Although all eyes in the Garden State were on Alumni Field at the Rutgers-Newark campus for the ECAC tournament, there were key contests on the road to South Africa taking place around the globe. The other Iberian powerhouse (sorry, not you, Andora) was playing without the sexy Ronaldo and in desperate need of a win. The geographic group stages of qualification for the 2010 World Cup are past and the teams yet to punch their tickets are involved in last gasp home-and-away playoff sets that began this weekend and conclude this coming week. The aggregate scoring system (meaning you add the goals from both games) gives added weight to away goals if the teams finish 180 minutes of action level. The above goal by Bruno Alves in Lisbon gives Portugal a narrow advantage heading into the second leg at Bosnia-Herzegovinia. Elsewhere, France edged Ireland, 1-0, on the Emerald Isle and carries that lead (made more decisive thanks to the away goal) back to France at midweek.
I couldn't find either of these games (nor the friendly match between England and Brazil) on the television so I sated my football jonze at the aforementioned ECAC tourney. On Saturday a mindless red-card drawing tackle from behind by a player from Richard Stockton awoke the previously lackadaiscal players from Drew University. The Rangers playing a man up and with a newfound sense of purpose pulled even and eventually won the game to earn a berth in the final. Under the bright lights of downtown Newark, the pride of Madison came out in fine form on Sunday night, overcoming the suspect officiating of Brian Fenlon (some in the crowd openly questioned if he had a son on the team) as well the players from Farmingdale State. All goals came in the second half as the insertion of No. 10 into the lineup for Drew brought a previously missing creativity to the pitch.
Bonus Joyfulness I talked to someone over the weekend who hadn't seen a replay of this dunk from last week. That just shouldn't be the case. Everyone should see this. Enjoy.