Wednesday, May 31, 2006

MLS Week 9 Power Ratings

Not much has changed in a week, but still let's look at the ratings.

1. FC Dallas (last week - 1) - They were down 1-0 on the road with just 15-minutes to play yet still managed to come away with a win. Sure, it was New York, but that is still impressive and shows the strength of this team.

2. DC United (2) - They opened with a blast and then held it with their defense. I had been worried about United's defense of late, but with this victory and the way that even Adu helped out, it is hard to find any major weaknesses with this team.

3. Chicago Fire (3) - Yes, they lost to Chivas, but they still looked like they could have won. Still, if some other teams lower on the list had looked better, the Fire would have fallen.

4. Houston Dynamo (5) - They were able to come back on the road and get a tie. They really didn't look that great doing it, but a point on the road against a decent team means something.

5. Kansas City Wizards (4) - They really did not have a chance against DC did they? With their offense performing the way it is, they can not afford to get behind and with United's defense playing so well, the Wizards were never about to go ahead.

6. New England Revolution (6) - They just cannot beat teams from Texas even if the team gives them many opportunities to do so. Not finishing chances is going to kill this team.

7. Columbus Crew (7) - They had the week off and only 7 players got injured. By the way, if you are a goalkeeper, you might want to send a resume.

8. Colorado Rapids (9) - They are starting to find the nets, but they cannot hold teams. Going up a goal with 6 minutes to play should be enough to get you three points, even in Salt Lake, but they could not do it.

9. Real Salt Lake (10) - You can see the confidence this team has got of late. They went down twice, but they did not implode. With their passing and ball handling improving, this team might actually make something of their season.

10. New York Red Bull (8) - They had the visitor’s back to the wall and then gave it all away. A great team would never have let that happen, a good team would have got a tie, a crappy team drops it all. Sorry Mo, but your team is the latter.

11. Chivas USA (12) - They were able to hold a 1-0 lead for almost 90 minutes. Who knew Chivas had a defense. Still, they need to find a way to have their offense show up even when their defense does the same.

12. Los Angeles Galaxy (11) - They had the week off to spend some time looking for a goal. They are always in the last place you look. Talking about last place, LA is here because unlike their stadium mates Chivas, the Galaxy can't even find a goal in a losing effort.

Note: I posted an incomplete copy of this that listed New York in the 8th spot and did not finish their blurb.

Scottish Champion Celtic FC invade America in July

The summer international club matches are starting to line up as two MLS clubs have signed up to play Celtic FC.

DC United has announced that they will play the 2005-06 Scottish Premier League champions on July 12th at 7:30pm et.

United played Chelsea last summer and while Celtic is not on the same level as the blues, they still offer some solid talent. First and foremost is former Man United star Roy Keane who joined the team in December. When Keane pulls himself together, he can still perform magic in the midfield.

Tickets for the match cost between $30-60 for the match or you can get a better deal by getting a 'Celtic FC Four pack" which gives you four tickets to this game and any other home MLS game of the season.

A week later, the New England Revolution will get their shot at the storied Scottish club. This will be interesting as the area has at least five Celtic supporters clubs, including chapters in Boston, Quincy, Allston/Brighton, Nantucket and Connecticut.

Tickets are $25-45 with large discounts given to groups of 20 or more.

MLS Week 10 Predictions - Midweek

For the last time till the 21st of June, MLS is playing some games on Wednesday as DC welcomes the Crew to town while the Rapids look for a victory against the visiting Galaxy.

DC United vs. Columbus Crew
7:30pm ET
TV: Direct Kick (DK), MLStv, Ohio News Network
Radio: DC - WMET 1160am, WACA 1540am (Spanish); Columbus 105.7fm

Tonight is Columbus Crew goalkeeper night in DC as the 52nd fan will get to guard the net for the visitors. Okay, I'm making that up, but who knows as the Crew has four keepers out due to injury. They might have discovered some offense of late, but without a solid man between the posts, you are not going to beat a team like DC. With a victory tonight, United will pull even with FC Dallas in the race for the Supporter's Shield.

Me: DC 3-1 Crew
Wife: DC 2-1 Crew


Colorado Rapids vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
9:30pm ET
TV: Direct Kick (DK), MLStv, FSN Prime Ticket
Radio: Denver - KKFN 950am, KBNO 1280am (Spanish); LA - KMPC 1540am, KTNQ 1020am (Spanish), Radio Korea 1230am (Korean)

Colorado has been inconsistent of late (beating DC one weak just to fall to the Crew the next) but LA does not has such a problem as they have been nothing but horrible for about 5 weeks. For the Rapids, they are looking like a middle of the table kind of squad (i.e. able to get ties against lesser teams on the road while beating them, and the occasional big fish, at home). LA just looks like week old squid meat. They have now gone 6 and a half hours without a goal and their defense always finds a way to allow a goal or two in. The one thing going for them, they have had the last 11 days off to regroup. Will it be enough? No. LA is bound to get better at some point in the season, but not yet.

Me: Colorado 2-1 LA
Wife: Colorado 2-3 LA (obviously she sees LA in a different light)

Friday, May 26, 2006

US 2-0 Venezuela

The US final got the result they have been looking for. It was not a perfect match, but it did show progress. They were making good runs, spreading the game across the field and actually taking shots.

Still, there were things about which to be concerned. Their defense let a few too many balls through and there were way too many loose balls left unanswered in the Venezuela box. If they do not do a better job of closing holes in the back, they will pay for it in Germany. On the other end, you are only going to get a few chances at goal in the cup. If you let any of them go, you are doing you best to beat yourself.

They showed some real progress tonight, but they still have a way to go before they are ready for the Czechs.

Some players I thought looked very good were Brian Ching, Ben Olsen, Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Convey and Oguchi Onyewu.

Ching was going for everything, Olsen was winning balls and drawing fouls, Bocanegra and Convey were serving things up and Onyewu kept stopping attacks and clearing balls.

On the other end of the spectrum were Eddie Johnson and Tim Howard. I won't say they had horrible nights, but they did not impress.

Johnson was not able to break into the box or out hustle his defenders. If it weren’t for his wonderful cross to Clint Dempsey for the 69th minute goal, his performance would have been completely forgettable. He just doesn't seem willing or able to turn on the speed and fight for balls. Tonight it was Johnson, not Ching that made you wonder why he was on the roster.

For Howard, he looked rough through out most of the match. He was able to make a big save on the free kick, and any match that you have a big save cannot be a horrible match, but otherwise, he just seemed a little scattered. Maybe I've been spoiled by the way Keller protects the net, but Howard looked problematic. That said, he was not really tested much to confirm one way or the other.

Finally, talk about a card happy ref. It seemed like every time a player hit the ground, a card was in the air. And that second yellow on Bocanegra was laughable.

Great job of creating a fantastic environment by the 29,000 fans in Cleveland. I wonder what the total would have been if it had not rained at all over the last 24-hours? Next up, Latvia on Sunday at 7pm ET from East Hartford, Conn. (buy tickets here.).


MLS Week 9 Predictions

Only four games this Saturday with Real Salt Lake hosting Colorado for the ESPN2 match of the week.

Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids
4:00pm ET

Real Salt Lake welcomes Clint Mathis back for the first time since his off-season trade. Real is also riding a two game winning streak thanks in large part to the man they got for Mathis, Jeff Cunningham. The Rapids are also coming off a win, but Real has looked to be the better of the two of late. Salt Lake should be able to use their momentum and home fans to get past the rapids and what should be a good game to watch.

Me: RSL 2-0 Colorado
Wife: RSL 2-1 Colorado

New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo
7:30pm ET
TV: Direct Kick (DK), HDNet, MLStv
Radio: Boston - WEEI 850am

Neither of these teams likes what happened to them last weekend. The Revs were shown their own ass by FCD while Houston was out smarted by Chicago. For this match, Houston has too much to overcome to win. With Ching making things happen for the US and Dwayne De Rosario still not 100% (not to mention Aaron Lanes being out), they do not have the offense to finish off the Revs.

Me: NE 1-0 Houston
Wife: NE 1-0 Houston

KC Wizards vs. DC United
8:30pm ET
Radio: DC - WMET 1160am, WACA 1540am (Spanish)

This should be a good one as the best two of the East come off disappointing results. Earlier this season, KC went to DC saw a crazy first quarter of the match lead to a United victory. The match was evenly played, with DC just being a little better. This time, KC faces a problem greater then the men in black and red as they are missing a large portion of their offense in Josh Wolff and Eddie Johnson, plus are hurting on defense with Jimmy Conrad away. DC has looked a little sloppy on defense of late, but since I don't think the Wizards will threaten much, they will not be able to take advantage of these openings.

