Monday, October 31, 2005

US MNT to host Norway is reporting that the US will host Norway on January 29th at the Home Depot Center. Norway will play Mexico four days earlier elsewhere in the US.

Norway will play the Czech Republic in a two-leg playoff to decide which one will advance to the World Cup in mid-November.


US MNT Player of the Year is...

The internet voted and the winner of the US MNT Player of the Year award (as far as the online community that visits this blog thinks) is DaMarcus Beasley.

It was a very tight race between Beasley and Kasey Keller, but in the end, it went to the midfielder.

The actual winner of the award will be announced at a luncheon on November 30th.

Congratulations Mr. Beasley

East Asian Games - Soccer, Day 3

The only match today saw South Korea take on Chinese Taipei. After their opening day defeat, Taipei had to win this one if they wanted to advance. For the South Korean's, a win would lock up their spot in the knockout round.

Not much of a surprise, but it ended up being South Korea's night as they won 3-0. Goals were scored by Ahn Tae Eun, Yeom Ki Hun and substitute Jung In Whan. South Korea will face Japan on Wednesday to decide the winner of Group A.

MLS Round 1 - Part 2 now done

New England v MetroStars
With snow on the pitch, New England came out looking to prevent an upset by the fourth ranked MetroStars, but during the first 60-minutes, it looked like the Revs were in trouble. They were unable to get anything past the Metros backline and were looking a bit sloppy on defense. This sloppiness lead to Youri Djorkaeff getting the first goal of the night for the Metros.

The goal took the wind out of the New England fans, but it seemed to inspire their team. From that point on, the Revs looked like themselves. Jose Cancela came on to provide more attacking power and the results happened fast. Just 9 minutes after the first goal, Cancela evened the score, but NE was still down by a goal in the series. The Revs suddenly saw what they had to do and they drove hard to make it happen. Five minutes later, Cancela provided the pass that resulted in a Pat Noonan goal, tying the series 2-2. The Metros looked lost while the Revs were having fun. Just 10 minutes later, Khano Smith got the third goal and series winner for New England. There were a few scary moments for NE, including Shalrie Joseph having to head a shot off the line with just a few minutes left in regulation, but New England held on to earn the right to host next week's quarterfinal. NE 3 - 1 MetroStars (Series NE 3 - 2 MetroStars)

FC Dallas v Colorado
FC Dallas should have won Saturday's game against Colorado. They were playing 11-10 for an hour and had a late PK opportunity, yet somehow they are done for the season. The Rapids did look good last night, but it should have taken a team looking great to win with all those odds against them. Jeff Cunningham was back in the lineup and made his mark early with a goal off his head in the 19th. Dallas had some chances during the rest of the half, but Colorado was able to shut them down.

After the half, the two teams came out in much the same form, until the ref struck. In the 54th, Alain Nkong got a direct red card. The punishment seemed a bit harsh for the crime, but the refs’ word is gospel. Anyway, with FCD up a player, they started pouring it on and it didn't take long. In the 67th, Carlos Ruiz showed he was there to play when he scored off a great turning shot in the penalty box. FCD continued to keep the shots coming, but the Rapids Joe Cannon looked wonderful in goal. He found ways of saving shots that he really should not have. Due to Cannon's actions, the game went into overtime where Carlos Ruiz hit again in the 105th. However, the Rapids only let that stand for a minute as Ritchie Kotschau snuck a shot past goalkeeper Scott Garlick in the 106th.

Dallas was given another chance when Chris Gbandi drew a penalty in the box with just a couple minutes of play remaining. Ruiz stepped up to take it. If he found net, the hat trick and the win would be his, but his shot hit the bar. Ruiz just stood there stunned. The game ended up going to kicks where Cannon stopped FCD's final shot giving the Rapids the win. By the way, FCD out shot Colorado 37-8. Cannon earned a lot of respect on Saturday night. FCD 2 - 2 Colorado (4-5 pks)

San Jose v LA
San Jose came out looking strong while the Galaxy were flat. It seemed like the whole first half was played on LA's side, but the Earthquakes could only manage to find the goal once when Brian Ching headed one in off a mistake by LA's keeper Kevin Hartman in the 42nd. The game became a bit more even at the start of the second, but San Jose was still in charge. That was until a fellow named Landon Donovan made his presence known. He sliced through San Jose's mid and backfields and then popped the ball over to Ned Grabavoy who happily finished it for a 1-1 tie. This goal took it out of the Quakes. They tested Hartman a few more times, but the writing was on the wall. There was to be no miracle comeback this year. San Jose 1 - 1 LA (Series LA 4 - 2 San Jose)

DC v Chicago
Where was DC United because they were not at RFK? That had to be the worse I have ever seen the team look. For Chicago, they were everything they could hope to be. Their defense was strong, the midfield dominating and their strikers were able to find all the holes in the DC lineup.

The Fire got things going in the 10th thanks to Jack Stewart. This first goal put a stun into DC. The next 25 minutes saw DC trying to make something happen, but the Fire kept shutting them down. Then Ivan Guerrero struck in the 37th. Chris Rolfe (pictured taking it to keeper Nick Rimando) centered the ball into the box. DC tried to clear it but ended up knocking it right to Guerrero who blasted it home. A bad clearance lead to Guerrero's second goal of the night when DC could not get a free shot out of their area. Guerrero took a bit of a long shot and nailed it in.

So DC was hurting going into the second half, but they made some chances including bringing in Freddy Adu. United looked good for the first 10 minutes, but right as they were starting to make some noise, Christian Gomez killed his team. He decided the best thing he could do for his side was spit into the face of Chicago defender C.J. Brown and earn himself a direct red card. I'm sure Brown was trash-talking Gomez, but you've got to keep it together. United was probably dead before the spit, but that action sealed it. The fact that Brown started clipping and tried to shake Gomez's hand after the card was given is proof that it was C.J.'s plan all along to get Gomez in foul trouble. The next 30-minutes were mostly spent killing off time as the ESPN2 guys talked about DC being distracted by off-field events. Jesse Marsch did add a fourth goal for the Fire in the 67th to complete the humiliation. DC 0 - 4 Chicago (Series Chicago 4-0 DC)

Playoff predictions
Game (my guess) Final Score
DC - Chicago (2-0) 0-4
NE - MetroStars (3-1) 3-1
FCD - Colorado (2-1) 2-2 (4-5pks)
San Jose - LA (3-2) 1-1

Post-season total: 4-4

BASAs Day 6 - Midfielder of the Year

After a weekend cool down sessions, the BASAs return today with Climbing the Ladder giving out the award to Midfielder of the Year. I just worry that will all these awards being given out that the BASAs might have caused some distractions for teams during this weekend's playoffs. Perhaps that explains what happened to DC United.

Anyway, the award for Midfielder of the Year goes to... (click here)

On Friday the award for youngster of the year (U-23) was handed out. The official tally went like this:

1- Clint Dempsey
2- Michael Parkhurst
3- Ricardo Clark
4- Justin Mapp
4- Freddy Adu
6- Chris Rolfe
7- Chad Marshall
8- Paolo Nagamura
8- Brad Guzan
10- Ramon Nunez
11- Santino Quaranta
11- Bobby Boswell

As you can see, there were a lot of thoughts on this one. Dempsey got half the first place votes and a deserved win. But how did I vote? Take a look:

1- Freddy Adu (DC)
2- Justin Mapp (Chicago)
3- Bobby Boswell (DC)

Freddy Adu in the top spot? What were you thinking? Well I actually had him in my third spot, but then I bumped him up after the whole "trash the coach" episode. Not that I support Adu for what he said, but I really don't like it how so many people ganged up on the kid (myself included?). That was not the only reason. I do think that when Adu gets on the field, he alters the dynamic of play in such a way that the opposition is constantly thrown off balance. Is that reason enough for the top spot? I guess, for me, it was.

As far as Justin Mapp is concerned, I am constantly impressed by what he does on the pitch week after week. He got a lot of starts this year and was a force for the Fire. He also seemed a bit more aggressive in his play.

Then there is Bobby Boswell. Like I said in the Rookie of the year listing, I think he was able to fill Ryan Nelsen's shoes very well. He put some much needed swagger into United's backline (even if it was missing during yesterday's outing). The other person I was looking at was Michael Parkhurst who had a very solid year.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

East Asian Games - Soccer, Day 2

Yesterday saw Japan taking it to Chinese Taipei, but that 6-1 win was nothing compared to what China did to Chinese Macao. The final score: 10-0. Macao didn't even manage one shot on the night. The scorers for China were: Feng Xiaoting, Lu Ling, Zhu Ting (2), Gao Lin (2) and Chen Tao (3).

The other Group B match saw North Korea and Hong Kong battling to a nil-nil draw. North Korea out shot Hong Kong 12-7, but could not make any of them count.

