Wednesday, June 6, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 06/06/07

MLS Week 9 – This is a Journey
Toronto vs. Colorado – Great Crowd! European-like Atmosphere! (Just felt like torturing fans of the other twelve teams in the league.)
Man of the Match (MOTM): Bouna Condoul – Without Bouna-time between the posts, the Rapids would have been buried in goals. Great game in a losing effort for greater Denver’s number one dashiki wearer.

KC vs. The Flagship – Another lovely game at the old football stadium, lines and all! Seems like the crowd is on the rise in KC particularly the exponentially growing Cauldron. The RedBulls for their part gave the Kansas City fans a game that was a good summary of their season: early Juan Pablo Angel goal and an early Cletus ejection. The only thing out of sorts was the appearance of a RedBull player running around with Claudio Reyna’s jersey. EJ treated the RedBulls and the crowd to a summary of his performance last week: precision finishing.
MOTM: EJ of course. Man, I love playing through international match dates. Damn you economic and climate realities!

NE vs. RSL – Another MLS classic scenario! Season high crowd leads to anemic performance by MLS clubs. A crowd reminiscent of the Alexi Lalas, Foxboro glory days was on had expecting a trouncing of the reigning league doormat. Ninety minutes later, the score was the same and RSL gets out of town with a point.
MOTM: Nick Rimando – 13 saves. (That’s a period after the word saves.)

Gals vs. United – An injury and call-up riddled LA Galaxy somehow defused a flat DC United. The biggest disappointment was the performance of Landon Donovan prior to his departure to the Gold Cup team. Donovan’s terrible performance was capped by a sitter miss in the second half that just has to be buried. Nate Jaqua seemed to actually be playing soccer this week, but coach Frank Yallop failed to give Nate the Tall the coordinates of the opposing teams goal. This turned out to be bad news for fans as a $6.95 beer and $3.50 pack of Twizzlers were victim to Jaqua’s errant attempts at goal.
MOTM: Peter Vanegas – Shutting out a dangerous DC front four is no small feat, but Pete was all over the pitch and helped Cannon organize the patchwork back line all evening. He even had a chance to join in LA’s limited attack and started the most dangerous sequence of the evening.

Dynamo vs. kFCD – Ricardo Clark played a key role in all three of the goals scored, during this match, but bummer for him that one was Dallas’ opener in the 32nd minute converted by Abe Thompson following a bad giveaway by Clark. Rico more than made amends for his mistake with a goal and an assist early in the second half to put Houston ahead of their intra-state rivals for good.
MOTM: In no position to judge since I was tailgating at Toyota Park and didn’t see the match.

FIRE vs. Crew – For a match with seven yellow card and two red cards, the game never really seemed nasty or out of control. I guess that is a sign of good refereeing. Although Calen Carr’s two foot dive at the feet of a defender an the end of the match went unpunished by Mark Gieger.
MOTM: Frankie Hedjuk – Yes, I’m naming a defender on the wrong side of a 3-2 match the man of the match. Hedjuk was a demon all evening on the right flank and created many problems for the Chicago defense. It was good to see his tireless work rate back in full display after a number in injury riddled seasons.

Is there anything more satisfying than a win that leads to calls for the ouster of the opposing teams coach? Granted, following a 1-0 loss to Thailand, China’s coach, Zhu Guanghu, was already on the hot seat, but the temperature of that seat was turned up another 100 degrees following the 4-1 trashing at the hands of the Red, White and Blue. Enough about China, the real story here was the overall performance of our boys. The US looked great after China’s goal, which resulted in large part from some very confused defending by the US and a competent finish from the Chinese. After that moment it was all US. The depth and overall quality of the players in the pool has to be viewed as amongst the deepest and strongest in the history of our country. Another positive is that no longer interim BB the King is not saddled with any unexpected and problem occurrences like headlines that read “Breakout Performance from Jesse Marsh!” On to Gold Cup we go and Guatemala awaits. The measuring stick is a finals appearance. Any draw in the first three matches of Gold Cup would be considered a setback for our national team.

