Archive for January, 2010

Campbell tabs Armas as new head coach

January 29, 2010

From our friend Stan Cole…

BUIES CREEK – Steve Armas, who has helped build the Campbell University men’s soccer program into a regional and national contender, was named head coach of the Fighting Camels on Friday.

ArmasA former collegiate and professional standout who has spent the last four years as an assistant coach at Campbell, Armas replaces Doug Hess, who resigned earlier this month to accept the head coaching job at Drexel University.

“Steve has been an integral part of our men’s soccer program’s success over these last four years and we are proud that Steve will now take over this program as Campbell’s head coach,” said Director of Athletics Stan Williamson. “Steve has had some great experiences as a player and as a coach that have prepared him to assume this responsibility. We expect great things from our men’s soccer team under Steve’s leadership.”

Over the past four seasons, Armas has helped guide the Camels to three Atlantic Sun Conference trophies, the team’s first-ever berth in the NCAA College Cup and a year-end national ranking at the Division I level.

“First, I must thank (University President) Dr. (Jerry) Wallace, Stan Williamson, (Vice President for Student Life) Dr. (Dennis) Bazemore and the rest of Campbell administration and staff for believing in my abilities and entrusting me with the leadership of the men’s soccer program,” said Armas, who played in Major League Soccer after a standout career at Maryland. “I am proud of what we were able to accomplish during my time as an assistant coach here in Buies Creek. Even more so, my wife, Sarah and I are excited about what lies ahead in working with the student-athletes, administration, alumni, and the community to build upon years of men’s soccer tradition in the future as the head coach.”

During that span, Campbell won the 2008 and 2009 A-Sun regular season championships, while garnering the 2007 A-Sun tournament crown. Since Armas’ arrival in 2006, the Fighting Camels have compiled a 45-29-6 overall record (.600), including a 25-4-5 mark (.809) in the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season. The Camels finished ranked among the top-10 in the final South Region poll in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and earned the school’s first year-end national ranking (No. 25) in 2008 at the Division I level.

In Armas’ stint at CU, he has mentored seven Campbell players who have been named to the All-South teams as well as 24 who have been named to the Atlantic Sun all-conference teams. In addition, 43 Campbell players have earned a place on the A-Sun All-Academic Teams.

Armas has helped develop the last two A-Sun players of the year (Vince Petrasso and Richard Jata), the 2007 Atlantic Sun freshman of the year (Josue Soto) and the ‘07 A-Sun tournament MVP (Petrasso). His players have gained All-America (Jata), freshman All-America (Soto) and Academic All-America (Devin Sheppard) notice as well.

Last fall, Petrasso was selected as A-Sun Player of the Year and first-team all-conference after the Camels captured their second-straight league regular season title and third in the last five campaigns. Senior Justin Madrid, junior Khalil Johnson and freshman Mitchell Cardenas were named to the all-conference second team. Cardenas was joined on the all-freshman squad by teammates Justin Smith and Keegan Terry.

The Camels suffered only one regular season conference loss (16-1-1) over the past two campaigns, compiling a 7-1-1 league record and 8-10-1 overall mark last fall when freshmen made 50 starts for the eventual A-Sun regular season champs.

In 2008, the Camels won the A-Sun regular season crown with a perfect 9-0-0 mark, finished 14-6-0 overall, defeated 7th-ranked North Carolina for the third-straight year, and was rated third in the final South Region poll. CU finished the year as the third-highest scoring team in the nation (2.2) and set a school record with 12-consecutive victories.

The 2007 squad finished 13-6-3 overall, won the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship, and made the program’s first appearance in the NCAA College Cup. CU knocked off ACC member North Carolina for the second-straight year and finished seventh in the final South Region ranking.

Before arriving at Buies Creek in July 2006, Armas spent the previous two years as an assistant coach for both Greensboro College and the Carolina Dynamo of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Developmental League (PDL).

While at Greensboro College, Armas helped to guide the men’s program to a 2005 USA South Conference tournament championship and a second round NCAA tournament appearance. With the Carolina Dynamo, Armas has had the opportunity to coach some of the best Division I collegiate players in the country.

Two players from the 2005 Dynamo team have played in Major League Soccer — Justin Moose of D.C. United and Floyd Franks of the Chicago Fire. The 2006 Dynamo squad included three Hermann trophy candidates.

A native of Germantown, Md., Armas played collegiately at the University of Maryland from 1995-98 and graduated in 2003 with a bachelor of arts in Spanish Language and Literature. He finished his career with 11 goals and 17 assists and ranks seventh among the school’s career assists leaders. He helped lead Maryland to an ACC Tournament championship and captained the team to an NCAA College Cup appearance, where Armas was selected to the NCAA All-Tournament team.