China sits atop of Group B. Their next match is Tuesday against Hong Kong. North Korea and Macao will also face off on Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Just reading while waiting for the MLS Playoffs

If you are like me, I for your sake I hope you are not, you are probably already getting ready for the excitement of the night. Which three teams will be advancing to the MLS quarterfinals? Got the food, got the beer, the TV is working fine (along with the DVR for those replays I love so much), now what? Just wait...

While I was waiting, I decided to read some about the playoffs and thought I might pass along the links.

New England Revolution vs. MetroStars
8pm EST - Fox Soccer Channel

FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids
8:30pm EST - Direct Kick

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Las Angeles Galaxy
10pm EST - Fox Soccer Channel

By the way, Real Salt Lake beat Chivas USA today in a MLS friendly. Jamie Watson got the only goal in the 60th minute to put Real on top 1-0.

By the way, here is an interesting piece on New England's Shalrie Joseph.

EPL Results - 29 October

Birmingham 0 - 1 Everton
Charlton 0 - 1 Bolton
Chelsea 4 - 2 Blackburn
Liverpool 2 - 0 West Ham
Middlesbrough 4 - 1 Man Utd
Sunderland 1 - 4 Portsmouth
Tottenham 1 - 1 Arsenal
Wigan 1 - 0 Fulham

The big story this weekend is Middlesbrough's taking apart of Man United. Sir Alex has made a lot of comments of late about keeping up with Chelsea, but the real threat his side is facing might just be from the other 18 teams in the league.

Liverpool finally looked good on English soil while Wigan keeps earning shocks and awes as they have now won 5 in a row and have not lost since 20 August. They are starting to become sentimental favorites, so expect them to go into a tailspin soon. Blackburn gave Chelsea a run for the points as they came back from an early 2-0 deficit to tie it before the half, but Chelsea was able to adjust and get all three points.

Tomorrow sees West Brom taking on Newcastle who is welcoming Michael Owen back from an injury.

Place - Team - Points
1 Chelsea 31
2 Wigan 22
3 Tottenham 20
4 Bolton 20
5 Charlton 19

6 Man Utd 18
7 Arsenal 17
8 Man City 17
9 West Ham 15
10 Middlesbrough 15

11 Blackburn 14
12 Liverpool 13
13 Newcastle 12
14 Portsmouth 10
15 Fulham 9

16 Aston Villa 9
17 West Brom 8
18 Everton 7
19 Birmingham 6
20 Sunderland 5

J League results - 29 October

Urawa 3-2 Kawasaki-F
Kashiwa 1-2 Omiya
Yokohama FM 1-0 Tokyo-V
Iwata 1-3 Hiroshima Yamaha
Nagoya 1-2 Shimizu
Kobe 1-1 Niigata
Oita 0-1 Chiba

No real surprises here. I guess teh Vissel Kobe- Albirex Niigata match is a little bit of a surprise, but not that unexpected.

The J-League ends play in early December, so there is not much more time for teams to make their moves.

Place - Team - Points
1 Gamba Osaka 54
2 Kashima Antlers 52
3 Urawa Reds 50
4 JEF United Chiba 49
5 Cerezo Osaka 49

6 Kawasaki Frontale 46
7 Jubilo Iwata 44
8 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 43
9 Yokohama FMarinos 37
10 F.C.Tokyo 35

11 Oita Trinita 35
12 Nagoya Grampus Eight 35
13 Albirex Niigata 35
14 Shimizu S-Pulse 32
15 Omiya Ardija 31

16 Kashiwa Reysol 30
17 Tokyo Verdy 1969 26
18 Vissel Kobe 21

East Asian Games - Soccer, Day 1

Japan got things going today as they opened the East Asian Games against Chinese Taipei. Japan is favored to win the gold and they showed way by slaughtering Taipei 6-1. Japan was up by 2 at the half and then exploded during the second 45.

Scorers for the wining side were Shingo Akamine, Shingo Hyodo, Shinji Tsujio, Jungo Fujimoto and Rui Komatsu who scored twice in three minutes. The one goal for the losers was knocked in on a long shot from Lin Kueipin.

Since there are only three teams in Group A, Japan has all but assured their spot in the semi-finals. They have one more group game against South Korea on 2 November. Chinese Taipei will play South Korea on Monday (31 Oct). Taipei will have to win if they want any chance of moving on to the knockout stage.

Group B gets underway on Sunday when North Korea plays Hong Kong and Chinese Macau takes on China.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Last chance to vote for US MNT Player of the Year and good news on other blogs

If you have not voted for the US MNT Player of the Year, you better do so quickly. The poll is about to close, so get a ranking.

Vote Here!

On a different note, I just want to note that I have read some really good blog entries today. I really like what the Kin of Fish had to say about keeping things in perspective. Bruce's Belly's take on the MLS playoffs (actually the playoff system) sums up a lot of the talk on what to do next. To wrap it all up, Du Nord provides that same thing he does day after day, the most news per line of any blog I read.

Just some of the good stuff on the soccer blogosphere.

By the way, hat tip to Du Nord for the article on Canada's soccer civil war. It seems "a feud has erupted between the Canadian Soccer Association and Canadian owners of First Division clubs in the United Soccer League over plans by rival Major League Soccer to expand into Canada." There was a lot of talk about this happening back when a Canadian team was first being proposed, so it is not that big of a shock to see it happening. Few businesses like to see more competitors come into the market, even if they publicly say differently.

MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 2

My weekend is really looking great and the MLS playoffs are just going to top it all off. Four games in two days to decide who gets to go to the knockout legs. Let's gets those TVs fired up.

New England Revolution vs MetroStars
Saturday 29 Oct - 7:30pm EST
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick

The MetroStars want so much to become the Cinderella story of the season, but there is one minor problem, they are only one goal up on the high scoring Revolution. All the Revs need is their backline to hold, something they did very well all season (recording 11 shutouts), and have their attackers get 2 goals (they scored at least 2 goals in 17 matches and won by two goals or more in 9 matches). This should not be that difficult for a team with Golden Boy Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan. For the Metros, Youri Djorkaeff will be the man NE has to watch. He is very experienced in "must win by controlling the game" situations. It will also be interesting to see if Metros coach Mo Johnston has Seth Stammler covering Steve Ralston again. Seth did great last weekend and really cut down the through balls Ralston delivered for the Revs. If the Metros can take Ralston out of the match, then keeper Tony Meola might have an easy night. However, even if Ralston is a none-factor, New England is talented and resourceful enough to find a way to make things happen. They don't want to have happen to them what they did to Columbus last year. Look for Twellman to have a good night.

NE 3 - 1 Metros
(NE win series 3-2)


FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids
Saturday 29 Oct - 8:30pm EST
TV: Direct Kick

The good news for FC Dallas, Scott Garlick is still doing okay. Oh, Carlos Ruiz will also be able to start the match. That should be a good thing, but who knows with Ruiz. He has been a very uneven player all year, so if he shows up, he will be an important factor for FCD. Ruiz should get a great deal of help from Ronnie O'Brien and Roberto Mina, but don't be too surprised if we hear the name Ramon Nunez more then a few times. He looked good in the midfield last week and might be the man to sneak into position. For the Rapids, they will need some decent minutes out of Jeff Cunningham, but I have a feeling Dedi Ben-Dayan and Jean Philippe Peguero will cause more headaches for Dallas's defense. By the way, FCD's defense has looked better recently, but they are still capable of crashing. With all this taken into account, I think Dallas will be able to come away with a victory but it might take more then 90 minutes to make it happen.

FCD 2 - 1 Colorado
(FCD win series 2-1)


San Jose Earthquakes vs Los Angles Galaxy
Saturday 29 Oct - 10pm EST
TV: Direct Kick

Can San Jose come back from 2 down to take the series and advance to a date with Dallas (or Colorado if I am wrong)? If they look anything like they did on Sunday, then no. Heck, even if the rest of the team looks good, if MLS's Goaltender of the Year Pat Onstad looks like he did this past weekend, there will be no more games in San Jose this year (and maybe ever). The Quakes need to refocus. Dwayne De Rosario was not the force that he had been all year long while Brian Ching and Ronald Cerritos were empty up front. The one highlight was Ricardo Clark who was felt on both sides of the ball. If they can build around what Clark did, they will have a chance. However, the Galaxy do not want a 2003 repeat (there, it has been mentioned), so look for heavy attacking from the usual suspects for LA during the first 20 minutes. If they can get the first goal, then San Jose will be on very shaky ground. Dwayne De Rosario will have to live up to his reputation if he wants to see his side play another day. Danny Califf will need to do for the backline what De Rosario is doing in the middle. San Jose needs to dominate their cousins to the south. By the way, San Jose won 3 matches by 3+ goals and one of those was at home against LA. It can be done, but I think LA is a playoff team and will manage to topple the highest seed of all.

