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June 2010 Archives

The Love of Football

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I was out of the country and one distinct thing I noticed is the unapologetic love of football (soccer) that exist worldwide. People watch every movement, game and news alert like its life and death. It started me thinking how important is sports to Americans? 

We have long been accused of being fanatics, going above and beyond but everyone knows it pales in comparison to World Cup and other soccer followers. Death is not an oddity but part of the annual recap of instances attributed to the sport. Divorce and spending ones last moneys to see their team are all too common. So why are we so critical of the bus with UC logos, and painted faces and even dressing our kids up in gear they have no idea they're wearing? Because believe it or not we're the civilized fans for the most part. 

From college to the NFL, our football is a religion make no mistake about it, but we know where the blurred line is; and its a lot easier to see comparatively speaking. Yeah alcohol interferes with common sense but other than carrying someone to jail or back to the house we're tame...

That doesn't justify inappropriate behavior by no means and it shouldn't be encouraged or tolerated but lets keep it in perspective as we watch World Cup football and as our football season approaches. Root for UC, the Bengals or whomever you choose; just do it in a way your children and parents can accept. We are always on the world stage because we are a dominant country and great news to report when things go wrong. The world revels in our troubles. But admittedly we probably do the same. 

The only thing I have to say about the US Soccer team is you better hire a coach from Brazil if you ever want a chance at winning a World Cup, kind of like other countries hiring american coaches for basketball. Get with the people who dominate the game, otherwise they'll keep dominating you; but in our case we can't get deep enough into the tournament to challenge soccer's big boys.

But I digress; It's good to be back amongst the real football fans in America. Blow the whistle and lets get this party started!

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

MAUK AND ROLL

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(Ben Mauk photo courtesy of The News Record)


     Let there be no mistake, former UC quarterback Ben Mauk can still run a spread offense with the best of them as he demonstrated recently in the Cincinnati Commandos 54-40 win over Wisconsin in the CIFL (Continental Indoor Football League) title game. Mauk was 18-29 passing for 195 yards and four touchdowns. Considering they played on a 60-yard field at Cincinnati Gardens, those are pretty lofty numbers and Mauk was named the game MVP.

      "I don't understand why he's at this level," admitted Commandos coach Billy Back. "We're lucky to have him. Ben could be the next Drew Brees in my opinion. Ben sees stuff, he takes advantage of it, he doesn't force things. There's no reason for Ben to be in the CIFL. NFL, CFL, lowest league Ben should be in is the Arena League."

      As for Mauk, he's just looking for a shot to be the next Kurt Warner. If not, he'll settle for a Social Studies class and coaching position under the "Friday Night Lights" of high school football.

      "We'll see what doors open," said Mauk. "Hopefully, some NFL team will ask me to come to camp or be a practice squad guy. If nothing happens with that I'm going to teach and coach here in the Cincinnati area."

      Back claims the Browns, Bills and Saints have showed some interest in Mauk. The fact that New Orleans won a Super Bowl with a guy of similar stature doesn't hurt the case for Mauk.

      "They've got Drew Brees and they've got Chase Daniel who's not very tall either," observed Mauk. "They like those shorter quarterbacks who are from the spread offense that get rid of the ball quick. That would be ideal for me if a spot opened up down there."

      "If it wasn't for Ben's injury, he wouldn't be with us right now," added Coach Back. "He wouldn't know my name and I wouldn't know him as well as I do. Things happen for the reason and hopefully he gets that opportunity to take the next step. I know a couple of teams are looking at him--we sent film to them. All he needs is a shot and people are afraid to do that for him."

      The height and injury issue seem to plague Mauk, even though he's identical in size to Brees of the Saints and his protoge at UC, Zach Collaros. Despite having enough metal in his body to probably set off the detectors at CVG, Mauk still can find the receiver and/or create a play to find one.

      "During the heat of the game, we can get our tempo going and just call the plays from the field," said Back. "His IQ is so great, it's like, 'I saw this, let's call this!'"

      Usually, it worked as the Commandos only loss came in a game that Mauk sat out at the end of the regular season (former UC WR Dominick Goodman was under center as he was in his Colerain days). Goodman has since left the US to play in Germany, but while he was a Commando, he put up big numbers with his old co-hort flinging the football.

      "With Goodman, it wasn't fair to the other opponents because we had that connection from UC and we kind of carried it over here to the Commandos," said Mauk.

      Mauk's signing with the Commandos almost didn't happen. Multiple Bearcats on the team was the clincher.

      "That's one of the reasons why I decided to play," said Mauk. "At first, I said no. Then, I looked at the roster with all of the UC guys playing and to play in a city where they love a champion, there's nothing greater than that."

      So, about two and a half years after his last collegiate game, Mauk decided to suit up again.

      "I went up to Canada after I didn't get my sixth year and didn't like it so I came back and worked at UC," said Mauk. "Just from throwing at practices, I realized, 'Hey, I could probably still play,'. I went home, started working out and training and my arm felt good and this opportunity came up. Hopefully, this will be a stepping stone to get to a higher level."

      If not, Mauk is looking for full-time work. Currently, he's a part-time coach at Western Brown, but he'd like a full-time opportunity to coach and teach.

      Someone will benefit either way.

      Either a high school team is going to start turning heads with their spread thanks to Mauk's experience, or a pro team somewhere will get a pretty seasoned quarterback that puts some numbers on the toteboard in a hurry.

      As for his boys at "The Nipp", Mauk predicts even more success.

      "Anytime you've got Zach Collaros at the helm of your offense, you're in a good position," said Mauk. "I think they'll be fine as long as Zach's there. Coach Jones--I talked with him a few times, he knows what's going on--he's going to take UC to that next level."

      As a player, a grad assistant and a person, Ben Mauk has fully embodied the "Represent the 'C'" philosophy that Butch Jones has established.

USA! USA! USA!

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Oh wait a minute.... Did you see the USA game?!?!  We didn't think this WC could get any better then Donovan put in a 92nd min winner!!!  How crazy was the Pretoria stadium?!  You would've had to be there to appreciate the craziness!!!  I'm

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pretty sure that every US fan stayed about 30 or 45 mins after the game chanting "USA" "USA" USA!"  It was nuts.  I can't even describe how lucky we have been to see the games we have seen.  We can only hope that the NZ vs. Paraguay can be better!


Anyways, the 7th day of our trip started out semi-early but we slept in a little bit to rest up for the next couple days.  Brandon, Thomas and Justin headed to the mall to pick up a few groceries, stopped at the inet cafĂ© and bought a few souvenirs before heading to Petoria for the USA game.  We left for the US game around 11:30 and it was about an hour drive up there.  We got up there and searched for a pub to have some lunch and a few drinks before the game.  There were so many USA fans in the spot we parked it was incredible!  We found a pub and had some lunch and some drinks before heading to the stadium.  It was an older stadium but kind of a cool stadium.  Mike and Jen had different seats from B, J and T but it was a

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great time for all of us.  If you watched the game you know how it ended.  From Brandon, Justin and Thomas' seats there were some England fans that were clearly at the wrong game.  They were adamantly cheering against for the US like Xavier cheers against UC.  It was like little brother cheering against big brother!  Right before halftime England scores and these 3 guys start cheering and all the US fans are giving them some crap!  B, J and T starting cheering..."England doesn't matter, England doesn't matter... Na, Na, Na, Na, Na."  I'm sure you all watched the game so we don't need to go into detail on what happened.  It was crazy!  EVERYONE WENT NUTS!!!!  We can't even begin to describe how crazy it was in the stadium.  After the game was over the team stayed out on the field for about 25 mins (which is longer than normal) saluting all of the fans, it was quite awesome!  There were so many US fans, it was great to see.  By this time the England fans had left b/c they realized they were still little brother being 2nd in the group now!  Ha!  We left the game and headed back to Joburg (yeah we use the slang now b/c we feel like we are pretty much locals).  We met up with Carina, Ian, and one of their friends for dinner at a

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local Mexican restaurant to have dinner and drinks. We met them at their house and went over to the restaurant.  We were there for about 3 hours just having dinner and drinks just talking about the game, South African culture and all around having a great time.  At this point we realized how lucky we were to rent our flat from such great people.  This made us look forward to our Braaie on Friday nite.  After dinner we headed back to our place to hang out, watch the highlights and unwind a little bit from a crazy day.  We have to get ready to celebrate a NZ win against Paraguay the next day! 


Hope you all are doing well!!  Until then... AYOBA!!!!!!!!

The SA crew

GOING COMMANDO

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      The success of the Bearcats has stayed in town as now another team full of young men "representing the C" is in the post season.

      No, it's not near as glamorous as winning the Big East football title and appearing in the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, but at the Cincinnati Gardens in Roselawn, the Commandos play for the Continental Indoor Football League title Saturday night.

      CIFL? Well, yeah, it's not quite the big time. But, the team is littered with Bearcat tradition, pride and talent and has a 10-1 record to show for it. Their stars have been the former UC tandem of Ben Mauk and Dominick Goodman. Goodman has since moved on to play outdoors for a team in Germany, but Mauk has hung around to finish what he started.

      Commandos coach Billy Back looks smarter and smarter every weekend because of Mauk's loyalty.

      "When we came to the Gardens, the first thing that they said was a good name to have would be Ben Mauk," said Back. "I played him in flag football at Game Time training center and I thought, 'perfect!' I talked to Goodie (Dominick Goodman) about it, Goodie called Mauk as I did and he said he'd like to try it."

      The experiment has worked well and Back claims Mauk has attracted interest because of it. Apparently, he hasn't taken Cleveland up on an offer to come to camp because of his commitment to the Commandos. Others have noticed as well (New Orleans and Buffalo) and Back thinks Mauk could be a "Drew Brees" if only someone would give him the chance.

      Meantime, his presence is appreciated by the handful of other former Bearcats on the roster. Notably, starting running back Greg Moore and offensive lineman Khalil El-Amin.

      "It's exactly (the same offense)!" said El-Amin. "Especially with Mauk being back there, dropping back and picking up plays. It feels exactly like the offense we ran at UC. Fast-paced offense, high, up-tempo, no-huddle offense--so, it's pretty much all the same for us."

      Plus, having so many from one team brings great chemistry. And, the ability to "freelance" if you will--if you call using old Bearcat plays "freelancing".

      "We find ourselves calling some of those plays," said Moore. "We'll just be in a no-huddle tempo and Ben will just like call one of the old plays. Everyone will be like, 'Alright!' because everyone will be out there already knowing what they're doing."

      In addition to Mauk, Moore and El-Amin, the Commandos employ linebacker Torry Cornett, Tyjuan Jones (who played at UC and transferred to Eastern Kentucky), offensive lineman Frank Straub, defensive lineman Terrill Byrd and 31-year-old Ray Jackson, your "elder statesman Bearcat".