Me: KC 0-2 DC
Wife: KC 1-1 DC

Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire
11:00pm ET
Radio: LA - KTNQ 1020am (Spanish)

Chivas have got to be having a major mental block when it comes to winning these days. So many matches have seen them put together some good things only to see the other side put together a few more. For the Fire, they just don't seem to know how to lose. Chicago finds ways to shut teams down and then punches it through to goal. However, with Justin Mapp out due to a facial fracture, the Fire will have a little harder time finding a win.

Me: Chivas 1-1 Chicago
Wife: Chivas 1-2 Chicago

US starting 11 for Venezuela

Goal - Tim Howard

Defense - Chris Albright, Oguchi Onyewu, Jimmy Conrad, Carlos Bocanegra

Midfield - Clint Dempsey, Ben Olsen, Bobby Convery, Josh Wolff

Forward - Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson

Game starts at 7pm ET on ESPN2.


US vs Venezuela

The pre-World Cup run through America arrives in Cleveland tonight as the US men take on Venezuela.

Arena seems set to give the 'B-team' a look, so McBride, Donovan, Keller and Pope will probably sit this one out (or come out at the half) while people like Tim Howard, Ben Olsen and Brian Ching will get their chance to shine.

Venezuela is a more attacking team then Morocco, which should allow the US offense a few more openings while forcing our defense to work hard at shutting them down.

Up top, Ching and Johnson need to use any openings to net get some shots on goal. It appears Arena is going with Wolff as McBride's partner unless either of these two can give him a reason not to. Also, for Johnson, he needs to start producing. If he wants to find his way to Europe, he needs to get some time in Germany and he's not going to get time if he is unimpressive on the pitch (note, this doesn't mean he has to get a goal, but he does have to be a force on the field).

On the other end, Tim Howard should get his first start for the nats since Oct. 12th of last year when he shutout Panama. It will be interesting to see what defensive line Arena goes with, but I'm guessing Chris Albright and Jimmy Conrad will get some good minutes in (who knows, Gregg Berhalter might get some time as well).

In the midfield, there should be a party over in DCenters land as Ben Olsen has a great chance at starting, along with Clint Dempsey. Also, John O'Brien might get another 45-minutes. Let's just hope they are injury free.

Again, the outcome is not very important, but if they do not got some goals, people will, rightfully, start asking some serious questions. This has all the makings of a great match, but I do think it will have long periods of sloppy play. Sloppy can be good but it can also be very frustrating.

I say US will win 3-2 with at least one goal coming off a quick set piece.

US vs Venezuela
7pm ET
Live on ESPN2


LA Galaxy to play Select Stars of Iran and Crystal Palace FC

Politicians from the US and Iran might never spend 90-minutes together, but on June 4th, the Select Stars of Iran will come to LA to take on the Galaxy.

Since Iran, much like the US, is in final World Cup preparations, this group will not include their biggest stars, however, there is still some good talent listed. Here is their early roster:

GOALKEEPERS: Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, Hadi Tabatabai

DERENDERS: Mehdi Amirabadi, Esmail Halali, Mohamad Khakpour, Aliakbar Yousefi, Mehdi Khakpour

MIDFIELDERS: Davoud Seyed Abbasi, Hamid Estili, Hossein Kazemi, Farzad Majidi, Alireza Mansourian, Iman Mobali, Omid Namazi

FORWARD: Behnam Abolghasempour, Siavash Akbarpour, Arash Noamooz, Ali Samereh

LA coach Steve Sampson has played against four of these guys before when they beat the US during the 1998 World Cup in France. Hamid Estili scored one of the two goals for Iran on that day. There is a chance Hossein Kazemi, Iman Mobali and/or Mehdi Amirabadi will not make the trip as they were named as alternates for the Iran's 2006 World Cup squad.

With the way Sampson has LA playing these days, he might just get to drop another one to Iran.

Tickets are $25 general admission and $10 for children under 15.

The Galaxy will play another international club on July 19th when Crystal Palace FC comes to America. However, the USL's Richmond Kickers will host this game in Virginia

Crystal Palace is now part of England's Championship League, but in 2004-05, they were in the Premiership.

Tickets for this match cost $25 and are available here.

Cory Gibbs out of World Cup squad

US defender Cory Gibbs (pictured) was ruled out of the World Cup yesterday after suffering an injury to his right knee at some point during Tuesday's match*.

He has been replaced on the roster by 2002 World Cup veteran Gregg Berhalter.

Berhalter recently helped his club Energie Cottbus, of the second division in Germany, earn promotion to the Bundesliga for the 2006-07 season.

He will join the club today in Cleveland ahead of their match with Venezuela.

What this means for the team is the left back position is still a question mark. Will the 32-year old Berhalter be able to settle the side or will it continue to be a weak spot.

* I have seen a couple reports that say the injury happened during a practice, but the US Soccer site says it was during the game. Perhaps it happened during the game but was not noticed by Gibbs to yesterday's practice.


Italy's coach's son under investigation

The match-fixing scandal in Italy just keeps growing as Marcello Lippi's son, Davide, is now under investigation by magistrates for "illegal competition with use of threats and violence."

Davide worked for GEA World, a sports talent agency, which represents over 200 players and coaches. The son of former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi heads GEA World.

The coach insists that he had no business dealing with his son while he worked at GEA. Still, this adds another interesting point to the allegations that Luciano Moggi influenced Lippi's decision on whom to choice for the national team.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

World Cup News - May 25

The cup is coming on fast, so let us not delay. On to the news.

England goalkeeper Robert Green has been ruled out of the cup after rupturing his groin in his side's 2-1 defeat by Belarus earlier today.

Chelsea and Spain defender Asier Del Horno is a doubt for the World Cup after injuring his leg in training.

Serbia and Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic may miss Germany due to a knee injury.

Coach Guus Hiddink has said that Liverpool star Harry Kewell might be benched or dropped from the Australian roster all together if his fitness does not improve.

Brazilian striker Adriano says that he is feeling fine and ready for a great cup.

Ghana arrived in Germany today plus they found out that midfielder Michael Essien has recovered from a toe injury and will be available for their warm-up match against Turkey tomorrow.

Italy's goalkeeper and outstanding betting machine Gianluigi Buffon will be allowed to play in the World Cup. Buffon should be warned, FIFA has signed agreements with bookmakers to share information about suspicious betting during the tournament in order to stop any match fixing.

Barcelona and Cameroon striker, Samuel Eto’o, believes an African team can win the World Cup in Germany.

Man U and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo wants to use his time at the finals to prove just how great he is.

Trinidad & Tobago are getting ready to shock the world and prove that even small nations can win big prizes (note: Jack Warner gets 60% of any price they win).

Juergen Klinsmann wants to become the new Franz Beckenbauer, who claimed the World Cup title for Germany as a player and a coach.

German police have again announced their plans to step up patrols during the cup in order to dampen concerns over racist violence and hooliganism.

Police in the UK are giving out some good advice of their own; if you are going to Germany, stay away from prostitutes, if you are staying home, don't beat your wife. Hopefully men will use this advice during and after the cup.

A German Muslim website is giving some advice of their own as they are exhorted Muslim football supporters to not be provoked by right-wingers and to show the world that their religion is a peaceful one.

Something that might not be as peaceful, at least for your stomach, is the McMassive burger McDonalds plans on selling during the finals. They say it will be 40% larger then the current Big Mac, which has 560 calories and weighs around 280g.

Fresh off his time on American Idol, Simon Cowell has said an English tune titled "Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Jurgen Klinsmann?" is dreadfully brilliant.

Another major world even, means another e-mail worm.

By the way, a study says the World Cup will be a 'drain on bandwidth' has most companies do not plan on blocking worker's internet access to sites covering the event.

Another drain out there, but this one is one most reasonable people, is a new play in Hamburg that has Hitler dreaming of hosting a World Cup to improve Germany's image.

Pubs in England are hoping to see sales lift by 10% as people drink to celebrate or commiserate.

Still, some wonder if the World Cup has become too commercial. Perhaps these folks can talk with the protesters at the July 9th anti-soccer rally in Berlin. Sadly they will not be able to smash "Ollie K" and "Michael B" branded vibrators during the march as they are no longer available for sale.

Still looking for things to do while you are in Germany, but not at a match, here are some ideas.

Finally, here are the latest odds given to clubs by UK's Casino Times. So you know, Brazil is 9/4, England 7/1, Mexico 50/1 and the USA 80/1.

Finally, if you are looking for a good World Cup office pool idea, you can find one over at Soccer Orb.

15 days till kickoff...

MLS Injury Report - Week 9

Very little movement from last week. Abe Thompson went on the list for FCD and Esteban Arias was added to the list for Chivas due to a concussion.

The most interest thing to this list is the teams with few injuries and those with a lot. KC and FCD are still the healthiest teams while New England, Columbus and Chivas have a lot on their list. Of these three, the Revs are probably in better shape as they only have one player 'out' while the Crew has five and Chivas has four. As the season moves along, all these injuries are only going to make it harder and may lead to more injuries.

