Giving Back: LFC Boston’s Annual Holiday Toy Drive

‘Tis the Season for Giving!

kids holding up toys

Nothing is better than seeing kids’ faces light up during the holidays while unwrapping presents. This December, LFC Boston is sponsoring a Toy Drive for Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD).

Established in 1962, Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD)
is Boston’s official anti-poverty agency and services over 85,000 low-income
Greater Boston residents. Their annual toy drive has been in existence for over 30 years and during that time they have been able to donate toys to thousands of underprivileged children in the Boston area.

The toy drive is an important yearly effort that allows us to bring a little
extra cheer to many families who otherwise may not have had the financial
ability to provide for their families at this very important time of the year.

The launch of our toy drive will be at the upcoming LFC Boston Ugly Sweater Holiday Party on Dec. 6 at the Phoenix Landing, 5-9 p.m. You will learn more details about the Toy Drive and select a child’s wish list at this event.

Toy donations will be accepted during the following LFC matches:

  • Tue, Dec. 9 vs. Basel
  • Sun, Dec. 14 vs. Manchester United
  • Wed, Dec. 17 vs. Bournemouth

If you are unable to get to the Phoenix Landing but are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact Kristine McKenna, LFC Boston’s Charity and Outreach Coordinator at KristineMcKenna@LFCBoston.com.

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Rodgers pleased with performance against Stoke but disappointed in missed chances

Brendan Rodgers during Liverpool training session in Toronto, 21-07-2012.

Brendan Rodgers applauded his young team’s ability to cope with Stoke City’s physical play, but lamented Liverpool’s missed chances. Photo Courtesy Bernard Chan

 By Kevin Koczwara

Stoke City is no one’s favorite opponent. Tony Pulis’ side is well-organized and physical from the first whistle — it showed in the six yellow cards Stoke received on Sunday. Brendan Rodgers isn’t first or the last manager who was unable to crack the Potters defense. But things could have been different if Liverpool had found the final pass and the final touch. Rodgers’ side dominated the game and despite being a young side, again, the team didn’t back down from Stoke’s physical play, which is encouraging.

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Dempsey Could Help On and Off The Field

By Tyler Norton

Unfortunately (in this fan’s eyes) football is no longer purely about the best club. Players are bought and sold frequently enough that when players like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are Liverpudlians for life, it is noted as the exception rather than the rule. Not that this is some sort of major revelation to the modern football fan, but it is worth mentioning. Football has become equal parts business and sport. For some, all that matters is the footy. Others would rather see a successful stable club perpetually in contention. The latter group understands that the football and the business are directly connected.

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A New Beginning

By John Dutton

We all know that July feeling. The anticipation. The hope. Last year, Reds fans were unusually excited to see what the new season would bring — King Kenny’s chance to push on toward the Holy Grail of a first title in twenty-odd years but it didn’t pan out. The hows and whys have been analyzed elsewhere, but the bottom line is that the owners felt it was time to move on. They hired Brendan Rodgers and I, for one, am cautiously optimistic about the man and the manager. But let’s focus for a minute on off-field matters. Not the transfer rumor mill, not backroom staff changes, but ourselves, the fans. Continue reading

High Expectations and devastating lows end Kenny Dalglish’s second reign at Liverpool

By Kevin Koczwara

Sadly I don’t make it to the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge often to watch Liverpool play. I live 45 minutes out of the Boston city limits in Worcester, and getting up early, driving the 40-plus minutes and then getting lucky enough for a seat is a tough proposition when I can sit at home and drink a pot of coffee and have enough room to take notes during games (yes, I take notes). But when I get up and drive to Cambridge I am always aw and inspired. I love getting to the Landing to enjoy a few pints (and plenty of coffee) to watch and enjoy a good match. And the opening match of the season for Liverpool was one I couldn’t miss. I made the trek and got a seat to watch the game.

There was a bubbling energy that day. Liverpool had come off of a great second half of the previous season. There was £120 million of new players. And Kenny Dalglish had the team playing attractive stuff before the 2010/11 season ended. A top-four finish was in the cards. Trophies were insight. And Andy Carroll, well, there never was much faith in him.

There was so much excitement around game one that NESN.com was there filming. They wanted to know the expectations for the season, and hopes were high.  But those high hopes were soon crushed.

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Derby Day: Manchester United v. Liverpool FC

When the EPL releases the fixture list at the beginning of the season, I always scan through, looking for the big matches. I like to get a feel of the rhythm of the season, when the climaxes may fall, when Liverpool will have the largest obstacles, when I’ll need to take time off from work. Also, it’s important to start planning the excuses early in case a family reunion falls on an important match weekend.

So I’d been anticipating Saturday’s fixture against United since summer. But if you told me then Liverpool would be a mere seven points clear of the top and that this match could be Liverpool’s last chance to bring the title within reach in the final months, I would have slapped you across the face in disbelief. (I would have apologized and gotten you some ice almost immediately, but, c’mon: stand back if you’re going to suggest something outrageous like that!)

A win tomorrow doesn’t mean trophy number nineteen will join the other glories in Liverpool’s cabinet. Though, a win for United will almost certainly mean the title for them. No, a Liverpool win would simply gives supporters the will to keep hoping for a few more weeks. Hoping the Reds can keep winning and that United slip, more than once, somewhere, somehow.