San Jose 3 - 2 LA
(LA wins series 5-4)


DC United vs Chicago Fire
Sunday 30 Oct - 4:30pm EST
TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Anybody hear anything about Freddy Adu recently? You think ESPN will mention this at all during their telecast on Sunday? Might it even come up when Adu comes off the bench in about the 60th minute? How about when he gets 'the goal'? All right, Adu might not get 'the goal' but that seems to be where this storyline would take us if we all lived in Hollywood. The Fire need Chris Rolfe to step up his performance of last week (perhaps the best on the team, but that's not saying much) and Chris Armas needs to feed better. Big Zach Thornton should provide some good coverage between the posts, but there is only so much he will be able to do if the Fire's backline slinks around again. United are the better club, but they completely underperformed last week. Where were Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta, Christian Gomez, Dema Kovalenko and Freddy Adu (wait, scratch that one)? They were not stringing together passes, they were not aggressively challenging and they most definitely were not shooting (only 4 shots and none on goal?). Yet somehow the Fire could not make anything of it (ok, a strange call on the goal that wasn't might have something to do with that). I think United will take control of this one early, causing the Fire to try to rush something late. DC will hold, thanks to Nick Rimando making a few good saves and advance to a date in the semis.

DC 2 - 0 Chicago
(DC win series 2-0)


If my predictions are correct (and they are about 50% of the time), then next week FC Dallas will host LA in the West and New England will welcome DC in the East. Enjoy the games.

East Asian Games about to begin - Soccer Gold is the big prize

The East Asian Games will begin on Saturday in Macao and the one sport everyone will be watching is soccer. Seven sides will compete to bring home the glory.

Here are the groups:
Group A
South Korea
Chinese Taipei

Group B
North Korea
Chinese Hong Kong
Chinese Macao

The top two teams of each group will go to the semis.

Japan is the hands on favorite to win it all. The Japanese squad includes two pro players (Teiichi Ikegami and Shingo Fujimoto, both of Tokyo FC) along with Yuhei Tokunaga and Shingo Hyodo (who both had experience in the world youth championship) and Athens Olympian Yuhei Tokunaga.

Interestingly enough, South Korea coach Kim Chol compared the Chinese men's soccer team to a bag of sand on Friday, vowing to claim the most coveted title at the East Asian Games. China's side will have many pro players on it while South Korea will use mainly university students.

In other Korean news, the two Koreas will meet to continue discussions of fielding a unified soccer team for next year's Asian Games and the 2008 Olympics. During talks in September, the two sides reached a provisional agreement on fielding such a team. Not bad for two countries that are still technically at war with one another.

Anyway, here is the list of all the matches during the East Asian Games (all times are Macao local):

1 Oct 29 14:30 Japan vs Taipei
2 Oct 30 18:00 North Korea vs Hong Kong
3 Oct 30 20:30 Macau vs China
4 Oct 31 18:00 Taipei vs South Korea

5 Nov 1 18:00 North Korea vs Macau
6 Nov 1 20:30 Hong Kong vs China
7 Nov 2 20:00 Japan vs South Korea
8 Nov 3 20:00 Hong Kong vs Macau
9 Nov 3 20:00 North Korea vs China

10 Nov 5 16:00 B1 vs A2
11 Nov 5 19:00 A2 vs B1
12 Nov 6 14:00 Third Place Match
13 Nov 6 17:00Final

Cristiano Ronaldo and Scolari moving to Russia?

See update here.

It seems Dinamo Moscow owner Alexei Fedorichev is ready to spend some more of his money on the club to try and get Cristiano Ronaldo to move from the EPL to the Russian league. In addition, it looks like he would also like a new coach, so why not go for Portugal's national side manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

As the article points out, Fedorichev wants to do this because, "Dinamo have endured a torrid season despite huge investment in players which has already seen the likes of Nuno Maniche, Costinha, Giourkas Seitaridis and Derlei - to name but a few - arrive."

Fedorichev also said he has talked with Cristiano.

"I've had a conversation with Cristiano and he said that he is ready to play in Dinamo," he opined.

"Of course this isn't a fact, he has more important affairs in England in his life at the moment, so we didn't talk about something concrete."

I'm sure Cristiano's current legal situation is a bit more important to him then future moves to Russia, but I could see this playing a part in any decision. If he is "dragged through the mud" by the English press (has been known to happen), then he might want out, but would Man U be willing to say goodbye?

The article states that Fedorichev would be willing to offer Ribeiro Maniche plus cash to United in exchange for the player. Seeing as United boss Ferguson complained recently about a lack of money preventing them from taking on Chelsea in regards to players they both might want, I could see them becoming interested if the offer was high to very high. Also, Maniche is a good player, so it might happen.

Still, I must wonder how interested is Cristiano in playing in Russia. Not to knock their league, but it really is down the ladder a bit as far as European leagues are concerned. Yes, it is getting better, but it is still seen as a second or third level league by most people. Also, winners in England are a bit chilly, but in Russia, well they don't wear those heavy coats just to look like extras from Doctor Zhivago. Would Portuguese* Cristiano want to live and play in weather like that?

Who knows, with enough money you can make a lot of crazy stuff happen. Perhaps Russia will be a top league 10 years from now and moves like Cristiano's will be seen as the first steps in that direction.

* at first posting I typed Brazilian instead of Portuguese. I really should read over these things before I post them. Sorry about the error.

BASAs Day 5 - Young Player of the Year

Climbing the Ladder has announced the winner of the fifth BASA award. Today's award goes to Young Player of the Year.

The winner is... (click here)

This week has been filled with speculation and titillation around the MLS world over who will get a BASA. With just five more awards to be handed out, I'm sure there are more then a few nervous folks out there. I just hope it doesn't have a negative effect on any of these weekend's matches.

Enough of that, what about yesterday's BASA. The award went to Defender of the Year. Here are the results:

1- Danny Califf
2- Eddie Robinson
3- Tyrone Marshall
4- Jimmy Conrad
5- Michael Parkhurst
6- Brian Carroll
6- Steve Jolley
8- Wade Barrett
9- Todd Dunivant
10- Brian Namoff
10- Jay Heaps
10- Samuel Caballero
10- Greg Vanney

As you can see, there were a lot of names mentioned. I think this reflects the difficulty is easily evaluating defenders. There is no "Shots blocked" or "Passes broken up" stat, so you have to go on what you see.

Anyway, here are my picks:

1- Tyrone Marshall (LA)
2- Jimmy Conrad (KC)
3- Michael Parkhurst (NE)

So I ended up voting for neither of the top 2, go me. Anyway, I thought Marshall held his team's backline together this year, much like Conrad did, however I think Marshall did it better. For Parkhurst, it just seemed like every NE game I watched, his name kept coming up.

I looked back over my notes and I really don't know what I did not put down either Eddie Robinson or Danny Califf. I was looking at both of them, but, for some reason, neither made the grade. Sorry, I wish I could explain myself better.

By the way, if you have not done so yet, go Vote for USMNT Player of the Year.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Italy match-fixing probe expands

In just the latest of a number of match-fixing scandals around the world, the Italian Soccer Federation FIGC has launched an investigation to find out if dozens of matches last year were fixed.

The FIGC has taken hold of eight boxes of documents including wiretaps recorded during the inquiry into Genoa earlier this year. For those of you who do not remember, it was determined that the match Genoa won on the final day of last season was fixed. That win was enough to move them into Serie A, but as a penalty, the side was instead moved down to the third division.

This expanding of probe into match fixing is looking at 42 professional games including several in Serie A.

To add to the craziness of the situation, the lead prosecutor in the probe, Alberto Lari, received a non-functioning mail bomb on Tuesday. Police say the package had a detonator but no explosives. Perhaps a warning?

Soccer really doesn't need another match-fixing scandal right now, but I would rather see this out in the open being looked at then brushed under a rug. The Italian leagues have had a number of problems recently and need a good house cleaning. I just hope the prosecutors live long enough to see it through.

Vote for US MNT Player of the Year

In the spirit of the BASA's I'll ask again, who is the US MNT Player of the Year? The three finalists announced are DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan and Kasey Keller. About a week ago I put up a poll to find out what the web folks thought, but then I forgot to mention it again. Anyway, I'll end the poll in a couple of days, so you better vote for your favorite players soon.

Vote Here!

If you want to learn more about why these three were nominated, take a look at this earlier post.

This is a ranking system vote, so you will get to put the three players in the order you think most deserving of the award.

Vote away.

Do Brazilian fans want replays and do you want to buy the Brazilian National Championship trophy?

With all the controversy over what should be done about the rigged matches in Brazil, no one really has asked what the fans think. That was till the Datafolha polling institute did what they do best and polled a group of people. They found the 60% of fans were in favor of the decision to replay all 11 matches while 22% were opposed. With all the surprise of a sunrise, it turns out fans of clubs that were helped by the ruling support the decision more then fans of not so helped clubs (Corinthians' fans 22% no - Santos' fans ~50% no). Overall, I think this shows what one would expect. For the most part fans just want to know that refs did not decide the game, even if it means their side might drop some points.