Anyway, here is the full list:

Eastern Conference

OUT: DF Jim Curtin (R foot fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Jeff Curtin (athletic pubalgia surgery)

OUT: GK Jonny Walker (lower back), DF Jed Zayner (L knee ACL); GK Bill Gaudette (R broken hand); MF Danny Szetela (L foot fracture); DF Frankie Hejduk (R knee ACL)
DOUBTFUL: DF Marcos Gonzalez (L hamstring strain)

OUT: DF David Stokes (R quad strain); MF Santino Quaranta (R hamstring strain); DF Brandon Prideaux (MCL sprain)
PROBABLE: GK Nick Rimando (mid-foot sprain); MF Clyde Simms (hamstring strain)


OUT: DF Marshall Leonard (L Achilles tendon repair)
DOUBTFUL: MF Khano Smith (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Daniel Hernandez (L ankle sprain); MF Leandro De Oliveira (R knee sprain); MF Jani Galik (R hamstring strain)
PROBABLE: MF Ryan Latham (abdominal strain); FW Pat Noonan (R hamstring strain); MF Shalrie Joseph (L groin strain)

OUT: DF Taylor Graham (hernia surgery recovery)
QUESTIONABLE: GK Tony Meola (L calf strain)
PROBABLE: MF Mike Magee (R ankle sprain); FW Edson Buddle (L hamstring strain)

Western Conference

OUT: MF Ramón Ramírez (L knee sprain), MF Mike Muñoz (R ankle tendonitis); DF Orlando Pérez (concussion), DF Esteban Arias (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Francisco Gómez (L knee surgery)
PROBABLE: FW Matt Taylor (R ankle fracture)

OUT: GK Matt Jordan (lower back)
DOUBTFUL: GK Joe Cannon (R groin strain)
PROBABLE: MF Clint Mathis (R groin strain)

OUT: FW Abe Thompson (L toe stress fracture)

OUT: MF Aaron Lanes (R fifth metatarsal fracture)
DOUBTFUL: DF Adrian Serioux (L big toe fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Dwayne De Rosario (L ankle sprain)

QUESTIONABLE: FW Alan Gordon (sports hernia), FW Herculez Gomez (R knee strain)

OUT: DF Paul Broome (L ankle internal derangement); MF Seth Trembly (L knee ACL tear)
PROBABLE: DF Danny Torres (L popliteal strain)

Bayern Munich announces roster for Saturday's Red Bull match

The champions of the German Bundesliga will be in New York on Saturday to take on the Red Bulls. They announced their 14-man roster earlier today.

Goalkeepers: Bernd Dreher

Defenders: Bixente Lizarazu, Georg Niedermeier, Stephan Fuerstner

Midfielders: Sebastian Deisler, Jens Jeremies, Andreas Ottl, Hasan Salihamidzic, Mehmet Scholl, Markus Steinhofer, Rainer Storhas

Forwards: Roy Makaay, Claudio Pizarro, Paulo Guererro

Makaay was the team's best scorer this past season with 17 while Pizarro found the net 14 times.

Lizarazu will get to spend some time with an old from has both he and Red Bulls' midfielder Youri Djorkaeff were on the 1998 French squad that won the World Cup.

These two teams played each other back in May of 2001 with New York pulling out a surprise victory.


In other 'international clubs coming to America' news, the USL's Seattle Sounders announced that they will play Mexico's Club America on July 8th in Seattle.

Tickets are on sale for $20-45, and the first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a complimentary general admission ticket to the Sounders next USL First Division home match against the Montreal Impact on July 15th.

MLS Midweek 9 Recap

In front of a crowd of 52,000, FC Dallas got their first road win of the year in the Medowlands. What makes this advanture all that more fun is the way in which it happened.

FCD got off to a very slow start wich allowed New York to control and score. In just the 8th minute Seth Stammler got in a one on one with Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala. As is often the case, the keeper lost. New York had some more chances for the next 15 minutes or so, but then Dallas woke up.

Over the corse of the final 20 minutes of the first half, FCD went from giving away most of their balls to winning just about everything. They were making their passes and winning challenges. The midfield was awash with gray striped uniforms, but they still could not get an eualizier.

The second half continued were the first ended, but it really was not till Carlos Mendes went out for New York in the 65th that Dallas started making things very uncomfrontable in New York's box. When Mendes's replacement Taylor Graham got a yellow card just two minutes later for a tackle from behind on Carlos Ruiz, it only made things harder on the Reds.

Sure enough, in the 76th minute Dallas pulled even thanks to a perfectly placed ball by Ronnie O'Brien. O'Brien was at the top of the box and but in a nice high cross that Kenny Cooper jetted home with his head. It was a real blast of a header.

New York had a couple chances following the goal, but nothing came of them. Then Carlos Ruiz provided yet another highlight reel moment when he threw Graham off him by turning to his right then going back right, leaving himself wideopen infront of goal. Bing-bang a goal and a win.

Coming from behind on the road with such style is yet another reason why FC Dallas might just be for real this year. Yes, they only beat New York, but it was still a well earned victory. By the way, some good news for the Red Bulls, Tony Meola was back in goal and looked good for most of the evening.

One last night, Ecuador played Colombia to a 1-1 tie in the match that followed the MLS outing.

Captain America doing all right

The good news out of US soccer is that our captain, Claudio Reyna, did not suffer a serious injury during Tuesday's match with Morocco.

Reyna had to come out of the game in the 15th minute due to tightness in his hamstring, causing speculation that there could be a major problem. However, a MRI revealed no muscle damage to his right hamstring.

"I am relieved that there is no serious damage," said Reyna. "I'll be working with the trainers on a daily basis and will be focused on getting back on the field as quickly as possible."

Reyna going down was the worst part of Tuesday's match. Him not being hurt should take some of the sting out of what some fans were feeling after the game.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

MLS Week 8 Power Ratings

It's been a few weeks since I have done a ratings and this one feels a little strange to me. Maybe it's that I missed most of two weeks of play or maybe it’s that I can't believe how bad or good some clubs are currently doing, but it is what it is. Here are the ratings.

1. FC Dallas - All over the field, they seem to be making it happen and now that their defense is a bit more predictable and their goaltender is proven, FCD seem ready to make 2006 the year they have always waited for.

2. DC United - As with Dallas, they are doing well at just about every position, but their defense seems to be having a little trouble the last couple weeks. Pull that back together and to the top they will probably go.

3. Chicago Fire - I really enjoy watching the Fire play. It's not the most creative soccer in the world, but they blend a strong defense with a knowledgeable offense to make some good play happen. As long as they do not relax once they get back home, they will be a major force in the East.

4. Kansas City Wizards - Without their Wolff-Johnson striking pair, this team is a bit flat. They still have talent, but without players to draw the defense, they are having troubles finding the net.

5. Houston Dynamo - Could the Texas heat be starting to wear on these former San Jose quakes? They often seem tired and without Brian Ching, their offense if having trouble. However, as long as Dwayne De Rosario is doing alright, the Dynamo have a chance.

6. New England Revolution - Boom, they wake up with 7 goals in 2 matches and then, sleepy time. They have trouble starting games and finding a rhythm and anytime you give up 4 goals in 20-minutes, you've got some defensive problems.

7. Columbus Crew - Now that they have some offensive power, the Crew are making other teams play a few 90-minutes. Now they just need make their midfield stronger.

8. New York Red Bull - What to say about a team that is constantly able to get a point from matches where they are out played? And now that they have actually won a game, who knows where they could go. Still, getting out played week after week is going to take its toll sooner or later.

9. Colorado Rapids - The Rapids have not looked like themselves over the last 3 games as they have actually been able to win a couple of them. However, if goalkeeper Joe Cannon remains out with injury, their recently improved offense might not be enough to make up for what will happen to their defense.

10. Real Salt Lake - I still cannot believe that they have won 2 games in a row. The team looks like they have kicked the 1 goal per game curse plus their defense actually appears to be talking with one another. Keep this up and they might just break into the single digits in this rating system.

11. Los Angeles Galaxy - It just feels weird putting LA this low on the list, but not as weird as their play on the pitch. When you have no offense, it's hard to win a game. Add to it a defense that is scattered and you have the current Galaxy.

12. Chivas USA - Chivas looked to be progressing nicely the first few weeks of the season, but all that progress is now forgotten as the team cannot bring anything aspect of their game together for a full match.

San Jose Eathquakes reborn?

Lew Wolff and John Fisher, the principle owners of baseball's Oakland Athletics, have teamed up with MLS to try and bring soccer back to the Bay Area.

The owners bought a three-year option to make the team happen, however in order for a team to come to life, they will need to develop a soccer-specific stadium.

