Sunday, March 31, 2013

31 March 1929 - Juventus Takes Twelve

On 31 March 1929, Juventus won their twelfth consecutive league match, setting a club record that remains to this day.

It was the last season in Italy under the old regional structure, which would give way to a new national league the following year. Juventus, winners of the title in 1905 and 1926, had finished second in their regional group the previous season (out of eleven teams), and needed only to finished eighth out of an expanded group of sixteen teams in order to qualify for the new top flight, Serie A.

They got off to a strong start in the fall, going undefeated in their first eight matches (which included a pair of 11-0 wins over Fiorentina and Fiumana) before losing to Brescia on 9 December. They quickly rebounded in their next game, a 3-4 win over Pro Vercelli on 16 December, to start their record streak. More victories followed, capped by a twelfth consecutive win, 1-3 over Fiumana, on 31 March.

Bologna ended the streak by holding Juventus to a 1-1 draw on 14 April. With eight games remaining, Juventus limped to the finish line with four losses and four draws, but it was enough to earn them second place in the table and a guaranteed spot in Serie A.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

30 March 1986 - Ramos Arrives

On 30 March 1986, Real Madrid back and reigning La Liga Best Defender Sergio Ramos was born in Sevilla.

He started his professional career with Sevilla's B team in 2003 and joined the first team the following year, making 39 appearances. His strong performance that season led to him being named the 2005 La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year and attracted the interest of Real Madrid, who signed the then-19-year old center back that summer for €27M (funded in part by the €20M sale of forward Michael Owen to Newcastle).

Despite joining a team full of Galácticos, Ramos jumped right into the starting line-up, with more than thirty league appearances in each full season since moving to Madrid. There, he won back-to-back La Liga titles in 2007 and 2008, as well as the 2011 Copa del Rey.

He has also enjoyed success with Spain, winning two European Championships around the 2010 World Cup in which he started every match.

Friday, March 29, 2013

29 March 2009 - The Sun Rises On WPS

On 29 March 2009, the Los Angeles Sol hosted the first WPS match, beating the Washington Freedom 2-0. L.A. went on to finish as regular season champions.

The new league brought professional women's soccer back to the United States for the first time since the collapse of the Women's United Soccer Association in 2003. It started with seven teams, including Saint Louis Athletica, Sky Blue FC, Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, and FC Gold Pride in addition to L.A. and D.C.

For the league's first match, Washington traveled to the Home Depot Center in Carson, California to face Los Angeles. There, playing in front of a crowd of 14,832, Sol defender Allison Falk scored the league's first goal in the sixth minute from a header off a free kick. Freedom goalkeeper Brianna Scurry protested the goal, claiming she had been fouled, but the referee allowed it to stand.

Despite the presence of star forward Abby Wambach, DC failed to create much of a challenge. Their best chance came in the 64th minute, when Lori Lindsey hit the left post. L.A. then extended their lead with an 87th-minute strike from midfielder Camile Abily.

Los Angeles went on to top the table at the end of the season. That earned them a direct pass into the playoff final, where they lost to Sky Blue.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

28 March 2001 - The Magnificent Manchester Seven

On 28 March 2001, England beat Albania in a World Cup qualifier with almost half their team coming from one club--Manchester United.

It was only the fourth qualifier for the two teams, who were both off to a difficult start. England had four points with a win, loss, and draw, while Albania were one point back after two losses and a win. They met at the Qemal Stafa Stadium in the Albanian capital of Tirana where England fielded their Manchester-based squad.

Five members of the starting eleven--Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Andy Cole--were from Manchester United, the defending Premier League champions. Additionally, Red Devils Wes Brown and Teddy Sheringham entered as second-half substitutes, taking the club's total to seven. That matched the previous record for any one club, set by Arsenal in a November 1934 friendly against Italy (though all seven Gunners started that match).

The line-up worked against Albania, with both Scholes (86') and Cole (95') scoring in England's 1-3 win (their other goal came from Liverpool's Michael Owen in the 74th minute, while Altin Rraklli scored for Albania in the 93rd minute).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

27 March 2012 - The Game Doesn't Always Stop After The Final Whistle

On 27 March 2012, five players received post-match red cards after Crawley's 1-2 win over Bradford City, matching a Football League record.

