Monday, April 03, 2006

MLS Week 1 Recap or Did Brian Ching Just Score Again

FC Dallas and Chicago gave America a strong opening match; let's just hope a few non-soccer fans tuned in to see it. For FCD, the need for strong offense was shown to them in the 12th minute. The first goal by Chad Barrett was a direct result of an offense that could not hold possession, and Chad Barrett made them pay. Even when Arturo Alvarez tied it up 20-minutes later, the offense still seemed weak. Chris Rolfe let it be known that last year was not a fluke as he put the Fire up in the 54th. Teammate Thiago almost added to the lead five minutes later, but Dario Sala was able to stop the point-blank shot and keep Dallas in the game.

In the 64th minute, Colin Clarke changed the lineup to a 4-3-3 that resulted in utter confusion for the Fire's backline. By the 70th minute, Dallas had scored two to take the first lead of the match. Roberto Mina got the tying goal while Kenny Cooper earned his first MLS goal thanks to a strong header off a Bobby Rhine cross. This caused Cooper to have a strange jumping celebration that caused even some of his fellow players to laugh.

All and all, a very good match for national television, but note to Carlos Ruiz, enough with the bicycle kicks. The one bad thing about this match, it was not a sellout (19,377). That's about 1,500 under capacity, but those missing fans made the stadium seem a bit empty.

FC Dallas 3-2 Chicago Fire

Well KC made a mark with their opening blowout of Columbus. The first 20-minutes saw a lot of running around, but no good shots on goal, but the Wizards brought that stage to an end in the 21st thanks to a good turn and shoot by Davy Arnaud. Just four minutes later, Jack Jewsbury got what turned out to be the winner when he pounded home a rebound for a 2-0 lead. The Crew did wake up in the 33rd when Eddie Gaven placed a great pass to Kei Kamara who placed it into net. Jon Busch made a great save in the 38th to keep KC from getting a third, and that's how the half ended.

During the second half, the Crew never really threatened. They had a good chance in the 57th when goal tender Bo Oshoniyi had to make a diving save to stop Kei Kamara from finishing a wonderful forward ball by Tim Ward. This was about the extent of the good chances for the Crew in the second 45. Eddie Johnson managed to put the game out of reach in the 61st when he redirected a Scott Sealy cross from six yards out. It was a good goal, but then Johnson stripped off his shirt. The problem with that, it's a yellow card offense. I'm all for celebrating, but to do something that forces the ref to caution you is foolish. If Johnson gets a yellow next week against Houston, then his team will be without him when New England comes to town on the 15th. There are times when you have to take a card, but celebrating a goal is not one of them.

KC Wizards 3-1 Columbus Crew

So where was LA on Saturday night? For that matter, where was New England? LA had 12 total shots while NE had just 3. There were only 6 total shots that were actually on goal (LA-4, NE-2). This was a match with lots of fouls and plenty of almost starts, but little finish. The Galaxy did control the game for the first 15-minutes, but they were not able to get a result. Then the Revs got their chance. In the 21st minute, Pat Noonan had a good shot, but it was cleared by Nathan Sturgis. In the 28th, they found net, but the goal was correctly disallowed because Taylor Twellman made contact with the keeper. But in the 33rd, Clint Dempsey was left unmarked in the box during a free kick. Sure enough, Clint put it passed a shocked Kevin Hartman.

For much of the second half, LA was playing as if they hadn't a care in the world. They finally started moving for the final 15-minutes, but they just couldn't make it happen. This was the lazy Galaxy from much of the second half of last season. New England also has a way to go before they are at top form, but that did leave California with a win.