With 10 of the 11 matches already replayed, only one result has stayed the same. Even if replaying the matches was the right thing to do, this season will always be tainted.

In other Brazilian news, a judge has ordered the auction of the 1971 Brazilian National Championship trophy owned by Atletico Mineiro soccer club. This auction was needed to pay a debt owned a former employee. The club owes the employee 3,100 reals (US$1,371, €1,140). The auction will take place on Nov. 18 in Atletico Mineiro's home city of Belo Horizonte.

"The 1971 tournament was Brazil's first nationwide soccer championship, held the year after Brazil won its third World Cup. It was the only national title won by Atletico Mineiro, a traditional club that developed heroes such as Reinaldo and Cerezzo.

'I'm holding back the tears. It's difficult,' former striker Dario, known as Dada Maravilha, told Pele's web site. 'I worked so hard, and now it ends like this ... I'd buy it if I had the money, but I don't.'"

It is always sad to watch a piece of history taken from a club. Perhaps some kind soul will win the action and return it to the team. However, more then likely someone will use it as the coolest mantle piece knick-knack ever.

BASAs Day 4 - Defender of the Year

The BASAs just keep coming. Today, Climbing the Ladder hands out the award for Defender of the Year. Looking at the results, it seems the blog world is not overly united on this one. Anyway, the winner is ... (click here).

So yesterday's award went to the Rookie of the Year. Here is the order:

1- Michael Parkhurst
2- Chris Rolfe
3- Scott Sealy
4- Brad Guzan
5- Bobby Boswell
6- James Riley
6- Gonzalo Segares

Here are my votes:
1- Michael Parkhurst (NE)
2- Chris Rolfe (Chicago)
3- Bobby Boswell (DC)

Scaryice does a great job explaining my top two picks, so I don't have much more to add to it other then I think maradawga has a good point about Parkhurst having more help then Rolfe had. Still, in a league with an average of 3 goals a game, I am more inclined to go with a strong defensive player rather then a strong offensive one.

As far as Boswell in third, I think he had a fine season, even if he had back-to-back games with own goals. Coming into Ryan Nelsen's old spot was a tough gig, yet he pulled it off.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Chivas USA keep coach

Hans Westerhof (pictured), coach of Chivas USA (otherwise known as the worst team in the MLS), will get to keep his job, but he will give up his title of director of football for Chivas Rayadas de Guadalajara, Saprissa of Costa Rica and Chivas USA.

"Like I told you before, we had to make a decision to either look for a new coach here (Chivas USA) or look for a new director of football," Westerhof said.

"We agreed that we believed in this project so we decided the most important thing right now is to continue to work here."

Not to long ago, Bruce Arena said that only coaches get fired in the MLS. Here we have the coach of a 4-22-6 team staying on to try and regroup, so I'm guessing the Bruce is happy about this.

It was also announced that Francisco "Paco" Palencia will stay will Chivas USA and not return to Mexico as rumored. "Paco is here to stay. There's always a possibility for change, but in this case it's impossible," Westerhof said.

Other players will need to wait a few weeks to find out if they are staying or not.

Toronto City Council set to approve soccer stadium funds

It looks like the Toronto City Council is about to commit $9.5 million towards the construction of a downtown soccer stadium. This stadium must be built fast as it will be used for a July 2007, FIFA world youth tournament. This time limit caused deputy mayor Joe Pantalone to warn that any delays could place the stadium plans on ice for good.

If the council does approve the money at tomorrow's meeting, they will meet MLS commissioner Don Garber deadline for approving the stadium plans, thus setting the stage for a November 12th announcement of an expansion franchise. The question would then become who gets the other proposed expansion team? By the way, it looks like this stadium will cause Saputo Inc. to scale down plans for a soccer stadium they plan on building in Montreal some 335 miles (539 km) away.

In other stadium news, it looks like Real Salt Lake's dreams of a home in Sandy might be hitting some snags. It seems that Real might have to end up paying taxes on the money approved by the state for a parking garage. There is also some confusion about what 10% exclusive use of such a structure means. Adding to this confusion, RSL also jumped the price of the stadium up $10 million to $75m. Happy fun times all around.

Update 8/28: The funding measure past. The council approved the measure 25-13.


44 refs on a short list

The FIFA Referees Committee met yesterday and narrowed the pool of referees for the World Cup down to 44. The names of these 44 will be posted at soon. This list will be cut down to about 30 referees for the Cup after a March 22-25, 2006, workshop in Frankfurt.

The breakdown of refs by confederation is as follows:
AFC: 6
CAF: 6
OFC: 2
UEFA: 17

All of the refs either have been or will be involved in one of this year's FIFA competitions.

In addition to the selection news, FIFA is now looking at introducing professional referees. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has repeatedly called for referees to be paid salaries, saying the move would help stamp out corruption. The Referees Committee is drawing up "appropriate proposals".

I'm sure that the ref scandals in both Germany and Brazil have helped push this idea along.

Zidane out of friendlies

It looks like Zinedine Zidane is going to miss both of next month's friendlies against Costa Rica and Germany. It seems the Frenchman is suffering from recurrent right thigh and groin trouble. This all seems to stem from an injury he suffered during the France - Ireland WCQ back on Sept. 7.

He is expected to miss about a month of play for injury filled Real Madrid. He does hope to be back in the lineup by November 19 when Real face FC Barcelona.

Poor Zidane, he just wanted to help his country out, but now it seems to be costing him. If these injuries keep coming up, he might not get much playing time in Germany.

Man U can't compete with Chelsea

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that his club cannot compete with financial might of Chelsea and their owner Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Even with the promised 'transfer plunge' in January, Ferguson knows that he will need to avoid any players targeted by Chelsea. His exact comment was:

"If Chelsea go for a player we are interested in, we are not going to beat them, so there is no point even going for him unless, like Park Ji-sung, they are of a mind to join United."

"Any young player wanting to progress his career should think seriously about joining us because, as our record proves, we do give them a chance."

This is a very interesting development. If Man United, who up till recently had the highest revenue stream in all of the soccer world, cannot afford to go after the top talent, then what hope do smaller sides have. Will it soon become a Real Madrid - Chelsea shoot out with cash? Nothing short of a salary cap would stop Abramovich from spending freely, but I don't think that is where the EPL want to go.

BASAs Day 3 - Rookie of the Year

Climbing the Ladder hands out the third BASA of the year today for Rookie of the Year. And the winner is.... (click here)

But what about yesterday's award for Coach of the Year? The results went like this:

1- Dominic Kinnear
2- Steve Nicol
3- Peter Nowak
4- Colin Clarke
5- Mo Johnston
5- Fernando Clavijo

As scaryice noted, Kinnear got all the first place votes except for one. Well, I was that one vote. Here is my ranking:

1- Steve Nicol (New England)
2- Dominic Kinnear (San Jose)
3- Peter Nowak (DC U)

I went back and forth between Nicol and Kinnear on this one. I think both had excellent runs and both pulled their clubs up after disappointing 2004 results, but I think it was harder for Nicol. San Jose is a really good team, but some of their greatness this year has to do with the 8 matches they played against expansion teams, which gave them 16 points. New England only played half as many matches against Real and Chivas earning 9 points in the process. The final point score for the two sides was San Jose 64, New England 59. This makes San Jose 5 points better then New England. However, the Quakes got 7 more points from expansion club matches. Since I think the Eastern Conference was the harder conference this year, I decided to give the nod to Nicol.

As far as Nowak, I think he was good, but I don't think his club shined as much as the talent in his possession could have let it.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Great soccer stadium

Thanks to Du Nord for the link to the new Braga stadium in Portugal. It really is a masterful use of combining the natural environment with a stadium. The contrast with the stands really makes this eye catching. I just hope that one day we will build a soccer stadium as interesting as this one on US soil.

See more here.

FC Dallas names new GM

Michael Hitchcock has been named GM of FC Dallas by Hunt Sports Group President John Wagner. Hitchcock has been involved with the MLS for eight years on the ticketing and marketing side. He started in 1998 with DC United then moved to Colorado in 2001. He helped Colorado deliver their largest ever average attendance (20,687 per game) in 2002. He moved on to LA in 2003 and had similar results there. The Galaxy had an average attendance of 24,204 this past year, the best in league history.

Warner said of the hire, "Michael has been an impact person no matter where he has worked in MLS. We are extremely fortunate to have his sports management expertise now focused on FC Dallas and our team operations at Pizza Hut Park. He is a proven salesman and we believe he will be an exceptional MLS General Manager."

FCD wanted a salesman and they got the best in the league. It will be interesting to see if FCD can make some headroom in the already crowded DFW sports realm. By the way, I didn't know Mr. Hitchcock had so much time to work on the MLS, what with all the movies he has been in.