Played at Bradford's Valley Parade ground, the League Two match paired two teams headed in opposite directions. Crawley, freshly promoted from the Football Conference, had won their previous three games to climb to fourth in the table. The hosts, meanwhile, had lost three and drawn one of their last four, falling to nineteenth.

Holding to form, Crawley went up 0-1 in the 54th minute with a header from Leon Clarke. Bradford's Chris Dagnall equalized in the 72nd minute, but Gary Alexander scored two minutes later with another header to restore Crawley's lead. Despite seven minutes of added time, Bradford were unable to find the net again.

After the final whistle, Bradford defender Andrew Davies lashed out at Crawley captain Pablo Mills, prompting players from both sides to engage in a full-on brawl. Both Davies and Mills received red cards, as John McLaughlin and Luke Oliver from Bradford and Crawley's Claude Davis.

The five reds matched a Football League record for a single game, set in a February 1997 contest between Plymouth Argyle and Chesterfield and matched by Bristol Rovers and Wigan Athletic in December of that year.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

26 March 2008 - The Mighty Minnows Of Malta

On 26 March 2008, Malta secured their record win, beating Liechtenstein 7-1 with 5 goals from Michael Mifsud.

Ever since their first match, a 2-3 loss to Austria in 1957, Malta struggled to find wins, failing to qualify for a single World Cup or European Championship. Losses were easy to come by, however, including crushing defeats to Spain (12-1 in 1983), Austria (9-0 in 1977), the Netherlands (8-0 in 1990), and Germany (7-0) in 2004).

They had met Liechtenstein only once before, playing to a 1-1 home draw in 1981. So, even though their matches starting getting more competitive in the 2000s, their dominating performance in the 2008 friendly came as a surprise.

Playing at the Ta' Qali national Stadium in the center of Malta, Mifsud (pictured)--a striker who played his club ball for Coventry City--scored the opening goal in the second minute with a penalty. He completed a hat-trick within the first 21 minutes, with his third goal also coming from the spot--the foul prompting the second penalty kick led to a red card for Liechtenstein's Fabio d'Elia for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Helped by the man advantage, Malta were up 4-0 by the break.

Franz Burgmeier closed the gap to 4-1 in the 51st minute, but Mifsud scored twice more (60', 69') to extend the lead. It was the first time any Maltese player scored five times in an international. A final Malta goal four minutes from time ended the day at 7-1.

Monday, March 25, 2013

25 March 1914 - Ares Would Be Proud

On 25 March 1914, Aris FC, owners of an impressive home unbeaten streak in UEFA competition, formed in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Taking their name from the Greek god of war, they helped found the regional Macedonian Football Clubs Association in 1923 and went on to win that league's inaugural title in 1924. For the 1927-28 season, the regional Greek leagues started an official Panhellenic Championship (replacing an earlier unofficial tournament), with Aris emerging as the first winners.

They repeated as national champions in 1932 and 1946 and also won another thirteen regional titles up through 1959. They have not seen as much success since, however, with their only other major honor coming in 1970 when they won the Greek Cup over local rivals PAOK.

Despite the lack of silverware, however, Aris have regularly qualified for European competition, leading to their remarkable performance at their Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium. After losing to Ujpest there in the 1968 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, Aris have gone unbeaten in 26 consecutive home games in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the Cup-Winners' Cup, the UEFA Cup, and the Europa League.

That run includes wins over Benfica, Red Star Belgrade, and Atletico Madrid, as well as draws with Chelsea, Roma, and Bayer Leverkusen. The most recent match in the streak was a scoreless Europa League draw with Manchester City in 2011 (though Aris lost the away leg 3-0).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

24 March 2012 - Ronaldo Rolls To 100

On 24 March 2012, Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th La Liga goal, hitting that milestone faster than any other player in club history.

Ronaldo was in his third La Liga season, having joined Real Madrid from Manchester United in a July 2009 deal worth £80 million. He scored 26 league goals that first season, then 40 in the next. Despite that prolific output, however, Real Madrid finished as runners-up to Barcelona both seasons.