LA Galaxy 0-1 New England Revolution

Is Bobby Boswell really that much of a key to the DC backfield? I knew he was a big part, but his last minute scratch from the roster seemed to leave the DC D with nothing. United was in control of this game for most of the first 30-minutes, but they still found themselves down by two. For the Bulls, they were able to make the most of the confused backline on their counter attacks. Youri Djorkaeff finished off his first opportunity of 2006 in the 15th when he put in a perfect free kick. Edson Buddle showed the other part of the Red's offense when he made Goalkeeper Troy Perkins pay for dropping a ball. Buddle buried the ball into the net. RFK had never seemed so quiet.

In the second half, DC changed this up with great result. They brought on Alecko Eskandarian and you could tell that it was just a matter of time till he got them on the board. Sure enough, in the 55th he took a perfect cross by Joshua Gros and set it home. You could feel the momentum shift to DC. The crowd was back in it and United continued to deliver. Ben Olsen lofted a pass into the NY penalty area and Facundo Erpen pushed it in.

DC was in control for the rest of the game, but could not find the winner. New York did have a couple of chances, but all and all, they have got to be happy to walk away with a point.

DC United 2-2 New York Red Bulls

It's going to be a long season for Salt Lake. Chivas controlled this match. The great news for Goats fans, their defense didn't collapse ala 2005. Instead, they were able to hold Real's Jeff Cunningham and Andy Williams pretty much in check for the whole 90-minutes. Ante Razov got things going for Chivas in the 21st when he beat RSL's keeper Scott Garlick in a one-on-one. Four minutes later, Juan Pablo Garcia caught Real napping when he blasted a curling shot from 25 yards out to the left corner of the net. Real had a good chance in the 41st when Douglas Sequeira got past the goal keeper, but defender Tim Regan was able to clear it just inches in front of goal.

Chivas slammed home another long distance shot in the 65th when Razon got his second goal on the night. Real never really made this one close. Razon almost got a hat trick in the 86th, but Garlick was able to make a great stop.

This new Chivas team is going to make people take notice. Sadly, it looks like Real has a long road to go before they can say the same thing.

Chivas USA 3-0 Real Salt Lake

Well hello Houston. This has got to be MLS's dream come true. Not only did Houston score 5, but oddly enough, Colorado actually made a game of it. The hero of the night, Brian Ching (pictured above getting a hug in goal). During the LA-NE game, Bruce Arena was interviewed. He was asked what MLS players could do to catch his eye for the World Cup roster. Arena said that they had narrowed the list down to 35 and that if you are not on that list, no eye will you catch. If Brian Ching is one of those 35, I can't help but think that he now has both Arena's eyes looking at him.

Ching got Houston's first ever goal in the 13th minute when he slid in behind a defender to just slightly redirect a low shot by Wade Barrett into goal. How crowd goes wild, but it would not last. Just two minutes later, Kyle Beckerman shot putted the ball from 30-yeards out to find net. Everything is tied. At this point, Clint Mathis had to come out for the Rapids due to injury. The addition of Fabrice Noel to the field seemed to calm things down for a little while, but Ching go things going in the 37th and again in the 44th with almost identical goals. In both, Dwayne De Rosario set the ball up on the right to Brian Mullan who crosses it into the area where Ching's head directs it home. Hat trick for Ching before halftime.

With the way this one was heading, Colorado knew they had to get something early in the second and sure enough they did. Jovan Kirovski put a spectacular free kick over the line and into goal. Suddenly the Rapids looked to threaten. But Brian Ching put the came out of reach in the 72nd when De Rosario found Ching's head off a corner kick. The Rapids were having a hard time getting back into this, but it was made even harder when Pablo Mastroeni was sent off in the 85th due to a second caution when he tackled Alejandro Moreno from behind. Moreno then got Houston's fifth goal off a bicycle kick during stoppage time. What a great ending for the Dynamo.

Houston Dynamo 5-2 Colorado Rapids.

A fantastic first weekend of the season. Not a single game was a wash, even though the LA-NE game was close. So how did my wife and I do with our predictions?

MatchFinalMy PredWife's Pred

PersonThis WeekSeason

This is a good start for both of us.


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