      "Hey man, it's great," said a smiling Jackson. "I get to come out there with these young guys. They know that I'm in the tradition of UC too. Some of these guys that went to UC, watched me when I was at UC and they were in high school. It's kind of surreal to hear them say, 'We watched you when you were in college,'. It's a good feeling to have an impact on some of the players that play on this team."

      Jackson is best known as part of the "Mac and Jack" attack under Rick Minter as he pounded the football in the backfield along with DeMarco McCleskey. Now after stints with the Bengals, the Titans, the Swarm and these Commandos, Jackson plays the role of mentor while backing up fellow Bearcat Greg Moore.

      Just like Commandos coach Billy Back thinks Ben Mauk can give it a go in the NFL, Jackson thinks some on this team could give it a run outdoors--Moore in particular.

      "I think they're real close," said Jackson. "I play with Mauk and especially Greg Moore. I look at Greg Moore, since he plays my position, and I just see him as a younger me. He should be in the NFL somewhere playing."

      Anyway, for now, these Bearcats play one more time at the Gardens Saturday night against the Wisconsin Wolfpack. The Commandos beat them 48-26 with Mauk and Goodman in April, then suffered their only loss at the end of May at Wisconsin when Mauk missed the game injured.

      

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(picture courtesy Cincinnati Commandos)

      If you've forgotten what the former Bearcat #9 can do at quarterback (which is amazingly similar to what Zach Collaros is doing now) you might want to show some support to some of the 'Cats still "representing" in the "C".

Some Down Time in South Africa

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Hello to all of our friends out there following along in this wonderful trip to the World Cup!  Day 6 was somewhat of a laidback/recharge day for us.  We have been going non-stop for the first 5 that we needed this day to kinda relax.  Thomas, Brandon, and Justin drove up to Sandton (20 mins away) to see if they could get round of 16 tickets for the games on Saturday and Sunday.  They discovered that the games were all sold out.  This is a little bit of a bummer but all is not lost.  We may drive to the stadiums and try and scalp tickets and take our chances...its high risk but also high reward!!  I think all of us would regret at least not trying!! 

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By far the highlight of the trip so far is this next part.  We got to go to Timmy's hotel to spend some time with him!!!  What excitement!  Although I think Timmy was the most excited to get away from the day to day routine he has been in for quite some time.  When we pulled up to his hotel...this wasn't your normal hotel, it was one of the best golf resorts in the country as well.  They did a detailed check of our car inside and in out and sent us on our way.  It was about a 5 min drive just to get to the clubhouse where we were going to meet Timmy.  When we parked some employees of the resort met us at our car and knew what we were there for.  We felt like we were some sort of celebrities...haha.  Most everyone we met inside the clubhouse knew who this "Tim Brown" fellow was...and some of the female's eyes lit up a little bit....typical Timmy to wooo the females!! Hahaha!  We sat and chatted with Timmy for a little over an hour and it felt like old times.  We talked about the college days and the parties we went to.  Nothing about soccer was discussed though....this was his break away from soccer and he just wanted to see how all of us had been doing.  He kindly let us know that he lived in New Zealand and that it was ok for us to visit now that we have passports!! HA!  He asked about some of you and we carried on with lots of laughs.  It was truly nice to sit down with a good friend that lives half way around the world and talk about the "good ol days".  We snapped a few photos with him and he signed a few things for us to bring home and it was off to the Argentina vs. Greece game.  Timmy had got us tickets to this game in really good seats.  When we left Timmy was going to escort us out of this massive place in his own personal golf cart.  You see...this wasn't really a hotel...it was a resort with a bunch of gigantic houses on it.  There were 5 players to a house and they all got golf carts to get around.  This was dangerous to give Timmy such free reign with a golf cart!!  As he was escorting us out we had to go through 4 round-a-bouts which are confusing enough back home but to be on the wrong side of the car and the road made it even more challenging!  He took off on the wrong side of the round-a-bout and we proceeded as good SA drivers on the correct side (the left side).  There is no traffic back in the resort so we are sure that Timmy has drove anywhere he wanted and not had an issue.  Well this was different...his excitement level was through the roof and while on the other side of the round-a-bout he cut over and BAM!!!  Hit our car right behind the right front tire!!  What are you doing?!?!?!?!?!  Hahaha.  We all got out and after knowing Timmy was not hurt rolled around on the ground laughing hysterically.  He left quite the dent in the side of our car and we know we will end of paying for it but

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we were all laughing to hard to care!  After we left the resort the 5 of us continued to laugh and talk about what had just happened!  A World Cup player just t-boned us with a golf cart...and here we are trying to avoid all of the other crazy SA drivers and we get tattered by a golf cart with no one else around!  About 5 mins after we left Timmy calls us and is still laughing about it.  We knew at this point that the last hour and half we spent with him meant the world to all 6 of us.  Good ol Timmy...he still hasn't changed!

The game was about 3 hours away and there wasn't really anything too exciting about the game.  Some of you may have watched it.  About the most entertaining

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thing was watching Diego Maradona celebrate the goals!  Our seats were right behind the Argentina bench so we had a good view of this!  Yes, Messi is just as good in real life as he is on TV.  It is simply breathtaking to watch him with the ball.  We sat a few rows in front the Seth Blatter, the president of FIFA!  That was very cool to see!  The game ended 2-0 Argentina and it was off to the park and ride to pick up our now beat up rental car!! Haha.  We made it home just before 2:30am and quickly went to bed.  We needed rest for the USA game tomorrow at 4pm!!!!!!!!

LETS GO STATES!!!!
The SA crew

South Africa, New Zealand, Safaris, Oh My!

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Over the next two weeks, several of our alumni are traveling to South Africa to see many of the World Cup games and experience the culture.  They arrived just earlier this week and are reporting back......here are some more of their stories and pictures!

Day 3

Hey hey hey all of our American friends!!  Well we made it through day 3.  We decided to sleep in a little longer this morning (8:30am) b/c it has been a long first couple days.  Also, we stayed up a little late last nite just talking about the WC games, having some drinks and just reminiscing of our playing days as Bearcats!  Brandon and Justin were up early doing the dishes (yes, as we get older we have become more domesticated) while making coffee for everyone.  A little later the rest of the crew were up and we were all having breakfast trying to decide what to do on our "day off" from games.  We spent the morning catching up on a little

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world news and watching analysis from the US game.  After a while Justin took the wheel for the first time in SA and took all of us to the mall.  There, we met up with Carina to say hi at her store and we set out to explore the mall.  The ladies out there would LOVE this mall.  It was the largest mall any of has ever seen.  It was probably bigger than Kenwood, Tri-County and Florence mall combined.  While there, Ian met up with us and let us borrow his Tom Tom, which turned out to be pretty big time.  We all purchased a great amount of souvenirs and yes, the first Vuvuzela's were purchased.  We really can't wait to get back and annoy all of you with them.  Yes, Hylton, Dan and Jeremy they will be present at the UC games this coming fall, so be prepared!!  After our, what turned out to be a 3 hour trip to the mall, we headed back to our apartment for lunch.  We did stock up a bit on some SA adult beverages.  We had to, b/c the different bottles had WC labels on them so we felt obligated to buy them.

After lunch we headed out to the Monte Casino.  This casino reminded us so much of Vegas; the only difference is that being in SA they had a WC fan zone at the casino.  This means a giant TV about 3 times the one that sits on fountain square with hundreds of fans watching the games and having drinks.  It was quite surreal to be honest.  As futbol fans it was just awesome to all of us to walk into public places that we all would normally be in, in the States, and have EVERYONE so focused on the games.  It was just awesome.  While at the casino Mike and Thomas decided to sit down at a blackjack table.  Why not gamble here in SA, was the thought?!  After about an hour Thomas broke even and Mike was up about R550 (which is about $80 US).  Well done boys!  Brandon decided to go all out and bet R300 on USA red at the Roulette wheel and came up a bit short.

After leaving  the casino we decided to pick up some pizza which turned out to be a little bit of an adventure, including Justin nearly "rubbing" up against some Jalopies (yeah guys, Google that).  But I guess what they say for you NASCAR fans... "Rubbing is racing."  We got back to the apartment with the pizza and sat down to watch the Denmark vs. Cameroon game.  While getting ready to watch the game we got and unexpected call... it was Timmy!!  It was so great to hear from him.  He was just hanging out with the boys and getting ready for their dinner.  He took time out of his busy WC schedule to phone us.  He spent time talking to each of us and seeing how we were doing and being so appreciative of us coming so far to see him to play.  It really meant a lot to all of us.  I am speaking for all of us in saying we are so privileged to have him as such a great part of our lives.  He actually surprised us and got us 5 tickets, front row seats at the midfield, for the Argentina vs. Greece game coming up this Tuesday at 8:30 (2:30 EST), so look for us TV!!  He invited us to "family time" after the Italy game and also to the All Whites nite out with the team after their last game here in SA.  Which pumped us up more than you can imagine b/c we will get to hang out with Timmy and rest of the All Whites before they leave!  How cool is that?!  Honestly, this was one of the best moments of the trip just to hear from Timmy.  We can't be more stoked to go watch him play!  After talking to Tim we had a few minor wagers on the game to which Thomas and Mike cleaned up a bit and Justin was the big loser, but it was all in good fun.  But it doesn't matter b/c we are more or less playing with monopoly money!

As the nite went on we spent time "cheers-ing" each other on having great company here in SA, a great support group back in the States, meeting people from all over the world, getting to hang out with Woody and Paul (Tim's brother), seeing the Stars and Stripes, and most important seeing Timmy play in the WC!!  We spent the nite in the apartment b/c we are heading out to Nelspruit tomorrow early in the morning to watch the All Whites play! 

We all wish you could be here sharing this experience with us.  We have had so many good laughs and good times and its only day 3.  We are looking forward to the next 8 days! 

Until we message again, GO NZ!!!!!!!!

The SA crew

Day 4

First of all we would just like to say that there would be no way to describe the 3 hours of our lives that we were at the Nespruit stadium for the NZ vs. Italy game.  The atmosphere that surrounded the game is absolutely indescribable.  We thought that nothing could top the USA comeback against Slovenia but the NZ vs. Italy game topped the USA game, no doubt about it.  Absolutely magical game. 