He got off to another productive start in 2011-12, with 33 goals in Madrid's first twenty-eight league games to bring his overall tally to 99 while the club secured their spot at the top of the table.

For their next match, Madrid hosted Real Sociedad at the Bernabéu and took the lead with a sixth-minute goal from striker Gonzalo Higuaín. Then in the 32nd minute, Ronaldo received the ball on the left and raced past the defense, squared up against the keeper, and sent a right-footed shot just inside the far post.

It his 100th La Liga goal in just his 92nd game, beating the previous club record of Ferenc Puskás, who needed 105 games to get to that mark. But it fell just short of the overall record, set by Real Oviedo's Isidro Lángara, who did it in 90 games.

Ronaldo went on to score a second as Madrid won 5-1, then proceeded to take the league title.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

23 March 1968 - Hierro Is Here

On 23 March 1968, former Real Madrid captain and Champions League Best Defender Fernando Hierro was born in Vélez-Málaga.

He joined Real Madrid in 1989 after two seasons with Valladolid and won the league in his first season there. Despite playing at center back and as a defensive midfielder, he was a prolific scorer, with a total of fifteen goals in his first two seasons. Then, in his third season, he recorded a career-high 26 goals across all competitions.

Additional league titles followed in 1995 and 1997. Then, in 1998, he won the first of three Champions League trophies as Real Madrid beat Juventus 1-0 in the final, one of eight clean sheets they kept throughout the tournament. For his part, Hierro was named the tournament's Best Defender--the first time that honor was awarded.

Hierro became the team captain in 2001 and remained with Real Madrid until 2003, winning another two league titles (2001, 2003) and two more Champions League trophies (2000, 2002). His total of 601 appearances place him fifth on Real Madrid's all-time list.

After leaving Madrid, he played one season each for Qatari team Al Rayyan and English team Bolton before retiring in 2005.

Friday, March 22, 2013

22 March 1936 - The Passing Of A Liverpool Legend

On 22 March 1936, John McKenna--Liverpool's first manager and Football League president--passed away at the age of 81.

McKenna joined Liverpool as a director when the club was founded in 1892 and was instrumental in putting the first team together, recruiting thirteen players out of Scotland. He then took charge of coaching the team, while W.E. Barclay handled administrative matters.

Although Liverpool were denied admission to the Football League for their first season, McKenna guided them to the title of the Lancashire League, leading to their election to the Football League's Second Division for the next season. Over the next three seasons, Liverpool were promoted, relegated, and promoted again before McKenna stepped down in 1896. But he remained active with the club, serving as chairman from 1906 to 1915.

Two years later, McKenna became president of the Football League and held that position until his death.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

21 March 1992 - Vinnie Jones's Cautionary Tale

On 21 March 1992, Chelsea midfielder Vinnie Jones set an English football record by getting a yellow card after only three seconds against Sheffield United.

Jones had previously established a reputation for aggressive play and a casual attitude toward the rules of the game, most notably during a three-year spell with Wimbledon's FA Cup-winning "Crazy Gang." But he left there in 1989 and spent a season with Leeds where his disciplinary record improved--he got only three yellows all season long.

In 1990, he moved to Sheffield United, then moved again a year later, joining Chelsea in 1991. While there, he continued to toe the line, but slipped up in a home match against his former club, Sheffield United, to earn the record-setting caution. To make matters worse, United went on to win, 1-2.

Jones returned to Wimbledon, playing there from 1992 to 1998, then retired in 1999 after a season with Queens Park Rangers. Afterward, he took up acting, usually in roles complemented by his playing reputation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

20 March 1991 - A Different Kind Of Bombardment In Dresden

On 20 March 1991, a European Cup quarterfinal between Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Dresden was halted in the 75th minute due to rioting in the stands. It never resumed and went into the books as a 3-0 win for Red Star.

Red Star won the first leg 3-0 in Belgrade two weeks earlier, so Dresden went into the second leg with a difficult task ahead of them. But they got a lift when the referee awarded them a handball penalty in the third minute, which striker Torsten Gütschow duly converted.