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Juergen Klinsmann meets critics

German national coach Juergen Klinsmann (pictured) met with critics from the Bundesliga today to discuss various issues. One of the major issues is Klinsmann's home address, which is in California. More then a few people feel that he needs to be closer to everything in order to have complete control over it. However, Klinsmann does not think the commute is much of a problem saying, "my presence in Germany will depend on what is going on."

There is also concern over his training routines and his rotation of goalkeepers. As far as the training, part of this might have to do with the fact that American trainers designed the regiment. Those against it feel it has left the team exhausted during their recent matches. Klinsmann's responds by saying that the team needs to be fit if they want to win the cup. He also insists that, "Oliver Kahn was and remains (the) No. 1" goalie, even though rival Jens Lehmann will start during the 12 November match against France.

This is one of the problems with hosting the World Cup. Since you do not have to going through the qualifying rounds, you can never be certain your team is doing well. The last 'real' challenge they faced was in this year's Confederation Cup where they came in third. Their play was still a bit uneven at times, but it was better then what they showed in Euro 2004.

My thoughts on this is that they are looking better of late, so he deserves the vote of confidence he was given today. However, he might want to make plans for an extended vacation away from California starting early next year. I hear Germany is great between February and July.


US MNT to play Scotland next month

Bruce Arena and company will head to Glasgow on November 12th to take on Scotland. Since this match falls the day before the MLS Cup and it is in Europe, Bruce is sure to use it to test out some of the European based Americans. is reporting that there is a chance that Giuseppe Rossi will get an invite to play on the American side. Rossi was born in New Jersey but played his Under-19 games with Italy. If he joins up with the Bruce, this would be a very big development.

A bit of history, these two sides have not played each other on Scottish soil since August 30, 1952. On that date Scotland trashed the US 6-0. Their most recent meeting was in Washington, DC on May 30, 1998 when the two sides were in final prep for the 1998 World Cup. That game ending in a 0-0 tie.

Since this game will be on a Saturday, I’m guessing none of the ESPN channels will carry it live. However, we will be able to watch the MatchTracker over at

BASAs Day 2

Climbing the Ladder has award the second BASA of the year today for Coach of the Year. And the winner is.... (click here)

So yesterday's BASA went to the Goalkeeper of the Year. Here is how the vote came out:

1- Pat Onstad
2- Matt Reis
3- Nick Rimando
4- Tony Meola
5- Joe Cannon
5- Jonny Walker
7- Brad Guzan

My picks went like this:

1- Pat Onstad (San Jose)
2- Nick Rimando (DC)
3- Matt Reis (NE)

Oddly enough, I voted the same way as D over at DCenter. We were the only two that put Nick Rimando is second place and it looks like we did it for much of the same reasons. I think Rimando had to work harder this year, due to backline problems, then Reis had to. Also, I still cannot get past Reis's stupid tackle of Colorado's Jay Heaps back in mid-August. It was, in my opinion, a very foolish decision. It gave Colorado a pk and gave Reis a red card. I still think he is a great keeper, but I think Rimando outshined him a bit this year.

As far as Onstad, he was wonderful game after game and deserves all the respect he is getting (even if he did not look that great this past Sunday).


Godspeed Rosa Parks

I know this is a soccer blog and all, but I would like to take just a moment to remember Rosa Parks who died yesterday at the age of 92. Her simple act of refusing to relinquish her seat on a bus brought America into a better era. She put a human face on the inhuman laws and culture. There is still much work to be done in America and the world when it comes to race relations, but without her, we might not have made it as far as we already have. She is a great American hero and will me missed.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Cruyff continues verbal spat with Mourinho

Incase you have not heard, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff has been in a running verbal spat all season with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

Cruyff originally said of Mourinho that he is "...a pragmatic coach who fails in his duty to entertain." He also referred to him as 'resultadista’ due to his belief that Mourinho is ruining the game with his results-first policy.

Mourinho replied, "Since 1996, he refuses to step into the new football reality. Football is waiting for him to be a teacher. I want him to come forward and teach me. I humbly ask for it. I want him to help me to be a better coach because I don't want to stop learning.

"But he cannot teach me to be national champion because I already am three times. He cannot teach me how to win cups and Super Cups because I already did. He cannot teach me to conquer the UEFA Cup because I also have it. He cannot teach me to become a European champion either."

But Cruyff thinks there needs to be more to the game then just the final result. His reply is, "Between spectacular, controlled football, which I defend and will always defend, and results-based football there is a world of difference.

"An inadequate team has to try to defend as it can, but a great team, with great players, always has to give something more. What's more, it has to for the good of football."

It will be interesting to see if this continues. Mourinho has mostly refrained from getting into such spats this year, but this one goes right at his coaching style. With all the charges in the press of Chelsea's "boring" style, I wonder if this is starting to get to Jose. However, I'm sure all his trophies will provide some comfort for the coach.

Is Uzbekistan looking to move to UEFA?

Various sites are reporting that Uzbekistan is so angered over the events that lead to them failing to make the playoff match with Trinidad & Tobago that they want to move from the Asian Confederation to UEFA (Europe).

Uzbekistan has every right to be discussed with FIFA's ruling that they had to replay their match against Bahrain due to an error that actually cost the Uzbeks a goal. Alisher Nikimbayev, a senior official in the Uzbekistan Football Federation, seems to think FIFA might have had some less then on the board reasons for ordering the replay. "Unfortunately, we don't have enough proof to say that FIFA would rather see a rich Arab state like Bahrain play in the World Cup than having us there."

I'm not sure if there was a direct connection between these two, but one must wonder, how could FIFA really justify such a decision. It still makes no sense to me.

But there are reasons for the move beyond trying to avoid wealthy countries from the Middle East. Their home league would get to compete in the all European competitions. As Nikimbayev says, "playing in the [European] Champions League would be a great boost for our game and would benefit us financially. All our fans would love it. Just imagine having Real Madrid, Chelsea or Man United come here."

That would be fun to watch.

However, is reporting that Nikimbayev is now denying all rumors of a move to UEFA. “Maybe the correspondent wanted to join UEFA. There is absolutely no truth in the report. Uzbekistan’s main aim is to qualify for the World Cup and our best chance to do that is in Asia.”

I have to agree with this statement. If the Uzbeks want to get to the finals, they will have a much harder time by going through Europe (just ask their 0-1-11 UEFA neighbors to the north Kazakhstan). Yes, they will get to see some bigger league and international sides come to town from time to time, but is that worth the high risk of failing to qualify for the World Cup for many years to come? I'm going to guess that World Cup dreams will trump any other possibilities, causing them to stay in Asia.

Because bloggers control the world

Over at Climbing the Ladder, scaryice has started the posting of the Blogosphere American Soccer Awards (BASAs). This is an award that all soccer players long for, but only the best will achieve.

Also, since it comes from bloggers, you know it has to be great. (/sarcasm)

But really, it is wonderful that scaryice took the time to put the BASAs together and I'm looking forward to viewing the winners. I also can't wait to see what my comrades at keyboards think about the MLS season that was.

Today's winner is for Goalkeeper of the Year.

I will post my picks for each position the day following the announcement unless I am too embarrassed by the results or I forget.

Refs chief wants technology's assistance

Premiership referees chief Keith Hackett has said that he would welcome the use of technology to help decide goalline decisions.

This is a great step forward for a needed technology. I don't agree with a lot of possible uses of new technology on the pitch (like video review or earpieces for players and coaches), but a simple chip informing the ref when a ball has fully crossed the goalline makes 100% sense.

Such technology was used with success in Peru for the U-17 World Championship, but FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the test was inconclusive. However, the chips will be used again in the World Club Championship this December in Japan. Blatter said that if it was a success there that it might just benefit the World Cup. And if it is good enough for the World Cup, it will be good enough for the top leagues.

By the way, I'm guessing that the reason for the inconclusive finding in Peru is due to the fact that there were no really questionable goals (at least none I can recall off hand). What I said about this technology before Peru still holds true (it has to be 100% correct, 100% of the time because people are not willing to forgive mechanical mistakes), but I think it is time that refs got a little more help out there. As long as the rule states that the human on the field gets to make the final call, I think everything will be fine.

One downside, this might mark the end of "was it in?" arguments. Where will my soccer buddies and me be without these?

Dalian get their 8th league title

Dalian has won the Chinese Super League championship. This marks the team's eighth crown in twelve years. Bulgarian striker Zoran Jankovic got the game winner off a penalty kick in the 60th minute.

With the win, Dalian win a spot in next season's AFC Champions League.

Dalian's continued success has a lot to do with their ability to find local sponsors for the club. Other teams in the troubled Chinese Super League have had a much tougher time bringing in money and making payroll. This is due in part to poor attendance, but has a lot more to do with the loss of sponsors as a result of various game-fixing scandals.