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The 4th day started out very early because we had to drive 4 hours to Nespruit for the NZ game.  On the drive out we jammed to South African music and just BSed.  We got out to Nespruit and pulled into our hotel... or so we thought was our hotel.  Wwe pull up to the Protea Nespruit hotel and there was police, security guards and not to mention so many TV cameras.  We had no idea what was going on.  It became evident that the Italian National Team was staying in this hotel.  Justin was escorted into the hotel to the front desk by one of the armed guards.  We soon realized that we were at the wrong Protea hotel.  Our hotel was about 70km from Nespruit, which works out to our benefit.  So after finding out we can't check into hotel we decide to just get ready for the game.  After a great meal at KFC in SA we headed to the Java bar to meet up with Paul Brown (Timmy's brother), and mates.  What a great time!.  We all got to catch up with Paul and mates with what has been going for the last couple years, then headed to the park-and-ride to get to the game.  At the park and ride we met up with a bunch of Kiwis and rode the bus to the game with them and Italians. The bus ride was an experience in itself.   The mix of Kiwis and Italians was pretty cool but the Italians vastly outnumbered the Kiwis but we would have to say that the Kiwis were louder.  We learned some crazy NZ chants and our crew jumped in right away.  We arrive at the stadium, which is one of the new stadiums that were built for the WC.  The Nespruit stadium was built with the idea that it would be held up by giraffes, ask Thomas about how excited he was about the giraffes.  You will be happy to know that we did not have a "Mike Vessels" episode this time.  Everyone had their tickets for the game!  After hanging out on the front lawn of the stadium with about 500 kiwis, having some cocktails and we headed to our seats.  We get to our seats and we are in the middle of the All Whites section, we couldn't me more pumped.  As we were getting ready for the game to start we notice a mate 2 rows in front of us with a Tim Brown jersey and a hat on.  Within a minute Thomas and Brandon notice its WOODY!!!  How crazy is that?!  Woody and his 2 mates come up and sat with us and after about 10 mins WOODY looks behind us 3 rows and yells HONIE!  For those that don't know, Honie is Woody's brother and they were on different "tours" with the NZ group.  For those that know both of them we spent a good amount of time talking about the Reds, Bengals and all of you guys that they met at UC and they told us to tell all of you hello! 

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On to the game.  What an amazing game!  Of course we were all hoping Timmy would make it on the pitch but we have a few pics of him warming up.  For those of you that watched the game you know what happened in the 7th min.  Absolute ecstasy!!  There are no words to describe the atmosphere at the stadium... it was crazy as you could imagine.  After about 100 dives by the Italians they finally got a penalty, which the converted, it was tied 1-1.  Even then, most of the Kiwis weren't too concerned.  As the game went on the excitement grew.  The last 30 mins of the game entailed everyone in the NZ section standing up, taking their shirts off and waving them around their heads.  This included Thomas, Brandon and Justin!  It was pandemonium!  As the final seconds ticked off the chants of, "Ole, Ole, Ole" and "All Whites," All Whites" became louder and louder.  I think I can speak for everyone that it was one of the best moments we have ever been a part of!  We never thought that the comeback for the USA 2 nites before would top our WC experience but this game certainly did.  We all stayed and when I say all stayed, I mean EVERY NZ fan at the game stayed to cheer on the boys afterwards and watch the short training session that they had after the game.  After the training session we all were in the front row of the lower section we were yelling for Timmy.  We were the 1st ones he saw and pointed over at us us.  After the session was over Timmy came over to say hi and spent about 10 or 15 mins talking with us.  At this point of the email I should mention that Timmy is a celebrity amongst the NZ supporters.  This made us feel even more privileged for him to come over and give us a big hug and talk with us.  There were so many NZ supporters that wanted pictures with Timmy.  Brandon requested for one of Timmy's game socks so he gave him one.  He posed for a picture and just chatted with us like it was back in Clifton and we were all out having a drink.  Some things never really change.  Tim is a world class friend to us and we couldn't be more proud of him.  After a short talk with Timmy we had to figure out how the heck to get back to the park-and-ride.  After getting on one bus Justin made friends with some South African and he guided us on our way.  We must mention that everyone here in SA have been so friendly and so helpful, we couldn't be more grateful!   After FINALLY finding the car we decide to head back to the Java bar to meet up with Paul Brown and the mates.  The city of Nespruit closes down one of their major streets every time there is a game in town to have a street party.  They had a DJ so our group spent time doing the Electric Slide with people from all over the world.  It was crazy! After a while we leave the street party and decide to head back to our hotel.  Our hotel was about 70km outside of Nespruit right by the entrance of Kruger National Park.  This turns out to be pretty big time.  This hotel is pretty awesome.  We can't really describe it to do its full justice so you will have to take our word for it.  Justin has the reservation in his name so he goes to check in and as he is checking in the head chef of the hotel restaurant is hanging in the lobby as well.  Justin asks the chef if the restaurant was still open so we can all have a bite to eat.  He informs us that the restaurant is closed but would open it just for us to have a Braai (a Braai is a BBQ in the US).  See, everyone here is awesome!  So we dropped our gear off in our room and head to the restaurant.  It was pretty sweet. We had the place to ourselves!  The food was great as well!  We just sat around, ate, drank and had so many good laughs!  It was like being on cloud 9.  After our dinner we walked around the outside patio and stumbled upon the hotel bar.  We decided to head in for a little and have a beer before hitting the sack for a long day at Kruger National Park.  Well.... That didn't really pan out as we planned.  We met another group of South Africans that were top notch.  We started sharing stories about football, rugby and so many different things.  We had many drinks, some games of pool and just an overall good time!  Since we were guests in their country they would not allow us to purchase drinks for them.  After a while we decided to head back to the room and get ready for tomorrow!

Bottom line is.... GO NZ!!!!! WHAT A CRAZY GAME!

Talk to you all soon!

The SA crew

Day 5

Good Morning to you all again.  Day 5 started out bright and early at 630am b/c it is our trip to Kruger National Park for our Safari!!!!  We will be looking out for the Big 5 which consists of Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos, and Water Buffalos. 

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With hearing from a lot of locals that we would probably not see any of them we set off with our hopes high.  Before going in we had to stop at a petrol station to fill up and get some water for the trip.  The gate we had to go in was not exactly in the best part of SA so we were a little hesitant to stop for petrol and water...but we did anyway.  We all kept a lookout and stayed in groups and got out of there with no problem....it was off to the SAFARI!!!  We checked in at the gate and it was off we go!  Within the first 5 minutes we spotted a giraffe about 5 feet off the road! 

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What a start...as the day went one we spotted hippos, impalas, boars, warthogs, turkey vultures, zebras, leopard, eland, blue wildebeests, waterbucks, crocodiles, vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, komodo dragon, ground hornbill, and white rhinos.  We spent 6 hours touring around the park and decided that we would head back to Joburg.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with Kruger National Park you can spend 2 weeks in the park and not see all of it!  It is gigantic! 

We set off for home with a 5.5 hour drive and Thomas started and was going to switch half way through.  With it being a Monday there were a lot more trucks and cars on the road....we were unable to drive the speed limit for more of the trip.  When we finally got an opening Thomas hit the gas with only about 2kms to go from being half way.  As we came of a hill there was one of SA's finest sitting on a stoop at the bottom with a radar gun.  His partner promptly ran into the middle of the road to wave us over.  Instead of chasing cars they just jump out in the highway and flag cars down to ticket them for speeding.  They asked for Thomas' license and then immediately started chatting about the World Cup.  We thought we were free of a ticket but turns out that if Thomas just gave him 500 Rand and that was about it...no paperwork, no ticket, no nothing.  Basically its 500 Rand for the police's pocket.

We finally made it back to Joburg around 6 just in time for rush hour traffic...although much to our surprise we didn't have any traffic going our way but for the other direction the highway was at a standstill for 10 miles...not a car was moving.  What is funny about this is that Spain was playing Hondours that night in Joburg.  The buses were stuck in this traffic.  They had to shut down the other side of the highway for them to drive the wrong way on the highway to get to the game on time.  Crazy!

We decided that night we would hang out at the apartment and recharge and get to bed early which is exactly what we did.  We will be going to the Argentina vs. Greece game tomorrow at 830pm up in Polokwane.  Timmy got us these tickets on midfield about 5 rows up!  We will get to hang out with Timmy tomorrow for about an hour before we go to the game so we are really excited about that!  Until tomorrow folks....we are off to explore another wonderful day here in SA!

Cheers

The SA Crew




Updates from South Africa

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Over the next two weeks, several of our alumni are traveling to South Africa to see many of the World Cup games and experience the culture.  They arrived just earlier this week and are reporting back......here are some of their stories and pictures!

Good morning again my fellow followers from the United States.  We began the 2nd day around 8am with showers and breakfast consisting of just coffee....yeah no food yet in the apartment!  We phoned Carina to get us to the errands we need to get in order to survive this wonderful adventure!  While waiting for Carina to show up we took in game 7 of the NBA finals...did you guys know that the Lakers won it cause we didn't know till Friday.  Ahhh the time change and 26 hours of travelling!  We got on the road in our Nissian and followed Carina in her bakkie (pick up truck) to Sandton to get our World Cup tickets.  Brandon took the wheel for the first time and after a few routine left and right turns everyone slowly felt comfortable with him driving for the whole day (which he ended up doing by the way...we will get to all of that in a little bit...stay tuned).  After dodging all of the scalpers (Justin didn't scalp any tickets) outside of the ticket offices we got all of our USA tickets and we were well on our way.  We also charged up a cell phone that Carina had activated for us so that we can make international calls and also get in touch with Woody and Tim's brother Paul for the NZ games.  We met 2 fellows that were from NZ and they appreciated that we came so far to watch the all whites in the World Cup.