It does look like they want to bring the team back to San Jose (the former team left for Houston after the end of the 2005 campaign) as Wolff said, "we have already assembled our initial operational team, our venue design team and we will establish our 'Earthquakes' office in downtown San Jose."

There had been some talk of a team playing in San Francisco, but it sounds like Wolff has ruled that out.

The lack of a stadium was the big reason given for moving the old team to Houston. The city tried to bring something together at the last minute, but for various reasons (depending on which side you listen to), it did not happen.

Wolff and Fisher have some good ties to the local community that might allow a deal to move forward. In addition, they have three years instead of three months (or was it weeks) to make such a deal happen.

There was no word on if a team would come to be as soon as a stadium deal was reached or if the team would wait for the stadium to be built. Either way, this is some of the best news for Bay Area soccer fans in a long time.

MLS Week 9 Predictions - Midweek

Tonight, MLS give us another Wednesday night game with FC Dallas taking to the road to play New York Red Bull.

New York Red Bull vs. FC Dallas
6:30pm ET
TV: Direct Kick, MLStv, FSN-SW
Radio: New York - WADO 1280am (Spanish), Dallas - KXEB 910am, KFCD 990am (Spanish), San Antonio - KTXX 103.5fm, Austin - KOKE 1600am

This past Saturday, these two teams scored 9 goals between the two of them, however the Red Bulls managed to concede 4 to FCD's 0. This should explain why FCD will win this game.

New York's best chance in this match is if Tony Meola has recovered enough from his calf strain to get between the posts and protect their goal. Anything short of that and Dallas will have an easy time of it. Carlos Ruiz has rediscovered his scoring touch for the men from big D, plus they also bring the threat of Kenny Cooper. Adding to it all, their midfield is one of the best in the league and even their defense is starting to look sharp.

For the Bulls, Jean Philippe Peguero is their big offensive standout (but that is not saying much for a team that only had 5 goals after 6 matches). If Dallas can control him, then they will only need to worry about Amado Guevara, if he is even included in the squad. If they do allow a few shots threw, Dario Sala should be able to keep New York off the big board.

There is no reason FCD should lose this game. They are far better then New York on the pitch and their front office is very quiet compared to that of the Reds. Look for a Dallas win and for New York's coach Mo Johnson to come one game closer to his departure from the club.

Me: NY 0-2 FCD
Wife: NY 1-2 FCD

US 0-1 Morocco

At the beginning of ESPN2's broadcast, their opening segments kept getting interrupted by accidental flashes of various commercials. This kind of set the stage for last night's game as the US kept getting interrupted during all their offensive setups.

Their big problem, the team was not finishing. Morocco came in with a very defensive plan in mind and the US could not crack it. They started getting close towards the end, but were straining to hard and ended up giving up the game winner.

I'm not sure if it was nerves, over-training or fear of getting hurt, but the squad seemed distracted. They also seemed unable to create a one or two touch attack that is needed to throw a blanketing defense off balance. To Morocco's credit they did everything they could to slow down America's attack.

On the good side, John O'Brien got 45 minutes without getting injured, Landon Donovan showed some style (although he needs to be willing to take the shots), Eddie Pope looked strong and Pablo Mastroneni proved a good backup for Reyna.

There are some doom and gloomers out there pointing to this as proof that the US is over hyped and will not last long in the World Cup. As I noted, there are lots of things the team needs to improve, but a 1-0 defeat in a friendly does not mean the end is near.

The US should have won the game. Eddie Johnson's header should have been better. Wolff should have finished any one of his three good chances. Donovan should have taken a few more shots instead of trying to force the ball elsewhere in the box. Steve Cherundolo never should have turned the ball towards Bouchaib El Moubarki. But it didn't happen.

Now Arena knows more about the weaknesses of his team and he can adjust. If the side keeps making the same mistakes over the next two matches, then there might be some good reason for concern. However, the point of these matches is not to show what is right as much as it is to reveal what is wrong.

I must wonder what such people would be saying if the US had won. I'm guessing something suggesting that it's no big deal that they won because Morocco didn't even make it to Germany. Damn if you do, attacking article if you don't.

By the way, great job by Nashville. Getting over 26,000 people to a game on a Tuesday evening is a great showing.

Next up Venezuela on Friday night in Cleveland (tickets here) at 7pm ET.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

US vs Morocco

Ninety minutes to go before the final drive down the road to Germany begins as the US men take on the Lions of Morocco in Nashville. With the lineup still not released, I, like most fans, am most interested to see if John O'Brien will be included as a starter. With his injury problems, I would be a little surprised if did start the game anywhere on the pitch, but I haven't seen him play in a few weeks, so who knows where he is at.

This game should be a great first test for the red, white and blue as Morocco is a talented team. The final score is not the big point of the game, instead it will be how they use the offside trip, what they do off corner kicks and if they can make their runs into the box (i.e. the building blocks of the game). That said, if they don't walk away with a win, there would be a lot of negative press.

Games on Friday and Sunday will require Arena to rotate his roster wisely. This should allow all players a chance at some time on the pitch over the next six days.

Also, too much should not be read into who is or is not on these rosters and with whom. I'm sure Bruce has an idea of some configurations he might play in Germany, but the whole point of these three games is to see who is play well with whom right now.

In the end, there will be some foolish mistakes and flashes of brilliance. My guess is the US will come out ahead 3-1.

US men vs. Morocco
7pm EST
Live on ESPN2


Is Red Bull New York about to get a new coach? is reporting that Juventus manager Fabio Capello has been offered the head coaching job in New York. With Juventus quickly becoming the perfect example of all that is wrong with modern soccer, Capello might just see New York as a safe haven from which to decide his next move.

Reports suggest Mateschitz is prepared to offer Capello a one-year contract in the area of $5 million, plus a Manhattan apartment and limousine service.

It would be nice to see a manager of Capello's caliber come into the league, but it will be sad to see Mo Johnston go. To be honest, it is surprising that Mo has lasted this long. He has tried to rebuild the team, but with the constant shakeups and confusion going on through out the club, it is not an easy thing to do.

The article speculates that one not so obvious reason Capello might take the job is the chance that it could lead him to being named US national team coach. He has all the other credentials needed to get the job, now he just needs to figure out the American way of doing things.

How an American brought great fame to Watford

Most of us figured an American would play a big role in the Leeds-Watford match this past weekend, but we probably figured it would be Eddie Lewis that made the news.

However, it was a different countryman that made the morning papers when Jay DeMerit (pictured) got, what turned out to be, the winning goal in the 25th minute.

But who is DeMerit? He is from Green Bay and he grew up wanting to play the great game of soccer, but that's not the easiest thing to do in the US.

The International Herald Tribune gives a write up of this young man from the land where Lombardi is still king.

Two years ago, after high school in Wisconsin and college at the University of Illinois and a series of rejections in his chosen sport, DeMerit gathered his savings - all $2,000 of it - and flew to London in search of fame and a game.

He learned, as he said Sunday, to live on hope and baked beans on toast.

In his first season, playing Sunday league for $40 a game, there probably weren't many beans on his toast. Then he got a break with Northwood FC, a semipro team ranking six divisions below the English Premier League.

Northwood played a preseason match against Watford. The team like what they saw and hired him on. He then helped his new side earn $50 million in television and sponsorship fees by making it into the Premiership.

Not bad for a someone who failed in his attempt to make the Chicago Fire's reserve team.

It will be interesting to watch Watford next year as they might be the '06-'07 version of Wigan.

Monday, May 22, 2006

From the ashes comes the Bruce, the greatest coach ever

As US soccer fans look forward to the three game 'send off' series over the next week, USA Today takes a look back at the darkest of times for the national team: 1998.

That year the US limped away from the World Cup in France scoring just one goal in three matches. That tournament saw the team fall apart into a squabbling mess of forgettable junk.

But from that vomit came the savior - trumpets play - ALL WELCOME THE BRUCE!

Okay, enough of the messiah complex, the article does a fine job at looking back and seeing how close the American team came to passing by Arena in favor of a foreign coach. Thankfully outgoing US Soccer President Alan Rothenberg turned the search over to incoming President Bob Contiguglia.

Contiguglia saw what Arena had done at Virginia and with DC United and knew this was the man to give rebirth to the team.

Sure enough, it came to pass.

"I think first, Bruce is a coach who understands American soccer players, and they're a different animal because of the culture they've grown up in," said Alexi Lalas, a former U.S. national player now serving as general manager of the MLS' L.A. Galaxy.

"More often, American soccer players are educated at a higher academic level, and they think the game and ask questions much more. All that can lead to challenges if you don't recognize it."


"I think Bruce simplified things and took a logical, bottom-line approach, which was kind of refreshing," said Eric Wynalda, a former U.S. team member who now works as an analyst for ABC and ESPN. "He recognized that soccer players in the U.S. didn't need to be taught as much as they needed to be pushed to play better."