The two sides exchanged several chances in the remainder of the first half, with Red Star getting the better looks. Only outstanding play from Dresden goalkeeper Thomas Köhler kept the hosts ahead at the break. Red Star finally scored in the second half, with winger Dejan Savićević evading four defenders and firing past a fifth from close range to draw the visitors level in the 51st minute.

Twenty minutes later, they took the lead with a strike from forward Darko Pančev, who fired the ball between Köhler's legs and into the far corner of the net. That was too much for the home supporters--when the referee awarded Red Star a corner kick shortly afterward, the Dresden fans began hurling objects at both the Red Star kicker and the assistant referee.

After a few futile attempts to calm the fans, referee Emilio Soriano Aladrén ordered the teams off the pitch and canceled the remainder of the game. Although Red Star were leading 2-1 at the time, UEFA later awarded them a 3-0 victory and banned Dresden from UEFA competitions for the following season.

Red Star went on to beat Bayern Munich in the semifinals and then took the trophy with a win over Marseille on penalties in the final.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

19 March 1976 - A Born Defender

On 19 March 1976, four-time Serie A Defender of the Year Alessandro Nesta was born in Rome.

He started his career at Lazio, joining their youth academy in 1985. They tried him at striker and midfielder before establishing him at center back. In 1993, he signed a professional contract and became an established starter during the 1995-96 season, making a total of 28 appearances.

By 1997, he had become Lazio's captain and led the team to the 1998 Coppa Italia, followed by the 1999 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. In 2000, he won a second Coppa Italia that was paired with the club's first league title since 1974. That season also saw him win the first of four consecutive Serie A Defender of the Year awards.

In the summer of 2002, he moved to AC Milan in a deal worth €31M. In ten seasons there, he won another pair of Scudettos (2004, 2011), a Coppa Italia (2003), two Champions League titles (2003, 2007), and the FIFA Club World Cup (2007).

Along the way, he made 78 appearances for Italy between 1996 and 2006, though he missed the 2006 World Cup Final due to injury.

Nesta currently plays in MLS for the Montreal Impact, having joined them on a free transfer in the summer of 2012.

Monday, March 18, 2013

18 March 1904 - Austria The Great And Powerful

On 18 March 1904, the Austrian Football Association formed in Vienna and soon controlled one of Europe's most dominant teams.

The national side actually predated the creation of the association, playing a three-game series with Hungary between October 1902 and October 1903, but the establishment of the new governing body opened the door for them to join the newly-founded FIFA in 1905.

They chose not to participate in the first World Cup in 1930, despite being one of Europe's strongest teams. Under manager Hugo Meisl, they played an unbeaten streak of fourteen matches from 1931 to 1932, earning the nickname "Wunderteam," then finished fourth in the 1934 World Cup.

With Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938, the Austrian team ceased to exist as a separate entity until the  end of World War II. During qualification for the 1950 World Cup, they withdrew, claiming that the re-formed team was too inexperienced to compete in the tournament. But four years later, they finished third, which remains their best finish in a World Cup.

 Since then, they have failed to recapture their past glory, participating in only four of thirteen World Cups from 1962 to 2010.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

17 March 2007 - Robinson's Long-Distance Delivery

On 17 March 2007, Tottenham beat Watford with help from a rare goal from keeper Paul Robinson, who scored from 88 yards out.

Spurs were the clear favorites, having risen to eighth in the table after three straight wins, while Watford were  one spot off the bottom by virtue of goal differential. But, playing before a crowd of over 36,000 at White Hart Lane, Spurs took longer than expected to take control of the game, eventually taking a 1-0 lead with a 41st-minute goal from midfielder Jermaine Jenas.

The game was still in the balance midway through the second half when Robinson delivered his unlikely goal. Taking a free kick about five yards outside his own box in the 63rd minute, he sent the ball over the entire Watford defense. It came down in front of keeper Ben Foster, but bounced over his head and into the goal. It was the first (and, to date, only) goal of his career.

Tottenham stretched the lead to 3-0 with a goal from Hossam Ghaly in the 85th minute, but Watford cut the final margin to 3-1 with an 89th-minute strike from Darius Henderson.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

16 March 1978 - The Eagles Of Carthage Get Grounded

On 16 March 1978, Nigeria took third place in the African Cup of Nations by default after their opponents, Tunisia, walked off in the first half.

