Late Cup Winner Boosts Reds

Originally published on LFCOnline.com website.

Having gone over two games without scoring at Anfield and still struggling to find a solid eleven, Brendan Rodgers had a challenge in rotating a Liverpool squad for a midweek cup clash against Swansea City.

The Swans beat the Reds the first time Rodgers’ old team faced his new team in the League Cup and, after Marvin Emnes’s fortunate goal, a repeat looked likely. Yet, Liverpool rallied in the final ten minutes to come from behind, scoring seconds before the stoppage time whistle for a 2-1 Capital One Cup victory.

Liverpool started the far better side, generating some early shots but unable to break down Swansea’s defense. The brightest force for the home side, Philippe Coutinho started strong, creating chances for himself and others.

In the 27th minute, Coutinho started a sequence that offered potential signs of shaking the scoring drought, when he linked with a driving Jordan Henderson, who slipped the ball left to Lazar Markovic racing in behind the defense only to send the ball wildly into the crowd. It was the Reds’ best chance of the opening half.

Still, Liverpool continued to press defensively and try to force the issue in attack. Fabio Borini nearly manufactured a chance out of nothing when he picked off a Jonjo Shelvey back pass in the 34th minute and cut into the penalty area, forcing a save from Swans goal keeper Gerhard Tremmel. The industry of Coutinho, Henderson, and Borini continued to suggest the Reds might break the tie open.

As the second half continued scoreless, and Liverpool found penetration difficult, the away side grew in confidence and began to get on the ball with longer stretches of possession. Then Swansea benefitted from a series of unfortunate deflections to open the scoring.

In the 65th minute Henderson blocked a Shelvey pass that landed in the path of  Neil Taylor, as he surged toward the box met by a Borini challenge, resulting in the ball rebounding up and over a slowly reacting defense, right onto Emnes boot. The Swansea forward capitalised, finishing fast and flawlessly. The goal was against the wider run of play and created an even greater sense of urgency for the home side.

Within five minutes Glen Johnson advanced to lash a hard, dipping shot from 22 yards out, forcing a Tremmel save and Taylor denied Borini’s attempt to convert the rebound. On the ensuing corner, Coutinho served a ball Kolo Toure reached with a header that flashed to Rickie Lambert, who had an attempt headed off the line by Jay Fulton, leaving Liverpool still searching for a finish.

In the 74th and 75th minutes of play both Lambert and Coutinho found room to shoot from the edge of the box, respectively. Neither could find a way past Tremmel and Liverpool continued to struggle creating any penetration.

Then Mario Balotelli entered the game for Lambert in an effort to manufacture an equaliser. It came in the 86th minute, when the Italian beat Angel Rangel to a Borini cross, just right of the penalty spot, for a classy finish.

As the match looked like it was heading into extra time, Swansea’s Federico Fernandez received a very harsh straight red card. It was a stoppage time surprise that would only be eclipsed moments later when Coutinho delivered an excellent free kick from the left touch line to the back post, where Dejan Lovren headed into the net in the dying seconds of the match.

It was a dramatic recovery and redeeming for the two Liverpool scorers who came through and delivered a needed result to capitalise on a quality performance. The joy of the win was clear, and two goals within ten minutes relieved the mounting frustration for the team and pressure being felt by newcomers Balotelli and Lovren. It was a much-needed victory with a trip to Newcastle, riding two wins, waiting for the weekend. Progress is yet in store for the back of this busy period of fixtures.

Reds Overcome Referee and Baggies for Needed Win

Originally published on LFCOnline.com website.

Calling Liverpool’s home fixture with West Bromwich Albion a must-win match might have been overstatement, but not much of one. The Reds, clearly struggling with injuries and form of late, notched a much needed 2-1 victory at Anfield.

From the opening moments, Liverpool looked like they recognized the urgency required to find their form. There was more movement, quicker touches, and defensive pressure from the start. Better still, Philippe Coutinho started showing hints of his enormous creative capacity with his best performance of the season yet. Adam Lallana continued playing himself into increasingly better form, also looking to be a link-up man and creative threat.

In the 7th minute, the first solid sequence of play included Alberto Moreno playing a quick pass to Lallana, who found Jordan Henderson centrally, just outside penalty area, in the arc, where he was quickly fouled. Steven Gerrard’s free kick would not lead to anything, but the quick passing, attacking intent was clearly visible.