After the tickets we hit up the grocery store, Carina's store (where we sent out our initial email and there is also a photo attached of her Biltong.  Biltong is like beef jerky back home), and grabbed a few SA adult beverages.  We hustled back to the apartment to eat lunch b/c we haven't eaten all day and got fully equipped in our USA gear.  It was off to the park and ride...or so we thought........we are supposed to go to the Coca Cola dome which was 20 mins away from the apartment...when we arrived there was no one...I mean no one in the parking lot.....well besided 8 public transit buses.  Carina quickly hopped out and asked where the park and ride was....the bus driver let her know that they had changed it.  GREAT!!!  We are 2.5 hours from game time and we are supposed to be down by Ellis park in 30 mins for all the festivities!!!!   Carina let me know we had to go to a University and we need to go NOW!  Let the games begin...and an hour and a half later of driving through just about every street in Joburg and surrounding suburbs and Jen trying to read a SA map (she was riding with Carina) we decided to drive to the stadium and find a place to park around the stadium.  What this means is a little bit of a walk b/c they shut down blocks surrounding Ellis Park.  While driving through Over-the-Rhine areas over and over again we got close to the Park.  As we got close to the stadium..everyone and I mean EVERYONE was sprinting after our car to get us to park in their lots.  We are still following Carina still at this point...Brandon is about to have an anxiety attack from driving for about 2 hours!  Yeah...we listened to the entire Germany vs. Serbia game...the ENTIRE GAME WHILE DRIVING and Jen was still reading SA maps with Carina!  We found a parking lot that looked a little shady...but with 30 mins till game time we went in.  So here is the deal..you don't pay to park in this lot...you pay someone to watch your car to make sure no one either breaks into it or steals it.  Its like that around Ellis Park.  But we don't pay till we get back...we said ok and about ran to the stadium...20 mins till gametime now...we need to get there for the National Anthem!!!!  As the 5 of us went through security and got searched we all decided to find a meeting a point after the game since none of us had cell phones.  We found a green house to meet after and Brandon, Justin, and Thomas went on their way.  Meanwhile Jen....while waiting for Mike to decide if his bladder was going to cooperate or not (port-a-let or no port-a-let) before the game the other 3 were making their way to their seats.  Jen and Mike proceeded to the gate to show a ticket and get in.......when Mike asked his wife for his ticket which she promptly replied,"I don't have it"....enter freak out mode.  Mike:"What do you mean you don't have it?"  In the next 5 minutes just picture the worst moment in your lives and put yourself in Mike's shoes.  Trash cans, port-a-lets, everyone person wearing FIFA jackets, and running around like some bully just stole his lunch money from the play ground in 3rd grade.  When suddenly an angel from above named Maikai (FIFA rep) asked Mike if he was missing something.  He asked his name and Mike replied,"Mike Vessels".  He wasn't sure if that was his real name when he said it.  He pulled this ticket out of his vest and presented this ticket as if it was the holy grail.  Mike turned into Barney the big purple dinosaur and hugged everyone in sight.  It was pure ecstasy just like the 3rd goal the US scored....um....yeah.  So the game went on....obviously you all know the 1st half was not very fun but the 2nd half was an entirely different story.  We don't think we have ever been so jubulent in our entire lives.  Wow what an experience that was.  There are no words to describe the game.

After the game we talked to Carina and Ian and they were coming down to meet us at our car to ensure that we knew how to get back to the apartment.  Keep in mind they  live 45 mins away.  We don't have enough words for how these 2 have made our lives so much easier down here.  They have gone above and beyond any expectations we ever had.  We made it back to the apartment and all had a beer and watched the 1st half of the dreadful England vs. Algeria game.  Carina had a headache so they went home and we went around the corner to a pub and mixed it up with some locals.  It was a good time getting to know how people live down here.  We went home after the pub and all hung out watching various TV shows....the replay of the US game...and endulged in some SA wine.  We went through our photos from the day (totalling 176) we shared stories of days playing soccer at the University of Cincinnati and especailly reliving the moments with Tim b/c we will see him play on Sunday!!! 

Off to explore more of SA and see what else this wonderful country has to offer!

The SA crew.

Ps....yes the vuvuzela horns are blown the entire game.  We will be joining in at the NZ game on Sunday.

Over the next two weeks, several of our alumni are traveling to South Africa to see many of the World Cup games and experience the culture.  They arrived just earlier this week and are reporting back......here are some of their stories and pictures!

Friday, June 18, 2010 6:24 AM

Hey all.....just wanted to write a quick email to say we made it last night!!!  We have a detailed email that we wrote out but the internet cafe wont let us use our laptop.....we are on Carina's laptop (lady who we are renting the apartment from) in her store so we have to be quick!  We will send a detailed email of our travels and our first game we are going to in 4 hours!!  USA vs. Slovenia!!!  We will talk soon and send photos!!! 


Sat 6/19/2010 5:05 AM - Day 1 Adventures

Hello all!!!!!

WE MADE IT!!!!!!!!  After 2 short flights of 8.5 and 10.5 hours we landed in Joburg at about 9:30pm.  That is roughly 26 hours after leaving cincy!  All in all the flights weren't as bad as anticipated and they seemed relatively short.  I, Brandon, got the luxury of sitting next to Gavin, a 3 year old on his first ever flight from Detroit to Amsterdam.  That's right, an 8.5 hour flight next to this little ball of energy and evil!  After asking his mom 48 times if we were in the air yet while we were still parked at the gate, he promptly spilled all of his orange juice down the side of my leg 10 seconds after he got it.  His mom left it up to me to clean it up.   His encore performance lasted the rest of the trip included wanting to get out of his seat every 30 minutes (I'm on the aisle), kicking me, and yes...his wonderful tempertantrums. His mom tried to bury the hatchet by offering me her egg sandwich before we got off the plane.  I didn't take it. Lets just say I wasn't the ball of sunshine you would expect me to be landing in Amsterdam however everyone else enjoyed the flight full of movies, video games and free beer and wine.

The flight from Amesterdam to Joburg seemed less like a flight and more like an airbourne party with people our parents age.  Heineken and wine was flying out of galley like the world was running out of it.  No one seemed to ever care what was going on including the flight attendants.  Our particular attendant seemed more of a bartender than a flight attendant.  Lets just say that 5 minutes before we landed the fasten seat belt sign was on and about 30 people were standing around having a chat and a drink.  As we landed the 5 of us realized that 3 important things needed to happen now.  There were some anxious moments while exiting the flight.  Were our bags going to make it?  Was Carina going to not only exist but be there to show us how to get to the apartment?  Were the rental car people going to be there with our car?  After we went through  customs....after 20 minutes all of our fears were put to rest...our bags came...and Carina and the rental car people were standing next to each other holding signs with BRANDON DOBBS and MR T W Weable.  At that moment we realized that this trip was going to be the best!  Thomas took the reigns behind the right hand drive on the left side of the road.  To be quite honest...he looked like he had done it before!  We got to the apartment all in one piece!  When we arrived at the apartment with Carina and Ian (her husband) they had a bottle of South African wine and biltong, which is a SA deleciatacy.  It is the equivalent to beef jerky back in the states.  Carina and Ian left and the 5 of us had a glass of wine to settle down from a long day and lights out were around 1:30am.  Big day today with the USA vs. Slovenia game at 4pm SA time.  We will be blowing our vuvuzela horns and hopefully celebrating a USA victory!  Off to start the day.

The SA crew

Movies watched on the flights:

Invictus : 2.5 stars out of 5.  "Fell short of its potential"  Morgan Freeman 2 thumbs up.

Hurt Locker: 3 stars out of 5.  Could have been 3.5 but Justin fell asleep.

Edge of Darkness: 2.5 stars out of 5.  "Lacked plot" Mel Gibson 2 thumbs way down.

Invention of Lying: 3.5 stars out of 5.  Good idea for a movie.  B lists that made cool cameos.

Law Abiding Citizen: 4.5 stars out of 5.  "Gerald Butler was a bad man"  "Storyline kept you guessing"

Alice in Wonderland: 1.5 stars out 5.  Jen watched 13-15 minutes.  Maybe better in 3-D

Precious: 3.5 stars out of 5.  Jen watched and Mike disagreed with this rating but has not seen it.

 

Cheers!!

 

The SA crew



TV Timeout...

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After watching the Celtics graciously hand the title to the Lakers and with the impending football pre-season rapidly approaching, I need to recharge the batteries. 

I'm taking a Box Blog Break (say that 3 times) and when I return, it will be closer to Big East football season unless they're in another conference upon my return. Thank you for reading and responding and we will fire up the pen (keyboard) and look forward to a great run!

That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat...


Do you ever wonder what happens to the rest of the world when this tournament is going on?  This article looks at this event from the perspective of several other countries and it is worth a look.

Here is the link .

So, how productive are you during the World Cup games?  At least, I am writing this blog.

Hard at work,

UC Soccer Staff 

Day 6 Recaps - Argentina, Greece, and Mexico earn 3 pts today

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Day 6 Recap

Was another very competitive day of games today.  In the first game, Greece came back from a goal deficit to beat Nigeria 2-1 and earn their first World Cup win ever.  They benefited from a needless red card earned by Nigeria midway through the game.  Although Greece won this game, they will struggle against Argentina in their third game and remain at 3 pts for the tourney.It will be up to South Korea to take care of Nigeria and earn a trip to the second round.  Nigeria, usually an African standout, has been very disappointing playing in Africa.  Another GK error, this time from the usually strong Nigerian keeper made the difference in the score line.  Nigeria had many chances to score even with 10 men but failed to show composure in front of the goal.  From an entertainment value, this game had it all so check out the replay if you missed it. 

In the second game, traditional power Argentina was a joy to watch in the attack as they pushed the tempo and created many scoring chances against a very disciplined and organized South Korea side.  Lionel Messi was nasty in this game and had a hand in all 4 Argentina goals.  Although he didn't score one and his teammate Higuaine recorded a hat trick and scored 3 goals, there is no argument that Messi is the "straw that stirs the drink."  Argentina won 4-1 and took complete control of their group. 

The afternoon game featured 2 excellent teams on paper, 2006 World Cup runner-up France against CONCACAF stallwart Mexico.  France needed to prove that their first game was a fluke and they didn't get it done.  Mexico wins 2-0 and looks very good in the game.  France didn't play well as a team and fell to a CONCACAF team for the first time in history.  Les Bluess will most likely make an early exit like they did in 2002, they either go big or go home and this year it appears as though they are done.......please try to score a goal in your third game, your team is loaded with high profile EPL and UEFA stars.  On the other hand, Mexico is hot and I would not want to have to play them in the second round or the quarters....nice blend of young players and mature experienced veterans that play as a team on both sides of the ball.

Be sure to watch the Day 7 games tomorrow!

Germany vs. Serbia at 7:30 AM

USA vs. Slovenia at 10 AM

England vs. Algeria at 2:30 PM

Go USA!  We need 3 points any way we can get it!

UC Soccer Staff

Day 4 and Day 5 Recaps - What you missed

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Just trying to get caught back up, these links have multiple games on them -

Day 4 Recaps

Netherlands looked classy and played good attacking football and were rewarded with 2 goals against the Danes (Denmark).  Very impressed with Dutch subs who game in and changed the game.  #17 Elia came on as left midfielder and immediately showed why he is the future of Clockwork Orange.....athletic, skillful, pacy, composure in front of goal.  What this guy play, he looks super human at times.

Japan were resilient and determined against Cameroon and were rewarded with a 1-0 win.  Cameroon disappointed with a lack of creativity in the attacking third, they played more direct than most African nations usually do.  Hopefully, Cameroon can use their WC experience and rally in their second and third games.

Italy and Paraguay drew 1-1 thanks to yet another GK error by Paraguay.  Both these teams seemed poised to advance in their group and this result might just help them do so.  With all 4 teams having tied 1-1, advantage will always go to the teams that have been there before.  New Zealand and Slovakia will both struggle against these teams in the next round.


