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The beauty of the 4-2-3-1, Braga's grounds and more

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Your intrepid writer and the better half, inside Braga's stunning grounds during Euro 2004.
Your intrepid writer and the better half, inside Braga's stunning grounds during Euro 2004.

Swappin’ and shoppin’ on a Wednesday while taking in all this Champions League as joyness fills my heart, here's what I'm buying and selling:

Buying:

The 4-2-3-1 formation.  I’m watching these lineups in UEFA Champions League matches and I keep seeing teams roll out the 4-2-3-1. (Switzerland’s Young Boys got out the 4-2-3-1 whuppin’ stick and left a serious mark on the Spurs’ 4-4-2 yesterday, eh?) I saw France win the World Cup in 1998 with the system that was gaining vogue at the time in La Liga. I put my team in the 4-2-3-1 that season and the boys loved it. We haven’t done anything since. So, if all these teams have it figured out the beauty of this system and a simpleton like me can sort it out, why in the world, I ask myself, won’t a few MLS sides try it? I write more about that one here.

Braga’s spectacular stadium. I was fortunate to get there for a match at Euro 2004. I mean, there are great grounds all over the great Earth … but how many of them are truly unique?  This one is in a medium-sized town not far outside Porto, with the rocks closing up one end and the supporting wires overhead, is truly something different. And it’s spectacular. Braga hosts Spain's Sevilla there today. (More on this great place is here.)

The Vancouver Whitecaps: Man, I love the way everyone in MLS is upping their game. Go hard or go home, indeed. So, looky looky what those aggressive suits over at the Vancouver Whitecaps just did: they signed themselves a couple of Swiss internationals. Details are here. And remember, these guys aren’t even in MLS yet. They open their little store along Don Garber Way next year along with Portland, as MLS becomes and 18-team outfit.

This referee in the Werder Bermen-Sampdoria match: Dude just had the cojones to do what most referees won’t – give a penalty kick for one of these ceaseless penalty area assaults that happen on re-starts.

Selling

Hype over the home grown: Maybe I’m just a fuddy-duddy, but I just can’t get overly excited with the signing of these home grown players. MLS sides want to make a big ol’ honkin’ deal about them, and I really do understand the bigger picture here, about how graduating players out of these youth teams is such an important part of the domestic game’s overall development. Still, when it comes to the individual announcement that the clubs want everyone to be so geeked about, I always say the same thing: let me know when they get a regular place in the lineup or when they score a couple of goals. 

Kyle Martino’s new show: I like Kyle as an announcer; he’s knowledgeable and personable. And I understand that his show is new and they probably need time to grown into it. So, I’ll leave it there for now, full of faith that Fox Soccer Channel’s new talk show will find its way.

ATT U-verse: Not only for some comically abysmal customer service I received recently (and repeatedly over about three weeks), but also because they don’t offer Fox Soccer Channel Plus or FSC in HD.