Five minutes later, the Reds yielded their first corner to West Brom, making for an early defensive test. On the ensuing corner, Simon Mignolet raced off his line to palm the ball away high and wide. While he might have been able to haul it down, his commitment was obvious and the ball was cleared from danger. Mignolet would produce another near copy of the play in the 20th minute.

Getting his first start, Rickie Lambert looked lively and fit, providing good lateral movement up front and making himself available for more through balls from the midfield. In fact, Lambert nearly notched his first goal as a Red, when Martin Skrtel played a long, vertical ball, beating the entire Baggie side, to the diagonally running striker. With an exquisite first touch, Lambert slid behind the defense and into the penalty area, right of goal, firing a shot, only to be denied by a strong save from Ben Foster.

After the first half-hour, Liverpool continued to miss that needed bit of quality in the final third. Errant touches and uncertainty still held back an attack that was showing signs of life. Again, the Reds seemed to be playing a man down, at times, with Raheem Sterling looking as though a much needed break is in order. Sterling’s touch troubled him often, and West Brom made certain to close him down early and often. To his credit he played through the difficulty and managed to make the best of what was clearly an off day.

West Brom began to cause problems as the first half waned. In the 35th minute Baggie’s striker Saido Berahino unleashed a stinging shot that forced a Mignolet save.

Later, in the 42nd minute Sébastien Pocognoli worked downfield to cross the ball into the dangerous Berahino. Neither Skrtel nor Dejan Lovren got a head on the cross, each seeming to wait for the other to take command. It was a scene that would be repeated a few times throughout the match.

Even Stéphane Sessegnon tried to get in on the action, sending a dipping shot from 20 yards, in the 44th minute, for a workmanlike save from Mignolet.

Then, just before half-time, Adam Lallana showcased the class Reds fans have been waiting to see. In a run of play that he would start and finish, Lallana drew three West Brom Defenders, just outside the area on the left, before working a one-two with Henderson to break through and scythe one into the far-side netting. The combination of silky skill by Lallana and a nifty behind-the-leg flick from Henderson opened West Brom up with the kind of creative, lightning strike Reds fans have been craving.

At the beginning of the second half, it was clear Liverpool were eager to press their advantage. Finding their rhythm, the Merseysiders again moved the ball with multiple sequences of one-touch passing, ratcheting up the speed of play and pushing forward.

In the 47th minute, Henderson again, would find himself dangerously open at the top of the box, this time receiving a Gerrard pass, although a poor touch would lead to nothing.

In the 55th minute, Liverpool’s suspect defense would be revealed when when Lovren chopped down Berahino on edge of area. Despite being clearly outside the area, referee Michale Oliver pointed to spot. It was a bad call but a panicked decision by Lovren. Berahino buried the equalizer for West Brom.

The Reds, however, rallied. Five minutes later Sterling surged toward the endline before being taken down by Craig Gardner for what should have been an obvious penalty, but Sterling’s instant recovery  led to a drop pass to Henderson, again at the top of the box. This time Henderson coolly side-footed a shot through the crowd and into the far side of net for the go-ahead goal.

With a one goal advantage, Liverpool looked to finish off the game. Substitutions Mario Balotelli for Lambert and Glen Johnson for Javier Manquillo helped freshen the home side for a strong stretch of play. In fact, in the 76th minute Balotelli would release Sterling with a brilliant through ball, that any other day would have ended the affair. However, a heavy touch from Sterling would send the ball directly into Foster’s hands.

Even though West Brom remained in the match until the end, Liverpool earned their first league victory since their away win at Spurs in August.

Another international break looms with terrible timing for Liverpool still searching for league form. However, this was precisely the kind match that Liverpool must grind out to stay in the mix at the top of the table. Most encouraging for the Redmen was a rediscovered approach to the game. the steady rise of Lallana, redeeming performance from Coutinho, and surging presence of Henderson all point toward better results as injured players begin to return. This team might not be last year’s team, but they look like they may be playing their way through a bad run of form. How things look two weeks from now may be the best indicator, but Liverpool importantly secured all three points today.

Autumn Arrived Before I Knew It

Wow, time has just flown this year, so far. The summer was over before I knew it and once the school year started catching my breath seemed a luxury. It seems like all of my personal interests and projects have taken a back seat, including the old frtizwinkle. So here is a quick catch up.

We had two birthdays by summer’s end, which was great fun. Fritz turned two and had a Sesame Street birthday party, complete with Oscar pinata, Elmo birthday cake, and the two characters in matching cupcakes. It was quite an affair.