Day 5 Recaps

Late goal by New Zealand gives Kiwis a chance to celebrate their first point ever in a World Cup.  Having only been here once 28 years ago, New Zealand's WC history was losing 3 games, conceding 12 goals, and scoring none.....so they have really to celebrate how far they've come.  No appearance by UC's own Tim Brown due to injury 3 weeks prior to this game, we hope that he'll be healthy to contribute in the All Whites next match or two.   Best of luck to both of these teams as the road will get much steeper from here on out.

For such a quality match-up on paper, the Ivory Coast vs. Portugal 0-0 draw was a poorly played game.  Both teams failed to commit everything that they had to win the game.  Seeing Christiano Ronaldo hit the post and Drogba play the last 30 minutes were expected, but seeing the Ivory Coast fail to serve a corner kick in at the end of the game was very disappointing.  One of those teams is going to regret not playing this game with a little bit more vigor because Brazil will advance from this Group G of death.....therefore, someone will be going home earlier than they had hoped......Portugal most likely to exit now with North Korea.

Brazil defeats North Korea 2-1 and North Korea competed very well but were simply outmatched in this game.  A GK error early in the second half helped Brazil to break the game open and be rewarded for their persistent attacking style.  North Korea fought with pride and were rewarded with a late goal against the run of play.  Don't think this goal will prove costly at the end of Group play, but you never know.  Brazil still on track to win Group G but they will need to be in form to do it.

Sorry for the delay getting you caught back up, these games are so intriguing that my entire day schedule is turned on it's hear to see the games as they happen.  Stay tuned for some second round action coming up.  This is where things get interesting.  Expect to see 2 or 3 players have multiple goal games in their run for the golden boot award.  Please let us know who you think has a good chance of winning it.

Second Round, here we go...........

UC Soccer Staff

World Cup Upset Alert! Swiss Shock Spain in Group H play

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Switzerland upsets Spain 1-0 shocking the soccer world!  Despite being out possessed, out shot, and out played for most of the game, the resilient Swiss scored a second half counter goal to defeat one of the tourney favorites, Spain.

Check out the recap .  Having picked them as my World Cup Champs, I must feel kind of silly right now as does most of the soccer world.  Even if Spain recovers and wins their next 2 games, it is likely that we may see Spain against Brazil in the second round which would be more like a final than a second round game.

Tactically, Spain did everything they could to create quality chances especially in the first half.  But compact organized defending and good GK play allowed the Swiss to preserve a shutout.  Spain did not lose a game in all of WC qualifying, going 10 - 0 and only conceding a few goals while scoring them in bunches.  They will be back and I still have faith that they will advance.

In earlier Group H action, Chile outplayed Honduras and won 1-0 in a one sided affair.  Chile should have scored 2 or 3 in the second half as well but Honduras GK made the save of the tourney.  Chile is a side to contend with and they very likely to win this group if they can hold serve against the Swiss and get a point from Spain.  Check out the recap of the Chile-Honduras game.

Stay tuned this afternoon, cheer on Bafana Bafana (South Africa) as they look to enjoy host nation power against Uruguay.  This is a pivotal game for both teams that need 3 points to take control of the group.  Game time at 2:30 pm. EST today.

Don't you just love World Cup time!

UC Soccer Staff

...And Away We Go!

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Well the first shot has been fired and the Pac 10 has welcomed Colorado, formerly of the Big 12, to their conference. Others are lining up and jockeying for position as the fight for Super-Conference supremacy takes center stage. The SEC is eyeing Big 12 schools and the Big Ten has its sights set on Nebraska. Now comes word that Texas is staying in the Big 12 but will it hurt or help their national title runs in the future? You can hear the prevailing argument now: we won all our conference games and we were undefeated outside the conference as well. 

But then one of the super conferences will have a strength of schedule 3rd place team with a couple of losses getting a bowl bid over an undefeated team and thus you have college basketball part II. You know the complaints leveled against the Big East for having 8 teams in the tournament and so on and so on...

This, to me isn't going to end up well and what happens to a basketball strong conference like the Big East, who's football isn't a strong suit? What happens to an A 10 who has a couple of football teams who may move up due to vacancies in conferences bigger than theirs? Who knows? The bottom line is we won't know until several years from now whether it was all worth it, the jockeying and relocating, but the bigger issue is watching how the NCAA ranks the conferences this year and next year when the moves are scheduled to take place. Who emerges as THE conference and the TV darling? who gets the ESPN game of the week? the ABC prime time game? All this and more on the next episode of "All My Conferences". 

Stay tuned; I am...

That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat

Off into the sunset

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The final year of the Cincinnati Post was one of the toughest years of my life.

 

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop thinking about what jobs I would have to work to make ends meet. You know, since my journalism career was about to come to an end. The garbage truck would rumble by the house at 7 a.m., and I thought to myself, "Well, I guess I could be a garbage man." The restaurant server would refill our water glasses, and I thought to myself, "Well, I guess I could be a waiter again."

 

The guy who gets your coffee, I could do that. The guy who paints lines on the streets, I could do that. The guy who cleans the roadkill off those freshly-lined roads, I could do that.

 

The paranoia and insecurity got to be ridiculous. I remember taking a trip to New York City to cover a Xavier-Fordham basketball game, and as former Enquirer reporter Dustin Dow and I walked back to the hotel at 1 a.m., I thought about my new career path and how sad I was that my sports writing career could be cut short after just six years. Meanwhile, I pointed out all my new potential occupations (pan-handling seemed like a decent jumping-off point).

 

But I got lucky on two different occasions. First, a few days after the Post officially closed on Dec. 31, 2007, Todd "T-Bone" Cunningham, formerly of Bearcat Lair, e-mailed and asked me to work with him. I did. Then, after Todd and I parted ways, UC associate AD Mike Waddell and John Mason - the VP and GM of Cincinnati's IMG outfit - set up a meeting and told me their plans to remake gobearcats.com.

 

Turn it into a place where UC fans, wanting the latest news and features and interviews, could click and feel satisfied afterward. I accepted their offer, and two years later, I feel like we've begun to accomplish those goals. Surely, there have been some missteps along the way, and the web site isn't exactly the finished product we all hope it can be. But it's got the potential. It's got people behind the scenes who really care about making gobearcats.com your one-stop shop for all things UC. It could and will happen.

 

Unfortunately, I won't be along for the ride as they continue the journey. Today, on June 14, I'm starting work for CBSSports.com as an NFL blogger. Then, in late August, I'll be moving to Atlanta with my wife and twin babies so she can begin a fellowship in forensic psychiatry. We'll be there for a year, and then, most probably, we'll move on somewhere else.

 

Likewise, gobearcats.com will get a fresh new voice to cover football and men's basketball. I know who it is, but I'll let UC make that announcement. I will say, though, that my successor will do a fantastic job. That should be exciting for gobearcats.com readers - of which I will remain.

 

I've lived in Cincinnati for six years, and the city has really grown on me since moving here from the south. I've ingested it into my soul, and there it will stay for the rest of my life. This was the first city in which I actually lived with my wife. Where I bought a home. Where I learned so many lessons of life - good and bad. Where I wrote a book. Where I fathered two amazing little babies. Where I've made some of the best friends ever.

 

Where we're extremely sad to leave.

 

The other night, my wife went out to dinner with some colleagues, and she got to talking with one of her preceptors, a big UC fan. He talked to her about how much he loved Bearcats Rising and how often he checked the blog. My wife - as Bill Koch might say - is rarely impressed by anything Josh Katzowitz-related, and it always knocks her off her game just a bit when somebody recognizes me out in the real world.

 

She came home from the dinner, though, and she was beaming. She thought, for just a minute, that I was pretty cool. Either that, or Bearcats fans who follow me on Twitter should be doing something more important with their lives. I'd like to think it was the former.

 

That said, those are the kind of fans - those who like what I write and how I write it, and those who aren't nearly as impressed - who have made it a pleasure to cover UC these past few years. From Jamual Warren fantasizing about walking off a bridge to Mardy Gilyard describing his car-as-a-home arrangement; from Ron Allen hitting that 3-pointer on Senior Night to Tony Pike's reaction after he found out the Bearcats would play Florida in the Sugar Bowl, I've got to experience - and write about - some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows.

 

I've got a list of people to thank for allowing me to do that.

 

For T-Bone, I'll always be grateful for keeping me from having to fill out the garbage man application. For Waddell and Mason, I appreciate the chance to contribute to the start of something that could - and will - be really cool. For Jeremy Martin, Mike Harris, Ryan Koslen, Lara Thornton and John Berry of the SID department, I appreciate all the help and support you've given to all the media folks in this town and the friendships we've formed (over sporcle.com, no less). But most of all, I thank the fans of my blogs past and present - the Post blog, the BCL blog and the Katz on the Cats blog.

 

You guys have been great and encouraging, and I appreciate all the positive (and negative) feedback you've given me during the past three years. I thank you for supporting Bearcats Rising. I thank you for stopping me at football games or tracking me down at basketball games just to make small talk.

 

Most of all, I thank you for reading. It is, after all, what a writer needs most, and I thank you for giving me that special gift. I thank you for allowing me to stay in my chosen profession. As former UC SID Kelby Siler used to answer when you'd ask him how he was, I've been living the dream. I thank you for making that possible.

Catching Up from the Weekend

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Good Monday morning!  It's always a little easier to be at work when there are three World Cup matches on throughout the day.

A few things to catch up on from the weekend:

This will be very important for the U.S. going forward: U.S. to Evaluate Tim Howard Rib Injury
Howard was easily the best player on the U.S. side against England, making numerous saves, including a few spectacular ones.  The Americans will need him in goal if they expect to get out of group play, especially after the Slovenia-Algeria result from Sunday.

Some great ratings for the U.S. - England match on ABC.  At the local Kroger and Biggs grocery stores over the weekend, we spotted several shoppers sporting team USA gear and I would venture that a lot of the hot dogs, burgers, chips, and libations were being purchased for any number of World Cup watch parties. 

Interesting read on World Cup attendance issues.

A couple things on the ESPN broadcasts.  The worldwide leader has done a tremendous job of providing insight with its bevy of former players and managers from around the world.  I have been very impressed with Bob Ley's anchoring duties.  He is one of the all-time great broadcasters and it is clear he has done his World Cup homework. 

One thing we could probably use less of is the slo-mo instant replays.  Very cool technology and it is useful at certain moments, but a slo-mo of every "hands-on-the-head after rifling a shot 12 yards over goal" is a bit much.

Here's a neat piece on the voices of the World Cup on ESPN.  Glad they didn't just plug their own people in there.  Can you imagine Chris Berman shouting "Dempsey to Donovan and he COULD GO ALL THE WAY"?

