 Cleveland United White to represent National League.

 

Derby City Rovers gain first win

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Rover Kaelon Fox soars to win a header on a corner kick against West Virginia Kings Warriors.

Derby City Rovers notched their first USL Premier Development League win of the season with victory over South West Virginia Kings Warriors 3-0 last Thursday.

Alejandro Garcia, who will be playing at the University of Cincinnati next fall, scored a first half brace within the space of a minute, while Suleiman Thomas sealed the victory in the second half eight minutes from time.

Goalie Dalyan Hawes saved a 73rd minute penalty and made six saves in the game, including a couple of crucial ones.

The win gives Rovers (formerly River City Rovers) four points on the season (1-3-1) and a tie for fifth place in the division with Kings Warriors (1-2-1). They return to PDL action June 20 and 21 with back-to-back games against West Virginia Chaos. They make their home return June 26 against the same West Virginia team at  Woehrle Field ( 7:30 p.m).

 

 

Louisville City FC announced

Louisville City logoDetails of a new professional soccer team for Louisville was announced at Bats’ Slugger Field today.

Louisville City Football Club will play in the United Soccer Leagues PRO, the third tier of the American soccer pyramid, starting in March 2015.

It is affiliated with Orlando City Soccer Club, now a Major League Soccer franchise. A five-year deal has been signed that will see four Louisville players shared with Orlando.

The link comes in the form of Jeffersonville architect Wayne Estopinal, who is a minority owner in Orlando. He has been pushing to relocate that franchise’s USL Pro operation to Louisville since it was announced that Orlando were to be part of MLS.

Estopinal will be known to local soccer fans as the owner of Mockingbird Valley Soccer Club and former co-owner of Louisville Lightning, an indoor outfit founded in 2009 that played for three seasons. Orlando’s owner and president is Phil Rawlins, who was a director of  English Premier League’s Stoke City for 14 years.

In fact, there is quite a significant Stoke City connection as the Potters are Orlando City’s sister club, while Louisville City’s new coach will be Irishman James O’Connor, who played for Stoke City from 1998-2003.

The Dubliner was a player-assistant coach with Orlando but will retire from playing duties to concentrate on his new role.

Could this be the first step in an MLS franchise for Louisville?

“We have no idea whether or not that will happen here, but the more noise we make, the more seats we fill, and the more championships we win, we have a great chance at  looking at that,” Estopinal said at the announcement.

 

James_O'Connor

Irishman James O’Connor will be the coach of Louisville City, which will kick off in the USL PRO in 2015.USL PRO began its inaugural season in 2011  and is sanctioned as a Division III Professional League by the United States Soccer Federation, placing it under Major League Soccer (Division I) and the North American Soccer League (Division II) in the hierarchy.

Louisville’s logo (seen above) comprises a purple bourbon barrel placed behind a gold Fleur-de-lis.

It features 14 teams this year, with expansion franchises in Colorado Springs, Colorado, St Louis, Missouri and Tulsa, Oklahoma already announced.

Games will be played at Slugger Field and Louisville City has set ticket prices at $10 to $25 per game, with season tickets costing $240 to $420, based on an expected 15-game home schedule. Tickets are now on sale to the general public at LouisvilleCityFC.com.

Louisville’s logo (seen above) comprises a purple bourbon barrel placed behind a gold Fleur-de-lis.

IU’s Kapsalis tells story of achieving dream

If you’re told by a coach of a top soccer university outfit that you’re more than welcome to try out for them, but then warned pretty much not to hold your breath if you expect to ever play for said program, what do you do?

Well, if you’re Paul “Whitey” Kapsalis, you try out. And through amazing perseverance and no shortage of hard toil you overcome huge odds and a career-threatening injury to captain the team in your final year of college.

Kapsalis, along with the help of co-author Ted Gregory, tells of his quest to play for national champion Indiana University in the book, “To Chase a Dream” (Meyer & Meyer, 2014).

Originally from Michigan, Kapsalis moved with his family to Carmel, Indiana when he was a sophomore in high school. It was around To Chase a Dream coverthis time his dream to play for the Hoosiers developed, despite the fact that he had earned a partial scholarship to play at Michigan State.

“They won their national championship in 1982 and again in 1983. I was so mesmerized and just in awe of IU soccer,” he says. “My heart was in Bloomington.”

The  5’5”, 140-pound Kapsalis admits he wasn’t of the caliber required to play at IU. He was a walk-on considered too small to make the squad, much less see any playing time.