Photo: Oscar Pinata Photo: Hanging Oscar Pinata

Photo: Elmo Birthday Cake

Photo: Presents from Grandma

For the face cut-out we went with lovable roomies Bert and Ernie, which generally prompted all kinds of couples conversations on who was who in the real world relationship. Between Ali and me, Ali is Bert.

Photo: An Unsure Ernie Photo: This Party is Wearing Me Out

All in all it was a great time had by all, despite Fritz throwing a technicolor yawn right after blowing out his candles. Fortunately, he missed the cake. Too much chips and water we think.

Photo: Making Wishes

Photo: I Don't Feel So Well

Then as the summer drew to a close and the school year started, it was Hadley’s turn for festivities. This time it was a pirate theme, arrrr! Ali crafted a magnificent cake again and could elaborate given the theme.

Photo: Treasure Chest Birthday Cake

Photo: Treasure Chest and All the Booty

The weather couldn’t have been better. Like all of our themed parties this one involved a treasure hunt, as well as the customary pinata, this time a Jolly Roger.

Photo: Jolly Roger Pinata

Photo: Opening Gifts Photo: A Pirate Princess

We departed a bit with the face cut-out and created our own characters for a change. We freestyled a pirate, in Captain Morgan likeness, and mermaid, inspired by a figurehead we found. It still seemed to be a relatively popular photo spot.

Photo: Taking a Rest Photo: Captain and Mermaid

Best of all no one got sick and a fun time was had by all. I even made a short video to test out the new iPad I got from work. I was able to complete the whole video only using the iPad, shooting, editing, sound, and music. It was pretty fun for a first time effort with the thing and a good excuse to make something quick.

After that it was right back to school and the beginning of the fall, although I will have to track back and share some of my brother’s wedding experience, albeit a little out of order.

Photo: A Pirate Princess with Her Booty

In the Throes of Summer’s Heat

It is hard to believe that the summer is nearly half over already. It seems like only yesterday I was wrapping up the school year. In some ways it was not very long ago at all. That teachers only work nine months of the year bit is not only tired and old, but woefully inaccurate, at least for me. The academic year is already about ten months. I didn’t wrap up until the last week of June.

Hadley also wrapped up her first year of preschool the same day and was decidedly happy about it, as the photo demonstrates. It was a far cry from the timid first day that she strapped on that backpack and just hoped beyond hope that it would be a lady who fetched her from the car and ushered her in the door of her new school.

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The first weekend of the summer I was off to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to wrap up a project I spent the last year working on with the National Writing Project. It was grueling at times but ultimately enormously rewarding. Nevertheless, that accounted for nearly a work week of time spent away from the family.

Upon returning, we were off again, this time as a family, and not to quite as far a distance. We headed west to the Terwedow family getaway in the Berkshires for the Independence Day weekend. The girls and I (Ali, Keri, and Hadley) paid tribute at the other Fourth of July New England tradition, seeing James Taylor at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was lovely summer night, in an outdoor arena, with good food and music. There was even fireworks after the show. Hadley has turned into quite a James Taylor fan and was positively delighted to attend. She was rather awesome the whole show and even made it through the fireworks extravaganza, which ended up being a bit later than we expected. Still, she oohed-and-ahhed with the best of them and then promptly fell asleep the minute we entered the car for the ride home.

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As there is no rest for the wicked, the next weekend marked the first weekend Ali and I have ever had away from the kids, as we headed up to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, for a pre-anniversary get away. For those not counting, it has been five years since we tied the knot amidst showers in my parents backyard. So a little child-free respite for Ali was certainly due.

Boothbay Harbor is a lovely little seashore town. It is definitely more of a weekender locale, unless you own a place on one of the islands and believe that summer is a verb. There are a host of touristy trappings that seem to be enduring despite some slower times. It also turns out to have been where part of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel (1956) was filmed. In fact it was the setting for one of the headline numbers, “June is Bustin’ Out All Over.” It is the backdrop for this number below (first shot with CinemaScope 55), “June is Bustin’ Out All Over,” and while there are a few more buildings, as well as a lot more boats and lobster traps visible in the harbor now, it doesn’t look radically different today. In fact, they named one of their local theaters after the film.

Still, it was rather lovely to check out the local offerings and just have some downtime together, where there was no rush to do anything or be anywhere for a couple of days. There were some kitschy sights to be seen, for sure. And, of course, we ate lobster. Even had some crab cakes that beat Bobby Flay on Throwdown.

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Regardless, summer is definitely upon us and the kids are already enjoying some trips to the beach, in order to beat the heat.