Quick Media Note:
Beginning tonight, a wild six weeks of international tournaments with US involvement begin and the US sports media is not turning a blind eye to it! It was very heartwarming to see extensive articles on Gold Cup from every media outlet where the action is taking place (including the quarters and finals). The soccer wires were abuzz with great articles reminding even us most ardent football maniacs that this tournament has a building history and that the teams playing have stories behind them. Surely, the availability of all the matches on English language TV (for the first time?) doesn’t hurt.

Debate of the Week: Is MLS Beckham Worthy?
With the unexpected (unless you read my blog frequently) resurgence of English and Real Madrid dead weight that was David Beckham, pundits around the world (and even two in the US) are weighing in the ability of MLS be able to support a high level of match fitness for Beckham. With the Gals current terrible form, Beckham will be entering a team where wins are just as important as they are in any league in the world. As US Soccer fans, we know fitness will not be a question. MLS is a very difficult league to play in from a fitness perspective given the weather and travel demands on the MLS player. After all another one time English demi-god Gazza (who Becks was compared to when he signed with Galaxy) couldn’t even hack it with the United reserves and many former top-flight players like Steve Guppy or Peter Canero and even Lothar Assheus and Luisia Hernandez could not adjust to league for just that reason. Let’s see what the “experts” are saying Becks and the League:

Rangers Boss Walter Smith to "I don't think there's any doubt about that. I think the one thing that there'll be at LA Galaxy is that they have a great level of fitness and the American lads who play will never be short of that. They all had decent pace and were all very fit. It's like every other league. Regardless of the level of play that you come in at, you won't get an easy ride when you come into it.”

RedBulls Juan Pablo Angel to The New York Times: “''Honestly, I did not expect the league to be so good. This is a very tough league to play in. It's physical. It's fast. And it looks like the teams are pretty even, which makes it more competitive because in Europe most leagues only have a few top teams.''

Former England Boss Glenn Hoddle to Daily Express: “"In my day when you hit the 30 mark people started saying your international career may be over, but the way they train now their fitness levels are so much better. David is a fit young man and one thing he has never relied upon is blistering pace, so he will be able to play until he is 38 or 39 if he wants to. I see no reason why he can't keep playing for a long time."

Former England Captain Alan Shearer from Western Daily Press: "I don't know if David is regretting going to Los Angeles Galaxy. But he's better than that standard, without a shadow of a doubt.”

Former England Captain Ray Wilkins to the Evening Standard: “It will be difficult for him to stay in the England side once he moves to the States as the standard of the MLS is far below La Liga and the Premiership. If his fitness levels stay the same he would have a chance but he will find it difficult to maintain those. Football in America is on the up but it will always be difficult because it is not the number one sport there. In fact it is not even in the top four.”

(Note: Something in common between Alan and Ray: never played vs. MLS competition.)

The Final Word:
Former England Captain David Beckham to the AP: "The move to LA will not have any adverse effect on me. Physically I will be fine and as good as I was against Brazil. Traveling is not going to be a problem because I would travel from anywhere to play for my country."

Blogwriter Soccer Biz Mark to this Blog: “I’ve always felt that a players call-up should depend on their current form. Steve McClerran finally recognized this two weeks ago. Fabio Capello realized this three months ago. MLS will provide to Becks all the challenges he sought and then some.”

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (2-4)
SEASON (17-31)
The Flagship v. UFC – The Flagship zooms in and takes three points, despite a full fledged wrestling match between Dichio and Dema.

Rapids v. Dynamo – Dynamo are going to have a tough time without their stars, while the Rapids have a number of hungry forwards. Rapids take the three.

Chivas USA v. FIRE – Chivas’ passing and speed and road fan support will confound the FIRE at times, but the home side should be able to manage a draw. Fans in attendance will be reminded about Blanco’s pending arrival every 5 minutes.

Gals v. kFCD – Dallas grabs the three and the home fans go home happy. kFCD is dominant in the midfield and Kenny Cooper begins a mid year resurgence.

The Flagship v. United – United at RFK is just a buzzsaw and bruised Flagship can’t hold together in a showcase shootout.

Dynamo v. Crew – Another team that was disappointed last week, the Crew, tear into the depleted and tired Dynamo and finally notch another win.

The Dynamo Power Hour with Glenn Davis
Does anyone know where Glenn Davis gets his attendance figures? Every week he is off of the MLS reported statistics by 2-3k. Up and down!

(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

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