Just settling in to watch the remainder of the Japan-Cameroon match.  The Netherlands defeated Denmark, 2-0, in the early match.  Italy begins its defense of the cup this afternoon against Paraguay.  Enjoy!

UC Soccer Staff


Day 3 Recap - Review of Sunday Games

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Day 3 is complete!

A bit better timing today for this post.  Story of the day was Germany, and red cards.......all 3 games had a red card issued during a critical part of the game.  Lack of composure and poor decisions were the difference for Algeria, Serbia, and Australia today as all 3 teams had red cards and all 3 ended up losing their opening match of the 2010 World Cup today. Oh yeah, and Germany was the best team that has played to date.

Slovenia 1, Algeria 0
ESPN Recap of this game

Group C driver seat belongs to Slovenia for now.  Poor goalkeeping changed the result of yet another Group C game as the Algerian GK struggled to make a routine save to far post. Slovenia made the most of their man advantage in second half.  Game overall was average at best and both sides showed vulnerability and athletic limitations.  The US and England should be able to match up well with both teams but with Slovenia already on 3 points, each game becomes a must win for the favorites.  US really needs to win both games and beat England in goal differential to win the group mainly because who would want to play Germany in the second round with as well as they are playing right now.  Can't wait to see how Group C plays out.  Stay tuned.

Ghana 1, Serbia 0
ESPN Recap of this game

First penalty kick of the 2010 World Cup proves to be an important one as Ghana surges past a talented Serbian side.  Ghana becomes first African nation to win a game on the African continent.  There is no question that the most athletic footballers come from Africa, lots of players with pace and skill.  Serbian players lost some composure midway through the second half and it resulted in a second yellow and a hand ball in their own box.  Serbia had several quality chances that they missed or had saved by Ghana's GK who did well.  Look for Ghana to run past Australia and into the second round.  Ghana vs. Germany will be a treat as well.  Serbia will need to regroup and get some help in order to advance.....stranger things have happened.  They are good enough to win their remaining 2 games but likely to drop points somewhere.

Germany 4, Australia 0

ESPN Recap of this game

Watching Germany in the opening round of the World Cup is like seeing a rerun of your favorite movie in which you already know the ending.  The Germans consistently start very fast and score a lot of goals in their opening game.  Today they scored 4 but could have had 6 - 8 against a struggling Australia side who was nowhere close to the 2006 World Cup quarterfinalist team we saw last tournament.  Seeing Klose header for second goal was just like the 5 header goals he scored in the 2006 World Cup at home........Podolski netting the first goal was just like how he finished his last tournament as well.  Germany was so convincing today that I would argue that they are the best team we have seen so far.  They moved well on and off the ball, they used the whole field, they ran behind the Soccer Roos at will and also showed their finishing prowess.  New favorite player = Mezut Ozil #8 ACM for Germany (his movement and creativity on the ball has the Aussies spinning all day!).  So, Germany and Ghana in good positions to advance from Group D but much soccer still to be played.  I really suggest that you watch Group D games closely moving forward as the potential USA opponent in the second round will be either first or second from this group.  Germans will most likely win Group D, so the USA could get a rematch of their 2006 group game with Ghana if they can find away to win Group C outright.  Go USA!  Aussies future in tourney even dimmer with F Tim Cahill's straight red card as he will miss both remaining group games......uh, note to self, bring more than 3 forwards on your 23 man roster to the World Cup....you never know when your gonna need one.  Klose now with 11 World Cup goals, 3 more ties the German record, 4 more tied the World Cup record, 5 more.........get on your golden boots!

Games to see on Monday!

Netherlands vs. Denmark at 7:00 AM (Group E game)
Japan vs. Cameroon at 10 AM (Group E game)
Italy vs. Paraguay at 2:30 PM (Group F game)

Thanks for reading.  Some of the future's great players are emerging in these games.  Let us know who your favorites are when you get a chance.

UC Soccer Staff

News from South Africa - Ryan Lavigne, current player

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We will from time to time include exerpts from some of our current players, former players, and friends of the UC Soccer program.  I just got an email this morning from Ryan Lavigne, who just completed his first year with our program.  He is native to the Cincinnati area and played his HS soccer at Sycamore.

He is traveling to South Africa for 3 weeks to experience the greatest game on the greatest stage.....this is his initial post:

"After 5 days of traveling with stops in new York and Doha we finally made it to south Africa yesterday. The atmosphere on the plane was great. Fans from all over filled the plane all wearing there jerseys and some waving large flags. The airport was the same way. We watched the USA England game at the bar at the guest house that were staying at.  England has a serious keeper issue, USA didn't look too bad.  Our first game isn't until Denmark vs. Holland tomorrow at twelve thirty but were headed to Johannesburg today. Will check back in after the game."     - Ryan Lavigne




Day 2 Recap - Review of Saturday Games

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Day 2 is complete!

Sorry for the delay of this post, still enjoying the World Cup festivities to the fullest.  Story of the day was early goals.......all 3 games had a goal scored in the first 10 minutes of the game.  Prepared but nervous on most occasions but nevertheless if forced some tactics to change and more teams had to really come out and play in order to try to equalize.

South Korea 2, Greece 0
ESPN Recap of this game

Very clear message sent to Group B that South Korea is for real.  Organized in defense, quick and technical all over the pitch, good on the counter, dangerous on restarts......all the makings for good games ahead with Argentina and Nigeria.  They could have beaten Greece by 4 goals today.  As for Greece, long gone are the days of EURO 2004, they looked more like the 1994 Greece team that lost 3 games and gave up 10 goals in their last World Cup appearance.  Playing a 4-3-3 without creating chances left plenty of space wide for South Korea to exploit throughout the day.  Bad giveaway led to second goal but game was never really in doubt.  Begin to think that South Korea will really give Argentina a good game later on so keep your eye on that one cause it will be for the Group B winner.

Argentina 1, Nigeria 0
ESPN Recap of this game

Diego Maradonna gets his first World Cup win as a coach and he still managed to get his hands on the ball several times throughout the game.  Argentina were very entertaining with the ball, good passing and movement, Lionel Messi top class in the final third, especially on and around the ball. Argentina looked like they were in a 4-1-4-1 with both Messi and Tavez with a lot of free reign in midfield to move and find the ball.  Argentina did not put Nigeria away and should have been punished for it, they barely kept their 1-0 margin and conceded several quality chances to Nigeria in transition and late in the game.  They didn't get hurt today but a better team will hurt them later in the tournament if they don't close a team out with a second goal or a defensive stronghold.  For Nigeria, their GK was awesome today.  They are very athletic but not as cohesive and organized, they also lack a pure goal scorer which will be costly in the next games unless they figure it out.


England 1, USA 1
ESPN Recap of this game

Match Highlights

Great result for the USA considering they didn't play their best game.  USA caught in breakdown early leading to Gerrard goal.  Robert Green GK error brought the USA back to level late in the first half.  Overall, USA was less than convincing defending in the wide positions, back 4 not working cleanly enough to play against good teams.   Tim Howard was a star today for the USA, he made several key saves to keep us in the game.  US did decent job on Rooney, but were unable to take command on midfield in that flat 4-4-2 system.  Better possession for parts in the first half, second half mostly defensive as England pressed and had too many restart opportunities.  USA bent but didn't break down the stretch.  Hopefully coaches will reassess starting 11 to see who will give us the best chance to win against Slovenia next Friday......now 3 points are a must.  For England, just another WC draw.  They will make a change in goal for sure, they got some good minutes from sub Wright-Phillips and Crouch and wide play was solid.  Group C will still be a toss up despite whatever happens tomorrow morning.

Games to see on Sunday!

Slovenia vs. Algeria at 7:30 AM (another Group C game)
Serbia vs. Ghana at 10 AM (Group D game)
Germany vs. Australia at 2:30 PM (Group D game)

Thanks for reading.  Please feel free to chime in and share your thoughts on this tournament.
GO USA!

UC Soccer Staff


US Lineup for England Game

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Ever wonder how many variables go into determining who should start in any game, not to mention a huge World Cup opening game against England.  Bob Bradley has a dilemma on his hands.....he needs experienced, healthy players, who will match up well against the strengths of an England side who scored a lot of goals in qualifying. As players come in and out of form and health, he must put a core group that can execute the team tactics for the game as well......here is some news about the lineup so far.......

Bob Bradley comments on Altidore Start

Knowing this info, now he will need to determine if winning midfield is most important or playing a system that was comfortable for them in qualifying will work best.

Here are some thoughts:

System 4-2-3-1 (will discuss below)

Goalkeeper

Tim Howard a lock as GK........most experienced GK in the best form.....he will need to make 1 or 2 big saves for his team tomorrow if they are going to have a chance to win.

Defenders

Jonathan Spector at right back, Oguchi Onyewu and Jay Demerit in the center, Carlos Bocanegra on the left.....this unit will need to be better than they were at the end of qualifying because England's strength is in their attacking 6 players including the likes of Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Heskey, Lennon, Cole, etc........yea, these guys can all play and score.

Midfielders

Ricardo Clark and Michael Bradley in the center, playing behind Landon Donovan as a withdrawn forward or attacking central midfielder
Clint Dempsey on the left side of midfield, Stuart Holden on the right side of midfield.....this unit is the strength of the US side, experienced players that create space and play well in transition......will need to secure loose balls,create 1v1s and generate good service chances as well.

Forwards

Jozy Altidore as the lone forward.  He is going to need some help to crack the John Terry led back line of England.  Big fella, find some open space and open the game up.  Hold the ball up for us so that we can get some players up there to help you.

Why the 4-2-3-1? 
perhaps this system will allow Donovan to have the most space and influence in the game as it would allow either Bradley or Clark to come forward freely as long as the other holds the space in front of the backs.

Who will stop Wayne Rooney?  They will have to do it collectively and try to keep him in front of them.  Two sitting defensive midfielders might help protect the center backs from having too many Rooney back to goal scenarios.

Is one forward too defensive a system?
  could be, however this system can expand to a 4-3-3 in attack and it is a great system to counter attack with.  Other options would be to start Edson Buddle up top with Altidore and have 2 athletic goal scorers however Buddle and Findley have no WC caps between them and might be better served as subs to change the game later.

Based on England's weaknesses in the center of midfield defensively, Donovan could key the US attack in this system.  England still have a new CB and an injured GK not in best form to adjust to.  England will challenge the US defense especially on the flanks and in the restart game but the US have good attacking variables of speed and variety.  Dempsey is more comfortable on left side where he can cut in like he does for Fulham.  Later in game, he may move forward and we could see a DeMarcus Beasley enter in left midfield mainly due to his experience.