He scraped onto the Jerry Yeagley-coached squad in 1983, the 35th man on a 35-man roster.

He was a redshirt in his first year, and saw virtually no time in his second.

However, his unbowed determination to make the team is exemplified in a recount of the time when he broke a metatarsal in his right foot, an injury known as a Jones Fracture, which ruled him out of his entire third year.

It came just when he was showing great improvement in his game brought about by intensive training with his teammate and roommate, John “ Stolly” Stollmeyer.

Now, he was forced to use alternative training methods. While the team practiced next to Armstrong Stadium, he’d exercise – on his crutches.

“I’d jog – more like hobble-jump – on my crutches for two miles around the track,” he reveals. “Eight laps.”

Whatever observers thought of this particular sight, it paid off as he recoverd fully to be made a co-captain in his final year.

“In the end, the dream was better than what I thought it would be,” says Kapsalis.

The book contains many life lessons, but its real message is that if you have a dream, well, chase it.

“If you really believe in something, pursue it. Follow your heart. Do it with passion but without obsession. Be persistent and be patient,” he says.

“To Chase a Dream” is available at amazon.com.

Cards set for exciting times

These are exciting times for University of Louisville men’s soccer.

For the past three years, the Cards have reached the NCAA Elite Eight, including reaching the College Cup decider in 2010 when runner-up to Akron.

With deep postseason runs now becoming more a norm than a novelty, Ken Lolla’s charges are preparing to play their final campaign at Cardinal Park before moving to a brand new $18.5 million venue.

The Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium, to be located by Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, will have a capacity of 5,300. The Lynns contributed a lead gift of $5 million toward construction of the venue.

Artist's impression of Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium. Photo courtesy of University of Louisville.

Artist’s impression of Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium. Photo courtesy of University of Louisville.

The stadium will be ready just in time for Louisville’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“The intimacy of the facility will make it a unique and exciting atmosphere for our players and the fans,” said head coach Ken Lolla during a recent Twitter Q&A ahead of the new season.

But for now, attention is focused entirely on 2013, coach Lolla’s eighth at the Louisville helm, and the 10th-ranked Cardinals (NSCAA coaches poll) will feature no fewer than 17 newcomers, many of them transfers.

This Friday (August 30), the Cards will kick off the new campaign away to 25th-ranked Virginia (8 p.m. ET). It will be the first ever meeting between the teams.

Gone from the squad is MLS first-round draft pick Andrew Farrell, now with New England Revolution, but Lolla is excited by the talent he has at his disposal this fall. Among those expected to shine are sophomores Marlon Hairston, Zack Foxhoven and Ricardo Velazco, and freshman Andrew Brody.

“Velazco, Brody and Foxhoven will be very dynamic players to watch with the potential to have a significant impact,” said Lolla.

“We will miss Andrew Farrell yet we expect Daniel Keller and Jimmy Ockford to team up as a formidable force in our defense.”

The regular season will also see Louisville take on College Cup holders Indiana on the road and Connecticut at home, two games Lolla said he is “most anticipating.”

Live audio of Friday’s Virginia-Louisville matchup will be available through CardsTV at GoCards.com.

A Winter World Cup?

Fifa's Sepp Blatter (above) believes it would be mad to play a World Cup in the searing summer heat of Qatar.

Fifa’s Sepp Blatter (above) believes it would be mad to play a World Cup in the searing summer heat of Qatar.

Fifa is to discuss the possibility of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar being held in the winter.

Its executive committee will convene on October 3 and 4 to discuss an issue which is already attracting widespread criticism among Europe’s top leagues.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has questioned playing in the searing summer heat in Qatar when temperatures can reach 120 degrees fahrenheit.

“If this World Cup is to become a party for the people, you can’t play football in the summer,” said Blatter. “You can cool down the stadiums, but you can’t cool down the whole country.”

The English Premier League described the proposals as “neither workable nor desirable.” Such a move would cause major disruption to three seasons — the 2021/22 campaign and the ones either side. Lucrative broadcasting contracts would also be affected.

There was controversy in December 2010 after tiny oil-rich nation Qatar beat fellow finalists United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea to host the World Cup.

It will be the first time the world’s most widely viewed sporting event will be held in the Middle East.

Why Brazil won’t win the World Cup

As far as FIFA Confederations Cups go, this one was fairly eventful.

