All of the ingredients are in place for the making of a...well, you never know what the SPSL will cook up next!

By Kim DeRaedt

Oven-roasted:  From the “cooked” to the “cookers”, Texas Lonestrikers brought the heat and sparked the fire that allowed the lowly lodgers to break free from the basement and sizzle into fourth place in the SPSL standings.  The Lonestrikers offense was lit in the 10th minute and roasted until the 85th minute of play when it put the finishing touches on its 4-3 feast over Pirate SC. 

Angel food cake:  The Texas Lonestrikers’ upset celebration came only courtesy of its 12th man and on-looking angel Francisco Rios.  The captain of the Nacogdoches squad passed away following a car accident that claimed his life two weeks ago. 

Cold pizza:  Galveston Pirate SC was hot, or so it appeared.  Sitting atop the league prior to this weekend’s fumble, Galveston has actually been a cold cookery during the winter months with a 1-4-3 record in its last eight outings.       

Sweet corn:  It was a fine harvest for Regals FC whom plucked three goals of its own en route to a respectable 3-0 victory over Corpus Christi Fuel.  Roy Hernandez, Robert Hernandez, and Rolando Matute gathered the goals to plow the team up to the first-place slot.

Twin tacos:  Tulsa Lobos FC and Regals FC have always had a lot in common, like winning and scoring.  This weekend, for the first time, the long-lost combo will be brought together in Tulsa as two one-loss teams duke it out in a double-header duel.

Left overs:  This isn’t like the leftover vegetables that accidentally get brushed off the table and into the dog’s chomper.  It’s more like the leftover Christmas dessert with the potential to taste even better the second time around.  Not even grandma could cook up a match as good as Pirate SC versus Lonestrikers last weekend and this weekend, courses two and three hit the table in Galveston. 

Bread and eggs:  Simple, perhaps unexciting, yet essential—Club America will host Corpus Christi Fuel in a Saturday skirmish to avoid the notorious last-place nod.  The two teams have split in their season series thus far, but who will butter their bread and who will watch the yolk plop from their egg in this scrambled showdown?

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Branches are shaking. Teams are swinging up; others are falling down. It's a jungle out there!

By Kim DeRaedt

King lions:  Regals FC staged a second-half comeback to overcome Galveston Pirate SC 2-1.  Regals FC now sits at the top of the SPSL standings with 21 points and game(s) in hand over Tulsa and Galveston locked in second place with 20 points each. 

Bee sting:  As if surrendering the lead and the points wasn’t enough, Pirate SC’s defeat comes from the strike of a former teammate.  Roy Hernandez buried the game-winning goal for Regals FC with 10 minutes remaining in his first appearance for his new club.

Road kill:  Corpus Christi claimed an early lead against Texas Lonestrikers before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat on its trip to Nacogdoches.  The result puts these two competitors, along with Club America, at the bottom of the league barrel with 6 points each.

Stray dogs:  The Fuel thought it had turned the corner toward winning ways after 2-1 victories over Galveston and Club America in its previous two outings.  However, Corpus Christi made a wrong turn in its trip to Nacogdoches on Saturday and slipped up by the same 2-1 score line.  Lost and searching for its identity, just who is the real Fuel squad?

Parrot party:  It’s a repeat of last Saturday’s skirmish.  The only difference is that this Saturday, Corpus Christi will host the Lonestrikers and of course, hope for the opposite result.  Which bird will get in the last word and fly above the other in the SPSL ranks?

Cat fight:  Club America last met Pirate SC back in November, in the team’s franchise-first match.  That game went down to the wire before Galveston sank an 85th minute goal to clinch a 1-0 victory.  The two sides will claw at it again on Saturday in Galveston as both squads look to rebound from 2-1 defeats. 

Wolf pack:  Three teams are knotted at the top of the SPSL table, and three teams are tangled at the bottom.  While it doesn’t look as if any of the title contenders will yield their positions, can Club America separate itself from the bottom-dweller pack and migrate to middle grounds?

These soccer moms have added some new members to the US WNT family.

By Kim DeRaedt

Courtesy of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, employed women are granted 12 weeks’ unpaid time off to care for their newborn or adopted child, with the assurance of their same position upon return to work.  That’s because giving birth and raising a newborn is up there with the most physically taxing and mentally exhausting tasks out there.  When you’re a member of the US Women’s National Team, however, the rules don’t apply.  There is no guarantee of a player’s position upon return.  Then again, there’s nothing saying these soccer moms even need a significant break.  Forget 12 weeks recovery.  In 12 weeks, these super women are back fit and on the field at the game’s highest level!

Momma Kate Markgraf (USWNT 1998-present)  Children: Keegan (2006), Carson and Xavier (2009) 
Feat: Ten weeks after the birth of her son, Markgraf was back on national team roster.  Three months after giving birth, she played her first match against Chinese Taipei.  Markgraf welcomed twins in 2009, a challenge that scarcely caused her to flinch.   