Anyone who follows the US team knows full well how great Arena has been for the team, so this is nothing new. But coming into this World Cup, there are thousands of possible fans that know not what the Bruce has done. They still view the US as the team that played so dismally in 1998. As America gets ready for what might be their hardest, yet most rewarding cup ever, these are the types of articles that are needed.

So take a moment and pass this one along to the 'on the border fans' that you know. Share the greatness that is Bruce Arena.


MLS Week 8 Recap or Real Salt Lake has won 2 in a row?

This weekend saw more then a few surprises, starting off with the game of the week in Houston.

Wasn't this road trip supposed to kill the Chicago Fire? I seem to recall hearing so much about that, yet after seven road matches they have a very respectable 10 points and have not lost since the season opener against Dallas. Saturday's game showed why they are doing so swell. Thiago was the hero for the Fire. Not just because he got the lone goal, but also because of the great work he did on defense. But the difference between 3 and 1 point came down to the failure of Houston to get people in front of the box during the final moments of the game. How did their last corner kick not find net? Chicago's goalkeeper Zach Thornton was lost, but the Dynamo could not get it in. By the way, Dwayne De Rosario's high ankle sprain didn't seem to keep him from putting on a show.

Houston 0-1 Chicago

How do two teams who had scored a total of ten goals between the them in 11 games suddenly break it open for nine goals in one match? I'm not overly surprised that New York gave up 4 goals as Jon Conway is nowhere near as good of a keeper as Tony Meola, and with the Red Bulls backline, you need a damn good goalie. However, I thought Brad Guzan was a better tender for Chivas. Perhaps Guzan just could not equal the might of Jean Philippe Peguero, who finally looked as good as he can be. Chivas put together some good plays, but yet again, they were unable to get any points. The Bulls final got their first win as a team. What does it say that they did it without Sir Pouts-a-lot, Amado Guevara?

New York 5-4 Chivas

The addition of former LA players to the lineup for Columbus continued to pay off as Joseph Ngwenya got his team's only goal on the night. He also, along with the rest of the Crew provided some great defensive work. DC, for their part did what they do best; shoot the crap out of the opposition's goalkeeper. They got 17 shots to the Crew's 3! Yet, much like the FC Dallas game three weeks ago, they could not get one late. The Crew should be happy to get a point against the best team in the East, but there is bad news. Their keeper Jon Busch had to come out in the 85th minute due to an injury to his right knee.

Crew 1-1 DCU

Just when it looked like New England was on to something, they go and get destroyed by Dallas. Going down 4-0 in the first 20-minutes is not a way you want to spend a Saturday evening. As has happened before, New England was absent from the first quarter of the match. Sadly for the Revs, FCD is to good of a team to let you sneak in for the last hour and walk away with points. Taylor Twellman was trying to get his side back in it, but thanks to the offside trap of Dallas's defense, he was busted every time. Kenny Cooper continues to look good and Carlos Ruiz is proving that trading away Eddie Johnson was not such a bad move after all.

FCD 4-0 NE

This game could not be found televised anywhere, so I just have to go by match reports, but it sounds like Real Salt Lake really played a good game and even managed to come from behind to win. Take a moment to re-read that last sentence, because it might be the first time you have read anything like that. Real's coach John Ellinger sparked his offense with the late subs of Jeff Cunningham and Andy Williams, with Cunningham getting the game winner in the 80th. Sounds like a good match; sorry I could not watch it.

RSL 2-1 KC

LA continues to prove that they are lost as they were forgettable in the first 45 with their best chances coming right before the half. They did bring it up in the second 45 thanks to the entry of an injured Herculez Gomez. Gomez was able to put true pressure on backup goalie Bouna Coundoul, forcing him to make a number of excellent saves. But yet again, LA could not get any goals. They have now gone 390-minutes without finding the net and have been outscored 9-0 in their last 4 games. Who would have thought that after nine matches LA would be tied with Real Salt Lake with seven points (to make it even worse, Real has a game in hand).

LA 0-1 Colorado

So I performed a lot like LA this week as I went 2-4 while the wife went 4-2. The wife is now beating the crap out of me for the season as she stands at 23-23 while I flop around at 19-27. Just so you know, she's already rubbing my nose in it.

Jens Lehmann already giving excuses for Germany's failure

The World Cup is still a few weeks away, yet Germany's new number one keeper Jens Lehman is already blaming the new Adidas ball for making him look bad.

Okay, I'm just having some fun, Lehman is not just saying it will make him specifically look bad, instead he thinks it will make all goaltenders in general look bad.

It's a ball for the outfield players and the crowd - not for the goalkeepers.

When it rains it's not going to be very comfortable for us. It gets very slippery. It also moves a lot in the air.

He compared the ball to a rival ball made by Nike saying the Adidas ball was more like plastic while the Nike was more like leather. Although he add, "When it comes down to it, both of them make the goalkeepers look bad."

Adidas spent a great deal of time and money to make this ball be as smooth in the air as it is. This gives the advantage to the attackers and should result in a few extra goals. This could cause problems for teams who like to get a goal early then grind out the rest of the game.

So Lehmann is not trying to give excuses, but he is trying to relax his team by urging them to forget the pressures and enjoy being the home team.

His mates might take him up on this, but his country will be a harder sell. Only 7% of Germans think their team will win the World Cup. Another 6% think they will make it to the final and lose (as they did in 2002). A strong 37% think they will reach the semifinals, but 31% think they will not even make it that far.

I wonder how many of these people feel so negative because of the new Adidas ball?

Team USA clears their first World Cup hurdle

It looks like Bruce Arena's boys will make it out of the Cary training camp as a healthy unit.

Arena made it a goal to get through camp without any of the 23-men on the roster succumbing to injury, and it looks as if he has done it. The team finished their training camp on Sunday night and the only injury to report is a slightly twisted ankle for midfielder DaMarcus Beasley.

The Bruce had to keep reminding players not to take each other down fighting for the ball.

The team now gets ready for three matches in a week before they head off to Germany. Their first match is tomorrow (Tuesday) against Morocco.

I am surprised that they have made it this far without an injury. Hopefully this trend will continue through the cup.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

MLS Week 8 Predictions

It has been two weeks since I've got to watch any MLS play live, so I am looking forward to this weekend. All 12 teams are playing on Saturday with Houston and Chicago squaring off for the game of the week on ESPN2.

Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire
4:00pm ET

Houston has been doing all right without Brian Ching, however with Dwayne De Rosario looking like he will miss this week's match due to injury, they will have a hard time. Adding to their woes, his replacement from last week Adrian Serioux also went down so you can guess that there are going to be problems in the middle for the Dynamo. The Fire should have enough play from Thiago and Justin Mapp to exploit this hole. However, Chicago might find themselves in for some hurt as they will take the field in 90-degree heat and some high humidity. This could cause some mistakes for the team playing their 7th road game of the season. That said, I don't think Houston will be ready for the heat either, so points to Chicago.

Me: Houston 1-2 Chicago
Wife: Houston 0-2 Chicago


New York Red Bull vs. Chivas USA
7:30pm ET
TV: Direct Kick (DK), MLStv

How different can these teams be? New York keeps getting out played, yet they keeping getting a share of the points while Chivas has played at least as good as most their opponents, but they always seem to lose. For the Reds, an injury to Tony Meola might just keep him off the pitch. If this is the case, then the backline of New York is in for a hard struggle. Chivas are well rested and Francisco Mendoza is looking to make some marks. If Meola was between the nets, I would figure for a tie, but without him, I think Chivas will get their second win of the campaign.

Me: NY 0-1 Chivas
Wife: NY 1-0 Chivas


Columbus Crew vs. DC United
7:30pm ET

While I was gone, the Crew found their offense. Turns out it was hiding in LA. With the addition of Ned Grabavoy and Joseph Ngwenya to the lineup, suddenly Columbus is not the laughing stock of the East. That said, DC is a bit better then Colorado (the team the Crew beat last week). United are still bringing everything together all over the pitch. The Crew can no longer we chuckled away, but they are not yet at the level of DC.

Me: Crew 0-2 DCU
Wife: Crew 1-2 DCU


FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution
8:30pm ET
TV: DK, HDNet, MLStv

New England is out of their early season slump thanks to two home wins, but can they do it on the road? With the World Cup roster pressure gone, Twellman seems to have found his footing and their injury problems, while still big in number, are not as bad as they were a few weeks ago. This should force Dallas to play a strong game. Lucky for FCD, they can play strong games. With a full week of rest behind them, they should be able to come out and make some things happen without making silly 'own goal' style mistakes. Carlos Ruiz has found himself while Dario Sala is becoming a heck of a goalkeeper. There will be a lot of back and forth with this one, but FCD should be able to find a way to come out on top.