Neither side had been particularly impressive in the tournament. They both finishing as runners-up in their respective groups with identical records of one win and two draws, then both lost in the first knockout round. But that was enough to send them into the third-place match, played at the Sports Stadium in Accra, Ghana.

There, Tunisia (nicknamed the Eagles of Carthage) took an early lead with a 19th-minute goal from forward Mohamed Akid (pictured). They held the lead until the 42nd minute when the referee awarded a goal to Nigeria's Baba Otu Mohammed. The Tunisians protested the decision and, when the referee refused to change his mind, they walked off the pitch in protest.

When they refused to return, the match was declared a forfeit and recorded as a 2-0 win for Nigeria. The Confederation of African Football then banned Tunisia from all CAF competitions for two years.

Friday, March 15, 2013

15 March 1960 - Sometimes, You Have To Spend Money To Make Money

On 15 March 1960, Manchester City paid a club record fee of £55,000 to acquire Denis Law for the first--but not last--time.

Twenty years old at the time, Law had spent the previous five years at Huddersfield Town, who were in the top flight when he signed for them in 1955, but were relegated to Division Two the following year. The drop opened up playing time for Law, who earned his first start in December 1956 and went on to score a total of  19 goals in 91 appearances for the Terriers.

That was enough to attract the interest of several clubs, including Manchester United and Liverpool (whose manager, Bill Shankly was the boss at Huddersfield Town from 1956 to 1959). But City got his signature in March 1960 for £55,000, more than doubling the club's previous record of £25,000 set in 1950 when they bought Roy Paul from Swansea City.

Law spent a little over one year at City, scoring 21 goals in the 1960-61 season. In the summer of 1961, he left for Torino, who paid a then-British record fee of £100,000.

He returned to Manchester one year later to play for United, spending eleven seasons at Old Trafford, where he was named the 1964 European Player of the Year. But he rejoined City on a free transfer in 1973 for his last season. While there, he scored his last competitive goal in an April 1974 match that helped seal United's relegation that year.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

14 March 1974 - More Braces Than An Orthodontist

On 14 March 1974, Zaire won their second African Cup of Nations, beating Zambia 2-0 in a replay.

Zaire won their first cup in 1968 when, playing under the name Congo-Kinshasa, they beat Ghana 1-0. A first-round exit followed in 1970, then a fourth-place finish in 1972.

In 1974, they reached the final in large part due to midfielder Ndaye Mulamba (pictured), who scored five goals in the earlier rounds, including the match-winner in their 3-2 victory over Egypt in the semifinals. He had a pair of goals in that game, making it his second brace of the tournament. He got a third in the originally-scheduled final against Zambia, played at the International Stadium in Cairo on 12 March. It ended 2-2 after extra time to force a replay.

When the teams reconvened in Cairo two days later, Mulamba got his fourth brace, scoring in the 30th and 76th minutes to lead Zaire to a 2-0 win. His 9-goal total was the best of the tournament.

Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have never returned to the final, though they did finish in third place in 1998.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

13 March 2011 - A Good Reason To Get There Early

On 13 March 2011, attendees at Milan's match against Bari witnessed a warm-up routine that seemed unreal--because it was.

Milan, who were sitting at the top of the Serie A table while riding an eleven-game unbeaten streak, hosted Bari, the league's bottom team, at the San Siro. While the crowd filtered in, players from both teams took the pitch to warm up. And that's when things got weird.

Instead of the usual warm-up routine, the players engaged in some eccentric activities. Several of them started dancing, with Gennaro Gattuso pairing up with the referee for a bit of ballet. Clarence Seedorf started boxing and Zlatan Ibrahimović tossed a frisbee around. One player donned a swim cap and pretended to swim, while another lay down on the pitch with a newspaper.

As it turned out, all of the players were look-alikes provided by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport as a publicity stunt.

The match itself was no less interesting, as Bari managed a 1-1 draw thanks in part to Ibrahimović's ejection for punching Bari's Cartellino Rosso. It wasn't much help for Bari, though, who ended the season at the bottom of the table while Milan won the title.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

12 March 1900 - Revenge, Arsenal Style

On 12 March 1900, Arsenal recorded their record league victory, a 12-0 win over Loughborough Town.

