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Pro Evolution Soccer Continues Tradition of Excellence

PES 2011 gives FIFA Soccer 11 a run for its money.

PES 2011 gives FIFA Soccer 11 a run for its money.

Everybody knows Konami’s Winning Eleven series was pure brilliance. Well we now have a modern counterpart with PES 2011, one of the most realistic and fluid games to date. It is a legitimate competitor to EA Sports and FIFA Soccer 11, which has gotten a bit of a head start with an earlier launch date.

Choosing PES 2011 or FIFA 11 comes down to some simple choices. Do you want to play in the UEFA Champions League or Europa League? Do you have any interest in South America’s Copa Santander Libertadores? Many would answer yes to both and PES 2011 is the only game to exclusively feature all three.

Menus are easy to navigate and the music is original and quite refreshing. Opening sequences are breathtaking as the stadium environments and player appearances are simply amazing. It feels like you are watching a real game in HD, but guess what you get to control the players. PES gets major style points in the visuals department.

Gameplay has always been a strong point for Pro Evo and this year further tweaks have made play even more crisp and clean. Control over players feels very natural and responsive. There is no lag in movement and the pacing and speed of play feels about right. “Total Control” gives you an added touch on the ball, which lends itself to a more realistic gaming experience. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but it is an excellent way of replicating real-life action on the pitch.

PES has beefed up its online presence, especially in the area of the always popular Master League mode. Online play has become a necessity and a priority for most gamers and Konami has risen to the challenge in this area as well.

Master League is consistently one of the better features and this year’s edition is no exception. It is my favorite mode of play, one that blows FIFA 11 out of the water in terms of options and depth. It is almost like rolling Sega’s Football Manager into a console game. The result is a wickedly good time spent off the field. Now you can take that mentality online to compete against other fanatics.

The only knock against Pro Evo is its lack of licensed teams and players. Konami has made great strides in this regard, but it still lags seriously behind. Don’t expect to play in MLS or the A-League with PES 2011; it is not going to happen.

In closing, the positives surrounding Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 far outweigh any negatives critics may find. Simply put, watch out EA Sports and FIFA Soccer 11: PES 2011 for PS3 and XBOX 360 is available in stores now!

Stop by the Bothwell Cup in Canton, Ohio this weekend for your chance to win one of two copies of PES 2010 for the XBOX 360.  Win a great game and see thousands of youth soccer players and fans at the Diamond Sports Complex, home of the Concave Sports National Soccer Combine.

FSC Streamlines Primetime Schedule

Fox Soccer ChannelFox Soccer Channel today announced a significant reformatting to its weekly programming schedule, designed to offer viewers increased Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Serie A coverage midweek.  Debuting today, the new schedule features a three-hour block of Premier League programming in primetime starting at 7 p.m. ET, culminating with a “Game of the Week” from England every Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

The Best from Europe, Monday – Friday beginning at 7 p.m. ET: Fox Soccer Channel kicks-off its enhanced weeknight programming Mondays at 7 p.m. ET with the Barclays Premier League Review Show and continues with two-hour match telecasts each evening as well as archival and magazine programs from the world’s most-watched sports league.  Tuesdays-Fridays at 11 p.m. also feature classic matches from the UEFA Champions League, while Fox Soccer Report remains in its usual time slots of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.  Fox Soccer Channel’s schedule will vary on UEFA Champions League and CONCACAF Champions League matchdays from August-May, as well as during the MLS and college soccer seasons.

Soccer Talk Live, Mondays at 11 p.m. ET/PT: Fox Soccer Channel’s new studio show Soccer Talk Live moves to Mondays at 11 p.m. ET to capture a late-night audience, repeating at 11 p.m. PT for West Coast viewers.  Each week host Kyle Martino welcomes world-class athletes as well as musicians, actors and authors, all discussing their passion for the “beautiful game” and how soccer impacts their lives.

Weekend Programming: In addition to live and premiere match coverage from Europe’s biggest leagues, weekends include one episode per day of Fox Soccer Tonight, premiering at 7 p.m. ET (post-MLS season), recapping the day’s most important Barclays Premier League contest in a fast-paced hour-long format.  Meanwhile, Fox Soccer Report moves up one hour to 10 p.m. ET, maintaining consistency with its weeknight time slot.  Sunday nights now feature a two-hour drama block with the pairing of reality series Football Superstar and the popular English show Dream Team, starting at 11 p.m. ET.   

