Tag Archives: World Cup

A “cloudy” forecast in Qatar

You could almost mistaken the following for an April Fool’s joke but it is, we are told, not “pie-in-the-sky” by any means.

In fact, it’s a cloud in the sky – an expensive artificial one. It has just been revealed that Qatar is working on “clouds” to block the Middle Eastern sun at the 2022 World Cup.

With June and July temperatures in the Gulf state capable of reaching as much as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the Qataris have developed a number of innovations to keep players and spectators cool during matches.

One which scientists at Qatar University say they have come up with is a “cloud,” a lightweight carbon structure carrying a giant envelope of material containing helium gas. Four solar powered engines will move the structure via remote control.

Each of the clouds cost $500,000 to produce, although that’s chunk change for a wee nation that owns the third biggest reserves of gas on the planet.

A new idea? Fans of the Simpsons will remember the legendary two-part 1995 episode when nefarious power plant owner C. Montgomery Burns devised a plan to create a giant shield that would block the sun and keep Springfield in perpetual darkness.

With 11 years still to go before they host the big dance, it will be interesting to see what else the innovative and resourceful Qataris can come up with. Would you bet against them, for example, producing 11 artificial “players” good enough to win them the tournament?

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Top 10 Moments of 2010

Here are our some of our top moments of 2010 – some local, some not so, and in no particular order of preference. If you have anything to add that was memorable for you, please add. A very, merry Christmas to all, and have a kicking new year!

 

 
 
 
 

The goal that united a nation: Landon Donovan celebrates the injury time winner against Algeria.

The World Cup: As to be expected, there were many highlights within a rather large highlight as South Africa hosted the World Cup.  Spain emerged as winners for the first time in the nation’s history, after beating the Netherlands in a somewhat dour final. Top U.S. moment was Landon Donovan’s dramatic injury time winner against Algeria, which sent Bob Bradley’s men through to the last 16, where they lost to Ghana in overtime. Another star to make the headlines was Paul the oracle octopus, who predicted correctly all of Germany’s seven encounters and the final itself. Alas, Paul departed for the great sea in the sky after he died in October.

 

Two class soccer: The moment that the IHSAA announced in May that high school boys’ and girls soccer would be divided into two classes come the fall of 2011 was the moment that certain smaller schools started dreaming of long post season tournament runs and maybe even a state title. The cut off point for the revamped tournaments – to be based on school enrollment – will be known in the spring following the next classification realignment.

Casey Marlin (center) scores against Floyd Central. Photo by Ronda Trimbe.

OT Pioneer winner: Providence’s overtime clincher against the Highlanders in the sectional semi-final is so far one of the best goals I’ve seen since covering local girls’ high school soccer. It was rather apt that it was superbly finished off by Casey Marlin, who broke all manner of records in her junior year (top all-time Providence scorer at 59; most goals in a season with 29), but it was the searing 60 plus yard run by defender Leah Mattingly, leaving a number of Floyd Central players in her wake, and her delivery to Marlin, that made the goal special. Providence went on to win sectional and bowed out at regional to eventual state finalist Columbus North, coached by Jeffersonville’s Mike Spock.

 

Save clinches regional for Jeff: Jeffersonville goalkeeper Cauldon Feldhaus dove to his left to stop Cameron Hensley’s shot, giving the Red Devils a 5-3 penalty kick victory over Trinity Lutheran for the team’s third regional championship, and first since 2005. “To be honest, I totally guessed,” said Feldhaus. The Red Devils (18-2) lost to Washington at semi-state.

 

School shocks in Louisville: Soccer powerhouses St Xavier and Sacred Heart, both winners of boys’ and girls’ Kentucky state titles respectively for the past three years, crashed out of their respective tournaments on the very same night. Minnows Louisville Collegiate tamed the Tigers, while DuPont Manual overcame the Valkyries on penalties in a game played over two evenings. Collegiate would later lose to Central Hardin the quarterfinals, while Manual made it to the final four, where it lost to eventual winner St Henry.

