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Back in 2008, St. Louis was a potential destination for the next expansion team in Major League Soccer, which ultimately went to Philadelphia. Soccer fans of St. Louis remained hopeful for another chance. The chance did come—and not just one. But they went to Vancouver, Portland, and then Montreal. Like many possibilities in St. Louis, ideas are served up, but rarely come through. Grandiose idea and the ensuing excitement are the basic building blocks of a St. Louisan’s make up. This city was once the ‘place to be.’ Yet that was over a hundred years ago around the turn of the 20th century. Fast forward to 2012, with a shrinking economy and businesses escaping the urban center, St. Louisans’ hopes and aspirations of obtaining an MLS team are rapidly fading.
Soccer in St. Louis is like a historical novel with the last chapter yet to be written. St. Louis has the fandom, history and nostalgic value that every soccer fan yearns for. This history dates back to the 1950 World Cup. The team that beat England had five St. Louisans. In a span of 15 years from 1959-1974, Saint Louis University won 10 national championships comprised of local players. More currently in today’s game, Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan, Brad Davis and Chris Klein made their respective marks. Now, players such as Tim Ream (now playing for Bolton in the English Premier League after leaving New York Red Bulls), Will Bruin, Tommy Meyer and Brandon Barklage are trying their best to make an impact. Who wouldn’t love to potentially watch local players don the hometown uniform? (see: David Freese). In order to solidify its reputation as this nation’s soccer hot bed it needs to add an MLS franchise. Unfortunately, having immense talent won’t get you an MLS team. As we all know, the MLS is a business and that means one thing: money—something the gateway city lacks in a major way. This is also a sport that is just now starting to see a rise in popularity and return on its investment since its inception in 1996.
As we have seen in this country, soccer is a slow growing sport and business. MLS owners need a mix of patience and love of the game. It’s exciting to think that one of the game’s premier owners (Stan Kroenke) owns the St. Louis Rams, among many other franchises, and is also the majority shareholder of the English Premier League soccer giant, Arsenal. We St. Louisans believe it’s only a matter of time and that this is our golden ticket to obtaining a professional soccer team. We also know that we have what it takes for an MLS franchise to thrive in St. Louis. Hopefully, the fourth time is a charm.
Contributed by Colin Rooney
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Increíble. Spain are the champions of Europe. Again. Their 4-0 destruction of Italy will cement their place as one of the best teams to play in any sport. Spain wraps a four-year cycle from 2008 to 2012 where they won the European Cup twice, the World Cup in between, and won 61 games, lost only six and drew four. Let’s get to the best tweets from the build-up to and the come-down from the final.
Ahead of the match, the mutual respect was on display from the two Mediterranean giants. Sergio Ramos took the time to snap a photo with the peerless Pirlo, arguably the player of the tournament leading up to the final.
After the match ended (and to be honest it was over after Alba’s second goal), it was celebration time for the Spaniards. We got multiple shots of hardware and diminutive playmakers, first from Andrés Iniesta, then Cesc Fàbregas who gave us a shot with both European trophies. Finally, Juan Mata posed with the Henri Delaunay Trophy, his third trophy this year, adding to his FA Cup and Champions League wins with Chelsea.
One of the most impressive things about Spain’s victory, was that they did it without their charismatic captain Carles Puyol and the man who normally finished off their flowing football, David Villa. Both were injured but made it to the final to be a part of the celebrations. Puyol snapped this photo from the foot of Spain’s trophy raising.
What says you? Is Spain the greatest team that sport has ever seen?
This could be the tournament that changes the fabric of the English national team.
With nothing expected from the Three Lions prior to EURO 2012, it was almost a no lose situation for Roy Hodgson, and he certainly came out on top after four spirited displays.
Though spirited, the displays acted mostly to magnify major weaknesses England suffer from. Ball possession, ageing stars, lack of attacking creativity…and oh yeah the inability to win a penalty shootout. You have to be cruel to be kind.
Yet solace can come from youngsters such as Danny Wellbeck, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all getting their first taste of tournament football and flourishing. Wellbeck was particular impressive, as was fellow forward Andy Carroll, both contributing massively with goals and guile in the 3-2 win over Sweden.
Wayne Rooney delivered what he is supposed to do, goals, well one goal at least. Other than that, the games he saw action in — after his suspension forced him to sit out the first two group games — didn’t go well for the man who has the weight of a nation on his broad shoulders. He looked lethargic, wasteful in possession and at times disinterested. I’m not saying Rooney should be dropped, but certainly Hodgson needs to reinvigorate his star mans hunger in an England shirt.
The overriding feeling form the tournament will be hope. Hope that Hodgson is the right man (which he proved with several shrewd tactical switches during the tournament), hope that England’s youngsters can gain a wealth of experience from appearing at a major finals tournament, hope that one day England will actually win a penalty shootout.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Hodgson had three weeks to build his team and mold them into a side which could get results. They did just that, winning two and drawing two of their four games. Respectable. Yes, England must control possession more and dictate the play better. But when have England ever been good and doing that? Certainly not since I was born in 88’. Some may argue for spells under Terry Venables in 1996 but for the most part the English national side have papered over the cracks, qualified regularly for major tournaments and then forgotten all the lessons they’d learned from past failures when they arrive at the big occasions. That has to change.
Roy Hodgson is an intelligent man and football manager. He will already be switching his attention towards qualification for the World Cup in 2014 and learning from Ukraine and Poland. He is eager to give younger players the chance to shine. He should do just that and maybe get them to practice penalties after every training session, if they aren’t anyway. England huffed and puffed their way around stadiums in Kiev and Donetsk this June without ever really looking like world beaters. But the fact of the matter is, they came just a crossbar’s width and Gianluigi Buffon’s intuition away from getting a shot at making the final of the European championships. Something they’ve only ever done twice in the nations proud football history. The only time they’ve made the semis in the modern format was at EURO 1996 and they blew it, to Germany, on penalties. Come on, you know the script by now. In Roy we trust, given time I fully expect him to alter that script by succeeding where his predecessors failed. Next stop, Brazil.