In qualifying, the US mainly played a 4-4-2 so let's not be surprised if it reappears.  This system allowed them to have some measure of success last summer in South Africa as well.  Let's hope that team shows up against England!

What are your thoughts?  Add your predicted lineup and system before kickoff.  We'll see what Bob Bradley is thinking once that lineup is announced.  Let's all hope that the US boys are getting some good rest tonight.  Go USA!

DON'T TREAD ON ME! 

UC Soccer Staff

End of World Cup - Day 1

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In case you missed it, ESPN recap of games today:

ESPN Digital Kick - Highlights from SA

Interesting to note that understanding the rules of the game is an important part of being a fan.  Goal scored by Mexico is the 36th minute was properly disallowed due to OFFSIDE in a unique circumstance.  It is important to understand that there must be 2 defending players between the attacker and the goal if they are to receive a forward pass.....when SA GK left goal line and was on the 5 yard line when the cross was headed forward as a pass....this only left one SA defender on the goal line making that Mexican player who received the pass on the 4 yard line in an offside position.  Any questions, contact FIFA. 

Hope Thierry Henry doesn't think that he is going to get a hand ball called in this tourney!  Especially if there is a center ref from Ireland.  He's gonna have to earn his goals for Le Blues.

I am sure there will be plenty of calls discussed at the water coolers for the next month.  So far so good, thanks ref.

Second Game Recap - France draws with Uruguay 0-0

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France 0, Uruguay 0

Opportunity lost for either of these teams to take charge of the group.  France didn't start Malouda or Henry and Anelka showed that he was playing in his first World Cup as he was less than dynamic.  Costly yellow cards for France and a red card for Uruguay could factor in later in this group play.

Not a very good game to watch with most of the play in the midfield area.  France will need to regroup as they face a very good Mexico side in the next game.  Not surprised that Uruguay kept a clean sheet as their defense usually yields very little in this tournament.

Advantage to South Africa Bafana Bafana after Day 1 in Group A.  Look for them to play with passion in the next 2 games.  Everyone has something to play for.....top of the Group still open!

Ok.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's matchups.  Putting our US starting lineups together as well.

Group E

Netherlands
Cameroon
Denmark
Japan


Selections:

Group Winner

Hylton Dayes (HD) - Netherlands
Daniel Ensley (DE) - Netherlands
Jeremy Bonomo (JB) - Netherlands
Chris Black(CB) - Netherlands
Special Guest (SG) - Netherlands

Second Place

HD - Japan
DE - Cameroon
JB - Cameroon
CB - Cameroon
SG - Cameroon

Group F

Italy
Paraguay
Slovakia
New Zealand


Group Winners

HD - Italy
DE - Italy
JB - Italy
CB - Italy
SG - Italy

Second Place

HD - Paraguay
DE - Slovakia
JB - Slovakia
CB - Paraguay
SG - Paraguay

Group G

Brazil
Portugal
Ivory Coast
North Korea


Group Winners

HD - Brazil
DE - Brazil
JB - Brazil
CB - Brazil
SG - Brazil

Second Place

HD - Portugal
DE - Portugal
JB - North Korea
CB - Portugal
SG - North Korea

Group H

Spain
Chile
Switzerland
Honduras


Group Winners

HD - Spain 
DE - Spain
JB - Spain
CB - Spain
SG - Spain

Second Place

HD - Chile
DE - Chile
JB - Honduras
CB - Chile
SG - Chile


Advancing to the Quarterfinals

HD - Mexico, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain
DE - Mexico, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain
JB - France, Algeria, Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Germany, Italy, Spain
CB - France, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Serbia, Italy, Spain
SG - Mexico, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain

Advancing to the Semifinals

HD - England, Brazil, Argentina, Spain
DE - England, Brazil, Germany, Spain
JB - France, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain
CB - France, Brazil, Argentina, Italy
SG - Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Spain

Advancing to the Finals

HD - Brazil, Spain
DE - Brazil, Spain
JB - Spain, France
CB - Brazil, Italy 
SG - Brazil, Spain

2010 World Cup Winner Prediction:

HD - Brazil
DE - Spain
JB - Spain
CB - Brazil
SG - Spain

We'll see how our selections stack up.  Perhaps a new nation will emerge and surprise the rest of the planet........looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Group E

Netherlands
Cameroon
Denmark
Japan


Selections:

Group Winner

Hylton Dayes (HD) - Netherlands
Daniel Ensley (DE) - Netherlands
Jeremy Bonomo (JB) - Netherlands
Chris Black(CB) - Netherlands
Special Guest (SG) - Netherlands

Second Place

HD - Japan
DE - Cameroon
JB - Cameroon
CB - Cameroon
SG - Cameroon

Group F

Italy
Paraguay
Slovakia
New Zealand


Group Winners

HD - Italy
DE - Italy
JB - Italy
CB - Italy
SG - Italy

Second Place

HD - Paraguay
DE - Slovakia
JB - Slovakia
CB - Paraguay
SG - Paraguay

Group G

Brazil
Portugal
Ivory Coast
North Korea


Group Winners

HD - Brazil
DE - Brazil
JB - Brazil
CB - Brazil
SG - Brazil

Second Place

HD - Portugal
DE - Portugal
JB - North Korea
CB - Portugal
SG - North Korea

Group H

Spain
Chile
Switzerland
Honduras


Group Winners

HD - Spain 
DE - Spain
JB - Spain
CB - Spain
SG - Spain

Second Place

HD - Chile
DE - Chile
JB - Honduras
CB - Chile
SG - Chile


Advancing to the Quarterfinals

HD - Mexico, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain
DE - Mexico, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain
JB - France, Algeria, Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Germany, Italy, Spain
CB - France, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Serbia, Italy, Spain
SG - Mexico, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain

Advancing to the Semifinals

HD - England, Brazil, Argentina, Spain
DE - England, Brazil, Germany, Spain
JB - France, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain
CB - France, Brazil, Argentina, Italy
SG - Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Spain

Advancing to the Finals

HD - Brazil, Spain
DE - Brazil, Spain
JB - Spain, France
CB - Brazil, Italy 
SG - Brazil, Spain

2010 World Cup Winner Prediction:

HD - Brazil
DE - Spain
JB - Spain
CB - Brazil
SG - Spain

We'll see how our selections stack up.  Perhaps a new nation will emerge and surprise the rest of the planet........looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Opening Game Recap - Mexico draws with host South Africa

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South Africa 1, Mexico 1

A very entertaining game to start the tournament.  Impressive display by Mexico in first half and showed resilience being able to come back to equalize when the momentum changed in the second half.  Mexico could have scored several times in the first half but South African GK Khune was up to the challenge.

What a wonderful opening goal by South Africa....classic counter attack goal with brilliant strike into far post upper 90.  South Africa could have had 2 or 3 goals in that second half.  This was a classic contrast is styles as Mexico was wide open attacking and possession style team and South Africa was more of an organized explosive counter attacking team.  Good coaching by the Brazilian Parreira as he had Bafana Bafana ready to play.....they were causing Mexico fits in the defensive third.

Both of these teams will need to find a way to get 3 points in their next game if they'll want to advance.  France may benefit nicely from this result in Group play. 

Our Staff Predictions for WC 2010 (Groups A - D)

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With the start of the WC today, we have tallied all the selections from our staff.  Let's see how we do:

Group A

South Africa
Mexico
France
Uruguay


Selections:

Group Winner

Hylton Dayes (HD) - Mexico
Daniel Ensley (DE) - Mexico
Jeremy Bonomo (JB) - France
Chris Black(CB) - France
Special Guest (SG) - Mexico

Second Place

HD - France
DE - France
JB - South Africa
CB - Mexico
SG - Uruguay

Group B

Argentina 
Greece
Nigeria
Korea Republic


Group Winners

HD - Argentina
DE - Argentina
JB - Nigeria
CB - Argentina
SG - Argentina

Second Place

HD - Nigeria
DE - Nigeria
JB - Greece
CB - Greece
SG - Greece

Group C

England
USA
Slovenia
Algeria


Group Winners

HD - England
DE - England
JB - Algeria
CB - England
SG - England

Second Place

HD - USA
DE - USA
JB - USA
CB - USA
SG - USA

Group D

Germany
Serbia
Australia
Ghana


Group Winners

HD - Germany 
DE - Germany
JB - Germany
CB - Serbia
SG - Germany

Second Place

HD - Serbia
DE - Serbia
JB - Ghana
CB - Germany
SG - Ghana

Will provide Groups E - H shortly as well as the Quarterfinalists, Semifinalists, and Winners predicted by our staff......stay tuned.


I'm going to drift away from UC women's basketball a bit to sing the praises of what we in Cincinnati have known for some time is one of the best rivalry games in the country: The annual Crosstown Shootout hardwood matchup between UC and Xavier University.

The Ultimate Sports List (www.tusl.com), a free social media-based website for sports travelers, has announced its top 150 sports events and venues in the world--and the annual UC-XU game is ranked number 104, ahead of IU's Little 500, the Belmont Stakes, Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame and Big Blue Madness at the University of Kentucky.

We have seen some monumental matchups in the game over the years, and have seen a lot of NBA stars-to-be battle it out for city bragging rights. In fact, here's how the Ultimate Sports List describes it: "When the University of Cincinnati Bearcats gear up to face the Xavier Musketeers the city of Cincinnati takes a deep, anxious breath."

Bearcat great Oscar Robertson played in the middle of the 'Cats 12-game winning streak against the Muskies. UC followed up that streak four seasons later, with an eight-game winning streak. We've seen number one rankings fall, we've seen overtime battles, including a double overtime classic this past season.

No matter what the records, or what the rankings, the annual UC-XU game is one for the ages. And now, everyone else knows it, too.

 

World Cup Fever........South Africa is Jamming!

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Just watching the festivities in Sewoto..........what a great atmosphere to start the 2010 FIFA World Cup!

Looking forward to the games tomorrow........

Opening Game:

Bafana Bafana (South Africa) up first against El Tri (Mexico)

Host nation power will be great but not strong enough to overcome a very talented and explosive Mexico side that has been playing some of their best soccer at the end of qualifications.  Coach Javier Aquirre will play an open style of attack and South Africa will try to match....predict goals by both teams but 3 for Mexico and only 1 for South Africa.

Players to watch:  Franco (MEX), Vela (MEX), Blanco (MEX), McCarthy (SA)

Second Game:

Los Charruas (Uruguay) against Les Bleus (France)

Despite less than impressive qualification games from France, they always know when to get it done on the world stage.....arguably one of the most talented teams player for player on the planet, it will come down to team chemistry and unity on the pitch.

