USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier most watched ever


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.

Indiana sports park set to be biggest in nation

Indiana Soccer yesterday announced that Grand Park, which it believes will be the “biggest sports park in the nation,” will be ready in 2014.

Following the hosting by the state in Indianapolis of its first-ever MLS SuperDraft, and the announcement last week of a North American Soccer League (NASL) franchise for the city,  Hamilton County Sports Authority continued the buzz with an update on a new $45 million 360-acre sports complex in Westfield.

To be called Grand Park, it will contain 31 soccer fields and 26 diamonds for both baseball and softball. There will also be two indoor facilities which will accommodate year-round play for a variety of sports.

The new complex will also house Indiana Soccer’s headquarters and its executive director, Dave Guthrie, said the complex will be a perfect location to cultivate the state’s talent.

“This complex will attract some of the premier national and international tournaments and players from around the globe,” he said.

The project is being led by the City of Westfield, which is paying for the development with tax increment financing-generated bonds.

However, Mayor Andy Cook said the project would not be possible without the participation of the private sector, which will manage and operate the complex.

Planners recently notified construction companies they are seeking bidders to install synthetic turf on seven of the 31 soccer fields. Bids will be opened next Tuesday (Jan. 29).


The Grand Park masterplan

Pro soccer for Indianapolis

Indianapolis received good news ahead of hosting tomorrow’s MLS SuperDraft when the North American Soccer League (NASL) announced it as the latest city to be awarded an expansion franchise.

The as-yet unnamed team will becomes the 12th member of the league when it starts play in 2014.

Other NASL teams include defending champion Tampa Bay Rowdies, the Atlanta Silverbacks, San Antonio Scorpions and New York Cosmos.

The club will play its home games at Michael Carroll Stadium, which is located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), but its long-term goal is to construct a stadium in the downtown area.

The franchise is owned by president and chief executive officer of Keystone Construction Corporation, Ersal Ozdemir. He has led efforts along with Peter Wilt, a soccer consultant who will become the team’s president.

IndyProSoccer, the club’s website, is currently asking the public to help pick a name for the team. The name will be announced along with a head coach and player acquisitions in the coming months.

The NASL, which was founded in late 2009 and started play in 2011, has been sanctioned as a Division II professional league by the United States Soccer Federation, placing it just under Major League Soccer in the game’s U.S. hierarchy.  

Defending NASL champion Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Defending NASL champion Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Fern Creek diversity an ingredient for success

Fern Creek soccer

Fern Creek’s Sixth Region-winning squad comprised players from no fewer than 11 nations. Photo courtesy of Cody Oaks.

Below is unedited version of Fern Creek’s remarkable story, featured in Vype Magazine’s November edition.

They might be a diverse bunch with hand-me-down cleats and shorts, but that didn’t stop the players of Fern Creek Traditional High School achieving a fantastic feat on the soccer field this fall.

With a squad comprising members from no less than 11 countries, the multinational Tigers fought their way to the Sixth Region championship – their first ever – after winning the 24th District crown.

Fern Creek’s incredible run was eventually halted in the state tournament series matchup against North Hardin, ending a nine-game winning streak in a season which saw them post a 15-5-3 record.

First-year coach John Pedro’s varsity and junior varsity charges are a mix of players from Iraq, Kenya, Somalia, Bosnia, Mexico, Liberia, Guatemala, the Philippines, Spain, Nepal and the U.S. (including the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico).

“I’ve never coached a team this diverse in age or ethnicity,” says Pedro, who took over from three-year head coach Jamie Dumstorf. “At the beginning of the season, I really had to sit back, observe and understand the dichotomy of the situation and of the players.”

They had three weeks of grueling preseason training which allowed Pedro, ably aided by assistant Kelsey Krueger, to get to know the players and their mindset a little.

“Quickly, I began to understand that most of these kids live in less fortunate circumstances than your typical high school boy,” he says. “Most of these kids don’t have transportation, relying on TARC to get them to practice or home. Their cleats, shorts and clothes are in many cases hand-me-downs. On many occasions we have players borrow each other’s equipment for games and practice because they simply can’t afford new stuff. Some even wonder if they will be able to eat that day or not.”

Yet despite the obstacles, the players trained hard every day, never missing a session.

“Most these kids know the game,” says Pedro. “They watch it, talk about it, and live and breathe it. Having so many different backgrounds was challenging because they all play a little differently than each other and don’t always understand one another. However, soccer is a universal language I think.”

The hard work paid off and as they gelled, the results followed, being rewarded with a district title courtesy of victories against Bullitt East (5-1) and Whitefield Academy (2-1 in double overtime).

The following day, Pedro discovered how much of a unit they had become. He called an emergency practice, asking captains Greg Pineo and Abdikadir Hussein to round up as many troops as possible. Of the 15 that turned up, eight had no cleats and three trained in their school slacks. However, they all decided to train barefoot.