Momma Tina Ellertson (USWNT 2005-present)  Children: MacKenzie (2001), Mya (2008)
Feat:  Two weeks before collegiate pre-season training, Ellertson’s soccer career came to a grinding halt.  She was pregnant!  After informing Santa Clara that she would no longer attend, Ellertson stayed close to home at the University of Washington and soon made herself a household name across the nation of women’s soccer.  Not only did Ellertson become the first two-time Pac-10 Player of Year, but she did so without a scholarship (initially), while maintaining a 3.5 GPA, and raising her newborn daughter MacKenzie.  When Mya was born in 2008, Ellertson hardly missed a beat as an already seasoned member of the national team. 

Momma Christie Rampone (USWNT 1997-present)  Children: Rylie (2005), Reece (2010)
Feat:  A mere 112 days after giving birth to her first daughter, Rampone appeared for the US in the Four Nations Cup in China.  That year would also be her busiest for the US squad as she racked up starts in all 20 of the team’s games to become the most capped defender. 

Momma Joy Fawcett (USWNT 1987-2004)  Children: Katelyn (1994), Carli (1997), Madilyn (2001)
Feat:  The original soccer mom who served as the inspiration to the rest, Fawcett had this all planned out.  She is the only member in national team history to play every single minute of the 1995, 1999, and 2003 World Cups, coupled with the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.  Notice the birth years of her children.  What clever timing!

Momma Carla Overbeck (USWNT 1988-2000)  Children: Jackson (1997), Carson (2003)
Feat:  Overbeck appeared in 168 matches for the national team and didn’t let the birth of her son Jackson slow her down.  She captained the 1995 World Cup and 1996 Olympic teams prior to his birth and donned the captain’s armband upon return in the 1999 World Cup and 2000 Olympic Games.  At 42, she now contributes to the Duke women’s soccer program as an assistant coach. 

Momma Danielle Fotopoulos (USWNT 1995-2006)  Children:  Lexi (2000), Vasilios (2004), Michael (2008)
Feat:  Fotopoulos wasn’t exactly a regular in the national team lineup, but she made her time count with 16 goals in 35 games.  In 2005, following the birth of her son, Fotopoulos contributed a quick four goals in five matches. 

Momma Kristine Lilly (USWNT 1987-2011)  Children:  Sidney (2008)
Feat:  With 352 national team appearances and 130 goals, nobody male or female can touch the international legacy of Lilly, which spanned 14 years from 1987-2011.  Unlike her peers, Lilly did not retire following the “farewell tour” in 2004.  Instead she pushed right ahead to 2008 when she welcomed her first daughter into the world and forged ahead even further until only recently announcing her retirement on January 6, 2011.  And yes, that implies that she participated in the 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007 World Cups (and every Olympic competition) along the way.  Five World Cups?!  Untouchable!

Kids and Kicks:
Team momma:  http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=buckheit/080509
Teen mom Tina overcomes the odds:  http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Womens-National-Team/2006/02/Tina-Frimpong-A-Soccer-Mom-Of-A-Different-Kind.aspx

"Officer, I swear I didn't tweet it!"

By Kim DeRaedt

It’s like taking candy from a baby.  In other words, it sure is difficult to feel sorry for these players who were slapped with fines after utterly foolish comments and behaviors.

Players violated club/league policy etc. received/paid fine but not in way would’ve thought

Po-Po poooolice!
Simply stated:  What were these guys thinking?
Not only are blowout games boring for the fans, but Burnley midfielder Kevin McDonald shows us that players feel the same way too.  McDonald was subbed out at halftime with his team up 5-0 over Manchester City.  We friends and family in town, he did what any Englishman would want to do:  He hit up the bar five minutes away
to watch his own game. 
http://withleather.uproxx.com/2010/04/soccer-player-fined-for-beer-break
Players in Brazil know all too much about fines and not exactly millionaires, most try to avoid them.  So when Botafogo midfielder Somalia realized he was going to be late to training and fined, he made up a story about his own kidnapping and relayed to Rio de Janeiro police that he had been held captive for two hours.  However, video camera footage and self-contradicting statements revealed his fib.  Poor guy!  No wonder he lied.  Botafogo players are typically docked 40% of their pay for tardiness.  On top of that, Somalia now faced legal woes for falsely reporting a crime.  (They say you can now hear his alarm clock 2 miles away!  Just kidding.) 
http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/id/5999591/botafogo-midfielder-somalia-faked-kidnapping-avoid-fine-police-say 

A tweet is worth a thousand troubles
“And they call him one of the best referees.  That’s a joke.” (Plus, he posted a link of a doctored picture of the referee, Howard Webb.) 
Guilty party:  Ryan Babel, Liverpool 
Fine:  $16,000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/l/liverpool/9363567.stm
“Apologize to all of you.  I showed up late.  Made a big mistake.  I’m very very sorry.”
Guilty party:  Jozy Altidore, Hull City
Unsympathetic manager:  Phil Brown, who thought Altidore’s tardiness to the team’s match against Portsmouth was “information that stays in house.  The reason he wasn’t on the bench was our business.”
http://www.caughtoffside.com/2009/10/27/us-soccer-player-jozy-altidore-fined-for-using-twitter-to-apologize-for-arriving-late-to-premier-league-match/