Statistics lend no comfort. Liverpool have not secured a single point at Old Trafford under Rafael Benitez. In recent years, a draw would be deemed a fantastic result when trekking down the road to play United. But tomorrow we need something more if Liverpool hope to fight for anything higher than second place.

For comfort, for courage we can look to the other big matches of the season. In the home match against United, Rafa beat the Red Devils for the first time in his Liverpool career. A 2-1, come-from-behind win. I lost my voice screaming in glee when Javier Mascherano found Ryan Babel in front of goal and Babel’s piercing shot screamed past Van Der Sar, putting Liverpool ahead when they had gone down a goal in the opening minutes.

Liverpool brought Chelsea’s juggernautish, unbeaten home record to a halt with the 0-1 win at Stamford Bridge in October. Xabi Alonso’s goal was enough to secure all the points, but Liverpool’s great passing game and pressure kept Chelsea from any convincing rebuttal. Liverpool supporters would have been happy with a point at the Bridge. Instead they got three. At the time, it felt like a miracle.

Chelsea’s visit to Anfield brought three more points for Liverpool, this time with two late goals from Fernando Torres. Video replay would show Chelsea midfield goliath Frank Lampard should not have been sent off for his “tackle” on Xabi Alonso, but once again, Liverpool’s determined possession and pressure even against the full Blue xi revealed that while they’ve struggled against Stoke and Middlesbrough, they can dominate the best sides in Europe. Liverpool would have won against a full xi. I’m sure of it. It might have been 1-0 or 2-0 but they were always going to win.

Liverpool come into the United match after an unbelievable 5-0 aggregate win against Real Madrid, having scored four goals Tuesday night when the European giants visited Anfield. We must remember, Rafa Benitez has a knack for understanding and breaking down the Spanish sides after his great successes with Valencia, and we cannot expect United to leave so much space for Liverpool attacks. United are the consummate professionals at keeping a rigid defense while mounting serious attacks.

But what the Madrid victory gives Liverpool is a crushing wave on which they could be riding high. If Liverpool can continue the momentum, if the players can pass and attack with the vigor they displayed against Real, they’ll have a serious chance.

Statistically and historically, a win at Old Trafford would be a supreme upset for Liverpool. Spiritually it could be just the prescription to cure the ailments they’ve shown against the middle- and lower-table sides. If they can bag the points at OT tomorrow and translate the success into dominance over the rest of the teams they face in the League, they might have a chance, no matter how slim, to win the title. It will depend on United slipping further, but if Liverpool win tomorrow, they will also show other sides that United can be beaten. They’ll leave the door open for Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Manchester City and others to take a shot at the Champions. And from there, who knows?

I don’t expect Liverpool to win the league. But if they start by defying expectations at Old Trafford tomorrow, I won’t give up on the dream either.

Oh, Those European Nights

Steven Gerrard’s heat-seeking missle against Olympiacos. Didi Hamann’s sweeping free-kick against Leverkusen. Sami Hyypia’s calm, cool finish against Juventus. Luis Garcia’s 25-yard swerving volley against the same. Garcia’s controversial just-over-the-line winner against Chelsea. And of course the three goals in the epic Instanbul comeback that was the 2005 Champions League final.

Playing in Europe is not merely Liverpool’s quest for the title. It’s all the moment of jaw-dropping magic along the way. Advancement is great. But the selfish supporter in me wants to see the sort of goals that are a mixture of artwork and circumstance. Things lining up just right so that a moment you can’t quite believe and can hardly digest unfolds before you. The things you love about football compressed into a perfect little package.

Against Barcelona in 2007, Steve Finnan floated a long ball into the box to find Craig Bellamy’s, whose header put it over the line. I lost myself. I screamed so loud the friend next to me almost went deaf in one ear in the quiet New Hampshire pub where we watched afternoon matches. I didn’t know if Bellamy had scored or if it had been Dirk Kuyt’s insurance tap-in that counted, all I knew is we had just equalized against one of the biggest clubs in Europe and secured an all important away goal. In the second half, Bellamy laid the ball off for John Arne Riise who put it home. We’d come back to Anfield with two away goals and a lead.

In the quarter-finals we faced PSV Eindhoven. In the away leg, Tommy Smyth announced that both sides were clearly playing for a draw. Liverpool would win 0-3. Gerrard had a low blast. Riise put away one of his long range specials. And Steve Finnan’s service to Peter Crouch for the third away goal may have been the most perfect cross I have ever seen. Good thing Liverpool didn’t come to attack, Tommy.

The semi-final second leg began with us down a goal to Chelsea. It seemed a bigger deficit somehow against the London giants who were eager to avenge Luis Garcia’s light goal from two years before. But when Gerrard’s free kick on 22 minutes found Daniel Agger just  inside the box and just beyond the traffic. Our Danish full-back placed it with his first touch and Liverpool went through to win it in penalty kicks.

So I know I’ve been spoiled. While 0-0 would be a great result for us today against Real Madrid, I want goals. I want two goals. I want two spectacular goals. At least.

I hope Torres starts and gets a chance to knock one back against his old hometown rivals. Maybe Stevie G will treat us to an old-school blast from 20+ yards out just like the good old days. Sami Hyypia could very well thank Rafa for finally including him in the current European squad with a viscious header off a corner kick. Something to make me go crazy and blow out the eardrums of those around me.

I’m not picky. As long as it defies the odds, the defense and maybe even the laws of physics. That’s all I ask for.