Me: FCD 3-2 NE
Wife: FCD 2-1 NE


Real Salt Lake vs. Kansas City Wizards
9:00pm ET
TV: None

I could wonder why a game that is not available anywhere on the TV is also not available online at MLStv, but I'm sure there is some reason, somewhere. Anyway, Real is riding their longest winning streak in nine months, one game. Could this finally be the thing that takes the pressure of the team and allows them to actually play a full 90-minute outing? With Josh Wolff, Jimmy Conrad and Eddie Johnson away in Cary training for Germany, this is the moment for Real to make something happen. Scott Sealy has a history of scoring against Real, so that is the first play Salt Lake must shut down. I could see a tie coming out of this one, but then I remember that I'm talking about Real Salt Lake, so I'll go for a late defeat.

Me: RSL 1-2 KC
Wife: RSL 1-0 KC


Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids
10:00pm ET

I think LA coach Steve Sampson said it best when he described his team as "wounded." Without Donovan, LA is a lightweight. Chris Albright and Cornell Glen being out hurts too, but not having Herculez Gomez due to injury just about kills the team. The good news for LA fans, they welcome the Rapids to town on Saturday. With goalkeeper Joe Cannon likely out with a groin pull, LA will have a great chance to test the visitor’s backline. However, LA will need to find their offense to take advantage of this. For Colorado, they too need someone to wake up the offense. This will mostly likely be a sloppy match with little to show for it in the end.

Me: LA 1-1 Colorado
Wife: LA 1-0 Colorado

Thursday, May 18, 2006

MLS Injury Report - Week 8

I wasn't around last week, so I'm not sure when any of these new injuries happened, however a few caught my eye.

Tony Meola being out of goal for New York has got to bring some additional shakiness to their backline just as Joe Cannon's return to the list for Colorado does for the Rapids.

Houston has to be a little concerned with Dwayne De Rosario hurting his left ankle. As we saw when they played DC without De Rosario, the Dynamo are just not the same without him (side note, in the initial match report, it said he rolled his right ankle).

Finally, LA without Donovan and Albright is in a hard spot, but with Herculez Gomez being questionable due to a knee strain, the Galaxy are going to have a difficult time improving.

Here is the full list:

Eastern Conference

OUT: DF Jim Curtin (R foot fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Jeff Curtin (athletic pubalgia surgery)

OUT: GK Jonny Walker (lower back), DF Jed Zayner (L knee ACL); GK Bill Gaudette (R broken hand); MF Danny Szetela (L foot fracture); DF Frankie Hejduk (R knee ACL); DF Marcos Gonzalez (L hamstring strain)

OUT: DF David Stokes (R quad strain); MF Santino Quaranta (R hamstring strain); DF Brandon Prideaux (MCL sprain)
QUESTIONABLE: GK Nick Rimando (mid-foot sprain); MF Clyde Simms (hamstring strain)


OUT: DF Marshall Leonard (L Achilles tendon repair); DOUBTFUL: MF Khano Smith (L knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Daniel Hernandez (L ankle sprain); MF Leandro De Oliveira (R knee sprain); MF Jani Galik (R hamstring strain)
PROBABLE: MF Ryan Latham (abdominal strain); FW Pat Noonan (R hamstring strain); MF Shalrie Joseph (L groin strain)

OUT: DF Taylor Graham (hernia surgery recovery)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Mike Magee (R ankle sprain); FW Edson Buddle (L hamstring strain); GK Tony Meola (L calf strain); MF Amado Guevara (R calf contusion; abdominal strain)

Western Conference

OUT: MF Ramón Ramírez (L knee sprain), MF Mike Muñoz (R ankle tendonitis)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Francisco Gómez (L knee surgery)
PROBABLE: DF Orlando Pérez (R groin strain), FW Matt Taylor (R ankle fracture)

OUT: GK Matt Jordan (lower back)
DOUBTFUL: GK Joe Cannon (R groin strain)
PROBABLE: MF Clint Mathis (R groin strain)


OUT: MF Aaron Lanes (R fifth metatarsal fracture)
DOUBTFUL: DF Adrian Serioux (R big toe fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Dwayne De Rosario (L ankle sprain)

QUESTIONABLE: FW Alan Gordon (sports hernia); FW Herculez Gomez (R knee strain)

OUT: DF Paul Broome (L ankle internal derangement); MF Seth Trembly (L knee ACL tear)
PROBABLE: DF Danny Torres (L popliteal strain)

Two weeks of soccer in 45 words or less

What a two weeks of soccer to miss. All countries named their World Cup teams, the LA Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake as the worse team in MLS and Italy shows just how bad corruption can get (and Jack Warner is nowhere to be found).

All and all, it's been exciting to watch even if I haven't been able to share my thoughts about it. Anyway, I'm back and ready for the final run to the World Cup.

By the way, I was in Australia on the day they announced the roster for the Socceroos and I have to admit, I was a little jealous. The event happened at 11am and was carried live on just about every channel (granted, I only had access to about 5, but still, impressive). The evening paper had big write-ups about it and it was something a lot of people on the street and in the trains were talking about. Yes, the pointy ball sport of rugby was still the big sports news, but soccer was not an after thought in any way.

Some day it will be the same in the USA.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I am so on vacation

There will be little to no posting on this site till May 16th or so due to a wonderful and much needed vacation to Australia. There are tons of great blogs on the blogroll that will more then fill my absence.

MLS Week 6 and 7 predictions

Well I'm about to leave on vacation, but I want to get my picks in for the next couple weekends. Sadly I will be watching about zero of these games, however I will get to see how life is down under.

This Saturday is the last set of games that will be unaffected by the World Cup and the US training camp opens on the 10th. I expect to see some cautious play by the 11 MLS based players. I also expect to see Twellman wake up a bit.

Anyway, here are my and the wife's predictions for the next 12 games.

Week 6
Mike - Wife
NE 2-2 LA - NE 2-1 LA
KC 2-1 Chicago - KC 1-0 Chicago
Houston 1-2 FCD - Houston 1-3 FCD
Real 0 - 2 Crew - Real 1-1 Crew
Colorado 0 - 2 DC - Colorado 1-2 DC

Week 7
Wednesday - First midweek game of the season
FCD 3-1 LA - FCD 2-1 LA

FCD 2-1 Houston - FCD 3-0 Houston
NE 2-1 Chivas - NE 1-0 Chivas
NY 1-2 Chicago - NY 0-1 Chicago
Crew 1-1 Colorado - Crew 2-1 Colorado
DC 2-0 KC - DC 1-0 KC
LA 1-0 Real - LA 0-1 Real

The week 7 matches will be interesting as they will cause teams to rearrange.

Enjoy them for me.

Maybe Real Salt Lake could play in Salt Lake

Update of this story here.

After yesterday's news that Real could not count on $35 million in hotel taxes for their Sandy site, words from Salt Lake City Councilwoman Jill Remington Love have got to be good news.

"We've always thought the best place for the soccer stadium was in downtown Salt Lake City. I would hope that Salt Lake City could be a solution to Real as they explore their new options."

With a poll showing that 50 percent wanted to see the stadium either in downtown Salt Lake City or at the Utah State Fairpark, moving the facility to the town after which the team is named might be an easier option.

If Real does look towards Salt Lake, they will still need to justify any public money that comes their way (and there are a number of other ideas on how to spend the money). The city's Mayor, Rocky Anderson, gave no comment on the idea. His counterpart in Sandy, Mayor Tom Dolan, doesn't think the idea will come to be since the team has already purchased land in Sandy for the stadium.

Since Real's hopes of turning a profit rest on a stadium, an idea is bound to move forward soon. If Salt Lake is truly interested in holding on to the team, they have been given a great opening.


Could MLS be in Philadelphia by 2007?

The MLS has wanted in the Philadelphia area since it came into being and just a month ago it looked like the date for the arrival would be 2009. However, Milestone University Investments, LLC., the same people negotiating with Rowan University officials to develop a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, have put forward a proposal that would move the date up a couple years as they would like to bring either an expansion or relocated MLS franchise to the area next season.

"It is anticipated that the team will play at Lincoln Financial Field, Franklin Field, Villanova University or a similar venue, giving the team immediate identity and presence in Philadelphia," the proposal states. The proposal also includes a $16.5 million allocation for a franchise fee.

For his part, MLS President Mark Abbott has not ruled out the idea of a team in the area for 2007, however he thinks getting the stadium deal finalized is of greater priority.

If Philadelphia is awarded a new team for 2007, they will join Toronto as league rookies. This would also bring the total number of teams in MLS to 14. However, Abbott does not think the number of teams should be considered when it comes to award franchises.

"The league could move forward with an odd number of teams," Abbott said. "We expand when it makes sense. We're not going to be driven by even numbers."