“Naz so free dumb”
(Get it?^)
Perhaps Sparta Prague midfielder Pavel Horvath should read up on both history and cultural quirks if he wants to avoid another faux pas and $9,000 fine in the Czech Republic.  Horvath was hit was the punishment after he twice saluted fans with his right arm outstretched seconds before the conclusion of the team’s match against Viktoria Zizkov.  A disciplinary committee deemed Horvath was “giving Nazi salutes.”
http://www.theroar.com.au/2007/09/07/czech-soccer-player-fined-for-giving-nazi-salute/
DC United President Kevin Payne was docked $5,000 for speaking his mind, or maybe for telling the cold honest truth, to The Washington Post.  Payne said, “We don’t want to play like Colorado or New England, which most of the season sat with eight or nine guys behind the ball. How many people go to watch Colorado or New England play? That’s a problem for our league. We can’t play like we’re a team desperately trying to remain in 14th place in the Premiership. Our market isn’t there yet. They want to see something that is entertaining, and DC United has always had a way of playing. Given a choice, we would rather attack than cynically defend.”
The crime:  Clearly, Payne’s comments were “detrimental to the public image of the League.”
http://www.ussoccerplayers.com/ussoccerplayers/2009/10/payne-fined-by-league.html

“But officer…” nothing.  Soccer’s “green” ticket makes a red card seem pleasant. 
Advice:  Keep the infractions on the field!  Refs aren’t so bad after all.

The real Hand of God

And we wonder why the housing market is slow…

True, true but karma prevailed in the World Cup

If only life was logical…

The shirt of the future…

With the game in first-place bragging rights up in the air, Regals FC pulled through in the second half to claim the prize.

By Kim DeRaedt

Regals FC slept through much of the first half of its game on Saturday but fortunately, the team woke up hungry just in time for the second half of play.  With a Snap, Crackle, and Pop—Regals FC put itself back on top of the Southern Premier Soccer League (SPSL) standings with a 2-1 victory over Galveston Pirate SC. 

The match didn’t start out so satisfying for Regals FC, however, as the team stared at an empty offensive bowl early on.  Indeed, it was visiting Pirate SC that chowed down on the attacking end right after the opening whistle.  Justin Santibanez clinched the momentum for Galveston by firing two shots in the first 90 seconds.  Santibanez’s speed continued to plague the Regals FC defense as the striker amassed his team-high six shots but couldn’t funnel any on frame.

Nevertheless, it would be Santibanez’s speed and not his shooting ability that would set up Pirate SC’s golden chance of the afternoon.  Midway through the first half, Santibanez raced down the left flank and cut into the box where Regals FC defender Robert Hernandez was left with no option but to take him down as he sped by.  Jonathan Yanez stepped up to the spot and tucked a mid-height penalty shot into the right side of the net as goalkeeper Marcos Sanchez fell to his left. 

Short-handed Galveston found itself up 1-0 on the road against Regals FC in the 29th minute.  Clearly, the team had a rough road ahead to seal the three points.  Luckily, goalkeeper Eloy Aguirre was alert and agile to pounce on Cesar Silva’s point blank shot and preserve Galveston’s lead just minutes later.  Aguirre’s aggressive play prevented Regals FC from completing much of its offensive ploy, while Osama Buazza’s few efforts to connect off the cross with Enrique Gonzalez failed to produce a threat on target. Find out more!

This may look like a friendly meeting, but once the whistle sounds, there will be no mercy in the fight for first place.

By Kim DeRaedt

Nothing stings like a defeat.  Nothing reeks like being beaten by a rival.  With that said, nothing stirs a team’s drive and wets its appetite like the chance for good old-fashioned revenge. 

“Next time” is the traditional upbeat battle cry of so many troops wounded in action.  Next time is what Corpus Christi Fuel vowed when it fell to Texas Lonestrikers 4-1 on Oct. 16, and the mantra Regals FC recited after Galveston Pirate SC knocked the squad off its feet in a 2-0 defeat on Dec. 4.  Regals FC has waited patiently, and for the Fuel, it has indeed been forever, but next time will finally befall for both clubs this Saturday in Southern Premier Soccer League (SPSL) play. 

Even though the phase is often used and abused, one almost has to believe that these two squads mean business, and in reality, next time will look nothing like the last time each of these matchups transpired. 

Corpus Christi was edged by the Lonestrikers in Nacogdoches in what would be game two of an eight-game losing skid for the fledgling Fuel.  That game was before the team’s parts came together, before its motor was up and running, and before it started winning.  Like an unoccupied car rolling down a rural hill, the Fuel is rolling to victory and gaining speed, and there doesn’t appear to be anyone who will stop them.  With the team’s college “boys of summer” back in the lineup, the Fuel flattened Galveston Pirate SC 2-1 in Galveston on Dec. 18 and bulldozed Club America by the same score in its next and previous match.  Like the teased little sibling who has now grown bigger and stronger than his brothers, Fuel coach Patrick Esqueda and his men hope to get the last laugh at their former bullies this time around. Find out more!