Bulldogs do it again.

Déjà vu for New Albany: It  was a case of déjà vu as New Albany, for the second successive year, beat rival Floyd Central on penalties after a scoreless encounter. The Highlanders had gone through the entire season unbeaten, securing the Hoosier Hills Conference along the way.

 

CAI forces shootout: Beaten 6-0 by the Pioneers during regular season, Christian Academy of Indiana was in no mood for a repeat result. Following a 1-1 tie after overtime, and penalty kicks tied at 3-3 with just one shot remaining for both teams, CAI goalkeeper Tyler Stumler’s effort dramatically hit the crossbar and sped downwards, but was adjudged not to have crossed the line when it bounced off the turf. Ben Orem made no mistake with the last penalty, sending the Pioneers to the championship game, where they lost to Jeffersonville.

 

Providence wins . . .oops, no it doesn’t! Those who witnessed it said they had never seen anything like it before. With just 20 seconds left, and the game tied at 3-3, Providence took the lead when Pierce Crawley notched his hat-trick. However, Pioneer celebrations were short-lived. In fact, they lasted as long as it took Jennings County’s Matt Flora to kick the ball from the restart at the halfway line perfectly into upper left hand corner of the net to tie proceedings at 4-4.

Eh, where?

US loses World Cup bid: Matching the disappointment of the U.S. losing to Ghana at the World Cup was the awarding of the 2022 tournament by FIFA to Qatar. At one stage considered a strong favorite, the U.S. bid (which included the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium as one of the possible venues) lost out to the Persian Gulf nation the size of Connecticut amid allegations of a corrupt selection process driven by oil money. Bah, humbug. Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

 
UofL final fling: One of the best moments of 2010 came towards the year’s conclusion, when University of Louisville reached the NCAA Division 1 championship game for the first time in its history. The Cardinals went into the tournament as No. 1 seeds, and beat Charleston, Ohio State and UCLA (in a 5-4 thriller in the snow) in front of bumper home crowds before traveling to the Men’s College Cup in Santa Barbara, Calif. Ken Lolla’s boys beat North Carolina to get to the final, where it lost to No. 3 Akron, a program Lolla had been in charge of from 1993-2005.
Also . . . There was the announcement of a new adult team  for Kentuckiana in the shape of River City Rovers, which will play in the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League, seen as a shop window for aspiring pros. And then on a wider scale, Colorado Rapids won its first MLS Cup over Dallas; Inter Milan being crowned king of Europe and World Club champion; and there was the interesting acquisition of Liverpool FC by John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, following a long and drawn out saga.

There’s ‘Snow’ Stopping Cards, but U.S. WC bid frozen out

On Saturday morning, I joked with someone via e-mail that the University of Louisville would beat UCLA in the NCAA quarterfinal matchup by the not very realistic scores of 5-3, 5-4 or 6-5, given both teams’ propensity for flowing, attacking soccer and the expected inclement weather.

If I had have known of anybody offering odds on this game, I would probably be walking around the streets of Southern Indiana right about now with a wheelbarrow stuffed high with notes featuring the faces of various presidents.

Such a thought faded rapidly from the mind to be replaced with joy. The emotion was shared thousands of times over at Cardinal Park by the Louisville fans who braved the elements, even if they couldn’t feel too many of their bodily parts at the end of 90 minutes of play.

The Cards have reached the Men’s College Cup — their Final Four — for the first time in their history, courtesy of a thrilling come-from-behind 5-4 victory, the clincher arriving with just 52 seconds of play remaining from the boot of Aaron Horton.

Despite the snow and freezing temperatures, there was a record 5,467 attendance — plus hundreds of others on the ‘Ville Hill’ and in cars outside the soccer grounds — to see the Cards earn themselves a trip to the warmer climes of Santa Barbara, Calif.