Look for Diego Forlan to create some good opportunities and test the back line of Les Bleus.  Uruguay will be organized and very physical defensively but France's talent will prove too much in the end.  Between Anelka, Ribery, and Henry along with Malouda and Gourcuff, France is equipped to score goals in bunches if they are on.  Prediction is that France doesn't have it all clicking yet but still manages to squeak by Uruguay either 1-0 or 2-1.  Possibility of a draw is high here too based on Uruguay's style.

Players to watch:  Henry (FRA), Anelka (FRA), Ribery (FRA), Forlan (URU), Abreu (URU sub)

Should be a great day of soccer.  Hope you can tune it to see it like more Americans than ever before.......take a look at this link that shows how the US is really becoming a supportive soccer country......US is a Soccer Country!

Next post will have our staff's predicitons.........talk at you soon.  Feel free to post your predictions and let us know your thoughts before and after these games!  Thanks.

Dan Ensley
UC Soccer Staff




UC Men's Soccer - 2010 FIFA World Cup Blog

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Greeting from the Cincinnati Men's Soccer Office

In less than 48 hours, the world will change as we know it.  A competition so intense, a global battle, will ensue in many cities in South Africa.  The first time the World Cup will ever be held on the African continent.  History in the making!

We would like to invite you to join us from time to time to keep up with this world-wide event over the next 4 1/2 weeks.  Our coaching staff will be discussing and sharing insight into games and items on and off the fields of South Africa that our of interest to us and others.

My name is Daniel Ensley, I am the Associate Head Coach for the men's soccer program here at the University of Cincinnati.  I will, with the help of my colleagues Head Coach Hylton Dayes and Assistant Coaches Jeremy Bonomo and Chris Black, be sharing some information that we will be gathering and preparing before most games. 

From a UC perspective, this is a historic event as we will have a former UC Soccer Beacat captain and player actually helping to lead his country.  Tim Brown, a 2003 DAAP Graduate from the University of Cincinnati, will be vice-captaining the All Whites from New Zealand in Group F play.  His team will compete with Italy, Paraguay, and Slovakia for the rights to advance out of the group.

Here is a picture and a short bio of our boy TImmy:

Biography of Tim Brown

Tim Brown Picture.htm

For your convenience, i have also included the link to the entire World Cup Schedule that is being provided by ESPN;

ESPN 2010 World Cup Schedule

Please stay tuned for our tournament predictions.......we also plan to have on-site reporting and pictures from current and former players who are in South Africa to experience the event.

GET ON YOUR BOOTS!

UC Soccer Staff

CHAMPIONS IN THE CLASSROOM

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I follow Coach Butch Jones on twitter and noticed he was encouraging his players during this final exam week to represent the C on and off the field. I thought for a minute...how legit this is and what it meant to the players. Obviously its legit because the Coach went public with his feelings and expectations; secondly I can't speak for the players but I'm sure it put some of them on notice that if people see them hanging out and not in an environment that is conducive to studying the word may get back to the coach.

We don't know to what degree social media has changes lives and habits but it has. We know information overload is alive and well and this is one time you have to be appreciative of it if you are a parent of a player, concerned alumni or faculty at UC because Coach Jones is basically saying I know its exam week and I expect my players to do their job! What do you expect now that you know its finals week? Do you expect them to focus? stay out of the public eye? avoid distractions,etc.

I can't answer that but I know we have coaches and have coaches that expect academic excellence and yes we've had those to the contrary. We've also had faculty that are on both sides of the fence as well. Its one of the longest running debates on athletes and their obligation to the student part of student-athlete. I, in my brief college hoop career, didn't respect the classroom like I should have until baseball coach Steve Hamilton threatened me with a failing grade if I thought missing class was a perk for athletes. Now I was the lowest form of player, meaning I was a walk on, not a scholarship player or McDonalds All American but I know that faculty and staff are in awe of stars like everyone else and some want to befriend the stars for future perks, thus the grades are "given" vs. earned.

In this day and age of twitter and social media, if that happens someone comped a grade and it becomes public, people will be exposed like never before. The guilty parties will be identified and their crimes posted, shared, copied and pasted before they can say "what had happened...". 

Depending on how you look at it, its a blessing to embrace social media for lots of reasons and it puts people on notice who might prefer to fly under the radar. But if you're representing the "C", "X" or the Norse you can't lay low. You are there to get your grades and game tight and one shouldn't take precedent over the other but I know it does. It shouldn't be so obvious that you disrespect one for the sake of the other. The belief was you can do both, the fact is you need to prove it. The word is Coach Jones is watching and wants us to also.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat

Some random thoughts ...

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 ... running through my head.

 

-How about a Lance Stephenson update. It seems as though Stephenson's NBA Draft stock has risen lately, just like Mick Cronin predicted would happen when he began working out in front of potential employers.

 

Some, like the Sporting News' Mike Decourcy, has written he's hearing buzz that Stephenson might edge his way into the first round - the promised land of guaranteed contracts and plenty of riches. Others, like NBAdraft.net, think Stephenson is still a second-round selection (this web site's most recent mock draft has him going at No. 34 overall to Golden State).

 

But it seems pretty clear that Stephenson is in a better position now than he was when he declared that he would leave UC and enter the NBA Draft. According to an article written by Adam Zagoria of SNY.com, Stephenson's trainer, a guy named Andrew Moore, said Stephenson is improving steadily.

 

"He's been a pleasure," Moore told Zagoria. "He comes in every day and works hard. He's supremely focused. We looked at his body and leaned him out. He's lost some of his body fat. He's more defined and in turn, he's more explosive. He's really benefited from losing a little bit of weight and he's gained lean muscle mass."

 

What Moore is trying to accomplish is to improve Stephenson's deficiencies. Although Stephenson, especially later in the Bearcats season, could be mighty impressive in taking over a game, he struggled from the 3-point line (shooting 21.9 percent) and he was mediocre from the foul line (66.4 percent). His assist-to-turnover ratio also was unimpressive (84 assists to 81 turnovers).

 

But there's no denying Stephenson's talent, and though I think he'll still fall to the second round, it wouldn't be shocking to see him taken in the first.

 

"I like being the underdog," he told hoopsworld.com http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=16268. "Having everybody doubting me and saying, 'Oh, he's not ready," I just want to show everybody different."

 

-In case you didn't hear - and I'm sure you probably didn't - a couple of former Bearcats football players were selected in the UFL draft Wednesday night. Antonio Chapman - who was on the Bengals roster last year - was taken by Sacramento in the sixth round, and Curtis Young, who had a tryout with the Bengals during rookie minicamp, was taken in the 10th round by Sacramento.

 

Good for those guys. I have admiration for former college standouts who don't give up on their dreams, no matter how minor league their current situation is. I admire Ben Mauk and Terrill Byrd and Dominick Goodman for playing in that indoor football league. I'll admire Young if he takes that spot in Sacramento. I admired Dominic Ross when I met up with him a few years ago after he had played an AF2 game.

 

The money is minimal, but the exposure can lead to dreams that come true. Ask Kurt Warner about that.

 

-It's impressive the way Butch Jones (or somebody playing the role of Butch Jones) has taken to Twitter. It's the wave of the present, and it's something that can be used to great effect. A coach has to want to do it, though, for it to be effective. The best local one I've seen lately is Xavier basketball coach Chris Mack's feed. But Jones isn't too far behind.

New Season Taking Shape

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Yes, I know we're heading into the summer months and one of the few times that, at least periodically, college basketball coaches can take a break and get some R and R in. But the latest release from the UC women's basketball program shows that the hard work that Coach Jamelle Elliott and her staff have been putting in since the end of the season, is paying off.

 

This last group of recruits includes LaShay Banks from Philly, Bjonee Reaves from California and the player a lot of Cincinnati-area fans will be watching with interest, Dayeesha Hollins.

 

Dayeesha is coming home from an outstanding freshman season at Michigan. I had the chance to watch her Wolverine team when Michigan visited Xavier this past season and defeated the Top 10-ranked Musketeers on their home floor. Dayeesha had a posse of family and friends cheering her on, and she didn't disappoint, scoring 22 points in front of the home crowd, including a layup with 17 seconds remaining to seal the win for the Wolverines.

 

In fact she averaged 12 points a game for Michigan and got a spot on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team. But she wanted to come home, so she's decided to transfer--and she's found a new home at UC.

 

Now, every coach knows how important it is to mine local talent. UC has been one of the best at it, from men's basketball, to football, to soccer and volleyball and beyond. And it's mainly because the Greater Cincinnati area is blessed with incredibly good high school sports programs.

 

But let's face it, a number of the very best girls' basketball players from this area have gone somewhere else to play: Tennessee, Ohio State, UConn, Vandy and, yes, Michigan. Dayeesha's decision to come home to play could just be the signing that Coach Elliott needs to show that yes, you can play in the highest levels, on the biggest stages, of college basketball, and do it right at home.

 

Dayeesha will sit out a year because of transfer rules, but that'll give her a year to learn the Coach Elliott system. In the meantime, we look forward to having the Winton Woods fans be part of Bearcat Nation. And it'll be fun to watch, once Dayeesha and the rest of the new recruiting class get on the court.

CARAVAN OF LOVE

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The University of Cincinnati football caravan is off and running and what a novel idea for college arm wrestling in the state of Ohio. We all know that Ohio State football is king of football and rightfully so; no one can argue their dominance and national championships but no one can argue either that the entire state belongs to them. UC, this past year, was ranked higher than the Buckeyes and there were plenty of reminders via T-shirts, blogs, signs, etc. The national media has fallen in love with UC and yes former coach Brian Kelly gets a lot of that credit whether you like it or not. But they still love UC and I know they're going to love Coach Butch Jones as well. He is his own man, and a football guy and that will go over well in a football crazed state.

So with the caravan, something the Cincinnati Reds have mastered, UC football has a chance to connect with cities within the state that offer some of the best talent to college football teams across the country. Michigan loves coming here, as do teams in the Big East, SEC, ACC...you get my drift. So what would happen if those players started staying here in bunches? well look at UC the past few years and you have your answer.

So as the Isley Brothers say "Every woman every man, join the caravan of love..." 

With coach Jones in tow there is room for you to get on board; and you, and you too. Why not? Ohio State has enough fans and hanger-ons to last through the next century. And for the rest of the football fans in the state who chose otherwise, you finally have an option in the state to root for: The University of Cincinnati; The UC who has won the Big East; played in two straight BCS games and bring back enough firepower to give us hope they can do it again. With coach Butch Jones, I think they will. With you on board they odds increase; so join the Caravan of Love. Who knows, you could be on the front end of a new football dynasty in the state of Ohio and in a position to lend a hand to the bandwagon fans who will join you sooner rather than later. They'll need help getting on board the Caravan...

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat.