On furcation: No column Tuesday

i-e69724350d8620f5442ee5b8183ae316-jesussoccer.jpgI’m burning up some vacation time with an extended midwinter nap on required furlough, so they’ll be no column Tuesday (or next week for that matter) and blogging over the holidays will be minimal unless events warrant.

The weekend’s EPL action, including Sunday’s big game between Manchester United and Chelsea, was frozen out, but today’s Manchester City-Everton game (noon ESPN2) is on. It’s the last EPL game until Boxing Day (that’s Sunday for those of you who don’t speak Anglophile), so enjoy.

A belated congratulations to the Galaxy’s David Beckham (it’s not often you see his name and the word “personality” in the same sentence). And with that last shot I’m out of here.

No matter how you celebrate, enjoy the holiday season while we await the next MLS season.

And yes, in case you’re wondering you can still score your soccer playing Jesus in time for Christmas (shouldn’t he be wearing a No. 10 jersey?) if you order here today.


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Scientists uncover physics of “impossible” Roberto Carlos shot

In lieu of a column this week, watch the amazing video:

Then read the AP story:

PARIS (AP) — Thirteen years after Roberto Carlos stunned onlookers with his amazing “banana” free kick that seemed to defy the law of physics, scientists finally have figured out just how he did it.

In what many people regard as the best free kick in the history of the game, the Brazil
defender struck the ball with the outside of his left foot from 35 yards away, bending it
around the outside of France’s three-man wall during an exhibition tournament in Lyon in 1997.

The ball looked way off target to the right — a ball boy standing 10 yards from the goal
even ducked his head — but at the last moment, it swerved dramatically inside the post and into the net. The bewildered France goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, had not even moved.

Many people thought the shot was a fluke, but researchers say it can all be explained by science.

“What happened that day was so special,” researcher David Quere told The Associated Press. “We are confronted with an unexpected law of physics, but it’s possible to see this again.”

Quere, a physicist at the ESPCI and Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, and his colleagues have developed an equation to explain the bizarre trajectory of the shot. Using a small
pistol to fire bullets into water at the speed of more than 60 mph — approximately the speed of Roberto Carlos’ shot — they discovered that the path of a sphere when it spins is actually a spiral.

Quere said the study, which has been published in the New Journal of Physics, confirmed the “Magnus effect” — which is responsible for the curved motion of a spinning ball — but it also revealed what the scientists call the “spinning ball spiral.”

The spiral effect appears after about 40 yards with a soccer ball. As the ball slows, the
“Magnus effect” becomes increasingly pronounced, which eventually creates a spiral.

“The crucial thing is that while the ball is slowing down, the rotation is the same,” Quere said. “Hence the trajectory of the ball is going to be more and more bent, that is what creates the spiral.

“When Michel Platini or David Beckham were kicking free kicks from 20 yards, they were bending the ball in an arc. It’s not the same thing with Roberto Carlos’ goal. He can have this kind of effect because he kicks from long range.

“Another player could repeat it — on the condition that the ball is kicked hard enough, that the kick is taken from about 40 yards and that the player gives some effect to the ball.”

Roberto Carlos claimed at the time he had done it all before, against Roma when he was playing for Inter Milan, although he never quite managed to repeat his 1997 trick.

“It’s difficult to say whether it was a lucky goal,” Quere said. “There is something close to perfection in this trajectory that let me think that Roberto Carlos has probably always taken these kinds of free kicks from long range, and he should have realized that he could take advantage of it.”

Barthez said after conceding the goal that he didn’t set his wall correctly, but Quere said the goalkeeper probably just thought Roberto Carlos had flubbed his shot.

“Barthez was a very good keeper, at the peak of his art,” Quere said. “But the trajectory was eccentric and he didn’t move.”

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Quote of the Week

I couldn’t resist this comment from Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva via AP regarding his nation’s behind the curve preparations for the 2014 World Cup:

“The World Cup in Africa is over and now everybody is asking, ‘Where are the Brazilian airports? Where are the Brazilian stadiums? Where are the Brazilian trains? As if we were a bunch of idiots who didn’t know how to do things and define priorities.”

Da Silva was responding to a report by the government’s own budget watchdog, known as the Brazilian Court of Audit, that warned work on improving airports needed to start as soon as possible or the “risk” exists that it would not be completed in time for the World Cup.

Uh oh.

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Paris Hilton scores (dope) at World Cup


She shoots, she scores!

I know, I know, I’m taking undue pleasure in this.

But let’s face it, when it comes to Hilton there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

The Los Angeles socialite pleaded no contest in 2007 to alcohol-related reckless driving and was sentenced to 45 days in LA County jail, you’ll recall (that’s her booking mug shot, right).

Question: Will they always have Paris?

(Sadly not, I’m sure we’ll get her back).

But that’s what happens when you hang around with the Dutch, I guess.

Could be worse. She could have made a hash of things.

OK. I’ll stop now.


Case closed, according to TMZ.com.

(Don’t you just hate having problems with your entourage).

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Thursday Kicks: World Cup weekend & more

i-0992015a7aa8c2f2efe8fa7e326deebd-maradonaqfinals.jpgDiego Maradona and Argentina are ready for the quarterfinals. Are you? (AP Photo)

*Will there be four South American teams in the World Cup quarterfinals?

The schedule:

7 a.m. Friday ESPN Netherlands-Brazil
11:30 a.m. Friday ESPN Uruguay-Ghana

7 a.m. Saturday ABC Germany-Argentina
11:30 a.m. Saturday ABC Paraguay-Spain

Click at top right for recommended places to watch in Southern California.

*Also, some World Cup stars could soon be coming to play in Ventura County.

*Is this the reason “bubbly” Bob Bradley hasn’t resigned yet?

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Landon Donovan & Bob Bradley<a>
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Expect fireworks in Carson this weekend (times two).

From today’s Daily Breeze:

*Chivas USA and Major League Soccer-expansion team Philadelphia Union meet for the first time in history at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Home Depot Center, 18400 Avalon Blvd., on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will feature a 15-minute firework display at its conclusion. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 1-877-CHIVAS-1 or visit cdchivasusa.com. Tickets range from $20 to $200.

*An even bigger fireworks display is on tap for Sunday after the 7:30 p.m. Galaxy-Seattle Sounders game. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 877-3GALAXY (877-342-5299).

For those just wanting to view the fireworks after the Galaxy game, a free shuttle bus will be available from the parking lot of the Carson Community Center to the Home Depot Center. A grass picnic area next to the Velodrome has been set up as a viewing area. The bus will make at least two round-trips and will depart from the community center for the first time at 7:30 p.m., make a stop at the South Bay Pavilion and transport spectators back to the community center after the fireworks show.

Families are welcome to bring lawn chairs and food to enjoy the evening’s festivities. Admission is free to view in the public viewing area, but parking fees apply if spectators drive in to the Home Depot Center. Call 310-952-1000, Ext. 1712, for more information.

*Finally, the Galaxy will play Seattle twice in four days next week.


ESPN2 added Sunday’s Galaxy-Sounders game to its schedule today citing “the excitement surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”

Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle are both expected to return from World Cup duty for the game.

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Gospel music show 1 World Cup soccer 0

Sadly, truth is stranger than fiction in this case:

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Police say a South African man who wanted to watch a World Cup match instead of a religious program was beaten to death by his family in the northeastern part of the country.

David Makoeya, a 61-year-old man from the small village of Makweya, Limpopo province, fought with his wife and two children for the remote control on Sunday because he wanted to watch Germany play Australia in the World Cup. The others, however, wanted to watch a gospel show.

“He said, ‘No, I want to watch soccer,'” police spokesman Mothemane Malefo said Thursday. “That is when the argument came about. In that argument, they started assaulting him.”

Malefo said Makoeya got up to change the channel by hand after being refused the remote control and was attacked by his 68-year-old wife Francina and two children,
36-year-old son Collin and 23-year-old daughter Lebogang.

Malefo said he was not sure what the family used to kill Makoeya.

“It appears they banged his head against the wall,” Malefo said. “They phoned the
police only after he was badly injured, but by the time the police arrived the man was
already dead.”

All three were arrested Sunday night, but Lebogang was released on $200 bail Tuesday, Malefo said. The other two are still being held in custody. Malefo said the mother and son will reappear in the local Seshego Magistrates Court on July 27.

“He was always a happy man, never violent,” Makoeya’s nieces, Miriam and Anna, told the Daily Sun newspaper. “On Saturday, we saw him the last time at a funeral.”

Lovely story of domestic bliss, isn’t it? Guess the family that prays together, — oh, never mind.

If you need a good laugh after that, enjoy this revealing profile of Landon Donovan.

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Monday Night Kicks: Press Release of the Week & More

A few items to pass along this evening include:

*MLS delaying today’s roster compliance date, absent a new labor agreement. It has to, of course, because without a new labor agreement the old squad size of 20 senior and four developmental players essentially doesn’t exist. The new roster compliance date will be set “in the next few weeks.” That gives a breather to clubs who don’t have to make decisions over players now.

*Tony Sanneh wasn’t invited to Galaxy training camp, but he hasn’t cut ties with the club; he’s off to Haiti Tuesday with the Los Angeles Galaxy Foundation to deliver soccer equipment and supplies to the L’Athletique d’Haiti sports program.

The program gives poor children an opportunity to get off the streets, play a sport and receive a daily meal. The foundation will also provide food, soap, coolers and other items (such as 3,000 sticks of Degree Men deodorant, I kid you not).

From the Galaxy press release:

Following January’s devastating earthquake, the children did not return to L’Athletique d’Haiti for almost ten days at which time 150 of the program’s participants showed up at the field with their families. Currently, L’Athletique d’Haiti has approximately 500 displaced families living on their two fields that are being provided food, water and tents and more than 700 children returning for the soccer program each day.

“My heart goes out to the children of Haiti ,” Sanneh said, who has also founded a nonprofit group, The Sanneh Foundation. “As soon as I heard of the disaster, I knew I had to help. I am pleased the Galaxy and Galaxy Foundation invited me to be a part of their outreach efforts.

More information on L’Athletique d’Haiti is here and The Sanneh Foundation is here.

*Enhanced soccer offerings from Foxsoccer.tv include England National Team games beginning with England-Egypt at noon Wednesday, EPL, UEFA Champions League et al. A monthly pass is $14.95; a 24-hour pass (available for limited time) $4.95.

*Finally, chew on this – Extra, “El Chicle Oficial de la Seleccin Mexicana” (that’s the Official Chewing Gum of the Mexican National Soccer Team, gringos) has invited us media types in a press release to an “African-themed night” Tuesday that will feature African dancers, mariachis (y’know, African mariachis) along with retired El Tri goalkeeper Jorge Campos as master of ceremonies and a “Countdown to South Africa Clock” at L.A. Live on the eve of the team’s friendly against New Zealand at the Rose Bowl.

Luckily, “Jorge, along with representatives from Wrigley, makers of Extra gum will be available for interviews to discuss Mexico’s chances and strategies for a successful bid at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”

I have no idea what wisdom and insight Extra reps will provide on Mexico’s World Cup chances. Nor do I know what flavors of gum (if any) they will serve.

Nor will I be going.

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