The Super League was suppose to lunch China to the top of the pack in Asia, but so far has been marked by failure. This league might not survive another season.

By the way, last year's surprise winner Shenhua Jianlibao currently sits in 11th place out of 14.

Victory is only a t-shirt and poster away

I'm not trying to hock anything here, but I thought some of you might be interested in the newest items at the US Soccer Store. They include the USA 2 - 0 Mex poster pictured here and a red "Don't Tread on Me" t-shirt. The poster has various images from the game and the red t-shirt includes the striking snake logo. With the holy jolly days come on us, maybe someone you know might like one or both of these.

Just for the record, I don't have anything to do with this store and I get no money from any sales.

Is Freddy Adu about to sign with Man U?

The Freddy Adu talk continues with speculation out of England that Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer is on the verge of signing Freddy Adu for £4m ($7.1m). Since Freddy cannot sign a contract overseas till he turns 18 (June 2007), I'm guessing this would be more like a "statement of interest" then an actual contract.

This might just be false speculation (like so many transfer items from the past), but if it is true, this adds a new dimension to the Adu story. Those green pastures of Europe can make people act in odd ways.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The big to do about Freddy

So what's the deal with Freddy Adu, Peter Nowak and a very sharp looking black suit and red tie combo?

This is the story that has dominated the US soccer news over the past week. It is getting so much talk that I actually heard it mentioned on a non-soccer related news report on a local radio station. Since I do not live in the DC area or any other MLS market, this shows me something. I mean the last bit of soccer news I heard reported like this (meaning just sort of tossed out there, but at least it was mentioned) was the US beating Mexico to go to Germany.

Anyway, so why did Freddy get suspended by DC Coach Peter Nowak for Friday's game against Chicago? If published reports are true, it is because he failed to apologize to his team for events earlier in the week. His remarks caused the focus of the team to shift from preparing for a playoff game to answer unwanted questions from the press.

It is not certain that Freddy will be available for the second leg of DC's series next Sunday. However, during this week's ESPN2 broadcast of the LA - San Jose game, DC team president Kevin Payne was interviewed and said it was his understanding that after the suspension, this matter was considered closed.

But can this matter really be considered closed in anyway? If Adu suits up (in a soccer uniform this time) next week and does not get playing time, people will say it is due to his comments. If he does get time, people will say United is just trying to appease him. Short of him staying with United over the off-season, I don't think this matter can be considered closed.

It must be very interesting being Freddy Adu. This is a kid who at 14 signed a $1 million contract with Nike, was interviewed on David Letterman, stared in a commercial with Pele and became the highest-paid player in the MLS. I can see why one might think, "hay, maybe I should get a bit more playing time." However, the truly great players have a way of making that happen without blurting it right to the press.

This outburst might just follow Freddy for the rest of his playing career. Being labeled as difficult is not the worst thing that can happen to a player, but it could cause future teams to be a little reluctant to approach him. Still, if he excels on the field, teams will be willing to put up with a lot of difficulties.

So was it right for the coach to suspend Freddy? Yes. If he was told to apologize or else he would not play and he did not apologize, then Nowak had no choice but to suspend him. I'm sure this will only anger Freddy and his supporters further, but as long as you are on his team, you have got to play by the coach's rules. Also, when you are playing on a team with people as talented as Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta, Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen, Dema Kovalenko and Jamil Walker, you have to accept that you are not going to get as many minutes as you might want.


MLS Round 1 - Part 1 now done

The first weekend of MLS playoffs are now in the books. It all got started on Friday night when DC went to Chicago, but the big story to come out of the windy city was not the play in the game but the suspension of Freddy Adu. I don't know if that has to do with Freddy or with the poor play on the night. There really were very few chances by either side. The Fire tried to get something going right before the half. DC keeper Nick Rimando ditched his line to challenge a free kick by Chris Armas, but the ball ended up finding Chicago's Jesse Marsch who took a great shot on point. However, United's Brian Carroll had placed himself in just the right spot to stop the ball from crossing the goal line. The Fire had a few more good chances in the second, but their best opening did not come till the 90th minute mark when it looked like Chad Barrett headed in the winner. However, it was called back, thus allowing the game to end in a draw. Chicago 0 - 0 DC United

In the driving rain, the MetroStars were able to quiet the feet of Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan and Clint Dempsey. New England was lacking the cohesion they had shown throughout the last half of the season. Their midfield seemed lost and failed to produce goal-scoring opportunities. The Metros were able to keep the Revs bottled up with just three on the backline. They then used their strength to test the Revs defense. In the 34th minute it paid off as last year's MVP and next year's "no long with the MLS" Amado Guevara beat goaltender Matt Reis. This was all it would take for the Metro's to pull a minor upset. MetroStars 1 - 0 New England

Sometimes games end with a goalless draw due to no lack of effort by the side's offense. The FC Dallas - Colorado match was one of those games. The two sides had a lot of flourishes, but they could not finish. For Colorado this had a lot to do with former teammate Scott Garlick who made two amazing saves in the final 20 minutes to keep the Rapids off the scoreboard. Both teams were trying to get something late as both Jeff Cunningham (Colorado) and Carlos Ruiz (FCD) came in during the middle of the second half. But neither of these two provided much. Colorado 0 - 0 FCD

After three playoff games over two days, only one goal had been scored. I'm sure this is not what MLS was hoping would happen. It is also strange seeing as the league averages about 3 goals a match.

Anyway, the final game of the weekend saw the California cousins square off. When they last met (last week), San Jose blew LA out of the water. So could LA recover? Short answer, "Yes!" The Galaxy came out wanting to shake the Quakes and that is just what they did. LA's Herculez Gomez got the match rolling with a strong shot past MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Pat Onstad in the 13th. This seemed to cause San Jose to come unhinged as they started playing their worse soccer of the year. They were unable to feed balls forward, get behind LA or clear balls out of their box. This last problem cost them big time in the 39th when the Quakes tried clearing a ball by kicking it into the center of their own box. There was only one Galaxy player in the box at the time, but the ball went right to his feet. Since those feet belonged to Landon Donovan (pictured), a shot and goal happened next. LA was dominating going into the locker room. When the second half got under way, LA came out looking flat. San Jose took advantage of this and in the 68th, Ricardo Clark got one back for the visitors. But LA would recover and in the 87th, Landon Donovan would get a good feed from Cobi Jones to get his second goal of the day. LA went looking for more in injury time, but they were unable to make it happen. By the way, this match had 39 fouls called and 7 yellow cards handed out (and it could have been about four more, but the ref was being nice). It's always a fun time when these two get together. LA 3 - 1 San Jose

Playoff predictions
Game (my guess) Final Score
Chicago - DC (1-2) 0-0
MetroStars - NE (2-1) 1-0
Colorado - FCD (1-1) 0-0
LA - San Jose (2-1) 3-1

Post-season total: 3-1

Oliver Kahn a Japanese super star?

Bayern Munich and German national team goalkeeper Oliver Kahn is thinking about moving to a Japanese club when his contract ends at the end of the season.

Kahn has been Bayern's keeper since 1994, but at 36-years of age, they have to be looking for a change. Since he was very well received in Japan during the 2002 World Cup and since the J-league would be very happy to have someone of Oliver's caliber on the pitch, I'm sure it would be a very good way to bring his playing days to a close.

Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness told the German paper Bild, "Kahn has been loyal to the club so he can decide whether he wants to stay or go to Japan."

This might just be some psychological warfare to get an extension to his contract, but if it is not, this could end up in a very interesting. I just wonder if he would have to learn to yell in Japanese.


US Women defeat Mexico

US 3 - 0 Mexico

The US Women managed to go the whole year without allowing a goal. That is something they have not done since 1989. However, they only played one game that year, so not as impressive.

As far as the team on the field, they had it all together. They were spreading the field wide and keeping Mexico from making anything of their few chances. Abby Wambach played smart and got two goals. Kristine Lilly got the goal that brings her into a tie for second on the all time US goal scorer list.

For Mexico, you could tell they had improved. This is a team that averages 20-years of age. The fact that they got on that field and gave the US a run for their money speaks volumes to their future.

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Barcelona hurting

Real Madrid is not the only Primera Liga team suffering from multiple injuries. During yesterday's 3-0 victory against Osasuna, Barca's Juliano Belletti and Deco went down.

"Brazilian defender Belletti sustained a partial muscle tear behind his right knee which will keep him out of action for up to six weeks, the club said on Sunday.

Portugal midfielder Deco, who played on Saturday despite breaking a finger at Panathinaikos in the Champions League on Tuesday, has a groin strain and will be out for three weeks."

Barcelona is already having a few issues this season so this really could not come at a much worse time for the club.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

US Women take on Mexico

The American Women close out their 2005 season will a friendly against a young and always improving Mexican side. The US hopes to increase their 838-minute streak without allowing a goal. This streak started last December when these two played. By the way, the US won that one 5-0.