This is a team that had won only one NCAA tournament game before this year. It is a squad that went into the postseason with the burden of No. 1 on its shoulders.

Having fallen 2-0 and 3-1 behind, top-ranked Louisville (19-0-3) showed the sort of refuse-to-lie-down-and-die attitude that accompanies teams who just don’t know how to lose.

Ken Lolla’s charges will now take on No. 4 North Carolina at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Harder Stadium.

Before they depart for the Men’s College Cup, supporters are invited to a send-off for the team at the KFC Yum! Center at 5 p.m. today. The first 500 kids at the event will get a free Louisville soccer T-shirt, while the coaches and players will be available for autographs.

The Tar Heels have won all of their three NCAA tournament games this year on penalty kicks against Georgetown, Michigan State and SMU.

They are no strangers to the Men’s College Cup, most recently falling to Akron on penalties last year and advancing to the final in 2008.

The second semifinal on Friday will feature No. 3 Akron (a team coached by Lolla from 1993-2005) against No. 10 Michigan at 11 p.m. The championship game will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday. All three games will be shown live on ESPNU or ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.com.

What a joke, there's no way . . . Oh, wait, that looks nice: An artist's impression of The Al-Shamal stadium, one of the nine to be built from scratch for the 2022 World Cup. Its shape was derived from the traditional "dhow", the local fishing boats of the Persian Gulf.

Exemplifying how the game of soccer can provide a roller-coaster ride of emotions was FIFA’s announcement last Thursday that it would be Qatar, not the United States, which will host the 2022 World Cup, while Russia was awarded 2018.

The fallout from the picks of oil rich countries with gargantuan budgets has been as entertaining as the actual decisions themselves.

The English have not been taking it very well (Google “England” and “World Cup 2018” for yourself), while the United States’ bid team was despondent but more gracious.

Both nations had technically superior assessments compared to their respective rivals. But FIFA made it clear that it doesn’t pay much attention to the reports that itself demanded.

Whatever the accusations of bribery, vote trading and backroom politics, the fact is that FIFA has chosen to continue its theme of establishing legacies and breaking new ground.

Russia will become the first Eastern European nation to host the tournament, while choosing Qatar — a nation the size of Connecticut with a population of just more than 1.5 million — means the World Cup will dip its toes in Middle East territory for the first time.

Russia’s selection is not a major surprise. It has always been a fairly decent soccer nation and, as Europe’s biggest emerging soccer economy, it should be given the chance to show what it can do.

The choice of Qatar, however, is head-scratching to say the least. Classified by FIFA itself as “high risk,” much has already been made of its searing temperatures in the summer, while it will basically be building infrastructure from scratch to host the biggest sports event on the planet.

All 12 stadia — nine to be built from scratch –will be within a 20-mile radius encompassing its capital, Doha. Then after the tournament, they’ll be dismantled and transported off to countries that need them.

So the decisions might be seen by FIFA as all very brave and noble, but let me put this to you: Four horses are running in four different races on the same card. Only one has ever run on the course (Brazil), although he hasn’t run for a while (1950) and there are real concerns about whether he’s ready or not to do this again.

One other has run over the distance (South Africa in hosting the Rugby World Cup). The others might be half decent, because a lot of money has been invested in their breeding (Russia and Qatar), but no one really knows how they’ll take to the course and distance.

Let me ask you — Would you stick your hard-earned loot on all four sluicing home to victory?

One has already made it successfully home, of course, with South Africa hosting a decent World Cup this year. However, experience sadly tells me you’d be foolish to believe all four longshots will romp it. Which is why I can’t help feeling these decisions are going to come back and haunt FIFA somewhere along the line, and judging by the worldwide reaction in recent days, there won’t be too many shedding a whole bunch of tears if that happens.

And me? Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Russia and the Middle East, but I’m not expecting any full wheelbarrows in my backyard to help me get there.