The World's Game In The Heart of the Sun Belt

Alpharetta Ambush wins USYSA national title

The Alpharetta Ambush cruised to the U.S. Youth Soccer Association’s Under-17 boys national championship last week, dominating both group play and the finals, defeating a St. Louis team 4-1.

The Ambush was the only Georgia team to win a national title this year. GSA’s Phoenix Red team, which also made the boys U-17 field, tied the Ambush 1-1 in group play.

Forward Karl Chester, who is committed to play college soccer at Alabama-Birmingham, scored seven goals during the tournament, which was played in Overland Park, Kan.

Also reaching the nationals were the Concorde Fire Elite (U-13 boys), NASA Elite II (U-16 girls) and AFC Lightning (U-18 girls).

July 27, 2010   226 Comments

Atlanta Beat’s Bachmann has ailing back

It’s been a long summer for Ramona Bachmann, the 19-year-old Swiss prodigy the Atlanta Beat made its top international draft choice.

She’s scored just one goal in six games in Women’s Professional Soccer, and now a sore back is limiting her time with the Swiss team at the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

Bachmann was pulled from the first half of Switzerland’s 5-0 loss to the U.S. Saturday. She said the back has been bothering her for the last couple of years and stems from one leg being a bit longer than the other:

“After the World Cup I shall go and see a specialist. If it needs an operation I will have to do it. I am just 19 and my big, big goal is to be the best in the world and for that I need to be fit.”

The Swiss are all but eliminated from the group stage after losing their first two matches. Their group finale is Wednesday against Ghana.

Some very good news for the Beat on the field: They earned their first WPS road victory by downing FC Sky Blue 1-0 on Sunday night. Eniola Aluko got the lone goal of the match in the 7th minute.

Atlanta returns home for a Wednesday match against Chicago at 7:30 p.m. at the KSU Soccer Stadium.

July 19, 2010   1 Comment

Atlanta World Cup group holds fundraiser

On Thursday the World of Coca-Cola in Midtown Atlanta will be the venue for a screening of “Pelada,” a documentary about improvisational soccer around the world.

Tickets are $50 each and the event, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. includes a reception and silent auction. It is a fundraiser on behalf of the Atlanta Bid component of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s bids for the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.

To purchase tickets or for more information call 678-993-2116.

July 7, 2010   4 Comments

Plenty of WPS All-Star Game activities, links

The Women’s Professional Soccer league All-Star Game is Wednesday at the Kennesaw State soccer complex, and some of the country’s top women’s soccer bloggers are in town chronicling all the activities leading up to and including the match.

Jeff Kassouf of the Equalizer blog is doing an All-Star Journal and also wrote about Monday’s pick ‘em event that determined the starting lineups. That’s a novel way to do it!

Jenna Pel of the All White Kit blog is trying to make her way from Houston to Atlanta, but summer airline snafus have her delayed.

And the official WPS site has much more on the game, which was almost immediately awarded to the home venue for the Atlanta Beat as a showcase for the first women’s soccer specific stadium in the country.

June 29, 2010   1 Comment

Atlanta youth teams shine at USYSA regional

Four Atlanta youth soccer boys teams reached the finals of the U.S. Youth Soccer Association’s Division III championships in Baton Rouge last weekend, with the Alpharetta Ambush defeating Gwinnett Soccer Association’s Phoenix Red in the Under-17 finals.

Also taking home a trophy was the Concorde Fire Under-15 team, while that club’s Under-16 team was defeated in the finals.

Soccer America has all the particulars.

June 25, 2010   3 Comments

Atlanta soccer weekend, June 19-20

• The Atlanta Beat scored its first victory in Women’s Professional Soccer Saturday but even more impressively did so without its full contingent of players that has been enhanced since the folding of St. Louis Athletica.

The Beat doesn’t have much time to enjoy its victory, however, as it plays host to Philadelphia Wednesday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennesaw State soccer complex.

• Atlanta FC got a point in NPSL play Saturday in a 1-1 draw with FC Chattanooga.

• The Atlanta Blackhawks trailed Mississippi 3-0 Saturday in their PDL contest at Alpharetta High School, then staged a late comeback, scoring twice in the last eight minutes for a 3-3 draw.

• The Silverbacks women got back on the winning track in the W-League with a 2-0 clean sheet over Tampa Bay Hellenic.

June 21, 2010   1 Comment

A delay for Atlanta, U.S. World Cup bids?

Could Atlanta — and the other cities that are part of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s World Cup bid — experience a delay in their aspirations of playing host to World Cup games? Mihir Bose, a veteran British journalist who covers the politics of international sports, asserts at Inside the Games that the Americans might withdraw their proposal for 2018 and focus instead on landing the 2022 World Cup.

Australia has already done this, sensing that FIFA is lined up firmly behind the 2018 World Cup returning to Europe. If the USSF indeed does follow suit, Bose suggests it won’t happen until the fall, when FIFA lays out the process for its December votes for both 2018 and 2022.

And if you think the International Olympic Committee’s ways are murky, mysterious and unaccountable, Bose has some news for you:

“Now you may think this is a trivial issue but it is actually very important. And in the race for 2018 and 2022, it could well prove quite crucial. The decisions made at that meeting will shape the deals which will decide these races.

“For a start FIFA, being FIFA, its voting system is not quite as clearly set out and rigorous as that of the IOC. Recall back when Korea and Japan were bidding for 2002 and it looked as if Korea might win. João Havelange, then President, having promised Japan the competition, just decided there would not be a vote. The result: both countries shared the competition and Havelange justified it by saying it was necessary to save the face of the loser.

