Wednesday, July 4, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 07/03/07

MLS Week 13 – Tables Turning
Colorado vs. United – Perhaps scoring early and then giving up a bevy of unanswered goals was the theme for the week. Fred had close to a break out game and Nicholas Addlery, with identical stats to Fred, did have a breakout game while claiming the MLS Player of the Week honors.
MOTM: Fred –he has slowly been rounding into better form and this was his peak MLS performance.

Dynamo vs. Dallas – Because of the poor timing of this fixture, I had no opportunity to witness the scoreless draw. From all accounts, I didn’t miss much as the word “defense” featured prominently in all reports.
MOTM: No position to judge.

The Flagship vs. Crew – OK, the Crew are officially hot. As impressive as their win over the Flagship was, they managed to keep Juan Pablo Angel off the scoring column. The Schelottoless Crew had the run of play throughout the match and limited the visitors to ONE shot on goal. Andy Herron made an instant impact in the match by setting up Kei Kamara’s game wining strike less than two minutes after he stepped on the pitch.
MOTM: Kei Kamara – His cool finish netted three points for the home team.

Revs vs. Chivas – Just when one’s about to proclaim the greatness of the latest Revs youth movement in the stellar play of Adam Christman and Wells Thompson, the two and the rest of the East leaders get classed out of the Joint out west in a game that had more players missing from the roster than paid fans in attendance! Aside from the massive egg laid by the east leaders, the biggest disappointment of the match had to be the crowd. A beautiful California night and only a shade over 9k show up? What does this team have to do to draw the so called educated Mexican fan base we heard so much about? Chivas USA plays the second most exciting football in the league and they draw flies! How can they prove themselves? The next Honda (or is it still Honda, Mr. John Guppy?) Superclassico is Thursday August 23 and it is on ESPN2. No pressure!
MOTM: Maykel Galindo – his seventh of the year was typical of the class he has exuded all year and was a punctuation mark on the Revs’ Chivas USA football lesson.

Rapids vs. FIRE – Was anyone at Toyota Park paying attention to this game? It wouldn’t have mattered anyway because it was amongst the dourest matches played all season in the league with two slumping teams showing why they are slumping. With the Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng, MLS Commish Don Garber, and prospective new FIRE owner and Ring of Fire inductee Frankie Klopas (see below) in the house why pay attention? Actually, why show up may have been the question asked as the FIRE’s form is having a noticeable impact on attendance. At least until Mexico’s Mr. Manners 2001-2006 shows up in a week or two.
MOTM: Matt Pickens – Matt, don’t get too excited about this. It’s more or less an award for king of the mediocre in this tussle.

UFC vs. Wizards- Now here is a match that the league should broadcast around the world! Of course, they might want to CGI some crowd into vast Arrowhead. I suggest dubbing the growing and rockin’ Cauldron. The Argies are out to help in Columbus and more notably KC! KC put Toronto to the test by the New Boys stood up well, thanks to some brick wall goalkeeping by …… Sam Reynolds? Having a keeper crisis’ Mo dipped into the MLS pool and struck gold! Reynolds had nothing short of a blinder in the second half and took everything the Carlos Marinelli inspired Wizards could throw at him, which was the kitchen sink, three hula hoops, a Fixx tape and balded radial tire. Greg Sutton’s headache just got bigger and Toronto pulls a draw from what should have been a very ugly game for the Canucks.
MOTM: Sam Reynolds – for throwing down a steel curtain in front of goal.

FIREsale part Two
In town for the blinder that was FIRE vs. Rapids, Don Garber’s mere presence acknowledged what his mouth confirmed, that the FIRE are in the process of being sold to one of two groups. Group A is Shep Messing’s Clandestine Euro Syndicate (SMECS). In two separate occurrences, one of MLS’ best broadcasters has dropped cryptic hints that the FIRE are going to be purchased by an European based group that will be a big shot in the arm to MLS (which is pretty much the definition of any new ownership group.) No one has been able to decode who the SMECS is at this time. Group B is the FIRE Fan dream team! Ring of Fire inductee Frank Klopas seems to be the lynchpin of the group with former FIRE marketing wiz Steve Pasterino and other unnamed local investors in tow. If Klopas’ group takes over, he will become the GM of the FIRE, with John Guppy getting the heave-ho! Now there is a promo event that will pack Toyota Park! The transaction could not come at a better time as FIRE fan frustration with the team’s play and the attitude of management is causing discontent from The Stage, to Section 8, to the Club seats.

Former FIREmen Swapped
Nate Jaqua and Kelly Gray traded locations this week in another puzzling move by the Galaxy. Nate the Tall was though to be the main beneficiary of Beckham’s sizzling crosses, but Frank Yallop’s fond memories of Kelly Grey must has scuttled those well laid plans. Jaqua’s scoring output of single goal this season greased the rails out of town. Jaqua will join a glut of forwards in Houston, but may find himself in the midfield more often than not. I mean when he isn’t riding the pine.

UFC Transaction of the Week
Mo sent embattled and shaky back Kevin Goldthwaite to The Flagship for Todd Dunivant. Seems to be an even trade to me, but wouldn’t you rather have Richard Mulrooney over these two? Then again, the Canadian food didn’t really agree with Mulroon. Of course, the moment Mo said, "Just send me Reynolds" might be the UFC Transaction of the Week.

Beckham Update
LA has chosen the ominous Friday the 13th (of July) to introduce its newest signing: Kelly Grey David Beckham. The new Gals jerseys go on display July 11th and July 12th is when Beckham lands in town. Too bad no one will be paying attention because the FIRE are playing the Dynamo. Sorry Becks!!