If Milestone is awarded a team, they will move to the Rowan campus site once it opens.

I do wonder if MLS would grant them a new team or if they would look to move someone. Kansas City is always a possibility. With it's low attendance numbers and Lamar Hunt's desire to sell, plus the possibility that they might not have a place to play in 2007 (Arrowhead will be under renovation), a move to Philadelphia might not be the worst idea. MLS could then say that once a SSS is built, a new Kansas City Wizards team will return (for further example look to San Jose).

Another advantage to moving a team over creating a new one, they will probably perform better in their first year thus allowing interested fans to see a team that might actually win some games.

Finally, if they were award a new franchise, they would have to move very quickly to put everything together. With less then a year till the team's first kick, a lot of pieces would have to fall into place to make it work.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Frankie Hejduk out of US World Cup squad

Frankie Hejduk is no longer part of the US roster as he has torn his ACL.

LA Galaxy’s Chris Albright will replace Hejduk.

"I deeply regret having to replace Frankie Hejduk on the roster. Frankie has been a great member of the national team program for many years. Unfortunately this last minute injury has forced us to make a change," said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. "I'm delighted to be able to offer Chris Albright an opportunity to be a member of our team. As the case with all of our alternates, they need to be prepared in case a situation like this occurs."

"To be honest, I would have rather originally been on the roster because that would have meant that Frankie wouldn't have done his ACL. My heart goes out to Frankie, being an experienced guy that I'm sure Bruce would have wanted in the mix," Albright said. "Frankie is a good buddy of mine and he's been doing it for a lot of years so obviously I feel for him and if that could have been avoided for me to get there, then that would have been the way to go."

Chris Albright joins teammate Landon Donovan on the 23-man roster.

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MLS Week 5 Power Ratings

1. DC United (Last week - 1) - Yet again, DC looked great. Adu is slowly living up to all the off season (and past seasons) hype and Olsen was showing off his power, however, they just could not find that second goal thanks to the great goal work of FCD's Dario Sala. Still, play like this and you will get points 9 times out of 10.

2. FC Dallas (2) - Two weeks in a row they were out played by an Eastern team and two weeks in a row they walk away with points. Dallas showed they know how to hold teams and that they have a solid keeper in Sala. They were also able to get a goal in a hostile environment for the tie. As with DC, play like this and you are going to get points.

3. Kansas City Wizards (3) - Their defense was able to hold strong when Columbus did come on, and they just did not stop coming at the Crew till they found net, but overall, the offense was weak. They did not make the most of their chances and if you don't finish goals, you will have trouble.

4. Houston Dynamo (4) - Dwayne De Rosario should be getting some flowers from Brian Ching today as he had a lot to do with getting Ching his early goals. Still, this week's goal by Ching was earned all by himself. The defense needs a little more tone.

5. Chicago Fire (7) - What can you say about a team that goes into New England, goes down a goal and then finds a way to get 2 of their own. If Chris Rolfe keeps finding defensive mistakes and Thiago keeps his foot, they will ride out this long road trip.

6. Los Angeles Galaxy (6) - Landon Donovan is LA. Yes, Chris Albright and Cobi Jones made things happen, but that was more because of Donovan then their own abilities.

7. Chivas USA (5) - The good news for the Goats, they have a hell of a keeper in Brad Guzan. The bad news, their defense is still hurting and their offense has trouble making things happen. It seems every week some part of the team fixes itself only to have another part fall to pieces.

8. New England Revolution (8) - I wanted to drop NE down in the ratings, but I couldn't. Not because the Revs showed something to keep them up but because the other teams were just so bad. Twellman did finally break the goal scoring ice, but they could not hold balls nor could they get a full, constant attack to knock the Fire off their game. So much confusion for this team.

9. New York Red Bull (11) - As with Chivas, the game proved they have a good keeper in Tony Meola, but they need to find a way to keep him from having to prove it so often. They were much more together this week, but still were lost on the pitch.

10. Columbus Crew (9) - If it wasn't for a late mistake, the Crew would have got a points for three matches in a row. All and all, the Crew were able to put together some offense and the defense had its moments, however, mistakes will be made but good teams are able to keep them from becoming goals.

11. Colorado Rapids (12) - Since the other team didn't surrender an own goal, the Rapids did not get points. Joe Cannon was strong in net, but there were too many errors to not drop the game.

12. Real Salt Lake (10) - It has finally happened, Real has fallen to the bottom of the list. With even Eddie Pope looking less then great, the team had no hope. It says more about LA that Real got a second goal then it does about Salt Lake. More play like this and they will beat last year's record, but not in the good way.

Real Salt Lake Stadium Deal Dead?

Update of this story here.

Big news breaking out of Salt Lake where Real Salt Lake's hopes to tap hotel-tax money to build a soccer stadium in Sandy are dead.

Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon announced Wednesday that the "numbers just don't work" for county taxpayers, so he is ending negotiations with the Major League Soccer team.

That means RSL will not get the $35 million in public financing from the county to use toward land and infrastructure for the $145 million soccer-and-entertainment complex.

"For the citizens of Salt Lake County," Corroon said, "we didn't feel it was fiscally prudent."

What this means is that if Real wants to get public money, they will need to place the issue on the ballot. I forget the exact numbers, but the last time I saw some sort of poll on this, it looked really bad for the team.

This is some bad news after a bit of good news earlier in the week when the team announced season ticket sales of 6,000.

Looks like it will not be Real Sandy after all.


How the run for 2006 started in 1997

There can be no doubt that the existence of the MLS has helped the US national team, however, there is one part of that venture that has had a huge impact on the game in America, but is often over looked.

In 1997, MLS started a program called Nike Project-40. The idea behind Project-40 was to identify the best young soccer athletes and provide training opportunities to make them into world caliber players.

This was not a unique idea as European and South American clubs have been doing some form of it for years, however it's very existence cannot be over looked in America.

Prior to 1997, if a player wanted to continue playing the game outside of high school, there best option was college. However, due to the setup of the college game, the amount of training was limited. This limit is due in large part to the very short schedule allowed by the NCAA. A typical college schedule is 20 or so games over a three-month period. Looking past the point that so many games in such a short time drastically increases the odds of injury, it also allows a very short window for a kid to develop his skills.

When you compare that will someone in the youth development of a team like Manchester United (who sees dozens of competitive games over the course of 6-9 months as well as year round training), it is easy to see how a US player could fall behind.

However, even with the lack of proper training forced on colleges, players still wanted to attend in order to get an education.

Realizing the need to increase the quality of training for players, yet also understanding their desire to get a college degree, MLS came up with the Project-40 initiative. This allowed young players to train and play with MLS teams while also attending college as the package covers their tuition.

It's not easy to play a professional sport while also getting a college education, but for those who are willing to do the work and are accepted into the program, it really can be the best of both words.

That brings us to 2006 and yesterday's roster announcement. It is very impressive how many of those named took part in Project-40.

Midfielders Bobby Convery, DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, forwards Eddie Johnson and Josh Wolff, defender Carlos Bocanegra and goalkeeper Tim Howard are all Project-40 products.

Any program that can brag about 8 alums making a World Cup roster is a good program. Would these players have made it without this initiative? Maybe, but do you really think they would be the players they are today if they are only received a third of the training and playing time they did?

The program recently changed names to Generation Adidas, however its purpose is still the same, make young American players some the best in the world.

Until the NCAA changes the rules and allows for spring play, and other such training improvements, Generation Adidas will probably continue to be the best way for a youth to find their full talent.

Which MLS teams got 'hit' the hardest?

Just under half of the 23-man squad named by Arena play for MLS teams. These 11 players will miss games from May 10th till their exit from the World Cup (the final is July 9th). Since MLS will play during the US training camp and the World Cup, teams will be without their best players for at least 10 matches.

Here is the list of MLS players:

F Brigan Ching (Houston), D Jimmy Conrad (KC), M Clint Dempsey (New England), M Landon Donovan (LA), D Frankie Hejduk (Columbus), F Eddie Johnson (KC), M Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado), M John O'Brien (Chivas), M Ben Olsen (DC), D Eddie Pope (Salt Lake), F Josh Wolff (KC)

It's hard to believe that just a few weeks ago a lot of people, myself included, thought New England would lose 3 or 4 players to the US national team. It turns out the Revs 'lucked out' as only Clint Dempsey was named to the 23-man roster. When you look at the way the Revs have started this season, this is not a huge surprise as Dempsey and Matt Reis have been the only steady players on the team and injury has hit other key players.

Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan, Steve Ralston and Reis were all named to the alternative list, so there is a chance the Rev's number could increase.

The team that will see the most of their top talent serve the USA is Kansas City. The Wizards strike force of Johnson and Wolff will be gone, as will defender Jimmy Conrad. These absences might just cause KC to nose dive, however the Johnson-Wolff pairing has only netted 2 of the club's 8 goals, so maybe it won't be so bad after all.