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Next, Fritz’s Second Birthday Bash.

Catching Up with a New Summer

Well, summer is officially upon us in New England, after a shaky and uncertain start. If ever more evidence was needed than this photograph, I am not sure.

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So despite the fact that I have a couple more days of work at school, everything has taken a decidedly summer feel since Memorial Day. Even the grass seems to have excitedly come to life like never before, growing at a mutant-like pace, although I think that has to do with my wife’s tinkering with a secret chemical cocktail of fertilizing agents. That being said, the lawn has never looked better. Now all I need to do is wrap up school and some National Writing Project work for the real summer to start.

In fact, Ali and Hadley already kind of got started with Keri in the now annual Girls’ Trip 2011 (Version 4.0 in its current iteration I believe.). This time the three ladies headed north to the Green Mountains of Vermont for Ben and Jerry’s and Cabot Cheese tours among other sites. The slideshow below bears a nice witness to the trip.

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Since then we have had a lovely Mother’s Day. In fact, Hadley and I awoke early to make orange-cranberry muffins, only to discover that neither kids would eat them once they were baked. Hadley decided it was the cranberry that she opposed. Still, it was a beautiful day, rendering one of my favorite recent pictures of my girls.

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This weekend Father’s Day arrived, which has been another lovely day. French toast and bacon for breakfast and a few small gifts made for a great morning. Yet even more impressive was my daughter’s second race on Saturday. Shortly after Ali and Keri ran a 5K, Hadley participated in a kids mini marathon for the second year in a row. Last year she did well, but was a little intimidated with all of the people and action surrounding her. This year, however, she performed wonderfully and very nearly beat everyone to the finish line, if not for slightly tripping over another little girl near the halfway point.

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Of course, none of us was worried about winning, but she was pretty impressive on the track. She certainly was proud of herself, although I think her mom and dad might have even been prouder.

Another Step Closer to Heartbreak

A few weeks ago my daughter came home from school with a flier for our town’s annual Daddy-Daughter Dance. Ali had been tipped off about the event at church earlier in the year, as Hadley’s Sunday school teacher was commenting how this year would be the first opportunity for the youngest of her four daughters who happens to be Hadley’s classmate. So, in some sense I knew I was doomed for a few months. Yet, nothing could quite prepare me for my three year-old chirping from her car seat that she really wanted to me to take her to the dance, that she was old enough, that she was “free and a big girl, and if you were free you were old enough to go.”

Photo: Ready for the Dance Photo: Father Daughter Dance 2011

Needless to say there was little doubt that this would be the first of many yearly expeditions with my lovely lass to the occasion. Despite any misgivings that I might have had about how young my daughter is and how I wish I could slow time just a little, Ali eased my anxiety and it became inevitable.

The next day, I arrived home with my daughter proclaiming how beautiful her new dress was, and how it was her favorite colors. Of course, the dress was already an essential part of what she what she was looking forward to about the evening. Her original plea even included, “I just want to go to the dance with you, Daddy, and wear a beautiful dress, and dance with you, and have Mommy paint my nails. I am not too little, Daddy.” As a result the heartbreak that has been well underway since the day she arrived in the world, cracked a little bit more even before we left for the dance.

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Of course the day finally arrived last weekend. Even though there was a little chill in the air, we were able to get a couple of quality pics without too much trouble. As expected, Hadley wasn’t long for the actual dance. In fact, after a about forty-five minutes, she determined that it was far too loud. Perhaps more than anything she was ready to go to Friendly’s which was the plan for ending the evening.

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So, our first dance turned out to be a quite a treat, complete with a chocolate dipped Peep sundae. Hadley was keen to make sure all the toppings were thoroughly sprinkled on the scoops of ice-cream. More than anything, I got the ultimate seal of approval when she offered to share the Peep with me, no small matter in the least.

April Fool’s, Joke’s on New England

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Well April arrived in New England with a sense of humor, as a small snowstorm moved in overnight, leaving us with about four inches of heavy snow to welcome spring. Fortunately, it did not cause too much trouble and it was well expected for a few days. It was an awfully pretty drive into work to be sure. Everything had the look of being dusted with a decent amount of powdered sugar.

It did, however, make for the best packing snow of the season. So, Hadley finally got to make a snowman or, in this case, a snow woman. She has been asking all winter. Every time she awoke to new snow she desperately wanted to make a snowman or have a snowball fight. Yet no previous snowfalls had left us with quality packing snow, until today.