“The ones who were fortunate enough to bring theirs took them off so they could support the ones who didn’t,” he reveals. “At that point, I knew we were one.”

What followed were wins against Southern (4-1), Iroquois (1-0) and Fairdale (1-0) to give the Tigers first ever Region Six crown.

“It has been a terrific season for these kids and I am truly proud of them for their accomplishments,” says Pedro, who himself won a state championship with St Xavier as a goalkeeper in 1994.

The Tigers pictured celebrating their Kentucky Sixth Region success. Photo courtesy of Cody Oaks.

Junior Cody Oaks, who was chosen on this year’s All-District team and scored that overtime winner against Whitefield, jokes that it was hard at first for the team to unify because when players got frustrated they started to argue in different languages.

“Even though our backgrounds are all different, our goals are all the same,” he says. “We all like to possess the ball and pass it and win, which helped out a lot too.”

Oaks, a member of United 1996 Internationals ’96 team with fellow Creeker Feryad Mezori, says there is no one player on the team that would be considered the star.

“We are brothers — we work hard and play hard,” he says. “Our future is bright since we are losing only two starting seniors and we have a lot of promising young players. I’m looking forward to next year and know we will once again be playing for the state championship.”

Goals, Championships and Fatheads …

Below are the Indiana high school players interviewed for this month’s Vype High School Magazine’s feature for seniors’ soccer memories. You can view the digital issue, which includes a comprehensive list of all graduating players, at:


Some high school soccer players will carry on their careers on the field into college, while for others it will be their last competitive involvement in the sport.

But they all have something in common:  unforgettable memories.

Whether it was winning a postseason championship, simply getting to play and travel with schoolmates, or being moved by the sideline support, all have a moment or two they will carry with them forever.

Take, for example, Assumption’s Brandy Orth Becker from New Albany. The senior striker may have scored two crucial goals in the Rockets’ 3-1 victory over Sacred Heart on their way to winning the Kentucky girls’ Seventh Region championship, but her best high school memory involves what was happening off the field.

“Just before the whistle blew to start the game, something got my attention in the stands,” she explains.  “Our parents had secretly made ‘Fatheads’ of each of us. It was hard being nervous when I kept seeing an enormous photo of my head floating in the stands. It reminded me that not only do we play for our team and our school, but also for our number one fans — our parents.”

Brandy Orth Becker: Fathead memories

Leah Mattingly, a Ball State University commitment, has participated in two Indiana Class A state championship games for Providence, both against Mishawaka Marian.

Winning last year’s game against the Knights in a penalty shootout as a junior was obviously a top memory, as was beating Christian Academy of Louisville with just one second left on the clock last year. But one moment that sticks out in particular was her part in the Pioneers’ victory over Floyd Central in double overtime in sectional in 2010.

“I made a run the length of the field and made to pass to Casey Marlin at the top of the box for the score,” she says.

It was a good year for Providence as a school on the soccer field as its boys’ program reached the final four of the Indiana Class A state tournament for the first time.

Top scorer Pierce Crawley, who will be heading to Bellarmine University next year, says his freshman year was very special to him because he was on the varsity team with his brother, Zev.  However, this year was his top memory.

“We were unranked and no one gave us a chance of beating  No. 4 Evansville Mater Dei – our soccer team made history,” he says.

Jeffersonville’s Jordan Vejar, alsobound for Bellarmine next year,says he has two memorable moments. The first one came during the 2010 Indiana regional semifinal victory over New Albany when he dribbled from midfield to score a fine individual effort.

“The best part was hearing the crowd gradually get louder and louder as I got closer to the goal,” he says.

The second came after the final buzzer of their 1-0 win against Jasper before going on to win the sectional title this fall.

“The only bit of energy I had left was to fall over and throw my arms up in the pouring rain,” he says. “That was the most collective and unified game I’ve ever played with a team and we won it because it was a family playing as a team and not just a team trying to best another team.”

Jeffersonville’s Leonard Kwitonda, Skyler Davis, Brian Fischer and Jordan Vejar

Jeff teammate Brian Fischer, who will be heading for University of Southern Indiana next fall, says breaking his ankle during his freshman year probably isn’t his favorite memory, but an enduring one which had a deep effect on his character.

“Although I was out of commission for several months, it did make me realize how good I had it,” he says.

He went from breaking bones to breaking records, as the following season he claimed the school record for most goals in a season with 22, on the way to winning regional, which was “something special.”

This year saw New Albany High School win its first ever IHSAA girls’ sectional title, when beating Jasper 1-0 in the championship decider.

Tanner Marcum scored the winner in that game, but her most memorable moment came in the semifinal game when she scored the deciding kick in a penalty shootout against rival Floyd Central.