The match was a Second Division contest played at Arsenal's Manor Ground in Plumstead, southeast London. Arsenal, who were known at the time as Woolwich Arsenal, had beaten Loughborough 2-3 away nine days earlier, but the teams had some history--Loughborough had handed them their record league defeat, an 8-0 away loss, in December 1896.

Since then, Arsenal hired manager manager Harry Bradshaw, who took over in August 1899 and began to improve the club's fortunes. Bradshaw was on the sideline at the Manor Ground on 12 March when Arsenal got their revenge by pounding Loughborough 12-0. As it turned out, that was Loughborough's last season in the league. They finished dead last in the table and were not re-elected in the spring, then financial woes forced their dissolution later that year.

The win matched Arsenal's overall record, set in an FA Cup match against Ashford United in 1893, but was beaten by a friendly against a Paris XI in 1904, which Arsenal won 26-1. But the 12-0 victory over Loughborough remains their largest league win.

Monday, March 11, 2013

11 March 1978 - The Coming Of Didier

On 11 March 1978, Didier Drogba was born in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. He went on to become one of the world's dominant strikers.

Growing up, he spent many years living in France and it was there he started his professional career, joining the youth program at Levallois in 1996, then moving to Le Mans in 1997. In 1998, he signed a professional contract with Le Mans and played there for three and a half years, scoring a total of only 15 goals in 75 appearances before moving to Guingamp for £80,000 in the winter transfer window.

The move sparked his career. In his first full season there, he scored 21 goals, attracting the interest of Marseille who signed him for £3.3M in the summer 2003. After only one remarkable season at Marseille, in which he scored 32 goals across all competitions and was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year, he moved again, this time to Chelsea who paid £24M.

In eight seasons with Chelsea, he scored 157 goals in 341 appearances, making him the fourth-highest goalscorer in club history. He also collected a massive haul of silverware, including three league titles, four FA Cups, and one Champions League trophy.

Along the way, he also captained the Côte d'Ivoire national team and is their all-time leading scorer with 60 goals in 95 appearances.

After leaving Chelsea at the end of his contract in 2012, he spent a year with Shanghai Shenhua and currently plays for Galatasaray.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

10 March 1925 - A Club Of Olympic Proportions

On 10 March 1925, Olympiacos formed from the merger of two other clubs and have since become Greece's most successful team with a record 39 league titles.

The two previous clubs, both based in Piraeus, dissolved in order to create a unified club for the area, which took the name Olympiacos Syndesmos Filathlon Piraios ("Olympiacos Club of Fans of Piraeus") and chose red and white as their colors.

The first Greek national league began competition with the 1927-28 season and Olympiacos quickly became the country's dominant club, winning their first title in 1931 and taking five more in the next seven seasons. They have won multiple titles in each decade, including an impressive run starting in 1997 that has seen them win all but two of the league titles since then (they finished as runners-up in 2004 and 2010). They have also won 25 Greek Cups.

They have a strong rivalry with Panathinaikos, known as the Derby of the Eternal Enemies, but Olympiacos have had the better of it, winning 58 games to 35 for Panathinaikos, with 55 draws.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

9 March 2005 - A Pair Of Clints

On 9 March 2005, Clint Dempsey made his first start for the United States in a 3-0 win over Colombia.

The striker/midfielder had gotten his first cap in November 2004, but had yet to crack the starting line-up until the friendly against Colombia, played on his 22nd birthday. He was one of six players making their starting debut, including goalkeeper Jon Busch and defenders Richie Kotschau and Chad Marshall. Those three, along with substitute Nat Borchers, were playing with the national team for the first time. Dempsey was also one of two Clints on the pitch, joining

The US went up 1-0 with a 25th-minute goal from Dempsey's New England Revolution teammate, Pat Noonan, with an assist from another Revolution player, Steve Ralston. Ralston also assisted on the second goal, scored by Marshall in the 33rd minute. Clint Mathis completed the win with a third goal in the 66th minute.