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Needless to say the kids quite enjoyed the day. Plus, it was not terribly cold, so they could get some quality playing in for the day, at least until they got too wet. Apparently, Fritz was the first one to have enough and proceeded to wait by the door, which ended the fort building festivities.

Photo: Dining Together on Radioactive Snow Photo: Snow Fort

Still, fun was had by all and it will likely be the last of the snow for the season. The temperature is supposed to rise nearly to the fifties in the next couple of days. Even by the end of the night quite a bit had already melted.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day or is it Evacuation Day?

Well the snow is finally beginning to disappear, after we cracked the top ten of record seasonal snowfalls. It has been nice not to have to spend the day shoveling of late. Now it is just wet and rainy with the sump pump firing up about every five minutes or so.

Still, there have been some days when the sun is out and there is room to run the kids outside and let them play, without having to bundle them. Nevertheless, it is fun to look at them all ready to brave the winter.

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One of the nice things about this year already is that my son has already taken tot he beautiful game, usually screaming “Soccer, soccer! Ball! Goal!” when I flip on the weekend Premier League matches or Serie A or La Liga or Bundesliga or any league. Hadley would much rather play than watch, but Fritz is game for both, as these photos will attest. Now I have an ally.

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So Happy St. Patrick’s Day or as Bostonians peculiarly celebrate Evacuation Day, the local excuse for an official holiday in the city. Hadley has grown to be quite a fan of “Patrick’s Day,” as she calls it, and has been busily preparing some artwork for the festivities. Get a load of this coloring masterpiece and then keep in mind that she is only three and a half years-old.

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I suppose she might have a genetic predisposition with a father who started out as an art major only to get a bachelor of fine arts in performing and a mother that opted for the dual art psychology major, not to mention an artist grandmother. Perhaps she might have some talent, but this sample certainly got our attention.

Keeping Active Despite the Snow

Cute as  ButtonWell there is still plenty of snow on the ground, although we did fortunately avoid another heavy fall predicted earlier in the week. It has even gotten a little warmer of late to help melt a little of the few feet surrounding us. Now, we are just hoping for a nice long, slow thaw to avoid all of the potential flooding. Still, we have been pretty well confined the indoors, which is a little hard on the kiddos, although they are hanging in there.

Reading Early Drawing Large Hanging Out Indoors

They have been making the most of the indoor activities, like reading and coloring. Of course they do get stir crazy at times and we try to run them around outside, despite the snow being deep enough to lose them. This generally leave at least one of them looking like this.

Dead Tired

Snow Day Three

Photo: Getting Pretty DeepSo today was another snow day, the third of the season. At this rate, I might be teaching right up to the Fourth of July. It was a good thing school was canceled, however, as the timing and amount of snow would have made for a remarkably treacherous trip this morning. We now have more snow than we have had in quite a few years that’s for sure. The first year I was in New England, 2004, was a one of the greatest snowfalls on record, but this year we will now doubt crack the top ten, if we haven’t already.

Photo: Eating Snow Photo: Stuck in a Snowbank

Photo: Hanging Out in the House

Three whopper storms in the last month have left left us with three-plus feet. With the winds and drifting, not to mention shoveling, the snow banks are easily rising beyond that. It is getting pretty challenging to throw the snow high enough off the driveway now too. Better still, we are supposedly going to get some more over the weekend. I am not sure where we are going to be able to put it, however much ends up falling. Fortunately, we have some nice neighbors with snowblowers on the street. If they are willing to help, throwing the new fall of snow might not be as challenging.

Photo: Kids Helping Clear the Driveway

The one thing about all the snow is that it is definitely fun. The kids love running around in it, as witnessed by the photos. Of course, the depth is now a whole lot more challenging for the two little ones, to be sure. Still, they love digging with the mini-shovel. Unfortunately, the snow hasn’t really been good packing snow. Thus, no great big snowmen. It has gotten so deep so fast, it isn’t even favorable for snow angels. Perhaps as things warm up a bit things will get a little easier for all that.

Photo: I'm Ready! Photo: No, I'm Ready!

While it’s always nice to have a day off, we did just start the new semester. Needless to say it has gotten out of the gate with a few stumbles in the last two weeks. I guess it will take a little longer to get the students back into a steady rhythm. Regardless, the son and daughter like it when dad is home all day. Plus, after being away from the family the last two weekends in a row, it has been a bit of treat to get some extra time at home.

Photo: Making Our Way to the Slide Photo; Is There Anybody Out There?

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