For the US, they are coming off a bit of a sloppy performance last week against Australia. Coach Greg Ryan has made four changes to the squad in order to inspire his side. Speed demon and forward Heather O’Reilly has been brought on along with midfielders Leslie Osborne and Carli Lloyd and goalkeeper Jenni Branam.

Mexico, on the other hand, will be without attackers Maribel Dominguez and Iris Mora. This lack of firepower should help the US defense add some more minutes to their streak.

Legend Kristine Lilly (pictured) should end up just one cap away from her 300th for the national team. Also, if she scores on the night, she will move into a tie with Michelle Akers for the second most goals scored (Mia Hamm is first).

Prediction: US 2 - 0 Mexico

This match will air live on ESPN 2 at 1pm EST. The MLS playoff game between LA and San Jose will follow.

Here are the two teams full rosters:

U.S. Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Jenni Branam, 18-Hope Solo;

DEFENDERS (5): 23-Tina Frimpong, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 15-Kate Markgraf, 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick

MIDFIELDERS (5): 7-Shannon Boxx, 13-Kristine Lilly, 5-Carli Lloyd, 12-Leslie Osborne, 10-Aly Wagner

FORWARDS (6): 6-Danielle Fotopoulos, 8-Shannon MacMillan, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 20-Abby Wambach, 19-Christie Welsh.

Mexico Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Pamela Tajonar, 12-Sophia Perez, 21-Erika Gonzalez

DEFENDERS (7): 2-Elizabeth Gomez, 3-Rubi Sandoval, 4-Monica Gonzales, 5-Jessica Romero, 11-Luz Saucedo, 13- Nancy Gutierrez, 14-Isabel Mendoza

MIDFIELDERS (5): 6-Monica Vergara, 7-Evelyn Lopez, 8-Rebecca Juarez, 16-Connie Villapando, 19-Tania Morales

FORWARDS (4): 9-Guadalupe Worbis, 15-Lulu Gordillo, 18-Veronica Corral, 20-Monica Medina.

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Becks must inject

Real Madrid and English international David Beckham has disclosed that he needs painkilling injections in his back just to play.

Beckham has been told that the position he gets into to cross and pass the ball puts strain on his back. This pain requires a pain killing shot before and after matches.

Beckham said of the injections, "After games I have to keep my back still without hardly moving so that the pain doesn't get worse.

"I know that I run, hit the ball and cross differently than other players but I don't think that is the cause of the problem.

"I have a small area of pain and if I have an injection before games it is so I feel better and I am able to play. I hope it's over with soon."

With all the injuries Real is currently facing, this has got to cause some concern. I'm sure it also has a few people worried back home in England. I'm no doctor, but back injuries are not something that just sort of go away unless you change whatever it is that is causing it. Since it is his style of soccer that is causing it, that would be something for difficult to change.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Brazilian clubs look to FIFA to overturn ruling

Three of the big Brazilian clubs (champs Santos, Internacional and Cruzeiro) want to ask FIFA to solve the problem of the match-fixing scandal. They are hoping FIFA will overturn the ruling of Brazil's Superior Tribunal of Sports Justice. Their point to the context of the law as reason. As told by Internacional lawyer Daniel Cravo de Souza, "the results only can be annulled if there is strong evidence of fraud. And it's clear that not all matches were fixed."

Here is how the teams protesting have done in the replays:

"Cruzeiro, the 2003 national champion, had two victories reversed by the decision. It drew Botafogo 2-2 after originally winning 4-1, and lost 4-1 to Paysandu in a match it had won 2-1.

Santos felt it was harmed by the ruling after its 4-2 win over rival Corinthians was reversed. It lost the replayed match 3-2.

Internacional had a 3-2 win over Coritiba voided, but the teams are yet to replay the match."

I've seen it before and I will say it again, there is no way this season will be remembered in any good way. When you have the possibility of outside influences on the game, no one will respect the results. If you reply all those possible matches, you are going to end up be punishing teams who did nothing wrong.

I'm going to guess FIFA will want to stay away from this as long as possible, but I think it will end up there at some point.

Man United hoping to cut Chelsea's lead to one point

Man U have a plan to catch up with the marvelous blues of Chelsea. The figure that if they can beat Tottenham this Saturday and then win their pair against Chelsea, then they will be within one point of the defending champions. Man United have looked good as late, but saying it and doing it are very different.

It is good that they have a plan for getting there, but I think there might be a small problem. They would also need to win every other game as well. Man U is good, but they still had some trouble against Fulham not to long ago.

Best of luck to them.

Arena looking to call-up Adu

Bruce Arena has said that he was looking at calling Freddy Adu up for the next national team's practice, but that was before his recent outspokenness. So how does Bruce feel about Freddy now? "There’s a strong likelihood he’ll be at camp. He has shown a lot of progress and we need to take a look at him."

But what about his recent words about DC?

"He won’t be [invited] if he keeps running his mouth and tries to punch out his coach."

Arena also said, "Freddy is going to be a very good player. I just wish people would be more patient. The adults around him are causing the problem. They need to show some patience and allow the kid to grow up, on the field and off the field."

So there you have it. Bruce is willing to give the kid a chance, but Freddy has to understand that he still has a way to go before he is at full potential. I still think his chances of seeing action in Germany are extremely slim, but he will be given a look. Once again, the Bruce being the calming factor in US soccer.

Don't forget to vote for the Honda US MNT Player of the Year.

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MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 1

What's that feeling going round? Oh that's right, it's MLS Cup time.

So have you noticed the MLS redesign of their website for the Cup? Take a look. I like it better then their old front page, even if it reminds me of Fox's baseball broadcasts. Hat tip to the web monkeys over at MLS.

But enough of these random thoughts on web images, lets talk some soccer.

Chicago vs DC
Friday 21 Oct - 9pm EST
TV: Direct Kick, HDNet

The playoffs get underway tonight in Chicago when last year's champs DC United pay a visit. These sides know how to score on one another (21 goals were scored in their 4 meetings), but both sides defense has improved since their last meeting. DC comes in with a bit of a distraction (Adu, I'm talking about you), but they also have a great deal of talent. For Chicago, they need goalie Zach Thornton, recently back from injury, to pull together his backline. Their defense has improved, but they still allowed more goals this year then any other non-expansion team. The Fire will need Chris Rolfe to be hot if they want to stamp out United. For DC, they Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez to do what the know how to do. DC did look weak in their final couple regular season matches, but that might have just been due to their lack of meaning. All and all, I think DC should be able to handle the Fire of Chicago.

DC 2 - 1 Chicago


MetroStars vs New England
Saturday 22 Oct - 7pm EST
TV: FSC, Direct Kick

So the MetroStars made the playoffs, now what. Oh, they have to take on one of the most explosive teams in the league. After their "how did we win that" victory over Chivas last week, I'm sure they are more then capable of pulling this one off. Okay, I'm being way to harsh here, sorry. Anyway, just like DC and Chicago, these two teams know how to score on one another (20 goal in 4 matches including 9 in one outing), but I'm not looking for a highflying score this time. I think New England will look to the Golden Boy Taylor Twellman a great deal, but he will not be able to do it alone. Steve Ralston will need to bring on the spark that injury and national duty has make a little less dazzling. For the home team, I think the they will have a difficult time containing the two. On offense for the Metros, they must have Amado Guevara step it up and they need Youri Djorkaeff to keep control of the game. If they can do that and get a little help from Michael Bradley, then they might just shock the revolution.

MetroStars 2 - 1 New England

By the way, over at "We Call It Soccer", joe has an interesting reason to cheer for the Metros.


Colorado Rapids vs FC Dallas
Saturday 22 Oct - 9pm EST
TV: FSC, Direct Kick

Now over to the West where Colorado come in looking good, while Dallas is still a grab bag. This marks Dallas's first trip to the post season since 2002. FCD looked like the team back in July, but they hit the slump. They have pulled themselves out enough to get the second place nod, but they still are missing something. It does not help that Carlos Ruiz has caused them headaches by not showing up last week. For the Rapids, they had a great run down the stretch, but that has a lot to do with five of their final six games being against expansion clubs. I think Dallas will be a bit of a wakeup call for them. FCD needs Scott Garlick to control their backfield and then they need the offense to wake up. If Ruiz can perform and get some help from Ronnie O'Brien and Ramon Nunez, then Rapid's keeper Joe Cannon is going to be a busy man. They will also need Jeff Cunningham and Jean Philippe Peguero to cause confusion in FCD's lines. If they can do this and maybe get an assist from the weather (it is going to be around 55 come game time), they might walk away with something good.