While Dempsey did not score that day, he has since gone on to net a total of 31 goals in 92 appearances, making him third on the team's all-time scoring chart.

Friday, March 8, 2013

8 March 1982 - San Diego Takes It Inside

On 8 March 1982, the San Diego Sockers won the first of their 10 indoor championships, beating the Tampa Bay Rowdies 10-5.

It was the fifth NASL indoor season, with thirteen of the fourteen teams from the league's earlier outdoor season taking part. San Diego had lost in the outdoor playoffs to the Cosmos, who went on to win that title, while Tampa Bay had failed even to make it into the postseason.

Tampa Bay qualified for the indoor playoffs, however, with the league's third-best record (behind Edmonton and Chicago), then advanced to the final with wins over Montreal and Tulsa. San Diego, who had finished fourth overall, reached the final by beating Vancouver and Edmonton.

The final was played over two legs, with San Diego winning the first 9-7 on 3 March. Five days later, they dominated the second leg, taking a 5-0 lead in the first half en route to the 10-5 final score. San Diego striker Juli Veee, the league's top scorer that season, got a hat-trick.

The Sockers went on to win four more straight titles between the NASL and MISL, then another five between 1988 and 1992.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

7 March 2007 - Makaay Makes His Mark

On 7 March 2007, Bayern Munich's Roy Makaay scored the Champions League's fastest goal when he netted against Real Madrid after only 10 seconds.

The match was the second leg of the Round of 16. Real Madrid won the first leg at the Bernabéu 3-2, but Bayern's two away goals would prove to be crucial.

Bayern hosted the second leg at the Allianz Arena, where a crowd of 69,500 turned out to watch Makaay's record goal. Real Madrid took the opening kick and quickly sent it back to left back Roberto Carlos, whose poor touch allowed Bayern's Hasan Salihamidžić to steal it away. He slipped behind the defensive line and centered the ball for Makaay, surging through the middle. The striker collected it and beat keeper Iker Casillas with a calm finish with just 10.12 seconds on the clock.

The goal crushed the previous record of 20.07 seconds, set by Arsenal's Gilberto Silva in a 2002 match against PSV Eindhoven.

The match ended 2-1 to Bayern after they got a second-half goal from Lucio (66') and Madrid got a late penalty from forward Ruud van Nistelrooy (83'). Even at 3-3 on aggregate, Bayern advanced on away goals (but lost to Milan in the quarterfinals).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6 March 1979 - Little Timmy Has Done Well

On 6 March 1979, United States and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

He started his career in 1997 with the North Jersey Imperials in the United States Independent Soccer Leagues, but moved to Major League Soccer in 1998 with the MetroStars. After making limited appearances in his first few seasons there, he claimed the starting job in 2001. Later that year, he became the  youngest player to receive the league's Goalkeeper of the Year award.

In 2003, Manchester United signed him for $4 million to take over from Fabien Barthez as the club's first-choice keeper. But despite a strong start, winning the Community Shield with a penalty save against Arsenal, he struggled in his next two seasons, leading to his departure to Everton on loan in 2006.

He shined at Everton, making his move permanent in a 2007 deal worth a reported £3 million, and has remained their starting keeper ever since. In January 2012, he even scored a goal, as a long clearance was pushed along by the wind into the opposing net, making him only the fourth keeper in Premier League history to do so.

In addition to his club duties, Howard has been a regular starter for the United States since the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and has, to date, earned 85 caps.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

5 March 1870 - The First International (Sort Of)

On 5 March 1870, London hosted the world's first international match, with an English team facing a group of London-based Scottish players. It ended in a 1-1 draw.

C.W. Alcock of Old Harrovians--FA Secretary and later founder of the FA Cup--organized the match as the first of a series of five showcases between the two countries and captained the English side. The Scottish eleven was chosen by Arthur Kinnaird and  captain James Kirkpatrick and also included Old Etonians' William Gladstone, whose father later became Prime Minister.

The teams met at the Oval, muddied from rain, and played through a scoreless first half. After the break, they switched sides, which a post-match report described as a newly-implemented rule. Late in the second half, Alcock moved his goalkeeper up the field, leaving an opening for Scotland's Robert Crawford to score the opening goal in the 75th minute. But Alfred Baker found the net for England in the 89th minute to earn a 1-1 draw.

