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Date of Issue: June 09, 2005

Chicago's Soldier Field was taken over by British flags during the international "friendly" between England and the United States.
Click on image to enlarge
Islander, Chicago survive invasion of Brits

I attended the international friendly soccer match between England and the U.S. men’s national soccer teams at Soldier Field in Chicago Saturday, May 28, with eight British friends who live here in the Bradenton-Sarasota area. Little did I know that I would also be a minority in the crowd of 50,000 fans, many of whom sported English flags embellished with their club team of choice. Soldier Field was completely covered with  the Union Jack while British songs and chants filled the air on the sometimes cool, wet day in Chicago.

Let me get this out of the way quickly. I had envisioned an opening line something like this. “Flight to Chicago: $123. Hard Rock Hotel share: $60. Tickets to the game: $38. Being the only American with eight British friends celebrating a U.S. victory over England: Priceless!”

It didn’t quite work out the way I had envisioned, but I — along with my British friends — had a “brilliant” time. England defeated the U.S. team 2-1 in a fairly well-played contest that saw both teams hold out some of their bigger stars. No David Beckham, Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen for England and no Eddie Johnson or Demarcus Beasley for the United States.

England did have Kiernan Richardson, though Manchester United thought so little of Richardson that they loaned him to West Bromwich Albion and helped them avoid relegation to the first division. Manchester United management might want to keep him for their own team after watching him score both of England’s goals.

The first goal came on a free kick in the fourth minute that caught U.S. goalie Kasey Keller flat-footed. Richardson’s second goal came in the 44th minute when Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole got loose up the right side for a cross to Richardson, who slid a shot past Keller for a 2-0 Brit lead.

Though the U.S. team had its chances, they were unable to capitalize until the 79th minute when Clint Demsey headed in a rebound to cut England’s lead to 2-1.

After the game, it was time to enjoy the downtown Chicago nightlife. The next day, my British friends departed for Florida while I headed north on the “L” (elevated train) to my sister Kelly’s house.

Next on the agenda was a Sunday afternoon baseball game at Wrigley Field between the Cubbies and the Colorado Rockies. A friend of mine, Tom McMahon, a.k.a. “Chicago Tom,” arranged the tickets for me from his son-in-law and Cubbies’ hitting coach Gene Clines. That put my sister’s family and myself in the Cubbies family section of Wrigley. There I had the pleasure to meet U.S. women’s soccer star Mia Hamm, who is married to Cub shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Also in attendance were her U.S. teammates, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly. Being a high school girls’ soccer coach, I couldn’t have picked better seats or better company.

I spent the rest of the week seeing the Chicago sights, such as Second City, Millenium Park and Navy Pier, while also taking in a White Sox game on the south side of town.

I also had the pleasure of “baby sitting” my nephews,  Josh and infant twin brothers Daniel and Ethan, on Memorial Day. Until you’ve experienced the “joy” of dealing with two infants crying at once, you really haven’t lived. Not exactly the “priceless” moment I’d been striving for. I survived as did the babies, though I was concerned for a while.

If you’ve never visited Chicago, I encourage you to check it out. Just be prepared to walk a lot.

Team Bordes overcomes snafus, takes third

A bases-loaded walk by Chad Wickersham scored Carl Ricciardi with what turned out to be the winning run in a 9-8 Junior League baseball victory over Braden River No. 1 on Monday, May 23. Ryan Smith led off the inning with a base hit to left field for Team Bordes, which then received walks from Ricciardi and Nate Mozelski to load the bases. A passed ball scored Smith to tie the score at 8-8 before Scott Wollett reached on an error to reload the bases and set the stage for Wickersham’s RBI walk.

Unfortunately, Team Bordes felt it should have been playing for a chance at first place, but phantom protests over player eligibility knocked them into the third-place game. Who started the protest, who voted on the outcome of said protest and whether or not the protest was legal are all issues that arose after the fact. It’s doubtful that Team Bordes will get to replay any games over this, but Little League officials will have to penalize those that didn’t follow proper protocol in a situation such as this one.

In the third-place game, Braden River jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after three innings as pitcher Michael Cass retired the first nine batters he faced.

That changed in the top of the fourth when Wickersham lined a two-out single to center and Zach Thomas walked. Wickersham scored when Sean Price reached on an error with Thomas moving to third. With Pat Cole at bat, Thomas stole home to make the score 5-2 and Cole followed with an RBI single to left-center to make the score 5-3. The rally was cut short when Cole got gunned out trying to stretch his hit into a double.

Team Bordes then took advantage of a couple of errors to take its first lead of the game. Shane Pelkey and Mozeleski both reached on errors, sandwiching a single by Ricciardi that brought Pelkey across home plate with a run. Wickersham reached on another Braden River error, scoring Ricciardi before Thomas doubled home Mozelski and Wickersham for a 7-5 Team Bordes lead.

Braden River staged a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead and set the stage for Wickersham’s bases-loaded walk to win the game for Team Bordes.

Price, who pitched three innings got the win for Team Bordes, who also received  a strong relief pitching performance from Ricciardi, who got the save.

Wickersham and Ricciardi both singled and scored two runs to lead the Team Bordes offense that also received a two-run double and one run scored from Thomas. Cole added an RBI single and Ryan Smith singled and scored to round out the Team Bordes offense.

Join Her-icane golf challenge

The Manatee High School Her-icanes girls' soccer team is hosting a fundraising golf tournament at the Bradenton Country Club at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27. For only $100 per golfer, you can test your golf skills at Bradenton's most exclusive and challenging layout in a four-person scramble.

All players who register before the Aug. 1 deadline will receive a goody bag, cart and greens fees, a post-tourney banquet and guaranteed fun throughout the day. Also on tap are a straightest-drive contest, two closest-to-the-pin contests, a putting contest and raffles for tons of prizes. The field is limited to the first 100 golfers, so don't delay.

The Her-icanes are also looking for sponsors for the tournament. For $800, your business can purchase the Hat Trick package, which consists of a foursome including the banquet, a tee or green sign on the course and a banner which will be displayed at all Manatee Her-icane home soccer games. A golden goal sponsorship package includes a foursome and a tee or green sign on the course for $500, or you can simply purchase a tee or green sign for the tournament for $175.

To sign up your foursome, list your four players and their phone numbers with a check written out to Manatee Girls Soccer Booster and mail it to me at 3610 York Drive, Bradenton FL 34205. For more information, call me, Her-icane Coach Cassidy, at 807-1105.

Weeky horseshoe winners

Ron Pepka and Kathy Stolzfus of Anna Maria were the winners of the June 4 horseshoe games at Anna Maria City Hall Park. Runners up were George McKay of Anna Maria and Tom Rhodes of Cortez.

The weekly contests get under way every Wednesday and Saturday at Anna Maria City Hall Park located at 10005 Gulf Drive. There are no membership fees and everyone is welcome.

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