“I was very nervous as I was the last one taking a kick but I made it,” says Marcum. “It was such a euphoric feeling that I had never felt before.”

Dogs finally have their day


New Albany captain Phoebe Bauer (left) and goalscorer Tanner Marcum celebrate the Bulldogs 1-0 sectional victory over Jasper today.

New Albany girls won their first ever IHSAA sectional title today when beating Jasper 1-0 at Floyd Central.

Senior Tanner Marcum scored the decisive goal with a fine individual effort six minutes into the second half, rocketing the ball home with her right foot from about 25 yards.

The Lady Bulldogs had several chances to kill the game off but were denied by Jasper’s stout defense, while the Wildcats were reduced to just a couple of half chances by an equally  impressive New Albany back four.

They will now take on Evansville Memorial in regionals at Jasper on Wednesday (Oct 10) at 7pm.

Meanwhile,  Jeffersonville took the Class 2A Sectional boys’ title against Corydon with a 4-1 victory. Goals were scored by Jordan Vejar (2), Isaiah Salazar and Leonard Kwitonda. The Red Devils will play Evansville North in the Washington Regional on Thursday, with the winner taking on Evansville Memorial or Vincennes on Saturday.

Providence reversed last year’s Sectional Class A defeat with a 2-1 win over Christian Academy of Indiana. They will now face Salem in the  Switzerland County Regional semifinal on Thursday (5 p.m.)

Last year’s girls’ Class A state champions Providence hammered Switzerland County 10-0  to progress to its own Regional Championship, where they will once again take on Heritage Hills, who beat Forest Park 3-2 in overtime.

Zidane headbutt captured in statue form

The infamous moment when French star Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final has been given the statue treatment by Algerian-born artist Adel Abdessemed and stands in front of the Centre Pompidou modern art museum in Paris (above).

I wonder will there be a follow-up statue to capture Materazzi going on his backside, a la below.

Indiana soccer state pairings announced

A record-high number of teams will participate in the 19th Annual IHSAA Soccer State Tournaments, the parings for which were revealed today.

A total of 298 boys’ and 258 girls’ teams have been entered for postseason play, which kicks off with sectionals on Monday, Oct. 1. The state championship matches will be held at a new venue, IUPUI in Indianapolis, on Saturday, Oct. 27.

In Class 2A boys, top-ranked Carmel will open against host Lebanon in Sectional 17, while defending state champs Crown Point (ranked No. 10) will meet Sectional 4 host Merrillville in its first match.

Class A defending champ and No. 5 Fort Wayne Canterbury will play host to Manchester in Sectional 40, while No. 1-ranked Guerin Catholic will host University in Sectional 47.

On the girls’ side, Class 2A defending champs and No. 1- ranked Carmel will face a test from the off against No. 10 Westfield in Sectional 17.

Providence will begin its defense of last year’s Class A state championship against Southwestern (Hanover) in Sectional 45 at Switzerland County, while top-ranked Lawrenceburg will begin its postseason at home against Union County in the Sectional 44 opener.

Click here for comprehensive list of pairings

Hillsborough Report released

Here is the Hillsborough Report released today, which provides justice for the 96 supporters killed at the FA Cup semifinal game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989. Read it and try – very hard – not to get extremely angry with authority.Image

Brandy’s Assumption Rockets zoom to Eagle tourney win

Brandy Orth Becker

Brandy Orth Becker: excited.

New Albany’s Brandy Orth Becker played an instrumental part in Louisville Assumption High School’s impressive performance at the Zionsville Lady Eagle Invitational in Indiana over the weekend.

The tournament is widely considered one of the best around for high school girls and this year it included 23 teams for Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Maryland.

The Rockets from Louisville defeated three Indiana teams – West Lafayette (3-1), Roncalli (1-0) and McCutcheon (4-0) – to come away with the championship trophy in the Boone County Division.

“The Zionsville tournament was amazing,” said starting forward Orth Becker. “The talent this tournament brings always means great competition.”

She added she is “so excited” about this season, one which currently sees Assumption  ranked No. 2 in Kentucky behind last year’s state champion Notre Dame Academy.

“This is the year for the Rockets,” she said. “We came out with the goal to be our best. Our coaches Kenyon Meyer and Ollie Barber have taught us to ‘eat the elephant one bite at a time,’ or, take one game at a time.  We’re all of course looking down the road to a championship, but we know we can only get there one victory at a time.”

Since their 3-1 victory over local rival Sacred Heart in the Jenna Cooper Memorial Cleat Cup on August 26, the Rockets have won five games on the trot, including a 4-2 victory over another Louisville powerhouse, DuPont Manual, last night.

“The Cleat Cup game against Sacred Heart was especially an important victory,” said Orth Becker. “With 10 seniors on our team, we definitely wanted to keep the trophy this year.”