Four more representative matches followed between November 1870 and February 1872, ending in one more draw and three wins for England. But because the Scottish teams for all five matches were drawn exclusively from London, FIFA does not recognize them as official internationals.

Monday, March 4, 2013

4 March 2012 - Sundowns Cut The Powerlines

On 4 March 2012, Mamelodi Sundowns recorded the biggest win in South African history, beating Powerlines 24-0.

The match came in the Round of 32 in South Africa's major domestic cup competition, the Nedbank Cup, where top flight Sundowns, winner of the cup in 1998 (when it was known as the Bob Save Super Bowl) and 2008, faced off against amateur side Powerlines.

It was effectively over by halftime, with Sundowns up 10-0, but they continued to pack in the goals in the second half. Their leading scorer was Hlompho Kekana with seven (7, 15, 31, 50, 61, 78, 80), followed by Nyasha Mushekwi with six (24, 41, 43, 45+1, 45+2, 52). Richard Henyekane added five (12, 20, 56, 72, 74), while they got a brace each from Samuel Julies (54, 76), Elias Pelembe (65, 70), and Lebohang Mokoena (71, 90+1).

The scoreline crushed the previous South African record of 16-0, reached twice in the cup by AmaZulu in 1976 and 1986. But still fell far short over the world record of 149-0, set by Madagascar's AS Adema over Stade Olympique Emyrne in 2002.

Sundowns eventually reached the 2012 final, where they lost to Supersport United 2-0.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3 March 1928 - A Boy Among Men

On 3 March 1928, Bristol Rovers striker Ronnie Dix became the Football League's youngest goalscorer when he found the net at the age of 15 years, 180 days.

Playing in his first professional season, Dix, who was born in Bristol, scored his record-setting goal in a Third Division South match against Norwich City, which Rovers won 3-0. It was one of the few highlights for them that season, though, as they finished 19th out of 22 teams.

Dix remained with Bristol until 1932, making 100 league appearances and scoring a total of 33 goals. He then played for Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Derby County, Tottenham Hotspur, and Reading before retiring in 1949 (he also earned a lone cap for England in 1939).

He remains the Football League's youngest goalscorer.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

2 March 1998 - Three Times A Lady For Brazil

On 2 March 1998, 2-time winners Brazil started their third South American Women's Championship in style with a record 15-0 win over Peru.

The team had won both of the previous tournaments as hosts, in 1991 and 1995. During the latter, they set their record win, beating Bolivia 15-0 in the group stage, and were looking to repeat that success when Argentina hosted it in 1998. And repeat it they did, matching the record with a win over Peru in the opening match of their 1998 campaign.

They followed it with impressively lopsided victories over Colombia (12-1), Venezuela (14-0), and Chile (7-0) to close out the group stage with a staggering goal differential of +47.

In the knockout rounds, the margins narrowed slightly, with an 11-1 win over Ecuador in the semifinals and a 7-1 win over hosts Argentina in the final that delivered their third consecutive trophy in the competition.

Friday, March 1, 2013

1 March 1921 - FIFA's Man With A Plan

On 1 March 1921, Jules Rimet became FIFA's third president and remains their longest-serving one, holding the office for 33 years.

A French attorney, Rimet was involved in FIFA's founding in 1904, but the presidency first went to his countryman, Robert Guérin. Guérin served for only two years and was succeeded by Englishman Daniel Woolfall. Rimet, meanwhile became the president of the French Football Federation in 1919 and remained in that position when he took over from Woolfall two years later, holding the two positions jointly for over twenty years.

When he ascended to the FIFA presidency, the organization had only 12 members, which he raised to 85 before the end of his term. But one of his most significant contributions was the establishment of the World Cup, which he proposed in 1928 and was first played in 1930. The World Cup trophy was renamed in his honor in 1946.

Rimet resigned as the FFF president in 1942, but remained FIFA president until 1954. His 33-year tenure remains the longest in FIFA history, with João Havelange's 24-year term a distant second.

In 1956, two years after his retirement, Rimet passed away, just two days after his 83rd birthday.