Copa America
The USA (aka The Bleeding)
I mean, we knew this could happen. But we were tricked by Eddie Johnson’s penalty conversion against Argentina in the 10th minute of the Tournament. The Argies answered immediately, but the US hung in and made a game of it! Then BB the King subbed out Ben Olsen for Eddie Gaven. Gaven’s lack of defensive skills were exploited by Lionel Messi almost immediately, as he backed Gaven up at will and slid a gem of a pass into Hernan Crespo to take a 2-1 lead and flatten the American’s confidence. This is what world class teams do and we learned a valuable lesson. The next match was the real problem.
Paraguay gave the US every chance possible to put away the match in the first half. The US spliced together was a near gag reel of missed opportunities. TWO unmarked headers from less than five feet out by Sasha Klejestan and Drew Moor and went unconverted as they were put wide and into the arms of the keeper respectively. Justin Mapp had a one on one with the keeper with Eddie Johnson sitting at the far post, but blasted it over the crossbar. Two or three other chances went begging as well. I do appreciate the fact that these young players are getting a much needed rough international baptism, but finishing has to be better and it has become the Americans top problem regardless of who we put on the pitch.
Lastly, Kasey Keller has looked about 105 years old during this tournament, while he has been stranded on a few occasions; his lack of decisiveness and slowed reflexes has cost the Americans a minimum of two goals and counting. Keller is cementing Howard as the States top keeper and playing his way out of numerous contracts. Maybe he can beg for a DP allocation in the A-league?

El Tri (aka The Succeeding)
Beautiful, attacking, wide-open and defensively sound football is being played by this Mexico team as they have romped through their first two matches. Nery Castillo has been a revelation and is probably making his agent very busy these days. His strike against Brazil was an uber-Golazo! His world class pace causes headaches for even the spryest defenders. Look for Castillo to be on the move from Greece to a major player soon.


1. It sure seems like Columbia has better options than Angel. Right!
2. Moreno shows Bolivia what they've been missing for the past five years. He also proves a point about MLS quality.

U-20 World Cup
Despite the finishing struggles of the Senior side, the US U-20 squad threw down a scary beating on an amped Polish side on Tuesday. The Poles entered the match on a high after downing Brazil in their opening match while the Americans were held to a disappointing draw by South Korea. The Poled jumped out in front in the tenth minute via some nice combination play in the middle of the field and some US ball watching. You often hear about a surrendered goal waking up a team, but rarely do you see it waking up a team to this extent. Over the next 80 minutes the USA, led by Freddy Adu, absolutely exploded for six unanswered goals. Adu and Danny Szetela made like Messi and Kaka and mercilessly carved up the stunned Polish side. First Szetela answered the opening strike with a perfectly placed header from the top of the 18. Then, Adu when to work on the right center back. After driving along the right side of the box, Adu spun and curved a shot around the diving keeper that found the far post and went into the goal, sending the commentator in near giddiness. Adu added two more well taken goals and Szetela made it a hat trick for the tournament as well. Adu’s performance was nothing short of masterful. MLS fans must be asking if that is the same Freddy Adu that had been playing in the League the last four year. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Coach Thomas Rongren plays Adu in his natural position? Note to Jason Kreis: SIT OR MOVE Mehdi Ballouchy! He is killing your team! Then again Jason, maybe you can keep him there, because if Freddy puts together another performance like that on Friday against Brazil, he’ll be off to Europe.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (2-4)
SEASON (25-46)
NOTE: Plenty of opportunity for me to make incorrect predictions this week.

D.C. United at Kansas City Wizards – United rolled over Colorado, but this is a different story. KC will delight the biggest home crowd of the year and make amends for their Sunday draw.

Chivas USA at FC Dallas – I just don’t see an answer for Galindo in Dallas’ back. Chivas continues to climb the table and gets within three points of West leader Dallas.

Columbus Crew at Colorado Rapids – The sellout crowd will have to look to the skies for fireworks because their limp side doesn’t have a prayer against the rampaging Crew.

UFC at Real Salt Lake – This should be an exciting one, but one that will end in another draw. Place your bet on the next UFC player to get booted from a match. Dichio is even money.

FIRE at Los Angeles Galaxy – The Gals faithful have something to cheer about as the lost FIRE wander in and out of the HDC without even realizing they are supposed to be playing a match. Galaxy take three points.

The Flagship at Houston Dynamo – The Crew showed the league how to mute The Flagship attack and the Dynamo have all the tools too execute that plan as well. Dynamo take three for a share of the Western lead.

Chivas USA at New England Revolution – On short rest, Chivas runs into a revenge motivated Revolution side that likely will be bolstered by a returning Taylor Twellman.

Real Salt Lake at Columbus Crew – RSL is heading into a buzz saw.

UFC at Chicago Fire – Will the FIRE also give UFC their first road victory? I hope not. This ones a draw as the FIRE finds a little bit of gelling on the pitch. The real fun maybe in the stands as Section 8 and the Red Patch Boys try to out shout each other.

Kansas City Wizards at Los Angeles Galaxy – KC carves up the Keystone LA defense and Yallop continues to sweat.

New York Red Bulls at Colorado Rapids – The Flagship continues their slump and draws the lowly Rapids.

D.C. United at Houston Dynamo – This could be fun. Goals a plenty in this one, but the Dynamo D does just enough to pull out three points.

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

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