Armas had an impressive professional playing career which included stints with various clubs competing in Major League Soccer as well as the United Soccer League First and Second divisions. Armas played with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL2, where he helped the team capture the Atlantic Division and regular season championship. Armas spent the 2003 season with the Carolina Dynamo (USL2) where he played 17 games (1498 minutes), scored 5 goals and had 16 assists (2nd in the League) to help the Dynamo capture the regular season championship.

Drafted out of the University of Maryland in 1999 by the New England Revolution of MLS, Armas played with the Columbus Crew and Tampa Bay Mutiny of MLS as well as stints with USL First division clubs Atlanta Silverbacks, Minnesota Thunder and Cincinnati Riverhawks. He played in the U-17 World Cup in Japan, and also participated at the U-18, U-20 and U-23 national team levels. Armas currently holds a USSF “B” Coaching License.

Armas has also been especially active with the youth club community. He is head coach of the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) ’92 Elite boy’s team, which reached the semifinals of the Greensboro Score Showcase and the final of the Disney Soccer Showcase.

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Donovan gets first EPL goal

January 28, 2010

Landon Donovan seems to be adjusting to English soccer football just fine, thank you.

On Wednesday, the most decorated player in U.S. National team history scored his first goal for the Toffees in a 2-0 win over Sunderland.

Tim Cahill got the assist with a nice header that Donovan ran onto and then finished with the left foot.

It took a slight deflection, but it was goal-bound anyway.

Here’s a look:

Taking the long view

January 26, 2010

I have a lot of favorite people in the sports journalism industry.

Locally, Bryan Hanks’ blog is a must-stop Web destination.

On a national level, Steve Czaban is another good source of entertainment as I slog through my workday.

And for the last couple of days, I’ve read both of them in their unmitigated joy about Brett Favre’s game-changing interception in the dying stages of the Vikings’ loss in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game to the Saints.

The temptation to hate the man is alluring.

He’s a self-loving diva, a man that craves, seeks and revels in attention. His on-again, off-again retirement tango is a constant source of news for the 24-hour ESPN news cycle in the offseason and anyone who spends a significant amount of time watching the four-letter naturally grows tired of the Favre blurbs.

He’s a me-first quarterback. He’s a turnover machine. He’s not a good teammate.

There are plenty of reasons to hate the man.

But to do so is to miss the larger picture.

Another one of my favorite sites is Football Reference.

And a quick trip over there reveals the following:

He’s the league’s all-time leader in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. (Full disclosure, he’s also tops in interceptions)

He has also won more games than any other NFL quarterback and he’s a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer.

But that’s not why he deserves a pass for his arrogance.

It comes down to a simple question, one that Favre haters should think about and answer honestly:

In 2010, was the NFL a better place with Favre than it would have been without him?

Let’s think about this. First of all, the Vikings would have lost that home game with the 49’ers with Sage Rosenfels or Tavares Jackson calling the signals, the one where Favre threw a 40-yard laser beam to Greg Lewis for the game-winning score. And they probably would have done no better than a split with Green Bay.

Thus the Packers would have won the North, making the Vikings the wildcard. Let’s say the Packers would have played Sunday at New Orleans.

It would have been OK, but not nearly as entertaining as what we had.

John Elway took his last snap at the Super Bowl in 1999. It has been more than a decade, and I still miss him.

And if Favre is walking into the sunset, I will miss him right away.

It will take some of you a lot longer.

But, sooner or later, the intellectually honest NFL fan will watch guys like Keith Null and JaMarcus Russell take snaps and start to miss No. 4.

So, hate the antics all you want.

But the player still deserves respect.

And be careful what you wish for…

Sorting out the ACC

January 21, 2010

I have to be looking at the standings wrong.

There’s no other explanation.

Here, have a look at the latest ACC standings:

Virginia 3-0 1.000 12-4 .750
Maryland 2-1 .667 12-5 .706
Duke 3-2 .600 15-3 .833
Clemson 3-2 .600 15-4 .789
Georgia Tech 3-2 .600 14-4 .778
Wake Forest 3-2 .600 13-4 .765
Florida State 2-2 .500 14-4 .778
NC State 2-3 .400 13-6 .684
Boston College 2-3 .400 11-8 .579
Virginia Tech 1-2 .333 14-3 .824
North Carolina 1-3 .250 12-7 .632
Miami 1-4 .200 15-4 .789

OK, Miami in last place. We could sort of see that coming. Duke, Clemson and Georgia Tech somewhere near the top, yeah that seems right.

But is it me or are Virginia and North Carolina in the wrong spots?

The reason that down is up and up is down in the league standings at the moment is a simple one.

In fact, it can be boiled down to a single word:

Defense.

Virginia is allowing just 60.4 points a night, which is right in line with new head coach Tony Bennett’s reputation. The Tar Heels, playing at a much faster pace, are giving up 73.4 points a night.

That’s fine when you’re scoring 80. But when you’ve got a young team that sometimes struggles from the perimeter, that’s too many points going up on the other side of the ledger.