LA only sees one player off, but that player is their heart and soul, Landon Donovan. Everyone knew he would be gone for the cup, but after watching them play the last few weeks, I don't think anyone realized just how DOA the team is when he is not producing.

Another team that will miss their international player the most is Houston. It is fantastic that Brian Ching surprised everyone and made the team, but since he has 6 of his Dynamo's 9 goals this season, the absence of his head will be noticed.

Then we have Real Salt Lake. If there is a bright spot for Real, it is Eddie Pope. He has been able to tie up the opposition enough to keep his team from getting blown out match after match. Without Pope, Real might just sink to back to 2005 levels.

The Crew will drop even more talent with Hejduk gone, but they haven't been much with him. Colorado is in a similar spot as Columbus with Mastroeni going away. DC will miss Olsen (the only player to not play in a 2006 qualifier and make the team), but they should have enough talent to cover. And Chivas will not be able to turn to O'Brien, but that's okay as he has only played 5-minutes for the club so far.

FC Dallas, Chicago Fire and New York Red Bull don't see any changes in their roster, however the two Chrises of Chicago, Armas and Rolfe, and Tony Meola were named as alternates, so there is still a chance they will have to alter things.

Needless to say, it will be very interesting to see how clubs do during the next couple months.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

US World Cup Roster

At long last it is here and sure enough the biggest surprise of all was in the forward position.

I give you the full US Wold Cup Roster:

Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard, Kasey Keller

Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Jimmy Conrad, Cory Gibbs, Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope

DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni, John O'Brien, Ben Olsen, Claudio Reyna

Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson, Brian McBride, Josh Wolff

The big talking point is the absence of Taylor Twellman from the list in favor of Brian Ching (pictured). As Bruce Arena said, "Ching has proved himself in MLS play." I am surprised that he went with Wolff over Twellman, but I guess Wolff has had a better start to the season. Ching does offer a good head off set pieces, but his international experiences have been less then great of late.

Of my picks, I got all 3 keepers, 7 of the 8 defenders (I went with Gregg Berhalter over Jimmy Conrad), all 8 midfielders and 3 of the 4 forwards (see Brian Ching above). So I got a total of 21 out of 23, not that bad.

Arena also named the alternates for the roster.

Tony Meola, Matt Reis

Chris Albright, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant

Chris Armas, Chris Klein, Pat Noonan, Steve Ralston, Kerry Zavagnin

Conor Casey, Chris Rolfe, Taylor Twellman

Odds are 1 or 2 of these alts will be called in.

Now we know our 23, next up, making the group work as a whole.

Update: The team will begin their pre-World Cup training camp May 10 in Cary, N.C., when 20 players are expected to report. Both Steve Cherundolo and Kasey Keller will join camp after the German Bundesliga season ends on May 13. Additionally, Eddie Lewis may still be competing in the promotion playoffs in the English League Championship.

As for the alternatives, I don't think they will be in camp unless they are replacing a player, but I might be wrong.

Update 2: On Wednesday, Frankie Hejduk was replaced by Chris Albright due to injury.

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World Cup News - May 2

This is a big World Cup news day in the USA as Bruce Arena will announce his 23-man squad at 6pm ET on ESPN. Still, there is plenty of other news, so let's take a look at that.

The star injured player of the moment is Wayne Rooney who will miss at least 6-weeks with his broken foot. However, to try and help cut the time down a bit, the Sun is reporting that he will sleep in an oxygen tent. Even if that is not true, Rooney still hopes to be back in time to help his country. Side note, England's odds in of winning it all have gone from 5/2 to 6/1 due to this injury.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has named a 29-man squad for a two-day, pre-World Cup camp in Rome this week. He did not call any players from Roma or Inter Milan since they will play in the Italian Cup final on Wednesday. In an interesting move he called 32-year old AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi into camp. This is the first time he has been called in since Oct. 2003. Here is the full list:

Goalkeepers Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Udinese), Marco Amelia (Livorno), Angelo Peruzzi (Lazio)

Defenders Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Palermo), Andrea Zaccardo (Palermo), Fabio Grosso (Palermo), Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Massimo Oddo (Lazio), Daniele Bonera (Parma), Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina), Gianluca Zambrotta (Juventus)

Midfielders Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Franco Semioli (Chievo), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan), Simone Barone (Palermo), Fabio Liverani (Lazio), Mauro Esposito (Cagliari), Marco Marchionni (Parma)

Strikers Luca Toni (Fiorentina), Alberto Gilardino (AC Milan), Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Udinese), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), Francesco Tavano* (Empoli), Cristiano Lucarelli (Livorno)

Costa Rica cut their provisional World Cup squad from 28 to 24 players and have given injured defenders Harold Wallace and Michael Rodriguez until the end of the week to recover or miss out on Germany. Wallace is recovering from a thigh strain and is expected the make the deadline while Rodriguez has an injury to his right knee. The four players cut are goalkeeper Adrian de Lemos, defenders Cristian Montero and Carlos Johnson and forward Bryan Ruiz.

Jason Scotland’s chances of playing for Trinidad and Tobago in their World Cup warm-up match against Peru a week tomorrow have increased with the news that Cornell Glen is unlikely to play due to injury.

On the "trying to add possible names to the roster" front, Angola wants FIFA Portuguese-based players Pedro Emanuel and Chainho to play for their side, however both played for Portuguese under class teams, but never the senor squad. FIFA's rules say, "players with dual citizenship or nationality who have not played international soccer above under-23 level have been eligible to apply to change the country they represent. But they must make the application before their 21st birthday. Since both players are 31, this might be a problem.

Wondering what youngster might break out of the pack and becoming a star in Germany? If so, MSNBC has a few suggestions of people to watch.

But enough about players, lets talk about teams. Who is the favorite to win the cup? If you said Brazil, Vinicius de Souza Barreira, a systems analyst, thinks you are wrong. Why? whenever South America or Europe take the lead in all-time World Cups won, the other continent wins the next tournament to even the score:

1930: Uruguay (South America 1, Europe 0)
1934: Italy (South America 1 x 1 Europe) * TIE *
1938: Italy (South America 1, Europe 2)
1950: Uruguay (South America 2, Europe 2) * TIE *
1954: Germany (South America 2, Europe 3)
1958: Brazil (South America 3, Europe 3) * TIE *
1962: Brazil (South America 4, Europe 3)
1966: England (South America 4, Europe 4) * TIE *
1970: Brazil (South America 5, Europe 4)
1974: Germany (South America 5, Europe 5) * TIE *
1978: Argentina (South America 6, Europe 5)
1982: Italy (South America 6, Europe 6) * TIE *
1986: Argentina (South America 7, Europe 6)
1990: Germany (South America 7, Europe 7) * TIE *
1994: Brazil (South America 8, Europe 7)
1998: France (South America 8, Europe 8) * TIE *
2002: Brazil (South America 9, Europe 8)

Mexico is on a mission to better their best World Cup showing. They think they will be able to do thus because of their impressive form in last year's Confederations Cup in Germany where they finished third including a 1-0 win over world champions Brazil. Odd, they don't mention coming in second in CONCACAF qualifying.

As any coach will tell you, experience is needed all over the pitch if your team wants to win. The same can be said for the referees. This cup will only see a few refs in their 30's with most of them in their early 40's. This age issue has a lot to do with proving you can call a good game but also with proving that you can stand up to the pressure of the players and the fans.

The World Cup trophy ended its global tour this past weekend at a mall in Saudi Arabia.

Farsi may not be the most common language in Saudi Arabia (it is mostly heard in Iran), but if you happen to speak the language, you will be able to watch all 64 World Cup games in the tongue in the USA as Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of Major League Soccer, sublicensed US and Canadian TV rights in Farsi to Iranian-American broadcaster Tapesh TV.

As for the Iranian national team, German and Iranian authorities will cooperate over any possible threats to the Iran national soccer team at the World Cup, according to a senior German politician. These threats include being on the alert for Neo-Nazi activity or racist disruptions from Eastern European hooligans.

But enough of all the serious stuff, it's time for another example of 'we'll do anything to tie our product to the World Cup.' This week we have the Matsunichi Kicks Off MP3 Player, which is shaped like a soccer ball.

Want to bone up on some 1930/34 World Cup trivia? Here are a few things you might want to know, including the fact that Angelo Schiavio scored the 100th goal of the competition in Italy's 7-1 battering of the United States in Rome on May 27. That's okay, the US will return the favor in June.

So what to drink when you are celebrating the USA's win over team Italy? How about 'Goooal!'

Finally, is Goleo VI the lion (pictured) an abusive, whore-mongering male slut? One web site dares to look into it.

Only 38 days till kickoff...

Update: If you are looking for the actual US World Cup roster, look here.