Colorado 1 - 1 FCD


LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes
Sunday 23 October - 3pm EST

It is always fun when these two come together. Last week's match was nothing short of a 'kiss my ass LA' greeting card from San Jose. These two sides do not like one another, period. So what does LA need to do to pull off an upset in this series? Well they must win on Sunday. San Jose rules in their house, so if LA goes there having to do any better then a tie, they may as well not make the trip. They will need Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez in full war mood. They will be missing Tyrone Marshall (red card) in their back line, so Chris Albright will have to provide leadership on the backline. For San Jose, they always seem to find a way to make things happen. With Par Onstad (MLS Goalkeeper of the Year) between the posts, they should have a good chance on defense. Dwayne De Rosario will bring control to the middle of the field feeding balls up to Alejandro Moreno and/or Brian Ching. Look also for Brian Mullan to make something happen. Kevin Goldthwaite is out due to suspension, but that should not cause many problems on defense for San Jose. As I said above, this is a must win game for LA in LA. For that reason, I think they will make something of it.

LA 2 - 1 San Jose


Check out Climbing the Ladder's picks here.

Also, don't forget to vote for the Honda US MNT Player of the Year.

2006 African Cup of Nations draw

The draw for the 2006 African Cup happened today. Egypt, who has won this tournament 4 times, sits atop Group A as hosts. Tunisia will try and defend their title from atop Group C. Group D looks to be the most difficult group or "Group of Death." Both Nigeria and Ghana, also known as bitter rivals, hold positions in the group. In addition, Senegal, a team that went far in the 2002 World Cup, is also in the grouping. Zimbabwe rounds out the group.

Group A
Ivory Coast

Group B
DR Congo

Group C
South Africa

Group D

The Cup will take place in Egypt between 20 January and 10 February.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Who is US MNT player of the year?

The three finalists for the Honda Player of the Year Award have been announced. The three are: DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan and Kasey Keller.

The winner will be announced during the award luncheon on November 30th. However, I have an online poll up that will allow you to vote now. The poll asks you to rank the three in whatever order you think most deserving. I will keep the poll open for a week, so go give it a vote.

Vote Here!

Here is some more information from the press release:

DaMarcus Beasley, a finalist for the second consecutive year, has established himself as one of the best players on the U.S. National Team. The 23 year-old scored four goals for the National Team in 2005, including two against Jamaica in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup and a crucial goal against Mexico in World Cup qualifying that helped clinch a place for the U.S. in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. With his club, PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, this year Beasley won the league Eredivisie championship, the Dutch Cup, and became the first American to play in a semifinal match of the UEFA Champions League. During the 2004-2005 season, Beasley scored 6 goals in 29 matches for PSV.

Landon Donovan, the only three-time winner of the Honda Player of the Year Award, this year joins Reyna, Keller and Marcelo Balboa as the only players selected as finalists at least four times. In 2005, Donovan led the U.S. National Team in goals scored, including two in a World Cup qualifying match against Costa Rica in June, and two in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Cuba in July. Also this year Donovan, at age 23, moved into third place on the all-time U.S. National Team goal scorers list. Donovan joined the Los Angeles Galaxy earlier this year after spending the winter with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.

Kasey Keller, a finalist for the first time since he won the Honda Player of the Year Award in 1999, this year joins Claudio Reyna as the only two five-time finalists in the history of the award. In 2005 Keller shut out five consecutive opponents in World Cup qualifying, including each of the other teams participating in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. He now has a total of 44 shutouts in his career, including 19 in World Cup qualifying matches. This year he also earned his 50th career victory in a total of 88 appearances with the U.S. National Team. Keller currently plays for Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany, and previously played for Tottenham, Southampton, Leicester City and Millwall in England as well as Rayo Vallecano in Spain.


Mourinho surprises no one

In perhaps the most obvious statement possible, Chelsea's coach Jose Mourinho (pictured) warns his Champions League rivals, "We are one of many teams who can win it, but everyone knows Chelsea is a very strong team."

Really. Didn't notice.

Let's see, after three games they have 7 points and have yet to give up a goal. In the EPL, they are 9-0-0 and have only given up 3 goals. Maybe this side has a chance of being good.

I say this not to mock Mourinho, but does he really think people who are being honest in any way about soccer don't think his side has a good chance of winning everything?

Don't confuse the boredom of watching a squad blow by team after team with a lack of respect for the expected outcome. It is only boring because your side is so strong and talented that we know few have any real chance of catching you.

UEFA Cup results - 20 October

Basle 0 - 2 Strasbourg
Besiktas 1 - 1 Bolton
CSKA Moscow 1 - 2 Marseille
CSKA Sofia 0 - 1 Hamburg
Dinamo Bucuresti 0 - 0 Heerenveen

Dnipro 1 - 2 AZ
Grasshoppers 0 - 1 Middlesbrough
Halmstads BK 0 - 1 Hertha Berlin
Maccabi Petach Tikva 1 - 2 Palermo
Rennes 0 - 2 VfB Stuttgart

Shakhtar Donetsk 1 - 0 PAOK Salonika
Steaua Bucuresti 4 - 0 Lens
Tromso 1 - 2 Roma
Viking FK 1 - 0 Monaco
Zenit St Petersburg 2 - 1 Guimaraes

Brazilian replays looking ugly

The reply matches caused by the referee scandal continued yesterday. Of the five games replayed, only one of them ended the same way as the original outing.

Vasco da Gama beat Botafogo 1-0 (Botafogo won the first meeting 1-0). This result has caused even more anger in the hearts of Botafogo fans as they had an early goal disallowed due to a suspected push. Also, the goal striker in Vasco's goal was offside, but no call was made.

Corinthians were awarded a 3-2 win over Santos (a game they first lost 4-2). I say awarded because the game was called early due to a pitch invasion after Corinthians went up 3-2 on a controversial penalty call.

In the one match that the ref had admitted to trying to fix, Figueirense were denied the full points they earned in the first meeting when Juventude got an injury time equalizer (please note that the ref said he tried to fix the match against Figueirense).

Paysandu was able to overturn their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Cruzeiro by winning 4-1 last night. The loss means Cruzeiro only gets 1 point out of the 6 they had previously got from their 2 'controversial' games.

The only result that stayed the same was Ponte Preta's beating of Sao Paulo.

This is turning out real ugly for the Brazilian FA. With fears of fan violence on the rise, I wonder how bad things are going to get. This season will always be regarded as tainted regardless of what happens, so all they can do is try and make something out of it. Sad times down South.

Looks like Brazil will be seeding in Group F

An official bulletin seems to indicate that Brazil will be on top of Group F. This way they will play their group matches at the three biggest stadiums involved in the World Cup (Berlin, Munich and Dortmund).

Germany, as the host, should be seated in Group A. They will play at the same stadiums but in a bit of a different order (Dortmund, Munich and Berlin).

This setup would also mean that if both teams won their group, they could not meet till the final (or third place match). I'm guessing the Germans would like that.

I think this seeding makes sense. These two sides will have the most fans wanting to watch them, so it is only sensible that they go to the biggest stadiums.

Real Madrid lose another one

Real's midfielder Julio Baptista will be out of action for four to five weeks due to an injury suffered during yesterday's Champions League match against Rosenborg. Test show that the forward strained ligaments in his left knee.

Baptista will join fellow Brazilian Ronaldo on the disabled list. With these two starters unavailbale, Real will need to dive into their reserve power.

Liverpool's Djibril Cisse smacks a 15-year-old

I don't know why, but typing that title made my chuckle

Djibril Cisse has admitted to smacking the child after he pulled a bit of a prank on the star. Basically the kid came up to Cisse and acted like he wanted to shake his hand. When Cisse put out his hand, the kid pulled his hand away and then thumbed his nose at him.

Cisse did not find this very funny and smacked the kid.

Anyway, Cisse has accepted a police caution for the assault. I'm guessing the kid is going to get some sort of settlement as well.

So let this be a warning, don't make the French the foils of your practical jokes unless you want a few up the side of your head.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Columbus Crew get a new coach

It looks like Sigi Schmid will return to the MLS as the new coach of the Columbus Crew.

Schmid was last seen in the MLS some 14 months ago with the LA Galaxy. Under his guidance, LA won their only MLS Cup in 2002. He also took them to the 2001 US Open Cup championship and the 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup. His record with the team was 79-53-32. He was fired last August.

The question now is can he do the same with the Crew.

World Cup Bookings

So far, about 4,000 Brazil fans have booked accommodations to the 2006 World Cup. They have selected Cologne as their base.

Mexico has 3,000 bookings in Duesseldorf and 2,500 Argentine fans are set to go to Frankfurt. As for the US, about 1,000 fans have booked rooms in Hamburg.

A reminder, Dec 9th is the date of the group drew. I'm sure that these and all other numbers will jump after that date.

Thanks to all of you that logged in for the live updates

Hello everyone,

I just looked at my site counter and saw that lots of folks logged on while I was providing live updates of the Champions League matches. I thank you and hope that you will keep coming back.

I plan on doing this again for the next round of games on November 1 & 2, so I hope to see you then.

Thanks again,
Mike H