For a competition thought of as a bunch of international friendlies with a trophy handed out at the end of it, the Brazilian-hosted tournament threw up some watchable games and a final that most everyone wanted to see. Until we saw it, that is.

Brazil’s dismantling of Spain was so emphatic that the matchup was over as a contest by half-time. Be careful what you wish for.

While many are busying themselves dissecting the 2010 World Cup winners and Euro ’08 and ’12 champs’ performance – wondering if their reign as the world’s kings is over – there are others pronouncing Brazil as 2014 World Cup winners-in-waiting. Woahh there!

Here are five reasons why I believe Brazil will more than likely not be winning next year’s World Cup:

Brazil v Spain: Final - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Too convincing for their own good

Yes, sometimes you can look just too darn impressive for your own good.  On the field, and  from the get-go, everything turned out the way Seleção and its soccer-mad fans wanted it to. Better than expected.

And off it, you could argue that the anti-government protests caused by anger over the billions of public dollars being spent on next year’s World Cup versus the lack of investment in public services had a positive influence on Brazil’s on-field antics also.

The political waves of protest formed a bond between the team and the terraces,  driving the squad to a fourth Confederations Cup victory.

As we’ve all been reminded these past few days, Brazil won the 2009 and 2005 Confederations Cups, but got no further than the quarterfinals at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. In fact, they comprehensively overcame Argentina 4-1 in 2005’s final and went into the big dance as strong favorites.

With superlative achievement can come some unneeded added pressure—as if Brazil honestly need to pile on any more expectation to what has become a massive overflowing wheelbarrow of the stuff. Coming with it will be the examination and re-examination at great length by potential opposition.

2 Weaknesses will be exposed

For all the positives exhibited by Scolari’s men – the performances of Neymar, Paulinho and Fred were obvious highlights – there were just as many questions thrown up.

For example, what will happen in games that they happen to fall behind in – often seen as a true test of a team? The attacking prowess of the likes of Dani Alves and Marcelo can leave holes that will happily be exposed by the top nations. And despite David Luiz’s memorable goal-line clearance in the final, he has difficulty sometimes remaining focused and not being where he’s supposed to be.

3 Persistent fouling

If Brazil looked like they were doing a lot of fouling against Spain, it’s because they were. Officially, the foul tally was 26 to Brazil and 16 for Spain. And they were just the ones that were called.

There are times, of course, when it is quite useful to foul, particularly when breaking down potentially damaging counter attacks when a preceding attack goes awry.

However, the main perpetrators were Neymar and Oscar, and if you were to transpose such play to World Cup 2014, it could invite upon Seleção some serious problems, especially in the presence of a no-nonsense referee. (There will be a few of the aforementioned around next summer.) All it takes is a sending off or a penalty decision to cause the wheels to start falling off the yellow cart

4 The competitive edge (or lack of)

Brazil will not have another competitive fixture until the World Cup itself. It remains to be seen if this will affect the squad come big-game time, but you can’t help feeling that it will.

5 Because Zico said so 

ZicoWell, not strictly because Brazilian legend Zico said so. Let’s face it, he’s not exactly an expert in the art of winning World Cups, having never done so as a player himself.

But he does have a point about the Seleção’s current experience. “The Brazil team is still very young,” he told The Guardian. “A whole new generation came in at once. So now you get all the responsibility on a player like Neymar, who is only 21 and has never played in a World Cup before.”

While my crystal ball has been known to break down on occasion, it does foresee Brazil being a very strong contender at the 2018 World Cup in Russia once the current crop’s inexperience is overcome.

USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier most watched ever

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So how many was that again you said are watching?

Approximately 7.65 million people watched the USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, making it the most-viewed qualifying game in American soccer history.

ESPN announced that the game, which ended in a 0-0 draw at the Azteca, doubled the highest previous rating for a World Cup qualifier, registering a 1.4 rating (which translates to about 2.85 million viewers).

The previous record for a World Cup qualifier shown on an ESPN network was the 2009 matchup between the same countries, which drew a 0.7 rating (about 1,191,000 viewers).

Meanwhile, UniMas recorded an audience of 4.8 million for the Spanish-language broadcast in the United States – the highest ever recorded by the network for any broadcast.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s troops now stand in third place in the North, Central America and Caribbean hexagonal group with four points behind surprise early leaders Panama, who have five. Mexico lie in fifth place with three points.

Next up for the United States is an away tie to Jamaica on June 7.

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