“Sepp Blatter, his successor, cannot quite pull of anything like that. In an IOC vote on bidding cities, the IOC member from the country bidding cannot vote until his or her city is eliminated, but there are no such restrictions in FIFA.”

Bose points out that a “deal” between the U.S. and UEFA, the European confederation, likely exists — the U.S. votes for a European venue for 2018 in exchange for European votes for a second American World Cup in 2022. Already such alliances have been in the works, with the back-scratching expected to reach a fever pitch by December. How it will all shake out is anybody’s guess, but since this is the first time two World Cup nations will be decided at one sitting, expect the unexpected in unprecedented fashion:

“In many ways, the USA’s pitch is similar to that of England: after all the excitement of South Africa, a new continent and all that, come back to safety and security, well organised events, that will also be very profitable. And the more problems the South Africans have, in transport, in stewards walking away from sites, the more the attractive USA becomes compared to its 2022 opponents where Qatar is making  most of the running.

“At the end of the day, the winners in 2018 and 2002 will depend on deals made after FIFA announces the voting procedure in October. And the Americans will do all the running on this.

“How ironic, the new world will decide which country of the world has 2018. It will show football is like politics after all.”

June 17, 2010   1 Comment

Atlanta youth soccer stars in U.S. boys camps

Two top players from Atlanta youth soccer clubs are spending part of their summer in the U.S. Soccer Federation’s boys national team program.

Forward DeAndre Robinson of the Gwinnett Soccer Association is spending this week at the Under 14 Boys National Team camp in New Jersey.

Also in New Jersey is defender Jacob Smith of Concorde Fire South, who is working out with the Under 15 Boys National Team.

In both camps players are participating in regular training sessions while scrimmaging against local clubs.

Smith participated with the U 15s in a previous camp in March in Florida, while Robinson traveled with the U 14s on a trip to Mexico this past spring.

June 16, 2010   13 Comments

Atlanta’s World Cup: Proud time for South Africa

Although he played soccer as a youngster in South Africa, Grant Colliston parlayed his excellence in another sport to take him abroad, and eventually, to Atlanta.

Like many white South Africans, Colliston was immersed in the game and culture of rugby as a youth, first in Johannesburg, and then to Cape Town.

But as the World Cup opened in his homeland last Friday, he was donned in a green South Africa jersey at Fadó Atlanta, which was packed with equal parts cheering on the Bafana Bafana and El Tricolor of Mexico.

“A lot of white kids played soccer, but it’s their preferred game,” Colliston said of black South Africans, who make up the entire Bafana Bafana squad that played to a 1-1 draw with Mexico.

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Colliston left South Africa for England and eventually the U.S. to play semiprofessional rugby, landing here six years ago to compete with the Atlanta Old White club.

Now retired from playing and doing mobile marketing in the Atlanta regional office PowerAde, Colliston, 31, thinks this World Cup could be just as significant — if not more so — than when South Africa played host to and won the Rugby World Cup in 1995, its first major international sporting event following the end of apartheid.

“I think so,” Colliston said. “Back then, a lot of black people didn’t really watch that, but when South Africa got to the final, that changed a bit.”

While that tournament is being credited with helping South Africa begin the long reconciliation process, new hopes are being placed on South Africa’s World Cup hosting role to help develop a sport that stagnated under deep racial divisions. South Africa’s first fully professional soccer league didn’t kick off until 1992, and only a handful of current members of Bafana Bafana – most notably, Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar — are featuring in major European club.

A stirring World Cup-opening goal was scored by Siphiwe Tshabalala of the Soweto-based Kaizer Chiefs, one of South Africa’s most famous soccer clubs that was founded by and named after Kaizer Motaung, the club’s president, who played for the Atlanta Chiefs’ inaugural North American Soccer League championship team in 1968.

South Africa takes the field on Wednesday against Uruguay amid a backdrop of labor troubles that surfaced as the tournament got underway. Some World Cup stewards staged protests in Durban, complaining of low wages, and the country’s reputation for crime problems surfaced before the opener, when several Chinese journalists were mugged in Johannesburg.

“There’s been a lot of talk about ‘Can they do it? Can they put this on?” Colliston said about doubts over South Africa’s ability to stage the world’s biggest sporting event without too many serious hitches.

But he said a visit to South Africa in February inspired his confidence that the World Cup will be memorable for all the right reasons. Indeed, Colliston asserted, although he’s now a permanent resident here and soon will obtain an American passport, the pride he has for the land of his birth has never been stronger.

“I’m almost a U.S. citizen now, but I’ll always be a South African.”

June 15, 2010   2 Comments

A South African team you won’t hear about

The World Cup is well underway, and Bafana Bafana notched a stirring opening match result in a 1-1 tie with Mexico to make the home nation proud.

But Atlanta writer John Turnbull, proprietor of The Global Game, a most sumptuous site for those interested in the intersection between soccer and culture, has written eloquently about a team that may not garner many more headlines than this one during the World Cup.

It’s an openly lesbian team that identifies itself openly as such, which is quite dangerous given the horrific crimes being committed against gay women in South Africa.

The Chosen Few club is getting some attention now from the likes of the BBC and Reuters, although John visited with players there last year on a trip to South Africa during the Confederations Cup.

In an interview with the CBC, Turnbull explains why he focuses on soccer the way he does, especially when it comes to women playing the game:

“There always seems more at stake when women play. They are doing it for love. There isn’t much money for women’s players. It’s a journeyman existence, sometimes going against the wishes of your family and friends. A lot of things are pushing against you.

“It’s always interesting to look at culture in terms of gender and women’s access to sport is sometimes a good indicator of how much equality a society gives its women.”

June 14, 2010   4 Comments