By JAMES CLARKThere's a bit of a format change going on with this post, considering we don't
fashion ourselves a news-based Web site as such. Due to my full-time job commitments, I am only
able to update this blog occasionally. But while I usually post (ill-informed???) opinions, there
are a few things hanging out there that should be addressed in a timely manner: 1) The super soccer
Web site Soccer By Ives enjoyed a moment in the sun during ESPN2's broadcast of the U.
By JAMES CLARKFans of the United States Men's National Team have been counting down the days to
February 11th (7 p.m., ESPN2), when the CONCACAF Hexagonal gets underway to see which three teams
(and possibly a fourth) from North and Central America and the Caribbean get to make the journey to
the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
By JAMES CLARKI had done a lot of"gum flapping during the week leading up to
Sunday's Hammers v. Manchester United match at Upton Park in what turned out to be a rainy-but
raucous East London, based on the television sights and sounds. Although the Hammers were unbeaten
in 8 matches, I wasn't promising a win against the defending champions.
By JAMES CLARKSources tell Pardew's Guardian that a huge announcement about summer soccer in New
Jersey could be made this weekend. The Clark, New Jersey-based Inter Club Giacinto Facchetti of New
Jersey holds its annual dinner in Newark this weekend. This is an organization committed to
spreading the Inter gospel throughout the United States.
By JAMES CLARKGood times all around in East London, in a footballing sense, and we have a
tight-knit squad and the coaching/managerial talents of assistant Steve Clarke and head
man Gianfranco Zola, respectively, to thank for that right now. Unbeaten in 8 after Saturday's
nil-nil result carved out against Arsenal at The Emirates, the Hammers are finding themselves as
the 2008-09 season head into what's commonly known as the "business end.
By JAMES CLARKA Sunday match with Fulham at Upton Park was on the cards -- and, more importantly,
on the telly here in New Jersey. The Hammers entered the game in good form, with the Zola regime
seemingly taking root. Continental, cultured and easy on the eye. The color commentator on the
broadcast even made the allusion that Hammers, under Gianfranco, are playing with a similar
tactical nous as did Arsenal in their heydey.
By JAMES CLARKThe FA Cup is special to me. In my mind and sense of football consciousness, it
represents everything beautiful about The Beautiful Game (TM), especially in England and Wales. The
Coppa Italia and Copa del Rey (in Italy and Spain, respectively) certainly have their merits, but
it's the FA Cup that captures imaginations throughout the world.
By JAMES CLARK... the lad goes and does this. As my son Ben yelled out to me from our info
center/home base computer on Boxing Day morning in the States, "Bellers with a brace, Hammers
win 4-1!" He and his twin brother Alex were two hours away from flying to the south of France
with their mother, but we were keeping tabs on all the Premiership matches via television on
Setanta Sports, Setanta Xtra and Fox Soccer Channel.
By JAMES CLARK... yet !! Gianfranco Zola has this group playing the kind of passing football Upton
Park demands and, really, have we seen a better striker in regards to holding the ball up, being
brave in the air and making a general nuisance of himself in recent years than Carlton Cole?
By JAMES CLARKSaturday's Spanish La Liga mega-matchup between Real Madrid and host Barcelona at
Barca's mammoth Camp Nou was intriguing for so many reasons beyond the usual political and
footballing issues associated with the rivalry. For one, Barca came out of the box this season
under new manager Pep Guardiola (pictured above, in 'deep conversation' with Argentine striker
Lionel Messi during the match; Messi himself, sporting a sharp new haircut, is also pictured after
scoring in the game) and has put considerable distance between themselves and Real Madrid.
By JAMES CLARKLet me just start by saying if you read this blog, you must understand my sense of
humor. And please know that I don't do this full-time. I just love football (soccer, calcio,
futbol) and have the temerity to think that I actually have something coherent to say about the
By JAMES CLARKThe pundits, both here and in England, were playing "name the score" when
it came to how badly Chelsea would defeat struggling West Ham at Stamford Bridge in the days
leading up to Sunday's match. There was minor speculation that Hammers would raise their game to
mark manager Gianfranco Zola's (pictured gesturing on the touchline) return to the Bridge with the
proper amount of effort, but the prevailing thoughts were focused on a Chelsea rout.
By JAMES CLARKSorry for the lack of posts in the last two months, but some serious personal matters
needed attention. They haven't gone away, but you can't spend your life expecting people to
reciprocate and "have your back" even though you have theirs, always and forever. Que
sera, sera .
By JAMES CLARKHarkesy and I have had many recent conversations about how no U.S. men's side, in a
game that truly matters, can afford to be without striker Jozy Altidore and midfielder/striker
Freddy Adu in the starting 11. Those two players, while still learning the game and not without
their flaws, give the U.
By JAMES CLARKManager Gianfranco Zola is 2 for 2 in Premier League matches (the Carling Cup loss to
Watford notwithstanding!), but even more so than the results, it's the type of football we are
playing that's winning new converts and reinforcing the convictions of the old guard of supporters.