“Our punched-up programming schedule streamlines our schedule to easily direct our viewers to the leagues, competitions and Fox Soccer Channel series that they care about most, “ said David Nathanson, General Manager of Fox Soccer Channel. “These changes strengthen our position as the primary television destination for coverage of the world’s best soccer.”

For complete programming schedules – which also includes Fox Soccer Channel’s new midweek block of Serie A coverage – please visit


Evolving MISL Releases 2010-2011 Schedule

The Major Indoor Soccer League has announced its regular-season schedule for the 2010-11 season.  Each of the five MISL teams will play a 20-game schedule for a total of 50 regular-season contests.  All but three games of the league’s 2010-11 schedule will be played on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  The regular season will run for 17 weeks, beginning on Friday, November 12 with the Missouri Comets hosting the Milwaukee Wave in the first professional indoor soccer game at the Independence Events Center.  The regular season will conclude on Sunday, March 13 and the postseason is set to start the following weekend.

Last week the league approved the addition of the Chicago Riot for the 2010-11 season.  Peter Wilt, who has previously led successful Chicago soccer teams in the NPSL (Power), MLS (Fire) and WPS (Red Stars), is a part owner of the Riot and will serve as the team’s President, CEO and official spokesperson.  Wilt has won championships in four professional soccer leagues, is a member of the Chicago Fire Ring of Fire and is a former MLS Executive of the Year.  Jeff Kraft, the former head coach of the Rockford Rampage, will serve as Chicago’s Director of Team Operations and Head Coach.  The Riot will play their home games at the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, IL and will hold a press conference Tuesday, October 26 to announce more details about the team.

“The Chicago market is very important to the MISL and having Peter Wilt in charge of our newest team is a fantastic bonus,” said MISL Commissioner David Grimaldi.  “Peter is very well known and respected in the Chicago area and will certainly make our newest MISL team, the Chicago Riot, a great success.”

The MISL will consist of five member clubs: the Baltimore Blast, Chicago Riot, Milwaukee Wave, Missouri Comets and Omaha Vipers.  At the conclusion of the regular season, the top three teams will qualify for the postseason.  The second- and third-place teams will square-off in a home-and-home Semifinal series with the winner advancing to battle the top seed.  The top seed will receive a bye in the opening round and will host the Championship Game.

Review: An Irrational Hatred for Luton by Robert Banks

As a teenager I was a big fan of American football and the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills happened to be on quite a run, making an appearance in four consecutive Super Bowls.  Trouble began with one field goal gone wide right as the Bills lost four Super Bowls in a row.  Today the team built by the likes of O.J. Simpson, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith is winless in the first 5 games of the 2010 NFL season.

What lesson did I learn? Well, you can’t help rooting for the underdog and you can’t help following a team that has no hope.  While I can’t compare a few years of obsessing with American football to a lifetime of loyalty to a single club, I did feel a connection to An Irrational Hatred for Luton by Robert Banks. 

Banks is a true fan who rode a rollercoaster called West Ham United FC for decades.  Yeah, that’s right. Decades.  Ups and downs, highs and lows.  That described his life and his club, always connected. 

The entire book, cover to cover, is priceless.  A conversational style helps Banks connect to the reader and share his life story and the history of his team.  I am not sure if the book is about life affecting football or the other way around, but it is a good read.

I learned a few things along the way. First, Robert Banks really hates Luton Town FC and maybe I do too.  There is always good and evil and I am starting to think Luton Town might be part of the latter.  Second, it is admirable to stick with your club in times that are good and times that are really bad.  It takes a character, someone who has a backbone and of course patience and nerves of steel.  Third, being the underdog is a tough job, especially in a game as crazy as football. 

The review was albeit a little informal, but it fits the style of this book, which we highly recommend.  It is an enjoyable read for anyone who loves the beautiful game or feels like the odds are stacked against them.  Sometimes the underdog gets their day.