I like that Boon Boo Ree, I like that Boon Boo Ree!

I like that Boon Boo Ree...

Until Saturday night, he was merely known as Teal Bunberry. Now, he's forever Boon Boo Ree to me.

One of the most epic soccer goal calls ever – certainly in the history of international friendlies – has gotten even more psyched up for the 2011 MLS season.

And I was already pretty aped, for a lot of reasons. After years of false starts, Sporting Kansas City (nee Kansas City Wizards) will open its soccer-specific stadium in June. SKC should have a dynamic attack, thanks to Davy Arnaud, Omar Bravo, Teal Bunberry, Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith. Jimmy “The White Puma” Nielsen is back in goal. And, of course, Jack Jewsbury – The Pride of Springfield – will be playing in midfield. Then there’s the matter of the team’s new identity, which – after initial skepticism – I’m all about. The logo is growing on me, the brand is being used well, and the new kits are solid.

It was already a near-perfect storm of excitement for me, and it’s just been upgraded to category 5. Bunberry got into the United States’ friendly with Chile in the second half and, after Juan Agudelo was tripped up in the box, Bunberry stood over the ball to take the penalty kick. Chile goalie Paulo Garces guessed wrong and Bunberry coolly slotted home for his first USMNT goal. The call on Telefutura is now an internet sensation:

Yeah. That’s a Black Eyed Peas reference. It didn’t take long for the mashup to hit YouTube, and it’s just as good:

It’s taken off from there. The Cauldron, a collective of the club’s most ardent fans, has started a “Boon Boo Ree” T-shirt design competition (the winner will be printed and sold) and, if you look hard enough, you can find the mp3 of the mashup online.

And it all hit less than 48 hours before SKC opened preseason training in Arizona. They’re there now, getting ready for a regular season that will require them to play on the road until the June 9 home opener with the Chicago Fire.

Interested in keeping up with Sporting KC? It’s easy to do, even down here in the Queen City of the Ozarks. There’s a Web site, an official blog (The Sporting Way), and an active news blog operated by Charles Gooch, the Kansas City Star’s beat writer (The Full 90). There are also a handful of very good independent blogs, including my personal favorite, Down the Byline. The Back Post, The Daily Wiz and Sporting Times are also worth a look.

But SKC also has a great presence in social media, with an incredibly active Twitter feed, which they often use to live Tweet during matches – a big help for people like me. Several players are also active on Twitter. Kamara is a must-follow for sure, especially after he organized a snowball fight between Sporting players and fans recently:

That’s a level of access fans so rarely get to professional athletes. Everyone looked like they were having a good time, and Kamara even treated participants to his beloved Chipotle when they were done. Can’t beat that.

Wish I could’ve been there in person – and not just for the free Chipotle. Sadly, I haven’t been to a KC match since 2007, a streak I’ll break some time this summer. It’s not easy being a soccer fan in a place where a lot of people don’t “get” soccer. But I think the culture here is changing a bit, with a move to start a chapter of American Outlaws and some well-attended World Cup watch parties at Farmers Gastropub, who has been very supportive of the local soccer community, organized by the indefatigable Ole Olson of SGFsoccer.com. I’ll tell any of you on the outside the same thing I say about hockey: Just go see it in person. Then you’ll understand it.

That’s it for now. I’ve got to go work on my Dougie, set to the tune of the Boon Boo Ree mash-up.


US World Cup roster set

The Yanks

The Yanks are coming

The United States Men’s  National Soccer team will play its second pre-World Cup friendly in Philly today, against Turkey, and I’ll be glued to the TV set. I wish.

Instead I’ll be working and constantly picking up my phone for Twitter updates, mostly because I’m intrigued to see how the final 23-man roster for the US looks as they get ready for the 2010 World Cup, kicking off June 11 in South Africa.

I didn’t get to see the squad’s announcement (curse you, work!), but I’ve had a chance to look at it. Here are my thoughts:

Goalies – Tim Howard. That’s pretty much all you need to know. He’s a solid, world class keeper. I’m not worried about him.

The Stare-Down

I never get tired of this.

Defenders – This one’s a mixed bag in my eyes…which, unfortunately, didn’t get to see the match against the Czechs, a 4-2 defeat in Hartford. My understanding is Oguchi Onyewu didn’t look fit, yet there he is on the 23-man squad. Gooch is a US soccer folk hero, so I’m not anti-Gooch, I just hope his healing ankle doesn’t come back to haunt us. Jonathan Bornstein, too, was said to be shaky and allowing four goals doesn’t make me feel very secure. Howard’s great in net, but he needs just a little support out front.

Midfielders – I love this group. Seriously. Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, DaMarcus Beasley, some of my favorites.

Forwards – USMNT coach Bob Bradley took some risks here to be sure. No Brian Ching, but Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez are in, as is Robbie Findley. Gomez made a great case for himself with his performance against the Czechs. He’s also a former Kansas City Wizard, so he’s automatically cool. We know what we’re getting in Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, but the other three? Bradley will be a genius or a fool depending on how they play.

All-in-all I think it’s a solid group and, after Algeria fell to non-qualifier Ireland 3-0 in a friendly Friday, I’m feeling even better about the Yanks’ chances of advancing out of group play.

The Yanks kick off with Turkey at 1 p.m. in Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field. If you’re in the 417 this weekend and want to watch, you’ve got two options. SGFsoccer.com guru Ole Olson is convening a watch party at Farmer’s Gastropub downtown, in the Wilhoit Center. I totally dig the Gastropub. Great decor, great concept and phenomenal beer selection. There was a Champion’s League finals watch party there last week, so props to them for being a soccer hotspot.

Your other option is Quincy Magoo’s, on the southside, in the Battlefield Marketplace. That’s where they budding Springfield Chapter of the American Outlaws is meeting. They’re trying to become a national chapter and find a great spot to watch the World Cup. I’ve been to Magoo’s just once, with the fam, and wasn’t necessarily blown away by it. But they’ve shown a willingness to support the soccer crowd, too, so they’re worth another shot.