I don’t expect the Wahoos to win the ACC crown this season. But credit to them for playing good, solid basketball and winning games with a roster somewhat lacking in bonafide ACC-level talent.

Kicking for Cancer schedule

January 21, 2010

This came in last night from South View coach Jeremiah Mattingly. I went to last year’s KFC and had a great time. It’s a good way to gear up for the upcoming girls’ season…

The 2010 Kicking for cancer will be held Saturday, Feb. 20. at South View High School. We have 21 teams from Raleigh, Wilmington and the Fayetteville area. Our real goal this year is to raise $10,000 for the American Cancer Society and The Friends of the Cancer Center, located in the Cape Fear Valley Medial Center.

Some of the state’s best teams, including reigning 2A champs Swansboro, and many of the top 15 4A schools like Broughton, Apex, East Chapel Hill and New Hanover will be playing in the event.

Check out the schedule here.

Monday thoughts

January 11, 2010

Donovan

I continue to be amazed by the absolute snobbery with which the United States and its players are greeted on the world stage – particularly in England.But when my favorite soccer magazine, Four Four Two, posted its list of the world’s Top 100 players, my bemusement reached new heights.

Landon Donovan, easily the best field player we’ve ever produced, was nowhere to be found. Of course, being the proud defender of American soccer that I am, I fired off an e-mail in criticsm of the list.

To their credit, they printed it.

It reads as follows:

I’m a big fan of 442, but I can’t figure out why you’ve left Landon Donovan off the top 100 list of world players.

I realise that, as Americans, we are doomed to second-class citizen status on the world soccer stage, but I would still think that the best player this country has ever produced would warrant a spot on the list ahead of the likes of Ronaldo and Davide Santon.

Donovan has been capped 120 times by the U.S, netting a record 42 goals in those appearances. In addition, he has 36 assists for the national team in those caps, which is also a record.

And he’s only 27 years old.

Still, with quality keepers like Tim Howard and Brad Friedel and outfield players like Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey playing in the Premier League, it’s not a stretch to suggest that Donovan – a more decorated American player than any I just mentioned – might be one of the world’s best 100.

They took out a paragraph and changed “realize” to that unrecognizable British version, but other than that, that’s what I wrote.

And his solid effort in his Everton debut isn’t hurting his cause to be in next year’s top 100 either…

Now, if only the folks at Setanta could bother to spell his name right in the pregame lineup graphic.

The best player ever for a nation ranked in the top 12 in the world, and they spell his name “Donavan.”

Maybe that’s why they’re soon-to-be out of business.

A man called Clint

January 6, 2010

Naturally, I’m disappointed that Fulham decided to fall down 3-0 after 45 minutes at Stoke City on Tuesday, but I am proud of the effort shown in the eventual 3-2 defeat.

Not nearly as proud, however, as I am of this piece of skill from Clint Dempsey:

He also assisted on the first goal. Not bad for a second-half substitute.

Hopefully, he’ll save some of this magic for this summer in South Africa…

Live from the gun show

January 5, 2010

I will never be a professional athlete , so there’s no way I will ever have any insight as to what might run through the mind of a guy getting paid millions of dollars to play a sport I played for free as a child.

But the latest head scratching situation involving Washington Wizard guard Gilbert Arenas just baffles me.

Let’s hit the high notes. Arenas, apparently worried about the safety of his young children, decided to take his guns from his home, unload them and store them in a container in his locker at the Verizon Center.

Really?

In the exceedingly unlikely event I ever decided to get rid of my gun, hauling it to my desk at the Fayetteville Observer wouldn’t enter my mind.

If I did have my automatic pistol in my drawer, next to my keys and paper clips, and someone found out about it, I’d be fired on the spot.

But I’m not Gilbert Arenas.

If the story stopped there, I’d say his NBA future should be in some doubt.

The second part of the story is even stranger.

It seems that Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton got into an argument on the team plane during a card game on Dec. 19. Two days later, Arenas laid out the guns on a chair in front of Crittenton’s locker and told him to pick one. Crittenton, according to sources, threw one of them down and informed Arenas that he already had one.

Huh?

Everything I’ve been hearing on the four-letter suggests that Arenas will dodge jail time for this bizarre display of abject stupidity.

But consider this an open letter to NBA commissioner David Stern:

Suspend. Him. Now.

It’s time to send a message to pro athletes that tells them, loud and clear, that they have to follow the same rules as everyone else – despite their inflated bank accounts.

FA Cup fun

January 4, 2010

I watched a few FA Cup games over the weekend, and saw two very good games on Sunday.

The first was a famous win for a formerly famous club, Leeds United, over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Jermaine Beckford, a rumored target for Newcastle in the current transfer window, scored the winner.

The other was a stirring comeback win for Arsenal, which fielded a very young side, over West Ham at Upton Park.

Eduardo scored the winner on a beautiful header. Mexican striker Carlos Vela provided the service.